Saturday, September 2, 2017

Exception-al

A few weeks ago I received a windfall in the mail---a government refund cheque that was completely unexpected (but definitely appreciated). I'd been looking at some of the bargains in Amazon's "Warehouse" and found this beautiful fountain pen at 70% off the retail price. Now, normally I don't spend that much on a single pen (the lovely VPC Delta Dolcevita Caruso Limited Edition excepted), but it was too good a bargain to pass up on a fine writing instrument I'd admired for a long, long time...

Meet my newest fountain pen---the Waterman 'Exception' in the gorgeous "Night & Day" Gold pattern:
(click on photos to enlarge images)

It was a real challenge to photograph the pen---it's so darned shiny!---so I apologize for the iffy quality of the shots...but make no mistake, this is a stunning pen when you see it in person (single-pen leather case by Aston purchased separately).
The manufacturer describes the pen thusly on their official website : "Exception is a phenomenon of technical ingenuity. Conceiving a prestigious pen of this shape to not only look good, work brilliantly, but also feel sublime in the hand, took immense skill. Today, when you write with an Exception, you can feel the inspiration flowing from its charismatic lines." and "A Waterman masterpiece that echoes the magic of inspiration. An intense blend of unique guilloche-chiselled gold, gold-plated trims and opulent, shiny black lacquer delivers truly inspirational beauty."
As well as being a real looker, the Exception's two-tone rhodium-plated 18K solid gold Fine nib writes beautifully... and the fountain pen feels wonderful in the hand.

Interestingly enough, I cannot find a single flaw, even though the pen was described as being in "Used" condition (I bought it from Waterman, via Amazon). I thought it might have been returned by its previous owner because of the bayonet system (designed to ensure the cap always realigns squarely when capped) to which some users might not be accustomed...
In any case, I got a beautiful fountain pen that I will treasure and use for many years at a great price, so I'm not complaining :)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Info about our September meeting

Date: Thursday September 21, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
Place: The amenities room of the condominium located at 350 East 2nd Avenue in Vancouver, BC (on the south side of East 2nd Avenue, between Scotia & Brunswick, two & a half blocks east of Main Street). This is the same place we used for our May and July meetings.

Topic: "THEY DON'T FAKE 'EM LIKE THEY USED TO!" (knockoffs/clones/fakes/"tributes"). No limit to the # of pens you bring this time, because I am very curious to see any and all of them :) Oh, and just to give you an example, the Chinese-made Hero '616' fountain pen looks remarkably similar to the famous Parker '51', so it would fit the topic. We used this topic four years ago (July 2013), but Bruce suggested we reuse it, since we have so many new members.

Our secondary theme is always Newest Acquisitions, so if you have any new pens, ink or pen-related accessories, please bring them to the meeting. Don't worry if you don't have anything for either topic---just come to the meeting and see what others brought!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Vancouver Pen Club Summer Dinner 2017!

Eighteen VPC members turned out for our annual Summer Dinner, which was held at The Irish Heather Gastropub in Vancouver's Gastown district on August 17th. Many thanks to the gang for chipping in for my dinner---I had a wonderful time and I think everyone had fun that night :D

Now, here are some photos taken to commemorate the event (all photos by Ralph, except the group shots, taken by one of our servers)...

~Click on images to enlarge~

Clockwise around the table (from lower-left corner): Leo, Joie, Ray, Anne, me (Maja), Wai, Jerred, Justin, Tony, Glenn M, Ralph, Barry, Angela, Stuart, Stanley, Ricardo, Julienne and Lenal.
The Irish music added to the warm & lively atmosphere in the restaurant...
Photo of me (Maja) in the middle, with Anne (with glasses) and Wai.
(from L-R) New VPCer Stan, Ricardo and Julienne.
Glenn enjoying his burger, with Tony looking on...
Cheers! (VPCer Stuart enjoying the good food---and drinks---at the restaurant)
Thanks to Seán of The Irish Heather for accommodating our large group, to the chefs & kitchen staff for the excellent food, and to our friendly servers for their attentive service!

~Details about our September meeting will be announced before the end of August, both here and in the VPC members' group email~

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A few more photos from July's meeting

Some more pics of the VPC meeting held on July 20th (these are courtesy of Ricardo)....

As you can see, the venue was spacious and well-lit...
(click on images to enlarge)

Photo above: That's me (Maja) in orange talking about the demonstrator fountain pens (our theme/topic for this meeting) and new acquisitions (always our secondary topic) I brought with me. Listening in on the left-hand side of the photo, we have Anne (foreground) and Bruce (in green check shirt)....
Photo above: Going clockwise around the table we have: myself, Bob W, new member Lenal, Justin, Marzieh, Richard C (our host), Stuart, and Glenn M.
Photo above: From L-R: New member Zelda, Alejandra and daughter Natasha, Mindy and Hugo (another new member).
Ricardo holding up a couple of pages from Stuart's "new" book--a vintage guide to lettering by calligraphy supply maker Speedball. I took a photo of the book in part 1 of the July meeting photos here.
Our members attentively listening to Jerred talking....
People often ask me what a typical Vancouver Pen Club meeting is like, and I say "Well, it's like a very casual show & tell where you can also ask questions and try other people's pens and inks out (after asking, of course)".
Left-hand side of photo above (from L-R): Anne, Jerred, and longtime VPCers Bruce and Ralph.
That's Paul, one of our newer members, on the far left of the photo above. I think Paul has come to every meeting since he joined a few months ago! Members are not required to attend every meeting (or even most meetings)...and we don't really take attendance (except to keep track of our growing numbers!)
After the show & tell part of the meeting ends, we tend to move around and look at the stuff others have brought. That's Barry on the far left, leaning over and trying out a pen.
Richard chatting with two of our Italian pen enthusiasts---Bruce (standing) and Glenn Marcus (seated on the far right).
Natasha and Mindy, with Zelda looking on....
Stanley arrived a bit late (and we don't mind if you arrive late...or leave early) but had fun at our meeting, nonetheless. He's talking to newcomer Lenal in the lower left corner of the photos above & below....
Time to pack up and leave!

Many thanks to Ricardo for taking these photos and allowing me to post them on our club's blog...

...and thanks to everyone who attended the July meeting. Our next meeting isn't a regular meeting but our Annual Summer Dinner for members. Regular meetings will resume in September, most likely Thursday September 21. Date, venue (place) & theme: to be announced!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Lots of photos from our July meeting!

Many thanks to Richard C. for hosting our July meeting! Twenty-one VPC members (including three newcomers--Hugo, Lenal and Zelda) came out to show & talk about their demonstrator (clear) fountain pens---our topic for July's meeting---and newest pen-related acquisitions...
(counterclockwise, from lower left) Bob W, Lenal, Justin, Marzieh, Bruce, Richard, Glenn M, Stuart, Zelda, Alejandra & daughter Natasha, Mindy, Hugo, Ricardo, Paul, Anne, Jerred, Barry K. Not pictured: Mark H, Ralph, Stanley C and myself (Maja--photographer)
We saw a wide array of demonstrators (across a wide price range!) during the meeting, so I snapped some photos of them. The writing instruments below were brought in by Ricardo, Ralph, Mindy and Bruce:

~Click on photos to enlarge ~

(from upper left corner, going L-R) Ricardo's trusty blue Pelikan M205, Sailor ProGear Slim, and Lecai fountain pen (filled with orange ink). The Lecai pen resembles a Franklin-Christoph model P66 and, as you can clearly (ha!) see, is an eyedropper filler.

To the right of that group are Ralph's two colourless demonstrators---a Lamy Vista (also brought in by Alejandra, Anne and Bob) and (to its right) a TWSBI 580, a very popular piston-filling model also brought in by Paul, Ricardo and Stanley.

At the bottom of the photo is Mindy's demonstrator mechanical pencil, made by Pelikan. I think it's a M250...or D250? And yeah, it's not a fountain pen, but it's still cool ;)
Mindy also brought in a Wing Sung '659', and her Pilot 'Prera' and Pilot 'Penmanship' fountain pens for the topic (not pictured).
(photo below)Three great demonstrator fountain pens brought in by Bruce---(from top to bottom)---a Visconti Skeleton Limited Edition (#11/25 pieces made, worldwide), a CONID bulk-filler, and a Visconti 'Verona' Rebecca Moss Limited Edition. Bruce also brought in a Lecai demonstrator that he recently purchased (not pictured).
New member Zelda brought in a wide assortment of goodies, including some free ink samples in black and brown colours, as well as some pens (including a demonstrator Noodler's Ink fountain pen---more on that further down this post) and inks for trade:
I was surprised to discover the subtle differences in shade that some of the black inks displayed on paper (not every dark black ink looks the same, believe it or not), so thanks for the ink samples, Zelda!
(photo below) Alejandra's pens & pen cases---They're not visible in the photo, but Alejandra brought in three pens for our topic---a Lamy Vista, a TWSBI Mini-Vac and a Noodler's Nib Creaper, which was the first fountain pen produced by Noodler's and is (currently) their smallest and slimmest fountain pen.
Our secondary topic is always "Newest Acquisitions", so Stuart brought his new "Speedball Text Book", a vintage Sheaffer flat-top in Jade (with really nice colour), a Waterman C/F with black barrel/gold cap (all pictured in the photo below), as well as a new Waterman Expert in the "Ombres et Lumieres" design (not pictured). For our July topic, he showed us his clear Sheaffer Cartridge Pen (aka "School Pen")---the 3rd pen from the right---and a couple of TWSBIs---a 580AL and an 'Eco' (TWSBIs not pictured).
We're not snobs, so we don't mind if our members bring in interesting non-fountain pen writing instruments, such as this bright blue Palomino 'Blackwing' pencil (see photo below) that Justin brought. I actually did a post on wooden pencils here back in March, that featured this iconic model.

The "73" on the pencil denotes its limited edition (LE) model # (they've been releasing a new LE quarterly), which in this case, is the "Lake Tahoe" model. The raised wavy design gives it a topographical-map look, and the number (73) was chosen because it is the lake's last measured Secchi depth , in feet. This depth is related to the clarity of a body of water---an interesting coincidence, as our topic for the meeting was clear fountain pens! But I digress...

Below the Blackwing pencil are Justin's new black NoNonsense fountain pen and demonstrator Dollar fountain pen. The latter model is an inexpensive piston-filling fountain pen made in Pakistan by Dollar Industries, which was founded in 1954.
New acquisitions don't necessarily have to be pens or inks---they can be pen-related accessories as well, such as Anne's lovely lime green leather portfolio by Laurige:
This handsome zippered portfolio securely holds an A5 writing pad & pen, and has several storage compartments for documents and cards:
My pens (for the topic + new stuff)---(L-R): TWSBI 580AL, TWSBI Diamond 530, TWSBI Vac 700, Gate City 'Belmont', Padrino demonstrator, Wing Sung '698', Jinhao 599A (yes, I realize I brought in >3 pens for the topic!), Cross 'Beverley' & Cross 'Aventura', Jinhao X750, Speedball Calligraphy pen, Pentel 'Tradio', Lecai fountain pen (inspired by Ricardo's purchase), a vintage Yard-O-Led sterling silver hexagonal mechanical pencil from the 1950's and a Pelikan 'Stola'. The pen roll was a gift from my mother-in-law (a talented quilter) and features a Schnauzer dog motif:
Two fountain pens I acquired in a trade with Zelda at the meeting---a vivid green Jinhao 159 and that Noodler's Ink demonstrator fountain pen I'd mentioned earlier. The latter is actually a re-branded Platinum Preppy. Actually, it's a modified Preppy---since it was meant to be used as an eyedropper-filler, it lacks the ink cartridge 'nipple' but has an O-ring added to its barrel (the latter is to ensure a tight seal when the barrel is filled directly with ink):
(photo below) Two Wing Sung '698' fountain pens brought in by Jerred (Stanley and I also brought one in for the topic). The earlier version of this model did not have a locking feature for its piston-filling mechanism. Jerred brought in both the earlier version and the updated one for us to see:
The nib-reshaping material Jerred uses when he works on his fountain pens...
Jered's new acquisitions---a pink Delta 'Unica', a clear blue Daiso fountain pen (also a demonstrator!) and a wooden fountain pen purchased on aliexpress.com. Jerred also brought in another new pen--an early version of the Waterman 'Expert' (not pictured):
The wooden pen is a bit of a mystery---Jerred thinks it might be made of Wenge wood , a difficult material to work with as it splinters easily. Whatever it's made of, it's an attractive-looking wood pen that has a nice weight to it...
I'm sorry I didn't take photos of everyone's pens, including Lenal's new Lamy Safari fountain pens (which she got in the UK for a mere £17 each!) and Stanley's demonstrator pens (he had two I hadn't seen before---a Jinhao 991 and a SKB fountain pen made in Taiwan).

I also forgot to snap a photo of Glenn's wonderful OMAS Vintage 360 demonstrator in Teal. Glenn, however, has some lovely photos of his 360 (that he took himself) on his own website here. At the meeting, Glenn told us he spoke to someone at OMAS about the relatively high price of demonstrator fountain pens vs. non-demonstrators and was told that demonstrators actually take more time to produce, as the inside of the pen has to be as highly polished as the outside. That's something I didn't consider, so it was enlightening and made me appreciate my demonstrator fountain pens even more. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting in July, whether you brought pens or not; it's your enthusiasm and participation that makes this club the fun group that it is :D
And thanks again to Richard for hosting our meeting, and to Brian for the pen magazines!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Dinner --- information for VPC members

The annual summer dinner for VPC members will be held on Thursday August 17th.
Details are in the group email I sent out on August 1st to our membership.

Please note: this is not a regular meeting, and there will be no regular meeting in August, just the dinner. We'll return to our regular (themed) meetings in September, most likely our usual third-Thursday-of-the-month, which will fall on September 21
(date, place and theme - to be announced later this month).

Have a great summer, everyone! :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Robert Oster "Fire & Ice" fountain pen ink review

A few weeks ago, I received a bottle of Robert Oster Signature ink in the "Fire & Ice" shade, courtesy of the Nikaido gift shop, to try out...
I was intrigued because I knew that this Australian ink was fast becoming a favourite among fountain pen aficionados. I had just received my Bexley Poseidon fountain pen (with stub nib) a few days beforehand, so I thought I'd try my new ink in it...(all photos taken in natural light with no photo editing used)
(~click on photos to enlarge~)
I loved the dark turquoise colour and the high degree of shading it provided. I'd heard of its red sheen (thus the "Fire & Ice" name) but couldn't really see it on the paper I'd used
("sheen" refers to the ink colour that you see on top of the primary ink colour, as the ink dries)...
What I didn't realize is how the ink could look so different, depending on the pen & paper used!
You can see it in these photos of Alejandra's test drive of the "Fire & Ice" ink during our June VPC meeting:
Apparently, the red sheen really shows well when the ink pools on higher-quality paper... but even on cheaper paper, it's a lovely turquoise ink.

Many thanks to Joe & Sara of Nikaido gift shop in Steveston (Richmond) for this cool new ink!