Tuesday, March 30, 2021

National Pencil Day ~ March 30th!

(please click on image to enlarge)

In honour of National Pencil Day , I thought I'd post a quick shot of the newest additions to my Blackwing collection --four Blackwing 'Volume 6' wooden pencils and a gold-tone Blackwing Point Guard (a metal protector for sharpened pencils). The pencils were recently purchased from Nikaido (which sells Blackwing pencils individually -- very handy if you don't want to buy a whole box of 12), and the pencil protector was bought on clearance from Chapters/Indigo. 

Every Blackwing pencil from their 'Volumes' series has a little story behind its graphics. The Volume No. 6 pencil, for example, celebrates small businesses such as Nikaido...

(from their official website)

"In 1912, French engineer Georges Claude installed the world’s first neon sign above a barbershop in Paris. His vibrant, tubular lights soon adorned the storefronts of small businesses around the world and symbolized the entrepreneurial drive that formed the backbone of their communities. Today, the spirit of “Main Street” is more resilient than ever. It can be found in urban cities and rural towns, bookstores and coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. It’s one of the many things that make our homes feel special. And it’s worth preserving.

The Blackwing 6 celebrates independent businesses and their entrepreneurial spirit. Each set comes with six neon red and six neon blue pencils inspired by the iconic neon “Open” sign."

~Photo & write-up by Maja

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 173

Today's featured item is the newest addition to Jerred's ever-increasing Delta fountain pen collection!

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

Jerred: "This slim, gold-plated Delta pen probably dates from the early to mid 1980s.  Early on in their life as a manufacturer, Delta purchased pens from other manufacturers and re-branded them for sale."  

"Most of these pens are German made and have very little branding on them.  This pen is really only distinguishable as a Delta as it has the original Delta wordmark near the bottom of the cap."

"The pen is otherwise entirely unbranded, including the nib, which is rather uncommon.  I purchased the pen NOS from a seller in Italy.  The nib wrote, but I wouldn't call it particularly great."

I asked Jerred which of the two skinny Delta fountain pen models was slimmer---this gold-plated one, or the silver one from a similar era that was featured on our blog last May. He said the silver one was quite a bit thinner.

The measurements for the gold-plated Delta (measured by Jerred with his calipers :) are as follows:

Length Capped: 137.5MM
Uncapped: 123MM
Width at Widest Point: 10MM
Grip: 7.5mm up to 8.5mm 

Many thanks to Jerred for sharing his new find with us!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 172

Today's featured newest acquisition is a handsome Sheaffer fountain pen owned by Stuart...

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

Stuart: "A Sheaffer Lifetime Imperial VI arrived this morning, and I love it!  I flushed the pen and the old cartridge, and then filled the cartridge with Sheaffer Green.  It’s a nice writer, with a Fine point." 

Now, a little background on this Sheaffer model...

The 'Imperial VI' was produced from 1961 to 1973. It is less common a model than the 'Imperial IV' (the Imperial model which preceded it) and its relative scarcity makes it a sought-after pen for many Sheaffer collectors. The 'Lifetime' versions of the 'Imperial VI' are cartridge/converter only; they only accept Sheaffer's proprietary ink cartridges or Sheaffer's (difficult-to-find) short button converter.

From PenHero.com: "The Imperial VI brought the subtle charm of the PFM IV to the Imperial line. Often mistaken for a chrome plated cap, the highly polished white metal cap is actually stainless steel, and surprisingly heavy." 

Our thanks to Stuart for sharing his newest pen find with us! 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 171

Purchased from Amazon.ca's "Warehouse Deals" department last month - my new Monteverde 'Impressa' fountain pen in Gunmetal with Red Trim...

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

I'd seen the pen in the Warehouse Deals department before, and the price was very good ($28.32 CAD) but its condition was described as "Used - Acceptable - Large cosmetic imperfection(s) on bottom or back of the item. Accessories may have cosmetic damage. Item will come in original packaging. Packaging will be damaged", so I balked at buying it when I first spotted it there.

A few weeks later, I looked for the Impressa and it was still there. I felt sorry for the pen, sitting there forlorn and unwanted (and at such a darned good price ;) so I purchased it and hoped for the best....


When it arrived, the pen looked fine in the capped position....


 ...and also from this angle, when posted....

 ...as well as this angle.


 The top of the pen looked perfectly alright.....

 ...as did the bottom. 

The exterior of the capped pen looked to be in excellent shape, but I'd read some accounts of the lacquer flaking off the section, so I was very apprehensive when I removed the cap...


....but the section didn't have any such issues (whew!)...


 ...and neither did the nib.

I then turned my attention to the pen's cap.... 

 ....but the front of the cap looked undamaged.

Where the heck was this cosmetic damage??

And then I re-read
the description of the pen's condition and noticed it specifically mentioned "a large cosmetic imperfection(s) on (the) bottom or back of the item", so I nervously turned the cap over...

 ...and I finally found it---a dark grey something on the back of the cap, marring my beautiful pen's otherwise pristine condition (Tip: in case you can't see it,
left-click on the photo, then right-click & select "view image", then left-click again)

"Ah well...", I thought, "...at least it's on the back of the cap, where it's not as noticeable."

Still, I was curious as to what that "something" that had knocked >$20 off the retail price of my pen was (it looked like a crusty, metallic mass), so I gently ran my finger over it... 

...and it came off !

I rubbed a small amount of glue-like residue off the cap with a couple of swipes of my thumb, and snapped the photo above.

"Well, that was surprisingly easy!", I thought to myself.

I didn't think much of it until a few weeks later when I was looking to see if  Monteverde had included a spare ink cartridge in the bottom of the case....


 ...and then I noticed something I hadn't noticed before.

It was a very small bare patch in the lining of the pen's case (see photo above), where a tiny bit of dark grey lining was torn off.

So that's what was stuck to the back of my fountain pen's cap---mystery solved!


As mentioned earlier, several people have reported issues with the finish on their 'Impressa' flaking off. There's been speculation that some of the flaking was due to the friction-fit cap (perhaps its inner cap liner??) rubbing against the end of the section (ie. the part nearest the nib) and causing the section finish to flake off. Others have blamed the finish's coating process itself. I don't have a definitive answer. So far,
though, my own 'Impressa' is doing fine, but I have been handling it very gently and being extra-cautious when capping and uncapping it.


The pen writes well (I forgot to mention the nib is a Medium) and feels good in the hand both posted and unposted, and I think it looks quite handsome (I love the combination of gunmetal and bright red trim). For $28 CAD, I think I did quite well for a pen that I fully expected to arrive in merely "Acceptable" condition :) 

~Photos and text by Maja

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 170

Today's spotlight is on a writing instrument described by Cross as "the power suit of pens" - Stuart's brand-new Cross 'Apogee' Chrome fountain pen !

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

 Stuart: "The unique design of the 'Apogee' is a departure from other Cross fountain pens, which have tended to be very traditional in design. This profile shot gives a good idea of the dramatic form of the long clip."

(the 'Apogee' resting against "a lumpy white rock" which, according to Stuart, is actually "a piece of ancient Florida sand dollar, from the ocean floor of ages ago and now coated in limestone!")

Stuart: "I’m very pleased with how well the pic of the Cross nib came out, it shows the feather-like detailing very nicely. The nib on the Apogee is a sweet writer, very smooth and quite wet.

Stuart's Cross 'Apogee' was purchased on clearance from the Vancouver Pen Shop - a great deal on what sounds like a great fountain pen. Thanks for sharing it with us, Stuart!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 169

A few days ago, I got an email from VPC member Andy, who sent me a review of some recent acquisitions (along with some nice photos of them) for our pen club's blog. Here's what he sent:

"Good evening Maja.
Here are a few new purchases, but of the same brand and model...

I think Jinhao has earned a reputation of quality and value - a tough task in the world of fountain pen these days. In celebration of the Parker 51 reissue 2021, I have decided to tread the homage side of this famous pen.

Behold the Jinhao 85..."

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

Andy continues: "Some controversy on the web states that the Jinhao 85 is actually a Parker 51 and that Jinhao has the production contract for Parker. This pen was in the general public's hands months before the announcement and release of the new Parker 51. This debate is still up in the air, but there has been good evidence from popular fountain pen Youtubers that this is not the case and that Jinhao has just produced an homage.

Let's have a look!" 

"I'll admit right off the bat...I LOVE THIS PEN!!!

So much, I bought the other 2 colors after I used the black one for about a day. At $11.97 CDN shipped to your door is mind-blowing good. An international converter costs that much!!!"

"The black and the red are flat in color with a high polish. The blue, on the other hand, has a bit of depth and a metallic sheen to it and also high polished." 

"I like the classic polished black the most, but the blue is by far the most popular."


  "Nice brass threaded section on the grip section with an o-ring."


 "Standard Jinhao converter, as usual. The metal cap is of good weight with fluting running through the entire length."


"A close up of the hooded nib top and bottom." 


"Another close up of the 0.38mm extra fine nib. They are also available with a bent nib (0.8mm) on AliExpress. I took this picture viewed under the OXMUL loupe which I showed everyone in the last VPC meeting." 

"Here is a writing sample. I've inked all three and the nib is very consistent. They all write identical to each other. The overall writing experience is very nice. Smooth nib with almost no feedback. The window of the sweet spot reminds me of my Lamy 2000 EF. This is my normal day-to-day hand printing which is about 2mm in height........yes.....I write (print) small.

 I enjoyed sharing this with everyone...take care.



Many thanks to Andy for sharing his cool new purchases with us! And a big "Thank you" to everyone in our pen club who has contributed to our virtual "show & tell" since we started it in April 2020. Your photos and reviews are *very* much appreciated :)
Stay safe, everyone!


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 168

Today, we're featuring two more wonderful vintage fountain pens that Christopher recently acquired!

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

Christopher: "I was just so happy to score a superb Parker Duofold Jr. in the Chinese Red Hard Rubber. This is a very early model with the giant barrel imprinting and the first of the Duofold Juniors to sport a 14K Gold Filled Cap Girdle. It has the washer clip but in its black grip section sports a Parker Arrow 14K Gold ‘flexy’ nib. I was tempted to replace this point with a Duofold one but finding a Vac arrow nib as such in a Duofold is by no means uncommon and just such a nice Parker nib at that. As mentioned, the condition of this pen is outstanding and with a new ink sac and resetting the nib on a cleaned feed, I am just so pleased to be adding this fine pen to my collection. Actually it is the fourth as such (see photo below) but I am sure by no means the last."

"The other pen which I just picked up has quite an interesting background. It seems that Parker made this pen for the National Pen Products Company of Chicago. In turn, the National Pen Products Company sold it to the Sears Roebuck Department Store who housebranded it ‘Webster’. Still from its button filler to its Challenger/Televisor finish, it is so unmistakably Parker that I am happy to have it now in my collection."

Christopher also mentioned a post here on FPN about Sears' "house brand" pens that he found very interesting; the post on FPN specifically mentions Parker making Webster-branded writing instruments. Our thanks, as always, to Christopher for sharing his vintage treasures with us! 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 167

Here's a fountain pen from an American company (their pens are made in China, though) that made its debut at the D.C. Supershow back in August 2019 - Narwhal Pens! Stuart recently acquired a Narwhal "Original" fountain pen from the Vancouver Pen Shop and was kind enough to send in some photos-- along with his impressions of the pen--for our blog

So, without further ado...

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

Stuart:"I picked up a Narwhal yesterday at Van Pen, and I love it! It has a Fine point, and the barrel and cap are demonstrator type in Yellow Tang. It’s a piston-filler, which is nice at the price-point. At Shannon’s suggestion I filled it with Sheaffer Brown, which goes beautifully with the pen's colouring. We also looked at Chiku-Rin and Fuyu-Gaki, but decided the brown works best." 

"The pen is very comfortable in hand, and long enough not to need having the cap posted, which isn’t possible anyway."


"I like the three-dimensional quality of the colour swirls in the material, and how they extend down into the threads of the cap."


"The nib is smooth and lays down a nice even line with no issues. I also like the Narwhal logo on the nib, very attractive!"


"A wrench tool is included for working on the piston, but as Shannon said, “I wouldn’t.” :) But it’s there, along with a warranty and filling instruction folder. The price of the demo ones is $60, very reasonable, and marbled finished models are $75. VP are very happy with them, and I think they’ll be a hit with customers." 

Update: Since Stuart sent in this review to be posted on our blog, the Vancouver Pen Shop sold out of their supply of Narwhal fountain pens, but they're on reorder! If you're interested in buying one from their store, you can contact them via their Facebook page or by giving them a ring at (604) 681-1612 to check their current stock.

Stuart---many thanks for the photos and information about this cool new line of fountain pens!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 166

 And now, a pen that needs very little introduction - my new TWSBI 'Diamond 580 ALR' fountain pen (in the aptly-named "Punch Pink" colour), recently purchased at Nikaido , a lovely pen & gift store in Steveston (Richmond), BC:

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

The TWSBI 'Diamond 580ALR' is essentially the much-loved TWSBI 'Diamond 580' with an aluminum piston mechanism, and a finely-grooved aluminum grip section and finial collar:

 The grooves on the grip section are an attractive design feature, but they also serve a purpose--to prevent its user's fingers from slipping (although opinions on this vary, it does make gripping my own pen easier). The machining of the grooves seems very well done--I can't feel any rough edges at all--and I find the texture really quite pleasant to the touch :)

 If you don't find the grooves all that groovy, the TWSBI '580AL' model (the '580ALR's older cousin) has a smooth (not grooved) aluminum grip section and finial collar. Another difference: the aluminum used in the '580ALR' has a matte finish, whereas the '580AL''s finish is shinier.

TWSBI claims the pen cannot be posted, but it actually can (see photo below). The company doesn't recommend doing this, though, because the barrel end (which is actually the piston knob) can --theoretically-- be inadvertently twisted by the posting/unposting action, causing ink to be expelled.

Posting the pen also results in a rather long fountain pen...with a large (and rather unsightly) gap between the bottom of the cap and the barrel ring (see my blurry closeup in the photo below). I've never had a problem with the piston knob inadvertently turning when I've posted my pen, but at 5.12 inches/130 mm unposted, I think the pen is long enough to be used comfortably without its cap on. 

The steel nib on the TWSBI '580ALR' comes in Extra-Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad and 1.1mm Stub widths and uses the same nib unit as that on the 'Diamond 580' and 'Diamond 580AL'. The nib units on the TWSBI 'Mini', 'Vac Mini', 'Vac700' and 'Vac 700R', however will not fit on any of these models. My particular nib is a Medium, and it writes smoothly (with absolutely no flex, though... but it was never advertised as having any, so I can't complain).

All in all, a great fountain pen in a colour that looks even better in person :) Many thanks to Sara & Joe of Nikaido for this wonderful pen and their excellent customer service!

Not sure which TWSBI model is right for you? There's a nice overview of the TWSBI brand and a handy comparison chart of TWSBI's six most popular fountain pen model types here

(~ photos and review by Maja ~)

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 165

Today's newest pen-related acquisition is courtesy of Lawrence! Meet his beautiful new Montblanc Meisterstück 'Le Petit Prince' Solitaire fountain pen...

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

Lawrence: "This pen will have to be one of Montblanc's more successful homage pens. They did a lot of things right and managed to capture both the whimsical and complexity of Saint-Exupéry's modern fairy tale. MB had three parts to this series, I think they are named: Le Petit Prince (blue and silver), The Aviator (brown and gold), and The Planet (burgundy and gold). This pen is from the first series, and it's the Solitaire version. 

This is my only blue pen. I was at first looking at MB's Blue Hour but it's a bit too "corporate-looking". This Little Prince pen is blue and very whimsical at the same time. Just the way I like it. It's a bit more pricey because it's all metal and not resin. The motif on the pen is the fox repeated all throughout the barrel and the cap. It's engraved I believe, but the pen has lacquer on it for protection so we don't feel the engraving; it's very smooth."


"MB had a nib especially designed for the pen.  It features the prince and fox and the star. The pen comes in F, M, and B. I got the F. I inked it with Pilot's peacock blue and it writes very well, almost floating on paper (although that could also be due to the excellent nib working in tandem with Pilot's smooth ink---a great combo)."


"The clip has this yellow star (in the book, it is a symbol of the prince's laughter). I would have liked it if MB continued this idea with the logo cap. Instead of the MB snow cap, it would be nice if they had a Starwalker kind of effect using this yellow star....but then knowing MB, they will charge maybe an extra 1K for that.....so just as well LOL."


"The cap of the pen has an excerpt from the novel translated roughly as: “To establish ties? … To me, you will be unique in all the world”. Which I think suits the "idea" of a fountain pen and nibs...in particular with fountain pens that have hand ground nibs, each nib is definitely "unique" to the owner/writer. The pen looks great uncapped. I don't post my pens and so the pens will not look plain/naked without the cap on. For example, the Doué Classique only has the cap with the design and looks plain uncapped."

"I don't have a grail pen, but rather a group of pens that fulfill this function as a "grail pen posse", and this little prince pen is a regular part of the group."

Wow, what a gorgeous fountain pen! Thank you so much, Lawrence, for sharing it with us :)