This Just In: Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen In its boxThe Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine has been on my radar for a while. It was on my list of things to seek out at the pen shows I’d be attending this year. I have a King of Pen (KOP) in black, but for a pen at this price, I really want to see it in person. My other KOP was a pen show purchase for the same reason, I needed to see it to be sure. Unsurprisingly, since the Long Island Pen Show is small, I didn’t come across one. So, with additional pen shows becoming less and less likely, I went ahead and ordered one from Classic Fountain Pens (CFP). I ordered a factory medium, but to be ground to an oblique tip. Often called a left-footed oblique because the nib slants the same way as the toes on our left foot toes.

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen NibI love the way the KOP feels in my hands, likely the most comfortable pen I own. I can write with it for hours at a time. But, I’ll never have as many as I want because it’s obscenely expensive for what it is. Even the base models, like my first KOP, sell for over $700. It’s a basic resin pen. Yes, of outstanding quality and workmanship, and with a large 21kt gold nib, that’s glorious, but the price still causes me to gag a bit. The price is one reason I couldn’t justify (to myself) getting a KOP with the same medium nib that I already had. A broad nib, from experience, is not something I would use more than occasionally. These are the only two nib sizes available, which meant a nib grind would be required.

The Royal Tangerine KOP is a North American exclusive. I haven’t seen any mention of it being limited (it’s certainly not numbered), it does seem to be out of stock most places. Although it is still listed for sale, so Sailor may be planning to eventually nake another batch. I appear to have gotten the last one at CFP as it went out of stock after my order. Good timing on my part, unless I ended up not liking the pen.

The Royal Tangerine King of Pen has the classic cigar shape design. This is a nice contrast with my other KOP, which is a Pro Gear model. I have a slight preference for the Pro Gear style, but that wasn’t an option. Even if it was, I might have still gotten the cigar style (a.k.a. 1911 style) just for variety. My current trend toward variety would outweigh my aesthetic preference in this case. But like I said, it was the only option, so no decision was needed.

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen uncapped in its boxThe pen arrived relatively plain, although slightly larger than standard, Sailor branded pen box. The box is more than sturdy enough to protect the pen during shipping. It’s distinguishing feature is the wrap-around magnetic cover. Sailor uses a proprietary filling system and includes two black ink cartridges and a converter.

Photo ofeverything received with the Sailor King of Pen

My recent practice has been to avoid waste and use any included ink cartridges first. I couldn’t bring myself to do that this time, so I picked Robert Oster Signature Orange ink to inaugurate this pen. It seemed like a logical choice. Logical or not, I was happy with the choice. The pen & ink performed well together. I’ll use those cartridges eventually and won’t waste them. My black KOP and the Regency Stripe are both in the queue to be inked up and would be suitable choices.

I wrote the pen dry and put it aside to give other pens a chance. But, I soon missed it and returned it to the rotation with Montblanc Bordeaux ink.

Oblique nibs sit perfectly on the paper when I use my normal grip. I never have to adjust my grip to suit the nib, and I never have any skipping. That’s why I never pick a pen with an oblique nib as my daily writer. If I have to contort my hand, such as when dealing with the wires in a wire-bound notebook or reaching over a keyboard, the nib may not keep consistent contact with the paper. So, like all my oblique nibs, it only gets pulled out when I am sitting at a desk or table and writing on a flat notepad. It’s a delight to use In this way.

There’s not much more that I can say about the Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine. It’s a perfect size for me, and the 21 kt gold nib is glorious. I’m happy with the pen, if not the price. Despite being a new pen, it shot right onto my list of core pens.

Photo - size comparison of 12 fountain pens

Size comparison (L->R) Benu Minima, Sailor Realo, Sheaffer Balance Oversize, Sailor Balance Oversize, Diplomat Aero, Pelikian M815, Lamy Safari, Leonardo Messenger, Sailor KOP, Kanilea Cherry Kona, Edison Huron Grande, yStudio Classic Desk Pen

This Just In: Diplomat Aero Orange/Black

Diplomat Aero cappedI bought the Diplomat Aero from Fountain Pen Hospital (FPH) while at the 2020 Long Island Pen Show. Diplomat pens have been around since 1922 but only popped up in the U.S. a few years ago. While their pens are made in Germany, I found it interesting that the contact address on their corporate website is in France.

The Aero design comes in versions for mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, and rollerballs in addition to fountain pens. The Diplomat website also lists a gold nib version of the fountain pen. I didn’t stumble across a gold nib for sale at a U.S. retailer, but my search was only cursory.

I liked the Zeppelin inspired design of the Aero right from the start when I first saw it at the Washington D.C. pen show several years ago. But, I’ve avoided buying one until now. I also didn’t keep up with the available colors.

Last time I went to the Long Island show I didn’t buy any pens. This time I hadn’t bought anything when the time to leave approached. I was itching to buy a pen, and the only pen that really called to me was nearly $1K. I wasn’t going to answer that call. So, I decided to buy the Aero. Only three pens were on display at the FPH booth, black, blue, and red. I decided on red. Admittedly, more because I didn’t want to walk away empty-handed, rather than a deep desire for the pen. The pen show price was further reduced by an FPH gift card given at the door, making the price slightly better than the typical online price.

I asked for a red model with an extra-fine nib. Luckily they didn’t have one, but mentioned that they had EF nibs in “orange and black.” I heard that as meaning two pens and asked to see the orange pen. When the orange/black appeared, I knew I’d be getting the pen. It jumped from being a consolation pen to a pen I really did want. So, I walked out with an orange/black Diplomat Aero with an extra-fine steel nib.

I’ve read elsewhere that the nibs are by Jowo, although they are Diplomat branded. They are stamped with the Diplomat logo along with the words “Diplomat Since 1922”. The nib is a solid silver color, which is my preference.

The pen itself is all metal (aluminum), including the gripping section. The pen body is a dark orange. The cap is black, as is the section. The words “Diplomat” and “Made in Germany” are stamped around the base of the cap in silver. It gives the appearance of being a cap band, especially since the bottom of the cap is flat. The tip of the body is crowned with a bit of black. The end of the cap has the Diplomat logo in silver.

I popped in the included blue-black (?) cartridge when I unboxed the fountain pen. The cartridge went dry as I was drafting this article, but it’s still the only ink that I’ve loaded in this pen. It performed well, and I saw no reason to replace it. The box actually included two cartridges, of the same ink, along with a converter. Diplomat does like branding any surface they can, so the converter has the Diplomat logo along with “Diplomat Made in Germany” stenciled on it.

The packaging was a bit elaborate, although not too expensive. The outer cardboard box had the Diplomat name and logo printed on it. (Did I mention that they like their branding?) Opening the box revealed a metal covered sliding box, which also had their branding. The metal was unexpected until I realized that they promote all their pens as being made from metal due to its durability (I do see one lacquer pen in their lineup). Sliding the cover off revealed their brand yet again, in a cardboard flap that covered the pen. Removing that flap finally revealed the pen. The pen rested on the typical pen box removable shelf. The two cartridges and a converter were below the shelf. The pen uses standard international cartridges and converters.

Diplomat Aero in the box

Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooped up for weeks, but I found all that branding comical. Literally, it made me chuckle as I opened the Russian Nesting Dolls to get to my pen, seeing their logo and name each time. But the reality is that the branding is subdued and not flashy. The packaging contributed to making it feel like a quality product and bought in volume, it probably doesn’t add much to the cost of the pen.

After getting to the Diplomat Aero fountain pen, I inked it up with one of the included cartridges. By the time I picked up the packaging and stored it away, the pen was ready to right. The ink made it to the nib without any help from me, and while lying flat on its side. That was an encouraging start.

The Aero is comfortable in my hand, even for long writing sessions. Even though it’s a metal pen, aluminum is relatively light, and I wouldn’t consider the Aero heavy at all. Sure, it is heavier than a resin only pen of the same size. The grip section is also metal, and it’s smooth. I haven’t had any problem with the pen slipping. But, the weather is still cool and dry. It may be a problem when heat and humidity move in.

The nib is a smooth writer that was well-tuned. The ink flow has been perfect, and I haven’t had any problem with skipping or hard starts. I’ve been rotating through my pens, so the Aero would spend 4 to 6 days stored nib up between uses. There weren’t any hard starts. It is a firm nib which I like.

Diplomat Aero writing sample

I’m happy with the Diplomat Aero. It’s a great writer, and I love the look. It probably won’t rise to the level of being a core pen, but it will be around for a while, and I expect it to be inked up frequently. I cleaned out the pen and put it in storage for now. I’ve been trying to rotate through my pens and revisit ones that haven’t been used in years. So it will sit out for now, but the Diplomate Aero fountain pen will stay handy and return to the rotation in the not too distant future.

This Just In: Sailor 1911 Full Size Realo

Photo of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo in packagingThe Sailor 1911 Full Size Realo arrived in the same package as the Pelikan M815 Striped Metal back in early February. “Realo” is the moniker Sailor uses for their piston fill pens. According to the Sailor website, this is the only Realo model available with anything other than gold trim. So my choice was limited since I didn’t want gold trim. I do have a slight preference for the Pro Gear design, but that wasn’t an option since I couldn’t find any trace of their being a silver trimmed Pro Gear Model. (There are Realo Pro Gear pens, just not with silver trim.)

Photo of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo cappedThe 1911 Large Realo is a traditional, tapered pen with silver trim. The design is often referred to as cigar-shaped, which I never really understood since most cigars I’ve seen are flat on one end. The nib is 21k rhodium plated. I picked a medium-fine as my nib size. Sailor nibs run thin (as do all Japanese nibs, and this one is thinner than many of my European fine nibs. The pen itself is made of a classic black resin.

Photo of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo cap and ink windowLike the Pelikan M815 that arrived at the same time, it has a window to view the ink level. Unlike the M815, the ink window is visible when the pen is capped.

Photo of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo nibI’m a fan of Sailor’s thin nibs and have the extra-fine on my Regency Stripe. This medium-fine is two steps above that, making it an excellent all-around nib for me. The nib is marked H-MF, where the H means Hard. I wouldn’t call the nib a nail, but I like firm nibs, and this has a Goldilocks firmness to it.

While the size of the Realo is comfortable for me it’s a resin pen, meaning it’s relatively light. My hand gets more fatigued with a light pen than it does with a heavier pen. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s because I subconsciously use a tighter grip on lighter pens. The ink flows so smoothly from the Sailor nib that I can use a light touch and let the weight of the pen do all the work of keeping the nib on the paper. I get a nice, solid line of ink that’s true to the nib size without any added pressure. Because of this, along with the comfortable size of the pen, I haven’t found myself sub-consciously tightening my grip. I did experiment with posting the cap, but the benefit of the added weight is outweighed by the discomfort I have using a posted pen. My benchmark is that I have to stand and stretch my legs before I have to put the pen down to rest. I’ve yet to do any marathon writing sessions, but so far the pen feels like I can write forever with it and I expect it to achieve this benchmark.

To inaugurate the pen I picked Iroshizuku Funyu-Syogun ink. Iroshizuku inks are well-behaved and Fuyu-Syogun was my favorite ink at one time. I filled the pen when it arrived in early February, and it went dry as I was writing the draft of this post.

I’m not sure this pen has the stuff to be Core Pen worthy. The Realo has a great nib, and it’s comfortable. Still, once the novelty of a Sailor piston filler rubs off, it may go the way of my my other Sailor 1911s. Only time will tell. I didn’t refill it after it went dry, opting instead to concentrate on using the five Sheaffers that are already inked up. This indicates it may have a hard time achieving core-pen status. Then again, four of those Sheaffers are core pens, and the fifth is a new addition that’s identical to one of the core-pen Sheaffers, except for the material.

Photo of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo uncappedPhoto of the Sailor 1911 Large Realo uncapped

This Just In: Pelikan M815 Metal Striped SE

When the Pelikan Souverän M815 Metal Striped Special Edition was announced in mid–2018, I was immediately drawn to it. At the time, I had the M805 Stresemann, and the two pens are very similar. I’m not a Pelikan collector, so I couldn’t justify having both pens, especially since the M815 had a street price of $680 ($850 MSRP) here in the US. I also didn’t see the point of selling the Stresemann to buy the M815 Metal Striped, so I promptly forgot about the new M815.

I ended up selling off my M805 Stresemann during my fountain pen sell-off of 2019, although it wasn’t with the intent of replacing it with the M815. In fact, the M815 had completely fallen off my radar. Then I visited the Classic Fountain Pens Website (nibs.com), and their front page announced a $429 price for the M815. While that’s certainly not inexpensive, it’s less than 1/2 the MSRP and over 35% off typical retail. So, it was back on my radar.

I spent a week mulling it over and sleeping on it, then I decided to pull the trigger. Classic Fountain Pens (CFP) had the lowest price I found, including Amazon sellers. I’ve purchased fountain pens from CFP before, so they are a seller I trust, and buying from them was a no-brainer. CFP checks and tunes the nib before shipping. I asked for a light to medium ink flow using light to medium pressure.

Photo of the Pelikan M815 Metal Striped Presentation Box

The pen arrived in a unique presentation box, although nothing elaborate or expensive. The cardboard box is attractively printed with colors and a design that complements the pen. The pen floats in the box at an angle.

The pens aesthetic is one I like a lot. The palladium plating doesn’t scream bling, and complements the black resin to provide a beautiful overall look for the pen. While the Stresemann has been gone for a few months, my impression is the M815 is slightly brighter than the Stresemann, and I like it better. The overall design is one I consider standard for Pelikan M8xx fountain pens. The furniture is all palladium plated. There are two cap bands, the thicker one is engraved “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” There are another two trim rings at the piston knob. The cap is all black resin, except for the furniture. The cap finial has the Pelikan logo, and the clip is the typical beak design.

(Click any image to open gallery)

The M815 Striped Metal has a dark grey ink window above the section, which sets its design apart from the Stresemann. I worried the ink window would break up the design and bother me. The reality is that once there’s ink in the pen, especially a dark ink, the color just blends right in and I don’t notice it at all. When the pen is capped, the ink window isn’t visible at all.

The nib is rhodium-plated 18k gold with Pelikan’s standard engraving. I picked a fine nib. The nib seems a bit wide for a fine nib. Still, it is a western fine, and not too egregious. Which is unlike the factory EF nib on my earlier Stresemann, which had asperations of being a broad nib until I had it ground down to a correct extra fine size.

I picked Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black as the first ink for the pen. I like blue-blacks, and Pelikan Blue-Black is an ink I haven’t used in a long time. Somehow, I purchased a second bottle despite barely touching the original bottle of ink, so I need to use it. As expected, the piston movement was smooth, and it was easy to fill the pen.

Photo of the Pelikan M815 with a bottle of Pelikan blue-black ink

The M8xx form factor fits comfortably in my hand. The cap can be posted, but I don’t post my pens. While some people complain about fatigue with larger or heavier pens, I’m the exact opposite. The weight and size of the M815 allow me to use a loose grip and write with just the weight of the pen on the paper, no added pressure needed. For light or thin pens, my subconscious brain sends signals to grip the pen tighter, which causes fatigue. That’s a long-winded way of saying that the Pelikan M815 Striped Metal is comfortable in my hand, and it feels like I can write forever. As it is, I found myself having to get up and stretch my legs long before I needed to rest my hand. In comparison – I bought a much lighter and slightly thinner pen at the same time, and I certainly feel fatigued during the writing session.

I’m glad I added the Pelikan Souverän M815 Metal Striped Special Edition. It’s still on the first fill of ink, and it still has that new pen glow, so it’s too soon to know if it’s a Core Pen, Hanger-on, or one that should be added to the sale queue. But my initial reaction is that it will become a core pen.

This Just In: Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize grey marble on a pen stand I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating – I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Sheaffers, and I get weak-kneed when-ever I see a Sheaffer Balance Oversize from the 1930s. So, when this fountain pen became available from a trusted seller, it was an insta-buy, even though it was at the high end of what I was willing to pay. Who am I kidding? For a vintage Balance Oversize, I have no high end. The only question is if I can spare the money.

This is a vacuum-filler. Although I do I prefer lever-fillers since they are easier to repair. Mitigating this drawback is that this one was recently restored by Sherrell Tyree, so I’ll be worry-free for the next several years. I bought the pen from Anderson Pens, and Brian added a note about who did the restoration.

While grey may not be a popular color, I’ve always liked it, and I’m currently going through another grey phase, with many recent purchases picking gray as the color. The pen has a grey marble design, also called Grey Pearl, with good transparency. The barrel has a sharp gray pattern with some subtle color variation. The transparent areas have a ruby red color. I’m not familiar enough with these pens to know whether the ruby is original or the result of age. At least it’s uniform and looks like it could be the original color. Although my guess would be it is not, especially since in the right (or wrong) light, the edges of the grey can look brownish due to the ruby transparency beneath it. The cap has the same grey pattern, but it’s on an opaque black base rather than the transparent ruby red.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize nib

Thats ink and reflections on the nib, it’s actually in great shape.

It has a 14K gold two-tone nib. I’m not a fan of gold-colored nibs, preferring silver, but the look of these nibs is my favorite. It’s stamped “Sheaffer’s Lifetime” along with the patent info. Any nib size identifier is buried beneath the section if it exists at all. It’s the size Sheaffer nib I love and consider a medium/fine. It’s as slim as, or thinner than, many modern western fine nibs. It’s not labeled as a Feather-Touch nib, but the flow is excellent. I need to do some research to see if the Lifetime nibs were the same as feather-touch nibs, with the Lifetime moniker being used on higher-end pens.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize capThe pen is a white dot model, which still signified a lifetime warranty at the time the pen was sold. The clip is the hump style with a flat-topped ball. The clip and pen material dates the pen from around 1935. As mentioned, it’s a vacuum-filler, not a lever-filler. The blind-cap that controls the plunger is solid black. The plunger works smoothly, and I was able to get a proper fill with one plunge. Juggling the ink bottle while trying not to smash the nib into the bottom of the bottle made me a bit timid, which affected the amount of ink that flowed into the pen. I don’t doubt that a bottle with enough ink to cover the nib while the bottle is on a flat, stable surface would result in a completely filled pen.

I expect great things from this nib, and like all vac-fillers, the pen can be tedious to clean. I wanted an ink that would flow well and be easy to clean. Or even better, refilled with the same ink without cleaning. I picked Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink. It’s a smooth flowing blue-black ink that’s already proven it can be used for 18 straight problem fee months in a fountain pen. The only drawback is that I’ll soon run out of this limited edition ink.

The Balance Oversize gets along well with the ink. The flow has been perfect, with no skipping. There haven’t been any hard starts, but since I’ve used the pen every day, the nib hasn’t had the chance to dry out.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble is about to be written dry. I picked the ink since it is easy to flush out of a pen. In this case, it will be a quick refill so that the pen can remain in active use. A great addition to my Sheaffer collection, which now has the distinction of being a core pen.

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize Gray Marble with the barrel resting on the cap.