What I Bought in 2018: Inks

Platinum Blue-Black ink bottle

I like to do an annual accounting every year of the inks I bought. In 2018, it was 18 bottles.

Now, that seems like an awful lot. But, if you take the long view, I improved. Because in 2015 I bought 30 bottles of ink; and in 2016 I bought 20 bottles of ink and three boxes of cartridges.

Now, a strict accounting also would uncover that in 2017 I bought only 10 bottles of ink. But then strict accounting seems to be for unhappy people. Let’s forget that and take the long view. I improved!

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How Fine is a Pelikan M600 Extra-Fine Nib?

How fine is the Pelikan M600 extra-fine nib? Not very! At least, not “very fine” in the sense of “narrow.” But “very fine” in the sense of “excellent.”

I happen to have a Pelikan M600 with extra-fine nib inked up at the same time as a Sailor 1911L with medium nib. The two pens have different inks, but here’s a comparison writing sample.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

I’m not particularly surprised by this. I often use two modern M600 Pelikans with extra-fine nibs, and I always jokingly call those nibs “alleged extra-fines.”

Partly that’s because I tend to think of nib widths in line with vintage Parkers and Pelikans, and modern Japanese pens — all of which run narrower than modern Pelikan gold nibs. But also because I use a lot of modern Pelikan fine nibs, and I find those pretty darn close to Pelikan extra-fine nibs. In fact, I swear that a few of my Pelikan fines write a narrower line.*

Here’s another writing sample. The Pelikan gold extra-fine uses the dark green of Pelikan Edelstein Olivine, and the Sailor medium is inked with the lighter green of Sailor Waka-Uguisu.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

I bring this up now because Pelikan has decided to start charging extra for their extra-fine nibs. They apparently implemented the price increase in Europe earlier this year, and it just reached the US with the M600 Vibrant Orange, which will cost $440 with fine through broad nibs, versus $476 with an extra-fine nib.

I’ve never bought many Pelikan extra-fine nibs. I tend to use vintage fine nibs and modern Japanese fine and extra-fine nibs when I want a finer lines. So my extra-fine nib needs are covered. But I don’t think Pelikan extra-fine gold nibs are bad, just because they may be wider. In fact, I think Pelikan’s gold extra-fine nibs are very good.

To me, what makes Pelikan’s gold extra-fine nibs good, and maybe a little special, is that they are extremely smooth and easy writers. I’ve noticed that people who don’t share my love of very narrow nibs always love my Pelikan extra-fines.

Modern Pelikan gold nibs are beautifully ground to almost float on the page, so you can write very fluidly with them, and they reward a light touch. That’s true for the extra-fine, as well. Sure, it may write wider than many extra-fine nibs, but it also writes wetter and smoother.**

Sailor gold nib also are beautifully ground, but at size medium and below, Sailor nibs feature a characteristic feedback. Instead of floating across the page, a Sailor nib feels more like writing with a pencil — it’s a different kind of smoothness. Or look to the extra-fine nibs of Lamy and Aurora: in those the extra-fine nib tends to have a smaller sweet spot and put less ink down on the paper. All these brands’s extra-fines will generally write finer than Pelikan’s gold extra-fine, but the experience is different.

So I can think of a lot of reasons why many fountain pen users prefer the Pelikan extra-fine.

And even though it’s not particularly narrow, I enjoy using it myself. I’m not sure it’s different enough from the Pelikan gold fine nib for me to buy another, given the price increase, but I’d heartily recommend it to those who don’t already own one, especially those who don’t necessarily seek the narrowest line possible.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

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*Please note that I’m only talking about modern Pelikan gold nibs here. Modern Pelikan gold nibs differ from (i) the steel nibs found on pens like the M200 line, and (ii) vintage Pelikan nibs.

**There will be sample variations in any nib, so these are generalized statements based on my experience across a range of pens. Some individual extra-fine gold nibs from Pelikan may be narrower or dryer, than normal, or may exhibit other variances.

A Peek at the Pen Cup: Mean, Green, Certainly Not Lean

IMG_1194

Look at that: absolute chaos has descended on Fountain Pen Follies.

And. So. Much. Green.

It’s probably obvious just looking at that: these last two months have been insanely busy in real life, leaving no time for writing with pens. At the same time, I’ve been inundated with pens and ink. I’ve got a bunch of new inks, including some nice samples, and also a few new pens, to try out. Then I wanted to ink up testers for my Pelikan Hub. Then there’s the new Sailor 1911L in Key Lime. Everything has piled up. I’ve got close to 30 pens there, crammed in like commuters on an L train at rush hour.

That Sailor 1911L in Key Lime is the pen I notice most in that crowd. In the first photo, it’s the green pen near the top right corner. What makes that photo unusual is something that you might not notice: there was sun outside. See how nice and gleaming the Sailor looks in the sun?

Here’s an extreme closeup.

Sailor 1911L Key Lime in sun

Pizzazz.

In the sun, the pearlized material of the Key Lime really comes through. On the one I’m using, there are wavy shimmers, for a moire effect.

Here’s another shot, in which you can see the very subtle shimmers on the pen body:

Sailor 1911L Key Lime with comparison pens

Still in the sun, the Key Lime there is between the Pelikan Stockholm and the Lamy Al-Star Charged Green. That’s closer to what the Key Lime usually looks like. But it’s a smidge yellower in real life, which just doesn’t come through in photos.

I want to do a post on the many looks of the Key Lime, because it’s such a cool color, but also so different, and so hard to get a fix on. It’s fascinating.

What you can’t see is that inside all those pens is a lot of green ink. Too much green ink. I feel like I should be decorating for Christmas. Except, of course, it is only October. And in October we celebrate the biggest holiday season of all. The start of NHL hockey.

I’m sure we all feel “too much” at times. Right now, those crammed pen cups are nagging me, like a pile of laundry you haven’t folded for a week. So this Peek at the Pen Cup was the “no mas” edition. I’m going to spend some time cleaning out the pens I can do without, and getting back on track with the others.

“Always Listen to Your Mother”: I Go to the San Francisco Pen Show

vintage Pelikan fountain pen

That is a pen.

I am starting out with a giant pen — Actual Pen Content — because after my inattention to pens at the DC Show, I vowed to be more on my game at the San Francisco Show.

That sounds so good! So of course it’s totally untrue. I said no such thing. And that pen hasn’t been within 2,000 miles of the San Francisco Pen Show. But it’s a pen.

And I did pick up a smattering of Actual Pen Content from the San Francisco show, which I will put at the very end, for loyal readers or those wasting time at work. Others, feel free to skip ahead.

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Ink Review: Platinum Blue-Black

Platinum Blue-Black

Platinum Blue-Black. This is a blue-black ink, but with the emphasis on “blue.” It’s not a traditional gray- or green-leaning blue black; instead it’s more of a dark blue. Platinum Blue-Black performs well on regular paper; it’s attractive; and it’s water-resistant. Best of all, it’s very easy to clean from a pen.

Why doesn’t everyone use this ink?

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A Peek at the Sailor Professional Gear Shooting Star of Jonuma and the Sailor Medium-Fine Nib

Sailor Shooting Star of Jonuma fountain pen

So here’s my “I know I said I wasn’t going to buy any more new pens” new pen. This is the Sailor Shooting Star of Jonuma, from a retailer in Japan. It’s a full-size Sailor Professional Gear in a transparent, sparkling blue-green, with white end caps that remind me of pencil erasers, and a medium-fine nib. It’s gorgeous, and I couldn’t resist.

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ZOMG Who Wants to Win the Sailor Professional Gear Ocean?

You do! And no, joke, you can! I practically tripped across a giveaway that Dan Smith, aka The Nibsmith, just started for the Professional Gear Slim in Ocean. It’s a beautiful pen! Dan said I could enter, so I did, but don’t worry, I never win anything. But I hope one of you do.

Apparently you can enter at this link but also on all forms of social media, like Twitter, where I follow Dan. But also maybe even on a whole bunch of other social media. Even Facebook, which I won’t touch because it’s horrible and evil — but then, if you’re already on it, go for it. What’s one more day on there, when you might win a free pen?!

Best part: I learned by entering that Dan has a heretofore unknown appreciation for Archer, which I think I may have corrupted him into. Now, if I can only get him into It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, my work on this earth will be complete.