The Kickstarter Tallulah pen case is a two-pen zipper case with a clay exterior, black trim, and a bright Sunshine Yellow interior. This colorway is unique to this Kickstarter campaign. When I first saw the photos, I thought rust for color. I had read clay as the color before seeing the picture I would have expected a deep grey color. On the other hand, the color is a lot like terra cotta. So, the color name is appropriate. I was deep in my terra cotta phase when the campaign started. I’m not entirely over that obsession, so I like the color.
Inside, the case has two pen slots on the left, and a business card sized pocket on the right. It can lay flat when open. The exterior of the case is 6.25″ x 2.5″. Nock says it’s 0.75″ thick, although that can vary since it’s a cloth case. My largest pen, an Edison Huron Grande, doesn’t fit due to its length. All my other pens do fit, the longer ones being a Franklin-Christoph Model 66 and a Fisher of Pens Hermes. The side pocket fits business cards or Nock Co. Petite Index Cards.
I’ve been carrying the Nock Co Lanier in my daily travels. It’s a light, easy to carry briefcase. The Tallulah is an excellent match to the Lanier. I like that the case is nice and thin, while still providing excellent protection for the pens. I’ve been carrying a TWSBI Go along with my Fisher of Pens Hermès. The Hermès is a long pen. While it is snug, it fits comfortably without pressing against the case. I also carry a couple of business cards, and a few Nock Co Petite Index Cards although I yet to use either of them.
I’m a fan of Nock Co. Cases. This is the first one I’ve owned that had a hitch. It’s minor, and a side-effect of being a small case with a quality zipper, rather than a real defect. The corners are tight. When opening, the zipper gets tight at the final corner. It’s not snagging the material, but the material that protects the pens from the metal zipper isn’t rounded at that corner. There’s a little extra material, and it’s bunched up just enough to press against the zipper. I’m developing the muscle memory to pull the zipper out a bit when it reaches that corner.
I’ve been using the Tallulah for a couple of weeks and have enjoyed it. I’ve developed an affinity for carrying three pens, so the two-pen Tallulah caused me some angst in the beginning. My pens aren’t thin enough to carry a third pen. It’s a cloth case, so I’m sure I could get a third pen to fit, especially since I’ve never used a business or index card from the case. But I forced myself to stick with two pens, and I’ve become accustomed to two pens. I’ve yet to regret not having that third pen. (Part of this is because I often have my Fodderstack XL with me, and that has a third fountain pen along with a rollerball.) Adding a third pen to the Tallulah would go against my favorite feature: It’s a thin case that provides excellent protection for the pens.
Back 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.
I 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.
I picked up the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder a few months ago and have been enjoying it ever since. Once a year or so I order from overseas. Usually for items that aren’t available in the US, such as Pelikan Blue-Black ink. Even though it’s available in the US I added this case to the order. I’d done some research and picked this case as my solution but was holding back because of the price. The exchange rate gave me a significant savings, plus it brought me above the free shipping threshold from Cult Pens.
Rather than buying it because it’s a nice case, which it is, I bought it because it’s the one pen case I found that met my current requirements. Cases for three pens are the sweet spot for me since I often carry three pens when I’m out and about. I had been using the Nockco Sinclair but it didn’t meet my current requirements, although I’ll certainly continue to use it.
I have three Sheaffer Balance IIs that I love using, despite their medium nibs. The pens have the reputation of being fragile (and feel it), especially around the clip. Mine are still crack free and I’d like them to remain that way as long as possible. They’ve been home-bound because I’ve been afraid to take them outside the house. I love using the pens and they give me a nice trilogy of pens and ink – a grey or brown in the Aspen, red in the Crimson Glow and green in the Jade Green model. They are too nice to ignore so I wanted a way to carry them in relative safety.
I wanted something that was more rigid although it didn’t have to be a fountain pen bunker. I wouldn’t expect it to survive me sitting on it, but I wanted it to survive in my iPad bag which is my typical carry these days. I didn’t want it to cause damage if the iPad ended up on top of the pen case. It also had to protect pens from bouncing notebooks or keys. I also wanted it to hold all three pens securely without using the fragile pen clips.
The Visconti 3 Pen Case is the one I found that met my requirements, plus it does look good. I just had to get past the price, which I obviously did.
The case has a rigid bottom which keeps it from bending. This was important to me because I’m more concerned about an indirect hit putting pressure on half the case that I am about it being crushed under a large object. The top panels are also rigid although there’s a hinge between them. The sides are rigid except for the zipper which has cloth along it’s length, which doesn’t provide any support. While it’s not a fountain pen bunker it does provide good protection without requiring that the pen be clipped in place. Overall, I think the case provides very good pen protection.
The pen slot dividers run the entire length of the case and are attached to the bottom along the entire length of the case. The don’t flop around and do feel like they are also attached to the bottom side of the case. The inner lining is soft and has a felt-like feel. It doesn’t appear as if it will scratch or wear the pens at all. Unless of course some sand or other grainy particles get caught inside it.
The zipper is exposed to the inside of the case. The zipper teeth are small and fairly smooth along the inside. The zipper is metal. The position of the zipper, high relative to the pens rather than along the middle, plus the small zipper size makes me confident that it won’t scratch my pens. That said, I can’t rule out a series of unfortunate events that could cause it to scratch a pen since it is exposed. Wrapping the pens in a protective cloth, or a protective sheet along the zipper side would eliminate my concerns, but that adds a complication I decided was more of a hassle than the low risk deserved.
I used the case for a couple of months with my regular carry pens to build my confidence that it will protect my more fragile fountain pens. Then a couple weeks ago I inked up my three Sheaffer Balance IIs and moved them into their new home. I don’t have any complaints about the case and it’s protected my pens well. The Sheaffers are the few pens I have that I consider fragile, requiring special handling. I’m not about to see how much abuse they can take inside the case, but I am confident they are safe in there during my normal travels. My only concern is to make sure I don’t run the pen over the zipper as I take it in and out of the case. The cover opens wide and the zipper is easily avoided, it’s my carelessness that I worry about.
“Dreamtouch” is the name Visconti gave to their leather processing. It tends to turn me off when manufacturers give a made-up name to their process, since it’s meaningless to me. I’m more concerned about the result and the name doesn’t help determine that. That said, the leather is smooth and soft and it does appear to do a good job of resisting abuse. Scuffs have been easy to work out so far. There is some creasing where the hinged top attaches, but no signs of cracking. Being black every spec of dust is highlighted in the photos. In real life it has a much cleaner, dust-free look.
Three months of normal use isn’t exactly an endurance test, but the case has held up well. The stitching seems solid and there isn’t any sign of it coming apart. Normally I like my cases to show they’ve been used. This case has had a few scuffs which really stand out on that black leather, which I don’t like. I’ve been able to work them out with just my fingers. The zipper is another potential failure point but it seems to be holding up well.
The case fits all except my largest pen, a Edison Huron Grande. My Franklin-Christoph Model 66 just fits in the center slot, although it doesn’t fit in the side slots. Both the case and pen have an official length of 6.3″. The Model 66 does press against the top end but not enough to affect the zipper operation. It’s a bit hard to remove since friction holds it in place. I haven’t tried all of my pens but I’m confident any others will fit fine. Because the pen clip won’t hold the pen in place smaller pens may rattle around a bit but that isn’t a concern for me.
I’m very happy with the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder and it’s been used daily since I got it. Now that I’m confident in it’s protection, my 3 Sheaffer Balance II fountain pens have claimed it as their new mobile home. I’ve enjoyed having them with me which makes the case worth the money.
Rather than a regular review I’ve decided to start talking about the things I use regularly and why. The things I use regularly will be written about in the What I Use category.
I’ve been using Nock Co. cases since their Kickstarter campaign to launch the company. They’re pretty much the only soft cases that I use. Since I started working from home exclusively I’ve had to carry fewer pens and I’ve gravitated to carrying the Fodderstack XL since it arrived as May began.
I ordered the Steel/Blue Jay version. I like the color but there’s one unanticipated trait that I didn’t expect. It tends to highlight dirt and dust. Like all Nock Co. cases the material has a texture to it and this can hold on to dust and dirt. This is unnoticeable with other colors, such as my orange cases, but it’s very visible in this darker color. The clips from the pens can also discolor the material. None of this is permanent and can be brushed right out, but it doesn’t stay pristine for long. I don’t mind when the things I use show evidence of use, and I rather like it. So while I don’t necessarily want things to look dirty, this doesn’t particularly bother me. In the photos the case was brushed clean about a day before. The way I carry this case, in many varied environments, probably doesn’t help keep the case clean.
Like every other Nock Co. case that I have the build quality is first rate.
The Fodderstack XL is big enough to hold two good sized fountain pens. They do touch, which also doesn’t bother me. I have only a few pens where I’m worried about damage and those don’t get carried out and about in any soft case. Other than from each other, the case provides good protection to the pens. It’s a soft case so it won’t protect against aggressive abuse but there is padding from the material. Obviously there’s no protection for the part of the pen sticking out of the case.
The material is a bit thick so pens with tight clips take some effort to insert. I have a couple KarasKustoms Inks, which all have a stiff clip, where the clip is too close to the body to use with the case. They could probably be made to fit, but only after a bit of a fight.
The Fodderstack XL is sized for Nock’s DotDash Pocket Notebooks. This means that most standard pocket notebooks will also fit. This includes Field Notes and Doane Small Utility Notebooks, both of which I’ve used. Two DotDash Pocket Notebooks can be made to fit but it’s a tight squeeze and eliminates the ability to quickly remove and insert the notebook. A Field Notes Ambition and a DotDash Pocket could also be carried but it was also a tight squeeze. I don’t find the extra effort worth it just to have a second pocket notebook.
I typically carry one pocket notebook and two pens in the Fodderstack XL. I usually pick two pens for the day and carry those pens throughout the day. (And honestly, it’s been the same two pens all this week, so they don’t change every day.) One pen is a extra fine or thinner pen and the other is a fountain pen and ink suitable for regular writing sessions, so it can be a wider nib. This week I’ve been carrying my two Vanishing Points, one with a XXXF nib and Pilot black ink while the other is a left oblique nib with Pilot blue ink.
Lately I’ve been carrying the Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebook but have carried a Doane Utility Notebook in the past. I like the DotDash design but I’m finding a standard (meaning bound on the left) notebook suites my current usage more. My current pocket notebook carry is a mess and the notebook will change on occassion, but that’s another topic.
A typical day has me almost exclusively using these pens until the evening, where I may switch to a different pen if I do any writing. The exception is if I want an ink that’s not in one of the two pens, such as red. Since I work at home I’ll carry the case around the house if I change locations (office desk, patio if the weather is nice, or a chair by the big patio door if the weather isn’t nice but I want to see the world and daylight). This way I always have a couple pens and notepaper handy.
I also grab the case whenever I head out. It fits in all my shirt pockets. While it’s a little bigger than I prefer for a shirt pocket, it is very light. Little weight is added beyond the pad and paper. It also fits in my jean and trouser pockets, but I only carry it there if my hands and shirt pocket are full and I’m going to a nearby location, such as my car, where I then pull it out. It also slide nicely into my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter so I can carry it in my mobile office.
I like having it with me so I did develop a habit of leaving it in my car at times, although now that hotter summer weather is here I carry it in a pocket more often with my preference being a shirt pocket, even if I’m heading into a store where I’m unlikely to need it. The notebook pocket is also nice for holding receipts, business cards and other scraps of paper collected throughout the day.
I do have to pay attention to the pens I carry. Two KarasKustoms Ink fountain pens do fit, but they are heavier than my preference for a shirt pocket carry, even without the case.
I like the style so much that I recently bought the smaller original Fodderstack, but I have different plans for this one which I’ll write about in a future what I use, article assuming I do use it. The original Fodderstack is smaller and can only hold one pen (unless they’re really thin pens) and it’s designed for the Nock Co. index cards.
What would I change? Nothing really.
While a different color wouldn’t show off dirt and dust I got this color because I wanted to carry it in my shirt pocket and I didn’t want anything bright, so I’m happy with it. It’s a business friendly color.
I sometimes wish it held three pens but that would make it thicker and heavier, and therefore less useful for me. Three pens in my shirt pocket annoys me even without the added case and notebook. I’ve gone back to carrying a Kaweco Sport with red ink so that gives me a pen to use with bright ink if I need to mark something up.
The Nock Co. Fodderstack XL works for me because it’s light and easy to grab and carry. I got it intending to have something I could easily toss in a bag or briefcase but I’ve found it’s something I use and carry all day. While I’ve always been happier carrying more pens, I’m finding that the right two pens works well for me and is easy and light to carry. Plus, it works throughout the day in any environment.
Nockcoshould be launching their store soon. (If they haven’t already launched – this post was written last weekend and scheduled for today.) launched their store yesterday. They’ve already announced additional products so there should be plenty to choose from. Now seems to be a good time to review the rest of my Nockco cases. I reviewed the Nockco Hightower (the cases are all named for mountain peaks in Georgia) back in May and it remains my most used Nockco pen case. My most used case overall, if I only consider a case used when pens are put in and taken out. I pledged at the “All the Cases” level when they had their Kickstarter campaign and these are the rest of those cases. And as an aside, it’s nice to see a Kickstarter campaign used to launch a business, and a business that makes their own products, rather than just be a storefront. The red-white-blue flecked Grand Huron is over 6.5″ long so doesn’t fit in most pen cases but is shown in some photos for reference. The Edison Collier, Lamy Safari, and Pilot Vanishing point are also used (and fit) as a reference for all the cases and should provide a good cross-section of know pens. Most cases are orange because I picked that as the color for the cases I expected to carry in a bag. This was to make them easy to find. Plus, I like orange.
I expected this three pen holster to be the case I used most but a change in my daily carry bag changed that. Three pens are an ideal carry for me so it does get used. Like all the cases it’s well made with even stitching and no loose threads. The lining is soft and won’t scratch my pens. I’d consider it a “normal” size case that can accommodate most pens. The material is heavy and protects the pens quit well. Like many cases the sides are open towards the top of the case. I feel more comfortable with my heavy leather Franklin-Christoph Penvelope case bouncing around in my bag if there are heavy objects sharing the space with it. It may be psychological but I feel the leather would provide better protection against being crushed. But as far as cloth bags go, the Lookout provides excellent protection. There is padding and I can’t foresee anything ripping through the material. This the only one of the cases that has the extra padding. Some people have noticed a Field Notes book fits under the strap and carry one there but I haven’t tried it.
Large Chimney Top
I ended up using this for computer/phone cables, a wireless hotspot, batteries, headphones, thumb drives and more. Thanks to the hotspot and large(ish) brick battery it can be tight at times but a lot does fit in. The case is unlined but the interior is still smooth. There’s no padding. Again, good construction with even stitching. The case is about 7″ long so it doesn’t fit full size wood case pencils.
Small Chimney Top
This case is as long as the Large Chimney Top but narrower. I use this to hold my Vac 700 with its extra nibs. It’s my ink testing case. Broken record here – good construction with even stitching. Like the large version there’s no lining and large, new wood case pencils just don’t fit.
This is a bi-fold case with a notebook pocket on each side. Pens fit too, as long as you don’t mind that they touch. This one is lined. I’ve yet to find a regular use for this case. My particular case is the Steel exterior with Blue Jay interior. Guess what? Quality construction with even stitching.
This is the pen version of the Maryapple. It’s a bifold case with five pen slots, three on the left and two on the right. The slots on the right can easily hold multiple pens if you don’t mind touching. Yet again, even stitching and solid construction. I’ve used this on occasion but it hasn’t gotten a lot of use.
The Brasstown is the most ingenious design of all the cases. It’s a six pen roll that fits in a zippered case. It holds six (or more) pens in a six pen roll. More pens or other small items can fit loose in the case. That’s a lot in a small area. I would have expected to use this case more but find I usually pick another. If I need less than six pens then it’s the Hightower. If it’s six pens then it’s the leather Penvelope. Because of this I’ve started to use it for my Retro 51 accumulation and spare refills. The case is lined. New wood case pencils won’t fit in the roll out sleeves but they do fit loose in the case. My Edison Huron Grande won’t be completely wrapped in the roll out sleeve, but it does fit in the case. And yes, even stitching and overall quality construction.