Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – December 13, 2020

photo of this week's favorite fountain pen

Since favorite means preferred above all others, there’s no favorite fountain pen this week. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the nib on the Sailor Realo, so it was a pleasant surprise when I used it this week. The pen has been living in my Fodderstack XL. These days, when travel is non-existent, except between desks with many pen choices, it rarely gets used and is forgotten since it’s not among the pens I pick from daily, and the Fodderstack is rarely in my pocket. I pulled it out this week and gave it some love. It was a week of core pens, so I couldn’t pick a true favorite.

December brings along my planning for the next year and reviewing this year’s budget. While having a pen budget is a great way to avoid spending too much, it also encourages me to spend the rest of the budget at year-end. Considering my pen budget included pen show travel this year, it was a generous budget. Plus, pen sales, minus related expenses such as fees and shipping, replenish that budget. Even though it is my own money, I still have that corporate mentality of use it or lose it. So I went a bit nuts with purchases this week. Although three of my four purchases were sub-$70 pens, the fourth was a bit of a splurge. All are on their way to me, so listed under Incoming below. I also stocked up on a few inexpensive notebooks that I either like, or want to try.

I did resist buying an Esterbrook Oversize Estie in the Rocky Top material. I love the material, but the gold trim ruins it for me, especially since silver trim would also work well with that material. These days I won’t compromise at that price. The pen purchases where probably my subconscious attempt to get the dopamine hit that I lost when I skipped the Rocky Top. I also liked, but resisted, the two Retro 51 acid-etched models. I see Goulet Pens still has them in stock (Saturday morning). Please buy them before I change my mind, my budget hasn’t reached zero.

Next year’s fountain pen budget will be considerably less. I’ll budget for a local pen show or two. Although, my local shows tend to be early in pen show season, so they are likely to be cancelled this year too, unless they can be rescheduled for later in the year. I have hopes for the Commonwealth (Boston) Pen Show in September. It’s currently scheduled for September 12th. The Long Island Pen show is usually in March, which seems too soon. Their website is silent on the 2021 pen show, no surprise there.

With 26 pen purchases this year (some already sold off to finance another pen), I’ll only buy at shows. If I don’t attend any shows I’ll make a year end purchase.. My inability to make fair use of fountain pens that I have and like makes this an easy decision. I plan to implement a strict one in – one out policy next year. I do realize that since I make the policy, I can change the policy. [Which feeds my pet peeve when businesses say “it’s against out policy” as a reason to justify what they do (or don’t do)].

Pen Sales Update

There are still a few pens available on my For Sale page. I plan to take down the sales page on Wednesday evening (16th), and it won’t return until late January, at the soonest. I won’t be offering these pens elsewhere until next year, so the reader discount of 10% off the list price will be automatic. Any queries initiating after Wednesday may see an extended delay before getting a “no” reply.

I’ve had a couple of inquiries about selling some of my other Retro 51s. I have no interest in selling any except for the Flint, which is currently listed. While I liked some of their December offerings, I avoided ordering any, so I don’t feel compelled to sell any of my existing Retro 51s.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening: Pacific Crucible by Ian W. Toll (audiobook) I finished this off this week. I like WWII histories, so this was an enjoyable book. It reads like a novel. It also seems to draw from Japanese primary sources, rather than being entirely US/UK centric. I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, although no specific reason for taking that 1/2 star off. The 22-hour audiobook passed quickly. (If you know of any good WWI histories from a non-US point of view, but in English, let me know.)

Listening: An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa (1942-1943) I hesitated on this one because it’s book 1 in a massive trilogy, in addition to being the same genre that I just finished. I like the narrator (George Guidall), so I’m hoping it’s as enjoyable as Pacific Crucible. So far, it is.

Watching: I went for light fare this week and watched a few Marx Brothers movies. Duck Soup still has me laughing from start to finish.

I bought these audiobooks when I was doing a lot of driving for 90 minutes, or more, each workday. At this point, I wish I had them in print. I’m not going to buy print (or ebook) editions, and getting a library book of the same title would also feel like a waste of money to me (sunk cost fallacy?). So I’ve been listening at home and resisting starting up another print book. There’s only been one instance where I had to re-listen to a large section after realizing my mind wandered and tuned out the book.

Housekeeping

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was moving this website to a new host. That didn’t happen. I found WordPress was charging my auto-renewal a month before the actual plan expiration. So I turned off auto-renewal and have until January 9th before I have to move or pay for a renewal. I’ll be moving in the next couple of weeks. With the extra time, I decided to be aggressive and work on a redesign.

New Arrivals

None

Incoming

I could only resist so much, and I have four fountain pens on their way to me — a year-end splurge.

  1. Sheaffer 300 Matte Green: As is often the case, the Anderson Pens podcast cost me money. They showed the Sheaffer 300 in the new Matte Green with Black Trim. I had to have it, so I ordered one with a fine nib. I had a 300 over five years ago, and I gave the pen a favorable review (no doubt partly fueled by my Sheaffer bias) but ended up giving it away. Maybe a Sheaffer 300 in my favorite color will be a keeper.
  2. Retro 51 Lincoln Fountain Pen: I haven’t had good luck with Retro 51 fountain pens. My first, Double Eight from 2005, was poorly made – a slip cap that quickly loosened so much the pen would fall out, along with other deficiencies. It put me off Retro 51s for awhile. My second was this same model, which I eventually sold since the nib was significantly wetter than my preference. My original had a Bock nib (although I could be wrong on this), while this one will have a JoWo nib. I don’t have a brand preference, but I’m encouraged that it’s not the same nib. It also keeps me from feeling guilty about re-buying a pen model that I sold. I’m going to try again since I like the copper pen’s look, and it forms a set with my Retro 51 rollerball. I got this one with a stub nib.
  3. Lamy Safari USA Independence Day Fountain Pen: This one was under my radar until I saw it on the specials page at Pen Chalet. According to them, this is a US exclusive, and the name implies that it’s been available for months. For some reason, it’s priced slightly under the regular Safari Models, although the list price is somewhat higher. I like the Red (clip), White (cap), and Blue (barrel) design. The pen is hardly US-centric, as I see there are 28 countries with these colors in their national flag. The photos don’t show any US-centric marking. This one is coming with a medium nib (the only available option), but I have a complete set of Lamy nibs to swap onto the pen.
  4. Diplomat Aero Green w/ fine 14kt gold nib: The green is a new color, I don’t even see it on Diplomat’s own website, and I only found it at Goulet Pens. Despite enjoyable steel nibs, I decided to splurge for a gold nib. I can’t remember ever picking a gold nib over steel when both have been available for the same pen. I found few reliable reviews for Diplomat’s gold nibs, and only for different pen models here and here. My main hesitation on the gold nib is that it appears to be a two-tone nib, and I prefer a nib lacking in gold color (except for classic Sheaffer nibs).

The Retro 51 and Lamy are coming from Pen Chalet. If you buy from them, be sure to find a discount coupon code, they’re ubiquitous. New customers can sign up for their email list to get one. Others can go to the Pen Addict Podcast webpage as they are a frequent sponsor. Sometimes they’re called out on their own site. Occasionally some items (like current Retro 51s) are excluded from coupons, but they can be used for nearly everything.

All have shipped, so they should arrive next week.

Outgoing

  1. Namiki Sterling Silver Hawk
  2. Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver

Written Dry

None

Newly Inked

None

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