In my previous post, I rounded up my green inks to remind myself of what I had. It was also done in part to assess the task of how much ink I still have to get through in my life time. I think we all know that that is not going to happen! There were seven green bottles alone. And since writing that post, I found that I had missed one, a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Olivine.
I thought that today, I would continue the exercise, and see what brown inks I have. And to avoid the risk of missing any, I got out all of my bottled ink and put them into groups, so no-one got forgotten.
As soon as you start this, you run into problems of classification. I had to make a few policy decisions, such as separating my blue ink into (a) royal blue (b) blue black and (c) light blues, including turquoise. As for the brown inks I had to decide whether to include Cult Pens Deep Dark Red, and Diamine Oxblood, or whether to put them in the reds or the Burgundies. Without getting too bogged down in deliberating, I put the Oxblood in with the browns, and Deed Dark Red with the Burgundy. I am sure many would disagree.
And then, where do you group Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo? I put it with my Waterman Tender Purple, which was lonely in its Purple category of one.
Another category that consisted of only one ink, was orange. I put Diamine Pumpkin there. I had two pinks (although they were duplicate bottles of Pelikan Edelstein Star Ruby), three Burgundies, a surprisingly high number of nine black inks given that I do not regularly use black ink, and an even more surprising number of nine red inks. It is nice to have so many different shades and from different brands, but do I really need nine bottles of red?
For someone who does not use brown ink regularly, I have a respectable seven bottles. Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz, a freebee from the Pelikan Hub one year, remains a firm favourite. It is great in my Montegrappa Fortuna with a fine steel nib. Another favourite is Diamine Cherry Sunburst, with its musical connotations as part of the Gibson Les Paul guitar series. I use that sometimes in the gold Lamy Lx.
Since getting into the fountain pen hobby, I have kept a record of pen acquisitions but have been in a fog of denial about the ink situation, having only a vague idea of what I have accumulated. Sometimes it is quite nice not knowing the numbers.
Given that for the most part, I prefer blue and blue black inks, it is rather surprising that I have gathered so many other colours, which tend to be for “recreation” and occasional correspondence with other pen and ink users rather than regular work use.
I think it was some time around 2014 that I fell into the rabbit hole, when the internet kindled my long-standing enjoyment of fountain pens. I lapped up Stephen Brown’s pen review videos and discovered a few blogs, and went to the London Pen show for the first time. And over that time, my bottled ink ownership has quietly grown from only a handful, to its current tally of 82 (including a few duplicates). I seem to have massively overestimated my life expectancy. And this is not even taking into account the stash of ink cartridges.
It is not all bad of course. I do get a lot of enjoyment and relaxation from my pen hobby. Even when not actually using my pens, I can unwind just by thinking about them and pondering some future combinations of pens and inks to try. As hobbies go, it is cheaper and takes up less space than many others I can think of.
Like many others in this hobby with a passion for fountain pens, I have suffered from Gear Acquisition Syndrome and now find myself with an embarrassing number of pens, unused notebooks and bottles of ink. From time to time I need to remind myself of what I have “in stock.”
When my late Godfather (“Uncle Brian”) died, his wife Mary offered me his almost full bottle of ink. It was Cross Blue. I gladly took it to finish and have been getting through it in the pen that I use at work, a Cross Bailey Light. It is now on its tenth fill, since last December.
Unlike Uncle Brian, I have two drawers full of bottled inks in various colours and will never get through it unless I decide to paint the walls with it. Of course it is nice to have a good selection of different inks to play with and most inks keep well for years. (One exception is registrar’s blue black iron gall ink, which once opened, is best used within 18 months or so, before it starts to lose its darkening ability).
I may at last be reaching the age where my desire not to fill my house with extra possessions, can sometimes outweigh the attraction of the thing itself. As I try to to use and enjoy what I have, it can help to break this down into smaller goals. Green inks are a category of inks that I have relatively few of. I can count my bottles on the fingers of, well, two hands.
The only one of these that I have finished, and which was for many years my only green ink, was a bottle of Parker Quink. I still have the classic bottle and its cardboard box. Sadly these bottled inks are sold in plastic blister packs now. My bottle has a faded price label and I can still see that it came from WHSmiths.
A modern equivalent, for a good day-to-day green ink might be Waterman’s Harmonious Green. Nowadays, I like to write the date of purchase inside the box lid. Mine bears the date 26 September 2015 and I bought it in the Burlington Arcade, off Piccadilly in London. It is still a good two thirds full. However I am now using it regularly in my Delike New Moon, fude nib pen. It is a good combination for the marbled green acrylic pen. It is an inexpensive ink for an inexpensive pen.
I have some more up-market green inks: Montblanc Irish Green and, probably my favourite, Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green in its attractive heavy bottle.
I have a 30ml plastic bottle of Diamine’s Deep Dark Green, which I bought at the same time as their Deep Dark Blue and Deep Dark Red. I used the Deed Dark Blue by far the most and finished the bottle, often using it in a TWSBI Vac 700 or Diamond 580.
Some less common greens are my Noodler’s Sequoia: a brim-full glass bottle containing 3oz of this green-black ink. Unfortunately, although I was very taken with the colour, I found it all but unusable for a lefty-overwriter as it is so slow-drying and smudges long after I would expect it to be dry.
At the London Pen Show one year, I picked up a cute little bottle of Conway Stewart green ink, made by Diamine. I do not know the name of the colour but think it was of the same series as Conway Stewart Tavy, which is a nice blue black. However I bought it more for the bottle, nice for travelling, than the ink.
Finally, I have a bottle of Krishna Inks Ghat Green, which is an attractive khaki green-gold. I did not use it much at first as I suspected it of causing unsightly and disturbing nib crud on my Montegrappa Fortuna’s steel nib. But I later gave it another chance, in my Sailor Pro-Gear with a 21k gold nib and have had no problems with it at all.
If you want to get through ink faster, using a pen with broad, stub or music nib will help. Or you could use it for drawing. For some years I could not settle to using a green ink as I would soon have the urge to flush it out and refill with a blue. But I now appreciate a green ink from time to time and it is well worth having at least one green-inked pen! I heard it said that there is, or was, a convention in the Royal Navy, of different colour inks being used by different ranks of officer. I have not been able to verify that. I do remember that green was the colour of correspondence from Rolex, if you got a typed letter from them in the 1960’s. It also makes a good colour for amending and editing typed drafts, rather than red.
A green ink can look attractive, particularly on cream coloured paper and paired with the right pen and can make a refreshing change from the usual blues. I don’t know when I will next finish a bottle or whether I will ever own just one bottle but I am at least trying not to buy more.
Although this blog is usually about fountain pens, today’s post is off-topic, to reflect on an excellent gig at London’s Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush, on Friday 15 July 2022. This was the first of a seven date UK tour and was also the first performance of this new duo to a live audience.
Joshua is well-known from YouTube as one half of the duo The Other Favorites, with Carson McKee. His videos have seen him collaborate with numerous other talented musicians, including Allison Young whose own work includes singing with the Post Modern Jukebox band.
My wife and I arrived unfashionably early at the venue. The doors were still shut and there was no-one about. A passing couple stopped to look at the poster of Joshua and Allison on the front door, and asked us if this was who we had come to see and how we had heard about the event. “What type of music is it, Americana?” This put me on the spot. How do you pigeon-hole Josh Turner who can not only turn his hand to, but excel at so many types of music from pop, rock, country, folk, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, gypsy-jazz, great American songbook standards, and more. I thought of Allison Young, whose videos of songs such as “Crazy” and “Fever” I had seen – and came out with a fumbled response of “Jazz”. “But that’s not a jazz guitar” said my enquirer, pointing to the Spanish guitar in the poster. “No, but he can play any stringed instrument you put in front of him”, I gushed. I hope that they came back and bought tickets.
As show time drew closer, a decent sized queue built up behind us. Many in the know had gone to the bar next door before the show. We chatted to another couple: Dave had been watching The Other Favorites on Youtube for a considerable time but not made it to a live show before.
With no allocated seating, we were able to pick the front row. It was our first concert since lockdown restrictions were lifted and good to be able to enjoy live music again.
Josh and Allison took to the stage, each holding a guitar. They launched into “Shadows on the Wall”, also the opening song on their recent EP entitled “May 9-12” comprising six tracks written between those dates. Josh told the audience that they had realised as the tour approached, that they did not have many songs, – due in part to not quite believing that the tour would happen. They had recorded new material, not that we would have known they were new, as the songs from the EP blended right in with the rest of the set, as if they had been performing them for years.
What took place was an evening of pure joy and a masterclass in musicianship. The two performers remained on stage together throughout, although a few of the numbers were solo. There were some teething problems with Allison’s mic initially which crackled and popped. Josh paused in playing to give the mic a deft tap, which cured the problem temporarily until it was soon replaced by the sound engineer. Allison appeared not in the least fazed by the episode, which endeared them both to us all the more.
Josh’s finger-style guitar playing always amazes me, in his musicality and confident mastery of the fingerboard – be it on an acoustic or his starburst Fender Telecaster seen in many videos, or his ukulele, all of which featured in the show. There is never a beat missed or note out of place as he uses these instruments to their full potential. (I am thinking here of my own baritone ukulele, and a new mandolin, which would love to be played properly).
Allison’s voice is beautiful and has a timeless warmth and quality which was showcased perfectly on such classics as Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”, or Diana Krall’s “Autumn in New York” as well as “Fever” and “Crazy”. She cites Patsy Cline as a major influence. Her natural charm, expressive movements and the twinkle in her eyes in performing all of these, brought them to life. She also sang and played a few of her own songs not yet recorded, which can be a test for an audience but were well received.
Josh played some songs from his back catalogue. “Nineteen and Aimless” was a song he had written about being nineteen and aimless. He honoured his 93 year old grandmother, in playing an instrumental that he had arranged at her request back when she was only 91, an impressive and foot-tapping rendition of “St Louis Blues” and was the envy of all the wannabe guitarists in the room. But it was his song “Cross-eyed Love” with its rousing speeded up, drop-tuned, gallop at the end, which brought the house down.
Josh and Allison played a guitar instrumental duet on La Valse d’Amelie, Yann Tierson’s “Amelie’s Waltz” from the 2001 French language film Amelie. Josh told us that both he and Allison were fans of the film. This slow piece was one of my wife’s highlights of the night.
They played over 20 songs in all. After the encore as the lights came up, two ladies sitting behind us asked how we had heard of the event. I explained that I had seen it online (and jumped on the tickets). They asked me if I played an instrument. I said that I played guitar, or used to think I could! Watching Josh is humbling but I admire these great musicians with so much ability and potential, following their dream.
I looked up Hoagy Carmichael afterwards. On Wikipedia is says that he “was among the first singer-songwriters in the age of mass media to utilise new communication technologies such as television, electronic microphones and sound recording.” Sound like anyone? To this Josh and Allison have harnessed Youtube and Instagram. As Josh put it, social media is not all a hell-hole. Good things come out of too, such as how he and Allison came to “follow” each other, to meet, record videos and the EP and now put together this tour. Josh had made good use of the lockdown to write and record an album and perform some livestream gigs all from his New York apartment. Allison had also been writing.
As I left the theatre, into the sultry warm London night, I had a spring in my step and was still grinning at the joy of the evening and the knowledge that such talent exists in the world.
Edit: 23 July 2022. Below is the setlist (compiled from a combination of my list made during the show, a photo of the list on the stage floor, plus the website Setlist FM.
If you were to ask a group of watch enthusiasts to name the most iconic, recognisable watches of the last 100 years, they might include a Rolex GMT Master, an Omega Speedmaster, a Casio G Shock and maybe even a Fitbit. Try the same exercise with camera enthusiasts and you might hear the Leica M3, Hasselblad 500CM, a Rolleiflex, Nikon F and Olympus OM1. The debate will be endless.
Take a group of fountain pen fans – a random selection from a pen show perhaps. Again, everyone will have a different answer. Some likely contenders might be the Parker 51, Pilot Capless, Montblanc Meisterstuck 146, Cross Townsend and a Pelikan M800. Also there is the Onoto Magna, an Aurora 88, and a Visconti Homo Sapiens. I suspect that there is a good chance that a Lamy 2000 and a Lamy Safari will be mentioned.
This week, I have had a lot of love for Lamy. A generous pen friend in Australia had very kindly sent me a Lamy 2000 fountain pen, with an Oblique Broad nib, knowing of my new-found liking for oblique nibs. This began by accident on my purchasing a Moonman S5 demonstrator pen online, with three nibs included. I went on to buy an Aurora Optima with OB nib and then an Aurora Talentum with OM nib. Both are wonderful. My friend had passed on to me, all the way from Australia, a Geha 715 with OB nib, a vintage Montblanc 34 with OB or OBB nib (fabulous to write with) and a Montblanc Carrera with a steel OB nib and the Lamy 2000 OB: each very different.
However the Lamy 2000’s OB nib was a very different experience from, say the Aurora. The Aurora’s nib, although broad, is not very “thick”, or deep, and so allows for fine cross strokes. The Lamy 2000 nib (at least, the way I held it), had a writing surface which was both broad and deep. Perhaps it needed holding more upright. But for me the effect was not pretty and it was necessary to write larger to avoid loops being filled.
I emailed Lamy customer services in Germany to explain my predicament and to ask whether they would allow me to send the Lamy 2000 back for a nib swap. I soon received a friendly reply, that they would be happy to swap the nib, provided that the existing one was reusable. I sent my pen in, and waited eagerly for the reply. There were a few anxious days when the tracking information showed that my pen had been waylaid in Customs, on the way to Heidelberg. This prompted me to email them again. I had followed their advice on completing the Customs Declaration form and so hoped that there should be no duty to pay. Happily, I got a reply to reassure me that they now had my pen and would return it to me within a few days.
Last Thursday, after just over a month, the Lamy arrived back. It was well protected in a polythene sleeve, in a white envelope, in a cardboard box with a surprisingly copious 12 pages of documents but stating that the pen had been repaired free of charge, the nib exchanged for a Fine, the ink flow checked and the surface refurbished.
I was thrilled to have the pen back and with a fine nib this time. The tipping material is long and narrow. I gave the nib a little flossing and a rinse and checked the tines were level.
For its inaugural inking, I filled the pen with Onoto Mediterranean Blue (which might be called a cerulean blue perhaps) in contrast to my usual royal blues. The writing experience was a joy – all the more so for the month’s wait. At last, I have a Lamy 2000 which writes effortlessly and without squeaking. The fine nib has a good flow, just a little softness and some pleasant feedback.
The pen is well travelled, having gone from Germany to Australia, to the UK, then to Germany and back to the UK again. My own journey with the Lamy 2000 has also been a long one. I bought my first in May 2014, but struggled to get along with the M nib. I later exchanged the nib for a B which I found much better although not until after some rather risky do-it-yourself tine-gap widening.
I have wanted to like the Lamy 2000 fountain pen for a very long time – not because it is fashionable to do so, but for its many unique merits. Over the years and after all I have heard and read, I had come to the view that if I were to buy another, that the fine nib was the one to have. Now thanks to a generous friend and an impressive customer service from Lamy, I have one. It feels great.