This Just In: Nock Co. Lanier

Nock Co LanierNock Co. started life on Kickstarter with a series of pen (or pencil) cases over three years ago. They recently returned with a new Nock Co. product category, a briefcase. I backed it at the early bird level ($80) in late September and it arrived in May. It missed the April estimated delivery by a few days, which qualifies as on time for Kickstarter.

When Nock Co. started they made all their cases in-house. Now the Lanier, and many other cases are made by other manufacturers (still in the U.S.). Brad and Jeff still oversee production and quality control. All my original cases are still in fine shape and I expected the same quality in the Lanier even if it wasn’t technically manufactured in-house. I do expect the Lanier to take more abuse than my other cases.

What attracted me to the Lanier was its light weight and simplicity. It seemed perfect as a way to carry my supplies for the day. My current day bag is the Staad Attaché by Waterfield Designs. While I do love that bag it’s mad of woven canvas and leather which makes it on the heavy side. It also has a lot of room, which can actually be a negative, since I have a tendency to put things in it just because I can and I might need it. This makes the bag even heavier. So besides using lighter material the Lanier should provide some constraints so I don’t carry stuff just because I can.

When the Lanier first launched on Kickstarter there were numerous requests for a shoulder strap along with a couple requests for more padding. Both of these would have ruined it for me. It would duplicate the Staad and add bulk that I’m looking to avoid. I quickly backed the project but made a note to check back before it funded so I could cancel my pledge if these changes were made. But it soon became clear, both in the backer comments and Brad’s comments on the Pen Addict podcast that the design was pretty well locked in, and these changes wouldn’t happen. Not only would this keep the bag design what I wanted, but it would (hopefully) avoid any delays due to last minute design changes.

I picked the green version, which is an olive exterior and a lime interior. The exterior is water repellent (via a coating) 1000D Cordura. The interior is 400D pack cloth. There’s also 1/8″ interior foam padding. Full specs are on the Nock Co. website where the Lanier is now available.

A matching A5 pouch is included. The pouch fits in the front pocket of the Lanier. The pouch has two pocket notebook sized interior pockets.

Nock Co Lanier A5 Pouch contents

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed is how comfortable the nylon handles are. My Staad Attaché has leather handles. The stiffness of these handles, along with the seam location, can make the bag uncomfortable to carry for anything more than a short time. While nylon can be uncomfortable that’s not the case here. The handles are 1″ wide nylon and are stitched to the bag so that there’s an arc to them and they are flat in my hand when I’m carrying the bag. My hand doesn’t get tired carrying the bag around. While I’m sure the lighter weight is a factor, I consider the strap design the main reason that the Lanier is comfortable to carry. The straps are a subtle design element that Nock Co. got right.

The Lanier is exactly what I hoped it would be. Some folks complained the color didn’t match the photos on Kickstarter. I didn’t pay that much attention. I figure between differences among monitors along with dye/variances between prototype and production I wouldn’t be surprised by some differences. The bottom line – I really like the color. I like green in general and I really like both the olive and lime greens used in this case. No complaints about the color from me.

I bought the case for my 12“ iPad Pro along with my analog tools. My 13” MacBook Pro also fits but other than to check the fit it hasn’t been in the Lanier.

My Typical carry includes the iPad Pro, a large notebook, a Franklin-Christoph Penvelope 6 and my Travelers Notebook in the main compartment. The notebook is a large notebook of 8 1/2“ X 11” Staples sugarcane paper, although the wire binding and thick covers adds about an inch to those dimensions. A Kindle also fits although it’s usually in the front zipper pocket.

Nock Co Lanier contents - Staples Sugarcane Notebook, iPad pro, Travelers Notebook, A5 Pouch

The front zipper pocket doesn’t have any straps or pockets of its own. What it does have is a matching A5 sized zippered pouch that fits inside. The A5 pouch has two inside pockets appropriately sized for pocket notebooks. The pockets are a bit loose and won’t hold items securely. This isn’t a problem for larger items like pocket notebooks, but smaller items may work their way out of the pocket while being carried. Personally, I would have liked a couple pen slots but I admit this would go against the flexibility designed into the Lanier. Three-pen cases do fit in the pocket, at least all the ones that I have. Nock Co’s own Sinclair, Lookout, Hightower and Fodderstacks (regular and XL) all fit. My Visconti 3 pen case is the tallest case that I have and it just barely fits. I can close the zipper when the case is in the pocket, but just barely. The fit is fine if I don’t put it in the pocket. The Visconti case is about 6 1/4″ high. It would be nice to have the Nock Co cases in matching colors.

The pouch is curved on one corner to make it easier to get in and out of the Lanier’s front pocket. Right now I’m carrying miscellaneous items in the pouch. A portable battery charger (and associated cables), a Retro 51, a couple mechanical pencils, corded headphones, screen/glasses wipes and usually a granola or snack bar. The pouch is big enough for my Seven Seas Writer (or Crossfield) although I don’t have any need to carry those notebooks when I travel. While the pens do clip to the pocket, they do work loose.

Nock Co Lanier with A5 Pouch

The biggest complaint from people may be the lack of a shoulder strap. My Staad Attaché does have a removable should strap and I kept it attached all the time. It’s main benefit was that I could carry the bag and have both hands free. That bag was bulky and heavy(ish) so it was difficult to juggle the bag with just the handles. It was also slightly more comfortable than the handles for an extended carry. The Lanier is lighter and less cumbersome so I can juggle it with other items when I have to. I haven’t missed the shoulder strap.

The padding provides enough protection for my needs. It’s not going to protect my iPad from crushing abuse but it’s enough protection for my daily carry. I wouldn’t carry the bag on an overnight trip, but I would pack it in whatever bag I did use, then use it once I arrived.

The material does have a tendency to attract some dust, which can be seen in the photos, but it can be easily cleaned off.

Summary

I’ve been using the Nock Co. Lanier for about a month. It’s what I use when I need a bag or briefcase when I head out. The A5 pouch works well for the items I always want to have with me such as headphones and some writing implements. The simplicity of the bag makes it easy to quickly pack the other items I need for the day. The light weight makes it easy to carry.

The bag provides a lot of flexibility while also limiting my ability to pack everything except the kitchen sink. The bag is designed to be an easy carry during the days activities and suits that purpose well.

Nock Co Lanier with A5 Pouch 2

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This Just In: Visconti Brunelleschi

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition box contentsFair warning – I’m calling this a This Just In Post even though it’s completely out of character for this type of post. It’s not exactly “just in”, arriving back on March 9th. Plus, I didn’t use the pen to write the draft of this post since it was already written dry. So while this is a bit more than a first impression I haven’t had the Visconti Brunelleschi long enough to do a full review.

I was enamored with the Visconti Brunelleschi from the moment I saw the first photos of it. It triggered a buying spree of terra cotta themed inks. It’s a pricey pen and I had some faint hope that the ink would satiate my desire for the pen. When it comes to limited edition pens, which this is, I find the ones I want the most are the ones that aren’t hugely popular for one reason or another. So I didn’t pre-order the pen, preferring to wait and see if the initial pen lust subsided. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t talk myself out of the fountain pen and I placed on order when it became available at Goulet Pens. (Brian also showed it in a Q&A video.) The pen is still available, although specific nibs may be harder to find.

While this is a limited edition (of 388 numbered pens) I did find that the pen, or at least one that’s very similar, was available as a Fountain Pen Network member pen. This actually made me feel a little better about the pen. I don’t really care about the exclusivity of a pen but I was concerned that this was a new material and therefore could have some issues. The fact that a pen using this material has been in use did alleviate my concern a bit.

The pen is inspired by the Brunelleschi Cathedral. While I like a pen with a story, this particular story didn’t move me to buy the pen (but it didn’t need to). The story of the dome is interesting and I did learn something as I ventured down a rathole reading about it.

The Brunelleschi is very similar to the Homo Sapien Bronze Age, which is among my favorite fountain pens. While the material and aesthetics are different, the pen size, weight and nib are nearly identical. Only the cap is noticeably different with the Homo Sapien being slightly fatter. The difference is enough to make the Homo Sapien too wide for one of my pen sleeves, while the Brunelleschi slides right in. This similarity was both good and bad. On the negative side it’s a lot to pay for a pen which handles like one I already have. On the positive side it’s a pen I know will be perfect for my hand. At this price I wanted a fountain pen that would break into my rotation and stay there, but I didn’t want it to replace the Homo Sapien. So I decided that a medium nib, added to the aesthetics, would make it different enough so that both could coexist. I’ve enjoyed medium nibs a bit more in the last year or so, and I made a point to try a few medium nibs before I ordered the pen. I decided it would be good choice and did order the pen with a medium nib.

Rose Gold trim is also typically a negative for me, especially since there’s a lot of trim on this pen. But the more I looked at pictures the more I agreed that rose gold is the perfect complement to the terra cotta material. While I did say there’s a lot of trim on this pen it’s not overdone or gaudy in my opinion.

Since the Visconti Brunelleschi was delayed from it’s initial release date I had plenty of time to work through my doubts and concerns and was eager to order once it became available.

As you can tell from the pictures the Brunelleschi arrived with more than just the fountain pen, so I might as well start with everything that’s not the pen.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition box top viewThe packaging is elaborate, described as “luxury eco-leather” although that term has no formal meaning, it has a multitude of implied meaning. It looks nice and adds to the impression that this is an elegant and quality product. But it adds no value to the actual fountain pen. It’s main benefit is that it keeps all the extras from bouncing around during shipping. The box did arrive in a cloth drawstring bag with the Visconti logo on it.

A bottle of ink was also included, although the bottle could be described as an inkwell. There’s no mention what the included ink is. If this was a custom or limited edition ink I’m sure Visconti would have promoted that fact. So I think it’s safe to guess that this is Visconti Brown ink (which I’ve also seen called Sepia), although I don’t have any Visconti Brown/Sepia to compare it to. It’s in a custom bottle, although the cap seems to be the standard Visconti plastic screw-on cap that identifies the color. The bottle is wide and shallow. I expect it will be hard to fill the Brunelleschi once the ink level drops a little.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and ink wellA Visconti Traveling Inkwell is also included which could solve the filling problem. The inkwell is made of the same material as the pen. Unlike their standard traveling inkwell it doesn’t include a nib cleaning pad (cloth?) hidden in the cap. The inkwell has a gold finial similar to the pen. I’ve yet to use the inkwell because I’ve been unable to commit to an ink. I find the decision significantly harder than picking an ink for a pen. Plus it seems like a power filler pen, such as the Brunelleschi, could turn the inkwell into a weapon that’s even more accurate (and messy) than a champagne cork. Brian Goulet does have a video on how to use the Traveling Inkwell with various types of pens.

An eyedropper for filling the inkwell is also included along with a “Brunelleschi” decorative plaque and a information booklet.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and inkI received Brunelleschi #148/388 As I mentioned, the Visconti Brunelleschi is nearly the same size and weight as my Homo Sapien. So I expected it to be perfect for my hand. And it was. It’s a faceted pen, with 8 sides. I don’t really notice the facets when writing. I’m not bothered by the corners at all since they are subtle. The material has a nice feel to it. Like the lava in the Homo Sapien, the terra cotta is blended in with the resin. It’s slightly smoother than the Homo Sapien but that could be since the pen is newer. It’s supposed to have the terra cotta’s resistance to damage and fading but not it’s tendency to shatter. While the Homo Sapien has developed a patina over time the terra cotta is supposed to resistant an patina or other signs of age. It’s been less than three months, but the pen still looks new. I haven’t tested it’s resistance to shattering or scratches beyond normal use. No drop tests yet, either accidental or on purpose.

I’ve heard complaints about Visconti’s lack of quality control related to their nibs. This is only my second Visconti, but like the Homo Sapien’s extra fine nib, this nib is perfect as far as I’m concerned. Unlike other pens at this price level I didn’t buy from a seller that will tune the nib, or at least test it, prior to shipment.

Medium nibs aren’t really in my wheelhouse and I’ve tended to avoid them until recently. But I’m trying to expand my horizons and this nib presents medium nibs in a good light. It’s not a nib I’ll use for note taking, I’ll stick to extra fines or fines for that, but I really like it for longer sit-down writing sessions.

The longest session with this pen was about 90 minutes, with a short break midway through. The break was more to stretch my legs and back as my hand wasn’t fatigued at all. The pen is one of my heavier pens, at 27 grams unposted. The weight is well distributed so I don’t need to grip the pen hard or fight with it when I’m writing.

The Visconti Brunelleschi is a nice companion to my Visconti Homo Sapien. I won’t have any problem having them both inked at the same time. My main problem will be do I give them each the same ink or different inks? I’m very happy about the Brunelleschi and my choice of a medium nib. I’ve avoided re-inking it until I empty a couple more currently inked pens. I have to say it’s killing me to not have this pen inked, both because I really like it and also because it’s my newest fountain pen. I may be forced to flush out one or two pens early to give me an excuse to ink it up.

Visconti Brunelleschi with Visconti Brown writing sample

This Just In: Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black on eagle standThe Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand was my second fountain pen day pen purchase although it didn’t arrive until the end of November. So it’s my newest fountain pen and my first Montblanc.

Despite being my favorite ink brand their pens have never interested me. Or, more accurately, the pens that did interest me were far more than I wanted to pay. The exception being either the 146 or 149 which are their classic pens. Years and years ago I bought into the view that Montblanc is an overpriced status symbol, but that changed. While fountain pen value and price is a topic for discussion I don’t view Montblanc differently than Visconti and other high-end pens.

I first viewed the Ultra Black at the Washington DC pen show in August and I liked the pen but it was more than I wanted to pay for one pen. Even back in August it was cheaper in Europe but still more than I want to pay. It stayed on my list but with Montblanc’s policy against advertising discounts it just kind of languished there and I didn’t anticipate a price drop.

Then fountain pen day came around and Appelboom was offering a 16% discount site-wide. I headed to the site to browse and started with Visconti but didn’t find anything. When I got to the Montblanc fountain pens I found them to be significantly cheaper than US prices, a bigger difference than Visconti and other brands. Add the exchange rate and FPD discount to that lower price and it was significantly less expensive. I pulled the trigger and bought one with a oblique medium nib.

Appelboom customer service was terrific. They handled the nib exchange to get me the oblique medium. This did add a couple weeks to the delivery time but saved me the hassle. I was kept informed of the progress. There wasn’t an added shipping charge and it was sent Fedex. Fedex got the pen on a Tuesday in Amsterdam and delivered it three days later on Friday, exactly three weeks after I ordered it. Not bad for free international shipping. There wasn’t any added customs charge. (I won’t claim it as fact since the official US Customs website isn’t easy to navigate, but some quick web research shows there’s no US customs duty on fountain pens valued under $800USD and this pen was well under that amount.)

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand packaging from AppelboomAppelboom’s attention to detail was impressive. The pen was in it’s regular box but was then wrapped in additional paper. It was plain black paper, but gift wrap type paper. Naturally the warranty card was filled out. The package also contained a postcard with a Montblanc pen image, a Appelboom branded notepad, a keychain, and best of all, a package of tasty Dutch cookies (well, the packaging was in Dutch so I assume the cookies were too, they tasted like ginger snaps).

The Montblanc packaging itself, while classy, was underwhelming. I expected something more substantial. The pen was in a clamshell box with a black exterior and a white interior. The box sat inside a larger cardboard sleeve which also held the instruction/warranty book. It’s not a complaint since packaging doesn’t improve a pen, just surprising.

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand in box

The pen itself seems well built. It feels solid and has a good fit and finish except for the cap threads. The threads are smooth until the very end where I have to give the cap and little extra twist to be sure it’s tight. It did come loose once when I didn’t give it this extra effort. I’ve had the pen less than a month so I can’t speak to durability. The matte black finish and ruthenium coating could be prone to wearing off or scratching, although there’s no signs of either so far.

It’s a matter of personal taste, but I do like the overall dark design of the pen, there’s a bit of contrast between the matte resin and the shiny ruthenium trim. It’s a little thing, and not unique to this pen, but I really love the look of the ink window, it’s not the standard sheet of clear plastic.

The first ink for this piston filler was obvious, Montblanc Bordeaux. Filling was easy and the piston movement was smooth. The oblique medium nib is a left oblique which fits the way I normally hold a pen, so there’s no adjustment needed. The nib is smooth and the ink flow has been problem free which I would expect from any Montblanc pen, but especially one that went in for a nib exchange.

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black oblique medium nibThe nib makes this a pen I’ll use for sit down writing sessions, not on-the-go note taking. I have found this nib a little less forgiving than some other pens with oblique nibs when it comes to paper and pen position. Like I said, the nib fits my natural pen grip, but if the paper isn’t perfectly flat on a solid surface it won’t make good contact and will skip. For example, if my notebook is open and I’m writing on the left side when it’s not able to lay perfectly flat there will be curve to the page or even a little cushion to the paper. I can’t really fault the pen for this, but it has resulted in occasions where picked another pen just to be safe.

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black in the handThe section seemed short to me at first but it’s the same size as my Pelikan M805, and many other pens. The rest of the pen is also about the same size as the M805. I’ve been using pens with longer sections lately and was acclimated to them. My fingers do touch the threads but they don’t bother me. The piston knob is metal but doesn’t adversely affect the balance for me. If I hadn’t held the pen at the DC show I would have been concerned with this, but the pen rests comfortably in my hand. I don’t post pens, but I did try this one posted. I did not like the balance when posted, it felt top heavy to me. But that’s the opinion of someone who posts very few of my pens and never ones of this size.

I’ve yet to clean the pen so I can’t comment on how hard or easy it is, although I don’t think cleaning a piston filler is ever easy. Nib removal is not an option, but that isn’t a concern to me since I dislike removing nibs just to clean a pen, even when it is possible. I’ll probably just refill it with Montblanc Bordeaux when It does go dry so it’ll be awhile before I have to deal with it.

It’s getting to be nearly a month with this pen. The nib does limit how often I use it since I find it more suitable to use it at a solid desk or table. This isn’t completely unexpected but the nib is a bit more finicky than I did expect. I often write on a lap desk (pictured in this post) and this is just unstable enough to take the pleasure out of using this pen. At a solid desk or table the Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand is a joy to use.

It’s still got that new pen glow, but I’d have to say I’m happy with my first Montblanc.

 

This Just In: Aurora Optima Nero Perla

Aurora Optima Nero Perla on eagle standThe Aurora Optima Nero Perla was one of two fountain pen purchases I made on fountain pen day. Aurora fountain pens have come and gone from my want list but never climbed to the top. The Optima went back on after the recent price reductions. In a moment of weakness I finally bought one.

My interest in Aurora pens was fed by two things. The material they use often caught my attention, like many Italian pens. Plus, they make their own nibs. Those nibs have a reputation of being a bit toothy, which I may like as I don’t particularly like a perfectly smooth nib.

I picked the Nero Perla model. The barrel is white, black and grey. Mostly shades of grey. The cap finial, gripping section, and piston nob are all black resin that have a high quality feel. The trim is rhodium plated. The silver colored nib is 14K gold that is engraved with scroll work, “14K” and “585” for the gold content along with the Aurora name. I would find the engraving on the wide cap/center band a little much, except it matches the color of the pen so it fits in nicely.

The color isn’t as flashy of their others but it works for me. While flashy colors may catch my eye I find I get tired of them after awhile while I never get tired of the more subdued colors.

Aurora uses a material they call Auroloide for this pen. It’s a cellulose acetate which doesn’t have the problems of vintage cellulose nitrate, but has more color depth than modern acrylics. I really love the color depth provided by cellulose and that depth is evident in this pen. It’s also slightly translucent.

It’s a piston filler which includes a second reservoir as a reserve. I never really understood the attraction of a second reservoir and for me it’s a bit of a negative. The theory is I’ll have a reserve supply of ink so when I unexpectedly run out I can be relieved to realize there’s some hidden ink. But there is an ink window to avoid surprises and the “surprise” ink seems to be more of a mind-hack than an actual benefit. I always wonder if the complexity and space of that second reservoir actually reduces the total ink in the pen. Plus, I expect that second reservoir to make this pen harder (or at least more tedious) to clean, especially if I forget and start cleaning before emptying that second reservoir. I’ll probably stick to one ink in this pen to limit the tedium. I haven’t used the pen enough to need that second reservoir so I may be in for a pleasant surprise.

The pen is relatively short but very comfortable to write with. The section is longer than I expected which helps make the pen more comfortable. The pen is light but has enough girth to be comfortable in my hand. Sometimes light pens cause me to tighten my grip but that doesn’t happen with the Optima. I don’t typically post my pens but I find this pen comfortable whether posted or unposted and I’ve used it both ways. My longest single writing session with the Optima was about 20 minutes and there wasn’t any hit of fatigue in my hand. Writing with the pen felt natural so I didn’t have to consciously remember to loosen my grip.

Aurora Optima Auroloide Perla nib closeup front viewI picked a medium nib for this pen and I find the it to be very smooth. After reading about Aurora nibs I expected much more feedback. I don’t like nibs that are so smooth they feel like they are gliding above the paper. The Aurora medium is as smooth as any other nib I like to use. Maybe it’s because I prefer thinner nibs which by their nature provide more feedback, but I would not call this nib toothy or consider it as a candidate for smoothing.

I picked Aurora Black as the first ink for this pen. It seemed appropriate. The performance and flow have been problem free. The feed is ebonite and from what I’ve read it is heat set for each pen. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the performance certainly suggests that it is.

I’ve been using the pen as a pocket carry since my Vanishing Point went dry. A medium nib is not my first choice as a note taker, but this medium has been acceptable for all the situations it’s been in. It’s less forgiving of unfriendly paper than thinner nibs but that’s expected. It’s main attraction as a shirt pocket carry is it’s light weight, small(ish) size and secure clip.

The Aurora Optima Nero Perla is a great looking pen and a nice writer. I wouldn’t have purchased it prior to the price drop and even at the current price I’d consider it a fair value, not a great value. The pen is solidly built and a great writer, but I do really enjoy the color and material, which makes it worth the price premium.

This Just In: Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche (2016 LE)

Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche in BoxPilot releases a Limited Edition Vanishing Point every year, the limit being determined by the year. So this year brings 2,016 Vanishing Point Guilloche fountain pens. “Guilloche” is a ornamentation resembling braided ribbons. The pens are black with silver trim and the guilloche pattern slightly raised along the black portion of the metal barrel. It has the look of vintage chased hard rubber pens and when it was announced I had some small hope it would be rubber (or ebonite) as the initial announcement didn’t mention the material. I immediately signed up to be notified when it was available.

Of course and in stock notification isn’t the same as buying it. I ended up mulling it over for a couple days after getting the in-stock notification. The Vanishing Point clip has never bothered me but the metal bodies weren’t my favorites and I sold all but one of my metal Vanishing Points. Did I really want another one? Well obviously I did and I hoped the raised design would alleviate my distaste of the cold metal.

The Guilloche Limited Edition Vanishing Point lists for $240 although there’s the usual 20% discount from most online sellers. Despite being a limited edition I haven’t seen any out of stock notifications and two thousand pens seems like a lot, especially at this price point. I didn’t feel the need to rush the purchase, especially since the “Storm Trooper” Vanishing Point was now available in the US and would probably be more popular.

The Guilloche is only available with a medium nib, which is typical for the annual limited editions, although some retailers may offer to swap the nib unit. Mine has the stock rhodium plated 18-karat gold medium nib. Since the nibs are easily swappable I can use any of my nibs and was happy to take the medium. I prefer fines or extra fines but this medium is a nice writer and I’ve been using it since I got the pen. Plus, part of my calculation was that the standard nib would make it easier to sell if I didn’t like the pen.

For the record, I received #200 of 2016. The packaging is new and I like it more than the previous limited editions. It’s a nice design but doesn’t seem to be a huge expense for something I’ll never use again. The pen also included the new Con-40 converter which isn’t widely available here in the States.

As for the Con-40 converter – I was going to say “it sucks”, but the problem is it doesn’t suck up enough ink. The converter seems over-engineered, with three small agitator balls and a stopper to keep those balls in. When extending the plunger to expel the air in preparation to pull ink in there a full half-inch of air still in the converter where the plunger can’t reach thanks to that stopper. This leaves more air above the ink than the typical converter. I made a mess trying to get the last of the air out. A syringe would work of course but that seems to defeat the purpose of using a converter, although seems easier than repeated attempts to get the air out. Hopefully there’s a secret I’ve yet to stumble on. Here’s a thread on FP Geeks about the con-40 converter issues. Officially the con-40 holds 0.4ml of ink.

I picked Montblanc Toffee Brown as the first ink for this pen. The writing was nice a smooth, a typical quality Pilot nib. The ink didn’t last long and I didn’t want to deal with the converter so I popped in the blue cartridge that came with the pen and have been using that since. There hasn’t been any skipping or hard starts.

While the Vanishing Points are ideal for jotting quick notes on the go the medium nib doesn’t suit that purpose, at least for me. So I’ve been using the pen for longer writing sessions at my desk (or a table) and find it delightful to use. The raised Guilloche pattern gives it a nice tactile feel that eliminates the cold feeling I get from the typical metal VP. I like using it as much as my wooden Vanishing Points, although some of that may be due to the new pen glow. Some people hate the clip, I really like it. It fits naturally with my grip and provides some stability. With small or mostly hidden nibs such as this one I have a tendency to rotate the pen over time, the clip completely eliminates this.

I’ve seen some online comments that Pilot changed the internal design below the clip which has affected people who remove the VP clips. This isn’t something I’d ever do but if you do expect to remove the clip you may want to do some online research before buying the pen. The review linked below has photos.

The Guilloche pattern is subtle and very nice. Last year’s Twilight Limited Edition VP was a hit among the pen community and if memory serves, it sold out quickly. While I appreciated the looks of the Twilight, and it certainly caught my eye, I never considered a purchase. On the other hand, the Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche 2016 Limited Edition was an easier decision once I knew the Guilloche pattern was raised. I’m very happy with the decision to buy. I like the simple design aesthetic along with the functionality provided by the raised pattern.

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Additional Reading

Pilot Guilloche Vanishing Point (2016 Limited Edition) | No Pen Intended

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