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

Noodler’s Apache Sunset Ink

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This is my first fountain pen ink post, so hopefully it goes well! Please enjoy.

Of any item in the pen world that is best for noodling around with, fountain pen ink is high on the list. And what better ink to noodle with than Noodler’s fountain pen inks? One of many ink companies,  Noodler’s specializes in sheening and shading fountain pen inks (inks that change color within their line). Their inks are one of a kind, each with a specific label and name that contributes to the description of the ink. Noodler’s inks tend to be on the less saturated side of the ink spectrum, so they are safe for many different fountain pens (as you really have to try to clog a pen with them.) Furthermore, Noodler’s produces quite a few PH neutral inks, an interesting factor. Most inks cost around $12, (a bargain for the quality of the ink) though some prices escalate to as much as $30. Noodler’s inks are perfect for flex nib pens and calligraphy. In fact, the only two products that Noodler’s manufactures are flex nib fountain pens and inks.

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Now, onto the specifics. The ink that I own is one of, if not the most popular ink that Noodler’s manufactures. Apache Sunset is an amber, yellowey-orange ink that produces magnificent shading. It is a wet ink, so it is not the fastest drier, but it is not downright slow to dry either. Apache Sunset comes in a 3 oz glass bottle in the shape of a rectangular prism. A riveted cylinder leads up to the plastic screw-on cap on top. The label shows the Noodler’s logo and lists some other facts, while depicting an Apache man surrounded by cliffs. Once a line of ink or a letter is completed and the nib of the pen is removed from the paper, a rich, deep vermilion slowly creeps up the already visible line of golden-amber, stopping about 3/4 of a centimeter up the line. This creates a beautiful orange line, which looks almost exactly like the gradient colors on clouds in a Florida sunset (hence the name).

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Noodler’s Apache Sunset is a wonderful fountain pen ink that is available here on Goulet Pens. I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice shading ink that is not too expensive. Apache Sunset is great for anyone into flex nibs and calligraphy, but is also nice for normal fountain pens and everyday writing. It stands out on the paper, as it is a light color, but it is easy to read and use. Keep in mind that this ink does not come in cartridges, so you will want a fountain pen with a converter or a pen with a built in filling system like vacuum or piston to use it. Please check out this ink. I can almost guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.

Signing off,

Will

Top 5 Pen Resources

I often go onto the world wide inter-web to do some pen purchasing researching, or to enter some giveaways. In this concise post, I will reference what I think are the five best fountain pen resources online in order from 1 to 5. I will also attach links, so feel free to visit these sites. Enjoy.

  1. Goulet Pens

The Goulet Pen company is a blog, vlog, and online store that specializes in fountain pens and accessories to accompany these instruments. It is my personal favorite pen resource, as it is fun, interactive, and extremely helpful. Some cool features include the Nib Nook, where you can compare real size writing samples of any pen that Goulet Pens has in stock, the Swab shop, (the ink-quivalent to the nib nook) and the fun and informative blog and Youtube channel that are always active and cranking out new videos and posts. There is even the occasional giveaway, so tune of for those. Links: Website/Online store: https://www.gouletpens.com/. Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPdFDFTd6P1a__tAr8CrpCQ. Blog: https://blog.gouletpens.com/?doing_wp_cron=1532466407.9179799556732177734375

2. Fahrney’s Pens

Now, I do have a little bit of bias here, because Fahrney’s is my hometown pen shop and one of the best known pen stores in the world. Fahrney’s specializes in–well, all sorts of pens and accessories. Fahrney’s has a storefront in Washington D.C. and a website linked below that I find to be very helpful. They have the occasional giveaway on the website, and host an annual pen show in summer. Link: https://www.fahrneyspens.com/.

3. Pen Chalet

Pen Chalet is a helpful website with lots of pens to purchase, but my favorite aspect of the site is the free giveaways and blog posts every week! Many fountain pen inks are given away, and occasionally a pen is offered up. Link: https://www.penchalet.com/

4. Classic Fountain Pens

Classic Fountain Pens not only sells pens, but it also sells many fountain pen nibs (online) and allows the purchaser to get a custom grind on any nib. Custom fountain pens is the closest website to a real life fountain pen show, as you can get vintage nibs, used and new pens, and get nibs ground to your liking. Although I do not use Custom Fountain Pens much, it is a wonderful resource for those who are starting to get deep into pens. Link: https://www.nibs.com/

5. The Pen Addict

The Pen Addict is not only a blog, but it also has its own podcast with Brad Dowdy (owner of Nock Co.) and Myke Hurley. This podcast can be found for free on any podcast application, and always features Brad and Myke discussing the latest pen news. There is also merchandise available on the website, so check it out! Link: https://www.penaddict.com/

Please visit these websites and poke around. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Enjoy!

Signing Out,

Will

Pilot-Namiki Falcon (Flex Nib, Fine) + Some Flexible Tips

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The Pilot Namiki Falcon is an interesting pen.
Flex nibs are both famous and infamous in the fountain pen world, known for their unprecedented ability to be carried around in a pocket while also being able to create beautiful calligraphy and to transform normal handwriting into artwork. Flex nibs are also known for inky messes, lots of smudging and skipping on paper, and, frankly, the fact that they are hard to use. While all of the latter facts can be true, there are numerous solutions. With a little practice and some tips, anyone can use a flex nib, and the Pilot Falcon is one of the best.

First off, let me talk a little about the Pilot Falcon pen itself. Afterwards I will address that flex nib issue and give some pointers. The Falcon is a flex nib fountain pen costing $152 (a little pricey, but very reasonable for a gold nibbed pen) that has a 14k gold nib available in extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad sizes, that comes either with a red body/chrome trim, black body/chrome trim, or black body/gold trim. It is a considerably light pen, weighing just over 18 grams. The Falcon uses a Pilot Con-50 converter, a standard Pilot converter, and can also take cartridges. *I will soon be constructing a blog post on how to fill pens (converters, cartridges, and piston mechanisms), so tune in for that!* The Falcon has a plastic body (or metal, but that’s a different pen). Writing with a Falcon is not smooth, but the experience should not be expected to be smooth, as it is a flex nib. The Falcon is a wonderful pen for anyone looking for a nice flex nib, perhaps a next level flex pen (after starter) or a starter gold nib fountain pen.
Link to Goulet Pens Falcon HERE.

Now for some flexible tips. First off, it is a wise idea to initiate your flex journey with an inexpensive flex nib to get a feel for what that are like, the best being the Noodler’s flex series (click HERE). Secondly, never press down to hard too try to get maximum flex when writing with a flex nib. It is not in anyone’s best interest to break a nib. Just be careful. Third, the myth that lefties can’t use flex nibs is a MYTH! Although it may be slightly harder for us folk, lefties possess the same ability as righties to wield this flexible weapon. A tip for lefties: try to teach yourself to be an underwriter (keep your hand underneath your nib when writing) if you are going to use flex nibs. It helps immensely. For more information, refer to this great new video series by Goulet Pens about lefties, called Left Out. And last, do some research! There are lots of great resources on the interweb about flex nibs, all of which are waiting to be checked out by a new flex nib user. Flex nibs are a whole new world, and I suggest that you venture into it.

Signing Out,
Will

Pilot Vanishing Point

Well.

I haven’t written a post in forever, and have been thinking of what to write about for a while. I’ve gotten a couple inks, tried some new pens, but most importantly, I purchased a new pen. This is one of my favorites so far, and as a relatively new pen collector, it was, frankly, a revelation.

The Pilot Vanishing Point is a fountain pen costing between $148 and $640 (depending on the model) and is a modern pen. With a thin, retractable nib and a push button mechanism, this is one of the only retractable fountain pens on the market that can be purchased for such a price. The clip is on the front of the pen, and the body is a normal pen width. The pen is a great, normal weight, and fits well in my hands. The body also comes in many, many colors, as does the nib, which is 18 karat gold and can be gold, chrome, or even black. Now for the specifics.

Nib:

The Pilot Vanishing Point has a slim, 18 karat gold nib. The nib color is dependent on the body color, although you can get replacement nib sections (I will cover that in a minute) in any color you like for $80. The nibs come in extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, and even a 1.1 mm stub that I have heard is great. I have one completely adequate word to describe this nib: smooth. Having never really used a gold nib before, this feels incredible on the paper, gliding across effortlessly. It is firm for a gold nib (having used flex nibs before) but is surprisingly flexible for its size. I have Noodler’s Apache Sunset ink in this pen right now, and it writes beautifully. After some days of not being used, though, the ink dries out.

Nib Section: 

The Vanishing Point Nib section is quite interesting. In order to have a retractable pen, you need to have a refill section that can move up and down inside of the pen in order to have the nib go in and out. For a fountain pen, this is more difficult.  The Vanishing point nib section is about 3/4 the length of the pen, and is, for the most part, a converter attached to a metal section which is holding the nib. The converter is a Pilot Con-50, a clear plastic twist converter, which can be removed from the nib section with a little bit of tugging. The nib section itself is a metal tube, the bottom half about 3/4 the circumference of the top half (see picture below) which holds in the nib. At the top of the nib section where the converter goes in, there is a small piece of metal jutting out, which fits into a notch in the body. This is so that the nib is aligned the correct way inside of the pen, and can emerge when the mechanism is clicked.

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Converter/Cartridge

There is not much to say about Vanishing Point’s converter. The Vanishing point can take a Con-20, Con-40, or the standard Con-50. The 40 is available here at Goulet pens. These converters have 4 small metal balls in them, and are all twist. Pilot Converters do not hold a substantial amount of ink, so if you are going to be writing for long periods of time, you might want to carry and ink bottle with you (or use a portable inkwell). If using a disposable cartridge, there is a metal cap included with the pen that you can put on top of the converter as to be able to click the pen without destroying the plastic of the cartridge.

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Body & Everything else:

The Vanishing Point is a medium weight, noticably heavier than a Platinum Preppy (which will now be my go to light pen, a great starter fountain pen) but not as heavy as some metal pens available. My Vanishing Point is the navy blue and black matte, which is just one of the many colors available (as well as some limited editions available at points, keep an eye out for the 2018 one). The Vanishing Point has a relatively standard width for a fountain pen, with a diameter of about 1/2 inch. The matte texture feels wonderful in the hand, and is not too slippery. The button on the back of the pen is about an inch long, which is very, very long in comparison to some retractable ballpoint pens. The pen unscrews in the middle in order to access the converter and refill the pen. One of the sole downsides to this pen is that on the matte body, a hand that is even remotely moist will leave large fingerprints on the pen that will linger for about 30 seconds, which can be a little slippery and are, frankly, annoying. This Vanishing Point is actually one of the most leak free pens to carry in a pocket, because the clip is on the top of the pen near the nib, and the pen is carried with the nib hole up in the pocket.

Packaging:

The Vanishing Point comes in a fake leather cardboard box with a clear plastic window on the top. Inside is a soft plastic fur and elastic bands to hold it.

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Pros and Cons:

Pros:

-Leak Free (mostly)

-Looks Great

-Retractable fountain pen!

-Good price

-Nice nib (smooth, a bit of flex)

-Great weight

-Lots of color and size options

Cons:

-Very Small Ink Capacity

-Susceptible to ink drying (as all pens are, but this one seems to be especially susceptible)

-Fingerprints are annoying (on matte models)

Overall, I give the Pilot Vanishing Point 4.5 stars for having many pros and just a few cons, and serving me very well. The price is very, very reasonable for being retractable as well as having an 18 karat gold nib, and everything else seems to work perfectly. I recommend this pen to anyone looking for a starter gold nib pen with a fun twist.

See you next time.

-Will

 

TWSBI Mini AL Gold Demonstrator Fountain Pen

TWSBI is a well known fountain pen company offering advanced filling systems (Vacuum and Piston) at lower prices than most companies offering the same systems. The TWSBI Mini AL Gold Fountain pen is a wonderful little thing. At around $65, you can get it here at Jetpens or here at Amazon, but jump on the chance to get it if you like the sound of the pen, because it’s a limited edition!

The TWSBI Mini Al comes in a neat little clear plastic case, set into a nice holder behind an elevated step with the TWSBI name and symbol on it. If you take out the white part of the case with the step, there are two things inside underneath, a bottle of silicone grease and a TWSBI wrench. Both serve a purpose. TWSBI is of the mindset that you should learn to fix your own pen and take care of it, which is really interesting, and makes it that much more fun. The silicone grease is to lubricate the pen if it needs lubricating and is to be used much later in the pen life, not right away. The wrench is for twisting things off, primarily the piston mechanism. Both are a fun little collectible if you don’t end up using them, and useful if you do. To get the pen out of it’s case, you just remove the two clear arches that are holding it in from the white base, and lift the pen! A very interesting feature of this pen is that the trim rings actually fit into the holder in the case it comes in, so the trim rings actually serve a purpose.

 

The TWSBI Mini AL is a small fountain pen, as the name implies, and is great for pocket carry on an everyday basis. The cap screws on the front of the pen over the nib and screws on over the piston knob to post, which is convenient and reduces worry of the cap messing with the piston. The pen is a demonstrator, meaning the body is made primarily out of clear material, allowing the user to see all of the inner workings of the pen. The gold accents in the pen compliment the mostly transparent body, producing a clean and modern look. The gold accents include the grip and the piston. One feature of this pen might seem unnecessary at first, but it may grow on you. The barrel not circular like many other TWSBI models, but is made of long, narrow diamonds, rounded on the edges. This is barely noticeable at the outset but you may start to appreciate it as you use the pen more. The clip is a simple silver, nothing to talk about. After a little bit of wear and tear, though, the clip can come loose. On top of the cap there is a red and silver TWSBI symbol embedded in transparent plastic, which creates a really interesting and clean look. In terms of feel, the pen is not too slippery around the grip and it is light, but not overly lightweight. The ink capacity is fairly high because it is piston fill (as you can see below) but not a large as a full sized pen like a 540.

 

Now for the nib. The Mini, like all TWSBI pens, has a steel nib, which actually appears to have smaller shoulders than other TWSBI models like the Diamond 540. The nib comes in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or 1.1 mm stub. All are good choices, I am writing the first draft of this post with the EF, and it feels good. The nib is quite flexible for a non-flex, and if you really want it, you can get some line variation. I used Pelikan Purple Ink with this pen, and works well.

 

Pros:

-Looks Great

-Writes smoothly

-Great for pockets

-Good weight

-Good Ink Capacity

-Affordable

-Cap posts easily over the piston knob

Cons:

-Not the very smoothest writing experience (with EF nib)

-Clip comes loose easily

Overall, I give this pen 4.5 stars for being a quality pen and working well. I like the feel, the looks, and the way it writes. It also comes in a great case that you can use to store it. I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice fountain pen, better than a starter pen, that is great for everyday use and pocket carry, but also to impress people with it’s smooth looks. Great for anyone that does not want to spend a boatload of money on a pen but wants a good looking, well functioning fountain pen to write with.