Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 31, 2021

photo of this week's new arrivals, Lamy Safari, Retro 51 and a Lamy AL-Star
This week’s new arrivals (T->B). Lamy Safari Mango, Retro 51 #119, and Lamy AL-Star Bronze

I didn’t have a favorite fountain pen this past week. The bias towards using new pens has worn off. So, while I still consistently use the newer pens, such as the Green Aero , other pens are working their way into daily use.

My Dark Lilac Safari leaked all the remaining (about 1/4 of the cartridge) violet ink inside my Visconti 3-pen case. The full length dividers limited most ink to the center slot containing the Safari. I couldn’t find any reason for the leak. The design of the Safari locks the cartridge firmly in place, so it didn’t come loose. Leaving through the feed as the only way out of the cartridge. The nib itself was firmly in place. The pen did spent a few nights nib down in my PenWell, but the hole in the cap means if any leaked it would immediately go to my desk. The case itself was stored flat most of the time. So the mystery remains. I plan to move the gold nib to another Safari for variety, not because of the leak. I’ll probably fill the Dark Lilac with ink again and let it sit around to see what happens.

I’ve been afraid to use the case again. Traces of the ink remain in the felt-like lining. Every once in a while I use a paper towel to rub out more of the ink. Eventually it may come out clean and I’ll start using the case again. I bought the case to protect my Sheaffer Balance IIs, although I’m not traveling regularly with my pens these days. I wouldn’t want those pristine finishes getting purple inked rubbed into them, so I started looking for a replacement. Finding cases that meet my requirements (mentioned in the previously linked post) at a reasonable price was impossible. This specific case was hard to find, and very expensive. Visconti has new designs and I’m guessing this case is no longer made. The new cases exceeded my budget, by a factor of 4, at a minimum, so I didn’t even research to see if they met my requirements. The least expensive option I found was the Esterbrook Nook at $100 which was 3 times my budget. I don’t have a record of how much the case was when I bought it, but the entire order that included the case was less than the cost of the current options.

I ended up ordering a Franklin-Christoph pen roll. I went with canvas. Leather may provide slightly more protection, but it was more expensive (and above my budget) and I’m not sure there would be more protection from the leather. The main selling points for me were that the pen clips don’t need to fit over the material in order for the pen to fit in the slot, and there’s no elastic strap putting pressure on the pen as I pull it out of the case. The pen roll is due in a few days.

My now repaired Vanishing Point XXF nib is working it’s way back to me. It’s overdue, which is not unexpected these days.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening: Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I haven’t listened to this at all during the past week.
Reading: I haven’t started another book yet.

New Arrivals

  1. Retro 51 #119 Train Rollerball
  2. Lamy Safari Mango (EF)
  3. Lamy AL-Star Bronze (EF)





Written Dry

  1. Sheaffer PFM I : Either I forgot how much I used this, or if evaporated, or (my guess) it got an incomplete fill. It was dry when I went to use it.
  2. Kanilea Kona Cherry : I wrote this one dry. I’ve been refilling it, but after several refills over seven months, I decided it needs a quick cleaning. But it will be back with the same ink. I just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it.
  3. Lamy Safari Dark Lilac (w/14k O.M.) : As mentioned at the top, this pen leaked for some reason. I plan to move the nib to a different Safari and return it to the rotation, but haven’t done it yet.
  4. Lamy Safari USA : I flushed this one out early. I’m considering sending a Lamy nib for nib work when I send the Sailor for repair, and I’ll use this one as the nib holder since it’s the color that I’ll miss the least. Plus, the already attached medium nib is probably the nib I’ll want Changed.
  5. ystudio Classic Brass Desk Pen : This was written dry. While I do like having it available on my desk, and is certainly gets used, I decided to hold off on re-inking, and give some other fountain pens some work.

Newly Inked (or re-inked)

Both new fountain pen arrivals were inked up with the cartridges included with the pen.
1. Lamy Safari Mango (EF)
2. Lamy AL-Star Bronze (EF)

My Personal Traveler’s Notebook, Plus Traveler’s Notebooks in The Curated Shop! — The Gentleman Stationer // Great minds thinking alike? Along with the recent Safaris that I ordered, I also received two Traveler’s Free Diary (019) refills, and I started using my Travelers Notebook again this week. I’ve been away from it for a long time. There’s a lot of similarities, in addition to the diary choice. I also use the zippered pouch and the Kraft Paper Folder. The folder is mainly to hold a notebook that can be quickly removed.

Monthly Inked // 2021 Work Rotation – Weirdoforest Pens

Pelikan’s #350: An Eastern Oddity Of The Classic Line « The Pelikan’s Perch

The Anatomy of a Stacked Nib – Tokyo Station Pens

A few thoughts on the Leonardo Furore Arancio fountain pen. | Fountain pen blog

Spring Semester Stationery Setup — The Pen Addict

Sheaffers – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

What Do You Write? – Goodwriterspens’s Blog


Brooklyn’s Street Address Mess: A Tale of Civic Dysfunction – The New York Times // Back when I started college I was majoring in urban planning (for only a short time), but articles like this still interest me. The NY Times attempt to make it visually interesting does make it a chore to read, but I still found it interesting enough to get through.

A Conn. photographer took the shot that became the Bernie Sanders mitten meme // First, Connecticut – Yea! Plus, Second, I can relate to wanting a warm coat and mittens. Nothing wrong with that. Those mittens look toasty.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 24, 2021

My two favorite fountain pens of the week
Diplomat Aero and Lamy Safari

My fountain pen usage was up this week. I switched back to using a Seven Seas Writer as a Journal and I’m filling at least a page per day. That may not be a lot for many people, but it is for me these days. My most used pens this week are two of the ones discussed below under Changing Beliefs.

At the end of 2020 I said that I’d be enjoying the pens I bought in 2020, and not buy new ones. Well, that didn’t last long.

I ordered a Retro 51, although I couldn’t have predicted it. Pen Chalet released a train themed Retro 51. Prior to fountain pens, I collected n-scale model trains, and have an ongoing interest in trains. So this one was irresistible and I immediately ordered one when I got the e-mail. I almost ignored the email because the stampede of Retro 51 announcements has worn me out, and made me not care. I heard that production was affected by the pandemic and their trying to get all the releases in. Update: Additional info in the links, sounds like Retro 51 is not going away.

The two 2021 special edition Safaris that Lamy announced both appeal to me and I will probably get both. They got me looking at Lamy’s again. I ended up ordering a 14k gold nib, usable on any of my Lamy fountain pens. I also ordered both a Safari and AL-Star. This could be pandemic induced stupidity since I’ve previously sold off nine Safari/AL-Star fountain pens due to non-use. Assuming I do get both 2021 models, I’ll be back to six Safaris and one AL-Star.

Changing Beliefs

I’ve held certain fountain pen presumptions and assumptions for as long as I can remember. A couple of these have either completely collapsed, or been slightly bent.

TWSBI GO with a custom Predator Extreme nib
TWSBI Go with the Predator Extreme nib

The first was that I would never get a custom nib on an inexpensive pen. I avoid the word cheap because that would imply it might be poorly made. I didn’t think about it much, I just automatically ignored considering them for nib work. Spending more on a nib grind than I did on the pen struck me as inconceivable. Then when considering pens to send out to Mark Bacas I wanted to get a Predator Extreme grind. This is a very fine tip when held normally, and an Architect grind when reversed. I skipped an Architect grind when it was all the rage a couple of years ago because it just didn’t seem to be a nib I would enjoy. The Predator Extreme is very fine when used normally, and an Architect grind when reversed. A new grind always carries a bit of risk, but I will almost certainly like the thin side, and I’ll be able to try the Architect. A broad nib is recommended as the starting point. My only choice, other than buying a new pen, was my TWSBI Go. A $19 fountain pen.

I like the pen (if not the broad nib) and finally convinced myself that it made sense for the grind. The Go is a sturdy and reliable fountain pen. Even if it does break, the nib is easy to move. The only reason I could come up with to not have it done was the price difference. I finally realized that this wasn’t a reason. It’s not even a bad reason.

I also had a reader ask if it was worth getting their favorite pen, an inexpensive Lamy Safari, done. Assuming it’s a nib grind that I’d want, I wouldn’t hesitate. I fact, at $14 for a replacement nib it will probably become my standard choice if I want to experiment with a new nib grind. The ease of swapping nibs gives it bonus points.

The second constant practice that fell to the wayside was never buying a gold nib when steel nibs are available. I ordered one pen with a gold, rather than steel nib, and a gold replacement nib for another.

Diplomat Aero with a 14k fine nib
Diplomat Aero upgraded to a gold nib

The green Diplomat Aero is the perfect color for me. I had money in the budget, so I decided to splurge and upgrade it to a 14k gold nib. My memory may be faulty, but I don’t recall ever doing this before. I am happy with the resulting fountain pen. The Nib’s feel is more to my liking. I’m not going to make this standard practice. I’d be hard-pressed to justify the $124 price bump regularly, so I’m unlikely to get another Diplomat with a gold nib. Still, it’s a pen I love the look of, and the performance of the gold nib elevates it to perfect fountain pen levels.

Lamy Safari with 14k gold medium oblique nib
Old Pen – New Nib

I also bought a Lamy medium oblique 14k gold nib. This is sold as a replacement nib and is easily swappable between any Lamy model, except the Lamy 2000. So I can move it between any of my Lamy fountain pens, depending on what color pen matches my mood, or more likely, just for variety. I wouldn’t deal with the mess of swapping nibs while inked. So I’ll have to coordinate my mood swings with re-inkings. Something that should be easier now that we no longer have a president that thrives on chaos. This price was much easier to justify. Left oblique is my favorite nib style. At $100 the nib is downright economical when compared to gold nib price bumps these days. Also consider that getting a stock Lamy steel nib ground would cost $40-$50, plus shipping since there isn’t a factory steel nib option. Besides, I’d have to send the pen away for a few weeks or months, at least until pen shows return. I’m finding this to be another enjoyable nib.

Overall, I’m happy to break with past practice with these nib choices. The Diplomat Aero and Lamy Safari gold nibs have been regular choices as my daily drivers. They’ve both been used every day if only to enjoy using them for a sentence or two. I’m also happy with picking up the TWSI Go for the Predator Extreme. I don’t get as much joy from it as from other nibs, but that was expected and not because of the pen.

The low-cost pen allowed me to take a risk on a new (for me) nib grind. Future experimental or risky nib grinds will be done on a Lamy Safari, rather than buying a new TWSBI Go. Even if I run out of Safaris, the easily swapped nibs are less expensive than a Go.

The gold nibs made pens I enjoyed just a little bit better. Although, the Lamy also benefited a bit from being my preferred nib style (oblique). They both have a slightly different feel which I do like. I have no regrets. That said, my default nib choice will continue to be steel over gold.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook).
Reading: I haven’t started another book yet.

New Arrivals

  1. Lamy 14k gold medium oblique nib. Just the nib. I put it on my Dark Lilac Safari.


  1. Retro 51 #119 Train Rollerball
  2. Lamy Safari Mango
  3. Lamy AL-Star Bronze

So much for limiting my pen purchases in 2021.



Written Dry

  1. Diplomat Aero Volute – This was inked up back on November 20th with Athena (Maruzen) Sepia. I do really like the ink, but this oblique fine nib wasn’t the best choice to showcase the ink.
  2. Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with a Carbon Black ink. I inked this up way back in July. It didn’t go dry, but it got so little use that it was always an effort to get it going. This defeats the purpose of what I want from the pen kept on my kitchen table. So I flushed it out. It’s no great loss. I kept it “handy” on my kitchen table, but my apartment is small enough that there’s always a pen nearby, so it rarely got used.
  3. Diplomat Aero Green – This was inked up when it arrived back on January 9th. I used it a lot. It’s already refilled.

Newly Inked

  1. Lamy Safari Dark Lilac with a 14k gold oblique medium nib and a Lamy Violet ink cartridge.
  2. Diplomat Aero Green – This went Friday evening. I gave it a quick flush and let it dry overnight. In the morning I popped in the second ink cartridge that was included with the pen.

Swan Feeds – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Constellations88 The Elements Moranges | dapprman

Binge Mode: As the Pen Turns Podcast — The Pen Addict // A new podcast by two pen makers. I’ve listened to the first two episodes and enjoyed them. I’m firmly “never say never”, so I’ll just say I can’t envision that I’ll ever want to make a pen. Yet, I’ve still enjoyed the conversations so far. The next ep will be much more tool specific, and be part of a series. So my opinion may change. The podcast is young enough to start at the beginning. So far the content has been evergreen, so I’ve felt no need to slip ahead.

His Nibs | Quieter Elephant

Platinum Blue Black Ink Review — The Pen Addict // I rarely read ink reviews these days. But a blue-black ink review gets my attention. While I don’t need more inks, I did add this to my list for consideration should that change.

Portland Bill Lighthouse – Pens! Paper! Pencils! // This was my favorite of a couple drawings published this week, be sure to look for the others.

A Letter from George | The Retro 51 Blog Earlier this year they announced the retirements/shutdown/transmogrification A letter from the Retro51 Team | The Retro 51 Blog // So Retro 51 will continue.

Paper Wants A Pen // On the recent Pen Addict podcast, Brad mentioned this shop as a good place to get Sheaffer fountain pens restored. While there’s no mention of restoring pens for others, it’s obvious he restores a lot of Sheaffers so I added it to my list for the next time I need a Sheaffer restored.

More of His Nibs | Quieter Elephant

Pen Review: Metaxas & Sins Stylos Green Fountain pen – The Well-Appointed Desk // A brand that I’ve never heard of.

[PfMP] Parker IM | dapprman

Retreat | From the Pen Cup


Hank Aaron’s lasting impact is measured in more than home runs // I rarely saw Hank Aaron play when I was a kid, and never in person. That was pre-cable. But I was always amazed at how consistent he was as I followed the box scores. He hit home runs, a did a little more. I’m also firmly in the camp that Bonds cheated to break the record.

Larry King, legendary talk show host, dies – CNN // CNN seems the appropriate obituary for linking.

Georgia election: America’s anti-democratic Senate, in one number – Vox

The Postal Service Survived the Election. But It Was Crushed by Holiday Packages. – The New York Times // My own limited experience jives with these charts, with shipments from/through the mid-Atlantic suffering significant delays.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 17, 2021

This week’s surprise favorite is the Penlux Masterpiece Grande. I’ve been ignoring it and was thinking it may get added to the for sale pile. Then I used it, and wondered why I went so long without using it. Definitely not going into the for sale pile.

My fountain pens were a bit temperamental most of this week. The indoor heating has dried out the air so much that my pens can’t handle much of a pause and the ink quickly evaporates off the nib. Some rain on Saturday added enough moisture to get things back to normal.

Diplomat Aero with a 14kt gold nib

The newly arrived gold-nibbed Diplomat Aero got a lot of use. It took a little getting used to. The nib looked long and thin. Although, it’s about the same size as my Pelikan M815 and Penlux Masterpiece. That was sorted out in less than a page of writing.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening: Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook).
Reading: The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille. This one is finished and I enjoyed it enough to add the next book in the series to my reading list. Although, it will be awhile before I get to it. I haven’t started anything new.

New Arrivals






Written Dry


Newly Inked



What I’ve been up to… | paperinkplan

How to read a pen review | UK fountain pens

Maker: Setting Up My Every Thing Every Where Journal | Comfortable Shoes Studio

News: Pelikan’s US Price Increases For 2021 And The Trends That Might Surprise You « The Pelikan’s Perch

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 10, 2021

photo of my newly arrived Diplomat Aero with a 14kt gold nib

My relatively new Sheaffer 300 Matte Green got a lot of use this week, compared to other pens. My newest arrival, a gold nib Diplomat Aero is pictured above. It didn’t arrive until Saturday so it hasn’t seen any use to speak of.

Fountain pens haven’t been top of mind for me this week, so they didn’t get much use beyond a few notes and lists. So, not much else to say. I have started writing some other articles, but they aren’t far enough along for me to mention.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening: Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I finished this one. It was worth the investment to read since I enjoy the genre. Next up will be the next book in the trilogy. It’s even longer (32 hours), so it may take me months to get through.
Reading: The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille. My first book by this author. I was in the mood for a mystery, and this one was recommended to me.

I want to give a shout-out to the Libby service (and app). It’s offered by my local library and has ebooks and audiobooks. I tried a library app long ago, but I forget the name (maybe it was Libby). It was atrocious and unusable. The current Libby app is nice. It allows me to send the ebooks to my Kindle, which is my preferred platform for reading. So if you haven’t tried Libby recently, it may be worth looking at it again. I’ve never used it for an audiobook.

New Arrivals

  1. Diplomat Aero Green (14kt Fine nib) finally arrived. Thursday I contacted Goulet Pens about the long-lost pen, and they immediately offered to replace it or issue a refund. I picked a replacement, and they had generated the order Thursday afternoon. Then late Thursday morning USPS tracking for the original pen updated to show it had arrived in my state, three and a half weeks since being last providing any update. So I quickly contacted Goulet Pens, and they were able to put a hold on the replacement. The Diplomat was then delivered on Saturday.





Written Dry


Newly Inked


canetas e coisas: SANTINI

Holiday Haul 2020 // Year in Review – Weirdoforest Pens

The Ultrasonic Cleaner – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Turning Over the Year | Peaceable Writer

Blackbird 5241 – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

News: Edelstein Ink of the Year 2021 – Golden Beryl « The Pelikan’s Perch


What Happened | Kieran Healy // Good read, and the theory makes sense.

A Brief History of Peanut Butter | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine // I like peanut butter and now know who to thank.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 3, 2021

photo of this week's favorite pen, the Matte Green Sheaffer 300.

Picking a favorite fountain pen and ink is going to become harder and harder, since I’m sticking to what are already my favorites, and using a different pen every day. But if forced to pick I’d go with my new Sheaffer 300. I’m a fan of both green and Sheaffer. I’m thrilled that there’s a modern Sheaffer I like. The fact that it’s an inexpensive pen (~$65 street price) and a joy to write with, and I have a winner.

My fountain pen usage has been up a little over the last two weeks. Mainly because I’ve made a conscious effort to use them every day. I’ve set an informal goal of writing at least three pages a day. Some days it just happens naturally from the things I need to get done. Most days I need to supplement it. Since it’s often late in the day, I usually pick something easy and stupid. Once day I imitated Bart Simspon’s blackboard gag and wrote: “I don’t feeling like writing, but I feel like using my fountain pens.” Over and over until two pages were filled. Other days I simply transcribe pages from the book I’m reading. For the record, these days a page is typically A5 or B5 sized. If I was smart, I would turn this into a routine to practice and improve my handwriting.

Those of you reading this directly on the website will notice that there’s a new design. This coincides with my move back to self-hosted WordPress. There are still some things I need to work out, although most are only noticeable to me. I did go a little heavy with green, so I hope you like it as much as I do.

I came across another bent nib. My Sailor KOP medium nib is bent up Waverly style. It doesn’t write so bad, but noticeably worse than before. This one had to happen during the cleaning, but I’m at a loss as to what and why. I might have to start recording my pen cleaning. I’ll send it out once USPS seems to have settled down.

Current Reads, Watches & Listens

Listening: Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook): Still making progress through the book. I’m about 75% done, with about 7 hours of listening left.
Reading: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carré : Finished this one. I hadn’t read it before, but didn’t realize it was published in 2019 until it brought up Brexit and Trump. A typical melancholy le Carré story.
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré : I started this one after finishing Agent… and have made very little progress. I fell asleep reading it more than once, which isn’t encouraging. Especially since I woke up with no desire to finish the chapter. This one was due to be returned in two days, but I returned it yesterday. My main problem is that it’s shaping up to be a very bitter and cynical story.I’m not sure it’s a story I want to read these days. I feel duty-bound to read it, since it’s the last George Smiley story. I have never read it, but it will have to wait until the world itself is less bitter and cynical.

New Arrivals



  1. The Diplomat Aero, with its gold nib is still sitting at USPS in Virginia. A at least according to the last USPS tracking report. Now that the holiday is over I guess it’s time to try and move this one along, although based on twitter and the internet in general, a three week delay isn’t unheard of.



Written Dry

  1. Esterbrook Oversized Estie (Journaler) was written dry of Sheaffer Red ink. I immediately refilled it with the same ink.
  2. Sailor Pro Gear British Racing Green (M-F) was inked up on October 31st when it arrived. I waited a few days, but it was eventually re-inked with Montblanc British racing green
  3. Kanilea Pen Kona Cherry (EF) was refilled with Montblanc Bordeaux as soon as it went dry.

Newly Inked

I inked up (or re-inked) so many pens that I did a currently inked post yesterday.

Completing the Inspired Stories Planner – Pam Alison Knits

Local Focus: Resurgence of the fountain pen – NZ Herald

Crónicas Estilográficas: More Custom 74

canetas e coisas: VISCONTI

FPR Jaipur – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

2020: Some of my fountain pen highlights. | Fountain pen blog

New Pens To Me 2020 | dapprman

My 2021 planner setup – Pam Alison Knits

Favourite Tools – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

2021 Planner Set Up. — The Finer Point

Year-End Recap: Favorite Pens from 2020 — The Gentleman Stationer

A Stationary 2020 of Stationery — The Pen Addict

2020 – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Looking ahead to 2021 | UK fountain pens

2020 in Inky Review Part 1: Personal Trends and Collection

2020 Cheers and Tears – The Well-Appointed Desk

An affordable ASC?! Introducing the ASC Studio Collection | UK fountain pens

YEAR ROUNDUP: MY FAVORITE PRODUCTS OF 2020 | The Pencilcase Blog | Fountain pen, Pencil, Ink and Paper reviews

Off-topic // I can’t buy fountain pens that I won’t use. Assuming I could afford one of these cars, I would have to drive it.