Posted in Pens, Stories

Enjoy Your Local Libraries (National Library Week is starting)

Isn’t the cover picture the coolest? FB was busy spying and noticed my interest in libraries, etc. Naturally, this popped up in my feed, looks very Harry Potterish, don’t you think? It is the Book Reimagined art display in Leadenhall Market, London. I haven’t been able to find this photo to credit the photographer or the artist who design the display.

Let’s consider this a public service announcement – well to a point it is. I mentioned in my Blogiversary post I was going to try to add new things, to spice up the blog, welp this is my first effort. I’ve always been fond of libraries. I love the smell of libraries (you should have seen me at the state archives). How does one associate libraries with fountain pens – let’s play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

The object is to associate fountain pens with libraries while connecting both with Kevin Bacon. Simple enough, let’s play.

The Free Library of Philadelphia (which I have not visited), is the subject of newspaper articles written by Bobbi Booker. Ms. Booker is the president of the Pen & Pencil Club and has interviewed Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon was cast to play “Arnie” in the movie Carrie (based on the Stephen King novel of the same name) but he backed out. Stephen King and fellow authors Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Christopher Paolini, Haruki Murakami all write novels using fountain pens. Their novels can be found in libraries. That was fun, don’t you think!

National Library Week

Studies found that by the mid-1950s, Americans were spending the majority of their free time listening to the radio, watching TV, and playing musical instruments. Concerned that people were not reading enough, the American Library Association agreed to sponsor the first National Library Week in 1958. The week-long event was developed with the intent of motivating people to read as well as to support and show appreciation for their local libraries. The 1958 inaugural theme was ‘‘Wake up and Read!’’

The theme for the National Library Week 2022, is “Connect with Your Library.” Dust off that old library card, time for browsing.

If I haven’t lost you yet, National Library Week runs from April 3 to 9. I challenge you to dash into your local library and borrow your favorite book or find a new favorite. I’ve spent endless hours in libraries, studying for exams, researching, borrowing books, and going through free magazines, newspapers, and journals.

Local Libraries

I intended to end this with some amazing, breathtaking photos of libraries from around the world. If I were to visit any of these libraries I doubt I could read a single word. As I do not want to open myself up to copyright infringement by posting photos, I’ll provide links. Wait, if I make collages…. From the top left to the bottom right.

Baltimore, Ottawa, DC, St. Gallen
San Lorenzo, Prague, Vancouver, Austria
Dublin, Stuttgart, NYPL, Rio

What book(s) did you check out at the library? What did you think of those libraries? Does anyone have other drop-dead library recommendations?

Posted in Restoration

Keystone: A Brand, A Model or Wearever

The keystone fountain pen, a taper-cap eyedropper-filling model produced by Soper & Sievewright, was fitted with a manually-operated ink shut-off to prevent leakage while in the pocket and also provided an option to fill the pen by removal of a threaded plug in the back end of the barrel.

Keystone was also a pen model name used by David Kahn, Inc. for one of the Wearever pens. Kahn, a manufacturing company operating in New Jersey, was founded in 1896 by David Kahn, a Jewish immigrant. Kahn’s company manufactured ornate pencil cases, mechanical pencils, and pens. The Wearever brand of fountain pens was introduced circa 1918. In the late 1920s, Kahn adopted the injection molding process then being developed in Germany, making them the first manufacturer to produce injection-molded pens.

This Keystone, is it a model, or is it a brand name …. we know that Wearever used Keystone as one of its model names, and this pen looks very much like the Jefferson pens produced by Wearever. I’m inclined to believe this pen is one of the Wearever models known as Keystone.

My Pen

Not trying to be a Negative Nancy, but let’s start with my complaint about the pen. The pen is overall in good shape and attractive but some idiot who previously “restored” it shellacked the section to the barrel after installing an undersized ink sac. I can’t take any pride in sloppy work but I guess “good enough” is as good as some people can manage – I’m a firm believer in the Peter Principle.

Now on to the pen!

Let’s start with the ink sac and section, as you can see this is all jacked up. OMG, it gets even better, the refurbisher did not bother to remove the old sac. Its remains are in the barrel as well as its remnants are still on the section under the newly installed sac – oh this going to be fun.

I had no problem removing the lever, and most of the previous ink sac, which was still rubberized-ish. Naturally, the J-bar broke when I tried to remove it. Or maybe it was already broken, but no worries I can make a new one. I eventually removed the old ink sac from the barrel making use of a wax carving tool and an X-Acto knife.

Then I pulled the nib and feed out by accident, which turned out to be a good thing, The underside of the nib was coated with a white stain. Using an old polishing cloth I went to work on the stain. The nib is imprinted with the verbiage “gold plated,” well as I worked the cloth to remove the stains so did the remaining gold plate.

Look closely below you will notice a series of cracks radiating out from the clip. I’m confident these are manufacturing defects and not related to misuse.

After manufacturing a new J-Bar, I made quick order reassembling the pen, installing a #20 sized ink sac. Time to ink it up and give it a go!

Can’t say I was impressed with how the pen writes. We all know I am not a fan of Fine point nibs. After inking up the pen I had to coax the ink to flow. The feed is not suited for fast writing and would be a horrible choice for note-taking.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 125mm
  • Uncapped length 120mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 13.5mm
  • Weighs in at 14g.
Posted in Collection, Pens, Stories

Country of Origin

Sorta kinda continuing from the Blogiversary post where I made mentioned my pen collection. What should I say about it? Should I highlight the “special” pens, or the number of pens? As the number of pens in my collection is an admission of personal weakness – I suffer from a condition known as BSO (Bright Shiny Objects) syndrome I decided against that.

I decided to focus on the country of origin of the pens. Make me seem like an international man of mystery (yeah right). Again, I started overthinking the task. I immediately thought, contemporary vs vintage, but suppose the manufacturer has contemporary pens made in China, while their vintage pens are made in the US – clearly overthinking a simple task.

Getting past the obvious insanity, I began stressing over should I count the number of pens per country or just the number of manufacturers per country? I have a couple pens from Yafa (Conklin and Monteverde) and contemporary Esterbrook pens, all of which I have included in the US manufacturer total, but we all know the pens are made in China. The same is true for Scriveiner claiming “Designed in London” and we know that means manufactured in China.

I decided on simplicity – Country and Manufacturer. Keep in mind most of my pens are vintage and the manufacturer has been out of business for decades.

  • France – Gold Starry and Waterman
  • England – Mabie Todd, Conway Stewart, Esterbrook, Osmiroid, Mentmore, Scriveiner
  • Turkey – Scrikss
  • India – indie, Airmail
  • China – Hero, Kaigelu, Zenzoi
  • Taiwan – TWSBI
  • Germany – Montblanc
  • Japan – Pilot, Spor
  • US – Esterbrook, Parker, Sheaffer, Worth, Arnold, Inkograph, Keystone, Ambassador, Conklin, Heath, Monteverde

Then I got to thinking about where did I purchase my pens. A vast number of pens were purchased from US sellers. As I am an equal opportunity purchaser, I also acquired pens from sellers in Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, and the most unusual locale of all – the Greek Island of Kos, where I have purchased 2 pens.

Posted in Restoration

1935 Parker Challenger

(Revised from the original posting on 16 March 2021.)

The Parker Challenger was manufactured from 1934 to 1941 and was a surprise success for the George Parker Company. The pen was introduced in February of 1934 during the Vacumatic era and featured a button filler made of the same material as the Vacumatics but at less than half the price. The Challenger was offered in two sizes, slim or standard, and sold for $2.50, whereas the Vacumatic sold for $7.50 and the Parkette for $1.25, making it priced right as a gift pen for school students.

My Pen

When I got my Parker Challenger as a consultation prize for bitching about excessive shipping cost on another purchase. It was in horrible condition, the clip and cap ring is heavily brassed. The ink sac was dried-up, and the section is frozen to the barrel and the nib won’t pull out. The date code 13 is stamped on the barrel, meaning it was manufactured in Q1 1935.

How to refurbish it, I pulled out my Parker Repair manual, which was apparently a bad idea. In the repair manual, it indicated that the plunger section needed or could be removed using the Parker pen vise. Turns out you aren’t supposed to take the plunger section out so when I tried and tried all I did was damage the threads of the plunger cap. Now there are no teeth to hold the cap on.

So I got working on the section and the nib. Both aren’t budging, using a hair drier and soaked them for days, they finally came apart. A peek inside the barrel revealed the pressure bar mixed up with the dried ink sac.

Feeling frustrated I did a Duck Duck Go search and found 2 articles, one on The Fountain Pen Network and the other on Fountain Pen Restoration detailing how to refurb a Challenger, well shit. This is when I realized the vise was a mistake. Removing the plunger was no problem but the pressure bar wasn’t moving. Using a dental pick, I broke up enough of the sac to free the pressure bar, then removed the remaining sac.

I found a guy in South Dakota with a spare clip for the Challenger – I ordered one. Well, the clip arrived and the hole in the washer is too small. At first glance, it is otherwise identical to the one I took off. Placing them side by side the new one is a little shorter.

The inside diameter of the brassed clip ring is 10mm while the replacement clip is 7mm. Could it be a Vacumatic clip since Challengers were made from the same plastic or maybe a remodeled Duofold clip,

Removing years of grim, tooth marks, and scratches. Taped over the name and mfr info and started sanding with 1000 grit paper, then 2000, 3000, 5000, 7000 grit paper then I repeated the whole process. Afterward, I went over the pen with a Sunshine cloth. It feels great! and looks good. The process was repeated with on cap.

Time to focus on the section, it had a brown tint from all the grime which required sanding twice. The paper turned brown, but when I finished it looked great. Installed a #20 ink sac. Used the Sunshine cloth on the nib, it shined up great so I also polished up the feed and put the nib back into the section.

Do No Harm

Turned my attention to the damage I did to the plunger cap. Applied 2 coats of sac shellack to the inside of the blind cap threads. It didn’t help so I cut some black construction paper into a thin strip and put it inside the cap, and shellacked it into place – bingo.

OMG, I’ve found a DIY process for nickel electroplating that is “safe and easy.” I gave it a go, didn’t poison myself or blow up the garage, and my wife didn’t divorce me (lol).

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 132mm
  • Uncapped length 116mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 14mm
  • Weighs in at 16g
Posted in Stories

Blogiversary

The power of serendipity.

“Serendipity is an unplanned fortunate discovery. Serendipity is also seen as a potential design principle for online activities that would present a wide array of information and viewpoints, rather than just re-enforcing a user’s opinion.”

Yes, I stuck a pen in the center of a mini carrot cake.

Wow, it has been a year. Can’t say it started on the right foot. I spent weeks being confused. I even bought a WP For Dummies book and I was still confused. Yup, I have a pea brain with flat spots. But I endeavored to persevere and here we are. Not only are we here, but I started a second blog, a satirical view of the world through the eyes of a puppy – that setup went much better.

I started the blog to connect with like-minded individuals who view writing instruments as a thing of beauty. At the time I assumed that there would be 3 like-minded people. I am flabbergasted, amazed, and in awe, during 1 year of blogging, I managed 76 posts, writing 43,000 words, which were read by 2100 visitors – remember this blog is about PENS! Writing instruments.

Thanks to all who have viewed, liked, and commented on my posts, and to those who follow the blog – thank you. By most blogging standards, these numbers are infantile, which is why I appreciate you all.

A special thanks to Ray at Fountain Pen Quest. Since he has mentioned the Chronicles in his blog, my viewership has quadrupled. I encourage you to visit his blog.

The Beginning

So how did it all begin? I restored or is it refurbished a Parker Challenger. During the process, I did countless dumb things and a couple good things. Afterward, I got the bright idea to address the brassing on the cap clip. The clip is nickel-plated and I found a DIY nickel electroplating process – it was a blast and my garage still stands. It is difficult finding pen restoration information. I wanted to save others from a similar fate.

I have a long list of topics that takes me into next year, hopefully, you will continue to find the content as interesting, and informative as I do.

Blogging Pros and Cons

I did not start the blog for fame and fortune. I started it to be social and to meet others. I’m following blogs that have nothing to do with pens, created by individuals from all over the world. I honestly think that is really cool. Unfortunately, I am the type who does best with a schedule and if I miss a posting date I stress. Each post is reviewed and edited at least 20-30 times (this post has been revised 25 times) before my “editor” reads it. Even with my self-imposed stress I still have fun.

The next trip around the Sun

I’ve given some thought to changes for the next blog year. Taking a page from several other bloggers, I’m going to add a “month in review,” summarizing my posts and highlighting other blogs. I’m going to comment more and “Like” less. I have some other ideas but they are just ideas for now.

In closing, I got to thinking that since this is a blog about PENS maybe I could share a couple facts about myself:

  • Currently reading: A Memory Called Empire
  • Last movie seen: The Dog
  • Pets: 3 dogs and 3 cats. Yes I live in a zoo.
  • Last concert: Black Sabbath, I have tickets to see Ziggy Marley, it has been cancelled twice.
  • Pens in my collection: OMG too many. Including pens for sale I have 22 Esterbrook, and 11 Parker, plus many, many more.
  • Most recent acquisition: Pilot Namiki Capless
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Pilot Prera

Pilot is the largest pen manufacturer in Japan. Manufacturing the majority of their pens in Japan, France, and the US. In 1963, Pilot entered the fountain pen market with the introduction of the Capless. Unlike other fountain pens, the Pilot Capless featured a fully retractable nib. The Capless was reintroduced as the Vanishing Point in 1972.

Unlike other fountain pens, the Pilot Capless featured a fully retractable nib. The Capless was reintroduced as the Vanishing Point in 1972.

Pilot Namiki Capless

Sorry, I took you down this rabbit hole. I had to include a couple pictures of a Pilot Namiki Capless. I’m totally into this design and the color. Now back to the Prera.

My Pen

I picked up a Pilot Prera Clear, also known as the Prera Iro-Ai with a medium calligraphy nib. It has a beautifully clean look that reminds me of a TWSBI. Oh and this is my first Japanese pen.

Pilot Prera Iro-Ai

The pen ships in a box with a clear hinged top. The pen is a demonstrator style (another first), providing visibility to the inner workings of the pen. The acrylic body is accented with tasteful pops of transparent color at each end (I choose amber, but you can get other colors). It is lightweight thus easy on the hand. The workmanship is impressive down to the smallest detail. When reseating the cap, there is a cushioned click as the cap finds home.

All the metalwork is chrome. The clip is attached to a blind cap, there are chrome rings at each end of the pen and a cap band. Another chrome band where the section and barrel meet and where the nib meets the section. The cap has a semi-translucent white liner and white printed design with the Prera logo above the cap band.

The pen came with a black ink cartridge and a pre-installed CON-40 converter. The converter has 4 tiny steel balls in it – I guess to keep the ink shaken not stirred. The barrel separates from the section after 4 complete turns. The transparent body lets you admire the ink and monitor the remaining ink levels. Personally, I thought it was cool admiring the ink within the section supplying the feed.

The nib is a steel medium calligraphy point. It is plain compared to some nibs – I think it looks like a Lamy. “Pilot” is laser etched on the nib, along with the type (CM in this case) and “Japan.” It is a straight tip nib, it is not oblique, measuring 1mm across.

Overall, the pen feels very well made, it is ergonomic, lightweight and the steel nib is thin enough that you can use the pen for everyday writing. And my favorite feature, the price. This pen is available for $30-$40 depending on the seller and nib.

Just Doodling

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 120mm
  • Uncapped length 107mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 13mm
  • Weighs in at 16g

Other Reviews

Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

The Color of Your Ink and You

Welcome to installment #3 of “What This Says About You.” Today we are going to look at the color of the ink you choose, its association with stuff, and what it says about you. In case you missed the first two installments I’m including them here:

Maybe you don’t give your selection of ink color a second thought, or maybe you select the color of your ink to match emotions, or maybe to match the pen, or maybe to suit the writing material.

In the broadest of terms, colors are grouped as either warm (red, orange, yellow) or cool (blue, green, violet). Warm colors evoke energy and excitement while cool colors are calming – guess that is why I prefer cool colors.

Personality Studies (so they claim)

Blue ink: people choosing blue ink, including the palest sky blue right to deepest dark midnight blues, are seen as having an outgoing personality, are friendly in nature with a warm and welcoming temperament. Are someone who conforms but still has a personality of their own.

Black ink: people choosing black ink are in charge of their life, the captain of their destiny, considered dominant and a force to be reckoned with. Possibly conservative and maybe a little uptight, rarely showing emotions, and thinking with their head rather than their heart.

Red ink: people choosing red ink are emotional, passionate, and love being the center of attention, everyone knows exactly how you feel. Emotions and their heart are worn on your sleeve! Someone who is creative and artsy and loves to experiment and try new things.

Typical usage of ink by color

Black is the ink choice of business. Projects professionalism, is often a requirement when signing legal documents and completing forms. Copiers and OCR equipment are better at picking up black ink.

Blue is the typical day-to-day ink. Blue ink is a pleasing and clear contrast to the black print on forms.

Red ink is used often used to correct or identify errors, and provide warnings! The use and impact of red ink is a blog post unto itself.

Green ink, back in the day was used for stocktaking and my preferred ink color.

Purple ink is often associated with poetic writing and literature. Historically, purple-colored ink was used to indicate power and sacred knowledge (royalty and religious orders).

The Skinny on Colors

  • GREY/WHITE: balance, neutral, clean, purity, innocence, perfection, timeless
  • PINK: romance, feminine, creative, sweet, cute, fun, sensual
  • RED: provocative, energy, urgency, excitement, passionate, powerful
  • ORANGE: youthful, creative, aggressive, action, fun, playful, lively, exuberant
  • YELLOW: optimistic, youthful, cheerful, happiness, friendliness
  • GREEN: plentiful, healthy, fresh, balance, relaxation, youth, growth, sustainable
  • BLUE: trust, honesty, security, intelligence, confidence, calm, stability, integrity
  • PURPLE: royalty, regal, soothing, imagination, wisdom, creative, calm, spiritual
  • BROWN: stability, simplicity, dependable, rugged, outdoor, natural, sustainable
  • BLACK: elegant, classic, powerful, luxury, dramatic, sophisticated, edgy, sleek

Just For Fun

Posted in Nibs, Pens, Restoration, Stories

Fountain Pen Primer 104: Cleaning and Care

I personally, clean my pen on the day it runs dry or exits rotation. This is done with cold tap water, I use a nasal aspirator (bulb thingie as it is popularly known) to force water through the feed and nib. The converter is rinsed out and the pen is left to air-dry overnight. Once reassembled, I use an old Sunshine cloth (it has been hand washed once) to remove fingerprints and water spots. All my pens are stored in a dark and dry storage box. I do not expose them to sunlight.

I rarely clean the pen if merely switching inks. I enjoy the blended coloration. I know, probably not the smartest thing in the world but hey, it’s my pen. Back to the topic at hand, as my father would say “don’t do as I do, do as I say,” thus without further ado… Cleaning and Care of your pen,

I opted to crowdsource this topic as I am far from the expert and I have established I may be a danger to some pens. Thus, I consulted with the membership of several groups of pen enthusiasts, what follows is their collective wisdom.

When

  • Don’t – simply keep refilling the same pen.
  • When changing to a different ink.
  • When the pen leaves rotation.
  • Clean the pen on the same day/night they run dry.
  • Within a week of running dry.
  • Every few months when refilling with the same ink.

How

  • Rinse in cold water.
  • Force water through the feed and nib with an ear bulb syringe or nasal aspirator
  • Use a blunt-end syringe to rinse out the converter.
  • Piston fillers take time to flush out, but patience and water will win the day!
  • Rinse the cap/barrel with water, then use cotton swabs to remove ink residue and excess water.
  • Add a drop of dish soap to the water if the pen that’s been sitting for a while, or a poorly behaved ink.
  • Sometimes just swap a cartridge for a new one and enjoy the transition between colors.
  • Allow to air dry on a paper towel.

With What

  • Sunshine cloth to polish and removed finger prints and water marks.
  • Distilled water is recommended but tap water is the choice 99.9 percent of the time.
  • Ultra Sonic cleaner on scruffy eBay purchases, or to remove inks stain be misbehaved inks.
  • Cotton swabs to clean caps and barrels.
  • For vintage or used pen, add a drop or two of dish soap to the water before soaking.
  • Rapidio-Eze pen cleaning solution.
  • Sailor pen cleaning kit.
  • Goulet Pens flush for stains.
  • Clean the converters with blunt-end syringe will save time.
  • Ammonia for stubborn ink stains.
  • Use a cotton towel or a connoisseurs cleaning cloth to remove finger prints etc.

Fears and Concerns

  • Polishing pens with a Sunshine cloth or anything else is too abrasive and may remove gold plating.
  • Infrequent cleaning makes the process much more arduous.
  • Never remove nibs from the unit or section as ebonite sections are heat set and will not fit correctly when reinstalled – causes leaks.

On a Lighter Note

  • Do not wash your pen in the dishwasher
  • Do not use a steel wool pad on your pen
  • Do not soak your pen in bleach to remove stubborn ink stains
  • If interested in applying wax or polish to your pen please read my post on polishing first.
Posted in Pens, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

Geez I hate February, I was counting on those extra couple days to get some writing done and welp, they are missing.

For this month I grabbed a Pilot Prera with a medium calligraphy nib. It’s only 1mm across, honestly, an italic or oblique nib would have also been a nice choice. Inked it up with a De Atramentis Black-Red and toyed with it a bit. Loving the way it lays down letters.

I’ve been fighting with the indie ebonite pen, it was leaking. I applied more silicone grease which seemed to help significantly but only today I noticed ink leaking out around the feed….. I know, I know “good can be cheap but cheap is never good.”