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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Lamy 14k gold medium oblique nib. Just the nib. I put it on my Dark Lilac Safari.
- Retro 51 #119 Train Rollerball
- Lamy Safari Mango
- Lamy AL-Star Bronze
So much for limiting my pen purchases in 2021.
- 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.
- 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.
- Diplomat Aero Green – This was inked up when it arrived back on January 9th. I used it a lot. It’s already refilled.
- Lamy Safari Dark Lilac with a 14k gold oblique medium nib and a Lamy Violet ink cartridge.
- 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.
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.
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.
Pen Review: Metaxas & Sins Stylos Green Fountain pen – The Well-Appointed Desk // A brand that I’ve never heard of.
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.
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.