Saturday, September 27, 2014


Just a quick note to say WOO HOO, I BROKE 100,000 PAGEVIEWS!!!

Thanks so much for following along at home with the fountain pen game! More fun coming up soon! I appreciate each and every one of you!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I Didn't Need It - But Then I Did

Ed. note: Joe was so excited about his new journal, he hijacked the blog!

I didn't  have a use for it, but when I saw this journal offered for sale by GatzBcn on the Fountain Pen Network (note: must be a FPN member and logged in to view) I couldn't resist. After all, a handmade journal with Oxford blue leather, 90 gram French art paper, hand-tied signatures and a hubbed spine for $38? Really! Even the postage from Europe struck me as ridiculously reasonable.

MB 146 for scale

(click on photos to embiggen)
I’m a reader and a writer. I've been a lover of leather-bound books with gilt titles for over 50 years. I've been a journaler for as many. I've never had such a beautiful object to write my thoughts in.

When I received the exceedingly-well-packed parcel from Spain I also received 3 cards, a hand-written note, and a business card from Anna. 

I contacted Anna by PM and asked if she’d mind if I reviewed her product since I hadn't seen any other customers’ feedback on the forum. She said, “by all means, I’d like to know what you think of it.” (No commercial considerations, etc. though I thought that I’d let her know privately if I didn't like the journal and post a review if I did.)

This journal is very nice. I like everything about it. Oxford blue is a favorite color for me. I love hubbed spines. I like marbled paper (hand-done by Anna). The paper is French Chanson of 90 gram weight and does not bleed or show through and barely feathers (only to the extent that a cotton content “laid” paper would normally do so).

Lastly, possession led to purpose for me. I've had a private writing project in mind for several weeks. Owning this journal, I now have a place befitting the work I intend to do and the impetus to proceed – and isn't that what buying nifty paper is all about?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Search and Rescue: Sheaffer Desk Pen

The other day I was over at my parents' home, helping my mother with computer stuff. She was making a few notes, using the ballpoint from a service-award desk set she'd gotten from her employer some 20 years ago (she's now retired). I happened to glance at it while she was writing, and saw a telltale White Dot on a black pen. Hmm.

When I said something profound like,"Hey! That's a Sheaffer White Dot pen!" she pulled out the matching fountain pen and handed it to me. It was the typical 90's Sheaffer inlaid steel nib, encrusted with ink - very much so in fact. There was so much dried ink and schmutz I was afraid I'd find corrosion on the nib when I got it cleaned off. There was an empty black Skrip cartridge in the pen, which I presume was the one and only cartridge that came with the desk set, and it was put in to check it out and then left.

This is after cleaning...

I don't blame my mother for this - most people do things like that. Otherwise, how could you account for all the vintage and antique pens we all find that are full of dried ink? They get put in a drawer and forgotten about. Such is life.

I told her I'd take the pen home and clean it up a bit for her.

We put the nib and section to soak in plain water when I got home, and between Joe and me we changed the water out about six times by mid-morning the next day - a lot of ink came out! Half a dozen passes through with an ear syringe, and then I grabbed a Sheaffer squeeze converter and we washed it with Goulet's pen flush, then a lot more water, and then let it dry out. No residual issues that I can see; whew! I did a quick polish with a Sunshine cloth for microscratches, and then filled it with Waterman Blue, my standard test ink.

Frankly, I'm a bit impressed. The nib is smooth, firm but springy; it's labeled M but is finer than most contemporary Western medium nibs. On reflection, this is true of most Sheaffers of the time; I recall thinking the school pen I picked up for nostalgia's sake that's roughly the same vintage (probably a bit older) was also finer than I anticipated it would be. And the fine Sheaffer Balance Aspen I have (again, about the same vintage) is really fine.

It's interesting to compare nib feel between this and the 1996 Sheaffer Christmas pen I have, which has a very similar nib, only gold-plated; the Christmas pen is a much firmer one. Both pens' feeds bear style similarities to the feed in my No Nonsense pen as well, also a Sheaffer product of roughly the same vintage.

It's interesting to note I had a bit of a time finding any new desk pen sets available; Cross offers a set with the only option being a ballpoint and matching pencil, most others I found were designed to match a suite of desk accessories to give the desk that "executive" look - black leather desk blotter, etc. Of the few sets I found available, none offered a fountain pen any more.

Suddenly I'm feeling a bit outdated.

At least I got my Mom's pen cleaned, up and running before I got so old so fast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Well-Travelled Pen

The Saga of a Pen as It - but Not Its Owner - Travels the World

So here's the deal.

In 2011, the Fountain Pen Network put together a group buy for various limited-edition Stipula pens. There were three different models offered, in different configurations (materials, nib sizes, trim material, etc.).

As is so typical of me, I saw the Photoshop mockup of the Most Expensive One and said (everyone repeat after me), "Ooooh....Shiiiiiiny....." I then convinced myself I could afford it, had to have it, and ordered it. With an extra nib in a different size, in fact - Stipula pens have nibs that swap! Look! It's really an economical move - two pens for the price of - well, two or three - or four. Or even more, depending on price point.

So I shipped my money off and waited.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pens for Aid: Help the Philippines and Buy a Pen!

Leigh Reyes, the lovely and talented woman behind My Life as a Verb, is hosting a small pen auction to raise funds to assist our neighbors in the Philippines. Please drop by and bid lavishly! All proceeds go directly to the Philippine Red Cross, as outlined on Leigh's website.

Besides, we've contributed this lovely thing - bid it up for me, won't you?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

FPD 2013 Giveaway Winners!

What a fun experience this has been for me!

When I gave away a Jinhao X750 in February 2012, I had 20 entries. For this giveaway I've had more than eight times that many, with 162 entries from 17 different countries, including multiple entries from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, the Philippines, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, as well as so many from my native United States! Thank you all so much for your interest in my blog and the giveaway!

And now for the news you've all been waiting for:

Tim from Huntington Beach, CA - Gold pen with the following ink samples: Noodler's Army Green • J. Herbin Lie de Thé • Pilot Namiki Blue • Noodler's North African Violet • Noodler's Nikita

Doug from Oakland, CA - Matte Black pen with Caran d'Ache Grand Canyon • Montegrappa Bordeaux • DeAtramentis Cucumber • Diamine Aqua Lagoon • DeAtramentis Elderberry

David from Waltham, MA - Holographic Black pen with Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher • Diamine Meadow • Diamine Ruby • Monteverde Purple • Waterman Havana Brown

Francesco from Pisa, Italy - Gold and Black check pen with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia • Aurora Blue • Private Reserve Ebony Green • Noodler's Rattler Red Eel • Noodler's Purple Heart 

Amy from Los Angeles, CA - White pen with Diamine Soft Mint • DeAtramentis Rose • Sheaffer Brown • Waterman Red • Sheaffer Turquoise

Curious what those ink colors look like? I'd suggest you hop over to Goulet Pens' The Swab Shop and take a peek.

Many thanks go to the bloggers who gave me a mention (particularly Sandra, Azizah, and Julie), the many people who favorited and retweeted the entry link, and to all the entrants for their enthusiasm and the kind notes so many of you wrote. You made my week!

(Just for fun, the countries represented in the entries are: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.)

Happy Fountain Pen Day indeed!

Congratulations to the winners! I'll be in touch via email within the next day about the details!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Welcome to My Fountain Pen Day Giveaway!

Happy Fountain Pen Day! So glad you could join me!

In honor of the day, and because I love fountain pens and ink, and especially because I love all the crazy people like me who love fountain pens and ink (is that sentence run-on enough for you?)...

I'm hosting a little giveaway!

So here's what's up:

I have five lovely Jinhao X750 pens with medium nibs that I'd like to give away, one to each of five people. I have personally flushed, inked, write-tested, and then cleaned them, so they should be good to go as soon as they arrive at your house. (Other than the cleaning and testing, they are unused - I bought them for this purpose.)  They are: matte black, black with holographic sparkles, gold, cream, and gold and black check. Individual photos of the pens are also available here.

(click on photo to embiggen)

I also have gobs of ink samples, more than we'll probably ever, ever, ever work our way through - I've been an Ink Drop subscriber from the beginning (a founding member as it were!). I have my ink samples beautifully sorted, organized and stored as you see here:

So, to go with each pen, I will randomly select one sample from each of the five bags and include five random-color ink samples with each pen. (The five bags, in case you are curious, are labeled Pink/Purple/Orange, Blues, Greens, Browns and Reds.)

I like the Jinhaos, and featured one in a giveaway a while ago - here is a link to the Very Awful Video Review I did at the time. They are good basic pens, reliable and sturdy. In combination with some ink samples, this would be a great way to try a fountain pen without investing a ton of money, or it could be used as a bribe a lure a gift for someone you know who'd like to give fountain pens a try. The holidays are coming up, after all, and faster than any of us realize, I suspect.

Or just keep it as a gift to yourself!


One entry per person please.

PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORM - COMMENTS on this blog post WILL NOT COUNT AS AN ENTRY! Sorry to shout, but I'm hoping it'll make that more visible!

Please indicate whether you have a pen color preference - I will do my best to accommodate preferences for the winners, but no guarantees - I only have one of each color.

Entries will be accepted through November 10 at 9 pm Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8). Each entry will be given a number in order of entry, and a random selection will be made for the five winners - numbers in a hat if there are a few, random number generator if I get a bunch. Winners will be notified promptly by email, and a list of first names published on the blog as well.

Good luck, and thanks for playing!