Inky Pursuits: a recent round-up.

Time for another episode of Inky Pursuits, an occasional series of round-ups of my fountain pen related news. I have had an eventful week pen-wise, including the arrival of five more fountain pens.

Last weekend, I had the task of registering a marriage in our local church in Golders Green, at which I am the “Authorised Person” for such duties. This means having a fountain pen inked with the regulation Registrar’s Blue Black iron gall ink from ESS (Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies). I chose to use my TWSBI Classic in white with medium nib to complete the register and for the signing. The ink comes in 110 ml bottles and now needs to be used up within about 18 months of first opening, before it starts to lose its properties of darkening to a rich near black shade.

On Tuesday, I had the excitement of a New Pen Day, with the arrival of a Wing Sung 601 that I had ordered from China a couple of weeks earlier. This is the one that is based upon the Parker 51, with a hooded nib (although in stainless steel) with a stainless steel cap, but with a clear demonstrator body and section and a vacumatic filling system. There is a metal filling button, visible under the blind cap.

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Wing Sung 601, clear demonstrator, vacumatic. View from the 32nd floor of the Shard, London.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was stumped at first, on unboxing the pen, by something which looked like a red plastic converter, but which was filled with a clear liquid. Where does this go? Is it part of the vacumatic filling mechanism? No, it turned out to be a useful container of silicone grease for when you come to disassemble and clean the pen.

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The Wing Sung 601 partly disassembled. Oh no, where does the red bit go? (It is a container of silicone grease, confusingly supplied in a converter that a vac filler does not need).

I played around with the pen at first, examining the nib under a loupe. The nib needed a little help to align the tines but this was fairly easily remedied, the only challenge being that the accessible part of nib is so tiny to hold. I then tried disassembling the section and learned that, when screwing it back on again, you need to remember to keep the nib so that it lines up, centred under the long lip of the section.

On inking the pen for the first time, I was surprised to see just how quick and efficient the filling system is. You just immerse the nib in the ink, give the button a few presses and the demonstrator body enables you to watch ink come rushing into the barrel. With each press of the button, the ink level rises higher. I gave it about seven presses by which time I had a really good fill, with far less air space remaining than I have ever achieved with a TWSBI Vac 700 (although I know that there is a technique for that, if you are feeling brave).

The pen then wrote pretty well. I was very pleasantly surprised. I had filled it with Conway Stewart Tavy, by Diamine (my go-to blue black ink) and was delighted with the wet, fine line that it produced. No skips or hard starts. I squiggled in all directions and was unable to get it to miss a beat. The nib is pleasantly feedbacky and copes well with smooth papers. It is firm though, and does not give any significant line width variation. But I love the look and feel of the pen and am really pleased with it. It is amazingly good value.

Later this week I met up for a coffee with one of the readers of my blog, who brought along a wonderful selection of his fountain pens to show me, gathered over years of travel to Germany, Singapore, Japan and other places. Now preparing to move to Australia in a few months and wishing to pass on some of the pens that he no longer uses regularly, he had been giving many away to pen enthusiasts.  He offered me three of his Pilots and very generously, gave me a Custom 74, a Custom Heritage 92 and a third pen that I did not know, called the Pilot Elite, – a stylish pocket pen that becomes full length when posted and has an elegant 18k gold nib.

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Pilot Custom 74, Pilot Custom Heritage 92 and a Pilot Elite pocket pen.

You can imagine my delight! I had never owned any of these models before, although I have long been interested in the C74 and CH92. Both had medium 14k gold nibs and were inked with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo, a lovely blue black. I have been much enjoying them both all weekend, slightly more so the CH92 as I prefer the shape and the nib is particularly wonderful. Meanwhile I have flushed the Elite and am taking a pause to enjoy pondering what ink to try in it!

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My friend also gave me the bottle of tsuki-yo plus a bottle of Diamine Sargasso Sea, a Schneider Rave XB retractable ball point pen and a few interesting Lamy fineliners which I had never seen in this country.

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Everything you could ask for in a nib. The Pilot Custom Heritage 92, 14 gold, medium, and rhodium plated

Finally, as if that was not enough fountain pen action for one week, I happened to find the Lamy Safari All Black, 2018 special edition today, in a blister pack with a box of black cartridges. I have been looking out for one in our local stationery shops ever since about February and despite searching in all the usual places, this was the first one that I had actually seen in the wild. It came with a medium nib, in black. I plan to keep it for use as a black ink pen, which is always useful to have. I do like the black-everything look, including the textured matte black body and black clip. Even the threads are jet black. A good stealthy pen to use in jungle warfare. Or in my office.

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My current Safari and AL-Star stash. The new Safari All Black is ninth from the left.

 

 

 

 

In praise of the Leuchtturm 1917, A5 notebook.

Those who enjoy writing with fountain pens like to find ideal combinations of pen, ink and paper where the nib glides effortlessly over the page, leaving a beautiful line of fresh ink without feathering or bleed-through.

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Ah, that new notebook feeling!

I am a relative newcomer to the Leuchtturm range, although the company was founded in 1917. I started using their A5 size notebooks about a month ago when my Taroko Design “Breeze” (Tomoe River) notebook was full. The Leuchtturm notebooks are readily available in our local Rymans stationers and although the paper is not Tomoe River, I find it very pleasant.

Available in a wide range of bright coloured hard covers, there are also options for plain, ruled or dot grid pages. In each case, you get around 250 numbered pages. Depending upon which you chose, you get a number of good features (listed on the distinctive wrap-around flyer inside the cellophane), such as:

  • a table of contents;
  • some perforated sheets (8 in the plain or ruled page version, or 12 in the dot grid version);
  • an expandable pocket in the back cover;
  • two ribbon page markers;
  • an elastic loop, for those who want closure;
  • stickers for labelling;
  • thread bound, to open flat and for durability;
  • ink proof paper (that is, fountain pen friendly);
  • 80 g/m2 acid-free paper.
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There is no mistaking the Leuchtturm notebooks with their distinctive wrap-around flyers, which help in finding the paper type that you are after.

I began with the plain paper version. This included a guide sheet to place behind the page you are using, with 18 rows at a width of 10mm, or, on the reverse, a grid of 5mm x 5mm squares.

I have been using the 10mm space guide. This is quite wide and if your handwriting is not large, the spacing may look too wide in relation to your writing size . Of course, you can experiment and make you own guide sheet, ruling your lines at whatever width you choose. For me, an 8mm width is about right and is what I am most used to for general writing and note taking, when using pads of file paper. But I have now made up a few guide sheets of approximately 8, 9 and 10mm for use with different nib widths. You could do this with your perforated pages.

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Line spacing at 10mm. TWSBI Classic (medium nib) with Registrar’s blue black ink.

With so many book colour options and paper options, there is something for everyone. I bought a ruled page version, but found that its line spacing of just 6mm, was too narrow for me. And if I wrote on every other line, 12mm was rather too wide.

The dot grid paper, with dots at 5mm spacing, is a good option and can be used easily to write on alternate rows with a comfortable 10mm row height.

One of the readers of my blog told me that he buys these notebooks when the less popular colours are on sale and then uses them for letter writing, slicing out the pages when the letter is written. This had not occurred to me and sounded quite a good idea.

Likes

The extra features listed above are all very welcome, but it is the paper itself that is the real draw here. It is a creamy, off-white paper, with a pleasant silky matte finish, having a smooth surface, not glossy or coated such as to cause drag.

A fountain pen may struggle to work on a paper that is too glassy-smooth. But a rough, fibrous textured paper is not good either and may clog the nib. Then, there is the issue of absorbency. A paper that soaks up the ink like blotting paper is no good for fountain pens as the ink will “feather” and spread out. And you do not want the ink to bleed through to the other side, so that you can use only one side of the paper.

There are many factors to juggle, depending too on whether your pen and ink writes on the dry or wet side.

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Writing sample with Diplomat Esteem (Medium) with Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red. Paper copes well, with even this juicy wet writer. Note also the minimal degree of show-through from the other side.

Dislikes

There is very little to dislike. If I were being picky, I could say that the page numbers could be a bit bigger. However, they are slightly clearer on the dot grid version than the plain.

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Pre-paginated pages.

A degree of “show through” or “ghosting” is inevitable unless the paper is very thick. With this notebook, whilst it is noticeable, I find it perfectly acceptable. There is a certain amount of compromise involved here as thicker papers, whilst reducing show-through, are heavier and make the notebook bigger.

Conclusion

As someone who currently has around fifteen fountain pens inked with a variety of nibs and ink types, I am finding the Leuchtturm notebooks very satisfying. The main problem that I have with them is that I keep wanting to buy another one whenever I pass the shops.

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A look at the TWSBI Classic fountain pen.

This pen was part of my haul from the London pen show last October and has now been in light use for over six months.

I am very fond of TWSBI’s fountain pens and already owned a Vac 700, a Diamond 580 and an Eco, all of which I enjoy using.  The London show was my first time to handle the newly modified Classic. I had to make a swift decision whether to go for the white or the light blue (which was adorable) but settled on the white version on the ground that it might be less jarring on the eyes in a workplace scenario.

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TWSBI Classic fountain pen

For its first inking, I chose a new bottle of KWZ Azure #4, also bagged at the same pen show. However, I had been playing with the pen prior to filling it, disassembling the section and evidently had not tightened it enough on putting it back together again, as the ink oozed out of the gaps and over my fingers.

This was very easily remedied, by flushing and cleaning the pen, tightening it up a little bit harder this time and re-inking. Note, that when unscrewing the section, there is a little rubber O ring at one end, which might be mistaken for a smear of black ink. Take care not to lose this.

Like the Diamond 580 or the Eco, this is another piston filler, but not a demonstrator. Instead there is a modest sized ink window, next to the metal threads for the cap. The cap also has metal threads, which might make you worry about causing scratches when posting the cap. However, there is no need for concern, as the cap has been re-designed to post very neatly over the piston knob, where it clicks into place above a couple of rubber O rings. Used in this way, the pen is a very comfortable weight and length (about 166mm). You can however use it without the cap posted, being around 125mm in length.

The material is a pleasant, hard-wearing resin of some sort which, in the white finish, almost looks like porcelain. The cap, the barrel and the cap band are octagonal. The shiny chrome furniture makes a nice contrast and there is the distinctive red TWSBI logo in the finial, which makes the pen stand out in the pen cup. The pocket clip is strong and firm. I always find myself wanting to align the flat surfaces whenever I post the cap.

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Nice looking from both ends.

 

The steel nib on this model is smaller than that of the VAC 700 or Diamond 580 but looks proportionate to the size of the pen. I chose a medium and it writes very well – smooth and with good flow, but fairly firm.

As with other TWSBIs, this comes with a little wrench to enable you to unscrew the piston mechanism should you wish to do so. I did this, only for the first time, late at night, whilst tired and a bit reckless and impatient. I made the “Classic” mistake of finding out the hard way that I did not know how to put the piston back together.

This set me thinking about the term “penmanship” which should denote not only good handwriting, but other qualities including care, wisdom, patience and appreciation for one’s fountain pens. Happily with the aid of one of SBRE Brown’s disassembly line videos on Youtube, I was soon able to reassemble the pen.

For much of the last six months, I have been using this pen with Sailor Kiwa guro, a black pigment ink which is safe for fountain pens. It is very useful to have a waterproof ink sometimes for such duties as writing addresses on envelopes.

However, having recently received a new 110ml bottle of Registrar’s Ink (a blue black iron gall ink) I decided to try this in the TWSBI. I am delighted with the results. I may use this pen when I next register a marriage at our local church. The white pen should look nice in the “signing the register” photos. I will make sure that the pen is properly assembled this time.

Likes and dislikes.

In summary, this is an attractive, medium sized fountain pen, which performs well. I particularly like the ink window. It is useful that you can (if you wish), strip the pen for cleaning and maintenance, like a Bren gun,  although there is no necessity to do so, particularly the piston, which should serve well for years without maintenance.

My only criticism would be of the section in that it would perhaps be more aesthetically pleasing if it were not so perfectly straight. Looked at in profile, it does not look quite right. A slight curve to make a nice finger rest or a slight tapering towards the nib would help the look, although it is comfortable to hold as it is.

The price at the London pen show was £40.00, which makes it a little more than the Eco but less than the Diamond 580 or Vac 700. I like it a lot.

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Pineider Avatar fountain pen review.

After attending our monthly pen club meet in London recently, I took myself off to Harrods to have a browse around The Great Writing Room. It is wonderful to see their large selection of luxury fountain pens from so many leading brands.

A new name to me, was Pineider, an Italian brand established in 1774, whose pens and stationery were displayed in a corner of the large room. Under the glass counter, one pen was shown in a gift box which immediately caught my eye as it opened like a miniature writing desk. I asked to see the pen, with an attractive green marbled body and a silver section. However, it had an 18k gold nib and was five hundred and something pounds and so I hastily handed it back.

But next to this pen was a display of, what I now know to be the Pineider Avatar fountain pens, in their four available colour options of saffron yellow, pacific blue, lipstick red and coal grey. These looked very striking, particularly the yellow and the red versions.

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Pineider Avatar in gift box including samples of Pineider stationery.

I must say, I am generally wary of pens with shiny metal sections as they can be slippery to hold. The salesman got the red one out to show me and produced some ink and paper. I fell in love with it pretty much instantly.

As this is a relatively new pen on the market and there do not seem to be all that many reviews or photographs online I will attempt an FPN-style review, save for giving marks out of ten.

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The long steel, Rhodium plated nib of the Pineider Avatar. After my early worries about scratching the barrel, I soon decided that the pen felt better with cap posted.

First impressions, appearance and design.

This is a stunning-looking pen. The highly polished, bright red marbled resin with contrasting silver coloured clip and cap band, with rounded ends, make the pen a joy to hold and to look at. The resin has light and dark shades which give a beautiful chatoyance as you turn the pen in your hands.

The pocket clip (in marine steel) is long and slender, engraved to suggest a quill. It is bowed in the middle and is sprung, giving a good reach to clip onto thicker material if needed although the spring tension is not very firm.

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Distinctive clip in the shape of a quill.

A surprise awaits when you come to remove the cap. It is a pull-off cap, but secured by a magnet inside the cap which meets a metal ring around the barrel. When you cap the pen, offering it up slowly as it nears the barrel, it jumps into place with a little click. The magnetic power is enough to keep the cap in place. Removing the cap requires perhaps rather less force than you might be used to and I would not be overly confident about carrying the pen in a suit pocket for fear that the pen may slip out of the cap.

Another lovely feature is the cap band, which features the name Pineider above a stylised engraving of the Florence skyline recalling to mind the many domes and towers of that beautiful city.

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Better than just writing “Florence” on the cap band.

Under the cap, you have a long, sleek, elegantly shaped nib and some attractive engraving, which includes on closer inspection, the name Pineider in capital letters, written normally along one edge of the nib and in mirror image along the other edge. Put like that, it might sound off-putting but it is only noticeable when examined under a magnifying glass.

The section is of a shiny metal finish, and gives the front end of the pen a pleasant weight, which you notice and appreciate as soon as the cap is removed. The metal section tapers slightly save for the last five millimetres or so where it straightens, to give a barely visible but effective, curved, finger rest, when the pen is held in the writing position.

Construction and Quality.

The pen seems very nicely made and I have no complaints with my model. The resin barrel screws firmly onto the metal threads of the section. Everything fits together well. If looking for faults, you could say that the rim of the cap band is a little sharp to the touch, but this has not been noticeable in normal use. The pocket clip, whilst attractive, looks rather delicate (compared, for example to the mighty and barely lift-able clip on my Montegrappa Fortuna), but this is not a problem for me as I carry the pen in a leather pen case, not a pocket.

Weight and dimensions (approximate).

Capped: 142mm

Uncapped: 130mm

Posted: 161mm

The pen weighs around 27.5g, capped or posted. Uncapped, it is about 17g and the cap alone weighs 10.5g.  These weights are ideal, being neither too heavy nor too light.

The uncapped length of 130mm makes this about the same as a Lamy Safari. But whilst I find the Safari comfortable to use unposted, I much prefer to use the Avatar with the cap posted. Perhaps this is because I hold it higher up, (due to the shiny section) or due to the fact that the barrel tapers slightly, but it feels very comfortable posted. It is long, but the cap is light and does not upset the balance. I worried a little at first about whether posting the cap with its magnet inside, would leave scratches on the barrel. However, I found the pen so much more comfortable when posted and soon decided not to worry about this. The pen is meant to be used. I think it does actually cause some scratches but they are only visible under a loupe.

Nib and Performance.

I love this nib! It is Rhodium plated steel, with no breather hole and having a very polished finish that matches the section. The long sweeping curves look stylish. Mine is a medium. A fine is also available. I had tried the pen before buying and was delighted that it wrote so smoothly. It is on the finer side of medium and ideal for me. Flow is wet, but not gushy. Overall, it provides a really pleasant writing experience with some feedback. There is some softness or flex available to give some pleasing line variation in normal writing, and this suits me nicely as my handwriting style is not compatible with more flexible nibs.  I like that the nib is steel and not gold as this keeps the cost down.

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Writing sample, medium nib. Ink is Conway Stewart Tavy.

Filling system and maintenance.

This is a cartridge converter pen taking standard international cartridges, or bottled ink from the Pineider branded, push-fit converter that is included.  Cleaning of such pens is straightforward: you just run water through the section until it comes clear, or leave the whole section, with nib and feed inside, to soak in water overnight if needed before rinsing again.

I have not tried going any further, removing the nib from the section. The fins on the underside of the feed look quite fine and delicate and I would be worried about damaging them or upsetting the nib alignment.

Cost and value.

The price in Harrods was £148.00, which I thought was fair. I was thrilled to learn that it came in the same type of gift box as the much more expensive model. A converter is inside, but the box also includes a sample of Pineider’s famous stationery – a set of six cards with matching envelopes.  It is probably towards the top end of what you would want to pay for a steel nibbed pen before moving up to a gold nib.

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Free stationery!

Conclusion.

This pen was an impulse buy from a brand that was unknown to me, and therefore bought entirely on its own merits and on the basis of what I learned in the store. This absence of homework is not always recommended but on this occasion I am really pleased with the pen. Trying the nib in the shop makes a big difference in lowering the risk.

I have since learned a little bit more about the company behind the pen. The Pineider company was founded in Florence in 1774, and for many years was known for its high quality stationery, which it supplied to the Vatican and to royalty.  Luciano Pavarotti was also a customer. The company also sold luxury leather goods, but was not noted for its pens. However, Dante Del Vecchio, pen designer of Italian brand Visconti left that company and moved to Pineider where for the last year,  he has set about making the fountain pen line more prominent. Thus it is no accident that the Avatar bears similarities to the Visconti Rembrandt. There are some differences too, and whilst I do not have experience of the Rembrandt, I rather preferred the Avatar’s overall flair.

I am greatly enjoying the pen. There are few pens that actually make you want to get up in the morning, to write with. This one is a keeper and I look forward to writing with it for many years to come.

 

A fresh look at the Lamy Studio 65 fountain pen.

This is not so much a review, as an admission that our first impressions are not always correct and we can change our minds about pens.

The Lamy Studio is a pen that, for a long time, I did not think I needed. Certainly, I liked the idea of the pen, namely a nib of a Lamy Safari or AL-Star, but housed in a more business-like and slightly more up market body. I do possess numerous colourful Safaris and several AL-Stars, as they are good value, decent sized without posting and perform well, despite my not being a fan of the faceted section.

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Lamy Studio 65 fountain pen, with Lamy Safari above

So when I first learned of the Studio, having all the benefits of the stainless steel nib that I like but without the faceted section, I was quite keen. But then I handled the pen and was put off by the shiny chrome tapering section, which I could imagine being slippery to hold. Apart from that, when handling the pen in a shop, I noticed that the rim of the cap seemed rather sharp (almost as though you could use it to cut holes in leather) giving the impression that it was unfinished.

So I was able to put the Studio out of my mind quite easily, without hankering to own one.

However, fast-forwarding several years, I realise now that not all Studios are equal. Whilst the dark Imperial Blue or the Black versions (named the 67) have the shiny chrome section, there is also a steel version with a black section (called the 65).  And whilst I had assumed these to be priced the same, it transpires that the steel version without a chrome section, actually costs a little less.

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Lamy Studio 65, with soft-touch grip.

When in our local WH Smiths recently, I saw the steel Studio offered for sale at just £39 and decided to take a closer look. And there I discovered that the black grip section on this model is not finished in metal but in a rubbery material which is not at all slippery. And so for this modest outlay, I gave it a go.

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Unboxing. A cartridge and a converter are included.

First, about the grip: I cannot tell you exactly what it is made of. It could be a plastic with a soft-touch finish. But I rather suspect that the rubbery feel might be formed from a thin transparent skin of silicone or similar synthetic rubber. I have another fountain pen with a similar feel to the grip, an old Parker Frontier in brushed stainless steel finish, which served me well for several years, but the grip material eventually wore away in places, leaving a very smooth (and slippery) plastic underneath.

So the Studio 65 might have a similar material. If so then a more normal moulded plastic, perhaps textured like some of the Safaris, (but without the facets) would I think have been preferable.

But the purpose of this post is to say that I have been using the Studio now for several weeks, and am finding it to be great as a day to day work pen and an EDC. It is comfortable to hold. It is pleasant to use either posted or not posted. Yes, the rim of the cap is a bit thin and sharp but I appreciate that this is a consequence of the pen having a cap which is perfectly flush with the barrel when capped, and with just a minimal step down from barrel to section when the cap is removed.

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Cap forms flush fit with barrel. Also, thin cap material means a minimal step between barrel and section.

Any post about the Lamy Studio would not be complete without some mention of the pocket clip. It is attractive and unusual and sometimes described as being like a blade of a propeller (although this is not strictly correct). It is appealing to look at and does well at stopping the pen from rolling on a flat surface. But as a pocket clip, (to actually clip the pen into a pocket) it is awkward to lift over material. It does not bother me as I carry it in a pen case. Some may like it but I fear that it was a triumph of looks over function.

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The famous Lamy Studio clip.

Having said all of that, I do enjoy using the pen. I found recently that I had accumulated a dozen or so pens over the years with an all steel finish, including the Parker Frontier mentioned above, but I think that this Studio 65 may prove to be my favourite of these, in terms of size, writing performance, reliability and comfort.

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Some early thoughts on the Montegrappa Fortuna fountain pen.

The Elmo & Montegrappa S.p.A. (public company) traces its origins to the Italian city of Bassano del Grappa in 1912, a date commemorated in the finial of this pen. Fortuna was the Roman name for the goddess of fortune (chance, luck and fate), so I gather.

My experience of Montegrappa fountain pens has until now been minimal. I had noticed them a few times in recent years when browsing in Harrods or Selfridges in London but had never owned one. However, I had heard good reports and on my latest visit to Selfridges I decided to give them a closer look. I was drawn to the Fortuna, in black which looked to be a good sized, un-fussy model with a stainless steel nib. Initially I was interested to hold it to see whether the metal cap threads and step from the barrel to the section, would be uncomfortable. They do coincide with where I hold the pen but the threads are not sharp and I was satisfied that they would not cause discomfort.

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Montegrappa Fortuna fountain pen.

I then had a closer look at the nib. It looked to be very nicely set up but I was also impressed by the decorative work in a sort of geometrical honeycomb pattern. I then tried writing with it. Wow! It felt beautifully smooth. It was a steel medium although the sales assistant explained that these were on the finer side of medium. This sounded ideal for me as I am sometimes unsure which to chose, between a fine and a medium.

After comparing the alternative models in the range, I settled on the black one that I had tried and also picked up a bottle of Montegrappa ink, in blue black.

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My writing paw.

Description

The Fortuna is constructed of resin in a gleaming, polished black finish and is a cartridge-converter pen taking standard international cartridges. The cap is rather torpedo shaped after which the cap and barrel taper down . The two ends of the pen are flattened. The pocket clip is extremely stiff but ends in a metal wheel which rolls as the clip slides over the side of a leather pen pouch, for example. The cap screws on, in about one and a quarter turns.  The section is of the same, glossy back resin as the cap and barrel. All threads are steel, except for those inside the cap. Under the barrel, a Montegrappa converter is included although the package also included two black cartridges.

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Montegrappa screw-fit converter included.

Size and weight (approximate)

Capped, the pen measures 135mm. Uncapped, it is 127mm but the cap posts deeply and securely to give a length of 157mm. Being a resin pen, this does not make the pen too back heavy, in my opinion, and I tend to prefer using it posted for all but the shortest of notes.  The exposed part of the nib measures 24mm.

Capped or posted, the total weight is around 30.5g, which I find to be neither too heavy nor too light. Uncapped it was 18.5g and the cap alone was around 12g.

The nib

As mentioned this is a stainless steel nib, and will suit those who like their nibs firm, but smooth. It bears the inscription,  Montegrappa, ITALIA, and an M for medium. I was thrilled to find the nib so well adjusted, giving what I consider an ideal flow, generously wet without being overly so and providing a lovely smooth writing experience.

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After filling, ink pools in the patterns and lettering of the nib. Quite lovely.

Likes

Getting the pen home, I spent some time making pleasant surprise discoveries, apart from the obvious pleasure of the writing experience with the Montegrappa blue black ink. To list them all here may need a spoiler alert. Skip this paragraph if you prefer to be surprised by joy!

  • Detailing in the finial, with the year 1912, a laurel wreath pattern and other decoration. It looks distinctive in the pen cup;
  • Unusual rolling wheel design at the end of the pocket clip;
  • Attractive pattern on the nib; after dipping the pen, the nib emerges with the lettering filled with ink;
  • Nice quality, screw-in converter, with Montegrappa branding, and a metal coil ink agitator inside; this should avoid ink starvation, from ink staying at the top end of the converter;
  • Montegrappa name in silver, on the two supplied cartridges;
  • Particularly nice, dark blue gift box, with silver coloured (metal?) Montegrappa name plate on the top and the name in blue on the inside.  Removable pen tray, reveals warranty and information booklet below; but lower section of box is also lined, making this a nice storage box to keep for future use;
  • The gift box is protected in a separate blue cardboard box and lid, with a hinged front flap for ease of access and a separate paper outer sleeve. Both boxes (and the ink box) bear the same geometric pattern as appears on the nib;
  • Attractive, octagonal glass ink bottle with plastic lid and silver coloured centre badge with “1912”.
  • Secure packaging of ink bottle, with cardboard insert in box; bottle and lid wrapped in protective layer and also sealed in clear plastic.
  • 24 months’ guarantee against manufacturing defects;
  • I will not review the ink here but suffice it to say, that Montegrappa Blue Black performs beautifully paired with this lovely smooth wet nib and I have found this combination to work better on the paper of some of my Paperchase journals than many other pen and ink combinations.
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Cap and finial

Dislikes

  • Pocket clip is very stiff; whilst it is good that the pen is unlikely to fall out of a pocket, this does make it rather hard to use and I am more likely to carry the pen in a leather pen pouch than a jacket pocket;
  • The rolling wheel in the pocket clip could fall out and get lost;
  • The steel-into-plastic cap threads need care not to over-tighten but also feel a little too easy to undo. Another good reason for carrying the pen in a pouch rather than straight in a pocket;
  • Whilst I have been fortunate (ha!) to get such a well adjusted nib, it is fair to mention that in a blue mosaic model reviewed by SBRE Brown, he found the nib to be very feedbacky and the step from barrel to section, to be sharp to the touch;
  • He also commented that the price is perhaps high, for a stainless steel nibbed cartridge converter pen and compared the pen to a Conklin All American which was approximately one half of the price.
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Two branded Montegrappa cartridges included

Conclusion

I have been very impressed so far with the nib performance, which seems to give as pleasurable a writing experience as any pen I have used, regardless of price range. I can imagine this quickly becoming a favourite, for home and work use.

Whether or not, at £170.00, it is the best use of the money, given the competition at this price level, is a matter of personal choice. Certainly there are gold nibbed pens to be had for less. You could go for a steel nibbed Edison Collier for a little less or a Sailor Pro Gear, with a gold nib (and from a company one year older!) for a little more, to name but two. But as pen enthusiasts will know, a higher price does not always go hand in hand with a better writing experience. Much will depend upon whether fortune is smiling upon you, as you make your purchase.

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Enough packaging to create your own shop display. Lovely box though.

 

 

 

An Easter weekend of Gold, Frankenpens and Mirth. Rediscovering the Parker Urban fountain pen.

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Parker Urban mash-up.

This holiday weekend, I spent Saturday in Colchester visiting family. There was also time to explore the town centre for pen shops. The best option seems to be the Fenwick department store, (formerly Williams & Griffins) in the High Street, with gleaming glass counters including Cross, Waterman, Parker and Mont Blanc and a revolving rack of Lamys. I witnessed the sale of a Waterman Hemisphere as I bobbed around the nearby glass cabinets but did not make any purchases.

In the evening after a meal with my sister’s family, (always accompanied by much laughter) I sat with my neice who tried out my Pilot Falcon and who, being right-handed and having a natural flair for calligraphy, was able immediately to produce beautiful script from its soft flexy gold nib, far better than any of my efforts. Some of her pieces are on Instagram at simple_inkings (although she might change that name, in case people think it is for tattoos).

Back in London for Easter Day, which coincided with April Fools’ Day, I found a picture of Brian Goulet on Instagram with the caption “In the strangest move yet…Brian switches to Ballpoints!” I was not fooled by that.

Checking out our local Rymans, to see whether anything new had appeared on the pen shelves, I found  reductions on low-end Parkers, with 50% off the Parker Vector. (Annoyingly I had paid full price there for the new teal version just two weeks ago, although it is a great match for my Robert Oster Signature “Aqua” ink!)

Scanning the shelves, I noticed the Parker Urban, reduced from £32.99 to £14.99 and now to £7.49. This is not a pen that I am keen on, but figuring that this amounted to more than 75% off, I decided that a brushed stainless steel model might be useful. I do think the ergonomic, contoured barrel is ugly and find that the Vector-type steel nibs can be hit or miss, so that buying one is a bit of a gamble. The blister packs do not enable you to examine the nib before purchase. I had bought an Urban a few years ago in matte black and had to work at the nib to get an adequate ink flow.

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Parker Urban (left) and Parker Vector (right).

Deciding that for the price, it was a no brainer and worth the risk, I made my purchase and went off to  give it a try in a nearby coffee shop.  I found the production date code on the cap band, IIA, (second quarter of 2012), so this pen had been languishing somewhere for up to six years before finding me. (Conversely, my teal Vector was IIIE: first quarter of 2018 and still warm from the factory!)

Initial impressions from the brushed stainless steel Urban were mixed. The nib looked to be decent on close inspection. The pen was a reasonable length when opened (125mm) but the cap posts securely for extra length, which I prefer. I do not find it a very comfortable pen to hold. It does have a much less skinny section than the Vector, but there is still a rather sharp step down from the barrel to the section, just where my fingers want to go.

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The Parker Urban medium nib. The groove in the housing is an ink trap if bottle-filling.

I shoved in the supplied blue Quink cartridge. (Yes, flushing the section first might have been more sensible). I love it when you put a cartridge in a new pen and it writes immediately. This did not happen and it took an age before it would write anything, with much shaking and squeezing of the cartridge (and fear of splitting it) before it finally started to flow. Fortunately, it did then write pretty well, with the rounded medium nib being quite smooth in all directions. Given time to wear in, I think it will prove to be a good basic writer. Also, the cap passed my “blow test” for air-tightness, and so I hope that the nib will not suffer from dry-out when left capped and unused for a day or two. If you have one with a good nib and can tolerate the design, then it is quite a durable workhorse and, having a metal construction, will not suffer from cracking of the barrel or cap as can happen with a Vector or Reflex.

At home I got out the matte black Parker Urban that I had bought a few years earlier. I had never really taken to it and it had seen little use. It then occurred to me to borrow the matte black barrel to put on my new brushed stainless steel pen to make a Frankenpen mash-up, of black barrel with brushed stainless steel cap. This was an improvement, IMHO, both when capped and when posted, (in a Parker 51 sort of way) and so this is how I propose to use it, for the time being. Also, I will try some nice bottled ink once the Quink blue cartridge is finished.

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Parker Urban in brushed stainless steel with barrel from a matte black version.

One email this weekend, which was not an April Fool joke I hope, advised of a discount code on Bureau Direct’s online orders to receive a 15% discount, on anything, so long as you order before Tuesday! It so happened that I had been deliberating whether to treat myself to the Lamy Dialog 3, which I had seen on their web site. In fact I had been watching YouTube reviews just the previous day! Having been tempted now by several favourable reviews and with the timely added incentive of the discount, and being in holiday mood, I pulled the trigger on the Dialog 3, in glossy piano black with a Medium 14k gold nib. My experience of Lamy Safari and AL-star medium nibs is that they have been very pleasant, (smooth, if rather firm) and I hope for even more smoothness from the Dialog but with a little softness too. I am now looking forward to its arrival and pondering which ink to try first.

Happy Easter everyone.

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Back to basics, with the Parker Junior Duofold and a bottle of Quink.

One of my lucky finds at the recent Cambridge pen show was this lovely Parker Junior Duofold, in dark green with gold fittings.

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Parker Junior Duofold

The pen is lovely in its own right, but had a particular attraction for me, being a close match to the pen that my mother bought for me in 1970 on the occasion of going to a new school. Sadly and inevitably, I managed to lose it within a few weeks and for the next seven school years, used a succession of less valuable Parker fountain pens.

Description

The pen has a classic, timeless look, in British Racing Green resin (think of a 1920’s Bentley at Le Mans), with a 14k gold nib, which looks like a Broad but has no width description showing, and a simple, fixed aerometric type squeeze bar filler. It has a screw cap, a shortish gold coloured arrow clip and a single gold coloured cap band with some engraved pattern but no text. The cap has two small drilled air holes in the sides which I presume are to avoid air pressure building in the cap. It is not a particularly big pen, by today’s standards but forms a generous length when posted and is smooth, light and comfortable to hold. The nib reads “PARKER, 14K, ENGLAND, 10”.

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Still lots of mileage in this nib.

The pen measures 135mm long capped, 120mm open, or 160mm posted. It weighs just 15.5g closed or posted. Uncapped it is 10.5g and the cap alone weighs 5.0g.

Buying a vintage fountain pen can be a bit daunting. At a pen show, tables filled with row upon row of vintage pens can seem rather overwhelming unless you are looking specifically for something. There is the worry (assuming that you are buying a pen to use) of whether the nib writes well, whether the filling mechanism is still working and (unless you have researched any given model before hand) whether the price is right.

Being at least slightly prepared, I had a magnifying glass with me and was able to have a look at the nib and the tipping material, which looked to be in great shape. I also looked at the barrel and there found the very faint imprint, barely visible to the naked eye, “PARKER, JUNIOR DUOFOLD, MADE IN ENGLAND”. That clinched it.

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I had to hold a torch in one hand while holding the camera in the other.

I have heard it said that the Parker aerometric sacs rarely have anything wrong with them. You can test them by removing the cap and barrel, putting the nib to your ear and giving the squeeze bar a press, to feel a small puff of air, assuming that it is not inked, of course.

At home, I flushed the pen in clean water a few times. I was pleased to see that the sac filled easily with a few presses.

The writing experience

I filled the pen with Parker Quink, Blue-black, a rather obvious choice, I know. The glass bottles with their chunky plastic caps and 57ml of inky goodness, seem not to have changed much (if at all) since I was a child, except that they are now sold in ugly blister packs instead of carboard boxes.

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Parker Quink Blue Black suits it well.

To my great pleasure and delight, this little pen wrote like a dream. It has a lot of what fountain pen enthusiasts crave, namely a buttery smooth nib, ideal ink flow, a little softness to the nib giving beautiful shading, comfortable handling, reliability and a bit of historical interest too.

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A bit of Keats. Beautiful shading with Parker Quink Blue Black on Tomoe River paper. [should read “but still will keep”, not “with”, demonstrating that errors are only visible after publication].

In fact, looking across at my (ahem) 18 other currently inked pens, I could almost convince myself to put all the others away and just enjoy the Parker with its bottle of Quink. That is all I need, really.

I did not know very much about this range before buying one. Reading up afterwards on FPN, in a post by Malcy, I learned that Parker Duofolds of the 1950’s came in a range of models, with a corresponding number on the nib as follows:-

  • Lady (4)
  • Slimfold (5)
  • Junior (10)
  • Demi (15)
  • Standard (25)
  • Senior (35)
  • Maxima (50)

Conclusion

Armed with this information I am interested now to handle some of the others in the range. It is nice to have something specific in mind to hunt for next time a pen show comes to town. Parker Duofold pens have been made for a long time and I feel that I have a lot more to learn.

Last Saturday I had another browse in the sumptious fountain pen department at Selfridges in Oxford Street. (No, I managed to resist buying anything this time). I did linger in front of the current Parker Duofold, International, Big Red in a glass display case, but at £500.00 it is a lot of money. Happily, my vintage Junior Duofold cost me only £50.00 which seems a small price to pay for the pleasure it gives and for entry to the Duofold owners’ club.

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My work here is done.

Some early thoughts on the Pilot metal Falcon (SF) fountain pen.

For the past two weeks I have enjoyed getting acquainted with this pen, bought new at the Cambridge pen show.

If you are new to the Pilot Falcon, as I was, there are a few things that might cause some initial confusion, as follows:-

  1. This the Pilot Falcon. In the past, they were branded as the Namiki Falcon (Namiki being Pilot’s brand for its high-end pens).
  2. The Falcon can be found in either resin or a metal body with lacquer finish.
  3. The nib on the Falcon is a semi-flex nib, with the markings SEF, SF, SM or SB (for soft extra fine, soft fine, soft medium of soft broad), also denoted by a removable silver sticker on the barrel. However, when people refer to the “Falcon nib” they may instead mean an entirely different shaped nib, with distinctive cut-aways on the sides to help it flex, with the markings FA and which is not found on the Falcon pen at all but on a different Pilot pen.
  4. The nib called the Falcon (FA) nib, is more soft (flexy) than the soft nibs made for the Pilot Falcon.

See what I mean? Anyhow, the model that I have is the Pilot metal Falcon, in black with a Soft Fine (SF) nib, which is 14k gold, rhodium plated. The pens branded as Pilot are clearly identified by the name Pilot stamped on the nib and on the cap, just above the shiny plain cap band.

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Pilot metal Falcon, in black lacquer over steel.

There have been other modifcations too, such as the change from a resin to a metal finial and barrel end cap and the addition of another metal ring, so that there are now two rhodium plated rings on the grip section and a third on the barrel, just after the cap threads. These do give this smart but ordinary looking Pilot’s uniform a bit of panache, rather like the rings on the sleeves of an airline pilot’s jacket.

The nib

When I chose my Falcon, there was a Soft Fine or Soft Medium nib available. Both looked nicely finished, under a loupe but I chose the Soft Fine as I have come to appreciate Fine nibs more, in the past year or so and because I have relatively few of them, compared to the number of pens with medium nibs.

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Soft Fine nib, in 14k gold, rhodium plated. Writes like a western extra fine. Wet and effortless. 

I had read that Pilot nibs had a good reputation for being well made and for great performance straight out of the box, which is always a delight. This one lived up to expectations.

The unique nib of the Pilot Falcon, is the main draw for this pen. Shaped more like a nib that you might find for a dip pen, it is long and slender with a bulge half way down, as if the nib had been pushed into a wall and had buckled. It is rare nowadays to find a new pen sold with a flexy nib. This is not a “full flex” nib but has more softness to it than most. In the right hands, this can be used to apply a little downward pressure to the nib on the down stroke, to open up the tines a little and create some thicker lines, for attractive line variation.

I say “in the right hands” as (a) it does take some skill and practice to achieve this and (b) it is more difficult for left handers, particularly lefty overwriters, (such as myself) as the nib does not like to have pressure applied when being pushed forward, but only when being pulled backward. Indeed, you have to be careful on the upstroke to keep a light touch and avoid the nib jabbing into the paper.

In this regard, possibly a medium or broad nib might have been a more sensible and forgiving option for me if buying a flexy nib. However the fine nib certainly does have its advantages. It is not necessary to flex the nib and the pen can be used to write quite normally, without any downward pressure. The remarkable thing is that the pen requires no pressure at all and the tines are so responsive, that the pen will write as soon as the pen touches the paper – and with no skipping. Smooth paper is preferred.

Because the nib is so soft, it takes only the slightest touch to paper, to open the tines and lay down ink. I have found that it is important to keep the nib flat to the paper (rather than rotated left or right), so that both tines remain level on the paper. If the pen is tilted, one tine will lift higher than the other, causing the inner edge of the other to catch on the paper and make the nib feel scratchy.

I have also read that the nib needs to “break in” and become softer and more flexy in time. Meanwhile I have been careful not to push it too far for fear of springing the nib, bending it past the point of no return.

One of my favourite discoveries with the nib, was to find that the numbers in the lower right corner, and barely readable with the naked eye, denote the date of production of the nib. Mine is 917, that is September 2017. I have since looked at pictures of numerous others online to compare when they were made. I do enjoy it when pens can be dated.

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Date marking on nib, for September 2017.

Filling mechanism. The pros and cons of the CON 70

The Falcon (be it the Pilot or Namiki) is a cartridge – converter pen but has evolved through several filling systems. I understand that originally, the pen had the CON 20 press-bar converter, unpopular for its small ink capacity which soon ran out especially if one was doing much flexing of nib for broader strokes. The next generation had the CON 50 piston converter. Both are now discontinued according to Cult Pens. The current metal Falcon has the CON 70 push button converter, which is relatively large capacity, efficient and fun to operate.

I have not yet fully grasped how this works. The converter has a button at one end. Inside, you can see a thin metal rod, with a rubber plug at the end, but which does not reach the open end of the converter and which can slide up and down the metal rod.

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The CON 70 push button converter.

To fill your pen, with converter attached to the section, you simply place the nib in the ink, give the button a quick press and release, and ink is drawn into the reservoir. Repeat a few times and each time, the ink reaches a higher level. Within about four quick presses, you have a full reservoir.

From watching a Brian Goulet video on this converter, I gathered that pressing the button pushes the rubber plug downwards; air is expelled and the plug seals off the opening so that a vacuum is created. With the nib immersed in ink, the vacuum then draws ink up into the pen. It is all over very quickly.

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The CON 70, refuelled with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo.

On close inspection, it can be seen that the metal shaft inside the reservoir is a hollow tube. I have not yet deduced whether it is this tube through which air is expelled or ink is drawn in. But it works.

There are some issues to be aware of , with this design of converter. (a) It is rather a faff to clean if you are changing ink colours. You can try pushing the button repeatedly to fill and empty the pen with clean water. Or it is quicker to remove the converter and squirt water into the opening with a syringe or pipette. I have read that ink can lodge inside the metal tubular rod and that this can contaminate inks of a different colour, if you fill the pen before cleaning the converter thoroughly. (b) Also the action seems to make the ink go bubbly so that you are left with lots of tiny bubbles sticking to the inside of the converter, stopping you from seeing the new ink sloshing around from end to end with a single air bubble like a spirit level. The bubbles or tiny air pockets disperse a day or two after filling.

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Straight after filling. Perhaps it just needs a flush with some detergent. 

In use

The pen is very comfortable to hold, being a good medium sized pen with a nice weight to it. It weighs around 33g (20g uncapped, and 13g for the cap).I prefer to use it with the cap posted, although at 126mm unposted, many people would find it long enough without posting. One criticism that was made of the resin version, was that it felt too light. This is no longer an issue in the metal Falcon. Also, there was criticism of the small ink capacity converter but the CON 70 resolves this.

A few days after buying the pen, I had the opportunity to use it to take notes at a full day of training lectures. At the time it was filled with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo which I was sure it would like. The fine nib proved very good for annotating typed hand-outs and marginal notes. It can be used for fast writing so long as you remember to avoid pressure on the nib. Sitting with the pen uncapped, it did stop writing on me a couple of times during the day, but this could just have been due to the ink drying in the nib while uncapped, rather than any issues with the feed. I have read that when used a lot for flex writing, the nib can railroad and also stop writing if the nib is flexed upwards away from the feed for too long, which is hardly surprising. I have not found any such difficulties in normal use.

In conclusion, the Pilot Falcon might not suit everyone, due to its softer nib but is a great quality, well finished precision writing tool, for those who enjoy pens with an extremely light touch for effortless writing , having the option of some flex writing if desired.

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Soft Fine nib, Yama-budo on Tomoe River paper.

 

 

 

 

 

So what happens now? Another pen show, another haul.

A week ago, it looked unlikely that I would make it to the Eastern Pen Show (Cambridge) on Sunday, 4th March, as snow and freezing temperatures had caused disruption to transport. Fortunately, this cleared just in time and a good rail service to Cambridge was running.

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London Kings Cross station, at 7.30 on a Sunday morning.

This was my first visit to the Cambridge pen show and I was much looking forward to it. Arriving early, I had time to walk from the station to the venue, the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, on the River Cam. This proved to be a good decision as those travelling by car were delayed by road closures and diversions for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

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The venue, situated next to the River Cam.

The enjoyment of the day was as much down to the people, as the pens. First, I was pleased to find Marisa (@illustriouscactus on Instagram) and Faisal, two members from our monthly London UK Fountain Pen Club gatherings, as we waited in the lounge for the show to open. Also I had arranged to meet Jon (@jonr1971 on Instagram) and he introduced me to two of his Instagram friends, @fountainpensandink and @theclumsypenman. Jon later guided me as to the features of some Montegrappa pens which we saw at the show.

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Bright and roomy venue.

The venue was excellent, a bright, spacious ground floor room with rows of tables on three sides, and more down the middle, which lent itself to doing “laps”.

In prime position was Sarj Minhas, with several tables of enticing vintage and modern pens. Immediately, a green Sheaffer (a Crest, I believe) on his table caught my eye, as I already have the matching ball-point which I use daily. The fountain pen has a distinctive conical bi-colour nib in 18k gold. This proved irresistible and I thought it best to pick it up at my first pass, rather than risk losing out. Sarj also showed me some beautiful Sheaffer Balances, which will be added to the “wish list” as the price seemed a bit too high just for an impulse buy.  While at Sarj’s tables it was good to examine some Urushi lacquer pens and an Arco pen which hitherto I had seen only on the internet.

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A Sheaffer Crest with conical 18k bi-colour nib, for which I have the matching ball-point pen.

I had not planned to hunt for anything in particular although I was hoping that the vendor of my London Pen Show “mystery pen”, would be there so that I could buy another! He was. I learned that he is John Twiss of Twiss Pens (twisspens.co.uk) and that the blue and clear demonstrator eyedropper pen that I had bought at the London Show, (see blog post: Wanted: an identity for this pen. ) from his supplier is deliberatly left unbranded. John also sells his own handmade pens and produces these at his Nottinghamshire studio. I bought another of the eye-dropper pens as I liked the last one so much and also picked up a gorgeous purple and black cartridge/converter pen with a size 6 nib for my wife (purple being her colour).

Having now attended the London pen show several years running, I now recognise many of the vendors and I enjoyed talking again to Graham Jasper (of Penestates) who had helped me to select one of his Parker 51 Aerometrics a few shows ago, and Kirit Dal who is a dealer for Aurora. I handled a beautiful Aurora 88 Mineralis demonstrator, but reluctantly put it down again and decided to content myself with a bottle of Robert Oster Aqua ink, at a show price of £10.00.

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The Aurora table.

John Hall of “Write Here” showed me a Scribo fountain pen and told me about the brand. Trying the smooth, wet nib was a revelation. Again, this would have to wait for another occasion but I did not leave his table before buying a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo,  a beautiful magenta ink.

Next at the table of The Hamilton Pen Company, (Nigel Simpson-Stern) I was shown a Pilot Falcon, which I had seen online but was yet to handle. I have harboured an urge to pick up a Pilot (so to speak) and have tried the Custom 823 and the Custom 74 at our pen club gatherings and been impressed by the feel of the gold nibs. The Falcon is different and has a rather uniquely shaped flexible nib. The models for sale were of lacquer over a steel body and therefore heavier than the resin versions and also featured the interesting, large capacity, CON 70 push-button vacuum converter. With my resistance weakening, I chose the metal Falcon in black with a Soft Fine nib and was excited to try it out. I later spotted Marisa again and she kindly allowed me to dip my new Falcon in a blob of wet ink which she made, in her notebook. The smooth, fine, wet flexible nib was wonderful.

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Pilot metal Falcon with 14k Rhodium plated SF (soft fine) flexible nib. The most quill-like nib I have experienced.

At the same table  I bought another ink, the Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red, which I have wanted for a long time, having enjoyed their Cobalt Blue and Moss Green very much.  Oh, and I could not resist a leather three-pen case and chose the red one.

My final pen purchase of the show was a little green vintage Parker Junior Duofold with a broad, 14k gold nib and aero filler. Why? Because this is a close equivalent to the pen that my mother bought me in 1970, to take to my new boarding school and which I lost within the first few weeks. It was my first quality fountain pen and I remember to this day, the sales lady telling me that gold nibs give more expression to your handwriting. I was fascinated, although rather puzzled, knowing that the tipping material was not gold and so why did gold nibs matter? It was to be many more years before I began to appreciate the delights of line variation and inks that shade.

Outside the show I met Jon and his two friends again, for coffee in the hotel lounge where we had a very enjoyable time trying each other’s pens, and sharing our pen stories and experiences.

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Left to right: Sheaffer Crest, Parker Junior Duofold, Pilot Falcon, eye-dropper pen from John Twiss, another un-named pen from John Twiss and a Lanbitou give-away from @fountainpensandink.

All in all, I had a great show. It was somewhat smaller and quieter than the London pen show in October but considerably less crowded. The relaxed atmosphere was perhaps more conducive to some memorable conversations and purchases.

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My haul.