Obligatory Year End Post

15 pens inked for the year ahead
Fountain Pens inked up at year end

It’s been a good year at the Fountain Pen Quest.

Readership has grown in no small part to some steady links from Brad Dowdy, The Pen Addict and half the team at Nockco. The Pen Addict sent me over 9,000 referrals during the year. Thanks Brad! I risk insulting people by going deeper into thanking those who linked to Fountain Pen Quest, but Ana at The Well-Appointed desk referred over 1,000 viewers so deserves a public thanks in my opinion. Thanks Ana! And thanks to all the other bloggers who linked to this site.

And thanks to all you readers! As a thank you I’ll have a grab bag going up at noon eastern US time on January 1st. Four readers will get the grab bags on a first to claim basis so they’ll hopefully go the regular readers and subscribers.

A Year for Firsts

The year saw a few firsts in my fountain pen life. Long Island was my first pen show in March. I also attended the DC show in August a came home with quit a haul.

The Long Island Pen Show was where I acquired my first vintage fountain pen, an Esterbrook from Anderson Pens. At last count I have seven working Esterbrooks and 28 different nibs. I’ve accumulated 26 vintage pens, not including unusable pens bought for parts or practice and not yet repaired Speaking of firsts, two of the Esterbrooks were my first fountain pen re-sacs. I can be obsessive.

The home page and archives received the most hits, but individually the top 5 articles of the year, based on views, were…

1. Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Some readers have mentioned discoloration on their Sailor Pro Gear caps upon arrival. Mine is still like new and number three on my Modern Favorites List.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

2. Review: TWSBI Vac 700

I still like this pen. The Vac filler needed some minor maintenance but the pen has held up well despite the frequent fills and nib changes as my ink tester.

TWSI Vac 700
Disassembled with the TWSBI wrench and silicon grease.

3. Favorite 5: Modern Pens

This list is still valid as the year ends. But some recent additions may knock one or two off the list.

Edison Menlo Pump Filler

4. Pen Review: Cross Bailey “Gift” Fountain Pen

Photo of the Cross Bailey packaging
Cross Bailey packaging

This was actually posted in 2012, just after Christmas, but was popular this year. It’s not a pen I’ve used much since the year began. I really should give it more respect, it’s a good pen.

5. Ink Notes: Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun

Still number two on my favorite inks list. Although as I look over my pens currently inked it’s absent. Something I’ll need to remedy as soon as possible.

Irosjizuku Fuyu-syogun ink bottle

Plans For 2014

I received a lot of new pens at year end so I’ll be spending the first part of the year getting to know them. I’ve also got a lot of Esterbrook nibs that haven’t seen nearly enough use. This will keep me busy for at least the first half of the year. So there will be a buying hiatus unless I’m at a pen show or it’s an Esterbrook nib I don’t have, at least for the first six months. This will be made easier by the depleted pen fund that needs to be refreshed. No crying on my part though, I’ve got plenty to explore.

Barring completely unforeseen events I’ll be at the Long Island Pen this year. It’s the show closest to me and an easy day trip. I’d like to get to the D.C. show again but that requires more planning due to the travel and required overnight stay. But by then I should be ready to get some more vintage pens. Boston is close enough but being a downtown show it’s more of a hassle (and more expensive) to get to.

I’ve become obsessed with Sheaffer’s. If I’m able to concentrate my accumulation in 2014 it will probably be this brand. But I’m not taking any bets on whether or not I can actually focus. I do want to thin out my accumulation, especially the lesser used pens. The previously mentioned give away will start things off tomorrow

Happy New Year

Fireworks

Sunday Notes and Links

Cheers! - Happy holiday

It’s been pretty sparse here on the fountain pen quest in December. Since that isn’t likely to change before year-end I’ll take this opportunity to offer everyone good holiday wishes and a happy new year.

The ink by the bottle or cartridge poll closed with 62 votes. Bottle users accounted for 65% of the votes while 34% use both. There was 1 cartridge user. At the time of the poll I voted for “Bottle”. While I’d use the occasional cartridge it was rare. Things have changed and I’d say I’m in the “Both” camp. I’m picking a cartridge over a converter when there’s a choice, saving the bottle ink for piston and similar pens. I like the convenience and it doesn’t seem like so much ink is sitting around unused.

Anderson Pens is expanding their store stock (and therefore their online offerings) and the latest addition is the Visconti brand. I’m drooling over the green Visconti Wall Street. The finish reminds me of the vintage Parker Vacumatics. Of course, I could buy several of these classics for the price on one Wall Street. Still, I may have to start saving my pennies and it’s on my list to see at a pen show next year.

There was a lot of buzz so you may already know about the “INK” fountain pen from Karas Customs via Kickstarter. I liked the design of their past pens but never pulled the trigger for a non-fountain pen. I jumped on this one and got the early bird all-silver all-aluminum fountain pen. Unlike that other popular (but controversial) Kickstarter fountain pen this one is a completely custom design and build from the folks selling it. I like the all aluminum look but the copper and brass sections along with all the color choices provide a mind boggling array of combinations. Especially considering the caps, sections and barrels are all interchangeable allowing for ever changing variations if multiple pens are purchased. Little voices are telling me to go with the “one of each” choice. But for now I’ll hold steady.

It’s unrelated to fountain pens, but one annual event I look forward to is coming up. Comic Craft (Comic Book Fonts) has their annual New Year’s Day sale coming up. All their fonts are on sale for a penny per year, so this New year’s day they’ll be $20.14. Be sure to check out their catalog (pdf) before the sale. When they say “all fonts” they mean it – from the $395 flagship font to the bargain basement $19 fonts. The regular prices won’t be listed on New Year’s so be ready.

My inked pens haven’t changed much since I inked them at the end of November. Work related travel gave me fewer opportunities to use the pens and there were a lot to choose from when needed. I did clean a couple of them out. This includes the Edison Huron Grande which has has Montblanc Bordeaux in it’s barrel since August. Cleaning was quick and easy with not hint of staining. It made me regret dumping what ink was left since it wasn’t even close to causing problems.

I went a little nuts with my year-end pen purchases, despite going into November planning to save funds for 2014 pen shows. A unexpected year-end bonus and a complete lack of will-power was a bad combination. The Pilot Custom 823 and the Pilot Vanishing Point in Maplewood have already been pictured and are great pens. But there have been more.

I’d much rather buy from a pen retailer but when browsing Amazon recently I came across a Black Lamy 2000 fine nib pen at an irresistible price. Like others have reported, the nib is a bit scratchy out of the box so it’ll need to be tuned.

My Sheaffer vintage obsession has spilled over to modern Sheaffers, I’ve added a Sheaffer Intensity Carbon Fiber with a fine nib to my accumulation, giving me 15 Sheaffers. I’ve yet to ink it up so can’t comment on performance, but Krazy Ivan has a review of it on Inktronics. I also have a “Maximum Orange” Sheaffer VFM working its way to me.

Finally, the USPS is torturing me by estimating delivery of my Pelikan M191N Lizard for this past Friday but not delivering it or logging any tracking updates since it’s departure from L.A..

Goulet Pens/Edison Pen Company have re-opened the buy period for the Edison Premiere LE Macassar Ebonite fountain pen. The production ebonite was lighter than the sample so orders can be cancelled and the rest of us get a second chance on the lighter color. Personally I like the lighter color better but will still pass since I already have a Premiere LE. You have until January 3rd to check it out.

I’m extremely behind in my reading but here are some recent links I did get to and found interesting.

The Pen Addict feeds my Sheaffer obsession by finding this Sheaffer 300 review at My Pen Needs Ink.

Inkdependence is giving away two notebooks.

More Sheaffer – this time Inkophile looks at the Sheaffer Taranis.

Gourmet Pens has a short video showing the Waterman Music nib in action.

Ink Reviews

The Well-Appointed Desk has the 12 days of Inkmas

Ink By The Bottle or Cartridge

Which do you prefer – ink by the bottle or catridge?

Poll no longer available

Bottle or cartridge

I’ve been a bottled ink kind of guy for as long as I can remember. I would use cartridges for specific reasons, such as in the Lamy’s I kept in my office desk or in Vanishing Points to maximize ink supplies.

I recently began to consider using cartridges more regularly and I was wondering what other people use. So I put up the above poll. It’s unscientific and will only prove what people who read this blog and answer polls prefer. But it’ll also satisfy my curiosity.

I came up with some pros and cons for using cartridges. Any others?

Pros

  • Convenience – easy to store, carry and load up the pen. Often a spare cartridge can be stored in the pen barrel.
  • Less messy – no need to clean off the nib. No risk of spills.

Cons

  • Less choice of ink – but does it matter if you like the ink that is available?
  • Ink can evaporate from the plastic cartridges (or actually the water in the ink), unlike glass bottles. So long term storage is a problem.
  • It may take coaxing to get the ink flowing when a cartridge is added to the pen.
  • More expensive per ml than bottles.
  • Wasteful – empty cartridges get thrown out.

Favorite 5: Vintage Fountain Pens

I recently posted my favorite modern fountain pens, now it’s time for the vintage list. Like the modern pens, these choices are completely subjective and specific to the pens I have. My preference for thin, nail-like nibs factors in so don’t expect a vintage juicy flex. Similar pens may perform completely differently. I’m fickle so this list could change anytime, but my current favorite 5 are…

1. Sheaffer Balance Junior c1931 with custom stub nib

Sheaffer Balance Junior c1931

While the discoloration makes this a pretty ugly pen it tops the list on the strength of its stub nib. Reviewed here.

2. Sheaffer Balance Lifetime Oversize c1935

Sheaffer Balance Oversize - Marine Green

While the Junior tops the list thanks to it’s nib, this Balance owes the #2 slot to its looks. The stub nib is great although just a little wider than my personal preference which keeps it out of the number one slot.

3. Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Silver Pearl with Nickel Trim

Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Pearl Grey

My second vintage pen is still holds a place among my favorites. The fine nib is comparable to my other Parkers, which makes it very good. It’s the finish of this one that sets it apart from the others.

4. Esterbrook J (any of them)

Esterbrook J with 8440 nib

The Esterbrooks make the list, not because of any single pen, but because of the variety, durability and wide selection of nibs. They’re just plain fun to have and use.

5. Parker Duofold Senior c1928 “Big Red”

Parker Duofold Senior "Big Red"

This has always been the classic fountain for me so this makes the list based strictly on emotion. This pen has a tendency to leak a bit from the nib into the cap when being bounced around in my bag, so it will probably be the first to go from this list.

Favorite 5: Modern Pens

In trying to bring some order to my accumulation I decided to pick my 5 favorite modern and 5 favorite vintage pens. This is the modern list and based strictly on my own personal tastes which lean towards thin nibs that imitate nails. I’m fickle so this list could change at any time, but right now my favorite 5 modern pens are…

1. Edison Menlo Pump Filler

Edison Menlo Pump Filler

This pen tops the list because it’s both my favorite looking pen and the extra fine steel nib is one of the best writers I have. Here’s my review. Montblanc Toffee Brown is my ink of choice for this pen.

2. Franklin-Christoph Model 66

Franklin-Christoph Model 66

The F-C Model 66 desk pen has been on of my favorites since I got it. The design is simple, but it fits my hand perfectly and it’s a great writer. Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz is my ink of choice for this pen which I converted to an eyedropper filler. Review

3. Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

A nice stealth black pen. The 21kt gold nib is a smooth writer for such a thin nib. This Japanese fine is thinner than my western extra fine nibs. Review

4. Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver

Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver

I like the sterling silver although it does tarnish. I had the factory medium nib stubbed by Richard Binder. It’s a thin stub but it’s what put the pen into the top 5.

5. Edison Pearl 2012 LEE

Edison Pearl 2012 LEE

The Pearl is another pen that fits my hand well and the ebonite is a nice warm material which puts this pen in my favorite 5. Review

Honorable Mentions

It was tough not putting the Vanishing Point (review) on the list. It’s a unique pen but I’ve found myself using it less these days. It’s a favorite and it seems like it should be on the list, but I can’t.

The Faber-Castell Basic is another pen worthy of mention. At less than $50 it’s got a smooth factory nib out of the box, almost as smooth as the eMotion, and looks good in black leather.