Pen of the Day: Franklin-Christoph 03 with Robert Oster Tranquility

Franklin-Christoph 03 Iterum and Robert Oster Tranquility

Franklin-Christoph 03. When you work at a pen show, geography is destiny. Just like a college dorm, you are going to hang out with the people nearby. And my little corner of 2017 Chicago Pen Show was charmed, with Papier Plume behind and Franklin-Christoph to the right. Between Renso, Audrey, Mike and Jim, I had the nicest neighbors.

And as Chicago Pen Show Instagram, I loved documenting the action at both tables. Tracking Papier Plume as they sold out their Chicago Pen Show special inks, and watching the tsunami of customers at Franklin-Christoph. Most fun was when Audrey put out the trays of Franklin-Christoph pens in prototype materials each morning.

So it was probably inevitable that I ended up buying a Franklin-Christoph myself. I chose my 03 because it’s a nice, larger size, it has a comfortable section, and it has a clip. Mine is a prototype, but an understated one, in dark blue with a glassy color medallion in the cap top.

Prototype colors aren’t named, but Jim Rouse dubbed mine “Royal Navy Blue with a Porthole.”

Franklin-Christoph 03 Iterum and Robert Oster Tranquility

I am all over that name, as fellow Aubrey and Maturin fans would understand.

I chose a Masuyama stub nib in medium. I did test their SIG nibs (recommended by my friend). In fact, I tested all their nibs. And I retested. That’s a big advantage to picking out your pen at the show. You can mull.

I inked my pen with Robert Oster Tranquility, another pen show purchase. Tranquility is one of the many Oster blue-green inks. This one is on the greener side. The second and third photos are the best for accurate depiction of the ink color.

Tranquility has nice shading. It also has Oster’s trademark red sheen, slight with this pen, but more noticeable from a wetter pen.

Robert Oster Tranquility writing sample

Chicago Pen Show 2017 “Haul”

Chicago Pen Show 2017 purchases

We’re supposed to post our pen show pickups, so here are mine from last weekend’s Chicago Pen Show.

Seeing it all splayed out there is daunting. But magnificent. It takes a truck.

What did I buy? Two pens. One new, which is my first Franklin-Christoph. And one vintage, which is my second PFM I. Both pens are blue, which is my favorite color. I also bought five bottles of Papier Plume inks (my first). Three bottles of KWZ Chicago Blue. My first bottle of Robert Oster — Tranquility, recommended by blog readers. And a really cool notebook called the Zequenz roll up journal.

Zequenz roll up journal

In terms of gifts, Papier Plume threw in a stick of gold sealing wax, with which I intend to seal my many important proclamations, like “don’t put empty boxes back in the pantry.”

A friend gave me that empty Akkerman bottle. Someone else gave me a leather case (already in use). And I got a pin for a cool fountain pen blog, Of Quill Alchemy, from three amazingly talented students at the University of Chicago who run it.

The best present isn’t up there. It was finally meeting my dear friend Lou. We’ve known each other for years through fountain pens, but only via emails and letters, because we live so far away. Lou was in the area with his wife and brother for a family event, so they hung out with me on Thursday, the show’s first day.

That Thursday also happened to be my birthday. Now, of course turning 29 (once again) doesn’t phase me. I’ve gotten blasé about that, it happens so often. But finally meeting Lou and his family made for the best birthday ever.

pen wrap with opal

Lou made and gave me that gorgeous pen wrap. He knows me, however, so he handed it to me with the caution, “be careful.” The closure is opal. Which … okay, I’m fairly sure I’ll be googling “opal glue” before I turn 29 next year.

Inside, Lou stuck a few bookmarks, to remind me of some very important things. The last was, “remember to write me every once in a while.” He said that with a smile, because we’re both terrible at that. Not that it matters. Friends stay in each other’s hearts.

pen wrap interior

Along those lines, people in the US fountain pen community know that right after the pen show we unexpectedly lost Susan Wirth, a pen show mainstay and a great personality.

We always assume there will be a next time. But of course that’s not always true. So I’m going to try to remember to take more time for myself and other people. Rush around less, hang around more.

A Very Serious, Not At All Tongue-in-Cheek, Fountain Pen Dictionary

Penjoyment. The state of good cheer that arises when pen and ink make writing fun.

Pendless. Your wishlist.

Penabler. All your pen friends. Or you drop them.

Penergized. That hopeful, exhuberant feeling that arises when you walk into a pen store or pen show or start browsing online — or even when you think, “Today’s the day I’ll clean out some pens.”

Penthusiast. How you describe yourself to your spouse, just before you start having merchants ship to your office.

Penthrallment. The knowledge that you must have a certain pen or ink, and it will be the last one you ever buy.

Penuui. Boredom with writing instruments, either the last one you bought, or all of them.


1. The unexpressed, uncomfortable feeling that, while you really couldn’t be happier that your friend got this sought-after fountain pen or ink, now that she has it, you feel left out, and your pens and inks seem second-rate in comparison.

2. If the possessor isn’t your friend, the feeling needn’t be kept secret, and can be expressed with a witty dig at the object or the possessor, or both.


1. A person with whom you send letters back and forth.

2. A person you have owed a letter to for three months. See, Penemy.

Penemy. A person who used to be your penpal, until your replies became so slow.

Penitent. A person who replied too slowly to her penpals.

Penvelope. A real word, for an attractive but expensive leather pen case that you consider buying when you have bought too many pens to contain any other way. If you have at least two Penvelopes, see, Pensanity.

Pensanity. Peak pen purchasing madness.

Penlightenment. The state of feeling satisfied with the pens you already have, which must last longer than three months or until you save up for the next one.

Pend. The end of this blog post.



Happy International Women’s Day

Yeah, no real post today, I’m on strike. It’s International Women’s Day.

Ha. I wish. What mother could ever go on strike? Although I’ll note that Classic Fountain Pens is closed today “in respect for the work women do here and around the world.” Nice! Shout-out to them.

Whatever International Women’s Day is, I’m for it, even without a strike. On the website, it says the idea is “to help forge a better working world
 — a more inclusive, gender equal world.” That’s nice.

I think “gender equal” isn’t necessarily a concept that really applies to fountain pens and ink, but I think the fountain pen world is a pretty inclusive place. So three cheers for fountain pens and inks, and the people who work in, and enjoy, fountain pens and inks.

Pen of the Day: Lamy Safari Aquamarine with Robert Oster Bondi Blue

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample

Lamy Safari Aquamarine with medium nib. I am perfectly aware that this colorful and fun plastic fountain pen made for middle schoolers is the pen that fountain pen collectors can’t abide, and can’t resist dissing. Because most of my pen friends are that way. To my face.

But I magnanimously forgive them, because they know not what they do. (Or, I secretly think, “pen snobs.” Guess which.)

Nonetheless the humble Safari is one of my favorite pen designs ever, and I think it’s one of the best pen designs ever. I use my many Safaris (and Al-Stars and Vistas) all the time, and while they aren’t perfect, they are pretty awesome to me.

Now, sadly, the Aquamarine limited edition came out in 2011, and is long sold out. This color has been so popular on the secondary market that it has been counterfeited and sells for crazy prices. So I suggest you not hunt for an Aquamarine. (Except for my Safari Hater friends, whom I urge to drop everything, spend whatever it takes, just get an Aquamarine because it will change your life. You deserve it. Xoxoxo.)

The rest of us should consider this year’s Al-Star in Pacific Blue instead. (It’s bright and attractive and also turquoise.) Or buy a regular Safari in any color. Because I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: paying premium prices for special Safaris makes no sense. Unless they have a ducky on top. Duh.

With the money you save, buy some awesome inks. Here’s one suggestion: Robert Oster Bondi Blue, a sample of which I’m now enjoying thanks to my awesome blog reader and fountain pen pal David.

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample

I really like Bondi Blue. It’s a bright, fun color, with gorgeous shading, and obvious sheen potential. And best of all, for me, it totally rocks in a Safari. I’ve got Bondi Blue in two pens, because I’m going to review it, and it seems like a great Safari ink. It flows well in the Safari, which is not the case for every ink, and it looks its best in a Safari, also not the case for every ink.

Love my Safaris, love my Bondi Blue.

Robert Oster Bondi Blue writing sample


Seventies Flashback: An Accidental Lamy Safari Tribute to Howard Johnson’s

Howard Johnson's Tribute Lamy Safaris and Al-Star

If you lived in America in the 1970s, and your family took road trips, you’ll see it, too. HoJo. The ubiquitous roadside motor lodge and restaurant chain, with the appalling but memorable color scheme of orange and aqua.

It was an innocent mistake. Like the start of a horror movie, when a bunch of teens are lost and tired, and the cranky one says, “Oh, let’s just stay in this abandoned house — who’s going to care?”

Uh huh. Exactly what happened here. I had three new inks to try, so I grabbed two Lamy Safaris and an Al-Star. They are favorites and good ink testing pens. And you can color-coordinate pen and ink.

I didn’t think twice. I filled KWZ Grapefruit in an Orange Safari, Robert Oster Bondi Blue in an Aquamarine Safari and KWZ Honey in a Pearl Al-Star. Three excellent inks!

Until I looked at the pens, standing there upright. “It’s coming from inside the house….”

Incredible Ink Collection on Video

I’m wretchedly sick today — along with the whole family — but my friend Mike sent me this link which perked me right up. The video shows an amazing ink collection, and some amazing pens, too. In case you haven’t seen this, do click. Great video, great collection. Wow.