Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 82

 My "All-British" haul from Cult Pens in the U.K!

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

Diamine 'Inkvent' "Polar Glow" fountain pen ink, fountain pen & ballpoint set by Helix Oxford, and a Caran d'Ache '849' London-themed ballpoint

Founded in 1887, Helix Oxford  is the UK's oldest and largest manufacturer of school stationery and yes, they make writing instruments other than the short wooden pencils that come in their famous mathematical sets. I didn't know the company made fountain pens, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them on Cult Pens' website and subsequently ordered one. The site had a sale on British products, so I also ordered the ballpoint as it was 50% off with the purchase of the fountain pen.

Their fountain pen (pictured above) is a handsome, glossy, all-metal writing instrument with a smooth steel nib. The only engraving on the nib is the 'Helix' name----there is no nib width marked on it---but the Cult Pens website says it "writes a 0.6mm line". The fountain pen writes very nicely and can be used comfortably posted or unposted. The ballpoint has a nice balance to it and, it too, writes smoothly. The fountain pens and ballpoints come in six colours (there are also rollerballs available);  I chose the dark blue for both because they match the original maths set tin.
Total cost for the fountain pen & ballpoint set - £7.49 (ie. less than $13 CAD)!


Diamine is a British company that was founded in 1864, and its factory is located in Liverpool, England. The "Polar Glow" ink (above) is from their 'Inkvent' line, which came out last Christmas and was one of 25 different Diamine inks that was included with their Inkvent calendar (an ink-themed advent calendar). The calendar had 24 tiny 7ml ink bottles and one 30ml bottle, but my bottle is the 50ml size. The ink is a blue shade with a lovely dark pink/reddish sheen. I love the bottle's unique shape and its stubby little legs :)

Ok, so the Caran d'Ache above was made in Switzerland (not Britain)...but the ballpoint is the "London" model and features iconic images related to the city-- Big Ben, the London Eye, the British Crown Jewels, London black cabs, double-decker buses and more! It's a great writer, the smooth surface feels really nice, and the hexagonal aluminum body is very comfortable to hold. In addition to Caran d'Ache-branded refills, the pen also takes Parker/Parker-style ballpoint refills which can be found at many office supply stores.

Note about shipping costs from the UK: Cult Pens' shipping (which was speedy and trackable) from the UK to Canada was only £10 (about $17 CAD) which is less than I've paid for shipping from the U.S (and some places in Canada!) Their service is excellent and they have a great selection of writing instruments at all price points. Cult Pens is currently offering 10% off all orders from anywhere in Canada with the discount code CA10 (don't delay---this discount supposedly ends soon!)

Many thanks to everyone in our pen club who recently sent in photos and reviews of their newest acquisitions for our online show & tell---all are very much appreciated!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 81

Today's featured newest acquisition is a lovely Sailor fountain pen belonging to Armando, who sent me the following photos and text for our show & tell:

"Hi Maja, I acquired another Sailor 1911 S, this one out of curiosity. Here is the story: 


I recently acquired a blue Sailor 1911 S medium nib, even though I have two 1911 S in my collection. I have a maroon and a black, both medium nibs.

(top to bottom: maroon, blue and black versions ~ please click on images to enlarge)

While I have promised myself that I will not buy another Sailor pen, I was intrigued by the statement provided by the seller. It said: "Sailor 1911 S with a nib made by Noboyushi Nagahara and his Engineers." He also said that he saw Yokio Nagahara (the son) at a pen show, and Yokio confirmed that this is a Nagahara made nib.


Noboyushi Nagahara was the nib master of the Sailor Pen Co., and devoted most of his working life devising and making nibs for the company. I said to myself, I just have to get this pen, if only to compare the nib with the other Sailor pens that I have. When the pen arrived, I immediately compared the nib with the other two Sailor 1911 S that I have. With the use of a loupe, I tried to look for differences in the size of the tip, grind, shape, etc. Not being a nib master myself, I didn't notice any significant difference.

I then inked the pen with a Waterman Royal Blue Ink, and compared the writing sample with the other two Sailor pens. I can only conclude that the Noboyushi Nagahara nib has a finer line than the other two Sailor nibs."

Many thanks to Armando for another great contribution to our virtual "show & tell"!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 80

What's a VPC online show & tell without another interesting lesser-known Italian fountain pen belonging to Jerred? :) 

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

Jerred: "This is a Delta Titanio.  The Titanio was a special edition Delta and as was common for the company, it was released in three trim levels.  This is the top-end finish, made from a unique black/grey swirled acrylic."

  "The cap and body bands are made from titanium.  The cap band is marked with 'Ti-22', the periodic table symbol for titanium."


  "However, the nib is what makes this pen special - it is solid titanium.  This is the only set of Delta pens released that use titanium nibs.  This particular nib is Bock's first-generation titanium nib, and is quite soft.  However, it was found that these nibs were quite easy to spring if care was not taken when writing.  It has somewhat unique feedback for a nib, different than any other nib I've used." 

  Jerred--thank you for sharing your thoughts on your beautiful new acquisition, and some great photos of it, too!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 79

 Today's featured new pen-related acquisition belongs to Stuart - a Namisu 'Naos fountain pen', which just came out this summer after a successful Kickstarter campaign...

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

Stuart writes: "The Namisu arrived this afternoon, and I’m very happy with it. It’s beautifully made, very solid, and the Bock Medium nib is excellent.  The cap does not post but it’s a big pen and works fine unposted."

 "You feel the edge where the barrel and section meet, but that’s because of the different shapes of the two - round section and hexagonal barrel.  It’s there but not too bothersome, though some people would be annoyed by it. So 13 days from Scotland to here!!"


Yes, though their company name sounds vaguely Japanese, Namisu is actually based in Fife, Scotland! For more information on this company (which makes other writing instruments of minimalist design), check out their official website here. Many thanks to Stuart for sharing his cool new fountain pen with us!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 78

Because we could all use a little inspiration in these troubling times...

"If—" by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
   With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
   And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Stuart's new Montblanc - Homage to Rudyard Kipling "Jungle Green" fountain pen ink:

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

Stuart--thank you, as always, for your contributions to our online "show & tell".
We'll be featuring a modern fountain pen recently acquired by Stuart in Wednesday's blog post.
Until then, stay safe and look after each other, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 77

Who doesn't like getting a nice writing instrument as a gift? :)

VPC member Trevor's thoughts on his new Parker 'Urban' in "Vibrant Magenta"...

"In July 2020 I was in Buchan’s Stationery in Vancouver. The striking colour caught my eye. Simply gorgeous! It wasn’t in the budget that day so I sadly left it behind. It had bored a hole in my mind. I couldn’t see the colour on the Parker website, so I figured it was discontinued. About a month later I was there again with my new lady after brunch with my aunt. Looked at it again… The feel of the cap sliding on, the delicate ’tick’ sound as it seated… so satisfying. Shanin offered to buy it for me as a late birthday gift. So amazing!"  


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

 He continues: "I installed a Parker purple QUINKmini cartridge and gave it a run. Smooth tip, even line, great grip feel. It’s a fine tip, but not as fine as my Pilot Metropolitan Fine. Good weight and balanced when not posted, but back heavy and the cap is not a good fit posted. Once the purple cartridge is empty I plan to fill a converter with some Jacques Herbin 1670 Émeraude de Chivor to use with it. Also considering buying some Jacques Herbin 1670 Rouge Hématite for it so the body of the pen more closely represents the colour within. Overall really happy with it. Great addition to the collection."

Many thanks to Trevor for sharing a photo of his new fountain pen and the story behind it. VPC members---please keep those photos of your newest pen-related acquisitions coming!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 76

Moving on to a model only made for two years (1983-1985) by a well-known pen company, acquired by honourary VPCer Glenn G. via eBay...

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

...a Pelikan M481 fountain pen
! (Black with 12C gold nib)

Glenn: "The Pelikan’s Perch says that this pen, a special edition provided by Pelikan Milano to companies was not available to the public, and is therefore relatively rare."


"It also says the nib is 2-tone, but mine has a monotone yellow gold nib labelled HEF on the barrel sticker"

 "This pen came from a German seller in Greece, now it’s in Australia… Pelikans do undertake long flights! I’m looking for a green/black M481, and while the regular black versions are relatively common, I’ve not seen one of these for sale at any price. I’m still miffed that my Burgundy example apparently ‘got lost’ in the usually very efficient Japanese postal system, raising suspicions of a possible re-sale at a higher price"

For more information on the Pelikan M481, check out this page. Many thanks to Glenn for all his contributions to our online "show & tell"!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 75

....and here's another adorable vintage fountain pen recently acquired by René - his Salz Brothers 'Peter Pan' fountain pen...

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

René: "The Salz Brothers was one of the more venerable second-tier pen companies of New York in the 1920s (but probably existed earlier). They are most well known for their black hard rubber pens, which are not often sen and are quite sought after these days. The Peter Pan was their line of tiny pens, which I was told was meant for very young writers, hence the name. They are found in many forms, including hard rubber flat tops and ring tops."

"Although small, this particular one is larger (which isn't saying much) than the Ratner Flapper, and is actually a lever filler. It's likely from the 1930s, and is made from a beautiful, shimmering, spiraling, green and gold plastic(?) material." 

"The steel nib and the clip are also marked, "Peter Pan," and it sports a beautiful Art Deco cap band."


"Like the tiny Ratner, it will fit in your hand if posted, but otherwise would be too small. It's a beautiful little pen that would fit nicely in someone's pocket or purse."

Nice find, René! Thanks so much for sharing it with us :)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 74

We're back to fountain pens now, specifically, these two cute vintage fountain pens acquired by René... 

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

René:"Presenting the Ratner Flapper and friend: I have found little information about the company so far, except that the full name is, "M. Ratner and Sons Pen Company," of New York. They seem to also make regularly-sized pens and possibly have several sub-brands, including one called, "Yours Truly."

"The Flapper is a really tiny pen, as you can see, and is a ring-top, so you can have it hanging from around your neck or a button on your coat or something. I can imagine, that, at its size, it's a very subtle and useful accessory to have, but will have to be posted to write with. Posted, it actually fits nicely in a small or medium-sized hand to write with."

"Being so small, it would be difficult to have any other filling mechanism than as an eyedropper (the nib and section unscrews and you fill the entire body with ink), and it is indeed one. The nib is a very flexy 14kt gold one, a bit scratchy, but very usable. The Flapper is probably from about the 1920s and is made of plastic, but it can also be found in hard rubber."

"I got this pen from VPCer Christopher, and, amusingly, he quickly found a similarly-sized pen and gave that to me for fun as well. The other pen is more or less the same size, is also an eyedropper and is plastic, and a ring top with a flexy gold nib. It has no markings, but, then again, it seems the Flapper wasn't alone in being the tiny pen of the era. Companies such as Diamond Point apparently made them too."


Big thanks to René for his "little" contribution to our online 'show & tell' ;) We'll be featuring more of René 's recent pen-related finds in the days to come!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 73

Some thoughts on fountain pen inks (and a new acquisition related to them) from VPC member Kevin W...

In Kevin's own words...

"So if you’re anything like me, you find the whole fountain pen/paper/ink interaction a relatively harmless (if occasionally expensive) outlet for one’s obsessive tendencies.

Personally I’m not one who feels the need to “get them all” when it comes to special edition pen colours, but I can empathise with those that feel such calls upon their wallet. For myself, I pretend I’m in search of the perfect combination of nib, paper and ink… where “perfect” of course changes as the mood takes me at any given moment. It’s essentially just an excuse to write about that energetic Reynard and his indolent canine friend in as many different colours and nib widths on as many different paper stocks as I can lay my inky mitts upon. I even delude myself that I’m in search of the ultimate grey ink to justify buying several essentially identical offerings from different (and sometimes the same) manufacturers. Same with “British Racing Green”-like inks. I’m a simple soul, and it keeps me out of other mischief.

At some point I smartened up enough to realise that I simply didn’t live an interesting enough life to document, or indeed know enough people who could read my handwriting to use as much ink as I was interested in trying out. Noodler’s make it particularly challenging by providing their coloured water in giant 3 fl. oz bottles, which while appearing to be good value for money is actually a serious challenge to one's writing stamina.

And then I discovered companies eager to take my money for an almost empty 5ml plastic sample tube with a few drips of ink in the bottom. InkyPaw.ca being an exception, where one can get a pretty healthy tube-full.

$30 or more for a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku is a big leap of faith if you’re not sure you’ll actually like the colour as much as all those online reviewers, or ever be able to use it all. A couple of millilitres in a tube can give you three of four fills of a cartridge or converter (via a syringe easily acquired from your local Save-On pharmacy for 50¢), and you’re off to the fox races. I’ve pondered how to use the meagre offering in a more vintage-style filler such as my piston-filling Moonman T1, but that’s a challenge for another day.

The problem with this ready supply of inexpensive small quantities of entire colour palettes, such as the Pure Pens’ Celtic inks (9 British Isles-inspired shades all on their own), is that they need putting somewhere. After perusing the learned opinions offered via the Internet, it seemed that the “official” sample racks sold at Goulet were just test tube racks available for a pittance from AliExpress. Granted they’d likely arrive somewhat sooner from Goulet, but at many times their actual cost.

 And then I discovered a posting that suggested a far more wholesome use for shotgun cartridge storage boxes."

"Sure enough, a 12 bore shotgun cartridge is a similar size to a 5ml ink sample tube, and a US company called MTM make a model called “Case-Gard S-25-12D” which is available via Amazon.ca for around $7.


The addition of a paper hole-reinforcing ring on the lid to allow a quick colour identification, and a sense of order is at least simulated."

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

"I’m sure others out there have found unintended pen uses for many things beyond the ubiquitous ear syringe. Let’s hear about them…"

Inspired repurposing! Thanks for sharing this clever ink storage idea with all of us, Kevin :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 72

And now for something completely different... 

Today's blog post is courtesy of new VPCer Kevin, who sent in some photos and text about a newly-acquired fountain pen last night...just in time for today's online show & tell :) 

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

Kevin's email begins with "Here’s something a bit different, not valuable at all, but a bit unusual." 

He continues: "My father-in-law sent me a fountain pen he’d found in the back of a drawer, since he knew at least that I’d appreciate it. It turned out to be a promotional pen for Meccano."


"Looking at the nib, which clearly says Stypen, it’s likely made by the French company for the promotion."


  "It’s a simple plastic construction except for a sprung steel clip on the cap, not unlike a paper clip."


"The cap itself has a capital M for Meccano on the flat top, and “Since 1928” screen printed along the side, as well as the enigmatic “SPECIAL NUMBER VOL. 1” implying perhaps it came with a magazine or catalogue or something. Perhaps it was a 50, 60 or 70 year commemorative give-away. I have no clue of the date."


"The barrel again has screen printing saying “MECCANO creative SYSTEM” and a little cartoon with “The MECCANO MODELS”, as well as the grammatically dubious “This gives you new sense of doing WRITE-UP future”, followed by perhaps the explanation '"Made in EUROPE” "

"It arrived all gummed up with a long-driedout short international cartridge. A little TLC under the tap with an ear cleaning bulb, and it was good to go. I had a cheap Jinhao converter (one of the 2.6mm throat “skinny” ones with the coiled spring ink agitator inside), and a sample of Robert Oster’s GoGo looking for a use, and we were all set for offsky."


 "The nib looks like a cheap untipped steel affair with the ends bent inwards rather than over as is more common on cheaper nibs of this type. I was very pleasantly surprised that it is actually a very capable writer, and not at all scratchy. Not exactly gold nib standard, but for a “free” pen with a bit of as-yet undeciphered history, not a bad little acquisition."

Later that evening, Kevin sent me an update:

"Hi Maja… late update: “Stypen” and “FRANCE” are stamped on the clip I just noticed, so just in case there was any doubt… they didn’t just make the nib. 😊

I also found a different Meccano print scheme on the same model of pen dated 1980, so that’s likely the era it comes from - https://en.todocoleccion.net/old-fountain-pens/pluma-estilografica-stypen-meccano-anos-80~x88360514

 Many thanks to Kevin for sharing this cool new acquisition with all of us! I love hearing about unusual fountain pens, and I'm sure many of you do, too :)

Monday, September 7, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 71

Happy Labour Day, everyone! Today's featured new acquisition is a lovely Sheaffer desk base made of Norwegian marble belonging to Stuart...

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

Stuart: "It’s a Sheaffer (surprise!) with an unusual base - white and rectangular, with large beveled edges all around, and pink, tan, and grey streaks, very striking."

"It had been offered once or twice and the seller would take offers. I offered ten dollars over the starting bid price of $20 US, and they accepted it. It’s coming from Ft. Madison, Iowa, Sheaffer’s old headquarters! In messages, the seller told me they worked for the company for nearly 20 years, and knows the man who runs the Sheaffer museum in the old factory building."

(Photo above: The desk base originally came with a gold-plated Sheaffer 'Imperial' ballpoint, but in the photo above it's paired with the gold-plated Sheaffer 'Imperial' desk pen with 14K inlaid nib that Stuart acquired last year with this set)

What a gorgeous desk set, and what a great deal, too! Thank you, Stuart, for another great contribution to our pen club's online show & tell :)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 70

The Lamy 'Al-Star' fountain pen is a modern classic, owned and loved by many, but you don't see these particular examples (recently acquired by Honourary VPCer Glenn from Oz) very often...

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

  Glenn: "The Lamy Al-Star 50 Years of Design SE in graphite with EF steel nib seems to be like the proverbial bus… you don’t see one for ever, then 4 of them come along in quick succession! The Korean seller who sold mine then listed a 2nd example at a higher price; he’d wanted to cancel my purchase because of the lack of air mail services, but I asked him to send it insured surface mail instead. It does raise questions about him possibly wanting to relist for more money. Since then, 2 more have appeared on eBay at 8x the price. It took ages but eventually arrived safely; I’m very glad I was prepared to wait."

"The pen comes in a special foam-lined tin box and an outer cardboard sleeve, both of which echo the pattern of diagonal lines on the pen, and the back of the cap bears the 50th Anniversary logo."

Glenn continues: "The other Al-Star is in the 2018 SE Vibrant Pink colour with EF steel nib, but it is badged on the cap as ‘2018 Limited’ for the Chinese year of the dog, with a clever depiction of a dog’s head incorporated into the 2. Neither I nor Maja had run across the edition before, so given its Chinese context and location in Taiwan, we did wonder if it was genuine. Fortunately, it passed all the tests in Goldspot Pens’ useful video suggested by our favourite Pen Guru (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8EWe0RaE0)"

Congratulations on these über-cool finds, Glenn, and thanks for sharing them with us!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 69

...and now, a classic fountain pen that needs no introduction...

Armando: "I gifted myself for my birthday in early August with a Montblanc Meisterstuck No. 146. The pen was manufactured circa 1980s, for the French market. Details as follows:

Montblanc Meisterstuck No. 146

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

Armando:"These are what struck me when I first saw, held, and used the pen. The pen is conservative in its looks, as every Montblanc pen is. However, there is a special feel when I held it, and it probably was due to the perception that I've had with a Montblanc pen, and the result of the ads that I've seen in print, and other media. It certainly grabbed and held my attention."

"Writing with the pen felt like butter gliding on glass. Buttery smooth. This Montblanc model was produced for the French market, hence the 18ct gold monotone nib. This is the smoothest pen to write with in my collection. Proportion and balance are good when not posted. When posted, becomes a bit back heavy. Tactile pleasure OK and comfortable, and sits in the hand well when unposted. This Meisterstuck pen lives up to its name of Masterpiece. Pen is not flashy, and very conservative."

"This is how I scored it, with 10 being the highest:"

Smoothness : 10
Proportion and Balance: 10
Tactile pleasure : 10
Comfortable: 9
How does it feel:
Posted: 6
Unposted: 10
State of the art writing: 10
Sits in the hand: 9
Average: 9.25

Happy belated birthday, Armando, and many thanks for sharing your wonderful new acquisition with all of us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 68

 Well, it's September, and that usually means "back to school" in this part of the world, so today I thought we'd feature a British-made school pen (the Parker '25') designed by renowned UK industrial designer Kenneth Grange. The '25' has a love-it-or-hate-it design, but it has many fans, among them new VPC member Kevin W....

Kevin: "(Here are) two of my three Parker 25s (the third being ill and in need of a new feed and nib). Stamped with “MADE IN ENGLAND” before “UK” became more mainstream.

They’re the rather pedestrian standard Flighter version with blue section. Other models included a rather fetching all matte black (25B) or other Flighters with green or black sections.

These were the standard school pen in the UK in the late 70s and early 80s."

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

"These particular pens are marked QI (Q4, 1980) and TE (Q1, 1985). The third has no stamp and is likely pre-1980 when stamping began in UK and France.

I was handed down these robust and very capable pens from people who graduated (regressed?) to rollerball or gel pens “for the convenience”.

They’re now in regular rotation, and have quite differently behaving steel M nibs. My favourite of the two (QI) writes with a lovely silky line, and is currently inked with a sample of J. Herbin’s scented Lavender Blue which I confess I enjoy a lot more than I expected to!

 My own school pen was a Parker 45. But that’s another story."

Many thanks to Kevin for all of his contributions to our online "show & tell".
Best wishes to students, educators and support staff everywhere for a safe school year!