Comparing My Many Pen Cases, Because the Road to Wisdom is Excess

fountain pen cases

I was admiring my new pen case the other day, when I decided to compare it to the other pen case I have.

Okay, stop. I fell victim right there to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But nearly as well-known is “never check your pen things after you’ve bought something new.”

Because, when I pulled out “the other pen case I have,” I found more than one. I actually found pen case after pen case — a clown car of pen cases. At least one of which I swear I’ve never seen before.

Well. Some might ask “how” or “why.” But in the spirit of the age, I’d rather ask, “How can I rebrand a character flaw into something flattering?”

Oscar Wilde is the man for this: “Moderation is a fatal thing, Lady Hunstanton. Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Or the poet William Blake: “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

So what if Wilde died in exile after serving prison time, and Blake is synonymous with madness? All that means is that I have the sort of genius in pen-case ownership that isn’t recognized in its own time.

So I shall wisely compare my many pen cases.

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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.