Life is busy, and after a hiatus from the world of fountain pens for a little while, I am ready to dive back in. This Christmas season I was incredibly fortunate to receive the gift of Diamine’s “The Inkvent Calendar.” Unfortunately this will have to be a shorter post because I don’t want to spoil anything about the calendar and it’s only the first day of December! I’ve opened a single window! Hopefully after the 25th I’ll be able to log on and write about some of the ink samples that were in the calendar. For now, though, let’s cut to the chase.
The Inkvent Calender is made by Diamine, a highly regarded ink company based out of the UK. Their website is here. It is a wonderfully decorated cardboard box, maybe 16 inches tall and 12 wide (from pure sight estimation), and contains 25 separate compartments blocked off by corrugated cardboard doors. Each door has a number, and the door is opened on that number day of December leading up to the 25th to reveal a surprise ink. Now that I have described what an advent calendar does (for the few of you who may not know), let’s go into the ink. Each of the first 24 doors contains a small 7 ml glass bottle of Diamine ink, each of which was created for the calendar exclusively and given a festive name. Each ink is different from the last; some may be shimmering or have a lot of sheen, while others do not. There is also a large range in color. The 25th door contains a 30 ml plastic ink bottle, a great Christmas gift. Below is a picture of the first bottle (turned around as not to spoil the name or color).
Although I cannot rate the calendar quite yet, I will come back with a separate post sometime after the 25th with details on some of the inks. Tune in before then for some posts on pens I haven’t reviewed yet… and check the coming soon bar to the right of this post for some hints!
Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve published a post, and the guilt finally caught up with me. So here I am. A pen that I received a while ago that I have, unfortunately, not yet written a post about, is the Diplomat Aero Factory fountain pen. Diplomat is a pen company that has been around for a while, but was introduced to my part of the world quite recently. They make high quality pens of many shapes and sizes, and the Aero is probably their best known fountain pen. In this post, I’ll outline the appearance and overall performance of this pen, as well as whether I would recommend it to others.
I’ll start with aesthetics and all the technical stuff. The Aero is a cigar-shaped pen that comes in several different colors. The pen is on the larger and heavier side, with a post-length of about six and a quarter inches and a capped length of five and a half inches. The pen weighs 41 grams. For a comparison, a Lamy Safari weighs 17 grams, and a Vanishing Point is 30 grams. So yes; it’s pretty heavy. The body tapers off on both sides, resulting in very narrow finials and a very thick area around the lip of the cap. The only visible branding besides on the nib is on the center band, which reads “DIPLOMAT” in white lettering. The body is constructed of aluminum with numerous long, vertical grooves extending from the top finial down to the center band of the cap, and then continuing from the step of the body all the way down to the other finial. The grip is smooth metal, and the clip is as well. On my model, the “factory,” the body and cap are chrome with a smooth, matte gunmetal grip and clip. The finials also share this common color.
Now for the comfort and performance of the pen minus the nib (which of course deserves its own section altogether). The weight of the pen is actually quite nice when writing, and the body rests well between my index finger and thumb when writing. The pen is quite easy to post, though the cap becomes unsecure from time to time when writing. The grooves can create a little unpleasant friction where the pen rests between the thumb and forefinger when writing, but not enough to greatly deter someone from purchasing this pen. The grip can occasionally get slick during long writing sessions, though it is not prone to doing so. Additionally, pen wields a snap-cap, something not often found in pens in or over the $150 range. That’s about it for the performance of the pen (besides the nib): Nothing really that special. All it really is in terms of non-nib performance is a solid, heavy pen.
Now for the nib. When you add the nib into the equation of this fairly regular pen, it becomes much more appealing. The pen is available with a steel or gold nib. My Aero is equipped with an extra-fine steel nib, and it writes exceptionally well. The nib has a fair amount of feedback, and despite being a European pen, the nib is almost as fine as many Asian EFs. It never skips, despite the fact that I’m a lefty underwriter, and gives just the amount of feedback I want. The nib also looks great; a large, matte-chrome piece with a flower-reminiscent design and branding. It does not have a breather hole, just the slit which extends about halfway up the nib. Writing with the standard factory Diplomat-blue cartridge that came with the pen, the experience is great; a nice everyday writer.
It appears I went out of order in this post, so I’ll talk about the packaging last. The pen comes in a thick cardboard box on a fabric-covered tray. In order to access the pen, one must remove a thin cardboard cover box and lift a piece of paper sporting the company name and logo. A chrome metal cover slides over the box to keep the pen safe. The pen itself is held down by an elastic band under a ribbon. Underneath the fabric tray are two cartridges and an instruction manual, as well as a converter.
Overall, I give this pen 4 stars for being a great daily writer and a fairly reliable pen. One thing I did notice after leaving ink in this pen for a bit too long, though, was that the ink in the nib dried out. It was one of only two inked pens that became dry over the period of time that I did not use it. So this pen is not one to leave with ink in it for an extended period of time (which is never good, though it can have different effects on different pens). I like the writing experience of this pen very much, and I am a fan of the aesthetics as well. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to upgrade from beginner pens to a mid-range fountain pen, or to anyone looking for a solid EDC with a little more heft to it. The pen is available here on Goulet.
Keep an eye out of upcoming posts! You can look at the fourth little box down in that column over there→to see what posts are coming soon.
Robert Oster is a company that manufactures a single product: fountain pen ink. These vibrant inks come in many different colors, and quite a few of them have a nice sheen.
Robert Oster Fire and Ice is a darker turquoise ink with a deep red sheen. It sells for about $17.00 in most stores. Because this is an ink review, there will be less writing and more photography. So, let’s cut to the chase!
This ink comes in a nice, tall 50 ml bottle with a bright gold sticker on the front. On this sticker is the name of the brand and a few other small items, such as the bottle size and the company’s catchphrase. On top of the large black cap is a white sticker that displays a small sample of the color.
For this review, I used a Rhodia 5×5 grid notebook and a J. Herbin glass dip pen (my current controls for paper and pen). In finer lines, the ink looks very dark, almost black but, as the lines widen, the ink begins to look more turquoise with a red sheen around the edges.
The picture above is a wonderful example of this ink’s red sheen. The version on the right is brightened so the sheen is even more visible.
The picture above is another good example of this ink’s sheen, but this time in letters. The edges of the word “Robert” clearly have a reddish tint, which provides for a great effect in one’s writing.
This ink, as I mentioned earlier, is just on the wetter side of the spectrum, with a fairly average dry time of barely over 25 seconds. It’s just a bit dryer than Diamine Oxford Blue.
I recently took out some of my blunt tip syringes and shot some of this ink into an empty Pilot cartridge, which I put into a 6.0mm Pilot Parallel to try it out in wider lines. I found that this photo was a great representation of this ink’s color. Even with this wide nib, I noticed very little bleeding and no feathering whatsoever on Rhodia paper.
However, on standard 8×11 printer paper, the ink is a mess. The feathering and bleeding are both out of control. This is clearly an ink intended for use only on fountain pen friendly paper.
I am a big fan of this ink. It is wonderful for anyone who likes a darker turquoise to teal ink, or for anyone interested in sheening inks. I’m actually going to stop giving inks ratings out of 5 stars, as they are so based upon personal preference. I like this ink a lot, though, as it is a wonderful color with a great sheen. This ink is available here on Goulet.
Sailor is a very interesting fountain pen company. They introduce more limited and special edition pens a year than any other pen manufacturer, and they are always looking for new and interesting designs. The late Mr. Nagahara of Sailor was arguably the most skilled and ingenious nib makers and designers ever to live. One of Sailor’s most popular pen models, the 1911, is a pen that most fountain pen enthusiasts will be familiar with. It is a staple in the pen community, with its classic body style and immensely popular nib. The 1911 Large comes with a 21 karat gold nib, one of the highest nibs in gold content available today. The 1911 Large (L) sells for around $280, while the Standard (S) sells for between $150 and $200. The Sailor 1911 Tangerine is a special edition Sailor pen sporting one of the most vibrant colors that the 1911 has to offer.
Let me begin by discussing the appearance of the pen itself. The 1911 Large is a larger pen (hence the name) with a cigar-shaped body. Every inch of the pen is a beautiful orange color with a glossy finish, with the exception of the chrome trim (which includes the trim ring, clip, and center band). The chrome nib leans towards the larger side, with classic Sailor nib engravings adorning it. The pen is slightly over 5 inches long when capped, and a just a tiny bit longer when posted. It is around 4.5 inches when uncapped and unposted. As far as appearance goes, that’s just about all I have to say. Besides the great color of this pen, the body is fairly stereotypical.
Now for some technical aspects: The pen is a cartridge/converter filler, and it comes with two Sailor cartridges as well as one Sailor converter. It is a relatively light fountain pen, as it is made of resin. The grip is a little slippery, as it is a glossy pen, but this matters very minimally in the overall performance of the instrument. The cap is a screw on (as many in this price range will be), and the clip is, well… normal. It’s a long clip, rounded at the end, and frankly, it’s about as simple as clips get.
The best word to describe the packaging of this pen is fine. As with most 1911s in this price range, the pen comes in an inexpensive fake leather box, which has a grey velvet platform inside. Underneath this removable platform is the small user’s guide and two Sailor black ink cartridges (standard international size). The pen is held down with an elastic band and a ribbon. Sailor is printed in gold lettering on the top and inside the lid of the box. For the price of this pen, I would expect more from the box. Although some other pens in this range come in similar boxes, others such as the Pilot Custom 823 or the Pelikan 400 come in much nicer, more extravagant packages that really match the price point of the pen. This one needs some work.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the nib! Sailor pens are essentially caddies for the Sailor nibs (with the exception of Maki-Es and other limited editions), as the nibs are the main attraction. Sailor nibs are known for their outstanding writing experience and are some of the finest factory nibs available. After trying the 21k gold nib in medium-fine, I can only agree that the writing experience of the Sailor nib is like no other. The MF nib is smooth with a moderate amount of feedback, which provides for an almost pencil-like writing experience (the MF nib will have more feedback than a 21k M or B). The 21k gold nib is quite flexible for a non-flex nib. Just by looking, the line variation is easily 2×. This nib is fun to play with, but also great for everyday writing. A long writing session with this nib would be a breeze. Any fountain pen collector or connoisseur should try to get their hands on one of these. In my opinion, it is a must-have in the fountain pen world.
And below is a writing sample using the 1911 MF nib with Jentle Blue-Black (review coming soon). Pardon my handwriting. I noticed that when flexing, railroading is a possibility (seen in the second and third loops). Also note that the nib can be flexed wider than I chose to flex it below, but I was not looking to push its boundaries too far and possibly damage it.
I would recommend the Sailor 1911 to anyone who is ready to get serious in the world of fountain pens. It is a great next-next level pen, for those who are ready to become hardcore collectors or connoisseurs. It is also a great choice for anyone looking for a gold nib EDC with a little more flex (though the 1911S is a better EDC pen than the L in my opinion). The body is simple but effective, and the nib is up there with the best of them. I give the Sailor 1911 Large Royal Tangerine 5 stars because although the packaging leaves something to be desired, the pen itself is outstanding. If you decide to bring this pen to work, though, be careful not to drool when looking at the nib! The 1911 L Tangerine is available here on Goldspot.
Tune in for upcoming posts! I assure you that some posts worth mentioning will be coming out soon.
Happy New Year, everyone! For my first post of 2019, I decided to review one of the most classic inks that I own: Diamine Oxford Blue.
Founded in 1864, Diamine is an English company that manufactures ink. From ink pads to shimmering fountain pen ink, Diamine makes it all. Diamine is a respected company in the fountain pen world for their numerous calligraphy and fountain pen inks, and for the diversity of the ink they manufacture. Oxford Blue is an ink in their fountain pen ink series.
Diamine Oxford blue is a deep navy color, with a black and reddish sheen. It is a wetter ink, and has a relatively average dry time of about 30 seconds (with J. Herbin glass dip pen and Rhodia Blank notepad). As a lefty who prefers drier inks, this dry time is a bit slow for me, as I might smudge the ink when writing. A darker blue ink, Oxford Blue is perfect for formal writing projects or for signatures. It is a beautiful ink, with the noticeable dark sheen, but simple enough that it is not a distraction. Just a note- I loaded this ink into a TWSBI Eco demonstrator a while back, and as of today I detect no flow problems.
Now for the bottle. All 30 ml inks (as of January 1, 2019) come in a clear plastic bottle with multiple stickers adorning the sides. The rectangular body merges up into the black cap, which screws on and off of the cylindrical mouth of the bottle.
Diamine Oxford blue is a great choice for anyone who needs a simple yet beautiful ink. It is available for $15 in an 80 ml bottle, or in cartridges for around $10. It can also be purchased in a 30 ml bottle for a very reasonable $8. The 30 ml bottle is available here at Jetpens. I give this ink four stars, for being a little too wet for my lefty writing style, but a great blue color with a nice sheen. At its low price, I would recommend trying it.
Christmas has come and gone, which means it is time to review the pen-related gifts I received. I want to thank everyone kind enough to give me any gift, as I would not be able to keep this blog up and running without them.
A Chinese pen company, Jinhao manufactures many different models of affordable fountain pens. Among these is the 993 Shark Pen, a recent addition to the Jinhao collection. This instrument’s fun design and ridiculously affordable price make it a great everyday pen that one need not worry about losing.
The Shark pen is a sleek, lightweight plastic fountain pen. The screw-on cap features a low profile shark face and a small dorsal fin to keep the pen from rolling when placed on a surface. The body is a single plastic shell, the same color as the cap. Between these two pieces is the grip section, which is made of tinted, transparent plastic (on most color options). The grip section slopes slightly inwards towards the middle, with two inverted sections for the index and middle finger to rest in. This design allows for maximum comfort when writing. Underneath the cap is the hooded nib, the hood a matte-black plastic section that slopes down into the steel nib protruding from it. Because it is a hooded nib, it is quite small.
The inside of the pen is interesting. According to an outside source, this pen can, in fact, be turned into an eyedropper pen easily, which I intend to try in the next few days. From the factory, though, this pen comes with a converter. I was surprised to see this, as most pens within the price range of the Jinhao Shark Pen (around $4) will come with a single cartridge or be disposable.
Now for the packaging. I received a 12-pack of different colored shark pens, which came in a wide, cream-colored cardboard box with a shark and the Jinhao logo printed on the front. Inside of this box was another, almost exactly the same shape and size, but this time made of frosted plastic. The box contained twelve individual slots, each holding a single pen. Laid across the pens was a white foam board. The board was used to hold the pens in place as they traveled to my home. Overall, the packaging was what one should expect from a set of $4 fountain pens: It did its job, but was not much to present.
For its price, though, the shark pen performs quite well. The hooded nib writes smoothly enough and does not show even the faintest sign of skipping. As the nib is extra-fine, the lines that it puts down are thin and crisp. The nib is closer in flexibility to a nail than any other I have used as it is so small, but this reality is not necessarily a con. For those who like a stiffer nib, it is a great option. Additionally, the converter that comes with the pen holds a relatively large amount of ink.
My first impressions of the Jinhao 993 Shark Pen are, for the most part, very positive. It is a good writer, it is affordable, it looks fun, and it is very versatile. I give this pen four and a half stars, with a half-point missing simply because of the plastic (which tends to feel cheap in fountain pens.) For a $4 pen, though, it is one of the best I have used. I would recommend this pen to anyone looking to make their first eyedropper pen, as it is expendable at its low price, or to anyone looking for a fun, inexpensive starter pen. The Shark Pen is available here at Goulet Pens.
J. Herbin, founded in 1670, is a company specializing in fountain pen inks and sealing waxes. Although their main focus is ink, they do manufacture some writing instruments, including a series of hand-blown glass dip pens. These come in a variety of different colors and body shapes, all of which are beautiful pieces that are truly a joy to write with.
The J. Herbin glass dip pen comes in three different models: smooth frosted, spiral, and marbleized. Each model differs in shape and size from the others, and each comes in a variety of colors. I am currently in possession of a royal blue spiral pen, and it is truly a work of art. The body is completely made of spiraled blue glass that begins as a thick, four-sided prism fused to the grip section and twists upwards, becoming thinner the farther it gets from the tip of the pen. At the base of this body is the grip section, composed of two transparent bulbs that are connected just as two sections of an ant’s body are. Inside of the top bulb is an orange bubble (only available in spiral model). The tip of the pen is connected to the second of the two bulbs, and is made of clear glass that is spiraled sharply downwards to come to a point (see picture). This spiral shape was designed to hold the maximum amount of ink, as after the pen is dipped the ink rests in the grooves on the tip and slowly flows downwards as ink is used.
This tip design is the same for all three models of pen, although the shape of the body and grip sections differ rather drastically between models. The smooth frosted model has a thin, cylindrical body and one bulb for a grip, while the marbleized model has a similar body shape as the spiral model, though without edges or spirals, and has a colorful pattern near the grip section. Visit this link to see the different pen models.
Now for the packaging. The pen comes in a black cardboard box that is slightly wider and longer than the writing instrument itself, covered with a clear plastic lid. The lid is sealed onto the box with two stickers, one on each side. Both long sides of the box tell J. Herbin’s story in gold print, one side in English and the other in French. The pen itself rests in a plastic tray. Personally, this was not the most impressive packaging job that I have ever seen on a pen, but for the price, it does its job.
Quite frankly, the J. Herbin glass dip pen performs well. It writes smoothly enough for a glass pen, and holds a large amount of ink for a dip pen (a few sentences worth). It is perfect for testing inks, as one simply has to wipe the tip with a wet paper towel to clean it, and it is also fun to use when embarking on short writing projects or when composing a letter. I would not recommend using it for long writing projects, simply because it will have to be dipped multiple times in the user’s ink. The pen sells for $25-$30, and can be purchased here at Goulet pens (in royal blue spiral, other colors are also available). This pen is great for those who need to test new inks regularly, or just for fun (and fun it is!). I give this pen five stars for being everything it should be, and more. It is beautiful, it performs well, and it is great for different uses.
Note: Recent fountain pen recognition! Check out this New York Times fountain pen article right here, published on December 26th.