Posted in Pens, Stories

Story of My First Pen

This was originally posted in mid-April 2021. In honor of the blogiversary last week, it is “remastered” and ready for a new audience.

What was the pen that got me hooked? That is an interesting question and a fun trip down memory lane. You have time…right?

Every story has a beginning and mine began as a preteen growing up in the 70s. No story about the 70s would be complete without a mention of Bic Cristal pens. I don’t know about you but I went through these by the hundreds. The first thing I always did was remove the “plug” or end cap from the end of the pen and chewed it up. I have no idea why. Once the end cap was gone next came the cap. Then lastly, the barrel itself.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating (really there is such a place) says chewing on stuff is a “natural outlet for inborn aggression.” Or maybe there could be a psychological disorder characterized by an appetite for stuff that is non-nutritive. Or Sigmund Freud blames this type of inclination on being bottle-fed as a baby. My guess is just a kid doing dumb stuff.

The pen cap was lost within a month and I always carried the pen in my back pocket. Invariably writing on my jeans and who could forget the phrase “my pen exploded.” The ink was thick and sticky. You never heard anyone say the Bic glided across the paper. I had to press the pen to the paper in order to write with it, the ink tended to blob (too thick to the pool so you got blobs) and smear and the ink gave off an odd odor.

Bic Cristal, aka the origin of writer’s cramp, is credited as the reason for my horrible handwriting. Only teachers got to use a Bic with ink other than black or blue. Yup, my tests and papers were graded using a Bic with red ink, it was clear which answers were wrong and ya know I didn’t grow up too maladjusted. Wait I author a blog about pens ….. oh and one more thing, did you know that the Bic Cristal pen is included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris?

Bic Cristal – makes a tasty snack

The first pen that I can recall having a real appreciation for was a Cross Chrome 3501. I was just a kid in middle school and the pen was a gift. I was thrilled to own something other than a disposable Bic. It was an attractive pen, with no ink blobs, no smears, and the ink didn’t smell. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the pen for long. One day in science class some punk stole it and the teacher didn’t want to cause a scene…. times haven’t changed much from the late 70s have they?

Fast forward to 2007 while on a business trip to Hong Kong. I peered through a jewelry store window and spied a display case of Montblanc fountain pens. A Meisterstuck caught my attention, so I went for a closer look. It was a big pen, a thing of beauty, black with gold trim, very elegant and it had weight to it – a pen of substance. As my father and his father before him would say, it’s not good unless it was “battleship built” and this pen was that.

After some haggling, I got the pen for $20. Yes I know this is the most counterfeited pen of all time, I harbor no delusions about its authenticity. It turned out the pen wrote well, but it had a medium nib, and I wasn’t happy with the prevalence of poor-quality paper. The search continued.

Faux Meisterstuck

Months later I stumbled across a Waterman Philéas and it was love at first sight or maybe it was just infatuation. The pen is named after the character Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days. The pen is styled after 1930s Art Deco. Keep in mind it is an intro-level pen, made of plastic and not nearly as large or as heavy as the HK Meisterstuck, but the barrel had roughly the same girth. This pen was surprisingly inexpensive so I bought one with a fine nib and a second with a medium nib. Can’t say I enjoy pens with wide girths, something about “fluffy” pens that doesn’t feel right to me because I have short stubby fat fingers. The love affair didn’t last.


In short order, I stumbled upon the pen I would use for over a decade. I was on eBay and on a whim did a search for Waterman fountain pens, I found a green-marbled Hemisphere. Unlike the Philéas, the Hemisphere is brass and very thin, about the same size as that dreaded Bic, to me, this is not a bad thing. I really enjoyed the feel of this pen, it wasn’t bulky, and it was a bit slippery because of the finish but I liked how it felt and how it wrote. I soon ordered waterman green ink cartridges to supplement my bottle of black Quink and writing bliss ensued.


This Hemisphere was the pen I’d been searching for. I was so impressed I bought a second one, a medium nib, and a ballpoint model. Reviews of the Hemisphere are usually anything but good, nearly all bash it because the style is minimalist, even boring yet review after review declared that the pen writes flawlessly and is “strangely endearing.”

The story continues on “Why, You Might Ask?

And, what pen got you hooked?

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

Parker “Instant Modern” Style

In 2004, Parker introduced the Vector XL and Vector 3-in-1, predecessors of the IM. Soon afterward these pens are combined into the IM (US model) and the Profile (UK model). In 2009, Parker redesigned the IM, replacing the stylized arrow clip with a modern version of the iconic clip. The following year, production was moved from Newhaven, England to the Waterman factory in Nantes, Frances, and to Shanghai, China. The model conspicuously does not contain a “made in” imprint.

What does IM stand for, welp it could be “Instant Message” (it is a pen) yet in the Parker print catalog (2012) I read “Instant Modern” style when discussing the IM model.

The IM is available in two distinct tiers: the standard version and the ‘premium’ version. The standard IM comes with a plastic section with plastic threads and a metal cap making the threads a weak point in the design. The Premium IM is of a brass body and cap, a plastic section with the same plastic threads.

Both versions are of a clean, conservative design, with subtle colors that work well in any professional environment. The nib on the IM is a significant departure in shape and style from the narrow nib designs used on the Urban or Sonnet pens. The IM nib resembles a traditional fountain pen nib yet is noticeably squat.

My Pen

Parker IM 2019 Special Edition Red Ignite Fountain Pen Medium Nib. “This IM Special Edition is inspired by the passion that propels us to achieve greater heights. The striking red and black patterns expose the intense and uncontrolled explosion of energy and illustrate the vast potential simmering within each of us.” Yeah right.

The cap snaps securely to the barrel with a loud click; however, there is more to it than just a clutch ring. Notice at the end of the section near the nib is a raised rim (I’ll call it the “nib rim”). This nib rim firmly sets inside the inner cap prior to the clutch ring. Below, the picture of the nib and section inserted into the cap (right side) illustrates the point where the nib rim sets inside the cap prior to the cap securely attaching.

The IM is a cartridge pen, requiring the skinny “long QUINK ink cartridge or convertible to ink bottle filling.” The proprietary Parker twist converter (S0050300) and possibly the Parker piston converter supports the IM. As I have neither….

The pen requires a slim cartridge and I only have one so I dipped the nib. This medium short nib writes very smoothly. There is no flex, and it is not a wet nib. I wrote this (copied from the Park website) on that horrible moleskin paper, the letters did not feather. The ink did produce a slight shading.

The IM impressed me. I favor metal barrels, the finish on this pen is matte, not slippery and fit very comfortably in my hand, and the nib is impressive for the price. Speaking of, the price is right, I only paid $24 for this pen.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped Length: 137mm
  • Uncapped Length: 117mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 11.5mm
  • Cap Diameter: 12.5mm
  • Weighs in at 24g
Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

I start the month rotating in a pen that hasn’t been in rotation since 2007. I pulled out a blue Waterman Philéas. For those not familiar, the pen is named after the Jules Verne character Phileas Fogg (Around the World in 80 Days).

The usual suspects have changed. I rotated out the Kaweco Student, replacing it with the Shaeffer Taranis. Still in rotation include the Pilot Prera, the Wing Sung 601 and the Waterman Philéas.

For March I am rotating in my Sheaffer Taranis. In part because I inked it up for a review last month and it is just a nice pen to write with.

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 February with a review of January. 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.
  • A Journal of Pens, For Pens, About Pens Do you keep track of your pens? Maybe with Excel, journals, index cards, or the ever favorite – nothing at all?
  • A 1950s Esterbrook Deluxe LK Model Esterbrook manufactured two “Deluxe” models. The SM model was introduced in 1949, followed by the LK model in 1955. The changes between the two models were dramatic.
  • Pen Organization in a Digital World Back story 2. For collections to truly be considered a “collection,” there needs to be some basic level of curation or organization, otherwise, it’s just clutter. I mentioned my adventures using a journal to organize and document my pens. Now I am presenting my digital solution.
  • Flat-bottom pens make the journaling world go round Fountain pens come in just about any and every size and shape imaginable. I have a preference for flat-top pens. I know “flat-top” means the top is flat, who cares about the aft end? ME, that’s who. I prefer both the cap and the aft end horizontally.
  • Jetpack, Addition through subtraction This is off-topic but I needed to vent. WordPress is going through some major changes and Jetpack is taking over. This is my experience with the conversion and welp, it hasn’t been good.
  • Sheaffer Taranis (Celtic: “Thunderer”) The Sheaffer Taranis is named after the Celtic Storm God of Thunder. This pen elicits some strong feelings polarizing the fountain pen community. The lines along the section/grip to the nib remind me of a ‘57 Chevy Belair.

In the News

Australian universities to return to ‘pen and paper’ exams after students caught using AI to write essays Australian universities have been forced to change how they run exams and other assessments amid fears students are using emerging artificial intelligence software to write essays.

The Brooklyn Public Library gives every teenager in the U.S. free access to censured books. School districts across the United States continue to censure. Remove books from school libraries that don’t align with conservative school board’s visions of the world. Books like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, The Illustrated Diary of Anne Frank, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird–just to name a few.

‘Fat’ and ‘ugly’ have been cut from Roald Dahl children’s books. Is it inclusive or censorship? Future editions of the beloved children’s books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, and The Witches will read differently. Following consultation with sensitivity readers, publishers Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company (acquired by streaming service Netflix in 2021) have made a series of changes throughout the books to remove language deemed offensive or insensitive to modern audiences. The changes primarily relate to descriptions of physical appearances.

Posted in Pens, Reviews

Sheaffer Taranis (Celtic: “Thunderer”)

What’s in a name?

The Sheaffer Taranis is named after the Celtic Storm God of Thunder, also associated with the famed “wheel in the sky.” The wheel was seen as a physical representation of the movement of celestial bodies, such as the sun and moon which fall under his domain. The sun is associated with life while the wheel mimics the motion of the sun as it crosses the sky each day.

First mentioned by the Roman poet Lucan in the 1st century AD. In 2020, Taranis was a tool onboard a French Space Agency (CNES) satellite destined to measure radiation from lighting except the launch failed.

On a different note, God of Thunder is a song written and performed by Kiss, I will spare you the details.

Back story

This is not a vintage pen. Before I started my review, I read the review of others. This pen apparently elicits some strong feelings polarizing the fountain pen community. Some complain that Sheaffer based their design on the Lamy 2000. While others said the design is boring, the pen was too heavy, the section and nib are ugly, or they hated the nontraditional nib design. For all the hostile reviews and complaints I found reviews praising the same. One reviewer compared the lines of the section/grip and nib to the styles of a 50s automobile.

The pen was designed by renowned architect Charles Debbas. The Taranis was marketed from 2012-2016. The stainless steel nib is an interesting departure from the usual Sheaffer nib design – it combines both style and functionality. The ink reservoir is a Sheaffer proprietary ink converter, made specifically for this pen. Removing the barrel to access the reservoir/converter requires 9 full turns.

The barrel and cap are made of metal, it appears to be brass, painted, and protected by a lacquer finish. Some may find it slippery, but it suits me fine. The pen is well-balanced in hand when the cap is posted. I normally don’t post the cap but enjoy the feel both with and without the cap posted. I normally don’t post caps out of fear of scratching the barrel. The ring on the section/grip is a clutch with 3 outward notches, The cap attaches using friction created by the clutch resulting in a loud click and a firmly seated cap.

Steel nib housed in a unique patent-pending grip design that “integrates resin with the strength of metal.” Hmmm, I don’t normally press so hard that I need a grip strong enough to withstand a grip of steel. I do like the grip both in appearance and function. The way I hold pens, my fingers sit most comfortably on the grip and at the cap ring/clutch.

Reminds me of a ‘57 Chevy Belair

Let’s ink it up and see how she does. I inked up with Herbin ink. I noticed that a large droplet of ink formed at the base of the nib. I emptied the ink reservoir repeating the filling process. This time I tapped the nib on the bottle, eliminating the ink droplet.

I opened the moleskin journal and set the nib to paper. One day I’ll learn only to use the Pilot G2 with the moleskin. The Taranis has a wet nib. Instead, I whipped out a pad of paper where the Taranis performed impressively. No feathering, no blots, the nib gracefully glided across the paper.

But there is some troubling news. After one day of use, the ink fails to flow even with a nearly full converter. I’m not experiencing leakage or inky fingers, I assume the issue is a dirty nib restricting capillary action. I’m going to review the litany of possibilities and get back to you.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length; 140mm
  • Uncapped length; 120.5mm
  • Barrel diameter; 12.5mm
  • Cap diameter; 12.5mm
  • Weight; 34g

Other Reviews

Posted in Collection, Pens, Stories

Flat bottom pens make the journaling world go round

Ok, this is really about Flat-Top pens, I couldn’t pass on an opportunity for a Freddy Mercury parody.

Fountain pens come in just about any and every size and shape imaginable. I have a preference for flat-top pens including those referred to as “baseball bat” & “tube” pens. Contrary to the “Balance” style pens aka torpedo or cigar shape.

Flat-top pens are characterized as having a larger, prominent cap and a smaller body. There is a noticeable step between the cap and the pen body when the pen is capped, while the cap and the bottom end horizontally. I know “flat-top” means the top is flat, so who cares about the aft end, welp I do. Ever look at a cigar before it is smoked? Flat on one end and round on the other.

Little Flat-Top History

The Sheaffer Pen Company produced Flat-Top fountain pens from 1912 until some time after the middle of the 1930s, possibly as late as 1940. It is important to note that the name flat-top (or flat-top) is a collector-coined name for the earliest Sheaffer pens. Sheaffer never referred to them as such.

The Sheaffer Pen Company produced Flat-Top fountain pens from 1912 until some time after the middle of the 1930s, possibly as late as 1940. It is important to note that the name flat-top (or flat-top) is a collector-coined name for the earliest Sheaffer pens. Sheaffer never referred to them as such.

Aesthetics of a Flat-Top & Bottom Pen

My interest in vintage pens is well established and yes Sheaffer Balance is the progenitor of torpedo or cigar shape pens and it is vintage but no. For me, it is aesthetically pleasing to see sharp angles created by the flat ends (maybe I should have named this post “Flat Ends”?). They provide a pleasant contrast to the curved tapered body of a Balance-style pen.

When I was a young man prior to attending university I was interested in architecture. I enjoyed trips which offered an opportunity to view historic architecture. Yes, I love arches but my real enjoyment was always the angles of a structure. “Good design is about the beauty of line.” A flat-top pen is all about lines. Yes, a Balance-style pen has smooth lines but I find them boring as the pen gradually begins and fades away.

Apparently, I am not in the majority. Balance-style pens are more popular, they sell better. I came across a thread on Reddit that is interesting. The contributor preferred round-end pens because “geometrical discontinuities lead to jumps in the stress of a body [pens in our case] under load or in the event of impact [drop the pen].” Interesting rationale but these are pens, not bridges.

My Pens

As mentioned, my Flat-Top pens can be categorized into two groups; fo-real Flat-Top pens and what I’ll call hybrid Flat-Top pens. Sheaffer doesn’t have a monopoly on Flat-Top pens. I have pens manufactured by Sheaffer, Parker, Osmiroid, Esterbrook, TWSBI, Pilot and Inkograph.

My pile of Flat-Top pens, according to me

Hybrid Flat-Tops are more prevalent thus I have excluded them. Pens in this category include Mabie Todd, Gold Starry, Conway Stewart, Waterman, Geo W. Heath, Esterbrook, Worth, Hero, Kaigelu, Pilot, and Sheaffer. Can you imagine the size of that pile?

Why own something that reminds me of a banana (shape not color), a torpedo, or cigarish when you could have these beauties? As is evident, my idea of a Flat-Top pen is broad. These pens have soooo much more personality and appeal – to me.

Oh, and BTW, I own Balance-style pens; however, I do not own a Sheaffer Balance pen.

Posted in Collection, Pens, Stories

Pen Organization in a Digital World

I bet you thought this was going to be a different topic. I keep track of my pens, nibs, and ink usage using software called Airtable. This is the first of three posts discussing how I use Airtable to manage my collection of pens, inks, etc. I don’t have a large collection of pens or inks but I enjoy the organization, plus it will be helpful with insurance claims if the house burns to the ground.

The most common use software is Fountain Pen Companion. So what is Airtable, welp it is an easy way to create your own organizational databases (for dummies, like me). I can create my own base, or copy preconfigured examples. Each base has tables that contain fields.

I know sounds geeky and complicated, but it’s really not and you can decide what fields (information) are essential. The hardest part is deciding what to include. The good news is that you can add a new field or change an existing one even after records (pen information) are added.

And did I mention it is FREE. It is well established I am a sucker for FREE. Granted FREE means only 1,200 records and 2GB of space. I’m pretty sure that if I have 1,200 pens plus ink I will be divorced and probably homeless.


*** Click any picture to display a better-quality enlargement.***

I have created 8 tables (Pens, Mfr, Nibs, Project, Vendors, Supplies, Inked Up, Inks) with Pens as the main table. Some of the fields on this main table are linked to the Mfr, Nibs, and Project tables.

I have created a View to group the pens by the manufacturer. The first column is the key, which is the pen name or model. I added a picture of the pen because I sometimes forget what the pen looks like (duh). I added a field linked to the Mfr table, description, and other information. I purchase vintage pens primarily, thus I added a Rating field, which is the topic that started me down this rabbit hole. I can delete or change any column at any time except the Key column.

The Mfr table is very basic, as pens are assigned they appear automagically in the Pen column. I can click the pen and the complete record of that pen is displayed. I can also change that record if desired.

The Nibs table is primarily home to Esterbrook nibs since I have so many. I also include a damaged column as many of the vintage pens arrive with a nib that is in need of TLC.

The columns of every table are assigned a basis or field type. Airtable support provides examples explaining the options and functionality of most field types, including videos. In this example, I choose the option limiting the available options to a predefined list. The list is modifiable at any time.

I have saved the best for last. Airtable provides dozens of fully configured Bases to explore and copy as your own. And they are FREE! They do all the hard work, you delete the records, change descriptions of columns, table, lists, and you are done.

Predefined Base Template Categories

Next, I will discuss my interest in rating my pens (the actual reason we started down this rabbit hole).

Reference Material


Posted in Pens, Reviews

A 1950s Esterbrook Deluxe LK Model

I just realized this is my first post about a pen (excluding Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre) since late November. What a loser….anyway.

Company Back Story

In 1858, entrepreneur Richard Esterbrook established the “Esterbrook Pen Company” in Camden, NJ, which would soon become one of the world’s biggest and most beloved pen makers. The company produced dip pens before concentrating on fountain pens. At its height, Esterbrook was the largest pen manufacturer in the United States, employing 600 workers, and producing 216,000,000 pens a year.

Esterbrook manufactured two “Deluxe” models. The SM model was introduced in 1949, followed by the LK model in 1955. All Deluxe pens featured a metal cap. The SMs were available originally with a friction fit cap, with later models adopting a screw cap. The SM model featured double jeweled ends like the Model J.

The later LK’s model introduced a variety of changes. Only screw top caps were available and the double jeweled ends were replaced with stepped ends similar to the end caps seen on a 1941 Parker 51.

Other reviewers have mentioned the plastic used in the LK seems to be a little softer than the plastic used in the SM model. This softness lends to the LK model susceptible to scratches resulting from the posting of the cap and general use. I have not inspected an SM model so I cannot say for sure.

My Pen

My pen is Emerald Green, with minor scratches on the barrel, but none on the cap. There is a mark on the barrel possibly caused by posting the cap. The lever and pen clip are stainless steel. The filler lever is the “spoon” style. Levers on the Deluxe changed along with the J series from the “fishtail” or “spade” shaped lever replaced by the “spoon” shaped lever around 1952.

Other than the obvious (it’s a good-looking pen) it came sporting a medium 2312 Italic nib. As I am a big fan of Relief or oblique-style nibs, how could I turn this down?

The restoration was simple, I replaced the ink sac, and cleaned the pen with a Sunshine Cloth.

The cap is detailed with horizontal rings beginning above a cap ring and continuing to the stepped end cap. The cap threads in the barrel are part of a metal ring – I am glad it was not plastic. Operating the cap on/off requires 1 full turn, which is nice.

Esterbrook Deluxe LK

Honestly, I am not thrilled with the section. I prefer the section found on the SM model. The section on the LK is devoid of character and there isn’t even a flair around the end by the nib.

How does it write you ask, welp I’m glad you asked.

The 2312 nib is very similar to the Pilot CM nib – neither has a traditional writing surface (see below). This nib is not a smooth writer. Like the CM, it is a matter of finding the correct angle for the nib in relationship to the paper. This nib is used and may need some smoothing.

I do like the abundance of line variance this steel nib provides. In all likelihood, I will swap out this nib for a 2314 Relief or a 9312 (but I need to find one first).

Pilot M vs 2312 Italic M

The pen has been in service now for a couple weeks. I’ve come to notice an issue, the pen leaks – not a lot just enough to have a case of inky fingers. Not in the traditional sense, I am finding ink around the section by the nib. I am watching for a pattern. Trying to discern if the leak is from the screw on nib, if the ink sac is not true, or if is it caused when the cap is not tightly secured.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped Length: 130mm
  • Uncapped Length: 115mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 10.5mm
  • Cap Diameter: 12mm
  • Weighs in at, 18g

Reference Material

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

I start the month rotating in 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.

I rotated her out and decided to keep the Wing Sung 601 hooded demonstrator (a blatant Parker 51 knockoff) in the rotation.

The usual suspects have changed. I rotated out the Pilot Prera with the CM nib in favor of a Prera with a medium nib. The Wing Sung 601 is getting a workout and the Kaweco Student is still in rotation. All demonstrators this month.

For February I dug up a pen that hasn’t been in rotation since 2007. I pulled out a blue Waterman Philéas. For those not familiar, the pen is named after the Jules Verne character Phileas Fogg (Around the World in 80 Days)

A quick search of eBay for this pen, imagine the shock and horror when I saw the asking prices. Time for the reunion.

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 January with a review of December. 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 postings, Pen news, attempted murder by ink, and Jolabokaflod.
  • The (Wish) List 2023 A wish list can be for anything, from a birthday to a future home or (of course) a pen collection. As I stumble across pens that catch my eye but are not something I’m looking for, I add them to Evernote for reference in the future. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I present my pen wish list….
  • 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 by a pencil company?
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling uninspired (or lazy) I will dig up a blast from yesteryear. In this flashback, I’m highlighting a Keystone pen I purchased.
  • A Christmas Miracle, nah just Dumb Luck Christmas Miracle, maybe it is just dumb luck. I stumbled upon a 70-year-old Conway Stewart pen and Pencil set in superb condition just in time for me to buy, and for my wife to gift to me.
  • Year of the Rabbit (how about the pen) So starts the year of the Rabbit. I thought I’d highlight the Chinese-sourced pens I own.
  • Majorelle Blue (Ink) by Any Other Name Have you ever seen the color of houses in Marrakech? It resonates with me. I searched for a pen ink by the name “Moroccan Blue,” “Marrakech Blue,” or “Majorelle Blue” to no avail. Then I stumbled upon a post on FPN of a blue ink so intense as to glaze upon it “hurt” the eyes of the reader. Wanta know what I found?

In the News

Again, absolutely nothing exciting happened in the world of pens last month. Then I found this heartwarming story…Little Afghan girl in Kabul selling pens to support her family. “If I bought them all would you be happy?” She smiled and said yes,” When a woman asks how much the pen costs, the little seller says 20 cents. She inquires if she may purchase all of the pens. The vendor agrees, and the woman pays her. “You paid me too much,” the girl complains. The woman then hands her a few more currency notes, then the little girl’s face brightens.

Sherlock Holmes Amongst Books to Enter Public Domain in 2023 “The long-running contested copyright dispute over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of a whipsmart detective — which has even ensnared Enola Holmes — will finally come to an end as the 1927 copyrights expiring Jan. 1 include Conan Doyle’s last Sherlock Holmes work.” Certain works by Ernest Hemingway, Louis Armstrong, and Laurel and Hardy can also legally be shared, performed, or sampled without permission or cost.

In case you are not familiar, today starts InCoWriMo. What’s that you ask? It is International Correspondence Writing Month. There is also a National version but why keep it to ourselves. So pull out your fancy stationery and fountain pens (don’t forget ink!) and write to someone whether they are near or far.

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.