Category Archives: Pens

Spreading the Joy/Addiction

I think I’ve got my colleague hooked now, and all it took was some colorful pretty dyes.

As I’ve used my nearly endless supply of fountain pens, my colleague grew intrigued by the also nearly endless supply of different ink flavors I used. She liked the teals and blue-greens and the orange inks. Eventually, she bought a selection of gateway drugs: a Pilot Cocoon in orange;   a Platinum Preppy; and a couple other cheap, small fountain pens.

She started out using cartridges, but would swap ink colors without cleaning the pen. This led to a few interesting colors getting ruined by leftovers.

Recently, and without any direct prodding from me, she’s decided to try bottled inks and converters. She bought a few cheap Chinese pens to play with. (Note: I will eventually give her a converter for her Pilot so that she may fully witness the horror that is Pilot converters.) She also bought an impressive first bottled ink.

I showed her how to fill the first converter full, getting ink on my fingers as is appropriate. I also brought a couple flavors from home for her to try (Kingdom Note Kabutomushi and Bungu Box Hamanako Mandarin) in her other pens.

Since then she’s refilled on her own, getting ink on her fingers as is appropriate, and had discovered which kind of nib she likes. She’s also discovered the joys of nib creep and getting ink on your fingers without even trying.

Next, it will be time for her to realize that spending over $50 dollars on a pen isn’t that crazy. Once that happens, the escalation will begin and she’ll be fully addicted.

Then my work will be done.

 

My Sinclair Seven (Plus One)–Latest Iteration

The thing that shocks me about this update is how little there is to update, but there have been a few physical changes along with a few changes in attitude since my last update.

The biggest change in this Sinclair Seven (Plus One) is the absence of my Edison Glenmont 2014 LE. As much as I still like this pen, it faced relegation. In fact, at times it’s been relegated beyond the Lookout to other pen cases. However, every time I use it, I remember why I like to keep it around and it’s now back in the Lookout. (Note: I switched back to the M nib.)

As for the rest of the pens:

The most recent Sinclair Seve (Plus One).

Bottom Row, From the Left:

Pilot Custom 823 (Amber Barrel)
Still a workhorse pen, but lately it’s been having some issues. The plunger mechanism has been sticky and not filling as well as I’d like. I suspect it needs a little maintenance, which I’m not qualified/willing to perform, so I’m planning to make an appointment with the Pilot pen guy (a technical job description) at the Mitsukoshi Fountain Pen Festival next March and have it overhauled. It’s currently filled with Maruzen Athena Renga.

Nakaya Cigar Portable Kurotamenuri
Recently fixed and tuned after a small adventure involving mistaken pens, and it’s suddenly pen I expected it to be. I reach for it a lot and it’s quickly replacing the TWSBI as my go-to workhorse pen. It’s still filled with Aurora Black ink which pairs well with it.

Shawn Newton Moody
Still not the workhorse it could be, but I still use it a lot. The ebonite is aging well. It’s currently filled with Kingdom Note Omurasaki (Purple Butterfly) which suits it well.

 

Second Row, From the Left:

TWSBI Diamond 580 Rose Gold
Still reaching for it less and less but I still like the ink capacity. It’s still filled with Fountain Pen Hospital‘s exclusive Noodler’s Old Manhattan “Bulletproof” Black ink.

Platinum 3776 Chartres Blue (Rhodium Coating)
Can’t quit this pen.  It’s currently filled with Shosaikan Seiran ink.

Pilot Custom Heritage 92
Lately I find myself looking for excuses to use this pen. I like the nib and like the piston filler because Pilot’s converters are especially dreadful even given that all converters suck. It’s currently filled with Robert Oster Bondi Blue.

OMAS Arte Italiana London Smoke Milord
The new comer. It is a large pen, but very light and it is slowly becoming a workhorse pen that I reach for as often as I can. It has a wet M nib in OMAS’ Hi-Tech finish. It is a cartridge/converter pen, which means I have to deal with converters. That said, at least it’s easy to clean and change inks. It’s currently filled with Kingdom Note Tiger Prawn (aka Shrimp). As I bought it used, it probably needs a little nib work and I’m pondering sending it to someone for some tuning.

Top Center–The Plus One:

Lamy 2000
Still filled with Kingdom Note Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros Beetle) ink, and still a pen I enjoy using.

At this point, the TWSBI is at the greatest risk of relegation.although I’m still tempted to make this a Sinclair Seven (Plus Two) even though I realize that defeats the purpose of using the Sinclair.

Back Where it Belongs

I got my pen back and that pretty much shut down all other operations.

I’ve mentioned before how I sent my Nakaya Cigar Portable in for work and then got the wrong pen. After a long wait, I got the correct pen back.

It came with a complimentary pen case that whilst beautiful, is something I’ll probably never use except as storage. On the other hand, it was nice of them to send it. (Note: it’s a darker magenta than shown in the picture.)

Back home where it belongs. Got a free pen case for the delay. #nakaya #fountainpen #penaddict

A post shared by DL (@d.e.lively) on

However, once I had the pen in hand, I had to start playing with it and writing random nonsense. I enjoyed having it back enough that it’s clear that it’s now a permanent part of the collection.

It’s also already back in my Sinclair Seven (Plus One).

Unfortunately, I didn’t write anything useful with it. It was just fun to have it back and fun to play with.

A Long Wait for a Longer Wait

About a month ago I had to join a club to get a pen worked on. I joined the club figuring that I’d get work done in the future and joining the owners’ club would make it easier.

However, things got complicated after that.

After paying the fee I sent the pen in for repair and was told it would take them about a month to get it back to me.

Today, I got the package with my pen and I gleefully unwrapped the pen and was surprised to see a gold clip on a smaller pen. Nakaya had sent me the wrong pen. Instead of this pen, I’d received someone else’s briar version.

After a short bout of swearing I contacted Nakaya and, after a long wait, received instructions on how to return the pen COD in order to receive my pen.

However, Nakaya is about to take their annual vacation so part of the instructions were to schedule the pen to arrive on the 18th when they would be back in the office.

Now, I’m interested to know a few things: 1) did someone else get my pen, 2) how pissed off are they that they go the wrong pen, and 3) do they like my pen better than they like theirs and therefore they haven’t complained because “FREE PEN!” (Note: I am unimpressed with the briar Nakaya.)

I’ll send it out tomorrow and wait until mine arrives. I may try to score a free pen rest or a free pen case but I’ll be happy to have the pen back. Some day.

Whatever happens, the process won’t get started until August 18th.

 

Mistaken Not Wrong

As near as I can tell, as I was writing yesterday’s post, events were happening that, on first glance, appear to invalidate everything I wrote. However, as you will see, I may have been mistaken, but I was not wrong.

Two Facebook groups related to pens and stationery split into different factions.

In once case, the problem appears to have been related to the personality of one of the moderators. I personally had a strange message from him that may have been a result of the moderator being a non-native speaker of English rather than someone giving attitude. I had just joined the group and am now a member of a different group. I guess.

In another case, a group that had gathered to worship a particular brand of notebook, split over matters of style/taste.

One part of the group objected to the constant sell/trade posts even though the group was designated as a buy/sell group.

In another case, some one apparently posted pictures of an every day carry set that included pens, notebooks, and a firearm. This person then claims to have been subject to abuse from those who get queasy at the site of firearms.

Comments to the posts were stopped and then the firearm related posts were deleted and, as near as I can tell, such posts are permanently banned.

(Note: I never saw the posts, so this is what I’ve been able to gather from reactions to the banning. If anyone has more accurate information, please let me know and I’ll post another update.)

At about the same time, the group was changed from buy/sell to club.

In the former case, I’ve not been in the group long enough to know all the details, therefore I feel I have not been proven wrong.

The second group split over capitalism and firearms, not pens and stationery. Therefore I am still not wrong.

Pen People Are Not Like Knife People

I’m pretty sure today’s post will be less coherent than usual because there are a few mysteries of life I’ve been trying to solve for quite long time and I’m not sure if I’ve worked them all out:

1) Why do Japanese cellphone providers suck so bad at providing decent texting services?

2) Why do all great and popular pen makers make such crappy converters?

3) Why do pen people get along so well when knife people don’t?

The first two are mysteries that will never be solved (it will be easier to prove God’s existence than to explain number two), so instead I’ll focus on the last. One of the things I’ve noticed about the pen community is how friendly it is. At its worst, it’s nowhere close to the anger that can build in the knife community.

The pen community has some disagreements, but there are no angry rants or personal attacks from people who like handmade notebooks against people who say they like trendy notebooks (and vice versa). People who don’t like Nakaya fountain pens will get stern looks (if in person) and some discussion from Nakaya fans (if in a forum), but neither side will start hurling invective or ad hominem attacks. People who like Montblancs will get stern looks (if in person) and some discussion from every other pen addict (if in a forum), but even people not interested in buying a Montblanc can appreciate how well made they are and how attractive some of them can be.

By contrast, there seem to be gangs supporting every brand of knife produced. If you criticize a Bark River Gunny Hunter (which is a terrific knife) you will be attacked by dozens of BR fanboys who will call you lots of interesting names, provide you with a detailed list of your personal failings, and suggest you perform extremely difficult sexual acts. If you fail to show proper reverence to a Hinderer XM-18, you quickly learn that you are unworthy because you are not an operator so shut up.  In one case, a popular knife and gear podcaster who gave a popular knife a terrible review was directly challenged on his podcast by the owner of the knife company.

For example, if I say I’m not interested in The Well-Appointed Desk and Skylab LetterpressCol-o-Ring Ink Testing Books I’ll be met with a couple lists of their benefits rather than something like this:

Pen Community: Your and idiot.
Me: No, they look awesome, it’s just that I live in Japan and can find many similar things.
Pen Community: WTF does Japan no about stationery? Your and idiot.
Me: No, it’s just that the shipping would be too expensive.
Pen Community: You don’t make notebooks do you? BOOM mic drop.
Me: In my free time, yes.
Pen Community: Well you must suck at it.
Me: Well, yes I do, that’s why I don’t sell them. They’re just for personal use.
Pen Community: Your and Nazi.

I’m not sure why this is, but I think some of it stems from the fact that knives, in their various forms, are seen as a primal tool whereas pens are not. Yes there are cave drawings here and there, but to my knowledge we’ve never found a pen in an ancient archaeological dig (note: my office/variety room does not count as a dig even though digging is often involved to find things) but early knives are found all the time. A fountain pen can help earn you some money, but it’s not a survival tool and no one recommends you include one in all your survival kits. (Even though you totally could.)

Because of this, there’s a level of machismo and posing in the knife community that doesn’t exist in the pen community. There are no backyard pen users, but there do seem to be an awful lot of backyard commandos.

In the knife community you’ll quickly learn what knife is carried by Special Forces soldiers or DEVGRU and if you are not at least a member of the Army Compartmented Element (if it exists) then your opinion is garbage if you don’t like the knives. You are not an operator and therefore cannot disagree so shut up. You may only like the knives or GTFO.

You also learn, quite quickly, that you are not a knife maker if you criticize knives from popular makers. If you are a knife maker then, clearly, you suck at it to hold such an opinion so no one will ever buy your knives which have never been carried in combat anyway so they must suck. A similar happening in the pen community might be:

Me: Wow, why do Sailor, Pilot, and Platinum make great pens but crappy converters?
Pen Community: Your and idiot. Do you make converters?
Me: No.
Pen Community: Than your and Nazi so shutup.

In the pen community, perhaps because it is smaller, the disagreements are friendlier. If a popular YouTuber seems underwhelmed by Nakayas for being little more than a cartridge/converter pen (and remember, all converters are crap), Nakaya fans will at least hear them out before killing them with knives, er, sorry, wrong forum, offering a defense of Nakayas. (Verbally, not violently.)

I know people who don’t understand why cheap Bic pens or slightly more expensive gel ink pens are not enough for anyone (heck, even the Pen Addict himself used to express that opinion) but they are not as vitriolic as people who don’t understand why someone would pay $300 for a handmade knife when they could get a Victorinox Swiss Army knife (complete with toothpick, corkscrew and knobby hook thing) for around $30.

(Note: My solution is to get both.)

The closest we’ve seen to this level of vitriol in the pen community is some issues between an economist and a fountain pen forum moderator over Montblanc related news and exposes of questionable products (such as this and this) from other sources.

There are a couple smaller knife fora that are a real treat because they have moderators who crack down on personal attacks. They are more like the pen community, so I frequent those.

 

No Good Sale Goes Unpunished

I’ve been in this odd cycle of watching American Pickers and selling pens. I’m not sure how the two are connected, but since they both involve people selling bits of their collections, one may be serving as inspiration for the other.

I bring this up only because I’ve now sold my seventh pen. This is both good and bad.

It’s good because the most valuable pens sold at good prices but it’s bad because I’m left with the secondary set of pens. They are nice, but less desirable to others and will cause me more effort to part with. Also, because some of them are cheap whilst shipping is expensive (Japan post eliminated it’s cheapest fast option some time ago) I have to convince people to buy more than one pen at a time.

The other problem is that the ones I sold were the ones I wouldn’t have minded getting stuck with. The others, with a couple exceptions, are not ones I’m interested in using again.

I suspect this means there will be a big bundle offered in the future.

The goal of all this is to pare down the collection to ten pens that I use, in some form or another regularly. (Note: Those of you who think ten pens is outrageous should realize that to serious addicts ten pens counts as a collection starter kit, not an actual collection.)

I’m also approaching the point where the pens I have inked are pens I like a lot. Storing any will make it harder to buy new pens as I’ve been sticking, or at least attempting to stick to a one in/one out rule.

Then again, that may be a good thing. Maybe.

Sell and Wait and Sell

It seems, the last couple nights, as if I’m always closing but not actually getting close.

Last night I had bites on a couple pens I’ve been trying to sell and I stayed up late answering questions. In one case, the deal is done pending payment, and I’ve even managed to upsell a couple things (pending payment).

With the other, things seemed to finish quickly after I lowered the price slightly, but once we got to the payment part, communications ceased and payment has not been made. (Note: nothing ships until I’ve been payed.)

Now I’m probably going to have to stay up late and see if I have more questions to answer or a box to pack.

If I don’t hear soon, I’ll have to declare it’s still available and see what happens. Oddly, I know at least one person who will not be happy if the pen becomes available because they are interested in it and have been hoping it sells to someone else.

New Place New Rules

I posted the sale pens and sold three of them fairly quickly. Since then things have been silent at the usual place.

Posting the pens violates all kinds of collector/hoarder sensibilities. I can think of dozens of excuses why I shouldn’t post just yet. Two of my oldest pens sold first and think, symbolically, that’s a useful thing. Normally, like George Carlin, I prefer to leave symbols to the symbol-minded, but this time, because the pens are two of my most sentimental, it’s only right they are the first to go.

To break the silence, I’ve looked into other places to post the pens but those places have different rules. You can sell things but not very often. You can only post fountain pen related items. You can’t be a commercial venture. You can’t be icky. (Well, something like that.)

Because I’ve got a couple non-fountain pens in the sale and because I also have a lot of ink to move, I wrote the manager of a fountain pen related Facebook group to ask a few questions. I’m waiting for a response (mostly about ink which is kind of/sort of a commercial venture) but even if I haven’t heard back I’ll post the pens on a Facebook group tomorrow and hope for the best. (I will also offer to send a link about the ink.)

Luckily I have lots of time next week to pack and ship. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff to ship. If I manage to follow the rules, I should be okay. Probably.

 

ensso Piuma Super Minimal Aluminum Fountain Pen–Initial Impressions

The ensso Piuma is a great pen for three years ago. In 2017, though, I’m not sure how it fits into the market.

The Piuma came in padded black cardboard box with the ensso name stamped on the top. The pen was packed tight enough that I had a hard time getting it out of the foam. (Not a good initial impression, but the pen was definitely secure in the box.)

The ensso logo a decent look at the pan’s finish.

The Piuma is a good looking pen. I chose the black aluminum version with a black steel nib and every one who’s seen it likes the black on black look. In keeping with the “Super Minimal” concept It is a basic cigar shape with no clip. It is 140 mm (5.51 inches) long when capped and 128 mm (5.03 inches) long when uncapped. Because the pen is designed not to post, it is right at the edge of too small to be comfortable for my taste, but my budding pen addict colleague liked how it felt and wrote.

The ensso Piuma.

The Bock #6 nib is smooth and well tuned and although the pen’s black finish is quite slippery, which my colleague also noted, I like the lip at the end of the section. The shaped section puts it ahead of my Namisu Nova Minimal fountain pen which had a fairly fat and slippery section.

Detail of the Bock nib and the lip at the end of the section. The discoloration is the remains of leaked LAMY Petrol.

It is also a very light pen for its size: 1.12 ounces (32 grams) capped and .83 ounces (23 grams) uncapped. I imagine that once the slippery finish breaks in a bit it will be a good pen for longer writing sessions.

The only issue I’ve had, besides getting it out of the packaging, is that in the jostling of my morning commute it leaked ink all over section giving me LAMY Petrol fingers when I started to write with it. I checked the tightness of the feed and nib unit and the problem wasn’t repeated on the commute home.

My other problem at this point is where to put this pen in the market. It is of a style of machined pen that was a big deal a few years ago, but now seems almost retro. Even dubbing it as “minimal” reminds me of pens I already own including one that is nearly identical to the Piuma.

A pen configured the same as mine sells for $79 retail on the ensso website. This seems to me to put it in an odd spot in the market. It is too expensive to be a starter fountain pen and there are cheaper options–TWSBI 580s for example–with more ink capacity for people interested in taking the next step down the fountain pen rabbit hole.

I got mine via a Kickstarter campaign for US $45 (not including shipping) and that seems to be a better price point for a pen of this kind. It looks cool and is comfortable to write with and it does turn heads, but it may be out of date.

That said, these are just initial impressions and the Piuma is now part of my pen testing rotation. I’ll give it a proper review in six months or so once we’ve had the time to get to know each other better.