I’m beginning the year with two dozen inked up fountain pens. Once I had them all inked up I realized we’re entering the middle of winter, when the air inside will be extremely dry. It’s great when I wash the floors and want them to dry asap. It isn’t so great when I don’t want ink to evaporate. As evidenced when I picked up the Fisher of Pens Hermes after a couple of days and it was a minor adventure getting it to write. While it’s startup problem in the past, looking at its history, the problems were always in the dry winter months. Once it starts writing it’s great for the day.
The pictures and writing samples are in the same order, except for the two desk pens, which aren’t show in the photos. The desk pens are the 7th and 8th writing samples.
It’s been over three months since I’ve done a currently inked post. It’s been even longer since I flushed a fountain pen without a reason, other than wanting a change. I cleaned over half my inked pens on Saturday, so a currently inked post seems appropriate. On Saturday, I realized I was bored with my current pen and ink choices, so it was time to break the rule against early flushing and get some variety moved into the rotation. I kept a few pens with a specific purpose, such as desk and pocket pens. I also kept a couple of new pens that I want to get to know better. These holdovers left me with enough black and blue-black inks to get by.
I often have trouble deciding what pens to ink up and what inks to use when my choices are limitless, well limited only to my accumulation. So, I decided to set some boundaries, beyond the obvious no more blue or black inks. For the fountain pens, I decided to limit myself to my two “S” brands, Sheaffer and Sailor. The Sailors would give me a nice variety of nib sizes since they all have different grinds. As for the inks, I went with a Montblanc rule. The exception to prove the rule would be allowing for Sheaffer inks in Sheaffer pens. I have six Sailor pens but lacked a converter for one (I thought I replaced that busted converter!), so I ended up having to make a decision. I decided to skip the Sailor 1911 Sterling despite its stub nib, which would have added variety. The pen needed polishing, which provided a ready excuse. If I had Sailor colored ink cartridges, I would have made an exception to my ink rule (I made it, I can break it), but all I have is blue and black sailor cartridges. I’m unwilling to break that rule.
I added my three favorite pens to the Sailor, Sheaffer Balance IIs, to the Sailors. I added another pen that I’ve been eager to ink up again. Plus, to really mess with the organization of this post, I re-inked a pen from July after it wen dry on Saturday.
Sheaffer Balance II (M) with Sheaffer Red ink. Sheaffer Red is a nice pure, well-behaved red ink, making it my favorite red ink. It used to be standard in the inkwell for my Esterbrook dip pen, but that inkwell is currently empty since office visits are rare these days. Because of the inkwell use, I’m guessing Sheaffer Red rivals, or maybe even beats, Montblanc Bordeaux in the number of bottles that I’ve finished. The bright red pen provided an excellent excuse to bring this ink back into use.
Sheaffer Balance II (M) with Sheaffer Emerald Green ink. This ink is an older version, sold in inkwell bottles with yellow boxes and labels. While the ink isn’t old enough to be vintage, it harkens to a time when Sheaffer had a unique personality. While it isn’t my favorite green, it is pretty close and is the perfect choice for this pen, which was Sheaffer’s attempt to reinvigorate that personality.
__Sheaffer Balance II Aspen__ (M) with Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey. For whatever reason, my brain always wants to associate this ink with this pen, despite a complete lack of grey in the pen. So, while this met my Montblanc rule, the real reason it was used is that I have a hard time not picking this ink for this pen. While all the Sheaffers have nibs that are officially called medium, these lovely nibs are closer to a fine nib and certainly smaller than many recent new extra-fine or fine nibs that I’ve received.
Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine (L. Oblique) with Montblanc Toffee Brown. It’s been a long time since I’ve used this ink despite its rivaling Athena Sepia as my favorite brown ink. I wanted to use it and decided that this would be a good nib for it. I’m writing the draft of this post with this pen, and feel justified in my choice.
Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard (Z) with Montblanc Lavender Purple. I’ve been experimenting with the zoom nib using the included Sailor cartridge since the pen arrived. I decided it was time to introduce some color to the experiments. Purple is one of my favorite ink colors. Although I’d be hard-pressed to pick a clear favorite, this one is a contender.
Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe (EF) with Montblanc Albert Einstein. Japanese nibs are thin, and the Sailor extra-fine is one of the thinnest factory nibs available. I love the nice thin, consistent line the nib puts down. I usually pair this with dark ink, so it doesn’t get lost in the paper’s color. So I did hesitate a lot before picking this grey ink. The result is a thin, light, but legible line that’s the color of pencil lead. A very sharp pencil.
Sailor King of Pen (M) with Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk. I picked the ink because I like it. When it came time to match it to a pen, this seemed like the right choice for no reason in particular.
Sailor Full Size Realo (M-F) with Montblanc Antoine de Saint-Expery Encre du Desert (a.k.a. – the ink I’ll never spell without looking it up). I was hesitant to pick another brown ink, but I do like it, and due to an order mix-up on my part, I have two bottles, so it was my final ink choice.
ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen (F) with Montblanc “The Beatles” Psychedelic Purple. Technically this is a carryover from July, but I did have to refill it this past weekend. This is the only ink that’s been used in this pen since it arrived on May 2nd.
Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with Diamine Oxblood. I moved the cartridge from another pen. There’s only about 25% of the ink left, but I wanted this pen back in the rotation. No photo of this one, although it is in the group photo up top.
I did keep six other pens inked up from July. There are no individual pictures, but here are the details.
The Platinum Carbon Pen with its “superfine” nib is inked up with Platinum Carbon ink for the times I need thin and waterproof.
The Kanilea Kona Cherry stayed ink because I could never flush Montblanc Bordeaux ink down the drain. Plus, the beauty of the pen makes me smile when I use it. After some rough spots when the pen first arrived, we’re getting along much better now.
The Kaweco Brass Sport is a pocket pen inked up with red ink. While I don’t have much use for a pocket pen these days, there’s no reason to flush it out. When I need a pocket pen, it will be ready.
The Pilot Custom 912, Benu Briolette, and Penlux Masterpiece Grande (F) are all new pens that I’m still getting to know, so they stayed in the rotation. They’ll also fill any need for traditional black and blue/black inks.
I’m writing pens dry faster than I can keep up. I wrote one pen dry when doing the written draft of this post. That now dry pen happened to be at the top of my currently inked writing sample. I’ll be skipping my usual practice of scheduling posts for the next morning to give me time to remember what I screwed up.
I picked the following fountain pens and inks to join the currently inked club:
The first three pens listed are the only fountain pens that were inked before Sunday. I won’t be using them until after this is posted, for fear of making it outdated before it’s published. I wrote about the Sterling Silver Namikis ones in Three Pieces of Silver.
I rarely carry the Fodderstack in my shirt pocket these days. I’m not venturing out often, and the Fodderstack has been replaced by a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a small squirt bottle of alcohol (for grocery carts, etc…). I’ve only wanted a pen once or twice, but to meet those needs, I inked up the Kaweco Brass Sport with Montblanc Petit Prince Red Fox in a cartridge. I picked a red ink so I could also use the pen to mark up documents.
I do like the Vanishing Point Red Bamboo, so it returned to the rotation with a different nib. I feel compelled to acknowledge that the pen is not made of bamboo. But, that is what it was sold as here in the States. I put in the medium left oblique nib, The oblique nib sits perfectly with my natural grip, the clip ensuring that I don’t twist the pen, even a little. It got the now usual Pilot Black cartridge. Pilot converters are a hassle in the VP and don’t hold much ink, so I stick to cartridges.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 02 (Gen 1) is a lovely green and sports a Mike Masuyama needlepoint nib. The pen called out for green ink, so I loaded it with a Montblanc Emerald Green cartridge.
I was missing to Royal Tangerine KOP after only one day. It returned with my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux. It took six days for me to miss the Aero. I’m surprised by how much I like that pen and how well it writes. I did manage to survive 5 days without it.
The Edison Huron Grande just didn’t want to be used. I eyedropper filled its large body with Papier Plume Burgundy, but it just didn’t want to write. A couple hours of gravity didn’t help, running under the faucet didn’t help. Finally, I wrapped a tissue around the nib and gave it a couple firm old-style thermometer wrist flicks, which finally did the trick. I haven’t used it much yet, but it seems fine.
The final fountain pen I inked up my newest fountain pen arrived, the Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger with an extra-fine nib. I inked it with its namesake, Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk.
As usual, the writing samples are in the same order as the pens (L->R). Click any photo for full size.
I had pulled out three Sheaffers, fully intending to fill them as replacements for my previously emptied Sheaffers. Then some tarnished Sailor silver caught my eye, and I grabbed a polishing cloth. But, if I’m going start polishing silver, I might as well polish all of it. So, I grabbed my two pieces of silver by Pilot (Namiki) and settled in for some polishing. And once they were polished, I had no choice but to ink them up. If I put them back in the pen case, they would tarnish again before I used them, making all that time wasted. So it was on to ink them up.
Keeping with the theme of three, I picked the three Iroshizuku inks that were closest at hand. The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver was fed Iroshizuku Yama-guru. The ink level in the bottled betrayed that I had used the ink quite a bit, yet I couldn’t remember what it looked like on paper. I like brown ink, and it was a beautiful dark brown in the bottle.
The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver came with a 21kt medium nib. I bought the pen in 2004 and had Richard Binder stub the nib at the 2013 D.C. pen show. The pen has seen infrequent use since them. One reason is that it tarnishes quickly, and polishing it up is a significant speed bump before inking it up. The pen hasn’t been used at all in the last two years and only three times since having the nib stubbed.
One of the end pieces, I forget which one, popped off, and I had to superglue it back on. It’s been solid since then, but I do hold my breath whenever I polish the pen.
The first of my Namiki fountain pens to get ink was the Hawk. I picked Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun. (FYI – Namiki is a sub-brand of Pilot, just like Iroshizuku.) The pen has an 18kt gold inlaid fine nib. The grey ink can sometimes get lost on some paper when using a thin nib. If I had been thinking or paying attention, I wouldn’t have filled the thinnest nib of the trio with grey ink. I’m writing the draft of this post on Doane Paper, which has a blue grid pattern. The ink flow is enough to put a line down that’s consistent and dark enough to stand out from the grid. I do like the look of the inlaid nib as I use the pen. The pen was purchased in 2003 but rarely used. It was last used nearly 4 years ago.
The pen barrel has what appears to be a small circle with a dot in it. It faces me when I write with the pen and is out of place. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. There are a couple other small blemishes that didn’t come out with the polishing cloth. They probably just need slightly more aggressive polishing.
While there are several Namiki Sterling designs available as new, it appears the Hawk has been discontinued.
The final piece of silver is the Namiki Sterling Silver Dragon. I purchased the Dragon in April 2004. Like the Hawk, it’s rarely used and not used at all in the last four years. The Dragon has an 18kt medium gold inlaid nib. I loaded the pen with Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (autocorrect is killing me on the ink names, hopefully my corrections are “re-corrected”). The nib puts down a nice wet line, with “wet” defined by someone who likes nibs tuned to the dry side.
Both Namiki pens are using the discontinued Con-20 aerometric converter (squeeze sac). I’m pretty sure they’re the ones that came with the pen 15+ years ago. New models include the Con-40. The Con-20 is Pilot branded, and they refer to it as a “Press Plate” converter. The Con-20 was discontinued as 2017 began. The Con-20 is my favorite Pilot converter (which isn’t saying much). Even though I can’t see the ink level, I find that it’s the only Pilot converter that rivals the ink capacity of a Pilot cartridge in real-world use. (I don’t use the Con-70 which probably does hold more.)
Despite being metal pens, the Namiki Sterling Silver pens don’t feel heavy at all. They are certainly lighter than the Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver that does have some heft to it. The 1911 is also slightly bigger when capped. Uncapped and unposted, which is how I use my fountain pens, all three pens are the same size. All three pens are comfortable in my hand. They are postable, but I don’t post them. I did notice some hand fatigue after using the 1911 for a short time. This was most unexpected and may have been more to do with it being late in the day, and I’ve been using my hands a lot today (cleaning, scrubbing, moving stuff, but unfortunately not using pens). I didn’t use the Namiki pens until the next day. There was no fatigue when using them.
None of these pens are among my core pens, although the Sailor 1911 managed to make my Hangers-On list. Since it’s been unused as long as the Namiki Sterling so it shouldn’t have even made that list. Despite their dormancy, I probably won’t put them up for sale. All are excellent writers, and they’re probably worth more to me than someone else would pay for them. While none have been beyond writing the draft of this post, all have reminded me that they are trustworthy writers and enjoyable fountain pens.
It’s Friday the 13th and COVID-19 is taking hold here in the States. So, might as well think happy thoughts and play with pens. I inked a few to replace pens that were recently written dry, then kept on going. I ended up with 11 inked fountain pens. Expected 12, but the Pilot Custom 823 didn’t have enough ink for the writing sample.
It’s been awhile, so as a reminder, the writing samples are in the same order, top to bottom, as the pens in the tray, from left to right.