Inky pursuits: my weekend round-up.


It is remarkable how soothing and therapeutic, the simple act of using a fountain pen can be. It does not even have to be proper writing. Just putting pen to paper and enjoying the flow of the ink from the tines is enough. A particular delight is to observe the ink flowing as you write, with a  magnifying glass or illuminated loupe.

For the past two weeks I have been greatly enjoying my new Cleo Skribent piston filler fountain pen (shown above). It is still on its first fill, of Aurora Blue, but I am wondering whether to try a darker ink next time, as the nib is so fine. I will try to be patient and wait until it runs dry.

After a busy week I also find it relaxing to ponder what ink changes to make next. On Friday evening, I decided to put Sailor Kiwa-guro black pigment ink in my black Platinum Preppy. The Preppy has a good inner cap and seemed an ideal choice for this ink. Not long ago I had syringe-filled a cartridge with this ink for a Berol Handwriting pen, but was not altogether happy with the writing experience, but it was easy to switch the cartridge into the Preppy and flush the Berol. I then pottered about trying the ink on various papers and notebooks and was much happier with it in this pen.

On Saturday morning, I decided to try a black ink in my burgundy Platinum 3776 Century. I had for many months been using Waterman Harmonious Green ink in this pen, which shades beautifully. However, some time last week I had switched to Mont Blanc Burgundy Red in the 3776, thinking that this would be a clever match for the burgundy pen. I was not very taken with the result. The ink did have some shading but overall the rather subdued, lighter pinky-brown tones did not look as exciting as I had hoped.

So, I wanted to try a black ink that would replicate the shading that I had enjoyed from the Harmonious Green, but provide a few (ahem) shades of grey. I spent a happy hour or so dipping the 3776 in Parker Quink Black, then Waterman Intense Black and finally, Cross Black archival ink and examining the results on some different papers. I settled upon the Waterman ink and filled it up. The shading was not as pronounced as I had envisaged but the writing experience was very smooth and satisfactory.

On Saturday afternoon, I took the underground to the West End to meet my wife and to have a look around a few pen shops, which I had not visited for a while. First, I took her to  Campo Marzio at 166 Piccadilly, (near The Ritz Hotel), where we enjoyed browsing their colourful displays of pens and inks and accessories. I was tempted to buy another Acropolis fountain pen as the green marbled resin version looked so appealing, (imagine this filled with Harmonious Green!) but held back for now. My blue version is a favourite.

Next we walked up the Burlington Arcade to visit Penfriend. I had brought along my Sailor fountain pen bought at auction in January, hoping to get their help to identify the model and year. I was shocked to find that the shop had closed down and the inside was bare. I looked on Google and found an announcement stating “We have now closed both our shops in Burlington and Fleet Street however we are defining what the next steps are for our business” and giving an email address to keep in touch.

Back in Piccadilly, I went to have a browse in the pen department of Fortnum & Mason. The pen department had been rearranged a little when I was last there, before Christmas, but this time it had moved from the first floor completely. I met one of the sales assistants, who told me that the fountain pens had been moved up to another floor. I went up to have a look but the pen counters seemed to have been reduced to a couple of displays, although still included Visconti and Yard-O-Led.

After a nice fish and chips lunch off Regent Street, we took the tube from Oxford Circus to Knightsbridge, to have a look at Harrods. Their Great Writing Room, is probably one of the finest fountain pen departments in London. At the Visconti table, I was able to handle the Homo Sapiens, bronze model and was surprised that it did not feel at all as I had expected. I thought it would be more like pumice stone but it was smooth and rubbery. The sales assistant showed me how flexible the 23k Palladium Dreamtouch nib was, by pressing it down gently against the glass counter to spread the tines.  It was not inked but you could imagine the lovely broad strokes that might be achieved from such a nib. She told me that the material absorbed moisture and might discolour in time but that you could treat it with handcream! That sounded rather unusual advice for fountain pen care but then this is a unique pen.  I must admit, I was tempted to treat myself to one on the spot but it seemed too impetuous for such a costly pen and I managed to refrain from buying one, (for now).

At the Faber Castell corner, I spotted the Garnet ink in its gorgeous bottle and tried to remember the gist of a friend’s recent review that I had read of it. Finding the review, I was reminded that it had many good qualities but was perhaps not sufficiently different from the Mont Blanc Burgundy Red (that I already owned), to justify a purchase.

Back home that evening,  I found a couple of good YouTube reviews on the Visconti Homo Sapiens from Stephen Brown and Brian Goulet . Interesting though it was to learn more about the pen, its nib and filling system, I was pleased that I had not rushed to buy it in the afternoon before doing more research and looking at other options. Sometimes, buys which seem such a good idea at the weekend can leave me feeling a bit guilty and regretful come Monday.

This is where a wish list comes in very handy as a sort of holding reservoir, where I can let my desired pens sit for a time, while I weigh up the pros and cons. This way, I hope to make more considered decisions and to make purchases that  will give lasting enjoyment.

On Sunday afternoon, I had to pop in to our local shopping centre to return a new rain coat. I do not always get that right first time, either.



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