Some Link & Resource Page Updates

I wrote this post over a month ago but then forgot to publish it. So you may already have noticed these changes.

Let’s start with a few links…

A reader submitted a link to a nice list of calligraphy resources at Beaucoup. Calligraphy is one of those things I say I want to learn, but then I realize I don’t really want to since I’d never commit to the time necessary to learn it.

The Pen Show Page has been updated with some more 2017 dates. Noticeably absent is the Washington D.C. pen show. The word is that there will be a new venue this year but it hasn’t been finalized. They say it will be in the northern Va. area during the first or second week of August. I wasn’t planning to attend this year, but if I was then the lack of a firm date at this late point would make me reconsider. I wonder how many attendees and vendors will pass on the show this year? I missed the LI show too, hopefully I can make the Boston Pen show so I’ll get to at least one show this year.

I’ve also updated the links page. There are so many pen blogs now that I split them into two sections. The first is “Enthusiastic Users” which are the folks who talk about their pen & stationery use. They generally don’t accept a lot of pens and ink for free or at a discount in exchange for a review. Doing that’s OK, but I prefer reading about what people use because they like the item (or think they will) and are spending their own time and money. Unfortunately I think that as pens and stationery become more popular some bloggers may experience events such as The Purl Bug which tends to take the fun out of it.

Of course, “ enthusiast” is open to interpretation. I have no doubt that someone who reviews a pen every week is enthusiastic. So I decided to limit the list to 24 sites and I’ll adjust it at times, and maybe reduce the number. As for my definition of an enthusiast site, as Justice Potter Stewart (any many others) said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. In short, I figure they are sites that readers of this site will also like, focused on stationery items & pens the writer buys and uses.

If you have site that’s not on the links page please let me know. Also let me know if you write about fountain pens (or any stationery) as part of a general, personal site and I’ll add it to the list.


Favorite New Fountain Pen and Ink of 2016

It’s time for my obligatory year end post and this year I’ll pick my favorite fountain pen and fountain pen ink from among those that arrived in 2016. This is completely subjective and limited to fountain pens and ink that joined my accumulation in the past year.

I added nine pens to my accumulation in 2016. A tenth, the Edison Extended Mina group buy, came and went during the year. While a nice pen, it just didn’t connect with me. The remaining pens eligible for this selection, in the order they arrived:

One thing I notice in the above list, which I wouldn’t have predicted when the year began, is that less than half the nibs are fine or thinner. I’ve been expanding my horizons.

Shawn Newton Eastman with Esterbrook #2314F nib and Montblanc Irish Green cappedThe selection of my favorite pen really wasn’t any contest, the Newton Pens Eastman wins hands down. It has the twin advantages of being a custom pen built for my hand and aesthetics tastes, while being fitted for my collection of Esterbrook nibs.

You could say the Eastman has a unfair advantage. If I was to limit myself to the off the shelf pens the choice would get harder. The Sailor KOP has been inked nearly constantly since I got it. It’s had six different inks run through it during the last five months. The Montblanc Ultra Black has quickly become a favorite, with it’s oblique nib and an aesthetic I like. But it’s been in my hands barely a month, so I’m still probably affected by it’s new pen distortion field. Then there’s the Aurora Optima which like more than I expected.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen - capped on standAny one of those three pens could be my choice as second favorite of the year. But I have to go with the Sailor KOP since I’ve had it the longest and it’s stood the test of time. Plus, it’s the one I used most recently. I’d probably have picked one of the others if it had been the most recently used rather than the KOP.

Papier Plume Burgundy bottle - openThe choice of my favorite ink is a bit easier. I didn’t keep good track of all the inks that were new this year, but my favorite does stand out. Paper Plume Burgundy is the clear winner. A I mention in the ink notes – while it’s not a color match to my favorite Montblanc Bordeaux, the ink properties remind do me of it. This is especially true in my fine & extra fine nibs.

I’ve liked two other inks and expect to use them more. But I’ve only recently loaded pens with them. Montblanc Lucky Orange may finally end my search for an orange ink, assuming it does as well in my thin nibs as other Montblanc inks. The second is P.W. Akkerman #12 Mauritshuis Magenta. It’s a color I really like that’s unique among my ink accumulation.

What were your favorite new fountain pens and ink of 2016?

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway Winner

TWSBI Eco and ink samplesToday’s mail delivery arrived with three letters that just made it in, and I’ve picked the giveaway winner. Bruce R. from California won the TWSBI and ink samples. Bruce used a Pilot Metropolitan with a medium nib and Pilot Namiki Black ink. Bruce, you didn’t include your email so hopefully you see this, but since I do have your address the pen and ink will go out early next week. Congratulations.

There were 21 entries which I randomly put in a stack and then picked number 11 from

Fountain Pen Day

Happy Fountain Pen Day! I still need to make one more trip to the PO Box so no winner of my fountain pen day giveaway. Sorry, unless your entry is already on the way even next day delivery won’t get it here on time. I had 18 entries as this week began.

I had planned to write several pens dry before inking up an new ones in November. While my inked pens are nice the fact that they’ve been inked over a month (some over 3 months) does indicate they aren’t favorites so reducing the competition would get them more use. But being Fountain Pen Day I decided to screw a Esterbrook nib into my newest pen and fill it with a favorite ink. So today’s pen will be a Shawn Newton Eastman demonstrator with a Esterbrook 2314-F fine stub nib with Montblanc Irish Green.

Even though it’s too late to enter my giveaway there are plenty of others going on so check your favorite retailer or website. Like any other “Day” there are plenty of sales going on.

What pen and ink are you using today?

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway

TWSBI Eco and ink samplesFountain Pen Day, November 4th, may seem far away but it’s in less than six weeks. I’m doing another give away this year and like last year it will be old school and require a handwritten entry. Unlike last year the giveaway will end rather than begin on Fountain Pen Day. Score one for advance planning.

The giveaway is a new TWSBI Eco fountain pen that’s black (with a clear barrel for ink viewing) with a medium nib and a random sample of inks. On a recent Goulet Pens order I included their “Random Ink Sample Package”. I won’t list the eight inks so you’ll be as surprised as I was (unless you can tell from the picture).

The giveaway is open worldwide. I’m giving more time this year because some international entries barely arrived in time (and one didn’t) despite being postmarked close to the contest announcement. So if you’re international don’t delay.

To enter:

  1. Send a letter or postcard to me. “Letter” is very generic in this case. The letter can be anything, drawings, poems, a postcard, a standard letter, or a few words on an index card in the envelope, etc… as long as it’s delivered to the PO Box. Use a fountain pen if you have one, if you don’t have a fountain pen use your favorite writing instrument (or whatever is nearby) and include a few words about why you want a fountain pen. Not required, but I like to know the pens, nibs and inks used.
  2. Send your entry to:
    Ray Newbery
    PO Box 176
    East Berlin, CT 06023
  3. The entry must arrive by Friday November 4, 2016 and be in the PO Box when I pick up the mail that afternoon.
  4. One entry per person. Households with multiple fountain pen users can enter once per person but each entry must be written and sent separately.
  5. Please be sure to include a legible copy of your address on the entry as I will ship the pen to this address. Optionally (but recommended), include an email address so I can contact you before shipping the pen and verify any information.

I hope to announce the winner on Fountain Pen Day or a soon as I can after.

The really fine print:

None of this is important to you entry but to clarify some potential questions:

If I can’t pick up the mail that Fountain Pen Day afternoon then any entry in the box when I do pick it up will be valid as long as the postmark is November 4th or earlier.

If your entry doesn’t include enough information for me to send you the pen or contact you (or if the info isn’t legible) I will pick another winner or, at my option, post a copy of the entry and give the winner 72 hours to contact me to provide the information and pick another winner if not contacted.

Each entry will be assigned a number in a random fashion. In other words, in batches as I get to it. The winning number will be picked at

I’m not responsible for loss or damage in shipping, meaning if the pen is lost or damaged in shipping I can’t afford to replace it. For international shipping (I’m in the U.S.) I’ll use the lowest cost method and this may take six weeks and won’t include tracking (although there may be tracking until it leaves the US). The pen will be declared as a gift but listing the value is also required and the cost of the pen (less than $30) will be listed for international customs.

So get writing.

Washington DC Pen Show 2016 Recap

2016 Washington DC pen Show Haul - the pens

2016 Washington DC pen Show Haul – the pens

The 2016 Washington DC Pen Show is now history. After missing the last two years I was able to get there this year. The biggest change from three years ago is that the show is more social since Brad Dowdy (aka the Pen Addict) and Carey (Fountain Pen Day) started attending. Both bring their own communities to the show which got together at a meet-up one evening. This also brings a lot of pen and stationery bloggers to the show so I’ll start with some of their stuff that gives a better flavor of the show than I could:

2016 D.C. Pen Show Recap: Friday and Saturday — The Gentleman Stationer and 2016 DC Pen Show Recap: Sunday and Overall Impressions — The Gentleman Stationer

DC Pen Show Recap – The Well-Appointed Desk

And many, many photos: Instagram – #dcpenshow2016

Now on to my experience. I had the weekend trader pass but wasn’t able to be there at all on Thursday, which is the day anyone with a Trader Pass can setup half a table to sell pens. That could have provided an interesting selection of pens and conversations about them. I arrived Thursday evening so I was able to get a full day in on Friday. I do hope to get some time in on Thursday the next time I go.

As usual I had my budget. I’ve only bought one pen all year and I’d sold several others so my budget was pretty significant, at least for me. I had a couple pens on my wanted list that I intended to see, but mainly I was browsing and looking for something to catch my eye. Vintage Parker Vacumatics and vintage Sheaffer Balances were among pens I wanted to see on the vintage side. On the modern side my interest was much more general and I wanted to see them all. I also wanted to visit the various custom pen makers at the show.

Friday was more crowded than I remember from three years ago, but it was still easy to move around and see the pens and talk to the sellers.

I signed up for nib work by Mike Masuyama which resulted in my only disappointment of the show. Even though it was only about 8:30, his list was already long and he never got to me.

The two pens that topped my wanted list were the Montblanc LeGrand Ultra Black and the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (KOP), and were both carried by Anderson Pens so I headed there early Friday. Plus, I had a ink pre-order with them.

The Montblanc LeGrand Ultras Black is a gorgeous pen if you like black & silver, which I do. The metal finial/piston knob doesn’t ruin the balance of the pen and doesn’t make the pen too heavy, at least in my opinion. I won’t rule out a future purchase since I do like the look, but it moved down on my wanted list and I decided it wouldn’t be a show purchase. I was a little concerned about the finish being prone to scratches and the pen in general didn’t reach out and pull me in. I knew I was comfortable with this decision because I never returned to look at it again.

On the other hand the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen kept calling to me. It wasn’t an immediate purchase but I did get it before lunch on Friday. The short version is that I’m thrilled with my choice. More info is in my “This Just In” post for the pen.

I also picked up my Montblanc Ultra Black ink pre-order when I first looked at the KOP. I did the pre-order because I knew it was the only ink I wanted and I didn’t want it to be sold out. As it turned out they had it in stock at least through Sunday morning. It’s in my Visconti Homo Sapien and my first impression is good, but I haven’t used it very much.

In the afternoon I returned to Sarj Minhas’s table and ended up getting a Sheaffer Balance Oversize that I had seen earlier in the day. It’s a c.1934–35 Sheaffer Balance Oversize in a pearl grey celluloid that has red veins running though it. I love the material and it’s in pristine condition. It’s a fine nib that I should enjoy. Sarj’s prices are on the high side but the quality of his pens makes it worth it, in my opinion although I do consider it a bit of an indulgence. More information and my first impressions is in my “This Just In” post for this pen.

Sometime during the day (it all kind of runs together) I picked up three bottles of KWZ ink from Vanness Pens. I got two bottles of Gummiberry, one is the iron gall (IG) version and the other is the non-IG version. The third bottle was non-IG Green #2. I used both of the non-IG inks at the show. I noticed they had a bit of a smell (not scented, probably from the chemicals or dyes). It was neither good or bad, just there. It was most noticeable in my hotel room and it’s been less noticeable now that I’m home but I still catch it at times. The two KWZ IG inks that I have don’t have the odor. I do really like the non-IG Gummiberry and Green #2. See my forthcoming “This Just In” posts for the Sailor KOP and Fisher of Pens Hermes for writing samples of each ink.

Late in the day on Friday I realized I didn’t have any good paper to use with my new pens. So I stopped by the Franklin-Christoph table and bought a softcover A5 dot ruled pad. I’ve never used that paper and wanted to give it a try.

Friday night brought the Pen Addict / Fountain Pen Day meet-up. In addition to meeting people I won a engraved Rhodia Webnotebook. It was engraved and donated by Vanness Pens who also donated many of the other door prizes. I like winning stuff that I wouldn’t normally buy. While this notebook is well liked by others it’s not something I thought I would have a use for, so I never got one. I don’t have a lot of use for this type of notebook (hardcover) but I’ve already started using this one for drafts of my pen show articles.

2016 DC Pen Show Haul - The Paper

2016 DC Pen Show Haul – The Paper

Saturday was another day. It was closer to 9am when I got to the show floor and Mike Masuyama’s list was already long, so I didn’t sign up. I eventually found Dan Smith (he had relocated from Friday) and signed up with him. I was pretty far down the list since the show had been open about an hour, so I knew it wouldn’t be soon, if at all.

I did a lot of browsing and talking to custom pen makers on Saturday morning but spent the crowded lunchtime and afternoon playing with my new pens and ink, and went for a walk outside to get some air. I only made two small purchases. A bottle of vintage (1980–90’s) Sheaffer Peacock Blue, the yellow box/label. It goes with the dark red box/label version I have. It’s the only turquoise ink I like. (I generally avoid blues.) There’s a writing sample in my forthcoming “This Just In” post for my Sheaffer Balance Oversize. At first glance I don’t like this one as much, there was less variation from the ink pooling although this could be the pen or paper, both of which are new to me. The ink seems fine so I don’t blame it’s age.

Matt from The Pen Habit has some new Inky Fingers notebooks. I picked up one of the “Currently Inked” editions. I like it. The paper is nice. It’s not super-smooth like Rhodia or Tomoe River, but it’s fountain pen friendly. It absorbs the ink nicely (without bleed-through or feathering) so it dries quickly. I considered buying a second one to avoid shipping on a future purchase but I decided not to because I need to see if I stick with using it. I made one attempt to use a similar ink log a few years ago and just didn’t stick with it. I give myself a better than even chance of sticking with this one. It’s a larger book, Traveler sized, and each entry has plenty of space without getting lost in the details. If I didn’t have so many unused pocket notebooks I would have picked up several of his. The paper seems ideal for a pocket notebook – fountain pen friendly but quicker drying than slick Tomoe River paper.

As Saturday came to a close I still hadn’t had my nibs done so I decided to get my Sheaffer Balance II nibs tuned if someone was available. Joshua Lax was available, so I had him look at them. I’d never had Joshua work on any nibs before but these would be relatively simple – no grinding. He didn’t find any issues with the first one, and as I wrote with it I couldn’t either. Maybe it had some paper fibers in it or I swapped it with the identical nib without noticing. The second Sheaffer II needed a little tweaking which he did and now it’s nice and smooth. It’s noticeably, if only slightly better. I haven’t used either since the show since I have so many new pens to use. But I will ink them up soon.

As an aside, Joshua and a couple other nib workers and pen makers were missing from my nib worker, pen restorer and custom pen maker directory so I’ve added those that came to my attention recently.

I didn’t get called by Dan on Friday, but unlike Mike Masuyama he carries over his list so my turn came up Sunday morning. I had Dan work on two pens. My Pelikan M800 Stresemann extra fine was ground down to an extra fine. (I meant what I wrote, that was one wide factory extra fine from Pelikan.) And my favorite Visconti Homo Sapien was tweaked to make it just a little better. It was very good but skipped on occasion and the flow would sometimes vary slightly for no reason. I haven’t used them much since the show but the Visconti is inked and the M800 is waiting for a slot to open.

2016 DC Pen Show Haul - The Ink

2016 DC Pen Show Haul – The Ink

I knew Sunday would be a dangerous day. I had money left in the budget (meaning cash burning a hole in my pocket). I was susceptible to buying pens that aren’t on my wanted list.

Ryan Krusac has a new pen design, The Legend, and that was a purchase early Sunday morning. He makes pens with organic materials (most of the time) and his wood pens have interested me in the past. Mine is black walnut burl wood with an ebonite section and an extra fine nib. I’ve always thought his pens looked good, but there was always something that kept me from buying one. The designs just didn’t grab me and the ones that I’ve held have been heavy and I didn’t find them very comfortable. This was was a simple design, light and comfortable. It’s smaller than his usual pens, but big enough for me and comfortable in my hand. He probably has many designs that I’ve never seen, but this one struck me as completely different than all his other pens and is easily my favorite. I’ll have more in my “This Just In” post for the pen.

I had just gotten to my hotel room to relax and play with pens when I saw a Instagram post from Fisher of Pens showing all his green pens. All that green, I had to run right back down there. He says they were all there since Friday and I’m sure they were. The bright green ones were nice but all could have been tweaked for my personal preference. And since he’s a custom pen maker I would rather have had him make one than get one of these. I had actually intended to do this, especially since an eta was November (depending on any other orders he might get before mine). But there was one dark green (actually dark black with a green web design) in the back of the photo. If I had noticed that one on Friday I would have gotten it then. My own custom pen order probably would have been a different model but there wasn’t anything about this one that I didn’t like. The vintage celluloid material is gorgeous. More info is in the “This Just In” post for the Fisher of Pens Hermes.

I finished up my Sunday (and pen show) shopping with three bottles of ink from Anderson Pens. Montblanc Lavender Purple will fill-out my collection of regular production Montblanc inks. While the other two are from ink brands that are new to me.

Papier Plume is a stationery shop in New Orleans that bottles there own ink. (No info on who makes it, their website says it’s French, or if the formulas are unique to them.) Also, there’s no quantity on the bottle but my guess is about 50ml. Like Sailor ink bottles, it’s short and stout so larger nibs may have a problem, even when the bottle is full. I bought the burgundy ink and have really like it so far in the Ryan Krusac pen. You can see a writing sample in the “This Just In” post for the pen. which should be out if the next few days. The flow is good and it’s dark enough for the EF nib. It seems to dry fast enough since I’ve avoid smudges so far.

Bookbinder in an Australian stationery web shop (no B&M store) that sells pen and paper related items. They brand their fountain pen ink as Snake Ink with color names coming from various snakes. It’s a 30ml bottle in rather unique packaging, a brown hessian bag with draw string. I had to look up hessian, it’s a strong, coarse fabric made from hemp or jute, used for sacks. I got the Ground Rattler which is grey. Grey may not be the best color to introduce a new ink brand, but I like grey and decided to give it a try. I’ve yet to load a pen with it.

There were some things at the show that I looked at but didn’t get. The Diplomat Aero is a pen that’s gotten good reviews. I tried one and really liked it, especially the brown version. I ended up passing because it wasn’t different enough from my current pens and I probably wouldn’t use it much.

I looked at several Omas pens and really liked the material. I passed for the same reason, I didn’t think I’d use them enough to justify the price.

The Franklin-Christoph booth was buzzing all weekend. I like their leather cases and they had some nice prototype pens. I really like F-C pens but I’ve sold off several that just don’t get used. Although I may start treating them like a subscription service – buy one and use it for a year then sell it and pick up a new design at the next show.

Sailor had some samples of their upcoming inks. Since none were available I didn’t need any willpower and there were a couple colors I like.

Kobe was also there with their line of inks. Kobe ink is from the Nagasawa Pen Shop located in Kobe Japan and made by Sailor. I didn’t buy any, but there was a lot of activity at their table and several colors sold out.

People kept buying the Visconti Homo Sapien London Fog which is a gorgeous pen that I had wanted to see. It became harder and harder to resist buying one as I saw three of them being sold along with a couple others in show & tell. I managed to resist by telling myself I didn’t see it getting a regular spot in my rotation unless I kicked a pen out, which I couldn’t do. Since each one is slightly different I can now resist it by telling myself I’d want to see it first. Although honestly, I did not see one I wouldn’t keep.

While there were a lot of vintage dealers there seemed to be less vintage activity than my visit three years ago. It was generally easy to get to the vintage sellers even during the busy Saturday, while the modern pen sellers always seemed to be busy.

This post is already approaching 3,000 words so I’ll wrap it up here. I had more in my written draft of the post so maybe there will be a follow-up, but probably not. At the end of the weekend I was tired, had ink on my fingers, and considered the show to be time and money well spent.

There were many other pen & stationery bloggers there. You may find additional recaps on their sites. In addition to the previously linked sites near the top, and knowing I will leave someone out (my apologies) there was: From the Pen Cup, Gorgeous Ink, The Purl Bug, My Coffee Pot, and Inkdependence.

For those on the other coast, the San Fransisco Pen Show is August 26–28th.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 28, 2016

Currently Inked - July 2016

Look familiar? All the pens I started the month with are still inked up.

It’s been a slow month as far as fountain pen usage goes. All the pens I started the month with still have ink. Only the Visconti was written dry and that was immediately refilled. A couple pens are close to empty but they’ll probably survive the month.

The Washington DC Pen Show is next week and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been three years since I attended the show.

Non-Negotiable: Eleven Days of Morning Pages | From the Pen Cup

I gave this a try earlier this month and I could see immediate benefits. Despite this I just didn’t stick with it and only lasted about a week. I’m not a morning person so it didn’t take much of a speed bump to break the habit. I did enjoy it and I used my pens a lot.

I’ll probably try to get going again, although not as a daily habit. I find that a “daily goal” like this can become mechanical and I just go through the motions the reach the physical goal. Rather than enjoying the writing I was concentrating on getting to three pages on the last couple of days.

One Book July 2016 — The Purl Bug and One Book July: Halfway Point – The Well-Appointed Desk

I realize that this is a thing, just not for me.

KWZ Inks: A New Favorite — The Gentleman Stationer

It seems like there’s always a hard to get boutique fountain pen ink that’s the latest rage in the FP community. KWZ Ink, from Poland, is the latest of these. I have more than enough ink and I tend to avoid these inks during the initial feeding frenzy but may pick up a bottle as the fad fades. I did pick up a bottle of KWZ IG Blue-Black which I like. My motivation was mainly that it was an iron gall ink and a blue-black. KWZ does have non-IG inks and a wide range of colors. Joe makes a good case as to why he likes them. I tell myself I have enough ink but I expect I’ll buy a bottle from Vanness pens at the DC show next week.

A Shinobi creeps in – And All Other Tasks

A favorite vintage nib found a new home in a modern pen. I love that Shawn Newton does this. Others do it too, but since I have a pen on order with Shawn I’ve noticed his work more.

Ink Review: Waterproof, Permanent Inks – The Well-Appointed Desk

I’ve had a heightened interest in iron gall and other waterproof inks most of this year. Although the appeal of IG extends beyond its waterproof properties it did lead me to look at other waterproof inks. Among Ana’s recommendations is the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with Platinum Carbon ink. This combination has been on my desk since February. I use it when water resistance is my primary goal bit it’s also good for general use.

A Good Pen Matters – crane reaction

That One Pen is now Crane Reaction. Well, both exist, but only Crane Reaction will get new content from Todd. He’ll still write about pens, just not exclusively.

From Parker to Montblanc: the appeal of the fountain pen | The Week Portfolio

A bit of a puff piece, but its nice to see a fountain pen article in a non-stationery setting.

Zen and the Art of Fountain Pen Maintenance — The Pen Addict

Good info. I like that no fountain pens are disassembled simply to make cleaning easier. Especially since it’s not necessary.

My Personal Fountain Pen Collection | Hey there! SBREBrown

Stephen Brown shares his pen collection.

Aurora, Cross and Omas ink tests | FOUNTAIN PEN INKS & BLEACH

This sites new to me but it’s been around a few years. Interesting stuff worth checking out.

The Value of a Pen — Pen Economics

Some interesting thoughts in this post. The Blue Hour Skeleton isn’t for my aesthetic tastes and I immediately move on when seeing this price. But it’s interesting to read about the thought process from a fountain pen user. I always consider pens of this price to be more jewelry purchase rather than a writing instrument purchase so it’s nice to see it considered as a writing instrument.