Posted in Material, Stories

World Stationery Day

Let me begin with credit where credit is due. The quotes used in today’s post are the unintentional courtesy of Gray Summers. Who in my humble opinion, has a way with words beyond equal.

World Stationery Day is an annual event observed every last Wednesday of April – HEY, that’s today. Stationery is used for written correspondence and is an important part of the correspondence. Since prehistoric times, humans have made use of a wide variety of implements to write letters, convey messages, or preserve information. Today, stationery still plays a major role in our society despite technology.

This joy in providing the experience of seeing ink simply appearing on paper. No thought” is given to the magic before my eyes. ~ Gray Summers

This day was established in 2012 to help make sure the art of writing would not go extinct.  Embrace the effort of writing, though less practical than other methods of communication.

We take the pen, the ink, and the paper for granted. We assume they will perform with little to no thought given to the alchemy associated with each.” ~ Gray Summers

You can celebrate World Stationery Day with a visit to a local stationery store, or handwrite a letter, poem, or greeting card. And don’t forget to mail or share your work. However, if you are crafty I have other options – read on.

Does this ink/pen/nib combination suit the paper within? Will it ‘letter feather’ and bleed spidery web-like into surrounding spaces? Will it show an unwanted echo script, a reversed ghostly imagery, through to and on the back of the page? Useless to use.” ~ Gray Summers

For the crafty, super geeky, and those looking for a more personal touch – might I recommend handmade paper, envelopes, faux gold leaf, antique paper, or ink.

What did you do on this day?

Posted in Pens, Stories

Enjoy Your Local Libraries (National Library Week is starting)

Isn’t the cover picture the coolest? FB was busy spying on me 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 identify this photo to credit the photographer or the artist who design the display.

I’ve always been fond of libraries. I love their smell, and the ambiance (you should have seen me at the state archives). Not everyone can share my enthusiasm. For some, a library can be a terrifying place. A place that upon entering, they feel as if they have entered a world that does not want them there. But it is just a library you say. Be thankful you are not dyslexic. Read more at Why Books, Libraries And Writing Can Be Terrifying Places For Some.

National Library Week

Studies found that by the mid-1950s, Americans spent most 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!’’ That sounds like good advice today.

The theme for National Library Week 2023, is “There is more to the story.” Is there more to a library than a place full of books, how about, Is there a place for the library in the 21st Century

If I haven’t lost you yet, National Library Week runs from April 23 to 29 this year. 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 worldwide and in Gallery 2 some average, down-to-earth libraries. As I do not want to open myself to copyright infringement by posting photos, I’m also providing links to the sources.

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

Dracula Daily

As I’ve already mentioned, numerous times, I am a “loser.” Today I am proving it. I am not affiliated with or receiving any kickbacks on the following but I thought it sounds like fun. Did you ever read Dracula? I have, several times. It reads like diary entries. Welp, this website Dracula Daily is offering daily emails of the book so you can enjoy it in “real-time,” and it is FREE! We all know I like free. Yes, they will hit you up for a donation or ask you to buy their companion book, but those are not required.

Two-Week Countdown!

The story of Dracula starts on May 3, which means we’re just two weeks away. Dracula is fun to read along with people, so if there’s anybody in your life you’d like to join this book club with, get ‘em on board now! 🙂

On May 3 you’ll get the first section of the book, as we meet Jonathan Harker. After that, you’ll get emails on days when there’s action in the book.

Get the classic novel Dracula delivered to your email inbox, as it happens.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an epistolary novel – it’s made up of letters, diaries, telegrams, newspaper clippings – and every part of it has a date. The whole story happens between May 3 and November 7. So: Dracula Daily will post a newsletter each day that something happens to the characters, in the same timeline that it happens to them.

Now you can read the book via email, in small digestible chunks – as it happens to the characters.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? I thought I’d blog about this for two reasons, 1) the original book was written by hand with a dip pen, and 2) just to give interested readers an option to sign up before May 3rd. I have included a link to their “About” web page if you would like to learn more.

Posted in Pens, Reviews

Delike New Moon 3

Let’s begin with I am not promoting or condoning the theft of intellectual property (IP). There are many pen manufacturers producing knockoff pens virtually immune to prosecution. Yes, I have purchased several knockoff pens and this is the story of one.

Chinese fountain pen manufacturer Shanghai Jingdian produces the brands Moonman aka Majohn and Delike. Known for better quality fountain pens and some notoriety for their blatant copying of pens like the Kaweco Sport, Leonardo MZ, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66, and Sailor Pro Gear Slim fountain pens.

Kaweko failing in Chinese courts retaliates and registers “Moonman” trademark in the EU, then begins filling trademark infringement suits. Jingdian subsequently rebrands the Moonman line as Majohn.

My Pen

A Delike New Moon 3 is “inspired” by the Sailor Pro Gear Slim. When I purchased the pen it was advertised as including a Fude nib. The nib was a significant factor in my decision to purchase the pen. I was interested in trying a Fude nib, but the price was right ($13) and I frequently purchase inexpensive Chines pens with features unfamiliar to me as a test medium. As I mentioned, this pen was advertised with a Fude nib to my surprise it has a Waverly nib or so it appears.

At first impressions, this is not a cheap feeling pen. It is heavy and solid, an impressive pen. All parts other than the converter are metal, and the barrel, and cap are covered in a lacquer finish. The pen color is Bamboo Green. I find it particularly attractive.

The accessories are all chrome over metal. All threads are metal not plastic. The clip is a chrome finish and very stiff, decorated with tiered rectangles running its length. The clip holds firm against the cap but easily bends left or right across the cap if pushed laterally. Overall this design compliments the chrome end pieces the cap is screwed on and removes after 1.5 turns.

I bought the pen primarily because the seller advertised it as a Fude nib. Let’s define Fude vs Waverly. A Fude nib is bent up at an angle, while a Waverly nib has a gentle upturn and almost looks like it was dropped on the floor. Therefore, my pen has an EF Waverly nib, not a Fude nib.

The converter (compatible with New Moon 1 and New Moon 2). The spring is an interesting option, Pilot has small bearings to keep the ink stirred when shaken. The converter filled completely after three cycles of the mechanism.

Now that I have inked it up let’s see how well the pen writes with this nib. I used De Artamentis Black Red Document ink. I could not believe how well the nib felt. Clearly a future post.

After a weekend, the pen started immediately. It is very smooth and looks great for an EF nib. Since it is Waverly I helped the pen in a multitude of odd angles and it performed beautifully. I have to see if I can move the nib to other pens.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length: 124.5mm
  • Uncapped length: 117mm
  • Barrel diameter: 12.25mm
  • Cap diameter: 14mm
  • Weights in at 36g
Posted in Ink, Stories

WHAT! All inks are not created equal?

The other day, I was choosing an ink and noticed that some of the inks had formed condensation inside the bottle while others did not. I came to realize that only the bottles containing document inks had condensation. All my document inks are manufactured by De Atramentis (handmade German inks), yet the non-document De Atramentis inks did not develop condensation. Why?

Inks are just inks – right?

WARNING! Things are going to get geeky. If that is not your thing simply skip down to the Conclusion.

But how do I solve this? Research my boy!

Condensation is the process of water vapor turning back into liquid water. It can happen in one of two ways: (1) water vapor is either cooled to its dew point or (2) the air becomes so saturated with water vapor that it can’t hold more water.

Inks come in a variety of types, I set about determining what type is De Atramentis Document ink. Results are inconclusive and De Atramentis is silent on the matter. This means the document ink can be one of two types:

  • Pigment-based inks contain larger particles that are suspended in the water rather than dissolved in it.
  • Cellulose-Reactive (Bulletproof) Ink is Dye-based ink with cellulose-reactive chemistry to bond the dyes to the cellulose fibers in the paper – the ink stains the paper.
Dye-Based (left) & Document Ink (right)

Pigment-based inks are not water soluble thus diffusing the ink particles into water-base. The random motion of the water causes the particles to move in random directions. This causes the particles to disperse throughout the water until equilibrium (saturation) is reached. Then molecular vibration called Brownian Motion keeps the particles in suspension.

The Science

“The kinetic energies of the molecular Brownian Motions, together with those of molecular rotations and vibrations, sum up to the caloric component of a fluid’s internal energy (the equipartition theorem). At a certain temperature, the particles in a liquid have enough energy to become a gas aided by the atmospheric pressure on the liquid.” ~ Wikipedia

“The British scientist James Clerk Maxwell and the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, in the 19th century, establish the kinetic theory of gases. The simplest kinetic model is based on the assumptions that: (1) the gas is composed of a large number of identical molecules moving in random directions, separated by distances that are large compared with their size; (2) the molecules undergo perfectly elastic collisions (no energy loss) with each other and with the walls of the container, but otherwise do not interact; and (3) the transfer of kinetic energy between molecules is heat.” ~ Britannia

Conclusion (aka how I see it)

In my mind, these Document inks are pigment-based on the mechanics of diffusion. While Brownian Motion introduces sufficient kinetic energy (aka heat) aided by the reduced atmospheric pressure associated with an elevation of 6,700 feet reducing the ink surface tension, thus making evaporation easier. During evaporation, the water molecules gather in the area above its surface since that area is confined within a bottle. The pressure exerted by the accumulating molecules increases resulting in spontaneous condensation. The non-document inks lack the added kinetic energy of Brownian Motion meaning minimal evaporation and thus no condensation.

Reference Material

Posted in Ink, Stories

Inky Fingers and Removal

I often read how people complain about inky fingers, especially (I assume) if they used fountain pens as a youngster and experienced ink “cross-contamination,” ie. getting ink everywhere. I can’t relate, I’m a child of the 70s, Bic Cristal baby.

“Inky fingers remind me of school days.”

~ Gray Summers

Getting ink on my fingers is not uncommon, it usually happens when I’m cleaning a pen or a vintage fountain pen is misbehaving. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve never gotten it on my clothes, and once dried it’s just a stain almost no one notices is there and washes off easily.

Some fountain pen users don’t mind a little ink on the fingers, regarding it as a badge of honor. Dried ink doesn’t contaminate anything else, and is generally non-acidic and non-toxic, which is a good thing as I often eat with my inky fingers.

When I open an ink bottle, I wipe the lip of the bottle with a tissue, then wipe the nib/section after filling. Next I use a wet tissue to remove excess ink from the bib/section followed by yet another wipe but with a dry tissue. If I skip the wet tissue step, and only use a dry wipe, it often results in a case of inky fingers.

Removing inky finger stains

I was reading this vary topic on Reddit and found it amusing to the extent some people go when faced with removing ink stains from their fingers. Grouping like solutions, here we go.

  • A pumice stone, fingernail brush or scouring pad, Lava soap, tea bags, or a mixture of rubbing oil and salt.
  • Various kinds of exfoliants, hand sanitizer, makeup remover wipes, alcohol swabs, or hairspray.
  • Dairy products like milk and butter.
  • A solution of chlorine bleach and hot water.
  • Degreasing soap like Dawn, Fast Orange, JOJO, Goop, or any mechanics hand cleanser.
  • Toothpaste, lemon juice, baking soda.

To be honest, I just embrace it. I will wash my hands once I’ve noticed the stain, just to remove any excess ink before I get ink on everything. It’s just a part of who I am.

My solution? Simple, I wait till the morning and wash my hair, it always works. Maybe it is the shampoo or the combination of my hair and the shampoo, it simply works great and shampoo was mentioned many times in the Reddit article.

Final thoughts

“It’s the nature of ink to permeate everything it touches and even ‘washable’ is only a relative term. There’s always the risk that a moment’s inattention can cause a horrible accident. That’s the price we pay for the pleasure of using fountain pens.”

What are your thoughts, or solutions for inky fingers?


Posted in Pens, Restoration, Reviews

Esterbrook Dollar pen, the review

I wrote about this pen in April 2021. It was my 6th post, and I’m afraid to read it. Anyway, I got this pen at a great price from a seller in Michigan, it really looks more green than brown to me and the presence of white spots is prominently indicating extensive light damage with complications caused by water damage. But fear not…….

Pen Back Story

A late first-generation Esterbrook Dollar pen, so called because they cost a dollar in their time when the average hourly salary was 70 cents per hour.

Esterbrook manufactured this style pen from 1934-1942, a new wider clip design was introduced in 1938 as was a new fishtail shape lever.

I believe this pen was manufactured at the very beginning of 1938 using both old and new component parts. This pen sports the new design fish tail lever and the original clip design. The contradictory parts could also indicate the cap does not belong to this pen.

First Gen clip 1934-1937

A notable feature of the Dollar Pen was the use of expensive material. Most notably the company had chosen to use the newly available wonder metal – stainless steel. The pen is made of hard rubber (aka ebonite or vulcanite) and is very durable but subject to damage by sunlight. Light damage is not immediately obvious, after some time the pen will turn to a brown color, and its gloss will fade to a light tan color. The good news is the damaged areas can be repaired but henceforth the pen is also susceptible to water damage (spots).

Pen prior to refurbishment

I set about refurbishing the pen and all went better than I hoped. I encourage you to read the original unremastered post here, Brown is the new black.

The review

When choosing a pen to enter rotation this month I said to myself, “self, you have never reviewed a pen you refurbished, now is a good time.” Agreed, I present to you my 1938 Esterbrook Dollar pen. Let’s begin with the overall condition of the pen. I just published a rating system I apply to vintage pens primarily and this one scores well. I give it a B.07 – Micro defects. There are no significant scratches or teeth marks, the logo on the barrel is crisp, and the cap clip and lever are both stiff and have a spring to them. Overall a very impressive pen. The A quality code is because I could have done better in the refurb. The pen is stellar.

The refurbished Dollar Pen

This is an awkward review, the pen is 85 years old, and that comes with baggage not found with a contemporary pen. The first thing I noticed is the feel of the barrel, it is warm to the touch compared to a contemporary acrylic and very lightweight. Capped the pen is a hair longer than a Pilot Prera. The metal accents of the pen are all stainless steel. The clip is short (31mm), extending only half the length of the cap. It bends at the top of the cap and becomes an end piece with a script Esterbrook stamped in it.

Pilot Prera vs Esterbrook Dollar pens

The cap is a screw-on and is removed after 1 full turn. The pen is best suited for smaller hands. The section is minimal, only half the length of a Prera section. As I normally hold a pen at or behind the cap threads, this doesn’t affect me. The pen fits nicely in my hand, even unposted.

The pen came with a 2556 nib that was heavily stained. Turns out the tip on the right tine is missing. I changed out that nib for a 9461 Rigid Fine Manifold nib and inked up the pen (SCRIBO Rosso Chianti) then gave it a go.

The nib was not the most smooth which I was initially surprised by. The 9xxx series Esterbrook nibs are their best, but wait, this is a manifold nib. The term “manifold” is an older, more formal description meaning “many.” The nib is rigid to support use with carbon paper. For those too young to know, carbon paper was a means of making duplicate copies. It was placed between sheets of paper, as you wrote, applying a little more pressure than normal the carbon paper created one or more copies simultaneously.

For a pen that has seen a bunch of decades, it worked wonderfully. I left it in my pen cup – nib up – for the weekend and it started instantly on Monday morning. There were no ink accidents, the nib was a bit wet. Overall I am impressed and can only hope I work so well when I’m 85.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length: 122mm
  • Uncapped length: 114mm
  • Barrel diameter: 11mm
  • Cap diameter: 12.25mm
  • Weighs in at 12g
Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

I started the month rotating in a Sheaffer Taranis. It wasn’t originally planned for rotation; however, as I inked it up for a review I just had to keep it in rotation. What a joy it was having this pen in rotation.

The usual suspects this month. I rotated out the Waterman Philéas and the Sheaffer Taranis. Replacing them with a Wing Sung 3013 (more on this another day). Still in rotation include the Pilot Prera, and the Wing Sung 601.

For April, I am rotating in an Esterbrook Dollar pen with a 9461 Ridgid Fine nib for “manifold” writing. Manifold nibs are intended to be used with carbon paper. This pen is 85 years old.

Did you miss any of the prior 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 March with a review of February. 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 fared? Also included is a recap of the month’s posts.
  • Osmiroid Interchangeable Nibs Osmiroid produced regular writing nibs (Rola) and the popular calligraphy nibs are interchangeable with vintage Esterbrook pens. They made left-handed nibs and special-purpose nibs for writing music and sketching – wow who would have thought.
  • Parker “Instant Modern” Style Several years ago I purchased a Parker IM Special Edition Fountain Pen. I got to thinking, what does IM stand for, welp it could be “Instant Message” it is a pen…..
  • Blogiversary 2 Wow, it has been 2 years. 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. Thanks for proving me wrong.
  • Ink Sac Talc and Asbestos Recently I stumbled onto a blogger who only posts once annually. The current topic is pen talc and asbestos. Funny how that little wisp of white floating out of a fountain pen lever slit now feels ominous, instead of satisfying.
  • Story of My First Pen What was the pen that got me hooked? Interesting question and a fun trip down memory lane. After trying several pens dumb luck saved the day. You have time – right?
  • A Vintage Pen Condition Rating System Often owners of pens only concern themselves with how the pen writes. For those who collect and use vintage pens, the shape and condition of the pen is also relevant. I decided to try and qualify each pen with a conditional rating system.

In the News

Update, I bought a box set of Ronald Dahl’s books prior to their censorship and sanitization – yeah me! In case you forgot… ‘Fat’ and ‘ugly’ have been cut from Roald Dahl children’s books. Future editions of the beloved children’s books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, and The Witches will be sanitized.

The sanitization of books continues, this time it is Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming. I really don’t understand the difference between banning a book because the content is offensive to some or editing a book because the content is offensive to some. It is all about intent. If the author intends to publish hate – ban the book. If it is common for a time (ie the 1930s) or character development then a particular thought or choice of words is appropriate. Removing it is censorship. In Death on the Nile, the character Mrs. Allerton complains that a group of children is pestering her, “they come back and stare, and stare, and their eyes are simply disgusting, and so are their noses, and I don’t believe I really like children.” The new and improved version reads “they come back and stare, and stare. And I don’t believe I really like children.” I am not feeling the depth of depravity nor is my disdain for the character the same in the sanitized version. Used bookstores here I come.

A school in Martin County Florida has banned Jame Patterson’s novel Maximum Ride, one of a series of young adult fantasy novels. The school district officials claim the novel is “radically” unfit for children even though not one of the school board members read the book. When asked for comment Mr. Paterson replied, “If you are going to ban this book, then no kids under 12 should go to any Marvel movies.”

CNN reporting from the Manila Pen show; “6 people with seriously swoon-worthy handwriting.” Speaking as someone who has horrible handwriting, “the sight of other people’s neatly spaced writing can still take your breath away. Here are some people whose handwriting can inspire you to pick up the pen and practice your way to becoming the scribe of your dreams.”

Blog Announcement

I’m occupied with a major home improvement project that is consuming nearly all my free time. I normally publish 7 times each month; however, in April I will be scaling back to no more than four posts. I hope to have things back to normal in May.