Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 379

Stepping away from fountain pens in today's blog post ... Here's a nice Pilot 'Axiom' ballpoint in Matte Black that I got for $21.35 CDN via Amazon.ca's Warehouse Deals section a few months ago. It's a well-made pen but it's a bit of a sleeper, so I thought it deserved a full review here .... and without further ado, let's kick it off!

(please click on images to enlarge)

The regular price is currently $25.60 CDN, but I took a chance on this one because it was listed as being in "USED-VERY GOOD" condition (and because seeing unsold pens in the Warehouse tortures me lol)

The Amazon Warehouse listing said: "Accessories may have cosmetic damage. Item will come in original packaging. Packaging will be damaged" ...and they were right about the packaging -- one end of the cardboard box was missing its flap (courtesy of an overeager buyer?!). The inner Pilot box is hinged and made of black metal with a clear plastic window. It and the pen itself were both in very good condition. The pen had one very small cosmetic flaw--more on that further down the review...

My 'Axiom' is a handsome, all-black, brushed metal retractable ballpoint with a nice heft (16.1 grams) to it. I weighed my two Parker Jotter XL (the larger Jotters) ballpoints and they weighed 11.6 grams and 12.6 grams each, so the 'Axiom' is about 30-40% heavier, but it's not what I'd call a heavy ballpoint. It's actually very comfortable to hold and use, well-balanced and generally feels really good in the hand.

The 'Axiom''s length is 14 cm and its section diameter is 1.1 cm, according to some cheap calipers I recently got at Canadian Tire for my pen reviews.

Now, let's look at a few of its features....
This elegant ballpoint pen was made in Japan and currently comes in Cherry Red, Cobalt Blue, Pearl White, Gloss Black and Matte Black (mine) colour options. Only the Matte Black model has a black nosecone, though; the rest have silver-coloured ones. I think this is what drew me to this particular pen, because I think it's a very cool, stealth-like look.

"PILOT JAPAN" is silk-screened in grey onto the back of the pen, just above the gripping area. There is no model name on the pen anywhere that I can see.

I love that the entire pen is brushed black metal, down to the clip and clicker; they could have made them polished black, but I'm glad they kept the finish consistent throughout the pen. The pen clips to a small sheaf of paper very well and the clicker is nice and bouncy---I own some ballpoints that require more pressure to engage their retracting mechanisms but, happily, this pen isn't one of them.

Here's the little cosmetic flaw that I mentioned at the start of my review--five short, thin lines (almost like tiny brushstrokes) of black paint-like material, at right angles to the clip. Actually, the fourth photo in this review shows the lines, as well
To see super-close-ups of the photos, left-click on a photo, then right-click & select "Open image in new tab" or "View image", then left-click on the image in the new tab).

I don't know if this flaw originated at the factory level or not (because the pen was sold as "used"), but the lines are barely noticeable and don't bother me at all. If the lines were scratches, that would bug me, but there's no actual damage to the metal. I could try to scrape the black stuff off, but I don't want to risk damaging the surface and creating a bigger cosmetic issue. As for the durability of the brushed metal material over time, I can't tell yet, but so far, so good..

I haven't read too many reviews for this model, so I thought I'd snap some photos of the so-called "traction dimples" (as some resellers, including Amazon, describe it) on the gripping area because...

...I took a good look at them (through a 30X loupe) and I couldn't find any dimples...but there were 99 tiny raised grey bumps (dots), so it's definitely not dimpled! That which is dimpled must have concavity (that sounds a bit like an axiom 😆), right?

The brushed metal body isn't slippery to hold, but the dots do provide a bit more traction (not nearly as much as the Faber-Castell 'Grip' ballpoint's more prominent bumps). I think the grey dot pattern looks really good against the matte black metal (and it imparts a modern/space age vibe to the pen), so even if they don't enhance the user's grip that much, the dots get style points from me.

It's certainly not a flaw, but Pilot could have made the profile of the pen (when its refill is extended) just a bit smoother; the paint-like drops on the barrel don't bug me, but I'm picky about stuff like that!

On the positive side, design-wise, the pen has two inner springs -- one inside the nosecone and another near the back of the barrel--that provide extra stability for the refill. The springs prevent that annoying side-to-side movement of the refill that some cheap pens have, and they also keep the refill from rattling around inside the barrel when it's retracted. Nice job, Pilot!

Now, here's why some people might balk at buying this really nice ballpoint--its refill. It's a short, odd-looking Pilot refill that says "PILOT BRFN-10M - JAPAN 2101" on it. The warranty card that came with the pen says:"Use of Pilot BCGR2 (Dr. Grip Center of Gravity) refills is recommended to ensure proper mechanical functioning of Pilot ball point pens."

I'd been looking for information on the type of blue ink inside the refill, and someone on Reddit said that it was the Pilot Acroball Hybrid ink. What is hybrid ink, you ask? Well, according to The Well-Appointed Desk blog, it's "a
modified ballpoint ink crossed with the newer gel inks to create a smoother, quick-drying ink made to be easier flowing while maintaining the waterproof characteristics." Other terms for this type of ink are "low-viscosity" or "emulsion" ink (there's a good guide to them on JetPens.com here; if you're a left-handed writer, this type of ink might be of special interest to you!)

The ink in my refill was a nice bright shade of blue and it didn't smear on the (non-glossy) paper I used. When I dropped some water onto the notes I'd written, the ink didn't run, either. Wow, smear-resistant and water-resistant--I'm impressed! (why did I not switch to using this type of ink much earlier?!?)

Back to the odd-looking short Pilot refill in my pen...When I bought the pen, I didn't realize it took a short refill (because it's not a short pen!) so I was a bit worried about finding refills for it, at some point down the road....BUT there is a hack! Keep reading...

Many thanks to the Redditor who posted that a Pentel 'Energel' rollerball refill (the top refill in the photo above) could be cut down and used in the Pilot 'Axiom! I haven't done this yet, but the Pentel refill does fit perfectly inside the Pilot's nosecone. I also tried a Uniball 'Signo' refill in it, but it wouldn't fit, and neither would a Pilot 'G2' refill (go figure). I'll hang onto the original 'Axiom' refill when it runs out because it has a little plastic cap (on its open end) that I'll put on the Pentel refill after I trim it down.

Ok, I just found a different Reddit post
where someone hacked a Uniball 'Jetstream' refill to fit a Pilot 'Axiom', so that looks like another option. I don't think the Pentel 'Energel' refill is currently available with hybrid ink, but the Uniball 'Jetstream' refill is.

In summary: I highly recommend this pen! The Pilot 'Axiom' is a sturdy, stylish, well-made ballpoint with a nice heft to it. It's well-balanced in the hand, comfortable to hold and use...and it comes with a wonderful hybrid ink! I think it's a great everyday writing instrument, but it also wouldn't look out of place in a more formal office setting.

(Photos & review by Maja)

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 378

Aren't second chances wonderful? In this case, it was my second chance at acquiring a discontinued pen that I'd passed on, a long time ago...

I first spotted the pen at Nikaido
quite a few years ago, but didn't buy it because of its smaller size (and the fact that I had my eyes on so many other pens in their wonderful store!). In the ensuing years, I acquired several other pens made by the same company and enjoyed their nibs, so I decided to look for the pen on which I'd passed. Unfortunately, it was sold out at Nikaido ... and discontinued by the manufacturer. Happily, one of my fellow Vancouver Pen Club members (Melissa) decided to sell hers a few weeks ago. I had some birthday money left over from my Dad, so I jumped at the chance to finally acquire it.

And here it is --my new Online "Highway of Writing" fountain pen:

(please click on photos to enlarge)

The Online writing instrument company was founded in 1991 and according to their official website, their headquarters are located in Neumarkt, Germany (which is about 35 kilometers SE of Nuremberg, where Kaweco writing instruments are made). I'm not sure when this model was released, but it appears in the 2010 Goldspot Pens catalog
as a "new" product.

The 'Highway of Writing' model came in multiple writing forms (fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint) and in several attractive colours -- Red, Ivory, Blackberry (dark purple), Raspberry (light pink), Peppermint (mint green)-- as well as Black. The retail prices in 2010 were: $48 USD for the fountain pen, $46 for the rollerball and $42 for the ballpoint.

The pen came in a sleek metal box with the manufacturer's name, model name and a retro-styled illustration of a stylish young woman riding a Vespa --with the Eiffel Tower in the background-- on it. The 2010 Goldspot catalog showed two different metal boxes with the pens -- one with an illustration of a vintage car (a Chevrolet?) on it, and the other with an abstract geometric design. I don't know if my pen's box was part of the original packaging lineup or not, but it looks cool and fits the nostalgic theme well.

I've heard some people say that the pen's design was inspired by classic vintage American cars. I did some digging and found a red 1952 Chevrolet Bel Air that definitely reminded me of my pen.

After I posted this review, Stuart mentioned that the pen's design was even more reminiscent of the "fleetback"-bodied automobiles of that era. I found an ad for one such car--a 1949 Chevrolet 'Fleetline' DeLuxe 4 door sedan...

..and I think Stuart's right!

The weight of this small, all-metal pen (with no cartridge/converter in place) is 19 grams, with the cap accounting for 10.6 grams of the total weight.
Because of its metal barrel, the pen would not be a good candidate for conversion to an eyedropper-filler. The pen takes short international ink cartridges, but will also accept the Kaweco mini converters that fit in Kaweco's 'Sport' fountain pens. I tried both styles of Kaweco mini converters (the piston type and the squeeze type) in my Online pen, and they both fit perfectly.

It's definitely a smaller pen -- 12 cm long capped, 10.1 cm uncapped (nib tip to barrel end) and about 12.7 cm posted -- but it feels sturdy and substantial in the hand...

The metal section is subtly flared and goes from 0.9 cm (nearest the nib) to 1.0 cm in width at the section threads. The maximum barrel width is around 1.1 cm.

I find the pen far too short to use unposted, so I always use it posted. I actually find it very comfortable to use that way--the cap posts securely and
doesn't make the pen as unbalanced as it would if it had a longer barrel. I like to use the pen with my fingers gripping it just above the section threads. When held this way, the cap rests comfortably between my thumb and index finger, and feels well-balanced.

The metal rocker clip is very shiny and complements the bright, glossy red of the pen's lacquered metal body.
The pen's thin metal trim rings are equally shiny, and I love how the cap ring comes together with the barrel ring when the cap is screwed on (shown above). Those two rings at the cap end are balanced by a matching metal ring at the barrel end (not shown). You can't see it in this photo, but there's a thin raised line running down the top part of the clip that reminds me of the decorative chrome trim on classic cars from the 1950s. I love those little stylistic touches.

As for functionality, the c
lip attaches securely to fabrics and papers, but it is on the tight side. I find the pen to be more suitable as a true pocket pen, though, as opposed to one that you'd clip onto a shirt pocket.

The ONLINE company name is discreetly silk-screened onto the back of the cap. The cap screws onto the barrel tightly, and I've had no drying-out issues with the nib at all since I acquired the pen.

My pen came with a single-tone steel 1.4mm italic nib, which writes smoothly. It's a great nib width for signing documents or writing out greeting cards, but my smallish handwriting requires a narrower nib so I switched it out with another Online nib and feed of the same type. It's now one of my favourite everyday writers.


All in all, I'm extremely happy with my purchase. It's a great little German-made pen -- stylish, well-made, and fun to use. Many thanks to Melissa for selling the pen to me, and to my Dad for the birthday money!

(photos and review by Maja)

Friday, May 27, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 377

Here's a special treat - a lovely fountain pen belonging to Candice that was made by a manufacturer we haven't featured before on our website. The company was founded in Paris in 1847, and is well-known for its jewelry and timepieces....and its iconic red box.


Read on!

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

Candice: "This is a Cartier Vendôme fountain pen that belonged to my parents, dating from the 80s. The nib is unmarked but is either 14 or 18k and the body is gold plated with a barley grain texture. It has a very unusual cartridge loading tray and takes equally unusual cartridges which are available at some Cartier boutiques still. The tray can be pulled out from the back end of the pen by hooking a nail into a tiny groove at the end and pulling the cover open. The cartridge goes into the tray and then the tray and cover are pushed back into the pen, opening the cartridge and loading the pen with ink."

"Definitely a pocket pen at just under 4 inches uncapped, with a cap that doesn't post on the back of the pen. The cap has a clip on it that stays retracted unless the top of the cap is pushed in. Since the pen shape is so unusual, the usability of this pen really depends on the personal taste of the writer and it would probably be too small and narrow to write with for most people, though the weight helps. It's quite a strange flattened shape to write with, the same shape as the cartridge, but has a substantial weight to it since it's mostly metal aside from the glued-in plastic section. I believe the pen design was meant to match a lighter that Cartier was selling at the time.

The nib is meant to be rotatable with a plastic wheel that was in the original box, but mine is lost to time. It wouldn't be hard to insert something into the hole at the back of the nib and turn it that way. As for the nib itself, mine had to be bent back into shape somewhat but now writes smoothly. It also reverse writes nicely."

"For pocket pen fans this is a unique piece that has a lot of hidden details in it-the spring loaded clip, the strange but oddly satisfying tray and the rotatable nib.
Worth looking into if you like small pens and want to make a bit of a statement as it's rather flashy!"

Wow. Our thanks to Candice for sharing this small beauty with us!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 376

Continuing with vintage desk sets...

If this beautiful desk set belonging to Stuart looks familiar, it's because we featured its bigger sibling in this old post from October 2021!

(all photos courtesy of Stuart ~ please click on images to enlarge)
Stuart writes: "This is a lovely Eversharp desk set from the 40’s, with a simple but striking circular glass base, 4 1/2 inches round."

"The pen was probably re-sacced at some time - the nib looks to have been inserted further into the the section than usual."

"The pen functions fine, and is a nice smooth writer, as always with this brand."

 Many thanks to Stuart for sharing this great vintage find with us. We'll be featuring a modern fountain pen in tomorrow's post, so stay tuned :)

Monday, May 23, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 375

I always look forward to seeing what new vintage desk sets Stuart has acquired, so I was happy to get an email from him that started with "Here’s some shots of my new baby - another cool Parker Magnetix desk set!".  The Parker 'Magnetix' sets had pen holders that were held in place --but still able to swivel-- with the aid of a magnet in the base; there's a neat 1947 ad for a Parker 'Magnetix' desk set with a Parker '51' desk pen here. Without further ado, here's Stuart's own set!

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

Stuart continues: "The base is anodized black aluminum, with a brass centre band. There’s another version of this base that reverses the colour scheme."

"The main portions of the base are recessed trays, with the gold part raised up, so in profile it looks something like a compressed W: "
"The Magnetix socket on this one has been repaired - in the photo above, you can see epoxy that was applied to reattach the plastic socket to the magnetic steel ball. I don’t find it very noticeable; I might try and find an intact one some time."

 "The pen is the desk version of the Parker 51 Special, with a gold nib. It has a functional Aerometric filler, and writes a very smooth Medium or possibly Broad line, as shown in the writing sample. I’m dating the set as circa 1952-1956, based on my online research."

"A gold nib was added as an option to the 51 Special at some point after it was launched in 1950, and the blurb for Superchrome ink on the filler body was gone by 1957.

I’m very happy with this set, with its mid-century style and the great-writing pen! I love my Sheaffer sets, but these Magnetix Parkers are too cool to pass up."

The Parker 'Magnetix' sets came with different Parker desk pen models, as shown in this illustration by Fred Plewa that appeared in "Pen World" magazine. Our thanks, as always, to Stuart for sharing another wonderful vintage desk set with us!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 374

Back to vintage we go now, with one of Christopher's newest finds!

Christopher writes: "I do not think I have ever passed up an opportunity to score a Parker Vacumatic, since it remains one of my favourite fountain pens. Needless to say, when I ran across this exquisite Golden Pearl, double Jewel beauty, I just had to have it. One thing about Kenneth Parker was that he sure knew how to make Vacumatic pens, and the Pearl and gold finish on this particular Vacumatic is no less than brilliant and outstanding."

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

"The early 1940s were more or less the end of the double jewel Vacumatic pens and also, the matching jewels at either end were changed to jet, to the end of the Parker Vacumatic run. Still, the black does not in any way take away from the overall appearance, but in my view complements it. The fittings are 14K Gold filled and the cap sports the double rings, signifying that this model is a Junior. As for size, the Parker Vacumatic Junior mirrors the Parker Vacumatic Major with a overall length posted at 6 inches, but caps back to 5 inches. The style of Vacumatic filler is the middle of the road ‘Speedline’, with its long aluminum tube filler tube extended to be covered by an equally lengthy blind cap. Both the Cap and the barrel finish are rounded off by the finish on this blind cap which matches.

Returning to the cap again, it supports a vertical branded 14K Gold Parker arrow clip. Inside the cap, the grip section is black and holds a beautiful 14K Parker Vacumatic nib. This nib, I would have to say, writes with somewhat of a medium flex, not exactly common for Parker Vacumatic pens but ticks a box in my books.

Finally, the condition, once I restored and polished this pen, is very close to near mint, with a good deal of luster coming off the plastic. So am I moving this lovely into my collect? You be the judge!"

Christopher said that the background in the pen photo is a rare serigraph print of a 1931 Model J Duesenberg Tourster Ragtop, made using.a special process -- not just the usual printing with a 4 colours process, but with 16 colours, and then the print was both embossed and blind embossed to bring out the lines of the car. 

Our thanks to Christopher for sharing this classic vintage pen, and his serigraph of a classic vintage car with us!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 373

I've got a bit of an odd one for you today---it's a fountain pen that was described by its seller as "Old Stock OEM (unbrand) Triangular Solid Color Fountain Pen Fine Nib"  in this eBay auction. Two things drew me to pen - its appearance and its price :)

(click on images to enlarge)

I got it from eBay seller "office_supplies_pen" for less than $8 USD shipped ($4.99 + $2.90 shipping, to be exact) via a Buy-It-Now. At the time of my purchase, this mystery model was available in eight different colours -- red, blue, aquamarine, green, olive green, black, brown (mine) and clear -- but the aquamarine, green, olive green and clear ones are currently sold out at that seller's eBay store.

It's a clipless, triangular acrylic fountain pen that's light in the hand (17 grams with no converter in place) and light on the pocketbook, too. Yes, it looks like a poor man's OMAS 360 lol, but I think it looks pretty cool ...and for that price, why not???

Removing the snap-on cap reveals a clear section, black plastic feed and stainless steel nib...

The pen came with the twist converter shown above; I haven't tried it with any ink cartridges yet. Aside from some fancy scrollwork, the nib only has "Iridium Point" and "F" (for Fine) stamped on it - no manufacturer's name or logo.
The nib lays down a true Fine line and the pen is a consistent, if unremarkable, writer. It has a bit more tooth than I like, so I might smooth the nib out a bit.

Uncapped, the pen is approximately 13 cm long from nib tip to barrel end, and about 13.6 cm long capped.
The pen doesn't post, but I find it long enough to use unposted.

The grip section, like the body of the pen, is triangular and comfortable to hold. When the section is screwed onto the barrel, the sides of the section align with the sides of the barrel with a faint "click" sound. Similarly, the cap and barrel align when the pen is capped.

I'm not sure how to describe the acrylic, but you can see that it has a clear component and a reddish-brown component. I think that's called a double layer acrylic, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Whatever the correct term, the material looks very attractive. I like how its translucency obscures the converter inside, while still allowing some light to shine through the pen. The shade of brown is really nice and reminds me of the colour of black tea.

And then there's this odd-looking cap top (above)....

..and this triangular cutout on the bottom of the barrel...

I didn't realize why the manufacturer did that until I got another pen in the mail recently. Take a look at the cap top and barrel end of the Pelikan 'Twist' fountain pen I reviewed in the previous blog post:

What's that expression--- "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"?

(Note that t
he barrel ends of both pens are actually triangular shaped holes, so neither pen can be used as an eyedropper filler)

It's obviously trying to copy the Pelikan 'Twist'....but the no-name pen has a cool look to it already, so there really was no need for its maker to copy those small design features. I really like the no-name, but I don't regret paying an extra $20 CAD for my new Pelikan 'Twist fountain pen- it's a much better-made pen, and it comes with a very smooth Medium nib. Both are eye-catching fountain pens, though, and neither will break the bank. 

(photos & review by Maja)

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 372

When I was looking up info on the Pelikan Snap ballpoint I reviewed last week in Pelikan's 2021 International Catalog, I spotted a Pelikan Twist® (model P457) fountain pen in the lovely "Shine Mystic" material. The Twist model has been around since 2013 and I bought one at the L.A. show in 2015, but I hadn't seen that particular finish before. The catalog said it was available "while supply lasts"... and when I checked Pelikan-collectibles.com, it said that this version came out in 2019. Fearing that it might sell out, I promptly ordered one from Amazon.ca for $28.06 CAD + $3.95 shipping. And here it is...

(please click on images to enlarge)

It arrived, safe and sound, from the UK in the lightweight cardboard box shown in my photos. Despite the box's no-frills appearance, I applaud Pelikan for choosing environmentally-friendly packaging for their less-expensive writing instruments. The pen (which was made in Germany) came with a Pelikan long international ink cartridge containing their Royal Blue ink.

It doesn't post but the 'Twist' fountain pen measures about 5 inches from nib tip to barrel end, so it's comfortable enough to use unposted. Capped, it measures approximately 5.5 inches. The total weight of the pen (when empty) is 19 grams.

(above: the Pelikan name and logo - adult pelican and chick - tastefully embossed on the barrel)

The pen is made of an shiny, iridescent plastic that changes colour depending on the light:
The chameleon-like properties of the plastic make it tough to capture in photos, so I had to shoot it from different angles.

The pen comes with a steel nib that's marked "M" (for Medium) and it looks exactly like the nib on the Pelikan 'ilo' (which I reviewed last week), but it lacks the Pelikan logo. The pen is a smooth writer and is compatible for both left and right handers. The grip section shape does give it a "school pen" kind of vibe, but I'd say the same thing for Lamy 'Safari'/'Al-Star' fountain pens...and they're used by nearly everyone :)

I like the reassuring "click" sound when you screw the section onto the barrel. Like the 'ilo' model, the 'Twist's' triangular grip section has an ergonomic design, but the 'Twist's' is made of black plastic (vs. rubber for the 'ilo') and has more pronounced contours that keep your fingers in the proper writing position (kind of like a molded racing car seat). The 'Twist' might be better than the 'ilo' for someone with large hands because its grip section is bigger, but both models are very comfortable to hold.

Both the cap and barrel have a twist design, but the pen's sides line up perfectly no matter how you put the friction-fit cap back on. Uncapping the pen might take some time getting used to because it caps very tightly, and you might think you're going to pull the pen apart when you're uncapping it... but you won't :)

(Above: Triangular cutout on the end of the pen's barrel and circular Pelikan logo on the top of the cap -- note that the cutout on the barrel end is really a triangular shaped hole, so the pen can't be used as an eyedropper filler)

All in all, I'd highly recommend this fountain pen to someone that wants a well-made, eye-catching writing instrument that's very comfy to hold and use for longer writing periods. The 'Twist' comes in a large variety of colours and finishes (over 30 to date!) with a variety of grip section colours. Love the design but you're not a fountain pen fan? The Twist also comes in rollerball form.

(photos & review by Maja)