Currently Inked – July 2017

July 2017 Currently Inked cappedJuly 2017 Currently Inked uncappedA lot of fountain pen changes this month. I wrote three pens dry: the Sailor Pro Gear KOP, the Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand and the Newton Eastman. This brought me down to only four inked fountain pens. I inked some pens up and I’ll be starting the month with 12 inked fountain pens and one rollerball. The Montblanc Ultra Black was immediately re-inked with the same ink and returned to the rotation.

The eight fountain pens in my Perfect Penvelope makes up the bulk of my currently inked pens. These also happen to be the pens getting the most use in the last few days. I’ve been rotating through them so they all get a turn.

The Pilot Vanishing Point with its XXXF nib and black ink is also newly inked. It replaced the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe in my Fodderstack XL. The Anderson Pens Retro 51 Limited Edition was replaced with the new Retro 51 “Play Ball” edition. It’s using the same stock REF5P refill, so the change is just cosmetic.

The Lamy Petrol has been inked since I got it but it hasn’t gotten much use. I like its look and the extra fine nib writes well. It just hasn’t grabbed my attention.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 66 continues to live of my desk. I eyedropper filled it so there’s probably still plenty of ink left it it. It got more use when it was one of four inked pens. Now that it’s 1 of 12 its use is more intermittent.

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen gets occasional use but it’s out of site in its protective cocoon and therefor out of mind. But I pull it out when I think of it.

Since eight of the fountain pens were inked at one time with a variety of nibs and inks I have a nice variety to keep things interesting this month. I’ve been writing more recently so that’s a good thing.

July 2017 Currently Inked writing sample

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The Perfect Penvelope

The Prefect PenvelopeBack in the days when I made daily trips into an office I would use my Franklin-Christoph Penvelope Six case to carry my fountain pens.. True to the name it has six pen slots, but another pen can fit on each side (although with less protection) allowing an eight pen carry. Back in those days I would keep a mix of nib sizes and ink colors. Since then I’ve just loaded whatever pens were handy when I used the case. I only had a a few fountain pens inked up so I decided to ink up a selection appropriate for the Penvelope.

My Penvelope Six dates back to March 2012 and is an early model. I want to say it’s the original version of the case but I could be wrong about that. The case is boot brown leather with a rust colored heavy cloth interior. The leather attracts scuffs and scrapes which gives it a distressed look that I love. The more recent cases claim to be more resistant to scuffs, which is a downgrade in my opinion.

This isn’t a top fountain pen and ink list per se. While I certainly like all these pens and would consider them to be among my favorites, there are certain limitations imposed by the Penvelope. Plus I want a nice mix of nibs and ink. The case has openings on each side and the leather provides little support against crushing. The slots are formed with thick cloth material which isn’t safe for fragile clips. So fragile pens, such as my Sheaffer Balance II’s and vintage Sheaffers don’t travel in this case, no matter how much I like using them. Finally, there are some pens that are just too big for the case, such as my Newton Eastman.

The Prefect Penvelope - raised pensI use fine & extra fine nibs along with three distinct ink colors for marking up documents. So at least three of the pens will need to meet these requirements. I’ll pick the rest to provide a little variety in the writing experience.

My first fountain pen choice was the Pilot Custom 823 with its fine nib (a thin Japanese fine) and Pilot Blue-Black ink. It was already inked, but it would have been picked anyway. The 823 is a great writer and so comfortable that I can write with it for hours. That said, it is the least aesthetically pleasing fountain pen that I use on a regular basis.

Joining it was the Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand with Montblanc Bordeaux ink. This is my favorite ink and was an obvious choice for inclusion in the case. I always want to have this ink in at least one pen, at least until I run out. The pen is perfectly sized for my hand and the oblique medium nib meets the paper perfectly with my natural grip. The larger medium nib means I don’t use the pen for note taking. It gets used for longer, sit-down writing sessions.

My new(ish) Visconti Brunelleschi, also made it to the Penvelope. It’s another medium nib but a great writer and comfortable in my hand. I filled the pen with matching Callifolio Aurora ink.

I went with yet a third medium nib when I added the Aurora Optima Nero Perla to the case. Aurora Black seemed an appropriate ink for the pen since I wanted to add a dark ink to the case. Even though the pen looks smaller than my previous choices it’s very comfortable in my hand.

My Penvelope Six has three medium nibs and only one thin nib. It’s time for me to fill out the case with thin nibs.

The Fisher of Pens Hermes with a fine nib was my next choice. The pen is a tall one but does fit comfortably in the case. I wanted a green ink both to match the pen and because I like green inks. Montblanc Irish Green is usually my choice, but this time I went with P.W. Akkerman #28 Hofkwartier Green. This ink is beginning to rival Irish Green as my go to green ink.

The sixth choice is my favorite fountain pen. It may be sixth on this list but there was never any doubt it would be included. The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with its extra fine nib was picked. I wanted some more color so picked P.W. Akkerman #12 Mauritshuis Magenta ink.

The Blue-Black ink in the Custom 823 along with the Magenta and Green inks in the Homo Sapien and Hermes provide a nice color selection for marking up any documents, but they’re also suitable for note taking and just about any other writing that I do.

Just because it’s a Penvelope Six doesn’t mean I have to stop here. There’s room for a couple more pens.

I loaded the Kaweco Brass Sport (extra fine) with a Visconti Red cartridge. I never know when I’ll want a red ink. The pen is short enough to be completely covered along the side of the case.

The final pen was the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe which was already inked with a waterproof ink. I probably wouldn’t have picked it if it wasn’t already inked, although I did want a waterproof ink and I really like the pen. But it’s a little out of place and unprotected along the side of the case.

There was one fountain pen I hard a hard time keeping out of the case, but I just couldn’t make a place for it. The Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with it’s medium nib was hard to leave out. It’s a great pen but another medium nib of which I already had three. It’s also a big pen and while it does fit in a pen slot it’s a very tight fit. It’s not easy to remove and I figure all that stress on the pen as I remove it can’t be good. At the very least the cap band would probably wear down over time due to the friction from the pen slot. And last, it’s a pen I use to test new inks and I was unwilling to take an slot with an untried ink.

So is it a perfect Penvelope? For me, at this time I would say yes. It provides a nice mix of eight pens that should meet all my needs. In a month or two I may get bored with a choice or two and it will no longer be perfect, so I’ll make a change. But for now I’m happy.

The Perfect Penvelope pen selectionPerfect Penvelope Writing Samples

Ink & Pen Notes: Newton Eastman (#2314-F & #2442) with Montblanc Irish Green

Newton Pens Eastman (Esterbrook) with Montblanc Irish Green bottleI could be wrong, but I think the Newton Eastman with Montblanc Irish Green ink holds the record for longest time to write dry without a refill. This is mainly due to it’s huge 5 ml capacity. It’s also a pen that doesn’t travel well, so it’s homebound which does limit its use.

The Newton Eastman is a custom fountain pen by Shawn Newton which was built to use vintage Esterbrook nibs that are interchangeable. The pen started with the #2314-F Fine Stub when it was inked on November 2nd of last year. A month later I swapped it for the #2442 which is also a fine stub nib. I had planned to continue swapping nibs every month or so, but this one remained until the pen went dry on June 12th. I liked it.

As expected, the pen has a petulant streak to it. There’s a lot of ink in there, which switches to a lot of air as the pen is used. Plus, these are vintage nibs that were never intended to have so much ink trying to gush through them. While the amount may vary between specific nibs, the ink drips into the cap if it’s bouncing around in my bag. Or rolls off my desk. Or falls off my pen stand. Or any number of other causes. At first I was constantly cleaning out the cap as the splatter in that shiny clear acrylic bothered me. But eventually I grew tired of dealing with it and eventually grew to even like it. My experience with Montblanc Irish Green gave me the confidence that staining wouldn’t be a problem.

The Eastman also has a tendency to burp (drip ink from the nib) while writing once the the ink level dropped to about 3/4 full. This was mostly controllable by uncapping the pen then wrapping my hand around the barrel to warm it up before using the pen. But as the ink level dropped to about 1/4 the burping became more frequent and I had to watch for any ink accumulation on the nib and wipe it off before it dripped or repeat the warming process to let air out as I wrote.

Technically, I didn’t write the pen dry. There was a page or two of ink left but the burping became a real problem once the ink level didn’t even reach the barrel so I flushed the pen.

Despite its petulance I really enjoy using the Eastman. The pen is large but light. There’s no metal (well, just the steel nib), there’s not even a converter to add weight. The large pen is comfortable in my hand and I can use it for extended writing sessions without getting fatigued.

The pen was easy to clean despite being inked over seven months. The only ink that remained after a quick pass under running water was the ink that had worked it’s way into the cap & barrel threads. A quick bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and a q-tip got the ink out of the threads with little effort.

The Newton Eastman will get a bit of a break. I have 11 pens recently inked so there’s a lot of ink I need to run through. Adding another 5 ml would overwhelm me. Montblanc Irish Green has been a favorite green ink for a long time, although it has some recent competition so it may be awhile before it returns to a pen.

Newton Eastman (2314-F) with Montblanc Irish Green Writing Sample

Newton Eastman (2442) with Montblanc Irish Green Writing Sample

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

Ink & Pen Notes: Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) and Montblanc Bordeaux Ink

Montblanc Meisterstuck Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux bottleMontblanc Bordeaux is the only ink I’ve used in my Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand fountain pen with its oblique medium nib. This time around it took me over four months to write the pen dry. The long duration was due more to a drought in my writing than any dislike of the pen & ink. The pen is better suited, at least for me, to sit at the desk and just write sessions than taking notes. There just hasn’t been much of that prior to June.

Because of this the Ultra Black spent a lot of time sitting unused on my desk, or nib up in a pen case. Yet it wrote perfectly when I did uncap it for use. There wasn’t a hit of a hard start, ever, and it was completely skip-free.

The oblique nib is at a good angle for my typical writing posture. Medium nibs are a bit wider than my typical choice, but I’ve grown to like them more as I’ve used them. This isn’t a pen I use to take notes while holding a pocket notebook, but it’s a solid writer when I’m at a desk or table.

There’s really not much else for me to say. The pen is a piston filler so cleaning is tedious as expected, but it was relatively fast. It was time to give the pen a cleaning, but I didn’t obsess over it since it will soon be refilled with the same ink.

The Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand and Montblanc Bordeaux will again be paired and soon return to the rotation.

Montblanc Meisterstuck Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

Ink and Pen Notes: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Callifolio Aurora

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Callifolio AuroraSure enough, as I predicted in my currently inked post, the Sailor Pro Gear KOP with Callifolio Aurora had about one and a half pages of ink left this month and it went dry on it’s first outing of the month.

The Sailor King of Pen with it’s nice medium nib is my go to pen for trying new inks. It’s also a big, comfortable pen I use for longish writing sessions at a desk or table. For me, the medium nib is also wider than my usual choice which means I tend to be more deliberate when I’m using the pen. All this means I tend to use the KOP with good paper. The worst paper I use it on is probably a Doane Writing Pad and that paper is pretty good.

The wide nib and dark ink did result in some annoying show-through on some thin Staples sugarcane paper that I use. This show-through is hardly unique with this combination and it’s more common than I would like with this paper.

The ink is made by (or for) l’Artisan Pastellier in France. The ink doesn’t claim to be waterproof although I didn’t test that trait, either by accident or on purpose. The ink has some nice shading to it, at least with this nib. I’ve seen the ink described as having a dry flow. I like inks/nibs less than wet (ok, dry) so I didn’t consider this a dry ink, it had a nice consistent flow to it. Dry time was fast enough to avoid accidental smudges. There wasn’t any bleed-through or noticeable feathering.

Distribution in the U.S. seems to be limited. I got my 40ml bottle from Vanness Pens which also has it in 50ml pouches along with ink samples. The pouch is the best value but you’ll either need to decant the ink or use an eye dropper to fill a pen. JetPens also has the 40ml bottles. The bottle is a nice wedge shape which is the same bottle as the Diamine Anniversary inks which forms a circle when placed side-to-side. This does point to Diamine being the manufacturer of the ink.

I really, really like the color of this ink and it’s well behaved. I bought it when I went on a terra cotta themed ink buying binge that coincided with the announcement of the Visconti Brunelleschi. So the next fountain pen for the Callifolio Aurora will be the Brunelleschi. I have a second Callifolio ink that is still unopened, so it will be next for the Sailor King of Pen. It’ll be a week or more since I want to write a couple more pens dry before I ink up anything new.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Callifolio Aurora

Additional Reading

Callifolio Aurora Ink: A Review — The Pen Addict

Currently Inked – June 2017

There’s no changes since my last Currently Inked post since that one wasn’t done until mid-May. But I’m a creature of habit and like consistency, so I wanted to get back to having this post up as the month begins. It’s the same seven fountain pens as my May 18th post.

Currently Inked Capped Pens - June 2017

Fodderstack XL Carry

The Fodderstack XL still has my Sailor Regency Stripe and Retro 51 Terabyte Tornado although neither has gotten much use, although the Retro 51 probably got used a bit more than the Regency Stripe. The ink level in the Regency Stripe is slowly dropping. It’s now below the collar that holds the cartridge in place. Still, at the rate I’m going it will easily survive the month.

The Other Pens

Currently Inked Uncapped Pens - June 2017

The Newton Eastman is getting to the end of its massive ink supply. I doubt it will survive the month. It’s low enough that I’d flush it out if the burping became a real problem, but I rather like the look of the remaining ink splattered around the barrel so I plan to use it to the last drop. The #2442 Esterbrook nib remains a fixture on the pen.

The Sheaffer Balance II Aspen doesn’t get a lot of use by me which is a bit strange, because it’s a great looking and writing fountain pen. I can explain part of it because it’s a fragile pen and I keep it in it’s own protective single-pen case so the actual pen is out of sight. There’s still half a converter of ink in it.

The Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand also has a lot of ink left in it, although the level is finally visible in the ink window. The oblique medium nib is one of the wider nibs I have currently inked and the Montblanc Bordeaux is a ink favorite, so it may not survive the month.

The Pilot Custom 823 has barely been used. The only reason the ink level seems low is because I didn’t even try to get a full load of ink when I inked it up.

The Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen is nearly empty. There’s probably one or two pages worth of Bookbinders Red-Belly Black Callifolio Aurora ink left in it. I like the ink a lot and I’m considering changing my habit of cycling different inks through the KOP, rather than re-inking the same ink.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 66, while desk bound, has gotten a lot of use. It sits right in front of me on my desk so it’s always top of mind and easy to pick up and use. While the Newton Eastman is right next to it the Eastman is a bit finicky so the 66 is usually my choice.

The NASA/Space Retro 51 didn’t go dry, but I haven’t been using it. I put it in my new Lanier so I always have a pen when I carry it. But it’s more a security blanket than a needed pen since I always pack additional pens or have the Fodderstack XL in my pocket.

[June 2, 2017] This is embarrassing. I have the wrong ink listed for the Sailor King of Pen. It’s Callifolio Aurora. Should have been obvious when I thought – gee, I thought red-belly black was black, not red. Too many inks.

Currently Inked Writing Sample - June 2017