Sunday, January 17, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 137

In early December, I placed an online order for a new fountain pen with the good folks at Charals, an elegant gift shop/pen store located in downtown Vancouver. In less than 24 hours, my order arrived at my home via courier. Wow.

Meet my new TWSBI 'Vac700R' "Iris" fountain pen...

(all photos by Maja ~ please click on images to enlarge)

(Above: TWSBI 'Vac 700R" "Iris" model with Broad steel nib; notebook from

Capturing the rainbow-coloured iridescent metal trim and nib was a real challenge, so I apologize in advance for the quality of my photos. One odd thing-I didn't notice it at first, but the sunlight's shadows in the photos look like prison bars, which reference back to 'Orange is the New Black", a comedy-drama set in a fictional women's prison. Cue "Twilight Zone" music...

I bought a TWSBI 'Vac700' fountain pen when it first came out in 2012 and was very happy with it, so I passed on buying the re-designed 'Vac700R' model (available only as a plain demonstrator with a monocolour nib and trim) when it came out in 2017.... but when I saw the brand-new (late 2020) Vac700R "Iris" model with its iridescent trim and nib, I couldn't resist buying it...

Both the TWSBI 'Vac700' and 'Vac700R' models are vacuum-filling fountain pens, which means that they only fill from an ink bottle, so if you're looking for a pen that uses ink cartridges, this isn't the pen for you (although you might be persuaded to buy it once you find out how much ink it holds--a whopping 2.4mL !)

The 'Vac700R' was so named because it was a re-design of the 'Vac700'. The re-design was done in order to provide "even more consistent ink flow when (the) valve is opened", according to TWSBI's official website.  "What valve??" you may be thinking. Well, both models are vacuum-fillers that have a ink shut-off valve which closes off the ink chamber and prevents the pens from leaking due to pressure changes (for example, in an airplane). To close the valve, you turn the barrel/turning knob clockwise until it's fully tightened. To open the valve and allow for a continuous flow of ink, you simply twist the knob counter-clockwise until it's loosened (do not pull back the plunger, though). It sounds complicated, but it really isn't.

There are some other differences, too. Anderson Pens nicely summarizes all the design changes:  

"The Vac700R fountain pen has been updated by modifying the 2 valves in the older version into one valve in the new model. The grip and feed section of the pen has also been enlarged and tapered, which combined with the valve modification, increased the ink flow of the pen by a small percentage. Because of these changes to the pens and nib units, the TWSBI stainless steel Vac700R replacement nib will fit only the new Vac700R fountain pen, and will NOT fit the older Vac 700 pens. If you own an older Vac 700 fountain pen, then the older style Vac 700 replacement nibs will fit your pen." (underlined part = my emphasis)

I missed the opportunity to acquire a Nemosine "re-entry" nib when they were still being made, so when I saw that the 'Vac 700R' "Iris" came with a lovely iridescent nib (see above), I jumped at the opportunity to buy one locally. 

The entire nib isn't iridescent, just the upper part (a/k/a the "mask"); the rest of the nib is the usual silvery steel colour. It's such a cool-looking nib, but as far as I know, you can't buy these "rainbow" nibs separately, just the regular Vac700R monocolour steel nibs. The good news is that if you do want to swap in a replacement Vac700R nib, it's very simple--just unscrew the old nib unit (at the barrel threads) and replace it with another Vac700R nib unit. The plain (non-rainbow) Vac 700R nib units are sold separately and come in EF, F, M, B, and Stub 1.1mm nib widths

The iridescent coating is also used on all the metal trim (clip, cap ring, barrel ring) and even the small metal nib collar inside the section---a nice touch. Because of its iridescence, the metal looks different from different angles. I snapped some quick photos (above & below) showing this. Tip: to see super-zoomed-in versions of the images, left-click on a photo to enlarge it, then right-click & select "view image", then left-click again.

I realize that this bright, multi-coloured iridescent trim and nib might not appeal to everyone, but I like it. Interesting fact: no two Vac700R "Iris" pens are exactly alike in terms of the their trim colours and/or nib colours. I love that :)

The pen comes in distinctive white plastic minimalist-but-sturdy packaging (seen above), which TWSBI uses for their piston- and vacuum-filling fountain pens. These models come with a small metal wrench, two O-rings and a vial of silicone grease (all tucked into the underside of the box) that can be used to take apart the pens in order to thoroughly clean and lubricate them (instructions on how to do this are also included, of course).

I'm very pleased with my new Vac 700R "Iris". In addition to being an eye-catching fountain pen, it holds a ton of ink, and the large Broad nib on mine writes very well. It's a fairly long pen (13.4cm/5.28 inches from barrel end to nib tip; more specs here), so it can be used comfortably unposted. I'm so happy that TWSBI kept the Vac700R's nib size in proportion to the rest of the pen; full-sized fountain pens with small nibs are a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

I paid $120 CAD + tax, including free shipping to my home (via Purolator) for my pen. As of this writing, Charals is still open for in-store shopping from 10am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 5:00pm on Saturdays. Happily, their webstore is open for shopping 24/7 if you can't make it to their lovely shop. Many thanks to Al and Shelina of Charals for their always-excellent customer service!

~Review by Maja

Friday, January 15, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 136

Back to modern writing instruments now, with this gorgeous modern classic recently acquired by VPC member Rohit, who sent in the photo below and added: "I just wanted to share with you my newest pen, which is a Pilot Custom 823 with a fine nib!" 

(photo courtesy of Rohit ~ please click on image to enlarge)

From the official Pilot website:

"The Custom 823 is the truest 'demonstrator-style' pen with the largest ink reservoir available by Pilot. The smoky amber barrel with stunning gold accents lends an air of distinguished sophistication to this exceptional fountain pen. The pen is refillable for continued use with Pilot's bottled ink through a unique vacuum plunger system to ensure a long lasting and smooth writing experience. Available with expertly crafted 14-karat gold nib in fine, medium and broad point sizes." 

Many thanks to Rohit for his contribution to our club's little online "show & tell" :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 135

Longtime Vancouver Pen Club member Stuart is another big fan of vintage fountain pens, as well as fountain pen desk sets (click on the 'desk sets' tag/label at the bottom of this post and you'll see many of them :) such as this nice example he acquired in early December:

(all photos courtesy of Stuart ~ please click on images to enlarge) 


Stuart: "Another one arrived last night, it’s been a good week! This one turns out to be more special than I realized.  It look to be in fantastic condition in the seller’s pics on eBay. It’s Sheaffer, 1927-31, with a jade pen fitted with a 46 Special nib.  Lovely marble base and plain swivel pen-holder, the first I’ve seen without a gold band decorating it."


"But this is what’s cool - I wetted one end of a Q-tip to swab the inside of the holder to see what ink had been used, and the swab came away clean, not a trace of ink! Then I wetted the nib and feed with tap water and wiped them with a tissue - same thing, they’re squeaky-clean! The pen’s never been filled. And - when you hold the pen up to the light, the jade barrel is translucent, and you can see the sac and inner part of the feed inside. I’ve never seen this before. The sac is petrified, and the taper won’t unscrew. I haven’t dipped the nib, I’m so impressed by the truly pristine condition."

"There’s a mark left from tape or a label (visible in the 2nd photo, to the left rear). I’m not sure what to use to clean it, but it’s not very visible. I probably will have the pen re-sacced; as nice as it is to have a set that’s never been used, just keeping it around in a “virginal” state seems excessive. It was meant to be used. I wonder where it’s been all these decades, and why it wasn’t put to work? It came from Dearborn, Michigan, home of Ford. So another winner for my collection, lucky me!" 

Congrats on another great vintage desk set, Stuart, and thanks for sharing another item from your collection with us!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 134

Continuing on with Christopher's newest acquisitions (first part posted here)--four vintage fountain pens with four different filling systems!

 (all photos courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on images to enlarge)


 Christopher: "Parker Short Ribbon Ring top Streamlined Pastel Lady’s Duofold – Quite a mouthful of a description for such a dainty little fountain pen, but finished in the most beautiful apple green colour with 14K gold filled fittings. I did have another of these Parker Pastels in the blue but ended up letting it go and was sad ever since. Subsequently, I am so pleased to acquire this pen and it will be both kept and used regularly. It is a button filler which sucks back quite a bit of ink when filled. Both this Green and the black were late colour additions to the Parker Pastel Duofold line dating this pen Circa 1932. It should be noted that the Parker Pastel model of their Duofold pens in jet and green were only available for a little over one year making this pen a rare Parker contender."


 "Also what just knocked me off my chair was the original Lucky Curve imprinted nib sitting on a Christmas Tree full Lucky Curve feed. Can I add, what a great score!"


"Waterman 12 – I have always found it nice to welcome old Waterman fountain pens into my collection and this No.12 is no exception. If you pick up a BCHR Waterman 12 with a cap clip and screw on cap that is a lever filler you have, in fact, picked up a rather common vintage pen. But, on the other hand, if the number 12 in question is clipless with a slip on cap and an eydropper filler you really have scored a somewhat rare point, especially if the condition is as good as this one. The nib is an early Waterman Ideal No.2A and also in very fine condition. The chasing is quite nice, but not as deep as I have experienced with some of my other BCHR pens. It is a good length, posting at 7 inches but capping back to 5 inches. The identification No.12 on the end of the barrel and the Waterman imprinting are both clear and sharp. I also inked this pen when I had finished servicing it and found it to be a very nice writer."


"Diamond P.P. (Diamond Point) – This is just a wonderful BCHR pen and of extremely good quality overall. It sports a Jeweler’s 14K Gold filled wide cap band with a company-branded long ball ended steel clip. This is a lever filler pen and the lever is 14 K Gold filled. But the two features which really sold me on this particular vintage BCHR pen was its brilliant forest green hard rubber cap top and its deep, well-appointed and detailed chasing. In fact, the chasing on this pen is to my mind a work of art. The nib is a Number 2 and 14K gold, and in using the pen, it posts at 6 ½ inches but caps back to 5 inches. From what I understand, the Diamond Point Company rebranded its  pen production Diamond P.P. when the Depression hit, dating this fine point Circa 1929.


"Sheaffer Skripsert – What immediately sold me on this pen was its beautiful greyed green colour finish and the short screw on Sheaffer Conical Triumph Palladium nib. I actually remember these pens at our local neighborhood drugstore back in the late 1950s. I had one back then, which as memory serves, was black and as I recall it was the first Sheaffer pen I had with the slightly turned-up nib feature. It was billed as a cartridge filler and a pen I did carry in my loose-leaf binder, which I took into School. The ink cartridges (that were new to me then) seemed to last quite a while even with regular use and subsequently were just great for exam time.  Otherwise, this current addition has a chrome cap with a very interesting vertical straight and wavy line chasing. The clip carries the Sheaffer’s branding but with a large apostrophe ‘S’. The pen also seems to be of reasonably good quality and one I am happy to now have."

                                                        (Sheaffer Skripsert ad Circa 1959)

Many thanks to Christopher for his photos & write ups of these wonderful vintage finds!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 133

 If you've been reading our little virtual "show & tell" regularly, you'll have noticed that VPCer Christopher is a huge fan of vintage writing instruments. After Christmas, he sent me some photos and information about his newest acquisitions, starting with a lovely vintage fountain pen from his thoughtful wife Chris...

(all photos courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on images to enlarge)






Christopher: "Chris always gives me a Journal for my daily entries every Christmas and this year she also gave me the most beautiful and well-appointed short ribbon ring top Morrison gold overlay. I was truly touched with its elegance. What is also very neat about this pen is that it still has its original sales sticker on the cap. Well worn, mind you, but perfectly legible. The nib is great too, a super flexy No.4 14K Gold Warranted. I truly am blessed."

The other new acquisitions are all true antiques (ie. over 100 years old)!

Christopher: "For most, the mention of Rexall can only refer to the drugstore chain which goes back to its inception in 1903. And like so many retail chains, the company did commission pens in support of their marketing and brand identification. This pen, which I have also restored and added to my collection, is a very early clipless, slip on long cap eyedropper with beautiful but unusually-patterned chasing on its black hard rubber finish. The cap also has the early style rounded top and anyone would agree that the 14K Gold flexy nib is extremely impressive. The pen posts at a full 7 inches but caps at 5 ¼. I tried writing several pages with this pen once I had restored it and am pleased to report that it felt like a feather weight in my hand, with the nib just gliding smoothly on every stroke. Definitely a great score and a wonderful addition to the BHCR (Black Chased Hard Rubber) side of my collection"


 "I have several later Harris fountain pens but was pleased to get this early BHCR one. It is a clipless lady’s model capped at only a little over 4 inches, but posting to write at a hand-worthy 5 ½ inches. Still, what makes this pen a keeper in my books is exquisite chasing and a flexy Warranted 14K Gold nib that is just a pleasure to apply to paper."


 "This pen has a lovely woodgrain finish that is reminiscent of an early Waterman with its cap clip. The fittings are 14 K Gold filled and the nib is a 14K Gold Warranted with generous flex. Rene agreed with me, when I showed the pen to him, that it is an eye stopper. It has a lever filler with a black capping top and bottom. It posts at 6 ¾ inches, but caps back to a pocketable 5 ¼ inches The quality of his pen is truly impressive and subsequently, with all else considered, I am very happy to add it to my early pen collection. On the other hand, if anyone has further information on the All Write pen branding I would welcome it."

If anyone has information on any All Write writing instruments, please send an email to our club at Thanks in advance! And many thanks, of course, to Christopher for sharing these wonderful early fountain pens with us :)

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 132

A few days ago, we featured some of Daryl's newer acquisitions, including a red oak pen stand that he made. Today's spotlight is on two more wooden pen stands also made by Daryl, and the writing instruments they currently hold... 

Daryl: "The pen block with the single row of holes (photo directly below) is Douglas Fir, named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, (though the scientific name is in honor of Archibald Menzies, who first described the tree in the 1790s). Douglas-Fir is technically not a true Fir (Abies genus), but is in its own genus: Pseudotsuga." 

"This piece is an off-cut from a recycled beam in a local building. I don't have specific details on the building, where the beam spent its working life, but it was likely a harsh environment as the exposed 'spring wood' is heavily oxidized and was easily removed resulting in a heavy texture."

(all photos courtesy of Daryl ~ please click on images to enlarge)

"The fountain pens are fairly common (left to right): a Parker Vacumatic Debutante, a Parker Vacumatic standard (not working), my 2019 VPC pen, a vintage Pelikan 400, and a Pelikan 120N.

-Parker Vacumatic Debutante: The nib is marked "WARRANTED; WING-FLOW; U.S.A" My on-line research doesn't mention anything about this nib, and I'm curious to know more about this downturned nib. I'm not able to read the date stamp; but I think the pen dates to about 1942 based on the single jewel, pocket clip and plastic plunger ( The dimensions are just a hair smaller than Debutante, so might be a sub-Debutante? (

-Parker Vacumatic standard: 1944 blue diamond clip, chased single band. Currently on the waitlist to restore it to working condition.

-2019 Vancouver Pen Club Leonardo "Momento Zero" Limited Edition, pen numbered  #12/26.

 -Pelikan 400 Gunther Wagner; 1956(?), "M" marked on the blind cap but the nib looks like a 0.9 mm Cursive Italic stub. A very relaxing pen to use. Smooth on paper, not dry not wet, "M" is similar to Pilot Cursive Italic. To my hand, the nib is super 'soft'. If I knew how to use it, I expect this would be a 'wet noodle' nib.

-Pelikan 120N: I think (?) this is a 2016 re-release of the mid-50s school pen. The "F" nib writes very smooth, like an M." 


"The pen block with two rows (photo directly above) is 'lacewood'. The name “Lacewood” is used very loosely and can be applied (and misapplied) to a number of different wood species. In its vaguest sense, the term “lacewood” is used to describe any wood that displays figuring that resembles lace.

The pens in the lacewood holder are (L-R): Manuscript, a fountain pen from AliExpress, Conway Stewart Le Tigre No160, Advokat, Hero "LUCKY", Cross Townsend ballpoint, and an AliExpress ballpoint.

 -The Manuscript fountain pen was bought at DeSerres. Heavily discounted as a return, as it was missing one ink cartridge in the set. Turns out the missing ink cartridge was jammed upside down in the barrel, which was really easy to remove. A fun pen, although the F stub nib has really crisp edges (not cursive italic with slightly rounded corners), I have to focus to find and maintain the 'sweet spot".

- Conway Stewart Le Tigre No160 fountain pen: A lever-fill mid-50s to mid 60s pen, 14kt "1st Quality" nib, Conway Stewart manufactured for the Benelux Market. Very comparable to my Pelikan 400.

-Advokat fountain pen: I believe this would be comparable to the 1950s Pelikan 120. It has a Bock B nib. Unfortunately, the pocket clip was missing, but the pen was wonderful to use. Recently the blind cap has jammed and I'm nervous to damage it trying to resolve (when I don't know what I'm doing).

-The Hero "LUCKY" fountain pen is, I believe, an original Hero 100, which in turn is a homage (aka knock-off) of the Parker '51'. The F nib is a little fine for me, but also relatively smooth, or at least smooth enough to be usable for me.

-Cross Townsend: 1960s, 1/20 10ct rolled gold, ballpoint."

Daryl--love your handmade pen stands! Many thanks for sharing them (and the pens in them) with us :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 131

Here's one of the newest acquisitions belonging to honourary VPC member Glenn from Australia - his brand-new Pelikan M600 Tortoiseshell Red fountain pen...

(all photos courtesy of Glenn ~ please click on images to enlarge)

Glenn: "This is the latest, and arguably the prettiest, M60X special edition, and it is turning a lot of heads... justifiably so."


"OK, there is no transparent ink window, nor are the barrel stripes transparent when you hold it up to the light, which annoys some. Personally, it’s not a big issue; most of the pens in my collection suffer from the same ‘fault’ and it has never really bothered me... it’s a great excuse to carry two pens so you have a back-up!"


"It’s going in the pen case with the rest of the flock for now, but I may be tempted to ink it in the new year. You can easily find the advertising blurb on any Pelikan retailer’s site, so I’ll not bore you with the specifications, etc.; if you know M600s you already know them anyway."

For an in-depth look at this model (and its kin), Glenn suggests checking out this review at"The Pelikan's Perch", Joshua Danley's excellent Pelikan blog. Our thanks to Glenn for sharing this beautiful new acquisition with us!