I’m writing pens dry faster than I can keep up. I wrote one pen dry when doing the written draft of this post. That now dry pen happened to be at the top of my currently inked writing sample. I’ll be skipping my usual practice of scheduling posts for the next morning to give me time to remember what I screwed up.
I picked the following fountain pens and inks to join the currently inked club:
The first three pens listed are the only fountain pens that were inked before Sunday. I won’t be using them until after this is posted, for fear of making it outdated before it’s published. I wrote about the Sterling Silver Namikis ones in Three Pieces of Silver.
I rarely carry the Fodderstack in my shirt pocket these days. I’m not venturing out often, and the Fodderstack has been replaced by a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a small squirt bottle of alcohol (for grocery carts, etc…). I’ve only wanted a pen once or twice, but to meet those needs, I inked up the Kaweco Brass Sport with Montblanc Petit Prince Red Fox in a cartridge. I picked a red ink so I could also use the pen to mark up documents.
I do like the Vanishing Point Red Bamboo, so it returned to the rotation with a different nib. I feel compelled to acknowledge that the pen is not made of bamboo. But, that is what it was sold as here in the States. I put in the medium left oblique nib, The oblique nib sits perfectly with my natural grip, the clip ensuring that I don’t twist the pen, even a little. It got the now usual Pilot Black cartridge. Pilot converters are a hassle in the VP and don’t hold much ink, so I stick to cartridges.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 02 (Gen 1) is a lovely green and sports a Mike Masuyama needlepoint nib. The pen called out for green ink, so I loaded it with a Montblanc Emerald Green cartridge.
I was missing to Royal Tangerine KOP after only one day. It returned with my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux. It took six days for me to miss the Aero. I’m surprised by how much I like that pen and how well it writes. I did manage to survive 5 days without it.
The Edison Huron Grande just didn’t want to be used. I eyedropper filled its large body with Papier Plume Burgundy, but it just didn’t want to write. A couple hours of gravity didn’t help, running under the faucet didn’t help. Finally, I wrapped a tissue around the nib and gave it a couple firm old-style thermometer wrist flicks, which finally did the trick. I haven’t used it much yet, but it seems fine.
The final fountain pen I inked up my newest fountain pen arrived, the Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger with an extra-fine nib. I inked it with its namesake, Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk.
As usual, the writing samples are in the same order as the pens (L->R). Click any photo for full size.
A lot of activity in the fountain pen realm for me this week. My fountain pen activity was up this past week, thanks to writing the drafts of a few posts along with writing just to use the pens. I wrote four pens dry and inked up three.
FYI – I write most if the Trail Log post on Saturday afternoon. Usually I only need to add links. There is a risk is that I have more significant change, like two pens going dry between scheduling the post and the actual publication. Hopefully I caught all the changes. But if you see a reference to six inked pens or the math doesn’t add up, please forgive me. But if you don’t that’s ok, I did a lot of writing and enjoyed my pens on Saturday without putting off what I needed to get done.
I inked up my three pieces of silver. It wasn’t until II was writing this that I realized I went 100% Japanese for the new pens & inks. 1. Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver (Med Stub) with Iroshizuku Yama-guri 2. Namiki Sterling Silver Hawk (F) with Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun 3. Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon (M) with Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku
I’m down to five inked pens, shown in the picture up top. I’ve got a new pen coming in this week which will be inked. I’ll ink at least two more later this morning, to bring me to eight. I also pulled out another five pens that I want to ink up. But inking them all up may be a bit overwhelming as I try to actively use all my inked pens.
Out of Ink
I wrote my Edison Collier dry (well, nearly dry, more in a moment). It was inked up back on March 11th and went dry on April 19th.
My Cherry Bamboo Vanishing Point was bone dry when I picked it up to use Saturday morning. I suspect this was due more to evaporation than use. It was inked up back on March 6, and while I did use it, that XXXF nib uses ink sparingly. I find it hard to believe I wrote it dry since it’s typically ignored unless the Fodderstack is in my pocket. I did clean a lot of ink out from around the trapdoor. I use swabs similar to https://andersonpens.com/anderson-pens-6-inch-cotton-swabs-pack-of-25/ these to reach the end of the barrel. I bought a box of 1,000 on Amazon over five years ago and still have them.
The Sailor KOP ran out of ink yesterday afternoon. It was inked with Robert Oster Signature Orange back on March 19th. My typical habit these days is to pick a different inked pen for my morning journal entry each day, then use that pen as my primary writer for the day. The oblique medium nib isn’t suitable for use in my pocket notebook, which is my daily journal. So, this puts it in a bit of a hole since its never my primary writer. But if another pen runs dry, or my primary writer has seen enough use. I’ll pick this up and enjoy it. I cleaned it Saturday night. I’ll ink it up later this morning, assuming I can decide on an ink.
The Esterbrook Estie went dry Saturday evening. It was inked with Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk back on March 11th. The ink seems appropriate for one of the incoming pens. No prize if you guess which one. I like the Gregg nib of the Esterbrook, but will most likely put it back into the pen case after cleaning in order to give another pen a chance. I’m really liking the variety of pens that are going through my hands.
I went a little nuts with pen buying this week. Actually, the crazy arrived Wednesday night and Thursday morning. (I was going to say “fever”, but that’s a bad metaphor these days). I had bid on several eBay auctions that other folks wanted more than I did. Although in one auction, an Anderson Pens pen parts lot, I received a second chance offer. I guess the winner didn’t pay. In the time since missing all those auctions, and getting the second chance offer, I bought three pens. Including one from Anderson Pens, so they still got some of my money. With the auction money now spent, I passed on the second chance offer.
Other than that one-second chance offer, it’s apparent to me that others want the pens more than I do. I hate the terms “win” and “lose” for eBay auctions since they are emotional. I much prefer to think of it as someone who wanted the item more than me, so they valued it higher than I did. I could easily “win” by bidding my credit card limit for a cheap pen, but that would be foolish, and hardily what I’d call a win.
I haven’t received any of the pens yet, but I ordered: Kanilea Pen Kona Cherry Fountain Pen with an extra-fine nib. There are several reasons for me not to order this pen. In general, I don’t like colored transparent pens. But this one appears unlike any other transparent pen I’ve seen, which much more depth to the material. Kanilea Pens was on my pen show list since the pen material is handmade and unique for each pen; an in-person viewing seemed like a good idea. This pen is gorgeous in the photos. While photos can be deceptive, and computer monitors add to the deception, I suspect this one will be better in person. I have seen some of their other pens in real life, and they are all stunning. The other reason to buy is that some of these pens are available for (more or less) immediate shipment. And any not yet made will ship in significantly less time than their typical mail-order timeframes. I had stumbled across this as I was listening to the Pen Addict podcast. Their discussion confirmed my first impressions.
Then it was out to Pen Chalet website where I used the Pen Addict promotion to buy the Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger Fountain Pen in green with an extra-fine nib. Another transparent colored pen. But, I decided to take a chance. Generally, I’ve liked the material used in Italian pens, if not the actual pens themselves. Part of me expects this to be a quick rental, and put the pen up for sale once my curiosity is satisfied.
The Leonardo arrived at my PO Box on Saturday, ahead of schedule. Too late for me to go pick it up, so I’ll plan next week’s errands for Monday and include the pen pick-up. The other two had slightly extended ship times (7-10 days) but could ship in the coming week.
I unexpectedly sold a fountain pen, the Edison Collier. That pen seems like it should be nearly perfect for me; it’s only negative being the gold furniture. It’s a big pen with a great writing nib. But it went unused for years, so I put it up for sale last year. I eventually withdrew it when I got busy moving. I pulled it out in March and was enjoying it. Then I got an email acknowledging the pen was withdrawn, but asking if I had reconsidered. After a short but intense internal debate, I decided to sell it. I like the pen, especially when I’m using it. But the pen doesn’t call out to me when it’s in the case, and I expect to keep ignoring it if I kept it. It was very low on ink. So low, I wouldn’t have been shocked if it ran out during the writing sample. It made it through the writing sample but was so low on ink I consider myself to have written it dry.
Bits and Bobs
I visited the FPGeeks forum this past week. I’ve been away for a long time but figured it was an excellent opportunity to do some reading. It didn’t take me long to stumble across some snark comments unrelated to fountain pens, so I moved on. That was a bit depressing.
Saturday may not have been the best weather of the year so far. I’m not keeping track, but I bet it was since it was the first time I opened the windows and enjoyed the fresh air. It makes me yearn for my old apartment, where I had a small patio that I could sit out on and relax. It was only about six feet from a parking lot, so not a great view, but my current location has no patio. There is a community area with tables and grills, plus a lot of grass, so it isn’t too bad. Community facilities may not be the best choice right now, especially since at least one resident of the apartment complex has CV19, but I may get my chair out of storage so I can sit out under the trees.
Unrelated to anything – I hate the WordPress iOS app. It caused me problems long ago and I’ve ignored it for years. Until Saturday when I decided to try it out to edit this post. Big mistake. As I mentioned, I had more changes than usual after that initial draft was uploaded. I decided to use the iOS app for that. Big mistake. Hopefully I caught all the broken links and added all the lost text back in.
I bought the Diplomat Aero from Fountain Pen Hospital (FPH) while at the 2020 Long Island Pen Show. Diplomat pens have been around since 1922 but only popped up in the U.S. a few years ago. While their pens are made in Germany, I found it interesting that the contact address on their corporate website is in France.
The Aero design comes in versions for mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, and rollerballs in addition to fountain pens. The Diplomat website also lists a gold nib version of the fountain pen. I didn’t stumble across a gold nib for sale at a U.S. retailer, but my search was only cursory.
I liked the Zeppelin inspired design of the Aero right from the start when I first saw it at the Washington D.C. pen show several years ago. But, I’ve avoided buying one until now. I also didn’t keep up with the available colors.
Last time I went to the Long Island show I didn’t buy any pens. This time I hadn’t bought anything when the time to leave approached. I was itching to buy a pen, and the only pen that really called to me was nearly $1K. I wasn’t going to answer that call. So, I decided to buy the Aero. Only three pens were on display at the FPH booth, black, blue, and red. I decided on red. Admittedly, more because I didn’t want to walk away empty-handed, rather than a deep desire for the pen. The pen show price was further reduced by an FPH gift card given at the door, making the price slightly better than the typical online price.
I asked for a red model with an extra-fine nib. Luckily they didn’t have one, but mentioned that they had EF nibs in “orange and black.” I heard that as meaning two pens and asked to see the orange pen. When the orange/black appeared, I knew I’d be getting the pen. It jumped from being a consolation pen to a pen I really did want. So, I walked out with an orange/black Diplomat Aero with an extra-fine steel nib.
I’ve read elsewhere that the nibs are by Jowo, although they are Diplomat branded. They are stamped with the Diplomat logo along with the words “Diplomat Since 1922”. The nib is a solid silver color, which is my preference.
The pen itself is all metal (aluminum), including the gripping section. The pen body is a dark orange. The cap is black, as is the section. The words “Diplomat” and “Made in Germany” are stamped around the base of the cap in silver. It gives the appearance of being a cap band, especially since the bottom of the cap is flat. The tip of the body is crowned with a bit of black. The end of the cap has the Diplomat logo in silver.
I popped in the included blue-black (?) cartridge when I unboxed the fountain pen. The cartridge went dry as I was drafting this article, but it’s still the only ink that I’ve loaded in this pen. It performed well, and I saw no reason to replace it. The box actually included two cartridges, of the same ink, along with a converter. Diplomat does like branding any surface they can, so the converter has the Diplomat logo along with “Diplomat Made in Germany” stenciled on it.
The packaging was a bit elaborate, although not too expensive. The outer cardboard box had the Diplomat name and logo printed on it. (Did I mention that they like their branding?) Opening the box revealed a metal covered sliding box, which also had their branding. The metal was unexpected until I realized that they promote all their pens as being made from metal due to its durability (I do see one lacquer pen in their lineup). Sliding the cover off revealed their brand yet again, in a cardboard flap that covered the pen. Removing that flap finally revealed the pen. The pen rested on the typical pen box removable shelf. The two cartridges and a converter were below the shelf. The pen uses standard international cartridges and converters.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooped up for weeks, but I found all that branding comical. Literally, it made me chuckle as I opened the Russian Nesting Dolls to get to my pen, seeing their logo and name each time. But the reality is that the branding is subdued and not flashy. The packaging contributed to making it feel like a quality product and bought in volume, it probably doesn’t add much to the cost of the pen.
After getting to the Diplomat Aero fountain pen, I inked it up with one of the included cartridges. By the time I picked up the packaging and stored it away, the pen was ready to right. The ink made it to the nib without any help from me, and while lying flat on its side. That was an encouraging start.
The Aero is comfortable in my hand, even for long writing sessions. Even though it’s a metal pen, aluminum is relatively light, and I wouldn’t consider the Aero heavy at all. Sure, it is heavier than a resin only pen of the same size. The grip section is also metal, and it’s smooth. I haven’t had any problem with the pen slipping. But, the weather is still cool and dry. It may be a problem when heat and humidity move in.
The nib is a smooth writer that was well-tuned. The ink flow has been perfect, and I haven’t had any problem with skipping or hard starts. I’ve been rotating through my pens, so the Aero would spend 4 to 6 days stored nib up between uses. There weren’t any hard starts. It is a firm nib which I like.
I’m happy with the Diplomat Aero. It’s a great writer, and I love the look. It probably won’t rise to the level of being a core pen, but it will be around for a while, and I expect it to be inked up frequently. I cleaned out the pen and put it in storage for now. I’ve been trying to rotate through my pens and revisit ones that haven’t been used in years. So it will sit out for now, but the Diplomate Aero fountain pen will stay handy and return to the rotation in the not too distant future.
I had pulled out three Sheaffers, fully intending to fill them as replacements for my previously emptied Sheaffers. Then some tarnished Sailor silver caught my eye, and I grabbed a polishing cloth. But, if I’m going start polishing silver, I might as well polish all of it. So, I grabbed my two pieces of silver by Pilot (Namiki) and settled in for some polishing. And once they were polished, I had no choice but to ink them up. If I put them back in the pen case, they would tarnish again before I used them, making all that time wasted. So it was on to ink them up.
Keeping with the theme of three, I picked the three Iroshizuku inks that were closest at hand. The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver was fed Iroshizuku Yama-guru. The ink level in the bottled betrayed that I had used the ink quite a bit, yet I couldn’t remember what it looked like on paper. I like brown ink, and it was a beautiful dark brown in the bottle.
Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver
The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver came with a 21kt medium nib. I bought the pen in 2004 and had Richard Binder stub the nib at the 2013 D.C. pen show. The pen has seen infrequent use since them. One reason is that it tarnishes quickly, and polishing it up is a significant speed bump before inking it up. The pen hasn’t been used at all in the last two years and only three times since having the nib stubbed.
One of the end pieces, I forget which one, popped off, and I had to superglue it back on. It’s been solid since then, but I do hold my breath whenever I polish the pen.
Sailor 1911 writing sample
Namiki Sterling Silver Hawk
The first of my Namiki fountain pens to get ink was the Hawk. I picked Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun. (FYI – Namiki is a sub-brand of Pilot, just like Iroshizuku.) The pen has an 18kt gold inlaid fine nib. The grey ink can sometimes get lost on some paper when using a thin nib. If I had been thinking or paying attention, I wouldn’t have filled the thinnest nib of the trio with grey ink. I’m writing the draft of this post on Doane Paper, which has a blue grid pattern. The ink flow is enough to put a line down that’s consistent and dark enough to stand out from the grid. I do like the look of the inlaid nib as I use the pen. The pen was purchased in 2003 but rarely used. It was last used nearly 4 years ago.
The pen barrel has what appears to be a small circle with a dot in it. It faces me when I write with the pen and is out of place. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. There are a couple other small blemishes that didn’t come out with the polishing cloth. They probably just need slightly more aggressive polishing.
While there are several Namiki Sterling designs available as new, it appears the Hawk has been discontinued.
Namiki Sterling Silver Hawk
Namiki Sterling Silver Hawk writing sample
Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon
The final piece of silver is the Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon. I purchased the Dragon in April 2004. Like the Hawk, it’s rarely used and not used at all in the last four years. The Dragon has an 18kt medium gold inlaid nib. I loaded the pen with Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (autocorrect is killing me on the ink names, hopefully my corrections are “re-corrected”). The nib puts down a nice wet line, with “wet” defined by someone who likes nibs tuned to the dry side.
Both Namiki pens are using the discontinued Con-20 aerometric converter (squeeze sac). I’m pretty sure they’re the ones that came with the pen 15+ years ago. New models include the Con-40. The Con-20 is Pilot branded, and they refer to it as a “Press Plate” converter. The Con-20 was discontinued as 2017 began. The Con-20 is my favorite Pilot converter (which isn’t saying much). Even though I can’t see the ink level, I find that it’s the only Pilot converter that rivals the ink capacity of a Pilot cartridge in real-world use. (I don’t use the Con-70 which probably does hold more.)
Despite being metal pens, the Namiki Sterling Silver pens don’t feel heavy at all. They are certainly lighter than the Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver that does have some heft to it. The 1911 is also slightly bigger when capped. Uncapped and unposted, which is how I use my fountain pens, all three pens are the same size. All three pens are comfortable in my hand. They are postable, but I don’t post them. I did notice some hand fatigue after using the 1911 for a short time. This was most unexpected and may have been more to do with it being late in the day, and I’ve been using my hands a lot today (cleaning, scrubbing, moving stuff, but unfortunately not using pens). I didn’t use the Namiki pens until the next day. There was no fatigue when using them.
Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon
Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon
None of these pens are among my core pens, although the Sailor 1911 managed to make my Hangers-On list. Since it’s been unused as long as the Namiki Sterling so it shouldn’t have even made that list. Despite their dormancy, I probably won’t put them up for sale. All are excellent writers, and they’re probably worth more to me than someone else would pay for them. While none have been beyond writing the draft of this post, all have reminded me that they are trustworthy writers and enjoyable fountain pens.
As I mentioned last week, my Balance II Aspen was nearly empty. Sure enough, it went dry Sunday afternoon. I was the only pen that went dry last week. My usage was down little last week, consisting of mainly journal entries along with a few notes and lists. I am consistently rotating through my pens, giving them all a little use. I’ve also been prefect in writing in my pocket notebook journal to bookend each day.
Anderson Pens is continuing their unrestored vintage event on eBay. Back when the first announced the event in their stores I considered using this as one excuse for a road trip. But, I couldn’t find enough other excuses to justify it at that time of year, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. So, I’ve been watching the auctions and did win one lot of pens. Most have been going for more than I’m willing to pay. Last week I mentioned my pet peeve (as a buyer) was people who kept manually bidding up the price. Someone did this at the very end of this auction by placing several $1 raises near the end. This cost them, as they snuck in a bid a few sections before the auction ended which exactly matched mine. But, since mine was in earlier so, they lost the auction. I wouldn’t have been upset if they outbid me as I’m main motivation for bidding was that this would probably sell for for less than other lots, while providing a few pens I could practice restoring.
In browsing retailers to see if wooden VPs were still available in the U.S. (triggered by the Scrively article linked below) I came across two pens I want. The first, a Sailor King of Pen Dragonfly and Waterfall Limited Edition is $5K. I don’t like it that much but, it’s gorgeous. The second is a much more obtainable Pilot Vanishing Point Stripes that did catch my eye when it was first announced. As I mention below, the metal VPs aren’t my favorite models, and I already have two (It’s tough getting old, I forgot I already sold them both). But, I am considering selling one, or both, and buying this one as a replacement.
Not that I need more ink, but… | From the Pen Cup // Green is my favorite color, although I’ve yet to find that perfect green ink. II think being a favorite color makes it harder to find the right ink. Montblanc Irish Green is probably my favorite, but it’s not a slam dunk and Akkerman #28 Hofkwartier Groen is a contender. As is Omas Green, although the it is no longer made.
Comparative Overview: Pilot Capless – Metal vs Wood – Scrively // I’m a fan of the wood models. I had both the black and the red model at one time (called “Cherry Bamboo” and “Black Bamboo” in the U.S., despite not being bamboo. I sold the black model but still have the red, along with the Maplewood SE. I just didn’t need all three. A cursory search of U.S. retailers indicates it’s not available anymore in the States. I do remember reading that the black version was no longer available here.