About wspectordc

I own a blog about pens. If you are interested, hop over and check it out at spectorpen.com. Recently, I have been reviewing fountain pens and ink along with some pencils.

Diamine Oxford Blue Fountain Pen Ink

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.

The reddish sheen is very visible in the upper left hand corner of this inkblot.

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.

As you can see, with a finer nib this ink looks almost black.
Dry time of about 30 seconds.

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.

Signing Out,

Will

Jinhao 993 Shark Pen: First Impressions

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.

Signing Out,

Will

J. Herbin Glass Dip Pen

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.

Writing with Robert Oster Fire & Ice

Note: Recent fountain pen recognition! Check out this New York Times fountain pen article right here, published on December 26th.

Signing Out,

Will

A Concise Review: Pelikan 4001 Violet Ink

The Pelikan 4100 ink line is Pelikan’s less expensive line of inks, after their revered Edelstein brand. The 4100 inks are still quality, respected inks, though, and are simple colors that work in any fountain pens. I recently picked up a bottle of the violet ink at my hometown pen store, Fahrney’s, and inked up my Pelikan M400.

Bottle: The 4001 Violet comes in a glass bottle in the shape of a trapezoidal prism with an arch on top that leads up the screw-on cap. (See picture below.) On the label is a pelican feeding it’s young (The Pelikan symbol), the name of the ink, and a small circle displaying the color.

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Ink: The 4100 Violet ink is a nice, shading ink, something that is wet enough that it would make cheap paper miserable but looks very nice on a quality pad. On a Rhodia 5×5 grid notebook this ink looks great. The shading starts with a bright, cheery violet that is met with a deep purple when the nib is picked up off of the paper. This makes a very nice line and looks decent in any pen. The violet is dark enough to pass as a formal color, so this ink is an option for anyone who is not comfortable using a bright, colorful ink but is looking for a little something to spice up their writing. This ink, though, isn’t the deepest, most beautiful ink out there. It is a very nice violet, but is not as interesting as some colors available.

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Cost: This ink retails at around $13-14, a lower priced ink, and can be purchased for less online.

So, overall, the Pelikan 4001 Violet ink is a nice purple ink that has some shading and looks good on nice paper. It is a rather simple ink, but sometimes simple is good. For anyone looking for a quality violet ink, click here for this ink on Goulet Pens.

Signing Out,

Will

Pelikan M400 Fountain Pen

Pelikan is a company well known in the fountain pen world for manufacturing some of the nicest, most reliable pens available to purchase. Centered out of Germany, Pelikan makes many different types of writing instruments, from art pastels to fountain pens. The M400 is one of Pelikan’s higher end instruments, one that I was given the chance to purchase at a reduced price. I have only used it a few times as of now, so here are my first impressions.

First, for the appearance. The Pelikan M400 is a medium sized fountain pen with a cylindrical body. Above and below the body are two rings, one that separates the body from the grip section, and one that separates it from the knob of the piston filler. The cap is screw on, and posts easily over the piston to make up for the fact that the pen itself is on the shorter side. The M400 nib is a dual tone nib, with a brilliant gold towards the front of the nib and a chrome behind it. Engravings of the Pelikan symbol and some crisscrossing lines form a pattern on the nib. The pen is available in several different color options, including a gold striped body and white cap/grip section with gold trim, a green striped body with a black cap/grip section and gold trim, a blue striped body and black cap/grip section with gold trim, and a special edition tortoiseshell brown striped body with a black cap/grip section and gold trim, among some others. On the top of the cap is a gold circle engraved with the Pelikan symbol, a pelican feeding its young, and the clip of the pen is a forward facing pelican head.

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Now for the technical aspects. First, the filling system. In case anyone isn’t familiar with the iconic piston filler, I’ll lay it out right here. A piston filling system is a filling system in a fountain pen that utilizes the entire body as a house for the ink. It functions manually, as the user twists the end knob to extend the piston into the body until it is fully extended, and then twists in in the other direction to pull ink into the pen. The M400 piston system works like a charm, and the end knob does not come unscrewed if you post the cap. (which I do.) Because the body is translucent, if you hold the pen up to a light you can see the ink inside of the body, a beautiful and interesting feature. Additionally, the rivets above the grip, which is rather small, do not interfere at all with the writing experience, which is a major plus.

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Onto the performance. The M400’s nib is 14k gold, and at its price range you probably expect a smooth writing experience. Pelikan gold nibs are not just smooth, though. They’re butter. German nibs are known for their quality and smoothness, and Pelikan does not deviate from this reputation. The experience of writing with this pen is easily one of the smoothest that I have ever had. The medium nib is on the wetter side. As of  late December 2018, this pen has been sitting with ink in it for too long. After taking it out and trying it, there are no flow problems and no crusty ink. 

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I recommend the Pelikan M400 to anyone who is willing to spend a significant amount of money on a fountain pen or to anyone looking for a Pelikan pen to start out with. Do not purchase this pen for its retail price, $400! You can purchase it for $280 on multiple websites and at pen shows, which is the same price of the upgraded M200. Click here for the M400 on Pen Chalet.

Signing Out,

Will

2018 Washington D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow

As I live directly outside Washington D.C., I was ecstatic to learn that the largest pen show in the world, the Washington D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow, was held right in my hometown. The pen show is one of many, with a new location as of last year, Marriott Fairview Place in Fairfax VA, outside of D.C. I had been to one pen show before, the Baltimore Pen Show, and I decided to go in with low expectations, knowing that if I raised my expectations too high (which I was struggling not to do) I could be disappointed. What I was greeted with, though, was far from disappointing.

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The D.C. pen show consisted of two large rooms, a main ballroom that was off the the right, and a smaller room directly to the left. In the entrance hallway were a few stands. Upon purchasing tickets, my father and I were promptly handed two bottles of “D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow Blue” ink which we had been rewarded for being among the first people there (We came on a Sunday to avoid the large crowds.) The first room was small, but had some interesting vendors; Kanilea Pen Co, Herbert Pen Co, and Toys from the Attic, just to name a few. We walked around a little, scanned, and decided to move on, to come back if we felt the need. Taking a quick glance at the hallway, I discovered that the Nock Co. table was outside, run by Brad Dowdy, (Of The Pen Addict podcast) celebrity of the pen world. We looked briefly, and decided to move into the main ballroom.

 

 

The main ballroom of any pen show is the place where much of the magic happens. Here you will find vintage and modern pen dealers, nibmeisters, and many connoisseurs and collectors scanning the tables. Many vendors that I knew were there, as well as many that I didn’t. Some of the more prominent ones included Bittner, Fountain Pen Hospital, The Nibsmith, (actually in a hallway to the left of the ballroom) and Anderson Pens, as well as nibmeister Mike Masuyama. I ended up discussing vintage flex nibs with a nice man that collects and sells vintage pens he finds with wet noodles, as well as talking to people from The Nibsmith, Crazy Alan’s Emporium, and Karas Pen Co. Everyone was very kind and willing to share their pen knowledge. Next, we entered the hallway to the left of the ballroom where we examined some vendors (Sailor Pen Co., The Nibsmith) and then moved back to the main hallway. It had been a fantastic day.

In the end, I left with two bottles of Monteverde D.C. Pen Show ink, a Pelikan M400 green stripe fountain pen, (review coming soon!) and lots of business cards. I ended up seeing Brad Dowdy as well as Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens. Calligraphy classes were held on Saturday and there was an ink sampling room upstairs. Pen shows are a wonderful opportunity for pen collectors and others alike to learn more about pens, and a great time for a new pen or ink or to get a nib fixed/ground. There are pen shows all over the country, just look into one near you. The link to the D.C. show is here.

Signing Out,

Will

 

Nock Co. Sinclair Pen Case

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I have only ever completed one review of a pen case, and the reason for that is because I only have a single pen case in my possession, the Monteverde 36 slot case. Although I have had the Monteverde case for a little while now, it is rather large, and without a handle it’s tough to bring places. I prefer keeping this case on my desk and using it for un-inked pens. Therefore, I decided to purchase a new pen case, a small one that I could transport easily. The following post will detail that case and tell all the ups and downs. Enjoy!

Nock. Co. is a small company run by Brad Dowdy (best known for The Pen Addict podcast, which I highly recommend) and Jeffrey Bruckwicki, of Project of Seamster. Jeffrey and Brad produce high quality nylon pen cases which are more flexible and durable than leather cases. Although many people are under the impression that leather is a more attractive, nicer, and overall better material than nylon, these pen cases are created with impeccable care, and therefore are just as comfortable as leather. The Sinclair is a small, rectangular pen case that has three high quality pen slots across from  a larger memo book size pocket. Although the pocket is intended for notebooks, owners of the Sinclair are encouraged to use their imagination with the pocket. It can really work for anything that fits the dimensions; the object must be thinner than 3.5″, and shorter than 5.5″. Since the zipper travels around the top edge of the pen case, starting halfway down the long edge of the case and ending parallel to it at the other long edge, (see photo), the middle of the case functions as a storage space as well, although it can only be used for small items like erasers and ink cartridges. The case is generally easy to carry, as it fits in one’s hand. (4″ wide*6.5″ tall.) The Sinclair comes in these color combos: Raven outside and Aqua inside (the case that I possess), Mandarin outside and Steel inside, and a Spa blue outside with a Lime inside.

 

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Well, that was a concise post. I guess it’s because I had little to say about this case. It is high quality, easy to bring around, and it does the job; it holds pens. Just a small note: I have a Pilot Vanishing Point, a Pelikan M400, and a Pilot Falcon in the case right now, and they all fit wonderfully. I recommend this case to anyone looking for a small, portable pen case, as this is one of the best you will find. You can find the Sinclair here on Nock Co. Thanks for reading, and tune in for upcoming posts!

Signing off,

Will