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.
Still on the summer schedule, so today is a links-only post. Since next weekend is the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S., the normal schedule will be returning. Unless I decide to take next weekend off, and just do a holiday link post.
My Pen Sale is still ongoing. I adjusted some pen prices, some down, one up. I’ll be shopping the pens in other venues.
Yes, I know this is posting early, and it’s still Saturday the 21st where I am, this isn’t an accidental premature posting. With Henri already raining in Newark, where my server is, and forecast to turn towards me tonight, I figured I’d get it posted, do an extra set of backups, and batten down for the night. So it’s an on purpose premature posting.
Even though I wrote a several pens dry this week. my fountain pen usage is still on the low side. I did manage to do a journal entry ever day this week, after only have a couple entries for the previous week. So while consistency is improving, the length of entries is still way down. Mary, at From the Pen Cup, puts me to shame.
I also used pen & ink to write a letter to Anderson Pens for their 400th podcast celebration. You have until August 31st to get your handwritten entry in to them. Full details are in Podcast 400 (YouTube, Audio).
Two of the pens written dry, the Aion and Model 20, are favorites and I already miss them. My Journal pen, the Kanilea Kona Cherry went dry Saturday night. It had Montblanc Bordeaux ink in it, and I refused to waste even a couple drops by flushing it out early. Good to the last drop.
My Sheaffer 300 Matte Green is turning out to be a problem pen. I’ve only used Sheaffer Black ink cartridges in it, so next fill will be a different ink. The first cartridge leaked through the cap and made a slight mess of the pen. I never came across a specific thing I could blame, but after a cleanup and inspection the problem never returned. What remained of that first cartridge seemed to do ok and was problem-free. But the two cartridges since then have skipping and hard start issues. Nothing major, but enough to be annoying. I’m spoiled by large supply of good performing fountain pens, so the Sheaffer 300 stands out. But, not in a good way.
I ended up doing my typical test which is to hold the pen at the top (end opposite the nib) and drag the pen across the paper to see what line it puts down under its own weight. The Sheaffer 300 failed this test miserably on every paper I tried, often failing to put down any ink. So it’s time to do some cleaning and testing. I don’t see any particles stuck on the nib or feed, but the tines do seem a bit close together. Since the pen worked great with that first cartridge (once that leak was cleaned up) and passed my “line test” with flying colors at that time, I’m reluctant to start yanking it apart or adjusting the tines. I’ll start with a good cleaning and inspection. Then I’ll try some different ink, probably a Waterman ink, and see where that leads me.
There was a lot of pen and ink turnover this week. I’m currently down to six inked fountain pens, which is a less than my typical load-out. One of those is the F-C Model 20 which I inked up Saturday night to use as my journal pen.
I linked to a review of The Pen Post in last week’s Sunday links. My copy arrived Saturday. I read the first couple of pages and plan to read the rest of it this afternoon. Get your copy here. As the name implies, it’s about all types of pens, not just fountain pens.
If you’re interested in Zines then check out the latest episode of the Erasable podcast where they talk about Zines. Johnny Gamber (publisher of The Pen Post) is one of the hosts. Brad joined the show and his post mentioned they talked about zines. In addition to the Zine discussion I hope they discuss the new (to me at least) Caran d’Ache + Nespresso pencils. Adding ground coffee beans to the lead seems like the dumbest stationery idea I’ve heard since the Visioneer. I don’t see how this could possibly go well. Maybe I’m missing something. After all, I’m not a pencil person. Could this be why the episode title is Bring Us Your Weird? I’ll be listening to the episode later today.
Brad (The Pen Addict) also put some of his personal fountain pens up for sale earlier this week. I purposely avoided looking at them for a full day. I had no doubt I would see some I like. Luckily most were sold by the time I looked. There’s still a couple left, one of which is my clear favorite out of all the pens he’s selling. Someone needs to buy the Visconti Aida before my willpower fades. My gut feeling (meaning zero research) is that the price, while not outrageous, is a little high. Certainly high compared to how much I want to spend on a pen these days. I haven’t done any research because I wouldn’t be shocked to find that it’s a good price, which would chip away at my will power. So, someone please buy it to put me out of my misery.
This is a problem I have. I start selling pens to slim down the accumulation, and I immediately start seeing pens I can spend the money on. I keep telling myself – “Enjoy the pens I have $#$@#*.)
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Reading:Foundation and Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov. It’s been over 40 years since I read the Foundation Trilogy. When I originally read it, it was still a trilogy. My memory is that I loved them back then. Memory provided little else as the story was new to me as I read the details, with an occasional memory of the broad strokes as I got to them. I didn’t like it as much as I expected. It provided some food for thought, especially when compared compared to history since the trilogy was published. I’m only through the first two books (Well, I plan to finish Empire this weekend. I plan to read the third, but I never intended to read the two newbies and that hasn’t changed. I’d give them 4 out of 5 stars, although some of that may be due to nostalgia and a nod to his stuff being classic science fiction.
Watched:Salt. I’m a fan of Angelina Jolie, especially when she’s in a kick-ass action movie. So I really enjoyed this. Fun action, little thought needed, just watch and enjoy the popcorn. Watched:Casablanca Bogart and Bergman. With support from a slew of other great actors. There’s nothing better and I watch it every couple of years. It’s easy to ignore that the magical letters of transit were simply a plot device that didn’t exist in real life.
TWSBI Swipe (EF) in Smoke: Curiosity got the better of me and I ordered one of these.
Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie – Seaglass w/ Palladium trim: It’s backordered and not due until September. Estimated shipping is Sept. 6th, so soon!
My pen sale is still ongoing. If you used the contact form that was originally on the page last weekend I’m not ignoring you. The form was broken and I never got the info. I apologize, please use the email address that’s on the sale page, or the contact form on the about page, which does work. Hurricane Henri is right on course for me. Dire consequences are being predicted (news outlets need those clicks, and power companies have to predict the worst to avoid looking unprepared). So it may be some time before a response in the event I lose power.
Fountain Pens I’ve Shipped Out: 1. Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta in Vintage Green with a medium stub nib. 2. Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Blue Green with a medium nib. 3. Diplomat Aero Orange/Black with an extra-fine nib.
Out of Rotation
Lamy Aion Dark Green (EF): I finally wrote the Lamy Green ink cartridge dry after slightly over two months. Despite how much I enjoy the pen I decided to give it some time in the pen drawer.
Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Gemstone (EF): I gave it a short fill of Waterman Black ink, which lasted about a month. It will return as my journal pen once I pick an ink later today.
Sheaffer 300 Matte Green (F): The pen had a Sheaffer Black cartridge and was flushed out early. I talked about why up above.
Kanilea Kona Cherry (EF): Inked back in March with Montblanc Bordeaux, and refilled in May. My favorite ink, with a favorite pen. Time for a change, so I’ll give it a break. I liked having it as my journal pen, although that was a recent decision.
TWSBI Swipe (EF) in Smoke: This arrived a little over a week ago. I inked it up with the included Black ink cartridge. The cartridge is huge, so the pen will be around awhile.
Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Gemstone (EF): This was flushed out and immediately returned to the rotation. I inked it up with KWZ IG Green #2 ink. This will replace the Kanilea in my journal. Hopefully it will server as a good incentive to journal daily. Have to keep that iron gall ink moving through the pen.
Sorry – not with those swirls | Pete Denison // Good to see Pete writing about pens again. There was a time I was all about solid colors, often black. Then I started getting some brighter colors and patterns. I’ve found that while I might like bright colors and patterns for a while, I get bored with them. I don’t get bored with black. Although, some may claim I start off bored with black.
Fountain Pens From My Collection: Kaweco AL Sport | Fountain Pen Love // I still have my Brass Sport and like it. I also have the AL Sport but it’s shows more signs of abuse from the keys in my pocket, yet not enough to give it character. Both have been sidelined awhile. With the lockdowns and lack of travel I have little need for a pocket pen. Since then I begun carrying a ballpoint (egads!) as my pocket pen. This makes me sad. I’ll have to consider inking up the Kaweco.
Going Nova | Dan Moren // I’ve enjoyed all three of Dan’s Galactic Cold War books, along with the Novellas. I’ve got time to reread them before Going Nova releases. This is the third or fourth book in the series. It depends on whether you use a book publisher timeline, or a human living in the world timeline. The books can be read as standalone novels, but it helps to have the backstory from earlier books. The Caledonian Gambit is the first book in the series, but from a different publisher.