Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 23, 2020

Not much activity to report. No newly inked pens or pens written dry. My fountain pen usage was down this week. I started going through my photo library to eliminate duplicates. I’m using Gemini by MacPaw, and I’m at the point where the photos are close, but there are a few false positives found. So, I have to manually review the photos which sends me down memory lane. I do love Sheaffer nibs.

Photo of the nib on my Sheaffer Balance II Aspen
Sheaffer Balance II Aspen SE photo from the archives. Currently inked with Montblanc Permanent Grey.

Fountain Pen Ink Art Workshop at INTRA – FOUNTAIN PEN INK ART

Tuesday Toolset, Top 5 Fountain Pens Under $50 — The Pen Addict

Finding joy in black ink | UK fountain pens

REVIEW: JAQUES HERBIN CLIPPER FOUNTAIN PEN | The Pencilcase Blog | Fountain pen, Pencil, Ink and Paper reviews.

Inside Stationery (Pt. 02): Wolfgang Fabian – Lamy Safari – Scrively – note taking & writing

Galen Leather Co Zipper Pen Case Review – 40 Pens — The Clicky Post

Everyday Writers: Choosing the Best Pens and Pencils for Life — The Gentleman Stationer

This Just In: Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize grey marble on a pen stand

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating – I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Sheaffers, and I get weak-kneed when-ever I see a Sheaffer Balance Oversize from the 1930s. So, when this fountain pen became available from a trusted seller, it was an insta-buy, even though it was at the high end of what I was willing to pay. Who am I kidding? For a vintage Balance Oversize, I have no high end. The only question is if I can spare the money.

This is a vacuum-filler. Although I do I prefer lever-fillers since they are easier to repair. Mitigating this drawback is that this one was recently restored by Sherrell Tyree, so I’ll be worry-free for the next several years. I bought the pen from Anderson Pens, and Brian added a note about who did the restoration.

While grey may not be a popular color, I’ve always liked it, and I’m currently going through another grey phase, with many recent purchases picking gray as the color. The pen has a grey marble design, also called Grey Pearl, with good transparency. The barrel has a sharp gray pattern with some subtle color variation. The transparent areas have a ruby red color. I’m not familiar enough with these pens to know whether the ruby is original or the result of age. At least it’s uniform and looks like it could be the original color. Although my guess would be it is not, especially since in the right (or wrong) light, the edges of the grey can look brownish due to the ruby transparency beneath it. The cap has the same grey pattern, but it’s on an opaque black base rather than the transparent ruby red.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize nib
Thats ink and reflections on the nib, it’s actually in great shape.

It has a 14K gold two-tone nib. I’m not a fan of gold-colored nibs, preferring silver, but the look of these nibs is my favorite. It’s stamped “Sheaffer’s Lifetime” along with the patent info. Any nib size identifier is buried beneath the section if it exists at all. It’s the size Sheaffer nib I love and consider a medium/fine. It’s as slim as, or thinner than, many modern western fine nibs. It’s not labeled as a Feather-Touch nib, but the flow is excellent. I need to do some research to see if the Lifetime nibs were the same as feather-touch nibs, with the Lifetime moniker being used on higher-end pens.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize cap

The pen is a white dot model, which still signified a lifetime warranty at the time the pen was sold. The clip is the hump style with a flat-topped ball. The clip and pen material dates the pen from around 1935. As mentioned, it’s a vacuum-filler, not a lever-filler. The blind-cap that controls the plunger is solid black. The plunger works smoothly, and I was able to get a proper fill with one plunge. Juggling the ink bottle while trying not to smash the nib into the bottom of the bottle made me a bit timid, which affected the amount of ink that flowed into the pen. I don’t doubt that a bottle with enough ink to cover the nib while the bottle is on a flat, stable surface would result in a completely filled pen.

I expect great things from this nib, and like all vac-fillers, the pen can be tedious to clean. I wanted an ink that would flow well and be easy to clean. Or even better, refilled with the same ink without cleaning. I picked Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink. It’s a smooth flowing blue-black ink that’s already proven it can be used for 18 straight problem fee months in a fountain pen. The only drawback is that I’ll soon run out of this limited edition ink.

The Balance Oversize gets along well with the ink. The flow has been perfect, with no skipping. There haven’t been any hard starts, but since I’ve used the pen every day, the nib hasn’t had the chance to dry out.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble is about to be written dry. I picked the ink since it is easy to flush out of a pen. In this case, it will be a quick refill so that the pen can remain in active use. A great addition to my Sheaffer collection, which now has the distinction of being a core pen.

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize Gray Marble with the barrel resting on the cap.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 16, 2020

Photo of my newest pens - Pelikan M815 and Sailor Realo

I wrote my vintage Sheaffer Balance Oversize dry this week. Well, almost dry, then I refilled it with the same R&K Blau-Schwarz LE in.

The two pens I ordered arrived, and have been inked up. I didn’t wait to use up the ink in other pens before I inked them up, despite that being my plan. The Pelikan M815 Metal Stripped SE was inked with Pelikan 4001 Blue-Back ink. The Sailor Realo got Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun ink, which is a grey ink.

I did start journalling again in the evening, although it’s been sporadic and I’m not confident that I’ll stick with it. At this point it’s mainly an excuse to use my pens.

Crónicas Estilográficas: Retro

Retrospective: Retro 51 Pens – The Well-Appointed Desk

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: Lost and Found | Peaceable Writer

The Platinum Curidas: removing the bump. | Fountain pen blog

Crónicas Estilográficas: Curidas Marketing

Off topic – Welcome to the Era of Fake Products | Wirecutter

Group Buy, Auctions, Scholarships – Newton Pens

AmazonBasics Fountain Pen Review – Penquisition and First Impressions: The AmazonBasics Fountain Pen Is Surprisingly Good — The Gentleman Stationer

This Just In: Filling Out The Retro 51 Collection (Part II)

Photo of the packaging for the Retro 51s
(L->R) Vega, 2019 Artist Series, Flint, Flare)

After receiving the four pens in my first Retro 51 FOMO order I was reminded on how intricate the craftsmanship is, so I returned to the web to see what else was available. I ended up on the Vanness website, where they had a wide selection available. I made a quick pass and added all the pens that caught my interest into the shopping cart. Then I made a pass through the cart intending to get it down to a reasonable level. Then a made a second pass through the cart with a sharper eye and did get it down to a sensible four pens. I eliminated all the smooth metal and lacquer pens along with the pricier pens. Well, four was reasonable as far as I was concerned, so I placed the order. They arrived last weekend.

The pens are:

Photo of the Retro 51 Flare and 2019 Artist Series

Smithsonian Vega Pen: This Retro 51 is based on Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 5B Vega. The pen is a lovely bright red, accented by gold stripes. While the pen is mostly smooth, a few lines of rivets provide texture.

Artist Series 2019 Etched Copper: I’m a sucker for etched copper. It helps that I like the design of the pen. The design is by tattoo artist Katie McGowan. Like Vanness Pens, Katie is from Arkansas.

Photo of the Retro 51 Flint and Flare

Tread Collection Flint: The Tread collection is a series I was unfamiliar with until my recent explorations. The pens are acid etched with a pattern that resembles a tire tread. Well, it resembled a tire tread once the idea was in my head. The official description calls it a chain-like design.

Tread Collection Flare: This has the same pattern as the Flint, but it’s bright orange instead.

There’s also a distinctive yellow version of the Tread, but I passed on it. I did get serious consideration instead of the Flint. Taking only two of the three versions lets me claim that I have some self-control.

Photo of my four latest Retro 51 pens

There’s a couple more Retro 51s calling my name, but I only see one more in my future. The Pen Addict 2020 Kickstarter will include a Retro 51. Since I back them every year, I’ll undoubtedly end up with the pen. While I can’t rule out a new release, my Retro 51 collection is complete.

Core Pen Review: Kaweco Brass Sport

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loop

While slimming my fountain pen accumulation, I ended up with 14 core pens (recently increased to 15). Core pens are the fountain pens that stood the test of time and earned a regular place in the rotation. Some pens were picked because they fill a role perfectly, despite other deficiencies. While other pens where selected because they are the complete package, perfect for my hand and great aesthetically. The Kaweco Brass Sport falls somewhere in between.

The Brass Sport is the perfect pocket pen while also developing a character that I like aesthetically. The pen lives in my trouser pocket, along with my keys and the occasional loose change. The pen holds up well to the abuse of the metal objects in the same pocket. Those dings give the Brass Sport some character along with the patina that develops on the brass.

photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport
current photo of the Kaweco Brass Sport

I ended up keeping the Aluminum Sport too, although it may never get used again. The Patina on the Kaweco Brass Sport can develop into outright crud if I put the pen in a pen case for storage. I don’t like polishing my pens, so this provides an excuse to keep the pen always inked up. Between the occasional use and abuse from keys and coins sharing the pocket, the patina is kept under control. I already owned the Aluminum model, so I kept it as a spare in case the Brass Sport goes missing. If the Brass model was to go missing, I would use the Aluminum Sport, rather than buy a new Brass model.

I bought the kaweco Brass Sport in July 2015 and wrote a long-term review less than a year ago.

The pen remains a pocket carry exclusively. It mainly gets used when I don’t have another pen handy or left home without any fountain pens. It moves from pocket to pocket with my keys, so I always have it with me.

photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport (posted)
current photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport (posted)

It just doesn’t get used very often. Even though it is usually in my pockets, literally within arms reach, I usually forget about it. Attested to by the fact it’s missing from several currently inked pictures since it was out of mind when I took the photo. It usually gets used after a “crap, I forgot my fountain pens” moment, which is then followed by an “oh yeah” moment, and I pull out the Brass Sport. Despite the neglect, the pen never fails to write. Possibly because it’s bouncing around in my pocket, although that doesn’t result in a lot of ink in the cap. When posted, the Sport is a regular length. The weight of the Brass doesn’t bother me, and I can use it for long writing sessions. There’s no reason to skip over it, I never think of it.

Some people complain about the smell of the brass, although I never noticed it, so I was never bothered by it.

I’ve had a couple other Kaweco Sports over the years. I found the plastic models too light for my tastes. The aesthetics of the Brass Sport won out over the different metal versions that I had.

The converters available for the Sport, at least the ones I’ve tried, were impractical at best and unusable at worst. I’ve never been one to refill cartridges, so I always used short international cartridges. My ink choice is typically black or red, with red being the must more common choice.

The Kaweco Brass Sport is a core pen primarily because of its functionality as a pocket pen. All Sports have the same functionality, but I like the added weight of the Brass. If a pen is too light, I find myself gripping it tightly, which fatigues my hand rather quickly. So, the Kaweco Brass Sport made the cut as a core pen.

Photos from the archives