Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 5, 2020

FireworksHappy New Year, everyone! Not too much to say here as the year-end hustle & bustle kept my pen usage down. The Pilot Vanishing Point did go dry, although I didn’t re-ink it. There’s a lot of ink on the nib is I want to give the pen a thorough cleaning in case there’s a lot of dried ink around the trapdoor. So I’m down to three inked pens:

  1. Kaweco Brass Sport with an EF nib and Kaweco Red ink (cartridge)
  2. Pilot Custom 823 with a Fine nib and Pilot Black ink
  3. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with an EF nib and Sailor Kilwa-Guro Pigmented Back ink cartridge

The Kaweco Brass Sport is finally getting some use now that the Vanishing Point isn’t in my pocket.

I moved into a new office as the year began, which will allow me to get some desk pens back into rotation. They should get a lot of use (relative t recent history) since I’ll spend a lot of time in the office. I’m waiting to settle in before I start inking up some pens, but that should be soon.

Some housekeeping: I’m going to try moving this site to a self-hosted server (currently, it’s on wordpress.com). There may be some outages or weirdness as things move over. If it ends up being more effort than I’m willing to put in, then it will stay here, and the ads will return. I do not promise no ads if the site moves, but I’ll have more control over them if I do decide to have some on the site.

Links

Starting From Scratch | From the Pen Cup

The Fate of Office Depot — Original Content Books // via The Pen Addict.

My 2019 in Review — TooManyPelikans

2019: some of my fountain pen highlights. | Fountain pen blog

Crónicas Estilográficas: Tokyo Pen Trends 2019

Planner Update: Out with the Old, In with the New – The Well-Appointed Desk

Penventory 2020: Reassessing My Pen Collection — The Pen Addict

Shellacking the Section/Barrel Joint – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Crónicas Estilográficas: Retractable 2020

Looped Square: 2019 In Review

 

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – December 22, 2019

Cheers! - Happy holiday

Happy holidays. Break out the new planner and use those new pens. Although for the record, I’ve learned paper planners aren’t for me and 2019 was the year of no new pens and that won’t change in the the remaining days. Although 2020 may make up for that.

It’s been another long delay since the last Trail Log, so it’s a safe bet that this will be the last of the year. (When I drafted this it was a bet, now it’s a certainty) I wrote my Sheaffer Triumph Sentinel Deluxe (c1942-1948) dry a few weeks ago. The vac-filler was a bit tedious to clean, as are most vac-fillers, so I considered re-inking it. I really like the nib (14k Fine) on the pen, but find the pen just a tad on the thin & light side for my comfort, so I ended up thoroughly cleaning it.

So as the year nears its end I’m left with four inked pens. The Kaweco Brass Sport which travels in my jeans pocket loaded with a Kaweco red cartridge. The Pilot Vanishing point with a XXXF nib and a Pilot black cartridge travels in my shirt pocket. The Pilot Custome 823, also with Pilot Black ink, but a fine nib travel in my NockCo Seed A5 case and is used exclusively in the Seven Seas Writer which is also in the same case. The fourth pen is my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with a Sailor Kilwa-Guro Pigmented Back ink cartridge (I think that’s the ink, forgot to record that one).

Housekeeping – You should not see any ads on the site through the rest of December 2019 and the first week of January. If you see ads then let me know. They may or may not return. I’m on a WordPress plan that lets me block ads. I will certainly cancel it before the trial period expires but may move it to a self-hosted site which gives me absolute control, and sole responsibility. (It’s currently on WordPress.com)

Links

Scriptus 2019, Part II: Bringing Your Kids to the Pen Show – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

THE MANILA PEN SHOW 2019 | Personal Geographic

Crónicas Estilográficas: Madrid Pen Show 2019

Brand Profile: Taking a Look at Moonman’s Emergence and Current Direction — The Gentleman Stationer

Sunday Ramblin’ – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Pelikan And Luigi Colani: A Collaboration « The Pelikan’s Perch

My Analogue System for 2020 – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Review: Shibui 5-Pen Case in Saddle Brown Leather | Rants of The Archer

Using hoarded notebooks. — The Finer Point

News: Edelstein Ink of the Year 2020 – Moonstone « The Pelikan’s Perch

Updates Before the New Year | Peaceable Writer

Crónicas Estilográficas: Japanese Skylines

Thoughts on Purchasing Expensive Pens (or Any Luxury Item) — The Gentleman Stationer

Off-topic but highly seasonal: The secret history of Santa interceptions // via The Loop

Off-topic and scary: Opinion | Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy – The New York Times

The Flip-Side: So Much For Global Selling

Stylized US mapA couple of weeks ago, Anthony, of UK Fountain Pens, wrote about his problems with international buying. The article struck a nerve with me, although from the flip-side: international selling. There is a distinct difference – I’m in the US, not the UK.

Being in the United States, I have it pretty good with buying internationally. I can purchase fountain pens without any added customs duties or fees. I’ve never paid any added taxes/duties, and delivery is usually pretty quick. (Any fountain pen under $800 is duty-free, or at least it was a couple of years ago when I checked, and I never get a surcharge from USPS.) While it can vary, shipping charges from established overseas retailers are very reasonable.

But selling is a different story, and I had to cut back, and then eliminate, the pens I’m willing to ship internationally. In my last batch of pens, I decided that if I was selling the pen for $200 or more, I would offer it internationally. Although now I don’t think even that would be worth my aggravation.

One annoyance is the drastic increase in shipping costs over the last few years. While USPS is still the lowest cost option by far, I can’t help but feel buyer’s think I’m profiting by the shipping charge that I quote, despite the charge being at cost and actually below cost once PayPal fees are added on. Most international buyers decide not to buy once they see the shipping cost. Since the pens I sell aren’t expensive, shipping is a significant piece of the total buyer cost. PayPal charges their fees on shipping, and fees are often higher for many countries. So I make less on international sales unless I add a surcharge to cover the additional fees, which means I can no longer say “international shipping is at cost.” Plus, PayPal hates calling out charges tied to their fees. I could probably still truthfully say “at cost”, but proving it would be difficult since I can’t point the buyer to the USPS website. In addition, calculating all that is a time-consuming PITA. Since the pens I sell on this site are priced low (IMO), there’s not a lot of wiggle room to absorb fees. I price them low because sales through this site are typically smooth and problem-free and I figure the buyer will use the pen.

While shipping costs are a significant annoyance, my main gripe is with the USPS international depot in New York, which processes all of my international mail. When I lived in Middletown, CT, more than one package would come to me via Middletown, NY, adding a couple of days to the transit. This, despite the correct zip code being on the package, and in one case being of significantly larger size than the city and state.

Outgoing mail enters the depot, and if it’s a basic first class package only seems to come out when it’s number is picked by a random number generator. I’ve had outgoing parcels sit there for two or three weeks. USPS will not research the package since it’s the basic rate, and there’s no tracking insurance. They also sought to prove the stereotype that Americans are geographically challenged by sending a Germany bound pen to Canada. Canada was in no hurry to send it back, and that delivery took so long it dropped off tracking, but it did eventually arrive.

The solution to the outgoing mail problems is to ship using at least Priority Mail with insurance and tracking. This adds significantly to the cost, but at least USPS will look for a missing/delayed package within a relatively short time-frame. I had a box magically leave the international depot the day after I filed an insurance claim. While not perfect, insured/tracked packages usually travel problem-free.

As for the buyer accepting responsibility for lost/missing packages, I have a couple of problems with this. One, I’d have to use PayPal F&F or another service that provides no buyer protection. If I were a buyer, I wouldn’t want to do this. Two, my experience says there’s a good chance that any untracked/uninsured package will cause a lot of angst as it works its way through USPS. And, despite the warnings, the buyer would still blame me.

So I’ve decided not to sell internationally. Since I’ve never had a problem once the pen leaves the US, I can’t exclude specific “problem” countries. The problem country is my own, so international isn’t worth the aggravation.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – November 10, 2019

Nock Co Seed A5 case with Pilot Custom 823I’ve been writing consistently, using my fountain pens, since October 19th, thanks to changing the way I use my Seven Seas Writer notebook. In the past, I considered it “my journal” and only used it for that purpose. I would stay put away until I was ready to “write in the journal.” I’ve now placed it in my Nock Co Seed A5 case and made it part of my everyday carry. In the past, When it came time to write in my journal, I’d have first to find it, and then take it someplace to write. That wasn’t a huge problem, but just enough of a speed-bump to trigger some procrastination.

Now that it’s always nearby, I’ve been using it more often. While the Seven Seas Writer is now an “everything” notebook, it’s still mostly journal entries, which isn’t what I expected. I still have a pocket notebook always handy, so the Seven Seas doesn’t get quick notes, and electronic notebooks get almost everything else. In the past, I would use a different pen each time I journaled. Now I keep my Pilot Custom 823 with Pilot black ink permanently ensconced in the A5 case. It’s not flashy, but it’s always there, and it’s a great writer. Plus, there’s no rule that I can’t use another pen, I’ve just told my brain that it’s OK to use the same boring pen and ink each time.

Links

Early thoughts on the Cross Bailey Light fountain pen. | Fountain pen blog

2nd MANILA PEN SHOW OPENS IN NOVEMBER | Personal Geographic

Elysee En Vogue Cobra – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

So much for my global shopping? | UK fountain pens

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Shows. I

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Pen Shows. II

Introducing: The Pelikan’s Perch Patreon Page « The Pelikan’s Perch

Crónicas Estilográficas: In Praise of Whisky

The Notebook | From the Pen Cup

State of the collection: November 2019 | UK fountain pens

It’s Fountain Pen Day! | An Inkophile’s Blog

The First 900 Inks — Mountain of Ink

Where It All Started: The Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen « The Pelikan’s Perch

FPD 2019 + Scriptus 2019 // My First Pen Show! – Weirdoforest Pens

MANILA PEN SHOW 2019 OFFICIAL INK | Personal Geographic

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Pen Shows. II

Introducing: The Pelikan’s Perch Patreon Page « The Pelikan’s Perch

Crónicas Estilográficas: In Praise of Whisky

The Notebook | From the Pen Cup

Guide Sheet Updates – The Well-Appointed Desk

Scriptus Recap, Part I: Pens and Things – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – October 20, 2019

Esterbrook Dip-less pen

Still on the low-end of fountain pen usage these days. I did start journaling again but it’s been sporadic at best. Mostly the usual quick notes so my Vanishing Point has gotten the most use.

I also reworked my pen accumulation page, identifying my core pens. I have 20 core Sheaffer Pens and 10 non-Sheaffer core pens which does still seem a little high. Especially since there’s another seven hangers-on. Still, with over 100 formerly owned pens, I’m happy with the results of my fountain pen decluttering.

For the most part, I think my pen sales are over once the current listing sell. There’s still a bunch of pens under “All the Rest”, but they don’t seem worth the effort. I seem to recall having sold some of them but I’ve been too lazy to research them, eventually I’ll clean up my records. Plus I now have a “1 in, 1 out” rule. Plus, I am reconsidering my keep all Sheaffers policy. Although, if i do decide to sell it will be in person. That’s a good excuse to hit some shows next year.

Links

A lot of links this week, but then again it is three weeks worth of them.

Fountain Pen Favorites for September 2019 – Fountain Pen Follies

UKFP Uncapped: 6th October 2019 | UK fountain pens

The Best Pens for Gifting and Everyday Use | HGTV

This pen that doubles as a phone is either a brilliant idea – or completely dumb | TechRadar

For sale | UK fountain pens // I’m not the only one clearing out pens. A little old since, but still some pens left.

Crónicas Estilográficas: Cheap Tools

State of the collection: October 2019. Fit to burst | UK fountain pens

Pen Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta — The Gentleman Stationer

My Supply Room: Dallas Pen Show 2019

Was the bauhaus a hit or a miss? — Pen Economics

Recap: Dallas Pen Show – The Well-Appointed Desk

My Supply Room: Dallas Pen Show 2019 #2

Diving In | From the Pen Cup

Colours – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Travelling with ink: pen shopping in Menorca. | Fountain pen blog

True grails | UK fountain pens

Rambling About Nibs – Goodwriterspens’s Blog