This Just In: Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger

Photo - Leonard Officina Italiana Messenger in greenI’ve been seeing a lot of Leonardo Officina Italiana fountain pens as I browse various fountain pen sites. Some of those sites have had positive reviews. In general, I like the look of Italian pens. All this combined to keep the brand on my radar, so when Pen Chalet put the Leonardo Messenger on sale and had one in green, I decided to buy one.

I did so knowing that this might be a rental. The sale price, and the Pen Addict coupon code, brought the price low enough to either be a reasonable rental, or a good deal on the purchase. Why a rental (purchase, followed by a quick sale)? Because it’s a colored translucent barrel, which I don’t like. So why even try? There’s a nice swirl pattern to the acrylic, which could block the translucency enough to mask the converter inside. Plus, the design should prevent it from looking cheap.

Leonardo does limit the number of pens within each acrylic, although there are many acrylics in each line. There are 366 pens for each Messenger acrylic since there are 366 days in 2020. My particular pen is number 157.

I picked green (Verde) for my pen because, well, green. Green is easily my favorite color. Maybe that’s why I have a hard time finding that perfect green pen or ink.

When the Leonardo Messenger arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. When I opened the clamshell box, the visible part of the barrel was heavily swirled, and I couldn’t see the converter through the barrel. Plus, the acrylic looks great. Then I took the pen out of the box and looked at the entire barrel. I was disappointed to find that the other side of the barrel had a large, utterly translucent section where the converter was clearly visible. For me, the straight lines of the converter, and its reflective chrome, destroy the beauty of the acrylic. On the positive side, the pen does not look like it’s made with cheap plastic.

The translucent section is almost hidden when I’m writing with the pen. But not entirely, and I’m unable to not see it because I know its there. There’s metal inside the pen, so eyedropper filling isn’t an option.

I picked Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk ink to inaugurate the pen. The extra-fine nib is a pleasant writer, and it’s true to the expected size of a European extra-fine nib. The pen does come with some thoughtful design choices, such as a screw-in converter. I don’t post my fountain pens and fine the longer than expected barrel to be very comfortable in my hand. The photo below compares the size to other pens.

Photo - size comparison of 12 fountain pens

Size comparison (L->R) Benu Minima, Sailor Realo, Sheaffer Balance Oversize, Sailor Balance Oversize, Diplomat Aero, Pelikian M815, Lamy Safari, Leonardo Messenger, Sailor KOP, Kanilea Cherry Kona, yStudio Classic Desk Pen

The Leonardo Officina Italania Messenger is a very nice fountain pen. That big translucent spot on the barrel may turn it into a rental for me, but that’s due to my personal tastes and isn’t a fault of the pen. The design of the acrylic is gorgeous. I’ll let it live among my other fountain pens for a while to see if I can overlook that translucent gap since I do like the overall look of the pen.

This Just In: Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen In its boxThe Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine has been on my radar for a while. It was on my list of things to seek out at the pen shows I’d be attending this year. I have a King of Pen (KOP) in black, but for a pen at this price, I really want to see it in person. My other KOP was a pen show purchase for the same reason, I needed to see it to be sure. Unsurprisingly, since the Long Island Pen Show is small, I didn’t come across one. So, with additional pen shows becoming less and less likely, I went ahead and ordered one from Classic Fountain Pens (CFP). I ordered a factory medium, but to be ground to an oblique tip. Often called a left-footed oblique because the nib slants the same way as the toes on our left foot toes.

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen NibI love the way the KOP feels in my hands, likely the most comfortable pen I own. I can write with it for hours at a time. But, I’ll never have as many as I want because it’s obscenely expensive for what it is. Even the base models, like my first KOP, sell for over $700. It’s a basic resin pen. Yes, of outstanding quality and workmanship, and with a large 21kt gold nib, that’s glorious, but the price still causes me to gag a bit. The price is one reason I couldn’t justify (to myself) getting a KOP with the same medium nib that I already had. A broad nib, from experience, is not something I would use more than occasionally. These are the only two nib sizes available, which meant a nib grind would be required.

The Royal Tangerine KOP is a North American exclusive. I haven’t seen any mention of it being limited (it’s certainly not numbered), it does seem to be out of stock most places. Although it is still listed for sale, so Sailor may be planning to eventually nake another batch. I appear to have gotten the last one at CFP as it went out of stock after my order. Good timing on my part, unless I ended up not liking the pen.

The Royal Tangerine King of Pen has the classic cigar shape design. This is a nice contrast with my other KOP, which is a Pro Gear model. I have a slight preference for the Pro Gear style, but that wasn’t an option. Even if it was, I might have still gotten the cigar style (a.k.a. 1911 style) just for variety. My current trend toward variety would outweigh my aesthetic preference in this case. But like I said, it was the only option, so no decision was needed.

Photo of the Sailor King of Pen uncapped in its boxThe pen arrived relatively plain, although slightly larger than standard, Sailor branded pen box. The box is more than sturdy enough to protect the pen during shipping. It’s distinguishing feature is the wrap-around magnetic cover. Sailor uses a proprietary filling system and includes two black ink cartridges and a converter.

Photo ofeverything received with the Sailor King of Pen

My recent practice has been to avoid waste and use any included ink cartridges first. I couldn’t bring myself to do that this time, so I picked Robert Oster Signature Orange ink to inaugurate this pen. It seemed like a logical choice. Logical or not, I was happy with the choice. The pen & ink performed well together. I’ll use those cartridges eventually and won’t waste them. My black KOP and the Regency Stripe are both in the queue to be inked up and would be suitable choices.

I wrote the pen dry and put it aside to give other pens a chance. But, I soon missed it and returned it to the rotation with Montblanc Bordeaux ink.

Oblique nibs sit perfectly on the paper when I use my normal grip. I never have to adjust my grip to suit the nib, and I never have any skipping. That’s why I never pick a pen with an oblique nib as my daily writer. If I have to contort my hand, such as when dealing with the wires in a wire-bound notebook or reaching over a keyboard, the nib may not keep consistent contact with the paper. So, like all my oblique nibs, it only gets pulled out when I am sitting at a desk or table and writing on a flat notepad. It’s a delight to use In this way.

There’s not much more that I can say about the Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine. It’s a perfect size for me, and the 21 kt gold nib is glorious. I’m happy with the pen, if not the price. Despite being a new pen, it shot right onto my list of core pens.

Photo - size comparison of 12 fountain pens

Size comparison (L->R) Benu Minima, Sailor Realo, Sheaffer Balance Oversize, Sailor Balance Oversize, Diplomat Aero, Pelikian M815, Lamy Safari, Leonardo Messenger, Sailor KOP, Kanilea Cherry Kona, Edison Huron Grande, yStudio Classic Desk Pen

Fountain Pens Worth Replacing. Really?

Back in January of 2016, I went through my previous favorite pens lists and determined which fountain pen I’d replace if I lost it. My favorites lists have become so old that I stopped linking to it from my accumulation page. But I’d thought I go through my old worth replacing list and see how it changed. After all, I know my preferences have changed.

The exercise in 2016 was simple – Answer the question: If I lost the pen, would I replace it with the exact same fountain pen for the same price? I ignored inflation along with any potential availability issues, While not stated at the time, I did assume that the nib performance out of the box would be duplicated. This was a mental exercise to determine my true favorites, not a contract or blood oath.

So here are the 2016 pens from the article, and my current thoughts.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ink BottleVisconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age
2016 Me: “Hell, yes, I’d sell as many pens as necessary.”
2020 Me: Bronze Age? Oh yea, I think I had one once.
It went from a pen I gushed over and loved at the time, to a pen I sold off and is now a distant memory. The pen remained great, I just wanted a change.

Franklin-Christoph Model 66Franklin-Christoph Model 66
2016 Me: “Yes, in a heartbeat.”
2020 Me: No. It’s been over a year since I inked it up. I miss it every time I think of it, like now, yet I won’t ink it up.

Sheaffer Balance Aspen with Sheaffer Skrip Gray Ink BottleSheaffer Balance II Aspen
2016 Me: “Yes, if I could.”
2020 Me: Yes, if I could. Availability and price would be an issue. I wouldn’t pay much more than I did back then, but for the purposes of this exercise, the answer is yes. Finding one in pristine condition could also take some time. I do have two other Balance II fountain pens. If I was to lose all three (something I think about as I put them all in the same 3-pen case), I would undoubtedly look for at least one replacement. Heck, I look for them now.

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)Pilot Vanishing Points
2016 Me: “Mostly, yes.” I dealt with these as a group and picked the XXXF and left oblique nibs, along with the Cherry Bamboo barrel as replaceable.
2020 Me: Exact same answer and selections.

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE inkEdison Huron Grande
2016 Me: “Yes.”
2020 Me: No, but with an asterisk. This was a custom pen. I would get another Huron Grande, but with a different acrylic for variety.

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with Akkerman IG Ink BottleSailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe
2016 Me: “Yes.”
2020 Me: “Yes,” but I’d almost certainly be unable to do so. The pen is no longer made, and the nib wasn’t a factory-installed option. While it is an extra-fine Sailor nib, it was swapped by Classic Fountain Pens when I bought the pen. The nib is a big part of what I like about this pen, although weighing more than a typical Sailor resin pen is a big attraction too.

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann extra fine nib with Montblanc Bordeaux writing samplePelikan M805 Stresemann
2016 Me: “Yes.” I did gripe about the nib (medium claiming to be an extra-fine). After publishing the 2016 article, I got the nib ground down to a true extra-fine.
2020 Me: Another pen I sold off, making it a solid “No.”

Edison Menlo Punp Filler with Montblanc Toffee Brown bottleEdison Meno
2016 Me: “Yes,” although it was a tough choice.
2020 Me: An easy “No,” since it’s been nearly two years since this pen saw ink. It’s such a pain to clean.

I also mentioned two other pens that were a “No” in 2016 and remain a “no” today.

The Lamy 2000 is a pen I want to love, but I still struggle with it at times. The Pilot Custom 823 contains two aesthetics I hate: gold furniture and a transparent colored body. The only reason I keep it is that it’s such a comfortable fountain pen to use.


I find that I can get bored with the look of a fountain pen, even a nice bright one. Two pens went from must replace to the post office for shipping to new owners. I don’t have any regrets or miss those pens. In fact, I have no seller’s remorse for any pens I sent away. Just some happy memories. They made room for me to start bringing in new fountain pens for me to enjoy.

The original idea for this article was to include the current pens that I would replace. The answer is “none.” If I was to lose a fountain pen, first I would cry, then I’d look to replace it with something different to bring in some variety.


Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – May 3, 2020


Photo of the Kanilea Cherry Kona fountain pen

The newly arrived Kanilea Cherry Kona

I’m still using my fountain pens a lot and rotating through them. The Kaweco Sport does get ignored in my pocket these days. But, other than that, each pen gets used during the week. Unfortunately for the Kaweco, as you’ll learn below, I have another pen with bright red ink in my arsenal. The Kaweco may not even get the call if I have to mark up a document.

Using a pocket notebook as my journal continues to work remarkably well for me, I haven’t missed a morning or evening since I started. That’s a lie. I missed a couple evenings but made the entry the next morning. I filled one notebook, and I’m more than halfway through the second. The April 30th entry marked the halfway point in the current notebook. When this one fills up, I think I’ll go crazy and switch to a 5 X 7 notebook. I have a Doane Paper Boxcar 3-pack ready to crack open.

New Arrivals.

The Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger arrived Monday. The obvious first ink was its namesake, the Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk ink. The extra-fine nib was a tad scratchy. It is a thin nib, and I’ve been using Doane Paper, which isn’t all that smooth. It doesn’t catch the paper and hold on, but I can just feel it dragging slightly. The nib looks perfectly aligned.

The green material is lovely and has some nice depth to it. I don’t like pens with colored, translucent acrylic. Like the Kona, which follows, the Messenger is transparent, the acrylic has some nice swirls blended in. Unfortunately, there’s one large section that is just translucent green, and it gives me a view of the entire converter. Luckily, this faces away from me, and is against my hand, when I write with the pen. I can see the nib inside the cap, but this never bothered me much. There’s a lot of metal inside the pen, so eyedropper filling isn’t an option. One nice touch is that it comes with a screw-in converter.

The Kanilea Cherry Kona arrived late Thursday afternoon, also with an extra-fine nib. After admiring it for a while (I lost track of time), I inked it up with Sheaffer Red, the brightest red I have. It’s also translucent, but unlike the Messenger, the depth of the swirls in the acrylic hides the converter. If I look closely, I can see the converter in the pen, but that’s because I know it’s there. The acrylic plays games with light, and the pen has darker areas and other areas that appear to glow. The converter just seems to be one of those glowing areas.

I have a couple early quibbles with the pen. Mainly that the cap takes too many twists to remove. It takes just under four complete rotations to separate the threads. This translates to six twists with my fingers. The second quibble is that on Thursday, I had a little fatigue in my fingers after using it a short while. I’m not sure why, it’s a light pen, but not skinny, so I didn’t expect it to bother me. Even more concerning (to me), when I switched back to the F-C Model 02 the fatigue went away. This is weird because the Model 02 grip section appears to be the same size as the Cherry Kona’s, maybe even thinner if I measure with the calipers. Plus, the Kona feels heavier. I definitely need to use it more and pay attention to my grip. I didn’t get much chance to use it Friday or Saturday, but it will be today’s pen of choice.

While fatigue would be a real problem, I can’t believe it’s the pen’s fault since it fits in with the sizes of my comfortable pens. I have to think it can be solved. Maybe it will just go away, unlike some things. Perhaps I’ll need to adjust my grip slightly.

The marathon needed to cap and uncap the pen is something I’ll get used to. But, it may keep me from picking up the pen at times.

Photo of the copper ystudio Classic Desk Pen

The ystudio Classic Desk Pen in copper.

The ystudio Classic Desk Pen arrived Saturday. It’s a copper pen that has a dedicated desk stand (no cap). Since it’s so recent, I haven’t used it much. Being copper, it is a heavy pen, although the desk stand is heavier. I inked it up with Montblanc The Beatles psychedelic purple. The nib was smooth in my initial tests.


I can’t help myself, the dam has burst, and I bought two more fountain pens, although they’ve yet to be shipped. In my defense – I didn’t by three.

  1. Diplomat Aero Volute – My first Aero has really impressed me. I saw the Volute and had to have it. After waiting my required week to think about it, I placed the order. I may have a Retro 51 problem with the Aero, there are many I want to collect. The problem is that the Aeros are much more expensive than the Retro 51 rollerballs.
  2. Benu Minima Mystical Green – I been seeing Benu pens as I peruse pen sites. Their design always catches my eye. They’re relatively inexpensive, and I liked the look of the green, so I added it to my cart this time. I hope the pen material lives up to the pictures. It will be interesting to see how this Russian made fountain pen performs.

Written Dry

  1. The Pelikan M815 Metal Striped went dry last Sunday, April 26th. It was inked on February 10th and was problem-free.
  2. The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver is already written dry after just a week (April 19 through 26). If I didn’t see the ink in the converter when I filled it, and a lack of ink when it stopped writing, I would have expected a short fill or a clogged pen. This is fast for me. That stub is wider than my usual thin nib, so it lays down more ink. I did use it a lot during that week and especially on Sunday.

Newly Inked

I published a currently inked post on Monday, so I’m not going to repeat them all here. The ten fountain pens inked earlier in the week, plus the two new arrivals later in the week (Kanilea & YStudio) cover my current dirty dozen.


How To Use Your Fountain Pens More Often: Try The 5 Whys – Fountain Pen Love // via The Gentleman Stationer I can’t believe this site wasn’t already in my RSS feed. I spent some time this week going through his older posts. Suprisingly, I don’t need any of these ideas right now.

The up days and the down days | UK fountain pens // I had many of these thoughts when I sold off some favorites. I have to admit, I haven’t missed any of them. It might also be what triggered me to buy so many pens this year. Ten so far, which is 66% more than all the pens I bough the previous three years (six).

Vintage Ink Bottle Discovery: Akkerman Predecessors – The Well-Appointed Desk // I’d seen similar bottle in old ads, so never considered the unique. The are certainly unique for modern bottles and the history is fascinating.

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: What Matters | Peaceable Writer // I always enjoy these posts, even if pens are barely mentioned.

A look back at the Sheaffer No Nonsense fountain pen. | Fountain pen blog // An inexpensive “school pen” that was used for school. I’m jealous that the same pen model was used throughout his school career. I’m also ashamed to admit that I never owned a No Nonsense pen. My only defense is that I didn’t use fountain pens in school (the result of growing up in America) and came to Sheaffer well after school.

Pen design red flags: seeing the bigger picture | UK fountain pens // Oh boy can I relate. I share many of the complaints, and have also made similar compromises.

This ‘n’ That – Goodwriterspens’s Blog // No pens left to restore! Now that is a problem, and a side effect I never considered. And to make it all about me – does this mean there be fewer articles about old pens that I enjoy reading?

How Does Paper Color Affect Ink Color? – Fountain Pen Love // I never really though about the effect on the actual ink. I’ve always just worried about how easy it would be to read. No doubt I’d care more if I was an artist.

Pens into rotation: Week ending 1 May 2020 — TooManyPelikans // I like the way these posts have evolved the last few weeks. He know includes his choices as favorites. They been there the last two weeks, and I hope they stay.

Discounting has broken my brain | UK fountain pens // I’ve always been one to ignore “percent off” offers, which means advertised discounts cause me more work. In some cases the cost may be lower, but I often find that all expenses considered, the price often takes the same amount of money out of my wallet. I’m even less susceptible to “deals” in fountain pens. I stick to my preferred and reliable retailer, taking the lowest price from among them.

Pete Denison – Welcome. Let me pour you a cup… // Ok, so this is off-topic and basically an advertisement, but I’ve enjoyed Pete’s writing over the years and they do seem like good products.

The Concessions Of War: Pelikan, WWII, And The Untold Story « The Pelikan’s Perch // A saw this late Saturday and haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but will later today. Fountain pens and history, what could be better?


Currently Inked – April 27, 2020

I’m writing pens dry faster than I can keep up. I wrote one pen dry when doing the had written draft of this post. That now dry pen happened to be at the top of my currently inked writing sample. I’ll be skipping my usual practice of scheduling posts for the next morning to give me time to remember what I screwed up.

I picked the following fountain pens and inks to join the currently inked club:

The first three pens listed are the only fountain pens that were inked before Sunday. I won’t be using them until after this is posted, for fear of making it outdated before it’s published. I wrote about the Sterling Silver Namikis ones in Three Pieces of Silver.

I rarely carry the Fodderstack in my shirt pocket these days. I’m not venturing out often, and the Fodderstack has been replaced by a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a small squirt bottle of alcohol (for grocery carts, etc…). I’ve only wanted a pen once or twice, but to meet those needs, I inked up the Kaweco Brass Sport with Montblanc Petit Prince Red Fox in a cartridge. I picked a red ink so I could also use the pen to mark up documents.

I do like the Vanishing Point Red Bamboo, so it returned to the rotation with a different nib. I feel compelled to acknowledge that the pen is not made of bamboo. But, that is what it was sold as here in the States. I put in the medium left oblique nib, The oblique nib sits perfectly with my natural grip, the clip ensuring that I don’t twist the pen, even a little. It got the now usual Pilot Black cartridge. Pilot converters are a hassle in the VP and don’t hold much ink, so I stick to cartridges.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 02 (Gen 1) is a lovely green and sports a Mike Masuyama needlepoint nib. The pen called out for green ink, so I loaded it with a Montblanc Emerald Green cartridge.

I was missing to Royal Tangerine KOP after only one day. It returned with my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux. It took six days for me to miss the Aero. I’m surprised by how much I like that pen and how well it writes. I did manage to survive 5 days without it.

The Edison Huron Grande just didn’t want to be used. I eyedropper filled its large body with Papier Plume Burgundy, but it just didn’t want to write. A couple hours of gravity didn’t help, running under the faucet didn’t help. Finally, I wrapped a tissue around the nib and gave it a couple firm old-style thermometer wrist flicks, which finally did the trick. I haven’t used it much yet, but it seems fine.

The final fountain pen I inked up my newest fountain pen arrived, the Leonardo Officina Italiana Messenger with an extra-fine nib. I inked it with its namesake, Montblanc Leonardo Red Chalk.

As usual, the writing samples are in the same order as the pens (L->R). Click any photo for full size.

Photo of my capped currently inked pens

Photo of my uncapped currently inked pens

Writing samples from my currently inked pens