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 Collection, Stories

A Vintage Pen Condition Rating System

This is not really applicable to those not interested in vintage pens. For those who do collect and use vintage pens, the shape, and condition of the pen is relevant. Some pens we own for the joy of ownership while others are owned with the expectation of using them. A few of my pens make up the first category (my Gold Starry 59 is an example) while most are working and expected to take their turn in the rotation. Though working, these pens are not all the same. Some are well aged while others are near perfect (cherry as I would say).

As you have learned, I keep track of my pens, nibs, and ink usage using software called Airtable. This is the third of four posts discussing how I use Airtable to manage my collection. Actually, this was the post that made me add the 2 back story posts. As a recap, Airtable is an online software database for dummies (like me). Each base is divided into tabs, the first tab contains the pens. On this tab, I have created a column called “Rating.” This field contains a list of rating options that I assign describing the condition of the pen.

The Rating System

The real challenge, develop a rating system. I have an advantage there, I’ve designed and configured several Quality Management systems, thus the concept of rating codes, etc. was very easy to come by. I opted for a design with quality categories and a standardized series of “defect” codes.

What is simpler than the ABCs of quality. Ok I made that up, but you have to agree the following categories work well:

  • A = Amazing
  • B = BEAutiful
  • C = Common (appropriate for the age)
  • X = Yuck
  • N = New

Defect Codes

Associated with each quality category I have assigned a standardized defect code ranging from 1-9, where 1 is a significant defect and 9 is minimal. Shhhh, I don’t want to hurt their feelings but every pen has an issue, no 10s in my collection.

Standardized Defect Codes

Now an established uniform rating system (Quality category+Defect code) I can compare pens to pens. This makes it easy for me to determine which pens are exceptional and which ones are well, not.

For those of you who own vintage pens, do you give any thought to the over condition of the pen?

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 Material, Restoration, Stories

Ink Sac Talc and Asbestos

I have to admit I was surprised to learn (years ago), that over the last 100 years pen manufacturers have made use of talc or chalk as a lubricate. This should not have surprised me, I’ve done lots of hiking and backpacking and welp let’s just leave it with I take a little bottle of baby powder (talc only) when I hit the trails.

Recently I stumbled upon a blogger, who only posts once annually, and that one time this year was last month. The topic was pen talc and asbestos. That got my attention.

Apparently, in March 1976, the New York Times published an article warning of the talc/asbestos connection but it got no one’s attention. Researchers found 10 of the 19 baby powders tested contained upwards of 20% asbestos. Got your attention now – right!

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Chemically, talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate.

Asbestos is also a naturally occurring silicate mineral. When mining, both are often found in close proximity, hence the problem, there is a potential to contaminate the talc with asbestos. There are those (lawyers involved in class action lawsuits to name no one) who contend talc is naturally contaminated with asbestos.

Risks associated with talc powder stem from the toxic effects of talc dust contaminated with asbestos. Contaminated talc tends to contain highly carcinogenic forms of asbestos such as tremolite or anthophyllite. Which are more carcinogenic than chrysotile, the most-used type of asbestos. The chances of contracting cancer from a wisp of talc dust emanating from a fountain pen are minimal. However, that little wisp of white floating out of a lever slit now feels ominous, instead of satisfying.

Assuming a talc/asbestos mix is not for you, 100% pure talc (USP grade) is still available. Alternatively, how about graphite powder, a form of carbon (CAS Number: 231-955-3) is readily available everywhere, or precipitated calcium carbonate (CAS Number: 471-34-1)? This powdered chalk produced from limestone has been used for centuries in bookbinding and shoemaking. (credit: Restorer’s Art). You don’t need much, 100 grams (3.5oz) of any of these choices should be enough to last for years.

As my wife stockpiled baby powder made with talc when manufacturers announced no more talcum powder (think Seinfeld S7E9). They replaced talc with corn starch which is for soups and stews. Having a never-ending supply of talc, I will continue using unscented baby powder when I replace ink sacs.

Reference Material

Need 100% Talc? Try these Suppliers

  • Fifteen Pens (CA); Talc
  • Indy-Pen-Dance (US): Talc
  • Pen Dragons (UK): Chalk
Posted in Stories

Blogiversary 2

Wow, it’s been 2 years. Last year I could not believe how successful the blog was. This year, welp all I can say is am flabbergasted (in the very best of ways).

Thanks to all who have viewed, liked, or commented on my blog, plus a special heartfelt thanks to those who follow the blog. I appreciate you all.

Year in Review

I don’t often bang my own drum, it is the blog’s birthday, altruism be damned, shamelessly here we go….

Last year I mentioned I had ideas for the next year, I am happy to say I followed through and added a variety of new themed posts. For the most part, my bright ideas were very popular. I created 2 Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre posts (The Blue Diamond and The Jade Pen), and 5 event-based posts celebrating (Nurses Week, Library Week, Ancestors Day, Halloween, and the Chinese New Year). I wrote a tribute to the pens of the TV show Madman and took you down memory lane with a variety of Throw-Back-Thursday. I enhanced my “New Month” posts to include a review of the prior month, added all the news worth mentioning about pens or ink, plus an occasional comment about dumb book banners. I published a couple ink-based articles (Majorelle Blue and wine based inks). Then finally I published well over 15 articles on educational or how-to topics (my favorite BTW is Nib Geometry).

Next Thursday to commemorate the blogiversary I am republishing the story of my first fountain pen. That post has been “remastered.”

“Today, a majority of fountain pen users write with fountain pens primarily for reasons related to writing comfort, expressive penmanship, aesthetics, history and heritage.”

A couple years ago I stumbled across this quote. I have been looking for a way to incorporate it into a post. Here we go. I use fountain pens for historical and heritage reasons, primarily. I make no secret to having horrible handwriting and I thank Bic for that. There is also the desire to be different – I’m not very good at following trends and have zero interest in popular culture.

How about you? Do you agree with the quote? What do you write with and why? Don’t be shy.

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

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