Here is a brief round-up of some of my recent fountain pen related activities.
If you had met me when I was aged 11, and asked me then about my ink pens and accessories, the sum total would have looked something like this.
Somehow in the intervening years, (but particularly in the last few) the pen accumulation has mushroomed and I have an entire drawer full of inks, the use and enjoyment of which has become a major hobby.
However, my number of “currently inked” pens at home, in a neat array of pen cups, has grown to an all-time high at 31, (not counting a couple of others kept at my place of work and another in my jacket pocket). Here is what 31 pens looks like.
This is due to a combination of factors: a number of new arrivals; an eagerness to try out new pen and ink combination ideas without waiting for another pen to run dry, and a general reluctance to flush away good ink.
I do not really see this as a problem. (Perhaps THAT is my problem!) I could go and flush them all this evening, but this would mean wasting the equivalent of almost one entire bottle of ink. Whilst I could cut down, I do enjoy having the choice of all these pens at my finger tips. And the joy is that each and every one feels different.
At the end of January, I bought a Montblanc Meisterstuck 145 Classique with platinum trim. As usual it came fitted with a Medium nib but I had six weeks in which to request a free nib exchange. I did visit a Montblanc store in London where I was able to try out the various nib options. I was very tempted by the Broad, which would have been my choice if I were to have swapped. But in the end I did not want to part with my Medium nib that I had grown to enjoy. The nib had taken a few weeks to run in and in short, we had “bonded”.
In the early weeks since buying this pen, I tried a different ink on every fill but have now settled on the lovely Montblanc William Shakespeare Velvet Red, for the time being.
Another purchase, made at the London pen show in March, was the new Leonardo Officina Italiana, “Furore”, in a vibrant orange with gold colour trim and a Fine nib. In a rare stroke of genius, I have paired this with Waterman Tender Purple – a fun ink for a fun pen and am loving the combo. Also the feel of this nib on Leuchtturm journal paper makes me want to exclaim “Ooh, that’s lovely!” every time I write with it.
My only other pen purchase from the show was my Diplomat Excellence A, Marrakesh, with a Fine nib in 14k gold. This has been inked with Tavy and I have been using it happily for my daily journal. The first fill had been with Diamine Cherry Sunburst, which I did not enjoy so much with this pen; perhaps it was just too matchy matchy for the metallic brown pen.
In February I received a wonderful surprise gift from a pen friend in Australia, who sent me his Pilot Custom 823 and Graf von Faber-Castell black Guilloche, both with Broad nibs and both fantastic pens. The 823 had been a grail pen for me and difficult to find in the UK. On my last visit to Hong Kong in 2017 I had hoped to have a chance to do some pen foraging and perhaps bag an 823 but my shopping plans were cut short by a bout of Sciatica and so the 823 had remained on my wish list. So I was extremely happy when one arrived on my doormat out of the blue.
Then in March, having read of my new Classique and my dilemma over whether to go for a nib exchange, my friend sent me a superb, 1970’s Montblanc 146 with a broad nib, which unlike the modern versions is an all gold finish and rather softer too. The pen also had a solid clear ink window instead of the small rectangular windows that the modern piston fillers have. This was an extremely generous and unexpected gift and you can imagine how thrilled I was on opening this package.
London Pen Club.
Our pen club met on 6 April, with a good turnout of around 15 people. Being the first gathering since the London pen show, a few of us had some new goodies from the show for others to try. My orange Leonardo Furore drew some admiring comments.
John had brought along his Montblanc 146 and 149. I was interested to compare these alongside my 145 and 146 and got a photo of them all in a row.
Cameron had brought a recently acquired Pelikan M815 shiny stripes Stresemann, which was impressive, being heavier than the normal M800’s due to the metal in the barrel.
Penultimate Dave brought along an entire pen case of Arco beauties from his collection and some lovely Conway Stewarts which felt good in the hand.
However, I am pleased to report that I was feeling very content with my lot and did not feel the need to acquire anything else. Whilst it is always great to try other people’s pens, and many of brands that you just do not see in pen shops, I was happy in the end just to know that they exist. I felt, for the moment at least, cured of the need to acquire any more pens!
Harrods and Selfridges.
To put this to the test, I took the opportunity after the pen club meet, to visit both Harrods and Selfridges, to have a browse around their fountain pen departments and see what was new.
In Harrods, there is a particularly good range of Montegrappa pens. I had a second look at the “Monte Grappa” models, a recent range of retro style piston fillers, in black, navy blue, lavender or coral. They are available with either steel nibs or 14k gold nibs, the latter version being £445.00 in Harrods.
I was pleased to discover a very quick route to Harrods’ pen department currently located on the third floor, as “Pens, Books and Games” rather than the “Great Writing Room” of the past. (If you walk round to the back of Harrods, in the Basil Street entrance, take the escalator to the third floor, go left through Stationery, you will get straight to the fountain pens. You’re welcome).
A few tube stops later I was at Selfridges, where the pens are on basement level. I had a good look around the displays, with a good selection of the high end brands, including Yard O Led, Graf von Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, Chopard, SJ Dupont, Montegrappa, Pelikan and a few Viscontis, as well as Parker, Cross, Sheaffer and Waterman. As with Harrods, there is a separate booth for Montblanc.
I noticed Pineider there for the first time, with La Grande Bellazza models in Malachite and various other colours and two demonstrator models, one being the Honeycomb, which I had not seen before. The other with a gold coloured spring inside appeared at first glance like a posh TWSBI Go.
I was able to leave both Harrods and Selfridges without parting with any money. This time.
9 thoughts on “Inky Pursuits round-up.”
Fantastic post, thank you! Your first photo gripped me because I have recently decided a character in the novel I am drafting (sounds way more impressive than it is!) used to write all her correspondence on Basildon Bond writing paper – I think the Duke size in Champagne. I am going to purloin your ‘currently inked’ page design and set up a notebook the same because it’s genius. Looking at the pens, I was taken with the Wing Sungs which is no surprise as I am having a bit of a crush on my dad’s old Parker 61 at the moment, and the Lake Blue colour of two of your WS pens is pretty perfect/perfectly pretty!
Thank you Pamela for your great comments. Basildon Bond paper is rather nostalgic and I still use it to this day. If you want to get creative with your Currently Inked list, take a look for example at allthehobbies on Instagram or others on social media.
I do enjoy the Wing Sung 601 in Lake Blue. I smoothed the nib a little with some micromesh. It is a very comfortable and reliable writer. Good luck with the novel!
I really enjoyed reading this, Rupert — particularly the cliffhanger about whether you’d pass the test of Selfridges and Harrods! It sounds like you’ve reached a really healthy state with your collection. Congratulations 🙂
Thanks a lot Anthony! It is a bit too early to say I am cured of the addiction. It is all very well to say you are not hungry when you have just had a big meal, but what about when you get peckish again? 🙂 For now I am feeling very content with what I have got.
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Thanks for the round-up and congratulations on escaping two pen departments unscathed. I can identify with that first photo, although I had a steel Parker 45 (sadly no more) to go with the bottle of Quink. It’s also pleasing to note that any concerns I might have about reaching double figures of pens inked is but a drop in the ocean. My problem is that I’m not nearly systematic enough about recording ink/pen combinations, so sometime a bit of guesswork is required to figure things out!
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Thank you! Yes, I later moved on to a Parker 45 in brushed stainless steel in the early 70’s. (Still got it!)
It was unusual for me to sail through Harrods’ and Selfridges’ pen departments without anything sticking to me. I am trying hard to distinguish between “liking” and “wanting”. (I am way past “needing”). Better not to get too complacent though as it is an ongoing challenge.
Recording your currently inked should not be too onerous if you haven’t got many on the go. I use a simple database app called “Memento” as well as making the occasional “currently inked” chart in a notebook. But “if in doubt, flush it out”. 🙂
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As you say, “need” doesn’t really come into it! After an expensive start to the year, I’ve attempted to give up buying pens for lent. I’m just about managing it so far, but the temptation to add a Leonardo Momento Zero is currently rather strong.
As for the “currently inked”, I just need to be a bit more organised and note what I’ve filled pens with when I ink them up. 😀
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What no Platignum from your early days to drip ink every where and to also suffer from cracking plastic within weeks 😉 – your first photo did bring back memories though – including the writing pad, which for me was forced upon me by my mother to try and encourage me to write.
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The Parker was my first good pen. But I went through the Platignums and Osmiroids too. I remember my Osmiroid lever filler with affection. But I did come home with ink on my fingers and shirt quite a lot. No change there then.