If I have any superpower among the fountain pen community, it is probably the ability to get just as excited about a good cheap pen, as I do about an expensive one. Sometimes more. I will have to think of a name for that: something other than Mr Stingy.
I have not bought many new pens this year. I am constantly tempted, as I read posts from fellow bloggers or surf online. Recently I admired a vintage Montblanc 220, cartridge converter fountain pen on ebay but stopped short of pulling the trigger. I already have a Montblanc 12, piston filler, which is similar.
To combat the temptation, one tool is to have a wish list and to add pens to the list and let them sit there for a while before buying. You can compare their merits. Another, (which may be a clue that you have too many pens) is to list your pens under different categories, to see how each category is represented. I listed mine under Steel nibs: (1) Fine or extra fine; (2) Medium; (3) Broad and (4) Stub and italic, and then the same four categories for Gold nibs, so eight groups. Then, when a new pen looms on the horizon, I compare it with what I already have in that category. This sometimes works.
The Jinhao 159.
As I look at my pen cups, with twenty currently inked pens, they range from a few pounds upwards to include several Montblancs and my Aurora 88 at the other end of the spectrum. In between, the list includes a couple of Diplomats, a Pilot Capless and Platinum Curidas and my Sailor Pro-Gear Slim with its music nib.
One of my most recent purchases was a Jinhao 159 at £8.99. This is a very large pen, heavy but wonderfully rounded, smooth and tactile. Unfortunately, towards the end of its first inking with a cheap black cartridge, it exhibited irregular flow issues going from very wet, almost gusher, to very dry and even blobbing a couple of times.
I could have picked up a Montblanc or the Aurora at this point and carried on writing. However, I found that I could not settle whilst the Jinhao was struggling. A bit like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep I could not rest until the lost sheep was safely back in the pen (or pen cup). I extracted the nib and feed on the Jinhao which are friction fit and can be pulled out quite easily. I gave them both a good wash and then carefully pushed them in again, and re-inked the pen this time with a branded cartridge of Kaweco royal blue. All appeared well but I was looking forward to an opportunity to write for a few pages of A4 to check that the flow problems were fixed. Yesterday, when writing a letter, it was the Jinhao that I picked up first. I am happy to report that it now writes beautifully.
This weekend I remembered my Lamy Accent which does not see a lot of use as the nib was a bit on the dry side. I have the palladium finish version with a collar of Keralia wood, grey with a black grain. I remembered my brass shims and set about removing the Z50 nib with a piece of Sellotape, then flossing the nib with a couple of different grades of brass shim, before putting it back, checking the alignment of tines and picking a cartridge of Lamy Petrol, a luxurious dark teal from a special edition Safari a few years ago. And this too wrote beautifully – smooth and easy with ideal flow. I am glad that I had kept the pen. I also wrote a few pages with this too, in my letter writing session.
Wing Sung 699.
This is another pen that I thought to tweak with the brass shims. This is a fun pen, a very passable homage to the revered Pilot Custom 823 vac filler, with similar dimensions and filling system but a steel nib. The nib and feed are friction fit and with a bit of flossing and examining under the loupe, I think I managed to get it writing slightly wetter, whilst still retaining the smoothness of the nib. I filled it with Waterman Serenity blue, a favourite of mine and it is writing nicely.
These antics and occasional triumphs do not quite make up for the heady thrill of hitting the “Add to basket” button and waiting for the delivery, but they avoid the risk of the Monday morning guilt and “buyer’s remorse” blues.