Ink & Pen Notes: Ryan Krusac Legend (EF) with Diamine Ancient Copper

Ryan Krusac Legend with Diamine Ancient Copper writing sampleThe Ryan Krusac Legend with its extra fine nib was another DC Pen Show purchase from August. I was surprised to see it had been unused for just over two months. This time I picked Diamine Ancient Copper as it’s ink when I inked it up back on November 7th. It was just over a month when I wrote it dry on December 12th.

Diamine Ancient Copper is a reddish brown I like a lot, but this this extra fine nib doesn’t allow the ink to shine. There’s no shading or line variation. But still, it’s a nice color and I enjoyed the ink.

Being a clip-less pen does limit my use of the Legend. It won’t stay in a shirt pocket and I’m not sure the relatively soft wood would do well in pants pockets. So it took just over a month to write the pen dry.

The Krusac Legend and Diamine Ancient Copper combined to provide a pleasant, if uninspiring, writing experience. I don’t have any complaints but I wasn’t left wanting to immediately re-ink it. In fact, the Legend is back in storage.

Ink & Pen Notes: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) and Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake writing sampleThe Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen has become the pen I go to in order to try out new inks. The medium nib, in addition to being a great Sailor nib, is a good middle of the road size for trying out inks. Although there’s probably an exception, I expect this nib to allow a ink to shine. This time around, for it’s fifth ink, I picked Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake. Unless you know snakes the name doesn’t give a hint to its orange color.

I picked Everglades Ratsnake as part of my continuing search for my ideal orange ink. While I liked the color well enough, the ink was a little dry, even for a guy that likes drier inks. The pen often felt like it was about to run dry. I also had to prime the feed once when using the pen, an uncommon occurrence with my Sailor pens unless they’ve been standing for an extended period of time, which wasn’t the case here.

The pen was inked from November 7th to December 15th. While this length of time would make it seem like I rarely used the pen, this wasn’t the case. The bright orange ink was good for highlights or headings in my notes, so it was used more days than it wasn’t. It just didn’t write much each day. That one time I had to prime the feed was during the rare occurrence of using it to write multiple pages and I was well into my second page.

It did well on the Tomoe River paper of my Seven Seas Writer and dried relatively fast compared to other inks on that paper. It was also used extensively on my Write Notepads wire bound notebook which I’m currently using for my work related notes. Medium nibs are always iffy on this paper but I didn’t suffer any bleed-through or show-through while using it. The ink dried quickly so I didn’t suffer any careless smudges either.

Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake was a nice enough ink and I do like the color, but it fell far short of being the perfect orange for me and my search will continue. The Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen continues to be a favorite and it’s already been filled with a new ink, but it was just meh with this ink.

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.


Ink & Pen Notes: Aurora Optima Nero Perla (M) with Aurora Black

Aurora Optima Auroloide Perla with Aurora Black writing sampleThe Aurora Optima Nero Perla was inked up soon after it arrived on November 7th. Aurora Black seemed appropriate as its inaugural ink. It’s the only Aurora ink that I have (there are only two and the other is blue) and it’s been awhile since I used it. In addition, the color of the ink and pen compliment each other nicely.

I used the pen regularly and it lasted a month and a day, going dry on December 8th. (It’s taken me awhile to write up these notes.)

Aurora Black is a nice dark, saturated black color. It has a wetter flow than many other inks that I use, but the line remains true to the nib size and the ink is well behaved. There’s no noticeable feathering, although I only used very good paper with this combination.

My Seven Seas Writer and Crossfield notebooks saw most of the usage and they have Tomeo River Paper. The ink is a little slow drying for my tastes, especially on this paper and in a medium nib. I use the Writer for Journalling and similar writing so this wasn’t a problem since I could give the page time to dry. The Crossfield gets used for notes, where I pay less attention to such things, but managed to avoid smudging the ink.

A Write Notepads wire bound notebook also got some use. This is probably the least fountain pen friendly paper that I use on a regular basis. The ink soaked into the paper and dried relatively quickly although there was considerable show-through and even some minor bleed-through if I made multiple passes over one spot. I use this book for note taking and rarely use anything other than a fine or extra fine for this very reason, so this wasn’t unexpected. While I did use the Optima for some note taking the fact is I rarely use a medium nib for note taking so this really isn’t going to be a frequent task for this pen.

The Aurora Optima looks small but it is extremely comfortable in my hand. The long section certainly helps as does the girth of the pen. There’s just enough weight to give the pen a solid feel.

The pen has a reserve reservoir that holds some extra ink for when the main reservoir is empty. Since there’s a ink window this seemed more of a gimmick rather than a feature. I may have been a little harsh. The Aurora black ink clung to the window making it look full as the pen went dry. Holding the pen up to the light still showed solid black in the window. I lowered to plunger to scrap the ink off the window and to release the ink reserver. I got an additional A5 page (approximately) after this. Lowering the plunger was a bit scary but there wasn’t enough ink left to force any out of the nib.

I thought the pen was extremely easy to clean. While the nib unit can easily be unscrewed for cleaning I don’t like doing this for routine cleaning and just worked the plunger a few times. After letting the pen sit nib down overnight I noticed additional Aurora Black ink through the window and gave it another quick cleaning.

I’ve already refilled the Aurora Optima, just not with Aurora Black.

Sunday Notes and Links – December 18, 2016

Despite what the calendar says, winter is here in Connecticut. We had two straight days (and three nights) of sub-freezing temperature with a light dusting of snow each morning and then yesterday was the first snowfall that dumped enough to require shoveling. This triggered two things. First, I have to now remember not to leave a fountain pen in the car for an extended period of time. And second, I ordered some ink. OK, this last one is counterintuitive but Montblanc released their Lucky Orange ink. I’m still looking for an orange ink that really pulls me in. Maybe this will be it. I tried to time the order so it arrives during the relative heatwave of Sunday and fingers crossed that it’ll survive Sunday night in a trailer.

While down from the previous week, I did use my fountain pens a lot this week. I’ve been writing a journal page each night so I’m still in that habit. I did get two pages in one night but I’m in a bit of a rut and stopping after one page. I took a few more notes than usual and did some other writing. With all the writing I’m down to three inked fountain pens, although I do expect to ink up at least one pen later today and one more when the Montblanc Lucky Orange arrives. But I do feel the pull of multiple pens and inks so I may ink up many more. I have to admit to a certain satisfaction when I write a pen dry.

Pen Shows & Clubs

The US pen show season is over, with the next season kicking off in Philadelphia on January 13-15th.

What Others Are Using

My Pen and Ink Collection – 2016 — Alt. Haven and Breakdown of Pen and Ink Collection 2016 — Alt. Haven // A nice assortment of pens with an emphasis on Pilot

Pen progression!  My first pen box… – SquishyInk // A nice pen box with a unique pen layout to hold a couple dozen pens in a relatively small space

GOAT (Greatest of All Time) Fountain Pens 2016 | Hey there! SBREBrown // Stephen shares his personal GOAT pens

One day is Fine and the next is black – And All Other Tasks

Misc Links

Dante Del Vecchio is leaving Visconti « Giardino Italiano – Blog // )Via The Pen Addict Newsletter) Hopefully Visconti will keep making their great materials and designs

Vintage Pen News: Accordion-sac pen repair // A bizarre filling system

Sunday Notes and Links – December 11, 2016

Currently Inked - December 11, 2016

My currently inked pens as another week ends.

My writing increased this past week, mainly due to the three articles posted this week. All started as hand written drafts. I wrote the Aurora dry and the Krusac Legend is on its last drops of ink. I needed a thin nib with a dark ink so I inked up my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with Sailor Sei-Boku Blue-Black pigment ink.

Pen Shows & Clubs

The US pen show season is over, with the next season kicking off in Philadelphia on January 13-15th.

Singapore Pen Show 2016 — Alt. Haven

Gourmet Pens: Madrid Pen Show 2016 Recap

The Ghost without a Shell: The Sheffield Pen Show

Appleton Pen Club – One Last Hurrah!

What Others Are Using (or where they use them)

Wordless Wednesday: Favourite Writing Spots — Pendora’s Box

Currently Inked #24 | 4 December 2016 // I share his top pen material choice even though I only have a few pens with that material.

Misc Links

COLOR OF THE YEAR 2017 – Greenery // Not pen or ink related, but hey, green! Maybe we’ll see an ink in this color.

Review: Parker Beta — Alt. Haven // Seems like a nice pen for the equivalent of about $2.

Budget-priced fountain pens popular with young people – The Japan News and Why the fountain pen has become the must-have luxury accessory // Budget and luxury

Returning with Pen in Hand | Peaceable Writer

Selling pens: How the other half lives… | “fool with a pen…”

The Stationer – I’ve finally done it! | All Things Stationery // A new Stationery source, currently U.K. only

Field Notes Lunacy Limited Edition Pocket Notebooks — The Gentleman Stationer

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.