Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wooden Pencils

From L-R: Office Depot, Staedtler 'Mars Lumograph 100', Palomino 'Blackwing', Rhodia & Ticonderoga 'Tri-Conderoga' pencils {click on image to enlarge}.

The little Office Depot pencil is one I found (laying forlorn, on a sidewalk) while on vacation in northern California, and the Staedtler is one I used in university. Interesting fact about Staedtler (and to tie this into fountain pens)---they only started producing premium fountain pens about three years ago. I haven't purchased one yet, but I've tried them out and they are beautifully-crafted writing instruments... and yes, they do utilize fine wood (plum and maple) in some of their models (check out their official website here). The orange Rhodia pencil is made of black Linden wood which, I think, gives it a very cool look. The Tri-Conderoga is a brand-new purchase, made in honour of National Pencil Day. It's touted by Dixon as "the world’s most comfortable pencil with a unique triangular shape, thicker diameter and velvety soft-touch finish." (and yes, it /is/ very nice to hold).

The Blackwing pencil deserves a paragraph of its own :) The one shown in my photo isn't one of the original ones made by the Eberhard Faber Company, USA (discontinued in 1998, after being manufactured for >60 years) but one made in Japan by the California Cedar company. There's an entire website devoted to this beloved pencil here , which you can peruse. It was a favourite of many famous authors (Steinbeck, Nabokov, et al), composers and animators (link ), and it pops up in films and TV shows with some regularity (link ).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Get the lead out! (National Pencil Day---March 30th)

From here :

Each year, March 30th is National Pencil Day. Hymen Lipman received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil on this day in 1858.

The majority of these writing utensils made in the United States are painted yellow. It is believed that this tradition began in 1890 when the L & C Hardtmuth Company of Austria-Hungary introduced their Koh-I-Noor brand, named after the famous diamond. This pencil was intended to be the world’s best and most expensive pencil. Other companies then began to copy the yellow color so that their pencils would be associated with the high-quality brand.

Notable pencil users: (Wikipedia)

  • Thomas Edison had his pencils specially made by Eagle Pencil. Each pencil was three inches long, was thicker than standard pencils and had softer graphite than was typically available.
  • Vladimir Nabokov rewrote everything he had ever published, usually several times, by pencil.
  • John Steinbeck was an obsessive pencil user and is said to have used as many as 60 a day. His novel East of Eden took more than 300 pencils to write.
  • Vincent van Gogh used only Faber pencils as they were “superior to Carpenters pencils, a capital black and most agreeable.”
  • Johnny Carson regularly played with pencils at his Tonight Show desk. These pencils were specially made with erasers at both ends to avoid on-set accidents.
  • Roald Dahl used only pencils with yellow casing to write his books. He had six sharpened pencils ready at the beginning of each day and only when all six became unusable did he resharpen them.

Pick up some new pencils and use #NationalPencilDay to post on social media.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nikaido purchases & more!

Maruman 'Mnemosyne' pocket notebook made of high-quality paper from Japan, Clairefontaine 'Age Bag' pencil case (made from Moroccan vegetable-tanned leather), German-made Lamy 'Logo' ballpoint (~ Click on image to enlarge ~)
Another photo of my new ballpoint and case, but in different lighting (the pencil case is actually closer to the sandy colour in the picture directly above)...

I purchased all of the items above at Nikaido, an elegant gift shop in Steveston (Richmond) owned and operated by Joe & Sara Cocker. Nikaido is a wonderful store with a carefully-chosen selection of writing instruments by Lamy, Faber-Castell, Parker, Kaweco, Pilot and others, as well as ink and stationery for the pen lover. In addition to pen-related items, they also carry a nice assortment of teas, tableware and fragrances, as well as Tintin merchandise (official website here ).
Two Chinese fountain pens by Delike---the 'Alpha' (a lacquered brass Kaweco 'Sport' clone) and 'New Moon' (orange acrylic) models. Both pens fill via a cartridge/converter system. The zippered pen case isn't leather, but it's well-made and was free from the eBay seller :)
A clear green Jinhao 599A fountain pen with an Architect/Arabic/Hebrew nib given to me by fellow VPCer Jerred, who ground the nib himself (and did a wonderful job), and a red Genius 'Bucky' fountain pen whose nib was stubbed by my old pen friend Vivek years ago.

An Architect nib is one that is ground so that it produces broad sideways strokes and very thin up-and-down strokes. Normally I wouldn't find that type of nib useful for my handwriting, but it was originally an Extra-Fine nib so it actually suits my writing style...and it's fun to use (thanks again, Jerred!) I brought the Genius pen in for our March meeting topic (pens with modified nibs) along with some other examples. I'll post the photos from that meeting in a separate blog post hopefully later this week, along with the April meeting info. Hope you can make it!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A few quick shots of some recent acquisitions, starting with my small-but-lovely vintage Sheaffer 'Tuckaway' pictured below :
(~ click on photo to enlarge ~)

I acquired this pen from Richard & Barbara Binder of , and it was sold as unrestored, but I will definitely get it restored because it's a beaut :)
Richard has a really nice article on the evolution of the 'Tuckaway' on his website that is well worth reading (his writeups are so thorough, and the model went through some very interesting design changes over the years). My particular model is a first year model (from 1940) that came with a 14K gold-filled cap and barrel, and a personalized engraving --- "TO ROSE FROM FRANK 1942". Unfortunately, I don't know who Rose & Frank were, but I'd imagine that this little pen was not inexpensive (given how especially valuable gold was, during the war years). The thoughtful inscription adds that personal touch...and makes the pen even more special to me.
I also recently bought a new Montblanc (MB) from an excellent seller ("Archimark") on Pentrace---the same seller who sold me that wonderful new Signum 'Nova' in Cinnamon colour earlier this year. This new MB is the stainless steel Noblesse (first generation) pictured next to its younger cousin, the black Noblesse Oblige I got from my in-laws several years ago (good article on the two pens here on Penhero's very informative-and-gorgeously-illustrated site ). The Slim Line has a wonderfully-smooth Fine steel nib and is a very well-made (I counted and it takes 12 full turns to unscrew the section from the barrel!) cartridge-converter MB model.
A closeup shot of the two nibs----the Noblesse Oblige's 14K gold nib, and the Noblesse SlimLine's steel one.

Many thanks to the Binders (Richard & Barbara) and Mark ("Archimark" on Pentrace) for my two new wonderful fountain pens!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March meeting details

March 2017 meeting details:

Date: Thursday March 16, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 8:30pm (and we have to leave the room by 8:30pm sharp).
Place: The Community Room (Meeting Room) of the Vancouver Public Library's Oakridge branch (at the back of Oakridge Mall), 650 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, BC (ie. the same room in which we had our January meeting).
Topic: "ALTERED STATES OF REALITY"--- fountain pens with modified nibs.
The nibs can be narrowed, widened, stubbed, italicized, tuned, polished or with added flex---pretty much any nib that's not OOB (out-of-the-box). Many thanks to Bruce for the topic idea! Our secondary theme is always Newest Acquisitions, so if you have any new pens, ink or pen-related accessories, please bring them with you to show.

Also, we're going to redo the Ink Swap---we kind of ran out of time last month, so if you have any ink(s) you wish to trade (bottles don't have to be full, cartridges are OK), please bring them with you. It's all voluntary, of course---if you want to keep all your inks, that's perfectly fine. If you don't have any pens for the topic(s), don't worry---just come anyway and see what other members have brought for the show & tell :)

Patience is a virtue (my new Wing Sung 698)....

It was mailed to me near the end of November last year from China, and it reached my mailbox near the end of February (three months later!), but it arrived safe & sound and cost me less than $21 USD (including shipping).
Introducing my new Wing Sung '698' piston-filler....

The 698 has a nice, smooth F nib on it which writes like a Western Fine nib and doesn't dry up after being capped for 3-4 days. The piston-filling mechanism works well, but you need to remember to "unlock" the piston turning knob (at the end of the barrel) before engaging the mechanism. I didn't realize this, because it wasn't shown in the illustrated instruction manual, and thought the knob was stuck! Luckily, though, I didn't force it, but took a closer look at the mechanism and discovered that you have to pull and twist the knob to unlock it. To lock the turning knob down, you simply reverse this action (the eBay seller from whom I purchased the pen has since added this to the auction description).
All in all, I'm very pleased with my purchase---the pen writes very well and looks sharp, so it was definitely worth the wait!
( ~~~ Click on photos to enlarge ~~~ )

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Our 100th meeting! (February 2017 meeting photos)

Wow, time flies! I can't believe we had our 100th VPC meeting last month! It seems like just yesterday when we had our inaugural meetup at Moxie's restaurant on Davie Street in downtown Vancouver, back on December 7, 2006....

Though attendance was a bit down for last month's meeting, it was a small-but-keen bunch who met up to talk fountain pens, specifically Esterbrook writing instruments (our primary theme) and newest pen-related acquisitions (our secondary theme). Thirteen members (including newcomer Dana) and one out-of-town guest (Chris T. from the Ottawa Fountain Pen Society) met at the Terry Salman branch of the Vancouver Public Library on February 16th, along with two students from BCIT Radio --- Veronica and Twyla--- who interviewed my pen mentor Brian and I for their radio show (when I get info re: the air date, I'll post it on here).

Now, onto the photos!

(Standing, from L-R: Chris, Brian, Stanley, Ricardo, me (Maja), Barry K, Bruce and Justin.
Seated, from L-R: Richard W, Dana, Glenn M, Jerred, Marzieh and Stuart)
(Many thanks to Veronica for taking the group photos! (Click on photos to enlarge)
A quick photo of Chris' new fountain pen--a gorgeous Signum 'Murano'---that he purchased from the Vancouver Pen Shop during his visit. According to their website , this handcrafted, glass-barreled fountain pen was designed by Signum with the assistance of a glass master craftsman from Murano (Venice, Italy). Each pen barrel takes about four hours to create, and involves using different types of glass to achieve the desired colour and effect. Many thanks to Chris for coming to our meeting again (Chris was at the February 2016 one, as well), and bringing his newest treasure for us to see!
One of our newer members (Stanley) brought in some some amazing new acquisitions to show us (from L to R)-- a Visconti Limited Edition (LE) 'Venetia', a Visconti 'Homo Sapiens" LE demonstrator, a Sailor 'Pro Gear II Realo', a Visconti 'Millionaire' LE, and a Visconti Traveling Inkwell.
Stanley also brought some other pens in his brown leather Franklin-Christoph Six-Pen 'Penvelope' case. I can't see all of them, but I can definitely see a lime-green TWSBI 'Eco' peeking out! This is a very popular economy-priced fountain pen by a Taiwanese pen company that is known for making well-made, well-designed fountain pens that use piston- and vacuum-filling mechanisms (as opposed to ink cartridges or converters). I think this is the fourth 'Eco' I've seen in the last two meetings (and I have one at home :).
Among the other pens he brought to the meeting, you can see Stanley's blue Esterbrook pen in the photo below. I did a short talk on Esterbrook writing instruments and brought my own examples (photos of them at the very end of this blog post):
Another shot of Stanley's wonderful new acquisitions...
Speaking of new pens... Jerred brought in a few interesting new acquisitions, including an all-metal Porsche Design Slim Line fountain pen (bottom of photo), a Japanese-made Pilot Seremo model FCM-500R (an amazing value---a fountain pen with a 14K nib for <$70 CAD on , a Jinhao '8802' (a beautiful pen I mis-identified as the '1008' model until its owner kindly corrected me :), and an all-metal Diplomat 'Lord' model.
I'm always fascinated by the large variety of styles of fountain pens that our members own. Pictured below are the pens Dana brought to the meeting (from L to R): Wing Sung '698', Platinum 'Preppy', Pilot 'Prera', Lamy 'Safari', Sailor 'Clear Candy', Pelikan M200 Café Crème (Special Edition), Platinum 'Cool', vintage Esterbrook 'CH' (aka "purse pen"), Pilot 'Decimo', Pilot 'Vanishing Point', and Lamy '2000'.
Newer VPC member Ricardo brought in his brand-new Pelikan M205 in blue marble for us to see...
...and also made some sketches using an assortment of fountain pen inks (nicely done!)....
Finally, a quick shot of my Esterbrook writing instruments. The left side of the pen case has my colourful Esterbrook J, SJ and LJ model fountain pens and a blue ballpoint, as well as an early Esterbrook 'Relief' 2-L pen in black hard rubber with 14K nib (made in England by Conway Stewart for Esterbrook!) and a black bandless 'Dollar' pen (these two pens are in the lower left hand corner of the photo).
Closer view of the other side of the pen case, showing (L-R) three more pens from the 'J' family, a 'Deluxe' model with tan body (it looks yellow in the photo for some reason) and metal cap, a green 'Safari', an 'M2', a 'CX-100', a couple of 'Scribe' ballpoints and an assortment of Esterbrook desk pens.
I missed the very start of the meeting due to my radio interview, but Glenn had brought his new Visconti Wall Street (Chatterley Luxuries Special Edition/Ltd Edition) to show the club. It's a gorgeous pen and I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo of it as well as Justin's new acquisitions---a Pilot Vanishing Point in metallic orange and his new Lamy Al-Star in Pacific. Thanks again to all who came to the February meeting!