I finally gave in and acknowledged that a blue and gold fountain pen is a favorite. That would be the Sheaffer Custom Legacy with its Turk Blade nib, since I used it three straight days. Although it I was only my primary writer one of those days.
I committed sacrilege this week and bought a ballpoint pen. I wanted a small pocket pen that I could use in any situation. It also needed to be inexpensive. It’s main use would be so that I can avoid using shared, community pens. After looking around at pen retailers, some brain cells finally aligned and I went out to the Pen Addict’s Top 5 Pens page and looked under ballpoints. There was the Fisher Space Pen at #4, It’s the most pocketable pen of the bunch, and was also #1 on the Most Useful Pens list. Plus, the price was right.
Not wanting to pass up free shipping, I added a Lamy nib to the order. I need to send a pen out for nib repair and I’ve been debating sending along another pen for a new nib grind. Under consideration was getting a Lamy nib ground to a Italic. I know from experience that Italic nibs aren’t for me, but I thought it might be nice to have one. Lamy nibs are inexpensive and I could swap it around. But still, I had little confidence that I’d use the nib more than the one or two times that curiosity will get the better of me this decade. I was willing to spend $13 in order to satisfy my curiosity, which is considerably less than a custom grind. I also told myself it was really only $7 because I would have paid $6 for shipping. After all, it isn’t like JetPens has anything else I could choose from. The nib has arrived, although I haven’t put it on a pen.
Last week I mentioned that my green Diplomat Aero was misplaced. As expected, it turned up under a pile of papers on my desk. I was never a fan of the comic, but I really want to refer to this pen as the Green Arrow.
I’m down to 15 inked pens, down from last week’s 19.
Lamy 1.1mm Calligraphy (Italic) steel nib. Just the nib.
Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green with Sheaffer Emerald Green (Yellow Box)
Sheaffer Balance II Crimson Glow with Sheaffer Peacock Blue (Yellow Box)
Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Blue Green with Omas Green
Penlux Masterpiece Grande Black & White Koi with P.W. Akkerman Dutch Masters Sreenrood van Vermeer
Not exactly newly inked, but close enough. I swapped the extra-fine steel nib for the 14k gold oblique medium nib on the Lamy Safari Mango.
Liza Minnelli Tries to Turn Off a Lamp – SNL – YouTube // I came across this on twitter early this week (I forget who’s tweet), it cracked me up when I first saw it years ago, and it still cracks me up today, even though it makes little sense, just Kristen Wiig being a hilarious idiot.
My fountain pen usage was down a bit this week. I skipped a day journaling and wrote less than my unofficial 1 page daily minimum on another day, although I did average over a page a day for the week. Other than the occasional note or list, that was all of my fountain pen usage.
I didn’t have a clear favorite fountain pen this week. On Saturday I used my Sheaffer Legacy with a custom blue fleck barrel, which is a pen I’ve always been conflicted about. It’s blue and gold, a lot of each, and they’r my least favorite color & trim choices. But, it’s a Sheaffer and it feels great in my hand. I had Mark Bacas turn the nib into his Blade Turk (a XXXF nib) and it’s great. I still have an aversion to calling a blue & gold pen a favorite.
As the year began I liked the idea of having a lot of fountain pens inked up. It gave me a variety of newly inked pens to choose from as the year began. I’m down to 19 inked pens and it’s beginning to cause anxiety. I have several pens I want to re-ink (Kanilea Kona Cherry, Sheaffer 300, Lamy OM gold nib, Diplomat Volute) and others that I put off inking, but want to ink up (F-C Model 66, Edison Huron Grande, etc…). I may go back to inking up a limited number of pens per week and flush them out at the end of the week. If I do that there will always be some pens that are permanently inked. A side-effect of having so many pens inked up is that I appear to have misplaced the green Diplomat Aero. I’m not concerned it’s actually lost, but it’s been so long since I last held it, that I’m not sure what pile of clutter it might be under, or what piece of furniture it may have rolled under.
The Franklin-Christoph pen roll arrived after the snow storm. I think it will work well for what I want. The canvas is heavy enough to provide good protection against most damage, except crushing. The pens slip in and out easily and the clips fit inside the slot without a need to clip over the material.
Lastly, my Dudek pen block arrived this week. I had kind of forgotten I had ordered it at the end of November. He does them in batches now, and I managed to get in on the last batch. Sign up to the mailing list if you’re interested, then hope that you’re around and see the email soon enough to respond before all the slots are filled. While I ordered this long before I misplaced the green Aero, I’m hoping this will solve that problem by giving me a compact storage solution that can be always visible on my desk. Some pens are too big to fit in the 5/8″ holes, but most do fit.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). No progress. Reading: I haven’t started another book yet.
Fisher of Pens Hermes – This pen doesn’t do well when it’s in dry indoor air for an extended period, so it’s been finicky. Hard starts, often after just one night of rest, are a constant annoyance. It’s certainly a dry writer, which is one reason I like it. I just need to remember to use a more forgiving ink during the winter. R&K inks seem to do better than others in the winter months, although that may just be the few that I have. In any case, the pen will get some rest.
Sheaffer 300 – This one was inked up back on Christmas. I really like this inexpensive fountain pen. If I didn’t have so many pens already inked I’d have inked this up immediately. Instead, I’ll clean it out and give it some time off.
I didn’t have a favorite fountain pen this past week. The bias towards using new pens has worn off. So, while I still consistently use the newer pens, such as the Green Aero , other pens are working their way into daily use.
My Dark Lilac Safari leaked all the remaining (about 1/4 of the cartridge) violet ink inside my Visconti 3-pen case. The full length dividers limited most ink to the center slot containing the Safari. I couldn’t find any reason for the leak. The design of the Safari locks the cartridge firmly in place, so it didn’t come loose. Leaving through the feed as the only way out of the cartridge. The nib itself was firmly in place. The pen did spent a few nights nib down in my PenWell, but the hole in the cap means if any leaked it would immediately go to my desk. The case itself was stored flat most of the time. So the mystery remains. I plan to move the gold nib to another Safari for variety, not because of the leak. I’ll probably fill the Dark Lilac with ink again and let it sit around to see what happens.
I’ve been afraid to use the case again. Traces of the ink remain in the felt-like lining. Every once in a while I use a paper towel to rub out more of the ink. Eventually it may come out clean and I’ll start using the case again. I bought the case to protect my Sheaffer Balance IIs, although I’m not traveling regularly with my pens these days. I wouldn’t want those pristine finishes getting purple inked rubbed into them, so I started looking for a replacement. Finding cases that meet my requirements (mentioned in the previously linked post) at a reasonable price was impossible. This specific case was hard to find, and very expensive. Visconti has new designs and I’m guessing this case is no longer made. The new cases exceeded my budget, by a factor of 4, at a minimum, so I didn’t even research to see if they met my requirements. The least expensive option I found was the Esterbrook Nook at $100 which was 3 times my budget. I don’t have a record of how much the case was when I bought it, but the entire order that included the case was less than the cost of the current options.
I ended up ordering a Franklin-Christoph pen roll. I went with canvas. Leather may provide slightly more protection, but it was more expensive (and above my budget) and I’m not sure there would be more protection from the leather. The main selling points for me were that the pen clips don’t need to fit over the material in order for the pen to fit in the slot, and there’s no elastic strap putting pressure on the pen as I pull it out of the case. The pen roll is due in a few days.
My now repaired Vanishing Point XXF nib is working it’s way back to me. It’s overdue, which is not unexpected these days.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I haven’t listened to this at all during the past week. Reading: I haven’t started another book yet.
Retro 51 #119 Train Rollerball
Lamy Safari Mango (EF)
Lamy AL-Star Bronze (EF)
Sheaffer PFM I : Either I forgot how much I used this, or if evaporated, or (my guess) it got an incomplete fill. It was dry when I went to use it.
Kanilea Kona Cherry : I wrote this one dry. I’ve been refilling it, but after several refills over seven months, I decided it needs a quick cleaning. But it will be back with the same ink. I just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it.
Lamy Safari Dark Lilac (w/14k O.M.) : As mentioned at the top, this pen leaked for some reason. I plan to move the nib to a different Safari and return it to the rotation, but haven’t done it yet.
Lamy Safari USA : I flushed this one out early. I’m considering sending a Lamy nib for nib work when I send the Sailor for repair, and I’ll use this one as the nib holder since it’s the color that I’ll miss the least. Plus, the already attached medium nib is probably the nib I’ll want Changed.
ystudio Classic Brass Desk Pen : This was written dry. While I do like having it available on my desk, and is certainly gets used, I decided to hold off on re-inking, and give some other fountain pens some work.
Newly Inked (or re-inked)
Both new fountain pen arrivals were inked up with the cartridges included with the pen. 1. Lamy Safari Mango (EF) 2. Lamy AL-Star Bronze (EF)
My Personal Traveler’s Notebook, Plus Traveler’s Notebooks in The Curated Shop! — The Gentleman Stationer // Great minds thinking alike? Along with the recent Safaris that I ordered, I also received two Traveler’s Free Diary (019) refills, and I started using my Travelers Notebook again this week. I’ve been away from it for a long time. There’s a lot of similarities, in addition to the diary choice. I also use the zippered pouch and the Kraft Paper Folder. The folder is mainly to hold a notebook that can be quickly removed.
My fountain pen usage was up this week. I switched back to using a Seven Seas Writer as a Journal and I’m filling at least a page per day. That may not be a lot for many people, but it is for me these days. My most used pens this week are two of the ones discussed below under Changing Beliefs.
At the end of 2020 I said that I’d be enjoying the pens I bought in 2020, and not buy new ones. Well, that didn’t last long.
I ordered a Retro 51, although I couldn’t have predicted it. Pen Chalet released a train themed Retro 51. Prior to fountain pens, I collected n-scale model trains, and have an ongoing interest in trains. So this one was irresistible and I immediately ordered one when I got the e-mail. I almost ignored the email because the stampede of Retro 51 announcements has worn me out, and made me not care. I heard that production was affected by the pandemic and their trying to get all the releases in. Update: Additional info in the links, sounds like Retro 51 is not going away.
The two 2021 special edition Safaris that Lamy announced both appeal to me and I will probably get both. They got me looking at Lamy’s again. I ended up ordering a 14k gold nib, usable on any of my Lamy fountain pens. I also ordered both a Safari and AL-Star. This could be pandemic induced stupidity since I’ve previously sold off nine Safari/AL-Star fountain pens due to non-use. Assuming I do get both 2021 models, I’ll be back to six Safaris and one AL-Star.
I’ve held certain fountain pen presumptions and assumptions for as long as I can remember. A couple of these have either completely collapsed, or been slightly bent.
The first was that I would never get a custom nib on an inexpensive pen. I avoid the word cheap because that would imply it might be poorly made. I didn’t think about it much, I just automatically ignored considering them for nib work. Spending more on a nib grind than I did on the pen struck me as inconceivable. Then when considering pens to send out to Mark Bacas I wanted to get a Predator Extreme grind. This is a very fine tip when held normally, and an Architect grind when reversed. I skipped an Architect grind when it was all the rage a couple of years ago because it just didn’t seem to be a nib I would enjoy. The Predator Extreme is very fine when used normally, and an Architect grind when reversed. A new grind always carries a bit of risk, but I will almost certainly like the thin side, and I’ll be able to try the Architect. A broad nib is recommended as the starting point. My only choice, other than buying a new pen, was my TWSBI Go. A $19 fountain pen.
I like the pen (if not the broad nib) and finally convinced myself that it made sense for the grind. The Go is a sturdy and reliable fountain pen. Even if it does break, the nib is easy to move. The only reason I could come up with to not have it done was the price difference. I finally realized that this wasn’t a reason. It’s not even a bad reason.
I also had a reader ask if it was worth getting their favorite pen, an inexpensive Lamy Safari, done. Assuming it’s a nib grind that I’d want, I wouldn’t hesitate. I fact, at $14 for a replacement nib it will probably become my standard choice if I want to experiment with a new nib grind. The ease of swapping nibs gives it bonus points.
The second constant practice that fell to the wayside was never buying a gold nib when steel nibs are available. I ordered one pen with a gold, rather than steel nib, and a gold replacement nib for another.
The green Diplomat Aero is the perfect color for me. I had money in the budget, so I decided to splurge and upgrade it to a 14k gold nib. My memory may be faulty, but I don’t recall ever doing this before. I am happy with the resulting fountain pen. The Nib’s feel is more to my liking. I’m not going to make this standard practice. I’d be hard-pressed to justify the $124 price bump regularly, so I’m unlikely to get another Diplomat with a gold nib. Still, it’s a pen I love the look of, and the performance of the gold nib elevates it to perfect fountain pen levels.
I also bought a Lamy medium oblique 14k gold nib. This is sold as a replacement nib and is easily swappable between any Lamy model, except the Lamy 2000. So I can move it between any of my Lamy fountain pens, depending on what color pen matches my mood, or more likely, just for variety. I wouldn’t deal with the mess of swapping nibs while inked. So I’ll have to coordinate my mood swings with re-inkings. Something that should be easier now that we no longer have a president that thrives on chaos. This price was much easier to justify. Left oblique is my favorite nib style. At $100 the nib is downright economical when compared to gold nib price bumps these days. Also consider that getting a stock Lamy steel nib ground would cost $40-$50, plus shipping since there isn’t a factory steel nib option. Besides, I’d have to send the pen away for a few weeks or months, at least until pen shows return. I’m finding this to be another enjoyable nib.
Overall, I’m happy to break with past practice with these nib choices. The Diplomat Aero and Lamy Safari gold nibs have been regular choices as my daily drivers. They’ve both been used every day if only to enjoy using them for a sentence or two. I’m also happy with picking up the TWSI Go for the Predator Extreme. I don’t get as much joy from it as from other nibs, but that was expected and not because of the pen.
The low-cost pen allowed me to take a risk on a new (for me) nib grind. Future experimental or risky nib grinds will be done on a Lamy Safari, rather than buying a new TWSBI Go. Even if I run out of Safaris, the easily swapped nibs are less expensive than a Go.
The gold nibs made pens I enjoyed just a little bit better. Although, the Lamy also benefited a bit from being my preferred nib style (oblique). They both have a slightly different feel which I do like. I have no regrets. That said, my default nib choice will continue to be steel over gold.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). Reading: I haven’t started another book yet.
Lamy 14k gold medium oblique nib. Just the nib. I put it on my Dark Lilac Safari.
Retro 51 #119 Train Rollerball
Lamy Safari Mango
Lamy AL-Star Bronze
So much for limiting my pen purchases in 2021.
Diplomat Aero Volute – This was inked up back on November 20th with Athena (Maruzen) Sepia. I do really like the ink, but this oblique fine nib wasn’t the best choice to showcase the ink.
Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with a Carbon Black ink. I inked this up way back in July. It didn’t go dry, but it got so little use that it was always an effort to get it going. This defeats the purpose of what I want from the pen kept on my kitchen table. So I flushed it out. It’s no great loss. I kept it “handy” on my kitchen table, but my apartment is small enough that there’s always a pen nearby, so it rarely got used.
Diplomat Aero Green – This was inked up when it arrived back on January 9th. I used it a lot. It’s already refilled.
Lamy Safari Dark Lilac with a 14k gold oblique medium nib and a Lamy Violet ink cartridge.
Diplomat Aero Green – This went Friday evening. I gave it a quick flush and let it dry overnight. In the morning I popped in the second ink cartridge that was included with the pen.
Binge Mode: As the Pen Turns Podcast — The Pen Addict // A new podcast by two pen makers. I’ve listened to the first two episodes and enjoyed them. I’m firmly “never say never”, so I’ll just say I can’t envision that I’ll ever want to make a pen. Yet, I’ve still enjoyed the conversations so far. The next ep will be much more tool specific, and be part of a series. So my opinion may change. The podcast is young enough to start at the beginning. So far the content has been evergreen, so I’ve felt no need to slip ahead.
Paper Wants A Pen // On the recent Pen Addict podcast, Brad mentioned this shop as a good place to get Sheaffer fountain pens restored. While there’s no mention of restoring pens for others, it’s obvious he restores a lot of Sheaffers so I added it to my list for the next time I need a Sheaffer restored.
Hank Aaron’s lasting impact is measured in more than home runs // I rarely saw Hank Aaron play when I was a kid, and never in person. That was pre-cable. But I was always amazed at how consistent he was as I followed the box scores. He hit home runs, a did a little more. I’m also firmly in the camp that Bonds cheated to break the record.
This week’s surprise favorite is the Penlux Masterpiece Grande. I’ve been ignoring it and was thinking it may get added to the for sale pile. Then I used it, and wondered why I went so long without using it. Definitely not going into the for sale pile.
My fountain pens were a bit temperamental most of this week. The indoor heating has dried out the air so much that my pens can’t handle much of a pause and the ink quickly evaporates off the nib. Some rain on Saturday added enough moisture to get things back to normal.
The newly arrived gold-nibbed Diplomat Aero got a lot of use. It took a little getting used to. The nib looked long and thin. Although, it’s about the same size as my Pelikan M815 and Penlux Masterpiece. That was sorted out in less than a page of writing.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). Reading:The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille. This one is finished and I enjoyed it enough to add the next book in the series to my reading list. Although, it will be awhile before I get to it. I haven’t started anything new.