Posted in Ink, Reviews, Stories

Majorelle Blue (Ink) by Any Other Name

In 1924, the French artist Jacques Majorelle constructed his largest artwork, the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, Morocco. He painted the garden walls, fountains, features, and villa in a very intense shade of blue, for which he trademarked the name Majorelle Blue.

Let me tell you a story about myself. I love food! I used to frequently travel domestically and globally when I was a young man and I always made sure my hotel was an easy walk to a variety of restaurants. Fast forward, I am completely into a show called “Somebody Feed Phil.” Phil Rosenthal was the writer, producer, and creator of a sitcom called “Everyone Loves Raymond.” What makes the Feed Phil show interesting is Phil simply loves food. He probably cannot boil water. The show follows Phil as he travels through a city enjoying the local cuisine. He genuinely loves the people making the food, the other patrons, and it is simply a joy watching him eat! I was watching an episode, Phil was in Marrakech and the color of the houses resonated with me. Thus began an ink quest.

I searched and searched for pen ink by the name “Moroccan Blue,” “Marrakech Blue,” or “Majorelle Blue” to no avail. I stumbled upon a blue ink so intense as to “hurt” the reader’s eyes.

I searched and searched for pen ink by the name “Moroccan Blue,” “Marrakech Blue,” or “Majorelle Blue” to no avail. Then I stumbled upon references on FPN (Fountain Pen Network) of a blue ink so intense as to glaze upon it “hurt” the reader’s eyes, while others exclaimed they needed sunglasses when writing with it, but more on this ink later.

Really, this hurts your eyes, doesn’t it? Majorelle Blue has it’s own hexadecimal code, #6050dc. Or if you want to mix it in RGB, just add 37.6% red, 31.4% green, and 86.3% blue, while in CMYK color scheme would be made of 56.4% cyan, 63.6% magenta, 0% yellow, and 13.7% black.

Many color-oriented websites recommend Ultramarine (a strikingly vibrant hue) as a very acceptable alternative to Majorelle Blue. This color is readily available from Montblanc, Octopus Fluids, Diplomat (Octopus Fluids), and L’Artisan Pastellier. But honestly, only Octopus Fluids seems worthy.

But, thanks to the FPN, I stumbled upon Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink…a ”screaming out loud, [ink that] really does hurt eyes and ears.”

According to Vanness Pens Shop, Baystate Blue is a “vibrant blue permanent ink” with a purplish tendency [my edit]. Vanness offers the following warning: “This ink is a different formulation than most inks, and will stain your pen. We do not suggest using this ink in any valuable pens. Do not mix with any other inks or an undesired reaction will result.” With acolytes like this, how could I refuse?

Noodle’s Baystate Blue

My order arrived and I quickly got to playing with it. This is not the best example as the paper is textured for watercolors, sketching, etc. but, as you can see it is an intense worthy BLUE!

The bottle came filled to the very tippy top. I immediately set to work with an Esterbrook #9 Drawlet square nib. The ink is not water-proof (contrary to the claim it is permanent), it flows freely (wet), and subject to shading. I did not notice any peculiarities when using the ink – remember the ominous claims made by the pen shop – this is pretty much a normal ink. I will attest it stained my porcelain sink, but with a little effort, I managed to remove the stains. If I ink up a pen, I will not allow the pen to dry out prior to cleaning.

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Posted in Pens, Stories

Year of the Rabbit (how about the pen?)

The Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China. Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. Traditionally a time to honor deities and ancestors, it has also become a time to feast and visit family members.

The Chinese New Year is a major holiday celebrated in countries with significant Chinese populations. These countries include China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The New Year is celebrated on different days in different countries, but it always falls between January 21 and February 20. The date is determined by the lunar calendar, so the exact day changes from year to year.


In honor of the Rabbit, I thought I’d highlight the Chinese-sourced pens I own. I don’t believe any taboos are violated.

Chinese Pens for Chinese Companies

Wing Sung 601 hooded demonstrator (a blatant Parker 51 knockoff). Wing Sung was founded in 1948. The Shanghai WingSung Pen Factory is one of the biggest manufacturer and exporter specializing in all kinds of pens. Renowned for continued innovation, they produce high-quality products with attractive designs and packing.

The Shanghai Hero Pen Company has been manufacturing high-quality fountain pens since 1931. They began as Wolff Pens but changed their name to Hero in 1966. Hero pens are popular with users in China and India. This is a Hero 395 has a metal barrel and cap, heavily patterned, copper or brown in color with a very subtle lacquer or antique finish. The pattern is either imprinted or acid etched and is intended to make the pen look aged.

Kaigelu is a brand of Lanxivi, a subsidiary of Shanghai Hero Pen Company. The Kaigelu 316 was initially released in 2014 and closely resembled the Parker Duofold Centennial. My model is a 316A, the pen is made of acrylic celluloid (so they claim), something you don’t often see in contemporary pens.

Delike is a relatively new Chinese fountain pen manufacturer that has been around since about 2017. They have gained a reputation for having better quality fountain pens. They also have gained some notoriety for blatantly copying other brands these included an imitation of the Kaweco Sport Brass Fountain Pen and the Sailor Pro Gear Slim Fountain Pen.

This is the New Moon, a knockoff of the Sailor Pro Gear.

Made in China Pens Honorable Mention

These are pen manufactures headquartered outside of China and distributing pens manufactured in China (imagine that, oh the horror). As these are not Chinese pens by design, merely the result of saving a buck, thus I will simply list them.

The bottom line is this: I enjoy my Chinese pens, I got what I paid for. In all cases, they are better than I expected. I choose pens that are considered to be quality Chinese pen and that has proven to be the case.

Posted in Pens, Reviews

A Christmas Miracle, nah just Dumb Luck

So I was looking, for a pen and pencil set, barely looking but looking. As I had not found anything for my wife to gift to me, I was resigned to finding nothing under the tree. But then in late November, I stumbled upon a BEAUtiful Conway Stewart set – it must be a Christmas miracle! Ok, maybe it isn’t a Christmas Miracle, nah it is just dumb luck. I stumbled upon a Conway Stewart #15 pen and Nippy #3 Pencil set in superb condition. The box is immaculate, and the instructions are included.

As you may recall from my Not For The Lactose Intolerant – Conway Stewart No. 15 post, production of the Model 15 spanned a decade beginning 1952. As with many vintage Conway Stewarts, this model is a fairly small pen (which is preferable, as I have small hands). Plus my find is casein, both pen, and pencil. Making the find all the more impressive, the age of the set is 60-70 years old.

As mentioned, I’m confident the pen and pencil are casein. Neither smells of camphor, and each has wavy striations (veins) and an irregular colorful pattern. Plus the instructions clearly state under no circumstances immerse the pen in water. Casein will expand by about 10% and become very soft losing its shape in as little as 2 hours = damaged beyond repair.

Neither the pen or the pencil have been impaired by major scratches, nor is there any brassing of the gold plate. The pen does need a new ink sac. The lever is frozen in place by the old hard sac.

The only damage could be related to the manufacture of the pen. There appears to be an abnormality in the filler lever slot. The lever appears to show signs of ink stains from leakage of the original sac.

How about the veins in the pen.

The nib is a medium flex, 14k Conway Stewart 1A. Let’s dip the nib into some ink and see how well she writes.

On to the pencil, the mechanism controlling the ingress/egress of the lead is stiff but functional. When the conical tip was removed I was treated to much lint and fuzz. The pen came with one piece of lead, the extras are normally stored around the central “lead carrier” accessible once the tip section is removed.

Vital Statistics Pen

  • Capped Length: 126.5mm
  • Uncapped Length: 114mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 11.5mm
  • Cap Diameter: 13mm
  • Weighs in at, 14g

Vital Statistics Pencil

  • Length: 112mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 10mm
  • Weighs in at, 13g.
Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories


Oops, I’m doing it yet again, the good news, this is the last TBT post till May. In this flashback, I’m highlighting a Keystone pen I purchased. Overall in very good shape and attractive, but some idiot tried to “restore” it and did some really bad things. Sound interesting? Click the Ping Back below to read the full story.

Keystone: A Brand, A Model or Wearever.


“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 developed in Germany, making them the first manufacturer to produce injection-molded pens.

This Keystone is 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.”

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Posted in Pens, Stories

Original Ink Cartridge… Created by a Pencil Co.

The Waterman C/F was the pen that introduced modern plastic ink cartridges in 1953. But, did you know that ink cartridges were introduced 60 years prior. As odd as it sounds, a pencil company known primarily for its cheap novelty pens and pencils is credited for introducing prefilled ink cartridges in a variety of different colors.

The Eagle Pencil, Co. ink cartridge filling pens were patented in 1890. A hand-blown glass vial supplied pre-filled with ink and closed with a cork. To install, remove the cork and the vial is coupled over a soft white rubber nipple on the back side of the section, much like contemporary cartridges. The pen (nib holder) was sold in a box with 3 ink vials and a dozen nibs.

The next significant advance in ink cartridge design occurred during the 1920s, with the introduction of the John Hancock cartridge pen. This pen made use of ink cartridges of copper tubing. Copper is a soft pliable metal, thus the cartridge was easily subjected to bending and other malformations.

In 1936, JiF-Waterman introduced a line of pens utilizing glass ink cartridges. JiF glass cartridge pens closely resemble the 3, 3V, 32, and 92V models. Waterman glass cartridges are substantial and can be refilled and reused indefinitely. They were originally sealed with a cork stopper.

The 1950s saw the introduction of plastic as we know it, thus heralding the immensely popular cartridge filler pens. Plastic ink cartridges were not just for fountain pens, they precipitated the rise of the ball-point pen.

Cartridges of glass or metal are very rigid requiring a special seal fitting at the back of the section. This fitting was typically cork or rubber which deteriorates with time. Contemporary cartridges of plastic are flexible, and self-sealing instead of the pen. Plus modern cartridges are molded plastic; cheaper to manufacture and introduce greater tolerance levels.

If you have contemporary pens but yearn for a more vintage feel, consider the Noodler’s 308 cartridge. The cartridge is designed for use in their Ahab or Neponset models. Might have to buy a new pen to enjoy the vintage feel.

Can’t finish without a brief discussion on contemporary ink cartridges. With mass production and standardization, buying contemporary ink cartridges should be a no-brainer. Buy cartridges, insert one into your pen and start writing – right? Nope.

The first time I bought cartridges for my Hemisphere I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Some cartridges only work on one brand of pen, some work on lots of pens… and they all look alike until there is a cartridge lineup.

Photo credit

Reference Material

Posted in Collection, Pens, Reviews, Stories

The (Wish) List 2023

I usually acquire pens based on impulse and circumstance (i.e. dumb luck), which has introduced me to a variety of odd pens. Some contemporary, some vintage, but all speak to me. These are pens that have caught my eye; struck my fancy, and now I have a penchant for owning them.

Last year, my list consisted of five pens; three I acquired; the Parker 51, the Benu Skull, and The Kaweco Student, while two I did not. Of these two, one is no longer of interest (the Scrikss – Heritage Black GT) while the other makes an appearance on the current list.

Without further ado, in no apparent order, let’s start the new year with a new wish list ….

Platinum Curidas

Curidas is a coined term created by combining the Japanese word Kuridasu referring to extending the pen tip and the word Curiosity. This new fountain pen was brought to life to fulfill people’s curiosity.

All the convenience of a click rollerball but with the smooth writing experience of a fountain pen. Instead of a traditional cap, the Curidas uses an internal seal to protect the nib and keep the ink from evaporating when retracted into the pen.

Fascinating pen, I am interested in the mechanics more than the pen. Reviews say it is “fluffy” (a euphemism for fat) but I’m willing to overlook that. Instead of a cap, there is a clicker button at the opposite end which will force the nib out through a rubber door. Yes, it is similar to a Pilot Vanishing Point but at half the price (well depending on the Pilot model).

Photo credit: The Goulet Pen Co.

Irish Pens – Black Carbon Fiber

“At 66 grams, Rhodium and Titanium wrapped in Black Carbon Fiber and with a Peter Bock nib at the business end this is a serious fountain pen, a fountain pen that will feel at home in the most exclusive boardroom, business setting or in your personal writing space, its gravitas will not go unnoticed whenever it is used. When the written words really matter! this is the fountain pen to use.” – Irish

Irish Pens is an Irish indie pen company specializing in pens made in County Cavan, Ireland of Irish native woods. I was originally drawn to their pens made from bog oak, but I saw this one! You have to admit, it takes your breath away. Since it is a new year and I didn’t buy the pen last year, I may revisit the bog wood pen options.

Irish Pens Carbon Black

Pilot Cavalier*

Named for a character in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the term “cavalier” is used in ballet to refer to a ballerina’s male dance partner. Like a skilled dancer, this slim and stylish pen will sweep you off your feet with its ability to transform your thoughts into fluid, effortless motion on the page.

What draws me to this pen is its similarities in appearance to the Waterman Hemisphere. As both pens appear to polarize the user base, they love them or hate them. I’m feeling a future love affair. The pen is readily available on eBay and some pen shops.

Photo credit: Yoseka Stationary

*The link I have included is to Yoseka Stationary. They have an impressive selection of Japanese pens and inks normally not readily available in the US.

My Quandary

Yes, I have a problem, there are really no other pens I am Jonesing for. Yes, there are a bunch I like, but I am not speechless about them, except possibly the Prera.

  • Opus 88 Koloro is interesting but at the bottom of my quandary list,
  • TWSBI Diamond it reminds me of the Prera,
  • Lamy Vister is on the list more so for the availability of nib choices,
  • Pilot Kakuno is dirt cheap on Amazon at $10, why is it on a wish list?
  • Pilot E95S appears to sport a Sheaffer Targa-inspired nib,
  • Pilot Heritage 92 is a contemporary take on a classic fountain pen,
  • Pilot Prera in solid ivory. It is so pretty but I have 2, why do I need a third?
Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

Last month I reviewed the Conway Stewart No. 15 pen. I really enjoyed the pen. I enjoyed the feel, and how it writes – I usually have issues with vintage 14k nibs, but not this one. I used the pen for the entire month. It took a couple days to grow accustomed to the flexibility of the nib. The nib did not let me down. I was so impressed I bought a No. 15 pen and pencil set – used maybe 1 time – more on them in the future.

The usual suspects starting the year are the Pilot Prera and the Kaweco Student. New to the list is the 1951 Parker Stripped Duofold.

For the New Year, I am inking up a 1941 Parker vertically striped Duofold (button-filled model).

She may be pretty but the filler is not working correctly preventing the ink sac from filling properly. Ugh! I’ll probably switch to the 51.

Is this pretty or what

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started December with a review of November. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how did the pens from last month fare? Also included is a recap of the month’s postings, Pen news and book banners do it again.
  • “Missed by that much” or How I learned I was conceited and needed to appreciate others I was reviewing my “unpurchases,” purchases that didn’t happen. These are unpurchased because I failed to think the unthinkable – that someone wanted these pens more than I did and that I wasn’t entitled to them after all.
  • The Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre Presents Welcome to the Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre, where “it may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” In this episode, our hero (Maisie Dobbs) unravels the Secret of the Jade Pen.
  • Doodle Journal My current journal is nearing the end and heading to the recycling bin. With it will go a bunch of doodles. Time to share before they become lost to memory.
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling uninspired (or lazy) – it is December so we know I’m lazy. I figured my Doodling post was lame-o, so I decided to supplement it with a blast from yesteryear. This time I am presenting a pen only been manufactured for a year and is hard to find.
  • It’s winter time, who doesn’t enjoy a hooded … Pen Having a hood over the nib seems like a great idea – the pen resists drying out, does well with temperamental inks, and is a must when you make ink that needs a special pen. Some great ideas die hard.

This month I experienced an interesting milestone, the publication of Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre generated more visitors from the UK than the US – a first. Thank you UK viewership.

In the News

Absolutely nothing exciting happened in the world of pens last month. The annual state of the Fountain Pen Market report was released. As I am not paying $3,300 per copy, I will merely mention some of the dedacted highlights. “According to this study, The 2022 boom of the Fountain Pen Market is projected to continue through 2029. Over the next Seven years, the Fountain Pen Market will register an amazing spike in CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in phrases of revenue.” In this summary, I corrected numerous errors – you would think the report would have been edited at this bargain price before advertising it.

I did find this amusing. Ink Attack on Maha Minister. Police dropped the attempt to murder charge against three persons arrested for allegedly throwing ink at a state minister. This occurred in the Pune district of Maharashtra, east of Mumbai. Personally, I felt ink is preferable to other substances they could have thrown.

Banned book author Ashley Hope (that is a subversive name) Perez discusses finding humanity in the darkness. Her book Out of Darkness, banned in several Texas school districts, is based on the true events of 1937, when a natural gas explosion at a school in New London, Texas, killed nearly 300 students and teachers. Goes to show you, don’t mess with Big Oil Texas.


Some years ago, I read about the Icelander tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the evening reading. Iceland “has more writers, more books published and more books read, per capita than anywhere else in the world.” I was intrigued. For years my wife and I spent every Christmas Eve at Barnes and Noble picking out books for the kids and each other. Adopting as our tradition was no big leap.

Throughout each year, I look for books to present to each family member and some chocolate. Time and opportunity permitting, I buy hand-crafted chocolates. This year the chocolate came from Pollinator Chocolate, while the books gifted were: At the Water’s Edge, The Historian, Brida, The Hollow Places, and A Tale of Magic.

Why not start your own tradition? Read more about Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood,” and the Icelander Christmas Eve book tradition.