This Just In: Fisher of Pens Hermes

Fisher of Pens Hermes - capped on pen stand

The photo doesn’t do it justice, this pen is hard to photograph.

I spent some time on Friday talking to custom pen maker Carl Fisher of Fisher of Pens. I liked his designs and had pretty much decided to save some of my pen budget for a pen order after the show. During all this time, and future passes by his table, I never noticed this pen. If I had, I would have gotten it on Friday. On Sunday Carl posted a photo of his green pens grouped together. All that green caught my attention and I headed back to his table. While the photo was of mostly bright green pens that just weren’t quit right for me, this one was tucked in the back of the photo. It’s black celluloid with an olive green web running through it. It’s called vintage web green celluloid.

I looked at the bright green ones first, after all they were bright and shiny. But then I picked up this one. It wasn’t exactly bright and shiny, but I loved the look. Naturally the material made it more expensive than the bright green acrylic pens. Plus it was an oversize pen which seems to be my preference these days. The more I looked at the celluloid pattern the more I liked it and I made sure I didn’t put it down, fearing someone else would get it. It didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted this pen. The only change was to swap a two-tone nib for a polished silver fine nib. The pen already had a silver clip.

While I call this a green pen, the base color is a deep dark black with an olive green web running through it. It’s a long pen that’s a perfect cylinder and the cap is flush with the body. The finials are black and while I didn’t ask, the finials and griping section feel like ebonite. The Fisher of Pens brand is engraved into the body. Most fountain pens have branding, although it’s usually on the clip or band. I have mixed feelings about engraving the brand into the body, especially when it’s a different color than the material. In this case the logo is white and does stand out, but it’s restrained and subtle and is also in line with the silver furniture of the pen. So I’m OK with it. I’m even beginning to convince myself that it helps highlight the darker colors of the pen. The material is hard to photograph, at least with my abilities, and I hope to get better photos when the sun returns and I can use natural light to photograph the pen.

It has a fine JoWo nib that’s nice and smooth. I picked KWZ Green #2 as the first ink for this pen. I have had a couple hard starts when the pen has been nib up for several hours, but once I start writing there’s no skipping. I can also pause for a extended period of time or put the pen down flat for an hour or more without any hard start. The ink is new to me so I can’t say how much the ink contributes to this.

It’s a cartridge/converter pen that accepts standard international cartridges and converters. I could be wrong, but I don’t think celluloid pens can be converted to eyedropper fill as the ink could degrade/discolor the celluloid. So the pen will remain a converter fill.

I don’t know what’s included with pens that are shipped, but I picked a cloth pen sleeve for the pen. There’s no box or ink cartridge. I would have thrown both out so didn’t even ask if they were available. (Many vendors don’t bring bulky boxes to the show.)

The bottom line – I am really happy with the Fisher of Pens Hermes in web green celluloid. The nib might need some tuning, but that’s minor.

Fisher of Pens Hermes - uncapped on pen stand

Fisher of Pens Hermes writing sample with KWZ Green #2 ink

This Just In: Ryan Krusac The Legend

Ryan Krusac The Legend - capped on pen standThis fountain pen was a Sunday morning purchase, and my third overall, at the 2016 Washington DC Pen Show. Sunday’s are dangerous when I still have money in my budget that’s burning a hole in my pocket, my want list goes out the door. Ryan Krusac’s latest design is The Legend (he capitalizes the “T” so I assume it’s part of the name) and liked the design more than his others so ended up getting the last one he had at the show. It’s made of black walnut burl.

I’ve always liked the look of Ryan’s wooden pens although, until now, none of them really made me want to reach for my wallet. The Legend is a nice simple wooden pen, not a lot of fancy extras. It’s a light pen when compared to his other designs and it’s clearly a fountain pen for writing.

It has an ebonite section that’s also made by Ryan. The nib is a branded Ryan Krusac nib, although I believe it’s still a JoWo nib, they’re just custom engraved with his logo. The simplicity of the nib design appeals to me and this one is an extra fine. The nib is nice and smooth, especially for an extra fine. I picked Papier Plume Burgundy as its first ink and I haven’t had any hard starts or skipping while using the pen.

The pen is relatively short, but not Kaweco Sport short, and long enough for me to use comfortably without posting. The pen is postable but I’d be concerned that the threads would scratch the barrel.

It’s a international cartridge/converter pen that came with a converter and a pen pouch (at least at the show). He may include ink cartridges or pack the pens differently if shipped through the mail.

There are other fountain pens of similar size and with similar nibs that cost much less. The price is higher than those due to the material and craftsmanship involved in making the pen. Whether or not this translates into a better writing experience depends on you (and me). I like the warmth of the wood and the ebonite when using the pen. I don’t regret the purchase at all although I do wonder if I’ll still be using it in a year or if I’ll sell it once the novelty wears off. This is what I mean about Sunday’s being dangerous. With all the pens I wanted out of the way (so I thought, but was wrong) I was more willing to take a risk. It’s hard to recommend the pen due to the price, unless the design appeals to you. It does appeal to me and it is a great writer. Still, I wouldn’t have bought it without seeing it in person and knowing exactly what it was like.

Ryan Krusac The Legend - uncapped on pen stand

Ryan Krusac The Legend writing sample with Papier Plume Burgundy

 

This Just In: Sheaffer Balance Oversize C.1934 In Gray Pearl and Red Veins

Sheaffer Balance Oversize Pearl Gray & Red Veins - capped on standMy second pen purchase at the 2016 DC Pen Show occurred Friday afternoon and gave me my vintage fix. It is a Sheaffer Balance Oversize c. 1934–1935 from Sarj Minhas.

I didn’t have any specific vintage pens in mind as I walked around the show. I like Parker Vacumatics and the Maxima is the model I can use regularly. The materials and nibs of vintage Sheaffers always draw me to them and the Balance Oversize is the model I can use regularly. These were the two most likely to draw my attention.

I view vintage pens differently than modern pens. While any new vintage would have to be a pen I could expect to use regularly, I’m unable to sell off vintage pens I know I won’t use. It feels like I’m selling a piece of history. But this made me determined to only buy one vintage pen and to make it one I knew I would use. Even though I’m a user and not a collector I wanted a pen as close to pristine as I could find and and was reliable. So even though Sarj’s pens are at the high end of the price spectrum I was willing to pay the price if I could find one.

I’ve always liked the pearl grey with red vein celluloid. This was the only Balance Oversize I saw in this material during my browsing on Friday. At least in a condition that was this good. It was also the only vintage pen I saw that I wanted. So despite the price I decided to get it. The pen is difficult to photographs as the gray in the pen changes depending on the light. This also makes it easy for the pen to mesmerize me as the color changes, often looking as different as green and red.

Since all my available inks were new to me I didn’t want to try them in a vintage sac filler, so the pen remained uninked on Friday. Then on Saturday I found some vintage (well, 1980–90’s) Sheaffer Sheaffer Peacock Blue in the yellow box/label. I had the dark red bottle version of this ink so it wasn’t entirely new to me and they would be a similar, if not identical formula. The ink seemed fine despite it’s age so I bought it and filled the pen later that day.

The pen is comfortable in my hand, as expected and the nib is great, also as expected. The nib is unlabeled but it’s approximately a fine. Writing is smooth with a good flow. It’s not a gushing writer yet the ink does noticeably pool a little bit between the nib and feed. Some ink also creeps out the heart cutout that’s above the nib slit. After writing a couple A5 pages a drop of ink did drop onto the paper while writing. Since then I’ve been more conscience of it and have dabbed the nib on a tissue if I see ink bleeding from the heart after a couple of pages. Carrying the pen around doesn’t result in any ink dripping or spatter and neither does moving the pen around normally like reaching for a paper or turning a page with pen in hand. So I won’t really call it a leak and the ink could be a contributing factor. It’s something I can live with and it won’t prevent me from taking the pen with me if I go to a coffee shop to do some writing. I wouldn’t bring it to a meeting to take notes, but I don’t use vintage pens in this situation anyway.

It’s a good performing pen and I love the material. The Sheaffer Balance Oversize in Pearl Gray/Red Veins joins my Marine Green Balance Oversize as one of my favorite vintage fountain pens, and it has a nib I’ll use more than the stub on the Marine Green.

Sheaffer Balance Oversize Pearl Gray & Red Veins - uncapped on stand

Sheaffer Balance Oversize c1935 writing sample with Sheaffer Peacock Blue (yellow label)

Exposed for the writing sample, terrible photo of pen.

This is a post about the 2016 Washington DC Pen Show. My show summary and links to other show posts are here.

This Just In: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen - capped on standThe Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen in black with rhodium trim and a medium nib was my first fountain pen purchase of the 2016 DC Pen Show. It happened before lunch on Friday when I bought it from Anderson Pens before their table became packed with people.

The King of Pen has been on my watch list for almost a year. It moved close to the top a couple of months ago and I began researching it more aggressively. I like the size of the pen and love Sailor nibs. I have a couple of it’s smaller siblings and love them.

The KOP nib is springier than the Sailor nibs that I’m used to. I was concerned it would be mushy, like the Pelikan M1000 nib I tried in the past. While all the indications were that this would not be the case, I still had some doubts. My second concern was that this nib was only available in medium and broad (the bespoke nibs aren’t for me) which are not my preferred nib sizes. It is a Japanese medium so it wouldn’t be too wide. I could get the nib ground down but I don’t like doing that until I’ve experienced the stock nib for a little while, if only to see what it’s like. So I knew I wouldn’t have it worked on at the show.

A nice thing about the pen shows, besides the ability to see and touch the pen, is the ability to talk to people who have used the pen, or have one to try. So I left the Anderson Pens table fairly sure I would be getting the KOP but did some more exploration and consideration before I returned and bought the pen.

The King of Pen is an expensive pen, but this particular model is the “entry level” and therefore least expensive version. It also helps that I really like black & rhodium fountain pens.

I picked KWZ Gummiberry (non-IG) as the pens first ink. I was anxious to ink the pen so I was limited to the four inks I had purchased at the show. While I don’t like using a new (to me) ink in a new (to me) fountain pen, I wasn’t willing to wait. This ink seemed like a safe choice in a converter fill pen, plus I thought a wider nib would show off this ink better than my typical thin nib. I was thrilled with the combination. The KOP is a terrific writer, smooth and skip-free. In short, all my concerns about the nib vanished. I love it. I have a light touch so there’s really no spreading of the tines (not that the nib is flexible) and it’s a thin Japanese medium line.

I don’t have any experience with this ink so I can’t say how it affects my impression of the pen. It’s no surprise that this nib is wetter than my typical nib choice, but it’s not too wet for me. I expect to use this pen differently than an extra fine nib. My writing is a little bigger when I use it. If my writing speeds up the letters do close up so I need to slow down a bit. None of this is a huge difference and it’s a pleasant experience when I just want to write. Naturally the draft of this article was written with the pen.

As expected, the pen feels and looks solidly built. There’s a nice tall collar around the converter to help hold it straight and in place. There’s a cutout in the collar so the ink level can be viewed. The lettering around the capband and the anchor imprint in the cap finial are nice and crisp.

Black and silver is a pretty basic look, especially when compared to other KOP models but I like it a lot. It may be the new pen glow talking, but the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen is a rival to my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age as my favorite fountain pen.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen - uncapped on stand

Sailor Pro Gear KOP medium nib writing sample with KWZ Gummiberry ink

This is a post about the 2016 Washington DC Pen Show. My show summary and links to other show posts are here.

This Just In: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age capI decided to get a holiday gift pen for myself, at least that’s my excuse. The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, with an extra fine nib, will be my eleventh new pen this year. It will be my last too, unless the Edison Group buy arrives very, very early.

This fountain pen has been on my radar for a long time. It, or it’s Silver Age sibling, have come and gone from my watch list many times. At first I dismissed the lava material as a gimmick, but I still liked the look. The pen has many causes for concern, some of which I consider a positive. In any event, this was a pen I needed to see and hold before shelling out a significant amount of money. It was back on my list and I finally got to see and hold its smaller sibling, the Midi Silver Age. (The Midi is smaller and only available in the steel trim. The Bronze Age is only available in one size, which is the same as the Maxi Steel Age.) The pen made a good impression although I wasn’t able to write with it.

As I mentioned, there are several problems, or potential problems, with this pen. Dr. Deans, the Fountain Pen Economist, who is a fan of Viscontis, including the Homo Sapien, wrote about its foibles and described it as …

…quintessentially Italian: utterly, hopelessly beautiful and deeply flawed.

Amanda, at the Purl Bug borrowed one (from a fan) and did a video review. Her concerns/dislikes don’t bother me but that’s personal preference. They are valid and should be considered before buying the pen.

I debated between silver and bronze trim. I don’t like gold trim and while bronze isn’t gold (duh!) it is gold colored when shiny. The steel was very nice and has a very classy look. I like it when a pen develops it’s own personality from use and I’ve liked the way my other bronze pens have tarnished over time. (Patina would be a nicer way of saying tarnish.) I could toss a coin to decide and not be disappointed with the result. But I picked bronze and do plan to let the it tarnish over time so won’t be polishing it. This should dull the shine which will be more to my liking.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age EF posted with Pelikan Blue-Black on the nibMy first impression? Holy cow!!! (or other less family appropriate words) I love writing with this pen. It arrived Monday the 7th. I picked Pelikan Blue-Black as an ink to tame the wet nib and inked it up that night. I wrote it dry on Wednesday, literally on my last word of the day. Unless I need a waterproof ink, or a different color it has been the only pen I’ve used since then. When taking notes for work I use big words since they take longer to write. When I’m not taking notes I’m doodling. At night I look for things to write. I wrote the pen dry again and switched to my favorite ink – Montblanc Bordeaux.

I did have ink ooze from the section a couple days after filling, even after being wiped dry. I’ve read about hacks to stop it from happening but it doesn’t bother me and I can live with it. It’s only happened that one time so far.

The pen has a nice feel to it. I’ve heard the feel compared to ebonite. While it does feel like rubber, the ebonite pens that I’ve had have been polished and the comparison isn’t exact in my opinion. The Homo Sapien has a softer feel to it.

I like the cap threads but I’m still getting used to the squishiness of capping and uncapping the pen. It’s a solid lock, but the process makes me feel like something is broken as the cap slides off. My brain still expects that my hands should be turning the cap more. At times my brain thinks it’s a pull off cap.

I don’t like the Visconti clip design in general. I have gotten used to opening it a bit when sliding it into my pocket and can now do it smoothly. I’m wondering how long it will be before the Visconti lettering will rub off the clip. If I was the type of person who needed to shine the brass I’d be even more concerned about rubbing it off.

As for the Dreamtouch nib – I thought it was a marketing gimmick until I wrote with it. It’s not a nib I would normally consider. It’s wet and springy (not flexible). It’s not a nib begging to be flexed so I don’t feel like it’s wasted on me. I like the look of a nice large nib on a pen and this nib is huge. I was concerned about the two-tone gold on a large nib but it isn’t gaudy at all. The gold is very subdued. When I look at the nib as I’m writing the gold gives the nib an angelic glow.

The pen is heavy, 43 grams in total although the cap alone is 17 grams. The cap does post securely and this is where it gets really weird. The Homo Sapien is clearly big enough for me to use unposted, as I use all but my smallest pens. When posted it nearly 7″ long, yet I’ve been using this pen posted for everything except short notes. The balance is great and the weight hasn’t bothered me even for long writing sessions.

The filling system is a vacuum filler similar to the TWSBI Vac 700 or Pilot Custom 823. Visconti calls it a Power Filler. I was a little surprised there weren’t instructions included since it’s an uncommon filling system. (There were instructions for the polishing cloth.) Unlike my other vacuum fillers it’s not necessary to open the blind cap to allow ink flow into the section, so there is a difference.

I’ve seen the ink capacity listed as 1.5 ml but it doesn’t seem like I’m getting that much ink in a fill. I’ve been getting 10 to 12 A5 sized pages of solid writing. I’m using the same filling technique as my vacuum fillers which both get good fills. Also, there’s no ink window so it’s hard to tell when the ink is low.

To say I’m happy with the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age is an understatement. It’s caused me to ignore my other fountain pens. It’ll be a few months before I do a full review since I need to give the giddiness time wear away.

This Just In: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta (Vintage Green)

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Vintage GreenI received this, my second Franklin-Christoph Model 20, at the same time as my orange Model 02. I’ve just been delayed in writing about it. I considered skipping this post since I’ve already written the pen dry of its first fill. I wrote the draft about a week ago and I’d hate to waste it, so it’s being posted now. Plus, I’m a completist and it would annoy me to skip it.

The only two differences between this version and my original Model 02 are the acrylic and the nib. This one has the Vintage Green acrylic and a Mike Masuyama medium stub nib. Like my original, this one also lacks a clip.

I generally hate it when the word “vintage” is used as an adjective when naming a new product. So that was a initial turnoff. But I really like the look so I got over it. I do think the pen design itself has a look reminiscent of vintage pens. It’s a simple design but it does have character. I don’t think the Green looks any more vintage than the Tiger Red. That said, the Vintage Green has some subtle shading to it that does give it a retro aesthetic.

It’s hard to pass up a Mike Masuyama nib grind when ordering from Franklin-Christoph. I have passed it up in the past, but this time I picked the medium stub. At $15 it’s the best value in fountain pens. Since I usually go for thin nibs it’s a little wider than normal for me. It won’t be using it to mark up documents and it won’t be a regular note taker for me, but it’s a very nice nib for regular writing sessions. This particular nib has been very smooth out of the box.

Everything else that I said about the original Model 20 applies to this one.

I picked Athena Sepia ink (store brand for Maruzan stores in Japan, reportedly made by Sailor) as the first ink for this pen. It’s a deep, dark brown ink that’s nearly black. I figured it would like this nib more than my typical thin nibs. There’s some subtle shading, not much but it is there.

It’s seems like I can’t resist buying multiple copies of Franklin-Christoph models. In this case, as the others, I don’t regret having multiple versions of the Model 20. Both the medium (in the Tiger Red) and this medium stub are about the same width so I’ll use each pen in similar situations. I tend to write slower with stub nibs so they do provide a different writing experience that goes beyond the type of line it puts down.

This Just In: Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon with a Needlepoint Nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Amber-Orange & CinnamaroonThe Franklin-Christoph Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon Model 02 was an impulse purchase while I was browsing the site. I ordered it at the same time as the Tiger Red Model 20 but it shipped a few days later as the needlepoint nib was out of stock. I already had two pens in my cart so I was in a buying mood. I already have two Model 02s, both a 1st gen and a 2nd gen) but the orange kept catching my eye. Anything orange usually catches my eye although it often ends up disappointing me. But in a moment of weakness I added it to my cart with the optional Mike Masuyama needlepoint nib.

I did feel some buyers remorse when the pen arrived. First off, the acrylic is translucent, heavily frosted but translucent. I’m not a fan of translucent pens, although there are exceptions. In many cases I think they look like cheap plastic. In this case that’s not an issue, the Model 02 looks like a quality build. Second, I don’t like seeing converters or ink cartridges in the pen. This pen isn’t too bad, I know it’s there so I can’t not see the chrome converter in the pen. At a distance or angle, and not knowing it’s a converter, it probably just looks like a more heavily frosted area. This can be avoided completely by converting it to a eye drop filler. The frosted look comes from a rough interior so this could be harder to clean since there’s more area for the ink to cling to. I have a clear “ice” F-C pen that was a pain to clean after I used it as an eye dropper and there was some staining (of course this does depend on the ink). I want to use several different inks relatively quickly so I’m avoiding the eye drop fill option for now. A full body with the needlepoint nib would last me well over a month or I’d waste a lot of ink if I flushed it early.

Despite my buyer’s remorse I do like the look of the pen so I inked it up. For the first ink I picked a nice dark, and well-behaved, Pilot Black ink. As the “This Just In” title suggests, I haven’t used the pen long enough to review it, it’s just my first impression.

I was shocked with how smooth the nib was. It’s a Mike Masuyama nib so I did expect it to be good, but being a thin needlepoint there’s not a lot of surface area to be lubricated with ink and to ride above the rough areas of paper. It’s even smoother than the needlepoint in my Pocket 40 which did cause me to hesitate before ordering it with this pen. My use so far has been on various Doane papers (Jotter & writing pads) and it’s been very smooth.

My buyer’s remorse has vanished and now I’m happy to have the pen, even though it is my third Model 02. I’ve already reviewed both my first generation Model 02 and my second generation Model 02. I liked the second gen model a little more and I expect this to be about the same. The nib is the only wildcard. I didn’t really like it in my Pocket 40, but so far I’m liking this copy of the nib a lot more.