Deep Thoughts, of Pelikans, Lamy and Kaweco

Pelikan M605 White

1. To buy or not to buy, that is the question. For the first time in a long time, I am tempted by this new Pelikan, the M605 in white, that’s coming out in mid-October in the US.

I’ve been on the fence a bit. On the positive side, as an M605, it’s my favorite Pelikan size and my favorite rhodium trim. I like the silvery look of the stripes. The pen looks like a cross between a demonstrator and a pinstriped suit.

On the negative side, well, it is a fountain pen, and I have way too many of those already. I’d have to sell something to buy it. And it’s very white. Do I like white pens? I don’t. Though, strictly speaking, the cap and section of this “white” Pelikan are off-white, the same as on the M600 Pink and the M400 White Tortoise. It’s still going to lack any color, which those two pens have.

But I like it when I see the photo. It’s frosty.

Normally, I like to wait to see Pelikans in person before buying, because sometimes the pens look different in person. A number of excellent European stores are offering tempting prices, but without US warranty. And I’d have to buy without seeing it first.

On the other hand, I just found out from Dan Smith, the Nibsmith, that the MSRP in the US will be $475. Which means it will sell for $380 with the standard dealer discount.I think that’s still a bit more than the European price, but it comes with a US warranty. That’s incredibly tempting. Heck, that’s lower than the price of a standard green striped M600. Maybe we should all buy one quickly, before Pelikan changes its mind.

It’s a special edition, too, so not available forever.

Hmmm. Anyone else have any thoughts on this pen? Anyone else tempted?

2. Can you keep a secret? Someone I know is going to become a Kaweco and Lamy pen dealer. And I’m just super excited. Those are the two pen brands that I use all the time. The Lamy Safari is my favorite pen, and has been since it first came out. I love Lamy so much if I were seven years old some other kid would say, “you love Lamy so much why don’t you marry it?!” and everyone including me would laugh. But my laugh would be different; my laugh would be thoughtful. Because I would think it’s a pretty good idea.

Three Months and Counting: An Extended Test of Platinum Classic Line Iron Gall Inks with a Stainless Steel Nib Fountain Pen

Pilot Plumix

Holy hell: it’s been more than three months.

Back on June 9, I filled a clean, empty cartridge with an iron gall ink and fitted that into a clean Pilot Plumix fountain pen. The ink was Platinum Classic Cassis Black, one of Platinum’s new line of colorful iron gall inks for fountain pens. I put it nib upward in the pen cup at Fountain Pen Follies World Headquarters and Laboratory of Fancy Science. The experiment had begun.

I wanted to see how the iron gall ink would react over an extended period in contact with the Pilot’s stainless steel nib. Would the iron gall ink stain, corrode, gunk up or otherwise cause problems? Remember that we don’t worry about using iron gall fountain pen ink in pens with gold nibs, because gold does not react to the iron gall’s acidic element. But is there a problem with the more common, and cheaper, stainless steel nibs?

After a month, on July 11 or so, I thought it was time for an interim look at the Plumix. Click here for the full report, if you like, but the short answer was, all was well. The ink flowed, and the nib and pen were still perfect. I only used the pen once more, on July 22, briefly. Then I put the pen back in the pen cup and ignored it until earlier this week. Now it’s time for a three-month report.

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Update: Testing Platinum Classic Line Iron Gall Inks with a Stainless Steel Nib Fountain Pen

Pilot Plumix

Platinum’s 2017 release of six colorful iron gall inks, called the Classic Line, has made me very happy. I love iron gall inks for fountain pens, and appreciate the gentler ones, which I call “modern iron gall inks,” after KWZ Ink’s low-maintenance iron galls.

The new Platinum lineup seems very nice, and very low-maintenance. There’s an overview of all six here. I’ve used three of these on an extended basis, and reviewed those three here: Citrus, Sepia and Cassis. I got my samples from Dan Smith, the Nibsmith, who sells ink as well as pens, luckily for me.

I’ve recently been testing one of the Platinum Classic inks — Cassis Black — for an extended time in a Pilot Plumix fountain pen with a stainless steel nib. I wanted to really see just how safe these inks are with any pen. To see if the ink would react with the pen’s stainless steel nib, or clog or stain, and if so, how long would it take.

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My Favorite, and Least Favorite, Starter Fountain Pens

fountain pens

Starter fountain pens: let’s get into it. Everyone loves a “what starter fountain pen should I buy” question. I am no exception: I have a few suggestions. The problem is, I also have a few I really don’t suggest, even though they are commonly recommended for beginners.

My choices are based on my own preferences, my own experience and my own tastes. Feel free to disagree. Different opinions and experiences are part of the fun.

For a starter fountain pen, I want a pen with a fairly low price. That encourages people to take the chance. And if you don’t get the hang of writing with the fountain pen, or don’t like it, or you lose your pen, it’s not the end of the world. I only consider new pens, not vintage pens, for ease of purchase and ease of use.

But another requirement for me is that the pen be capable of providing lasting satisfaction. My ideal starter fountain pen can be used regularly even when you’ve moved past the starter stage. Because fountain pens don’t have to be expensive or precious, in my opinion.

So let’s jump in the pool.

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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.

Penvy.

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.

Penpal.

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.