Monday, February 28, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 334

Today's featured new acquisition is courtesy of Lawrence, who got this fountain pen at Nikaido...

Lawrence writes:

I did not know very much about this pen, only that Joe told me this is a new variant - it has a brushed metal look. I saw this olive green color and instantly fell in love with the looks. It gave a very Tiki/ Exotica vibe for some bizarre reason. I know that is the last thing anyone will have in mind when they think of Faber-Castell fountain pens (well, at least for this POY has a very tropical feel and will, in fact, make a better Tiki pen come to think of it...but 'nuff about that)

May I present the olive green Neo Slim Tiki pen (just kidding).... 

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

 The green color reminds me of some tropical palm leaves, and the actual shape of the pen has a very bamboo like feel; it has some subtle tapering like a plant stalk. At least that's how I would describe the feeling I have for it. And the Faber-Castell logo...because my eyes are indeed getting old and failing....looks like palm trees from a distance, instead of the two jousting knights. I thought they looked like the tops of coconut palms at first glance...LOL Anyway, it gave me mondo tiki vibes, so I got it. 

The nibs are coated in black (which I am hoping will be more durable than what Montblanc gave me...) 

I can barely see the nib details because of the black color, but I got mine in medium.

It writes smooth, like other Faber-Castell pens that I have.  Not the floaty writing -- there is feedback-- but the nice kind of feedback, not scratchy.

The unusual thing about this pen was the nib points downward. I thought it was broken when I tried it at Nikaido LOL...but it is intentional...

It takes a converter and I filled mine up with purple ink (because green goes with it...Maja looked it up in a color chart...thanks for that...:))

The pen body is metal, but it is very light. Even the cap is light, so posting it does not add any weight whatsoever at all...unlike some of Faber-Castell's pens (I had the pear wood Ambition which becomes off-balanced when posted..).  It's a bit thin, but because of the brushed metal, it does not slip off easily like other thin metal pens I have. It stays put.  Because it gave me Tiki vibes all over...I don't think it would have the same appeal if it was any thicker...right now, it gives me the impression that I'm writing with a bamboo or palm stalk....

I never really felt that way with any of my pens before, but this one whispers "Bring me with you on your vacations.... to Hawaii, Caribbean...Southeast Asia.....and of course, we will use purple ink..."
Till next time.
Aloha :P


Our thanks to Lawrence, as always, for sharing his new pen-related purchases with us here on our club's blog! Faber-Castell steel nibs are nice writers, so it's good to see them on another interesting model like the 'Neo Slim' ...and I'm glad to hear my ink recommendation was a good one ;)

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 333

Today, we'll be featuring a couple of non-fountain pen writing instruments - my Sheaffer 'VFM' rollerball and ballpoint pens...

(~please click on images to enlarge~)

 I actually remember when this line of entry-level rollerballs, ballpoints and fountain pens came out in 2010. 'VFM' stands for "Vibrant, Fun, Modern" and the pens are available in a multitude of colours. It was the white rollerball and ballpoint versions (in Nikaido's clearance section) that caught my eye, though...and I knew I had to have them. They reminded me of something familiar....but what??

                                                        Oh, yeah - these guys ;)

                                                                  A perfect match!

I love the contrast between the shiny pen body and the matte trim, the simple elegance of the black & white, and the clean looking designs. The pens also feel great in the hand--the metal is smooth and cool to the touch--and the ballpoint makes a satisfying 'click'. The clips are rather tight, but I don't clip them to my clothing, so it's a non-factor for me. My only real complaint is that my rollerball's cap doesn't like to stay posted (I found the same issue with my Cross' 'Calais' rollerball). The inner cap liner is the culprit, but I'm not sure how to fix that issue. I tried putting a small strip of tape inside the cap (near the cap lip) but that didn't help.

Although the 'VFM' fountain pen takes international cartridges (which is rare for a Sheaffer fountain pen), the ballpoint and rollerballs only take Sheaffer's proprietary refills. These refills can be found at stores like Staples and London Drugs, in addition to pen shops.

                                              The pen is mightier than the E-11 blaster!

                                       Stormtrooper guarding my goodies from Nikaido

Despite the posting issue with the rollerball, I'm very happy with my Sheaffer 'VFM' ballpoint and rollerball. Many thanks to Sara & Joe of Nikaido for the pens, and their excellent customer service!

(photos and review by Maja)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 332

I love classy black pens with shiny gold trim....

In the previous blog post, I mentioned that the pens in my Sonnenleder leather pen/pencil case were new(ish) acquisitions, so I thought I'd tell you a bit more about them today... 

 (~please click on images to enlarge~)

This is a Parker '95' anodized Black Matte fountain pen I bought from the good folks at Nikaido in Richmond (Steveston) last week. It's a gently-used second-hand pen, but it doesn't even have a scratch on it. 

The '95' was only made for six years (1988 -1994) and was preceded by a similar Parker model called the 'Arrow'. The original price tag for the '95' was $55 USD, but I got my near-mint example for $24.50 CAD. My '95' was made in France and has the date code IL on its cap; this represents a manufacturing date of the 3rd quarter of 1993.

It's not a long pen, but it posts deeply and securely, and measures a nice 14 cm long when posted. Uncapped (nib tip to barrel end), it's slightly under 12 cm in length, so it's more comfortable for me to use posted, due to my hand size.

The total weight of this slender, painted brass pen is a mere 18 grams (with no converter or cartridge in place), with the cap weighing 9 grams. Although the cap is fully half the weight of the pen, I don't find the pen to be back-heavy when posted; I tend to hold my fountain pens slightly higher up the section, though.

Parker pens can be easily identified by their arrow-shaped clips (the first of which was patented in 1932). Unlike the Parker 'Arrow's smooth clip, the Parker '95' clip (above) is engraved with very fine feathers that add a degree of refinement to the pen. Both the '95' and 'Arrow' were considered entry-level pens, but the '95's engraved clip, dished painted cap and barrel ends, and stepped cap top make it the more elegant-looking of the two Parker models.

In addition to its lovely clip, another detail that drew me to pen was its unusual nib design. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary semi-hooded nib....

...but in profile, you can see that it's actually a tubular, wrap-around nib. The 23K gold-plated steel nib isn't marked with a nib width, but I suspect mine is a Medium. It's a smooth, wet writer, and I've had no flow/start-up issues with it so far. The pen takes a Parker converter or Parker's proprietary ink cartridges, but Aurora cartridges/converters will also work in it, I believe.

Above: My Sheaffer '100' ballpoint in glossy black lacquer with gold-coloured trim (top) and my Parker 'Jotter Premium' ballpoint in "Bond Street Black Gold".

The 'Jotter Premium' series came out in 2010 and was inspired by places in London, England. The line was discontinued several years ago, so it was a bit of a challenge to complete my collection; I managed to do it after I acquired the very last pen I needed (the one above) from last year. The Sheaffer was purchased from London Drugs via their website ( and I was able to pick it up at my local LD branch a few hours later.

 The Sheaffer weighs 29 grams and uses a twist mechanism, whereas the Parker weighs only 14 grams and uses a clicker mechanism . Both pens are handsome, reliable, smooth-writing ballpoints that I really enjoy using, both for the way they feel in the hand, as well as their classy yet understated appearance.

(photos & review by Maja)

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 331

A few months ago, I did some online searching for a slightly-larger zippered leather case that could safely hold an assortment of writing instruments. I came across some lovely examples made by Sonnenleder, a German manufacturer, for sale at (a Canadian online seller located in Ancaster, Ontario). I did some research and found only positive reviews for the exact case I wanted, so I placed an order for it with Fendrihan. A few days later, it arrived, safe and sound. 

Meet my new Sonnenleder 'Nietzsche' pen and pencil case...

(~please click on images to enlarge~)

According to Sonnenleder, the case is made of "leather from South German cowhides, tanned with purely plant-based substances, traditionally tanned in pits." Each piece is unique and will develop an attractive patina over time with exposure to sunlight, moisture and the natural oils on your hands.

The case measures 19 x 10 x 2.5 cm and is available in black, mocha brown and the one I chose - natural. I paid $105 CAD for my case (in four equal, interest-free installments of $26.25 each, via Sezzle ;) and I am very happy with it - it's so well made, it's exactly the size I was looking for ... and I think it looks fantastic!

"Sonnenleder" roughly translates to "sun leather" in English. The Sonnenleder logo (a stylized sun with an "S' in the middle) is neatly embossed on the front of the case. The workmanship is excellent throughout.


The left-hand side has one leather compartment for a ruler (17 cm or shorter) or geometry set, stamps, Post It notes, etc.

 The right-hand side of the case has a total of 10 loops-- one larger loop for a fountain pen of medium girth (see bottom of blog post for details), seven smaller loops for slimmer pens or accessories (with a max. length of 17 cm), and two wide loops for erasers or pencil sharpeners.

 (above: "premium polished metal" zipper pull - the obverse side has the Sonnenleder logo on it) The zipper pull is slightly curved for comfort and ease of use, and the zipper works very smoothly.

The largest loop (far left) currently has a Sheaffer '100' ballpoint in it, but it can also hold fountain pens the diameter of a TWSBI 'Diamond 580', Cross 'Townsend' or Pilot 'Metropolitan' (I tried all three in my case and they fit). The smaller loops can hold slimmer fountain pens (such as the Parker '95' next to my Sheaffer '100'), ballpoints (e.g. my two Parker 'Jotters' above) or wooden pencils or pencil crayons. The items on the far right: white Staedtler mini eraser, Blackwing Point Guard, and dust-free black eraser by Faber-Castell.

All of the pens above are actually new(ish) acquisitions, so I'll talk a bit about them in Thursday's blog post :)

(photos and review by Maja)

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 330

This post will be more of a "show & tell" as the fountain pen -- aka the Pilot 'MR'/Pilot 'Cocoon' /Pilot '88G'-- has already been reviewed billions of times since it came out in 2012 (Doodlebud's YouTube review is excellent). It's a great starter pen and one I'd highly recommend. For info on the entire Pilot 'Metropolitan' lineup, check out JetPens' excellent overview here.  

(~please click on images to enlarge~)

I spotted this Pilot 'Metropolitan Retro Pop' in Turquoise Dots in's Warehouse Deals section a couple of weeks ago. I already owned a 'Metropolitan Classic' fountain pen in plain black, but at $15.41 CAD, this one was too good to pass up.

The condition of the pen was listed as being in "Used - Acceptable" condition, but I'd had good luck with other used/returned pens I'd bought from the Warehouse, so I wasn't too worried about its condition. Sure enough, there wasn't any visible damage to its exterior---not even a single scratch. I removed the cap, and the section was also undamaged. Hmmm, so why was the pen listed as merely "Acceptable"??

Well, it turned out to be the nib - someone had snipped off all of its iridium tipping! 😲
I didn't notice it until I started writing with the pen...and the paper started to rip. Oh boy...

(Sorry I didn't take any 'before' photos of the nib - These after the 'after' photos)

Undeterred, I took some fine Micromesh and carefully reground the nib to made it usable again...

...and it worked! The nib even has some line variation now, but more importantly, it writes smoothly and my pretty little 'Metropolitan' is back in action again :)

(I love the pen's turquoise colour and the mid-century/space age-y design on its barrel)

One of our brand-new pen club members (Christopher M.) mentioned he was looking for some narrow-ruled notebooks. That reminded me how much I enjoyed using narrow-lined looseleaf paper in school, so I ordered these Extra Narrow Ruled Notebooks from (link to Amazon page) earlier this month.

There's no manufacturer's name on either of them, but the Amazon listings say they were made by CompactLines Press. Each notebook has 110 pages and is described as being made of "Quality 60 gm paper". The cost of the notebooks was $7.99 CAD each.

Here's a closeup of their UPC and QR codes:

(photos & review by Maja)

Friday, February 18, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 329

Today, we're shining a spotlight on not one but two lovely vintage fountain pen desk sets recently acquired by Stuart!

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

Stuart: "First up, a stunning modernistic Parker 51 Aerometric model from 1948:"

"It has a wonderful base made of cast aluminum with anodized gold finish, combined with the striking Magnetix Magic Wand socket, designed by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, the Hungarian industrial designer.  He may have designed the base as well, but I don’t know for sure.  The pen writes firmly, and has a Fine point.  After nearly 75 years, the set is still a dramatic piece of modern design."


"A note about the Parker set:  I pulled the magnetic socket off of the base and applied it to the main body of the base to check if it might be anodized steel, but it doesn’t stick to the rest of the base.  So only the recessed part the socket rests in is magnetized steel!  It’s beautifully fitted in, with no seams or ridges showing.  Even cooler!

"The second one is a Sheaffer, featuring an apparently rare base, in black plastic with chromed metal decorations in the form of plumes flanking the socket.  The socket bears a matching chrome trim ring, in place of the more common gold variety.  The pen’s an economy-level one with a plain, 14C gold nib, and has Sheaffer’s Touchdown pneumatic filling system, which puts this set from around 1949-1950. The nib is a Medium, and a wet, smooth writer."

"So two great beauties for the collection, I’m thrilled with both of them.  It’s odd the Sheaffer one is so rare, it’s a simple but very striking mix of minimalist colouring and classical elements.  The Parker set just rocks!"


Many thanks to Stuart for sharing these gorgeous vintage desk sets with us!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 328

I first heard of the Ranga pen company on the Fountain Pen Network about ten or eleven years ago, and knew it was a long-established family business in India that created handmade writing instruments of very good quality. Last May, the company offered an international group buy for their Ranga '9B' fountain pens but since I'd already overspent on pens that month, I passed on it. 

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when I saw a video made by one of my fellow pen club members, singing the praises of the Ranga '9B' fountain pen he got for a great price (via the group buy that I passed on 🙄) - you can see the review on his excellent YouTube channel. I checked online and found that Ranga were also selling their fountain pens on, so I went ahead and placed an order for the big brother of the '9B' model there (Amazon link)....

Pinchy the crab getting a real workout with my new Ranga 'Giant 9B'  fountain pen

 (~please click on images to enlarge~)

Shortly after I ordered it, the seller contacted me to ask what ebonite material I wanted for my pen. I chose the orange & black premium ebonite (one of 14 different premium ebonite colour choices) with a "mirror" (polished) finish. I paid $115 CAD (including $22 CAD shipping) for my pen, which was the clipless eyedropper version with a Ranga steel nib. The seller then sent me a message asking if I wanted to upgrade my pen (for an extra $36 USD) to the version that took a converter/cartridge and had a screw-in JoWo nib. I thanked him for the offer, but turned it down as I wanted the Ranga nib on my pen.

The seller's communication was excellent throughout, and the pen arrived via DHL from India exactly two weeks after I confirmed the features I wanted. Oh, and I didn't even have to pay DHL for any duties and/or processing fees, which was a surprise (the first of many, as you'll see).

The pen came in a nice Ranga-branded snap-fastening box....

...and inside the box were several items, in addition to the Ranga pen....

...namely, a plastic eyedropper (for filling the pen with bottled ink), a spare ebonite feed, a steel Wality nib, and a free fountain pen! The free pen isn't branded, but it's a smaller piston-filling demonstrator. I haven't tried it yet--I've been having too much fun with the Ranga pen---but I will. Many thanks to Ranga for the freebies!

The back of the Ranga business card (above) has photos of the various models they make. This is very handy if you're like me and have problems remembering fountain pen model numbers lol.

Ranga says their pens are "completely handmade" (there's a great YouTube video that shows exactly how they make them--from scratch-- here) and mine is very well-made. The cap and barrel threads are carefully hand-cut (the cap screws on & off smoothly and in less than one turn), the ebonite material is beautifully shaped and polished, and the whole pen feels great in the hand. The pen does post, but at 7 inches unposted, there is absolutely no need to post it. Despite its size, the pen isn't particularly heavy--about 35 grams uncapped when completely filled with ink, and 52 grams capped & fully inked. Uncapped, it is so well-balanced that when I use it, I don't feel like I'm holding a baton-sized pen.

Ranga model 'Giant 9B' fountain pen (data from

Capped Length: 7 inches.

Cap Dia : 18.75mm dia

Barrel Dia: 18.75mm dia

Section Dia: 14mm at thickness part , 12.5mm at holding part.

Feed: Ebonite

The parcel's packing material was a simple, coarsely-woven white cloth bag that was hand-stitched shut, with the sender and recipient's addresses hand-written on it (photo above). 

The pen came with a monotone gold-coloured steel #6 Ranga nib stamped with a stylized crown made of nibs, the Ranga name in cursive font, and the letter M (for medium). I chose the Medium nib option, and I'm happy to say the nib writes very well (there's no flex to it, but I wasn't expecting any). A big "Thank you!" to Ranga Pens for putting a nice, big nib on this giant of a fountain pen; I own some moderate-to-large fountain pens with nibs that are far too small for them. This Ranga is not one of them :)

Tip: I highly recommend a YouTube video by Fountain Pen Revolution (a seller of many Indian pen brands, including Ranga) called 'How to fill an eyedropper fountain pen' . It tells you how to prevent hard-starting issues in eyedropper-filling fountain pens by priming their feeds (that bit starts at the 2min 55sec mark of the video). I haven't used up all the ink in my Ranga (it holds A LOT of ink), so I don't know if my pen will develop "burping" issues as the ink supply in its barrel dwindles; if it does, I'll post an update here. A very late addition to this review---several months after this review, I noticed that the barrel tube only extends a little over 7cm, meaning that the /entire/ barrel isn't hollow.

I have only one complaint about the pen, and it's a very small one...literally. The pen came with a tiny hole drilled into the side of its cap; I knew this was done by the manufacturer to equalize the pressure in the cap, thus preventing ink from flying into the cap when it was removed. The hole, though, had very rough, raised edges, which I noticed as soon as I picked up the pen (I actually felt the hole before I saw it). The rest of the pen was glassy-smooth, so it was a bit of a shock.

I emailed Ranga to let them know, after I'd carefully sanded the hole's rough edges down with some very fine Micromesh (the end result is shown in the photo above). Mr. M.P. Kandan--the son of Ranga's owner, Master Penmaker M.S. Pandurangan--promptly replied and thanked me for my feedback (which also included praise for their fine craftsmanship)This small issue won't deter me from ordering another Ranga pen, but I thought I should mention it in my review for the sake of completeness.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with this beautifully-crafted handmade fountain pen. If you're not into fountain pens, Ranga also makes handcrafted ballpoint pens and rollerballs in both ebonite and acrylic in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Many of their writing instruments offer both clipped and clipless options, so there's plenty from which to choose.

(photos & review by Maja)