My fountain pen usage was down this week. While I did journal every day, except one, I only wrote four A5 pages the entire week. Other than that, it was just a few notes and lists.
I’m really enjoying my nib on a stick, the Franklin-Christoph Model 66, which is my current journaling pen. It’s been over 2 1/2 years since I inked it up. I have to wonder why.
The Model 66 certainly put the most ink on paper this past week. The dark green Lamy Aion did nearly all the other writing. I’m getting used to the free-spinning cap, as long as it remains securely in place. Even though I’ve had the pen since April, the spinning became more pronounced recently.
Housekeeping: I’ve removed all the forms from the site. The amount of spam from them became annoying. They all ended in my email, which I couldn’t mark as spam since some of it is legitimate, and all come from the same email address used by the form. So, the forms are gone. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, which is also listed wherever the form was.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Read:The Mourner by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). The fourth installment in the Parker series. An entertaining read. Typical Richard Stark (Westlake). 4 out of 5 stars.
Read:The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell. I was happy to get back to WWII history. I had high expectations since this book had a long waiting list. I was extremely disappointed. There’s not much new info. That’s not because it’s all been told, but because this is just a surface overview. It reads like a high school student’s book report that had to meet a page quota, and the researcher used Cliff (or Monarch) notes. At least it was short. I take it back, I did learn one new thing: the jet stream was discovered (well, not exactly, but close enough) during the bombing of Japan. Basically, a story of true believers who remain believers despite constant failures and evidence against their beliefs. 2 out of 5 stars.
Reading:Zero Day by David Balducci. I’ll be starting this one later today. First in his John Puller series.
Reading Queue:The Last Mile by David Baldacci. The second installment of the memory man series. I picked this one because it was available, and I wanted a quick read. My other holds became available before I started, so I put this aside.
I’ve found I can’t read two books at the same time anymore. I forget a lot of what I read and have to scan the already read pages. Maybe if I read both each day, but that defeats the purpose of reading based on my mood. Having two completely different books (history and fiction) helped a little, but not much.
Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie (EF) – Seaglass w/ Palladium trim: The expected release date is now sometime in October.
I didn’t do much writing this past week. Just the journal entries, about eight A5 pages, and a few assorted lists. I don’t think I did any other sit down at a desk writing. The Lamy 2000 is still hanging in as my journal pen, although the line began to thin out last night. It’s written 22 A5 pages since I filled the pen. It saw little, if any, use outside the journal.
Speaking of the Lamy 2000, I’m finally getting used to using the pen. I adjusted my grip so that it’s firmly on the cap tab that stick out to hold the cap on. It’s a little higher than my original grip. I expected the tabs to be irritating, but so far they haven’t bothered me. They aren’t sharp at all. I was considering sending the pen along to a better home, but it will have another chance with me. The grip adjustment has eliminated my tendency to rotate the nib when writing. Some people mentioned that they line up the clip to provide a visual queue, but I don’t post caps. Even if I did, the nib is right where I’m looking, the cap wouldn’t be.
I never did get around to inking up any pens last Sunday, or at all last week. So I was down to only four inked fountain pens until I inked some up some more yesterday afternoon. The full list is in the Into Rotation section down below. This time I picked the pens I missed most, then gave some consideration to the ink. I may add one or two more early in the week, if I want more variety. But I’ll have nine, assuming the Lamy 2000 goes dry the morning. All signs point to it doing so.
I brought the Kaweco Brass Sport back out for my pocket carry. It’s weird. I’ve recently looked for a fountain pen to take out and about with me, but none of my inked up pens seemed suitable. I have been carrying a ballpoint or rollerball in my shirt pocket, and I tend to avoid having more than one pen in my shirt pocket. I’ve never missed that fountain pen when I was actually out and about, but I want the security blanket of having one. I’ll probably insult it by always reaching for the ballpoint instead. The ballpoint is just easier and quicker.
Of course, I went overboard in tackling that pocket pen problem and inked up a Pilot Vanishing Point. Although it popped into my head as a shirt pocket carry, I used an oblique nib which isn’t suitable for notes on the go, where the notebook or index card is hand held.
I withdrew the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 from my pen sale, although if you want to buy it ($135) let me know. I struggled with the price of it. I think the price is fair, although probably on the high side of fair, for the condition of the pen and how well it writes. But, it’s a basic black pen and recent editions from F-C have had much flashier designs. The Model 65 is available in Classic black and never seems to be sold out when I check their website. It could be they make a lot of them, but if I was forced to guess I’d say it’s less popular. So I pulled it from the sale and will use it as my journaling pen once the Lamy 2000 goes dry. I affectionately refer to it as my nib on a stick.
I pulled out my Sheaffer Custom Legacy for it’s thin Mark Bacas Blade Turk grind (Needlepoint). It’s Custom because the barrel is a Blue Fleck acrylic made by Franklin-Christoph with a Sheaffer cap, nib and section. I was disappointed to see some marring on the gold cap. I’ll have to look closer when I get a chance to see if it can be polished out.
I’m returning the Lamy Aion to the lineup and I noticed that the cap seems to rotate a little more freely than it has in the past. The cap is not even close to falling off, but it did cause me to react when I felt the pen moving. I still love the pen and hope it won’t annoy me now that I’ve noticed it.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Read:The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu: A Hugo award winner translated from Chinese. My western brain had a bit of a problem keeping track of the Chinese names, but that eventually sorted itself out. In the last ew chapters the science (or maybe fake science) got a little dense, and it took some concentration trying to visualize things. But other than that I enjoyed the book and reserved the seconding volume of the trilogy in Libby. Rated 4 out of 5, but a solid 4.
Awhile back I had mad a list of some science fiction recommendations I found online. Most weren’t available in Libby, at least not yet. One that was available was This is How You Lose the Time War. Despite hating time travel type science fiction, it was a short novella so I added it to my list. Since it was short I decided to give it a try. Big mistake. I only made it a couple pages. Between the writing style and topic I figured I’d never make it through the book.
I decided to get back to easy reading and picked two proven authors to alternate my reading during the next week or two.
Reading:The Mourner by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). The fourth installment in the Parker series.
Reading:The Last Mile by David Baldacci. The second installment of the memory man series.
Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie (EF) – Seaglass w/ Palladium trim: Bad news, the expected release date is now in October.
Not a pen, but a Nock Co. Fodderstack pen case that I had packed away. It was a nice green, and since I had forgotten about it, it was in great shape. I almost didn’t want to sell it. But there was a reason it was forgotten – I prefer and use the XL version.But it served as a reminder that it’s tough to get old – in searching my email for the exact color-way name I learned I had bought a second one. Actually a first one since it was before the one I just sold. I have no memory of it, can’t find it, and can’t think of a reason to buy a second. Maybe it was lost and I got a replacement. More likely, I simply liked the green more and bought it. I bought the XL at the same time. The original probably got misplaced in one of my apartment moves. On the plus side, I did remember the green one after 6 years and had no problem finding it.
Out of Rotation
Diplomat Aero Volute (fine-oblique) with a Montblanc Heritage Spider Metamorphosis Web Grey cartridge. I gave this one a quick flush and refilled it with the same ink.
Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (Extra-Fine) with Montblanc Bordeaux ink. Unlike past fills, I didn’t eyedropper it this time and I’m using a converter. I don’t want all that ink, the pen will last too long. This will be my journaling pen once the Lamy 2000 goes dry.
Lamy Aion Dark Green (Extra-Fine) with a Lamy Green cartridge. Despite the green ink, this will be my daily workhorse.
Pilot Vanishing Point Red Bamboo (medium-oblique) with a Pilot Blue-Black cartridge. I hate that Bamboo was the official name of the pen in my part of the world. It’s not Bamboo, and to make it worse, some vendors played up the bamboo aspect. Why couldn’t they call it Birch Wood like they do in other places? But, I love the look, whatever you choose to call it. I deal with it in my database by listing Birch Wood as the pen material and the color as Red Bamboo.
Diplomat Aero Green (14k Fine) with Waterman Purple. By the time I got to this pen I wanted a sharper color. While I like both green and purple, it seems like a strange combo.
Kaweco Brass Sport (Extra-Fine) with a Kaweco Red cartridge. I figure I’m more likely to use this pen if it’s my only red ink choice, and is always with me.
Sheaffer Custom Legacy (Blade Turn) with Waterman Black.
A weak defense of the Series 3 – All this // I was shocked when the Series 3 survived for another year. Then I remembered that I did go from the Series 0 to the Series 5, with not stops in between. Other than waiting hours (yes, plural) for the updates to happen the watch remained fine for what I used it for. I have the Series 5 now, and don’t plan to upgrade for at least another 2 years. Of course, buying a new Series 3 now probably won’t get you four more years.
My fountain pen usage did pick up over the last week. I managed to journal every day, and filled over seven pages in my journal. Not a lot each day, but consistent.
I woke up well before sunrise several days, all early in the week. I find the quiet and darkness conducive to writing. I wrote the Three Pen Collection draft one morning, and the draft to a second article.
I’m down to four inked fountain pens. So, I plan to ink up some more later today. I’m debating what pens to pick (pens always come before inks). This means I may end up with a dozen or so inked pens. I am trying to have some restraint.
The new pen glow wore off my TWSBI Swipe, so I moved it out of my Penwell Traveler that holds my current pen of choice at my desk. It was replaced my the Diplomat Aero Volute. It did return when the Volute went dry since it was my only thin nib with ink.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Reading:Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I put this aside when _The Three-Body Problem became available. I don’t like stories based on mind control and this installment is heavy into mind games, at least what I read so far. I have no recollection of this book. At least parts of the earlier two came back to me as I read them. I suspect I also gave up on this one back in my youth. Since there was a waiting list, I returned the book early. I suppose by completist brain will force me to finish the book.
Reading:The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. A Hugo award winner translated from Chinese. I’m about half-way through the book and I’m enjoying it a lot. My western brain has a bit of a problem keeping track of the Chinese names, but that eventually sorted itself out.
Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie (EF) – Seaglass w/ Palladium trim: Bad news, the release date is now in October.
Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green (M): While I love the green material, the gold trim wasn’t to my taste. Plus I had three Balance IIs. I decided to keep the Aspen, also with gold trim, but it’s a better match with mostly brown material.
Lamy Aion Red (F): I love the green Aion, it’s in my 3-pen collection as the workhorse. While I like the Red Aion, I don’t think I’d be inking it up very often. So it was a catch & release, just inked once.
Out of Rotation
Diplomat Aero Volute (fine-oblique) with a Montblanc Heritage Spider Metamorphosis Web Grey cartridge. This was inked up way back in mid-May. As I was using the pen this past week, I couldn’t figured out how it lasted nearly four months. I’m going to be inking up some fountain pens later today and I may simply pop in another cartridge of the same ink.
I guess summer is over. There were a lot of links this past week, so I limited myself to one per site. Be sure to browse these websites for more great content.
Relay FM is having their Annual Fundraiser this month. The Pen Addict is having a raffle with many pen & stationery prizes. Raffle entries are based on donations to St. Jude. Here’s the latest update and entry instructions. St. Jude has long been on my list of regular donations as a truly great charity. You have until Sept. 21st to get raffle entries.
Anthony, of UK Fountain Pens, recently published a thought-exercise: The three-pen collection for £1,000. This led me down a long and winding (but fun) path last Sunday. When I thought I was done I had instead created something closer to an update to my Perfect Penvelope post from 2017. I jettisoned the three pen limit early on in the process, and the number of pens grew. Eventually I turned that winding path into a circle, got back to beginning, and kept the three pen constraint.
The three pen constraint was interesting, and made things harder. I also made the budget an even $1,000 rather than converting the £1,000 to $1,382.94 (Sunday’s exchange rate per Google). I might have made different choices with the higher cap. There would have been room for a Sailor King of Pen. But with the lower limit the other two pens would have to have been cheap Chinese pen bought on eBay, so the KOP wasn’t an option. (One less thing to think about.) To be honest, it probably still wouldn’t have made the list.
I have no complaints about Anthony’s choices. The Lamy 2000 is not a pen for me, but I can’t argue against it’s inclusion. For my choices, all dollar amounts are regular retail prices, rounded up to the next $10 increment, to make math easy. I limited my choices to pens available as new from authorized US retailers, not eBay, Amazon or other grey-market resellers.
Here are my choices…
My first choice is the most expensive of the three. A Kanilea Kona Cherry, with an extra-fine nib. The fountain pen is $400. I’d go with the Classic profile and silver for the medallion and nib. I’m well under budget and lack a gold nib among my three pens. I could splurge and go with a gold nib, while remaining under the cap. I have this pen now, with a steel nib, and it’s perfect. So I don’t see the point of a gold nib.
Alternatives: None that I considered. I’d probably pick a different acrylic if the Kona Cherry went away.
My second choice is the Esterbrook OS Estie with a Journaler nib ($240). The Oversize Estie is comfortable in my hand and I enjoy the Journaler nib. There’s a nice selection of acrylics, and a growing number of custom nibs for the OS Estie. Even with a custom acrylic, and custom nib the Estie Oversize tops out at $360, although the higher price versions don’t appeal to me. This does exclude the announced, but as yet unavailable Accutron Limited Edition, which is a collaboration with the watch company, and costs $600. It’s not just the price that keeps me from including that pen, so my budget cap is safe.
Alternatives: None. Availability, and finding a nice design, shouldn’t be problems.
My third choice is the workhorse of the bunch, and only $80, the Lamy Aion with an extra-fine nib. It’s an all-metal pen that’s built like a tank (although the cap on some models may spin a little too freely). Any Aion will qualify, but I love, love, love the Dark Green model. The nib is a contender as the best extra-fine nib that I have.
Alternatives: The Dark Green is limited in a sense, it’s a 2021 Special Edition. They’ll make them for a while (maybe stopped already) and once they sell through the channel they’ll be unavailable. Earlier Special Editions took about 2 years to become scarce. I really like the Dark Green. If the Dark Green was unavailable I’d consider other finishes.
The total cost of my three pens is $720. I do luck out a bit. I don’t like the more expensive Estie models very much so, I don’t feel compelled to spend more.
While I like extra-fine nibs, I’m not pleased with having two out of the three being extra-fines. The Lamy Aion is locked in because it’s my workhorse pen. I’d consider getting a fine nib for the Kanilea, then getting a custom left-oblique grind. I’d still be under the cap. But that would only be if I was starting from scratch with these three pens. Since I use the Kanilea at my desk, with proper posture (mostly), it’s well suited to the oblique grind, which is my favorite custom grind. I do like variety in my nibs.
In the beginning, the Pilot Custom 823 seemed to be a solid choice as one of the three I’d be picking. It’s a great writer that I can use forever without my hand getting tired. But, I absolutely hate the aesthetics. I don’t like gold trim and I don’t like colored demonstrators. While there is a clear version in Japan, it still has gold trim. Then I realized the Lamy Aion is another thin-nibbed pen that’s a great writer and I can use forever without my hand getting fatigued. In this case, I love, love, love the aesthetics.
A wooden Pilot Vanishing Point (aka Capless) was also on my list for a long time. It’s practical, and nib swaps are simple. But they’re no longer available here in the United States. I could easily order one from a European retailer, and it would cost less than the Kanilea. There’s no U.S. Customs charges and European pen retailers have very reasonable shipping rates to the U.S., unless Covid changed that. Although, with the Vanishing Point, I would cheat and add additional nib units & custom grinds, while technically respecting the three pen limit. I figure the budget would allow an additional two nibs/grinds. It would be a tempting change if there weren’t artificial constraints. The practical side of my brain would want the Vanishing Point, the rest of me would want the Kanilea.
I really like the look of many Visconti and Leonardo fountain pens. But I found that I eventually get bored with their designs and wanted to move on. None of their pens were seriously considered for the collection.
At one point my list had two Pilot fountain pens (Custom 823 and wooden Vanishing Point). Both were eventually cut from the list. I do like Pilot nibs.
If I had converted the £1,000 to US Dollars (about $1,380) I might have made different choices. For one, there would be room to consider a Sailor King of Pen. Consider, but not necessarily pick. I refuse to spend more time thinking about this, but my gut tells me that the KOP wouldn’t replace one of the others, even if the budget allowed.
What are your three fountain pens for $1,000 (or £1,000)? Be careful, it could be said I wasted far too much time on that simple question.
While I hate to say it, my fountain pen usage has been rather boring the last two weeks. I’m down to five inked pens, and I haven’t felt any excitement towards inking up any new combinations. I do have a couple of pens nearing empty, so I will be inking up so new ones in the week ahead.
My fountain pen usage has been abysmal these last two weeks. So on Friday I set a goal to write for 15 minutes each day, and will be keeping track to keep the streak going. When I set goals like this I typically set an easily obtainable time limit. Fifteen minutes is easy to squeeze in, and in practice I often got longer. Even if I have a busy day, I can squeeze it in before bed. If I set the goal for 30 minutes I may decide I’d rather sleep.
I was hoping the oblique medium nib would make me like the Lamy 2000 more than I did when I had the fine nib version. While it’s not as bad as the fine nib, I still find myself rotating the nib while I write. The oblique nib is more suited to my hand and I don’t have a problem once I touch nib to paper, as long as I keep writing. This is an improvement over the fine nib, which I did rotate while writing. But if I pause, and lift the pen from paper, I must fidget enough that the pen rotates in my hand. I don’t notice the orientation when I start writing again, and it’s usually off, causing skips. With larger, visible nibs, I must subconsciously re-orient the nib as I return to writing. It doesn’t help that the Lamy is silver near that small nib. I’m giving the pen until I use all the Montblanc Bordeaux ink, no way I’m dumping that ink early. But right now, it’s looking like my second Lamy 2000 will be going to the sale page. Or maybe I need new glasses.
The Lamy 2000 has been my journal pen, living in the case with the journal. This make is less annoying, since I don’t pause very often when writing. Like I mentioned, at least with the oblique medium nib I don’t rotate it while writing. I could keep it as a journaling pen, but I want to return the Kanilea Kona Cherry to that roll. I miss it.
Speaking of journaling; these past two weeks were split. Two weeks ago I wrote four straight days (Sunday through Wednesday) for a total of five A5 pages, then stopped until last Thursday when I started up again and have written six pages in the last three days.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Reading:The Outfit by Richard Stark (a Donald E. Westlake pseudonym). Part of his Parker series. It’s the first of the series that I read, although it’s the third installment of the Parker series, so I’m obviously missing some backstory. But, my library didn’t have the first two. I still enjoyed the book, and the character. The mob send a hitman after Parker (due to the missing backstory) who fails. Parker is pissed and goes after the outfit as he promised he would if they went after him. The book is a series of mini-capers as Parker gives his criminal friends a reason to go after the outfit. I enjoyed the book a lot. Probably would have given if 5 stars if I read the first two, but as it is: 4 stars (out of 5).
Reading:The Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Started this yesterday and I’m a little less than 15% through it. My feeling so far is about the same as the first two volumes, I’m enjoying it, but not compelled to devour it.
Listening: I sorted my Audible book catalog by length, in ascending order, and started listening to the shortest books that I’d yet to read. None were particularly good, and only one was bad. I generally wouldn’t pick a short Audible book to buy or use credits on, so I suspect all of these were free or part of a promotion. The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While it was marked as unread, I do remember listening to it in the past. But I enjoyed it and kept going. I rated it 4 stars. On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. I rated it 1 star, barely making it through the 60 minute book. Legion by Brando Sanderson. The first book of his that I read. Good enough to have me look at his other books. 4 stars. Verona by Jeffery Deaver. An interesting story about two mob families at war. An interesting, if somewhat predictable, twist at the end. I listened while cleaning the apartment and would sometimes zone out, without being compelled to backtrack and re-listen. 3 stars.
Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie – Seaglass w/ Palladium trim: It’s backordered and not due until September. Estimated release date is Sept. 6th. Soon! I hope.
Out of Rotation
The Commonwealth Pen Show is still scheduled to happen on Sunday, September 12th. I received an email on Thursday confirming that the show was still on.