Friday, April 29, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 363

Sherman acquired a wonderful Wahl-Eversharp 'Skyline Yellow Cab' Special Edition fountain pen (made in 1995 by the revived Wahl-Eversharp pen company) a little while ago and asked how the filling system could be disassembled for cleaning. The system was a bit of an odd one that involved unscrewing the lower part of the barrel to access the ink converter. There's an excellent article on (link) about this pen, but it doesn't say if the converter was friction-fit, threaded or glued to the inside of the pen. Sherman found a YouTube video by SBREBrown which showed the converter being pulled out of a more recent 'Skyline' model, so he tried that and it worked.

He'd sent me some really nice photos of the pen and its component parts, so I asked Sherman if he wouldn't mind if I posted them here on our website. He graciously agreed, so without further ado, here they are....

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

First, some shots of the fountain pen in its elaborate presentation box:

Included with the pen was a die-cast metal and plastic replica of a Ford taxicab, the vehicle that inspired this fountain pen and the rollerball model that was produced at the same time. The presentation box, like the pen and taxicab, has a checkerboard design...

This modern version of the 'Skyline' shares the same "derby cap" design as its predecessor, the Eversharp 'Skyline' that first came out in the summer of 1940...

Unscrewing the lower part of the barrel reveals the black turning knob of the ink converter:

The double-sided warranty card also includes a brief history of the pen's famous predecessor:

Though the repair charge seems steep, the original retail price of the pen when it was released in 1995 was a hefty $250 USD, according to ...
And now, we get to the disassembly stage...

The pen disassembled...

Sherman writes: "I have inked my Yellow Cab just once, a couple of months ago ...not really enjoying it, but now it’s dried – too soon! So I intended to give it a thorough clean up."

The pen's feed and nib collar...

When I saw the photo above, I was worried that the nib collar was cracked, so I asked Sherman, and he replied: " looks like a crack in that section, but it is only the edge from the molding,"


Soaking the nib, feed, nib collar and converter to clean them of dried ink....

The 14K gold nib, with the Eversharp "double check" logo, "SKYLINE", "14K-585" & nib width (M) on it ...

After cleaning the ink converter, Sherman was all set to put it back into the barrel...but then he noticed something unusual about the converter...

Sherman: "Pretty tricky when putting the converter back. There is a flat area for sliding it in. Guess the design is not meant to pull the converter often."

Note the small protrusion below the barrel threads (in the middle of the photo) -- that's the part that the flat part of the converter slides onto. This mechanism allows the user to fill the pen without removing the converter from the barrel.

The PenHero article said that pen could also be used with Parker cartridges, so Sherman tried using a couple of different Parker converters in the pen. He writes: "Tried to insert the Parker original or Deluxe converter but it doesn’t fit, so this original converter should be for International size. But I am so afraid to lose it now…. Not sure where can I find a replacement."

The pen after a thorough cleaning...

In our email exchange, the subject of "Should I ink up this special new pen or not?" came up, and Sherman replied: "Guess what, I used to just hold and feel my new pens without actually inking or using them, especially the fountain pens, and some better ballpoint or rollerball pens. But not anymore, life is just too short, so I ink them right away nowadays, unless I bought it and I knew I wouldn’t keep it."

Sherman - I hope you enjoy using your new pen for many years to come! Thank you very much for sharing it with us :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 362

Today I'm reviewing a lovely writing instrument I acquired from Dan "The Nibsmith" Smith of last Spring - a TWSBI 'Draco' Limited Edition fountain pen. Only 3000 of these pens were made, with supposedly half of that number going to North and South American retailers. I'm a big TWSBI fan, so I was really worried about missing out on getting one of these LEs. They were selling like hotcakes, so I ordered mine from Dan, even though I knew the shipping from the U.S. would be higher and that I might have to pay duties on it.

The model was released on March 31, 2021, so it's sold out in many places, but you can still find some for sale online (a note of caution: some folks have had problems getting stuff from a Canadian online pen retailer whose website currently--ie. as of this blog post--shows some 'Draco' pens still in stock--see the first paragraph of this old blog post
on our site for details)

(please click on images to enlarge)

And here it is! The pen came in the familiar opaque white plastic TWSBI box, but it had a black cardboard sleeve covering it (presumably because it was a Limited Edition pen). Inside the box were: the fountain pen, a small wrench (to take apart the pen's piston-filling system) and a small vial of silicone grease (to lubricate aforementioned filling system), along with illustrated instructions on how to fill and take apart the pen. I generally don't take my TWSBI vacuum/piston-fillers apart, but it's nice that they can be disassembled by their owners for maintenance purposes.

Though they're well-known for their faceted writing instruments, the 'Draco' LE is a smooth, (slightly-tapered) cylindrical flat top with rose gold trim and a rose gold nib. The pen is made of a gorgeous burgundy/red/deep pink and black marbled acrylic that matches the rose gold trim extremely well. The acrylic is highly polished and mirror-glossy. I think it's a stunning pen.

I posted the pen for this photo, but I never use it posted because it might damage the acrylic. Also, it's very easy (trust me!) to inadvertently twist the turning knob while unposting, which can result in a big ink spill if the pen is inked. TWSBI actually warns users against posting the pen, and some retailers will not accept returned 'Draco' pens that have been scratched due to posting  There's actually very little need to post this pen because it's long enough to use unposted; it's about the length of an uncapped Lamy 'Safari' (nib tip to barrel end), which is perfect for my hand.

Even the barrel threads are rose gold in colour :)

Here are some specs, courtesy of

Product Specifications
Capped Length: 5.55 in.(141.0mm)
Posted Length: 6.57 in.(166.9mm)
Length of Body: 5.01 in.(127.3mm)
Length of Cap: 2.53 in.(64.3mm)
Diameter of Body: 0.52 in.(13.2mm)
Diameter of Cap: 0.61 in.(15.5mm)
Diameter of Grip: 0.44 in.(11.2mm)

I weighed the pen on my digital kitchen scale and its total weight is 30 grams. Cap weight: 10 grams.

The TWSBI logo on the cap top is done in relief and looks very classy. They could have engraved it, but I think this type of machining is more complex --I could be wrong-- so I applaud TWSBI for doing that. This is a Limited Edition pen and it deserves this kind of elegant, tasteful ornamentation (I'm looking at you, Conklin pen company, makers of the 'Nozac' I just reviewed on Monday lol)

The TWSBI name is tastefully engraved just above the rose gold cap band. There is no model name anywhere on the pen, and the pen isn't numbered, but that's fine with me because it doesn't look like any other TWSBI fountain pen I've seen -- most of them come in single colours only (the '580 RB'/'580 US'/'540 ROC 100' --all red & blue pens -- being exceptions). The unadorned rose gold spring clip is tapered, like the barrel of the pen.  It clips well, without being so stiff that I worry about breaking it off. The cap is a screw-cap and it takes about 1.5 rotations to cap or uncap.

(I'm so grateful TWSBI made the section out of the same material as the rest of the pen... Whew!)

I love my 'Draco' fountain pen, but if I could change one thing, it would be the size of its nib. It's the same nib (#5 size) that's on TWSBI's flagship model, the 'Diamond 580' and its cousins (the 530/540/580AL/580 ALR/580 RB et al.),  but the 'Draco' pen body is a little wider than those pens, so I think TWSBI could have justified putting a slightly larger nib on it.

"Family portrait" (L-R): TWSBI 'Vac700R' Iris, TWSBI 'Draco' Limited Edition and TWSBI 'Diamond 580' "Smoke Rosegold II"

When I put them next to each other, the 'Draco' and '580' are the same height, but the 'Draco' is wider than the '580' and its section is girthier than the '580's. The 'Vac700R' is the longest of the three pens, and has a much larger nib.

It's hard to capture all the reddish hues of the marbled acrylic, so I took photos of the pen on different days, under different lighting conditions, with different backgrounds.

A closeup of the stainless steel rose-gold nib and the neat little inkview window. I chose a Medium nib for my 'Draco', but they also come in Extra-Fine, Fine and Broad widths. They are not available with a 1.1mm Stub nib, though. I don't believe the rose gold nibs are available for purchase separately, either, which is a shame because this particular shade of rose gold is very warm and rich.

The pen has a beautiful flared section and is very comfortable to hold. The nib writes well, as expected --- it's the same #5 nib as the one on so many of my other TWSBI fountain pens --- and it looks really nice. Being a true piston-filler, it only takes bottled ink, not cartridges.

TWSBI had released four rose gold models in the past year or so (the 'Mini White Rosegold V2', the 'Eco Rosegold' in Smoke and White colours and the 'Draco' LE) and they just released  the 'Diamond 580' "White Rosegold II" this month; I predict it will sell very well. There were rumours floating around that TWSBI would issue the 'Draco' in another colour at some point, but I haven't heard anything about that recently.
The TWSBI 'Draco' is a wonderful fountain pen that writes very smoothly and is a joy to use. It's a real looker, too --- it truly is eye candy. Its price point ($150 USD) makes it the most expensive pen in TWSBI's current lineup, but it is a limited edition and the gorgeous acrylic, rose gold trim and overall quality are all top-notch, so I think it's well worth the price. I'm so glad I bought one. Many thanks to Dan of for this lovely fountain pen!

(photos & review by Maja)

Monday, April 25, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 361

To paraphrase Bette Davis' line from one of my favourite films - Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride as I review my beautiful Conklin 'Nozac' in "Toledo Red"!

(please click on images to enlarge) Background: The original Conklin Pen Company started out in Toledo, Ohio before moving operations to Chicago and, eventually, went out of business in 1955. In 1999, the Conklin pen company was revived, and began producing writing instruments named after vintage Conklin pen models, of which this is one (there's an excellent write-up on the original 'Nozac' model here).

From their official website ( "
Conklin, the legendary name for fine writing instruments returns with a revitalized design of a timeless classic, the Nozac™ piston filler. Originally released in 1931, Conklin took the world by storm with their patented piston-filler and polygonal design, the Conklin Nozac™ “no sack” being the only American piston-filler in production at the time. Based on the original model, the Nozac™ is a writing instrument worthy of its legendary name."

To make things really confusing, there were actually four other modern Conklin 'Nozac' models (now long-discontinued) that predated mine. The 'Nozac' model I'm reviewing today was released in 2018, according to my research..

This 'Nozac' model is also no longer in production, but its original MSRP was $165 USD. I found mine in new, unused condition on eBay last September for $55 USD plus $15.95 shipping. It came in Conklin's hinged presentation box, which is dark blue with white stitching (love that colour combo!). The material lining the inside of the box is very soft, and cushions the pen very well. 

The pen was made from solid acrylic and its colours are really challenging to capture with a camera because they change according to the lighting conditions. The colours are a lovely mix of (predominantly) warm tones, cooler hues and metallic tints in a swirly resin that, in some places, looks like liquid metal. The pen's facets catch the light, causing the metallic colours in the resin to sparkle--a beautiful effect. The facets also serve a more practical purpose - to prevent the pen from rolling off a desk or table!

Here's what Conklin had to say about the material: "Made from European grade acrylic resin, each writing instrument displays a wide variety of color. Offered in Toledo Red, a stunning shade of dark maroon marbled with a mix of colors, flecked with purple, gold, blue, or orange. Or Ohio Blue, a dazzling shade of true blue, dappled with shades of white, silver, and greens."

The model was available as a fountain pen or capped ballpoint/rollerball. The latter accepts Parker-type refills, and the former only fills from a bottle due to its filling system.

Also from Conklin's official website: "Machined to perfection and painstakingly hand-polished, the Nozac™ body features eight smooth faceted sides and is then adorned with striking silver along the clip, grip, and ends."

(side note: the vintage Nozac models had either smooth barrels or 12-sided barrels - not octagonal!)

My measurements:

Capped length: 13 cm, Posted length: 14.9 cm, Uncapped length: 11.7 cm (nib tip to barrel end)
• Total pen weight: 37 grams; cap weight: 16 grams
• Ink capacity: I haven't measured it, but I heard it's about 0.8 ml

Above: the pen's chromed grip section and single-tone steel # 6 size Conklin nib in Fine width.

I'm pretty sure I didn't swap out the original nib after I got the pen, but I know this model came with two-tone steel nibs when in was released in 2018. In early May 2019, a well-known Conklin dealer announced on FPN that Conklin had switched to using single-tone steel nibs on all their steel-nibbed pens. I don't know if Conklin was still producing the 'Nozac' when they announced this changeover - the model was already being sold on closeout at this point. In any case, I much prefer the single-tone steel nib as it matches the pen's trim.

The nib has Conklin's famous crescent-shaped breather hole (a tribute to their vintage classic "Crescent-Filler" model) and is engraved/stamped with the Conklin logo, "Toledo", and "USA". You can't see it in the photo above, but the nib width (Fine) is marked on the right side of the nib with an "F". The pens were available in five different nib options (Extra-Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad or 1.1mm Stub) and came with a black plastic feed. The nib unit unscrews from the section and is compatible with many other Conklin and Monteverde (which shares its ownership with Conklin) pens, should you wish to change the nib on yours. The nib on mine has a tiny bit of feedback but writes very smoothly, with a bit of line variation (but nothing close to an italic/stub), but no discernible flex. In terms of ink flow, it's right in the middle--it's not a gusher, but not a dry writer either. In conclusion: I'm very happy with the nib.

The barrel imprint - "Conklin Nozac - Made in Italy" - is stamped into the resin in a very plain font; for such a pretty pen, I'd have used a fancier font, but maybe that's just me. This isn't the first Italian-made Conklin pen - the Conklin 'Heritage Sleeve Filler', 'Nighthawk, and 'Empire' (among others) were also made in Italy.

The clip is based on Conklin's 1916 patented spring-loaded rocker clip, and sports the Conklin name in a large, cursive font. It clips easily onto several sheets of paper, thick or thin fabrics, and being a rocker-style clip, it can be utilized with just one hand. Kudos to Conklin on a great clip design!

The cap closes via a magnetic closure mechanism: "New to Conklin, each cap is magnetized along the barrel and innermost lining for a secure closure, whether at the office or traveling."
(from their official website). One online reviewer warned buyers not to trust the cap to stay on if the pen was kept in a pocket, but mine caps quite securely. I don't know if the magnet will rust or weaken over time (apparently, magnets /do/ weaken), but it's not something I'm too worried about.

Because of the magnet, the cap is fairly heavy. I post a lot of my fountain pens, but this one is a bit too long and back-weighted for me to use comfortably when posted. Too bad the barrel wasn't just a bit longer, to make the pen more comfortable for "high grippers" (such as myself) or those with larger hands, to use unposted.  The unposted ‘Nozac’ is about 1 cm shorter than an unposted Lamy 'Safari' fountain pen, which is a very good size for my hands. A longer barrel would also better suit the large #6 size nib on the ‘Nozac’; if you look at my photos of the uncapped pen, you’ll see what I mean (note: the photo directly below was taken at an angle, so it doesn’t show how relatively short the barrel is, in comparison to the nib - the photos below that one do).

Get ready---here come the complaints! 😒

Let's start with the cap's top... Why isn't there any ornamentation on the cap finial? This wasn't an inexpensive fountain pen when it was first released, and the resin material is stunning ... so why not make the finial as nice-looking as the rest of the pen??

The pen fills via a mechanism described by Conklin thusly: "Similar to winding watches, to fill the fountain pen you must engage the piston filler mechanism. Simply twist the non-ending screw located at the end of the barrel counterclockwise to create suction within the body, then dip the nib into your ink of choice, and twist the screw clockwise to fill." 

Well, apparently the pen actually uses a captive-converter filling system, not a true piston-filling system (which explains its low ink capacity). Captive converters always seemed a bit gimmicky to me, but I don't hate them. This pen has an opaque body and no ink-view window to check the ink level in the converter. Normally this isn't a problem - with most pens of this type, you can unscrew the barrel to check the converter's ink level. With this model, however, the barrel can't be unscrewed from the section. This means that (a) you never know how much ink is in the converter and --even worse -- (b) if something goes wrong with the converter, you're screwed (so to speak).

It's such a beautiful fountain pen - I really wish the section was made of the same resin material as the cap and barrel..."But what about the magnetic cap closure?" you ask. Well, I think they could have made the section out of this resin because the thin magnetic ring is actually part of the nib assembly, not the section itself.

Another complaint--the section is really slippery. I usually don't have an issue with metal sections (tbh, I often roll my eyes at people that complain about them) but this one is very slick. If they'd machined the section to make it less slippery, that would have solved/alleviated this problem. Some people have complained about the turning knob at the end of the barrel being slippery, but it's fine for me.

And speaking of that turning knob... Why the heck didn't they make the the pen's ends the same shape?? The cap top finial is cylindrical with straight sides, but the finial on the barrel end is slightly convex and tapered! One online reviewer lamented the fact that the top finial wasn't faceted (like the cap and barrel), but I would have been satisfied with a cap finial that matched the shape of the barrel's finial. Pens with mismatched cap tops and barrel ends drive me crazy (e.g. my beloved Laban '325' pens 😭) Symmetry people ....symmetry!!

This isn't a great photo, but I think you can see the metal section/resin barrel border... and I have two gripes about it. First, that border has very sharp edges, and given that this is where most people grip the pen, they really should have smoothed them down. The fact that they didn't do this is puzzling, as the pen's facets are very smooth, with carefully-rounded corners (thanks to the time spent polishing them by hand).

My second gripe is that the section-barrel interface has a thin, semi-transparent resin "collar" that looks
odd and makes the pen look (even more) unfinished. I think the collar is made of the same resin as the rest of the pen, but it's transparent in several places. If they'd made the collar completely opaque, I think it would look more visually appealing. It's a small detail, but every time I look at the pen's section, I see it and it bugs me.

Final thoughts: The "Nozac' is a lovely, smooth-writing fountain pen made of gorgeous acrylic (one of the nicest I've ever seen) and the workmanship on it is very good. I applaud Conklin for tackling the job of creating a beautiful faceted pen ... and they achieved that goal. I do, however, have issues with some aspects of the pen's design, and for that reason, I don't think I would have paid full price for the pen. I think this is the harshest pen review I've posted on this blog, but it's because this pen has so much potential; if they refined some things and made the design a bit more cohesive, Conklin could have a really great fountain pen in their lineup. I hope they do.

(photos & review by Maja)

I'll be back with a favourable review of a very pretty fountain pen on Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 360

Here's a double-shot of new writing instruments -- a fountain pen and a mechanical pencil acquired by Stuart from the Vancouver Pen Shop a few weeks ago! He writes: "Here’s my pics of the pear wood Faber-Castell Ambition, and of the Graphgear pencil. The light was brighter this morning, so I popped off the shots I wanted!"

(all photos courtesy of Stuart ~ please click on images to enlarge)
Stuart: "I love the warmth and tactility of the wood barrel of the Ambition, it has great warmth in the hand, and enough texture to give a good grip. Inside the open end of the barrel is a brass threaded section - that’s what the metal section and nib unit screws into, so there’s no metal on wood contact, making for greater durability."

"The Medium steel nib is a smooth, quite wet writer, very pleasant to use."

"I couldn’t resist the cool Pentel Graphgear 1000 pencil! It looks great, and the knurled metal grip combined with soft plastic inserts makes it easy to hold securely."

"Pulling out the push-button reveals the two-ended eraser inside; pulling that out gives access to a couple of spare leads."

"The large-ish .7mm lead is very smooth, nice to write with."

 Stuart, thank you so much for these most recent reviews, and for all your previous contributions to our ongoing virtual "show & tell" :)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 359

We hadn't featured a new ink in a few months here on our club's blog, so I was pleased to get this review from Lawrence a few days ago.

He writes: "I was not really intending to get any ink at Nikaido's last month, but because I got this greenish Neo Slim pen, I decided to get an ink for it, I ended up with this one. This is called Sakuranezumi from the Japanese ink line Kyo No Oto."

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

"The packaging is quite nice. And the ink bottle is also pretty subdued looking, no-nonsense type (and not in the almost gimmicky demi style of Herbin...which I will talk a little about later on)."

"The ink bottle is something's fairly non-distinct and I probably can use it for many other things aside from just inks.
Now we get to the ink itself. It is a greyish-violet color. I have my Neo Slim inked with it and it is okay with it. But for this review, I dipped it with one of my calligraphy pens to get more width so we can see the shading a bit more."

"This ink is also fairly resistant to water. If you let the ink dry up more on the paper, it can hold very well. The testing below is after maybe 5 to 6 seconds of putting the ink on paper: "

"After brushing over a couple of times, the ink no longer dissolves and seems to be permanent after (more or less).
This ink reminds me of my Poussier de Lune (Herbin ink). the sample below is the two inks compared. The top one is Sakuranezumi the one below is the Poussiere ink: "

"To make the comparison more clear I sort did a brush test: "

"So the Sakuranezumi is less "magenta" than Poussiere...but in terms of writing feel, they are similar. That is, they write dry. While Pilot Iroshizuku ink has a definite rich liquidity feel (wetter?)...the Sakaruanezumi, like the Poussiere, writes like diluted acrylic ink (not sure how else to describe it) so like diluted acrylic ink, they are water soluble for the first few moments...after that they are kind of permanent.
This ink in a way is not a good combination for my Neo the pen has a hard start after a few hours of inactivity. It is probably a combination of the Neo Slim's nib with this dryish ink. It is unfortunate because the color goes so well with the pen.
Overall, this is sort of like a Japanese version of the Herbin ink line. It feels the same and has an ethereal color quality to it (very vintage / faded look). I do like the ink as an alternative to my Herbin, but I may be very selective as to the pen I use it with."

Many thanks to Lawrence for this great ink review, and the photos accompanying it!