There really are kind people in the world. That may seem like a “duh” statement, but it seems we just don’t run into kindness – real kindness – in today’s society too often. Certainly, not often enough.
A few years ago, the church I go to (shout out Vineyard of Lexington!) did a series on kindness and “paying it forward”. It was a sermon series that really hit home for me, but at the time, I couldn’t do much to act on it. Oh, I could be kind, sure, but at that time, I had just been laid off from my job, facing bankruptcy, and just scrambling to try and hold things together. Now skip forward 6 years, I’m in a new career, and things are much better. I do try to be kind, but alas I’ve failed to do much paying it forward. Thanks to Erin Gooch with the Fountain Pen Network group on Facebook, I had the opportunity to participate in a little pay-it-forward kindness this week.
Early last week, Erin posted pictures of a limited edition yellow (and I mean Y E L L O W) M200 fountain pen. Very eye-candy-catching pictures. Turns out it was for a give-away contest she was doing for that pen. Note, I said she was doing, not some company she works for. Just her. All you had to do to enter was comment on the pictures; she would choose the winner at random from among those folks who had commented. The winner would receive the pen. But wait……here’s the REALLY cool part. A second name would also be drawn, and the 1st winner had to agree to send the 2nd winner some kind of pen themed package. So I commented.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
Here’s what came in the mail today:
Winner #2 was Xi Lu, from India. After some correspondence, I found out that he hadn’t yet had any experience with vintage pens, so he’s got something coming….. I started to post pictures of his care package, but that would ruin his surprise as it hasn’t had time to reach him yet. Once I hear from him, I’ll post those as well.
So to Erin Gooch over on Facebook / Fountain Pen Network group,
I started noticing a common problem showing up with many, but not all of my Chinese pens. Many of those that feature a black lacquered finish over a brass barrel have begun to blister and flake. So I decided to try to remove what was coming off anyway, and see how it looked. As these are really cheap pens to begin with, I figured there was really nothing to loose.
I have several pens doing this, but for this experiment, I chose my Huashilai 3000 “Tiger Eye” to try stripping. To also be clear, I didn’t do a lot of correct prep work for this project, nor did I take the steps that I would have, if I were doing it again, knowing what it had the potential to turn out like.
Basically, I just took the pen apart, put masking tape around the ends, covering the chrome trim, and started sanding with a fairly coarse 600 grit paper. This took care of the paint finish super quick. It also substantially scratched the brass barrel. I followed this up with a medium grade steel wool finally ending up with a super fine steel wool.
The end result is…..ugly. Well it is. But, it’s also kind of cool in a sort of black-on chrome-on orange resin-on chrome-on brass-on chrome-on black sort of way. By not utilizing subsequently smaller grades of sandpaper before switching over to the steel wool, it left the pen with an instant sort of worn character.
Ok, this is just for fun. I’m interested in what your favorite pens are. Please, if you read this, leave a comment below as to what your current (up to 5) favorite pens are. Mine are kind of fluid. If I had made this list 5 or 6 months ago, it would have probably all been different. Here are my five (in no particular order)……for right now:
There were several Chinese pens I considered for this list, but right now the Kaigelu comes up on top. A copy of the modern Parker Duofold, it features a super smooth #6 size two-tone nib, that is very smooth and wet. One of the higher quality Chinese pens and one of the more expensive ones (for Chinese pens that is). You can find these from $18 to $30. But easilly comparible to $75+ pens.
Pilot is a Japanese company and produces a wide range of pens from economy (like the Metropolitan) to high end. Just my humble opinion, but I would label this pen as the finest economy penmoney can buy. It does have it’s faults, but they are mainly opinion based and not materially relevant (i.e. the fact that it takes a proprietary cartridge and converter instead of standard sized ones). I have two of these pens and based on them, I would pit the writing experience with their nibs (fine & medium) against ANY other pen. Easily the best fine point I’ve ever used. VERY high quality pen. For $15. You can’t beat it.
Blue Esterbrook Dollar Pen
My only vintage pen in my top 5. Which, if you knew me, is quite surprising. Esterbrook is probably my favorite of the vintage pen companies (followed closely by Sheaffer) for collecting. Their pens were/are beautiful, durable, and of high quality. This is a “Dollar” pen which preceeded the more common “J” pen. This has a 9668 nib. Smooth, firm writer. Dependable and beautiful.
Noodlers Konrad in California Tortoise
I picked up 3 Noodlers pens last year, an Ahab and two Konrads. The Ahab I was so-so about, but this Konrad was a different story. Piston fillers, they hold a lot of ink, and that’s needed. Because as they are flex nibs, these things DRINK the ink. I don’t really utilize the nib’s abilities too often in terms of coaxing a lot of line variation when I write. However, it’s still a superbly smooth writer for everyday work.. And cheap too at about $20.
I only have 2 pens from “high end” companies, a Mont Blanc and a Pelikan. Both are the entry level pens for their companies, the MB 144 and this pen, the Pelikan M200. This is a FANTASTIC pen. The Mont Blanc…is not. My only quibble about this pen is the aesthetics of the nib. It’s a steel nib (and it’s awesome) with gold plate or electroplate. And it looks like electroplate. I have a lot of other far less expensive pens with plating, but they look like gold. Other than that, there is nothing I can say negative about this pen.
Well, that’s my top five for now. Next month may be different. Let me know what yours are!
A new pen and an entirely new manufacturer for me. The Conklin Duragraph. I recently ordered this little jewel (and I do mean jewel) from Goulet Pens. Horrible experience! Not having anything to do with the Goulet’s, but from the fine folks at our esteemed United Postal Service. Ordered on January the 23rd, USPS web site showed it was out for delivery on the 26th. Great! Except they were trying to deliver it in Winchester, Ky. I live in Lawrenceburg Ky, over an hour away. From there it apparently was sent back to the Lexington Ky sorting facility. Next it was on to Oshkosh Wisconsin where it stayed for about 3 days. Finally, over a week later to me. And guess what? The box, label, everything that is looked at and used to route a package, was correct and in pristine condition.
I started with fountain pens on the vintage side of things, so I’ve known the Conklin name, but have never owned one, let alone seen or handled one. And I still haven’t. You see, this isn’t the Conklin company of vintage pen fame. Like the recent Esterbrook brand, this is a resurrection of sorts, where a group (in this case Yafa) purchased the rights to the name of a once famous, but long shuttered company, and re-opened “new”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just wanted to make clear – this is not the original Conklin company. But, this new Conklin company sure makes a nice pen….. Following is the line’s description from Conklin’s web site:
The Conklin Pen Company is recognized as being one of the first companies to add the feature of true mobility to daily writing.
Innovator Roy Conklin successfully created the first Self-filling fountain pen – promoted as ‘a fountain pen that has its own stomach’ which became much loved by renowned American author Mark Twain.
In 1923, the Duragraph model was launched, and shortly afterwards was considered to be ‘the definitive’ pen. The model was named by combining the words, durable and graph – Duragraph. Created to last as an heirloom to serve many generations, the Duragraph is offered with a lifetime guarantee.
The new Duragraph collection brings a fresh, modern style to this timeless oversize flat top design. Crafted from quality hand made resins, the Duragraph is substantial in size, yet not so large to be unwieldy in the hand.
Offered in a choice of three classic finishes, Amber, Cracked Ice and Forest Green, the Duragraph pays tribute to the classic designs of yesteryear. The cap top is embellished with the Conklin Est. 1898 logo and the cap band is engraved with the famous Duragraph model script font with three Conklin Crescent logos on either side of the model name.
Available in a choice of Fine, Medium or Stub nib grades, the Duragraph offers the ideal choice for your individual handwriting style. The cap top mounted clip allows the pen to sit low in the pocket, making this model a more practical choice for everyday use.
The fountain pen uses the reliable international cartridges converter (supplied) and the ballpoint is accompanied with a refill and accept the Monteverde P1 and P4 refills.
Each Conklin fine writing instrument is housed in a luxury gift presentation box lined with rich satin. Ideal as a perfect gift for yourself or a loved one, this model is the right size for both men and women who use fine writing instruments in their daily professional lives.
So, the good and bad points….
First the bad, and really, there’s not much. It doesn’t post well. It’s a long pen so for many, posting isn’t an issue in the first place. But for me, I like to post my caps on my pens. It’s not that it won’t post, it’s just that due to it’s design, the cap only posts to a very small portion of the end cap. It posts snuggly enough, but often crooked and makes you feel that, although it’s snug, it might fall off if moved too quickly. Because of this, posted, it becomes a VERY long pen and moves the center of balance far towards the rear of the pen.
The only other negative would be with the nib. I ordered mine in a fine, and though it writes reliably (no skips, doesn’t dry out easily) it’s a bit “toothy” for me. It is a true fine nib, which I know often means a bit more feedback than a typical medium nib, but after buying two Pilot Metropolitans recently, I can confidently say that a fine nib can be super smooth. This is not, though it’s not bad. Probably can be helped with some smoothing work on some mylon paper. The final negative with my nib is that it suffers from nib creep. Not sure if that can be fixed.
Now to the good….
Oh my goodness, it’s GEORGEOUS!!! This is an absolutely beautiful pen. Mine is the cracked ice finish and has a very art deco vibe to it. I just love to look at it. It looks as though it was patterned after the old Parker Duofolds or Sheaffer Lifetime Flat tops,which are pens that got me into this hobby in the first place.
Next is the price. At $49.95 including shipping, this pen is a pretty great value. My understanding is that the pen parts are produced in Asia and assembled here in the US.
Capped – 5.11 inches
Posted – 6.88 inches
Weight – 25 grams
Trim – Polished Chrome
Nib Grades – Fine, Medium and Stub
Filling Mechanism – Threaded cartridge converter
Lifetime Warranty. Yes, you read that correctly, a Lifetime Warranty.
As I was thinking about the fact that I hadn’t posted anything in a while, I started thinking about subject matter. Obviously, you expect that a site devoted to fountain pens would (and should) contain information about, well….fountain pens.
But it’s also common to find information about all sorts of things – relating to – fountain pens. Paper, inks, repairs, tools, storage, etcetera.
It struck me that other than a specific section on the Fountain Pen Network (http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum) , I’ve seen very little about how folks keep track of their collection. I think that I decided I needed to track, in some form, my collection when I got to about 20 or so pens. As much as anything, I wanted to start keeping track of what I’d bought, to try and help ‘reign in’ my addiction hobby.
I never really had a problem with this software, but I started thinking that I didn’t want to be tied solely to my computer to access my pen collection. I’m an insurance broker by profession, and over the last several years, I’ve been able to utilize my phone (right now a Galaxy S4) and tablet (Galaxy Note 8) more and more for business. And though I still need, and use, my laptop every day, I wanted to be able to access my collection from any of my devices, wherever I was. So that meant moving things to the “cloud”. That also meant finding a platform that would work universally, from my laptop, my phone, my tablet or the public pc at the local library (as I said, I wanted to be able to access it from anywhere). So (to my admittedly limited knowledge) that probably meant going to a spreadsheet. But spreadsheets are unwieldy, and unattractive as compared to the software I’d been using. Enter Google Drive, Google Docs and Memento.
Most folks now are familiar with Google Dive, and many also Google Docs. Most folks probably haven’t heard of Memento. Basically, Memento is a database utility for android (possibly ios too, not sure….) that will act as an interface for, Google Sheets, Google’s answer to Excel. On an Android device, you input your data into a form, and once done, view it in a form factor. So once I input my information on my new Kaweco Sport AL on my phone and hit sync (it’s not automatic), I can then access the Google Sheet in Google Drive, and it’s there – including pictures. I can then open Memento on my tablet, hit sync, and again the information is all there. Sweet.
If you use Android and are interested in Memento, check it out on the Play store: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=memento.It’s actually a pretty powerful little tool that you can do a LOT with. I’ve also uploaded my pen collection database to their online library.The framework for it, not the actual data. 9 people have downloaded it as of this writing. 9 people.
If others have different systems in place to track your collection, let us know about it in the comments!
This is going to be my first handwritten review of a pen, in this case a Pilot Metropolitan.
I purchased this a couple of months ago from Goulet Pens (great company, great service!), for $15.
I’ll make this pretty simple, I REALLY like this pen! This pen, at this price point ($15) with this quality — is really, really hard to beat. What’s not to like?
Well, there are a few negative points, at least for me. One is the point at which the section meets the body of the pen.It’s a big step-down, and for me, a bit uncomfortable to write with for long periods. Second is the filling system. It comes with one cartridge which is proprietary. Negative. Also comes with a squeeze bladder type of converter for filling from a bottle. It works great, and if they had just used a clear silicone sac for the bladder instead of black latex, I would have liked it better.
Ok. So what’s to like? Well, a lot more than I disliked. First and foremost, how it writes.And that can be labeled as awesome. Mine is a fine point. It’s easilly the best fine point nib I own. Pilot UNDERSTANDS what a fine point should be. I love them, but Lamy fine points are medium – or maybe medium/fine. This is a fine point. And a SMOOTH fine point.
Next is the pen design and material.Mine is a kind of champagne colored brushed aluminum (I think they call it “bronze”) Champagne is a better description. It has a nice heft and is very well balanced. It is (in my opinion) a simple yet very elegant looking pen.
To summarize, this is a $15 dollar pen that comes across more like a $50 dollar pen. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a solid 7.5.