Thursday, August 25, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 420

A few weeks ago, I sent in a mail-in coupon for a $30 CAD rebate for some prescription contact lenses I bought. I was expecting the rebate to arrive via cheque, but it came in the form of a pre-paid Mastercard -- interesting! I knew there was a charge associated with using the card at a brick & mortar store, so I used it to buy myself an gift card and, subsequently (ie. one minute later, heh), used it to buy myself a new pen I'd been eyeing. Happily, the rebate almost fully covered the cost of the pen.

But enough background about my purchase...Meet my new Parker 'Vector XL' fountain pen!

(please click on images to enlarge)

Part 1: How are these two pens even related???
The Parker 'XL' arrived from an Austrian seller in the black cardboard Parker presentation box above (which had a protective cardboard sleeve, partially shown in the photo). The model currently comes in five different matte finishes--Metallic Black, Metallic Silver-Blue, Metallic Teal, Metallic Lilac and Metallic Green (the colour of my pen, which is a "sage green' shade). If you're not into fountain pens, the 'Vector XL' also comes in rollerball form in the same five finishes.

The standard-sized Parker 'Vector' fountain pen came out in 1984 (the rollerball came out a few years earlier) and became a very popular student/starter fountain pen. It was made in both the US and UK and is still in production today (since the closing of the UK plant, production of the pen switched to China and India). The pen came in a large variety of colours and designs---including some special editions--- and was available virtually everywhere (I remember buying one at a local Pharmasave).
Here's a standard-sized 'Vector' (the black pen below):

The pen I'm reviewing today--the Parker 'Vector XL' (the green pen) -- came out in 2021. As you can see, it's wider in diameter (11mm vs 10mm ) and slightly longer when capped (13.4 cm vs 13.1 cm) than the black standard-sized Parker 'Vector' in my photos.

The posted length of the two models is nearly identical (15.6 cm for the 'Vector XL' vs.15.4 cm for the standard 'Vector')....

...but the uncapped 'Vector XL' body is longer (12.3 cm vs 11.4 cm, from nib tip to barrel end).

Unlike the Parker 'Jotter' and 'Jotter XL' ballpoints (which look like a regular model and its oversized counterpart), the two fountain pens above are completely different in appearance, from top to bottom! The 'Vector XL' is a cylindrical metal-bodied pen with a matte finish, whereas the 'Vector' has a cylindrical, shiny plastic body with a narrow metal barrel end. Their caps and clips have different designs, and their sections are shaped differently and made of different materials -- opaque plastic for the 'Vector XL' and brushed steel for the 'Vector'.

Because it has more metal parts, the 'Vector XL' is much heavier than the ultra-light 'Vector'--19.2 grams vs. 9.4 grams (with no converters/cartridges inside either pen). In terms of maximum section diameter, the 'Vector XL's is around 11.3mm, while the standard 'Vector's is about 8.6mm (my measurements).

The differences in these models extend to their stainless steel nibs, as well; the 'Vector XL's is a traditional-looking, #5-sized open nib, while the 'Vector' nib is almost triangular in shape and considerably smaller. Both nibs have the Parker name engraved on them, but the 'XL' nib has a large "X" engraved at the end of its nib slit.

The 'XL' comes in only two nib options (Fine or Medium), but the standard 'Vector' comes in a larger variety of nib widths, as it's also available as a calligraphy kit containing three italic nibs (fine, medium and broad---I'm not sure of their nib widths, though).

As for filling systems, those are (not surprisingly) the same - both models take Parker's proprietary ink cartridges and/or Parker's proprietary converters (I believe Aurora's cartridges/converters might work in these pens, as well).

Part 2: You know how some people look more like their cousins than their own siblings??

When I showed my new Parker 'Vector XL' to my fellow pen club members at our in-person meeting last week, Jerred commented on its similarity to the Waterman 'Graduate' fountain pen. I'm a huge fan of the 'Graduate' (and its sibling - the Waterman 'Allure' -- both of which I've reviewed on this blog) but I just got my 'Vector XL' the day of our meeting, so I didn't notice this similarity until I looked at the pens side-by-side when I got home....and I was stunned to see that Jerred was 100% correct: (Above: Parker 'Vector XL' in Metallic Green & Waterman 'Graduate' in brushed stainless steel)

Aside from their clips, they look like the same model...

...and, in fact, you can swap their caps and barrels around (and they fit together perfectly)!

Their nibs (and feeds--not shown) look exactly alike, except for their nib engravings. In addition, both sections are made of plastic and share the same design, although the Waterman 'Graduate' (and 'Allure') section is solid black, while the Parker 'Vector XL' section is opaque and matches the colour of the pen body.

(Above: the cap finials are also the same, aside from the Parker logo on the 'Vector XL' at left)

Late side note: I just noticed that the Waterman 'Graduate' has a black disc on the bottom of its barrel, but the Parker 'Vector XL' does not. The Waterman 'Allure' (which is the same pen as the 'Graduate' but in coloured finishes) also lacks this barrel disc, so it's actually even more similar in appearance to the Parker 'Vector XL' than the 'Graduate'!

Now, before you start screaming [TWSBI]"Copyright infringement!!" [/TWSBI]😆, you should know that Parker and Waterman are both owned by Newell Brands, so there's no copyright infringement going on here. I love all of these look-alike pen models, and they all write extremely well out of the box (none required any tuning/adjustments), so it's toss-up for me as to which one I like the most.

If you are trying to decide which one to buy, you might want to keep in mind that
the Parker 'Vector XL'  takes Parker's proprietary ink cartridges/ink converters, whereas the Waterman 'Graduate' (and 'Allure') take standard international ink cartridges/converters. Currently, only the Waterman 'Graduate' comes as a brushed stainless steel (also known as "flighter") model.

Final thoughts:
I hope this review wasn't too confusing, with me comparing my new Parker 'Vector XL' to the original 'Vector', and then to the Waterman 'Graduate'/'Allure' models that it so closely resembles. The 'Vector XL' is a smooth writer and a very reasonably-priced fountain pen. I love writing with mine and would choose it over the standard 'Parker Vector' in a heartbeat
, because I think it's more durable, and a better-made pen than the current production 'Vector' fountain pens.

If you prefer very narrow fountain pens, however, you might prefer the standard 'Vector' better. In terms of colour choices and forms, the standard 'Vector' comes in a much wider variety of designs and colours than the 'Vector XL', and is available in three forms (fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint) vs. just two (fountain pen and rollerball) for the 'Vector XL'.

As for availability, the 'Vector XL' seems to be only available (online, at least) from European online retailers, either through their own websites or via their Amazon stores. The standard 'Vector' is
available pretty much everywhere.

(photos & review by Maja)

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 419

As promised in the last blog post, here's Christopher's review of that vintage handsome Parker set he brought to our August in-person meeting!

Christopher writes: "For years, I have been after an early Parker Chinese Red Duofold Senior set. With the massive number that the Parker company produced over an eight year period, before redesigning the model to a streamlined version, you would think that such a pen set would be easily acquired. Still, the truth of the matter is that just isn’t so. Especially if you want a set in exceptional condition. Saying that, I was turning over stones the other day when I walked into a local vintage haunt and walked out with just what the doctor ordered.

The set I acquired was an early 1923 Canadian fountain pen, with the very large barrel imprinting indicating that this was a Canadian Parker pen originally sold in Toronto. But the matching pencil was definitely from a few years later, in that Parker never made an oversized Chinese Red Senior Duofold mechanical pencil until 1924. The set I bought also came with a plastic package of Eagle leads and a neat little matching celluloid key chain traveling ink container."

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

 "The Duofold Chinese Red Senor was a pen that Parker developed based on the Parker Jack Knife 25 and quite a large pen indeed. Originally when released in 1921, it did not come with a cap band or girdle as Parker originally called it, but in 1923 Parker offered a 14K solid gold or gold filled -- either thin or a bit wider-- cap band. You could also get this band raised in a groove om the cap or flat to the surface. In my case, the cap band is the solid 14K gold raised one and very attractive. One thing I liked about this set was that it was hardly used, and when I took apart the fountain pen to service it, the Parker Lucky Curve feed, made famous on their earlier Jack Knife model, was totally intact. More often these Lucky Curve feeds are cut off at the inside end, to make servicing easier. I was also surprised that the barrel took such a large sized No.22 rubber sack . But better still, the Parker button filler works very responsibly .

 If there is one thing about pen collecting that is true, with a bit of patience and a good deal of tenacity, all pens wanted will end up in your collection. Needless to say, this set will be well used."


Christopher, thank you for sharing this wonderful vintage set and its history with us! Congratulations on another great find :)

Friday, August 19, 2022

A few photos from our August 18, 2022 in-person meeting!

Many thanks to everyone who turned out for our first in-person meeting since February 2020! It was great to see so many familiar faces (even behind your masks :) We had 14 members in attendance, and I think a very good time was had by all. In fact, in all the excitement, I forgot to get a group shot of us.... but I did snap some photos of what our members brought. Enjoy!

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

(Above) Just some of the pens and inks we saw on Thursday night at the Vancouver Public Library's Kitsilano branch meeting room. Our meeting topic/theme was "Newest Acquisitions", but because our club hadn't had an in-person meeting in over two years, some members brought a mixture of very recent purchases and older acquisitions for us to see, which was great!

Nathan brought some amazing fountain pens he purchased, including a couple of platinum fountain pens he later anodized himself, and some KWZ sheening inks (in the lower left of the photo) for us to sample (thanks, Nathan!) Kelley also brought some really nice fountain pens for us to see -- her Lamy 'Al-Star' in "Pacific Blue", a black Pilot 'Falcon', an orange Noodler's 'Nib Creaper' and a gorgeous Benu 'Euphoria' "French Poetry" fountain pen (all in the pic's lower right quadrant). The grey marbled pen next to her Lamy is a vintage Parker 'Challenger' that Kelley bought from Christopher, who brought an assortment of vintage fountain pens (the ones with the price tags on them :) to sell.

(Above) Stuart's beautiful Montblanc 'StarWalker Doué' fountain pen that he bought at the Vancouver Pen Shop's annual sale in the Fall of 2020. Every October, the Pen Shop has a month-long anniversary sale with reduced prices for almost all of the brands they carry, so start saving your pen money now!

(Above) The handsome Pelikan M605 Streseman fountain pen that Joie brought to our meeting.

If you're reading this and would like to attend the Vancouver 2022 Pelikan Hub, make sure you register at before August 21, 2022. This isn't a Vancouver Pen Club event, but I'm sure a lot of our club members will be there.

(Above) Rene's gorgeous vintage Parker 'Moderne'/'Duette Jr' fountain pen in the amazing "Bronze and Blue" celluloid. Rene also showed us many more great vintage pens, including two large Eclipse flat tops, some Parker 'Vacumatics' and more. We saw a lot of vintage Parkers (belonging to several different members) at the meeting, which attests to their enduring popularity among vintage pen fans.

(Above) Stuart's 1948 Parker '51' Aerometric "Magnetix" desk set (reviewed by Stuart here), which positively glows! Photos cannot do this beautiful vintage desk set justice.

(Above): The wonderful Robert Oster "Australian Shiraz" ink I got from Alejandra (thanks, Alejandra!), and a brand-new Pilot 'Lightive' fountain pen that Stuart bought earlier this week at the Vancouver Pen Shop. From what I've read, the 'Lightive' appears to be the same model as the Pilot 'Explorer', but with a better inner-cap design to prevent the pen from drying out.

(Above) Last, but certainly not least, Christopher's vintage Parker 'Duofold' "Big Red" fountain pen and mechanical pencil that he acquired recently. We'll post Christopher's full review of this set on Sunday, so watch this space...

I was so excited to see everyone that I forgot to take more photos, including any of my own pens (lol) or Jerred's, but happily, the majority of the pens we brought were reviewed by Jerred and myself on this blog already. Jerred brought the highlights from his "pandemic era" Delta acquisitions, including his newest Delta fountain pen --a sterling silver Delta 'Prestige' with a guilloche pattern.

Trevor showed us his brand-new silver-plated Parker '95' ballpoint in the elegant "Filet
é'" pattern (purchased the day of our meeting), and a couple of cool Lamy 'Vista' rollerball clones that take fountain pen ink (a piston-filler version + a C/C version) that he got from fellow VPCer Steve. Julienne brought along all the wonderful fountain pens she purchased during the pandemic, including some beautiful Narwhals (including two 'Nautilus' models), a handmade London Pen Company fountain pen, and a couple of amazing Pilots, including one urushi model (if I recall correctly).

Alejandra and Nox brought both modern (Nox's Rotring 600 mechanical pencil, Alejandra's Charles Lethaby 'ION' fountain pen) and vintage writing instruments to our meeting. The latter included some vintage treasures Alejandra found at a local antique store --a Wahl-Eversharp 'Skyline' and a 1970s Pelikan '120'. Peter showed us his own vintage treasure---a black hard rubber Waterman '52' fountain pen that he bought from fellow VPC member Mark (Peter said that the Waterman had one of the most flexible nibs he's ever tried). Ben showed a lot more restraint than any of us, with regard to pen-buying during the pandemic, as he didn't have any new acquisitions (Bravo, Ben!) but he did show us his current daily users - a TWSBI and his trusty Muji fountain pen. 

P.S. Many thanks to Trevor for the wooden pencils he gave away at the meeting! :)

~ Information about future in-person monthly meetings (including location, which may or may not be the VPL Kitsilano branch) will be posted on this blog, and will also appear in the blog header ~

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 418

I initially had my eye on its smaller cousin -- the "Columbia" model, introduced in 2004 -- and then its siblings (which included the "Nobile" and the 2004 Pentrace LE), but I finally decided to buy this particular model after Jerred bought one in 2020 :)

Here's my new Filcao 'Atlantica' in "Lapis" fountain pen:

(please click on images to enlarge)

I got it via eBay and paid $79.00 USD + $20 shipping from Italy for it. In the eBay description, the seller said that this was the last one in this colour that they were selling, so I jumped at the chance to buy it. This model came out in 2010 in limited numbers and Filcao (a small, family-owned Italian pen company) went out of business in 2014 after its founder passed away so, sadly, you won't see more being produced.

Jerred did a really nice review of his 'Atlantica' here, so I won't repeat what he said, but I wanted to say a few words about the pen's filling system--a button-filling system --because it's rarely used in modern fountain pens (note: as Jerred pointed out in his review, some 'Atlantica' pens came with a pneumatic filling system; I believe these came out after the button-fillers).

The button-filling mechanism is fairly simple to use -- you unscrew the blind cap at the end of the barrel, press on the metal "filler button", fully immerse the nib in bottled ink, release the pressure on the button, wait 10 seconds (with the nib still immersed in the ink), remove the pen from the ink bottle, wipe the nib off and replace the blind cap.

So how does it work? Pressing on the filler button causes a thin piece of metal inside the barrel to bend and compress a rubber ink sack that's also inside the barrel; when you release the pressure on the button, the sack reinflates and air (or ink - if the nib is immersed in ink) is sucked inside the sack. Now, to flush the pen of ink, simply put the nib end in water (or pen flush) and press on the filler button to fill and expel liquid from the ink sack.
Of course, rubber ink sacs don't last forever---they will harden over time--but thankfully, they are still being produced.

According to the eBay seller, every Filcao pen is handmade made from a solid barrel of celluloid. The material is really nice and in bright sunshine, the yellow flecks actually sparkle.

The material was described in a review by Pentrace's Len Provisor as a "high luster celluloid (acetate) in an exclusive FILCAO dark Lapis Blue pattern with golden speckle embedments". It reminds me of the material used in some of my beloved Signum 'Orione' fountain pens (which are also made in Italy).

My pen came with a Medium stainless steel Schmidt nib which writes smoothly. I really like the way Schmidt steel nibs write--the Benu pen company uses them in their pens and all of my Benu pens are very smooth writers. The Filcao is a very comfortable, "chunkier" pen to hold and use and I'm really got it, after waiting so many years!

Note: There was a fancier version of the 'Atlantica' called the 'Atlantica Oro' that came with a 18K gold Schmidt nib, a
gold plated clip and a solid 8K (.333) gold cap band with a Greek Key design on it. The regular 'Atlantica' model--the one reviewed here-- has rhodium-plated trim and a sterling silver cap band with "FILCAO - ITALIA" and a flattened circle with "925" (signifying Sterling Silver) engraved on it.

This is another item I got very recently--a Sheaffer full-grain leather double pen case (pouch). I paid $38.39 CAD for it via, but the prices there change all the time; right now, the double-pen case is $40 with free shipping and the single-pen case is $60 +$15 for domestic shipping. Weird.

I first saw Sheaffer's leather pen cases at Perks pen store many years ago, but I didn't buy one because I was more focused on acquiring the new Sheaffer pen models that came out around the same time. When I saw the pen case on Amazon recently, I finally decided to buy it because I'm a huge Sheaffer fan and I liked the Sheaffer logo rivet on the pen case flap. The logo is a reference to Sheaffer's famous "white dot" (signifying a lifetime guarantee) that Sheaffer put on some of their pens, starting in 1924. All modern Sheaffers have a white dot on them, but it's just a design feature and doesn't signify a lifetime guarantee.

It's advertised as a double pen pouch and it can hold my Lamy 'Safari' and Pilot 'Metropolitan' fountain pens (above), but keep in mind that the case has no divider. I tried putting two large pens inside, but they wouldn't fit, so I'd say this pen case was more of a "1.5 pen case" rather than a double-pen case (unless you put two skinny pens inside).

I love the pen case's lining with the Sheaffer name and logo on it-- very cool...

A word about that Sheaffer logo flap rivet: As much as I like this decorative rivet, it can make tucking the flap under the loop a bit challenging if the pens inside the case fit snugly. If you have two skinny pens inside or just one large pen inside, it's not a problem. The only issue I have with the latter scenario (and it's just an aesthetic one) is that when you have just one large pen inside it, the pen case loses its shape (ie. part of the case looks like it collapsed). I mentioned in an earlier review how I don't like "floppy" leather pen cases, so it kind of bugs me, but this kind of thing might not matter to you at all. I just mentioned it because I like to be thorough ;)

(This photo makes the Filcao pen look tiny next to the Sheaffer pen case, but in reality, they are almost the same length -- the Filcao is about 14 cm capped and the pen case is about 15.5 cm long closed)

My thanks to Jerred for the inspiration to (finally) buy this lovely pen, and a bigger "thank you" to him for all the pen reviews and beautiful photos he sent in for our virtual "show & tell!

(photos and review by Maja)

We're having an in-person meeting tomorrow (Thursday August 18th) so my own virtual "show & tell" reviews are going to slow down considerably since my fellow VPCers will be able to see my new acquisitions in person. This is my 118th review and my camera (and brain lol) needs a rest.

Many thanks to everyone in our pen club who sent in reviews and photos for our virtual "show & tell" in the last two years--please feel free to keep sending in your reviews and I'll post them here--and thank you to everyone who left nice comments about them.


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Don't forget -- In-person meeting this Thursday!

We're having our first in-person meeting in two years this Thursday (August 18th) at the Kitsilano branch of the Vancouver Public Library from 6:00-8:30pm!

All details here:

Monday, August 15, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 417

A week or so ago, I reviewed a gorgeous ballpoint that's part of Cross' travel-inspired "Wanderlust" series - the "Everest". Today's featured acquisition is another pen from that line...

(please click on images to enlarge)

(yes, it's from one of my favourite online stores ;)

...and here it is - my Cross "Wanderlust' "Malta" fountain pen!

I got it for $90.80 CAD including free shipping from's Warehouse Deals department where it was listed as being in "Used - Very Good" condition. defines this as: "A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item and its instructions are complete and undamaged, but may show some signs of wear. The item works perfectly." I couldn't find any damage to it (and I did check) and the cheapest price I could find for a new one online is the equivalent of $135 CAD shipped, so I think I got a good deal.

This pen's design was, of course, inspired by the tiny island country of Malta, located just 80 km off the southern coast of Sicily. I looked up the size of Malta and was surprised to see that its total land area is exactly that of Surrey's. Wow, that's a lot of beauty packed into one small area! (I'm referring to Malta lol).

It's a beautiful, slender metal fountain pen that's modeled after the Cross 'Century II' line of writing instruments, which are slimmer than the Cross 'Townsend' line but girthier than the Cross 'Century' line.

The pen's finish is white lacquer with gold-plated engravings against a swirly dark and light blue background with caramel-coloured edges that evoke the shoreline and
beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea that surrounds Malta. Like the "Everest" ballpoint, this finish is made using "a patented design process (that) layers patterned elements and metallic engravings into white lacquer." (from

The pen is 13.5 cm long capped, 12.3 cm uncapped and 15.8 cm posted (my measurements). I find it well-balanced when posted, and I really like using the pen because of this and's pretty 🥰

It weighs 22.2 grams (empty), with the cap accounting for 9.3 grams of its total weight. It's a slim pen, with a maximum barrel diameter of 10 mm and a max. section diameter of 9 mm, but I don't find it too slim (possibly because it's so well-balanced and has a bit of heft to it).

The material reminds me of aerial photos of tropical islands, kind of like my Benu "Euphoria' "Bora Bora" fountain pen :)

The pen's shiny trim is gold-plated and complements the colours of the design beautifully. I like the simple elegance of the pen, from its gracefully-curved clip to the unfussy, dished finial which adorns the top of its cap.

Above: The cap finial is gently sloped and is topped with a small, shallow indentation with a black circle in the middle. Encircling the lower part of the finial is a black groove. A neat, clean design that's instantly recognizable.

The nib is a gold-plated steel nib in Fine with a lovely engraving of a lion's head above "1846" (the year Cross was founded), "USA", "F" and "CROSS".

I'm a big fan of Cross' steel nibs and this one did not disappoint. It lays down a smooth, wet, consistent line that's somewhere between a Fine and a Medium (actually, much closer to a Medium). When I saw the pen in the Warehouse Deals department, I was hoping that it had a Medium nib---my preferred nib width-- but the description said it was a Fine. I ordered it anyway because I was counting on my good track record with Cross steel nibs. I'm really pleased with the way the Fine nib writes, and I'm so glad I didn't wait for a bargain-priced version in Medium to come along!

The pen fills via Cross' proprietary ink converter or Cross' proprietary ink cartridges. The pen didn't come with a converter, but it did come with two Cross black ink cartridges inside a nice Cross envelope. As an aside, the packaging for this fountain pen is very classy; the only drawback I've found with Amazon Warehouse Deals is that they slap a big "Inspected" sticker on the packaging, and it can be difficult to remove without damaging the packaging if it's made of cardboard.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this gorgeous fountain pen --both in its appearance and its writing performance-- and I hope to add to my small Cross "Wanderlust" writing instrument collection in the near future!

(photos & review by Maja)

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 416

Better late than never! Meet my PenBBS '355' (improved version) "Misty Mountain" fountain pen, which I got almost exactly two years ago:

(please click on images to enlarge)

The pen fills via a very interesting ink-filling system-- it uses a bulk-filling mechanism. It's a clever system, but some buyers of the original version of the pen had problems using it, so PenBBS revamped the mechanism and released the new and improved version of the pen in 2020. This newer version of the pen is the one being reviewed today (and I talk a lot more about its bulk-filling system at the end of this post).

The filling system bears a strong similarity to (some say "ripoff of") the filling system used by the CONID (I nearly wrote "COVID" lol) Bulkfiller fountain pen. This kind of system, however, has been around since 1898. This is long before CONID came into existence (let alone the fact that CONID stopped taking orders in November 2019), so if you want buy the PenBBS '355' completely guilt-free ---and at a fraction of the CONID's price--- you can buy it online for less than $50 USD shipped. I paid $48.99 USD shipped for mine from PENBBSOfficialStore in Shanghai, China on

I'm a big fan of PenBBS fountain pens but I chose this particular acrylic because it shares its name with the Misty Mountains from 'The Hobbit' and the 'Lord of the Rings' books. The mountains are right in the center of this map and they're significant in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels because they were the ancient realm of the Dwarves (and featured prominently in "The Hobbit"--Bilbo found the One Ring there) and the site of Gandalf's
🧙 fateful battle against a Balrog 👹 in the the first "Lord of the Rings" book. Interestingly, there's another acrylic called "Smog" that the '355' comes in, and the name made me think of 'Smaug', the famous dragon in "The Hobbit". Hmmmm....

Anyway, enough ruminating about Middle Earth ....Back to the pen!

"Misty Mountain" is a nearly-cylindrical (the barrel has a very subtle taper to it) demonstrator fountain pen made of clear acrylic with both light blue and darker blue swirls in it. I've seen photos of different examples of this model with the same resin, and I'm pretty certain that no two pens look exactly alike. I think that's very cool.

Some specs (from the seller's etsy page):
Length: 147mm
Cap Diameter: 15mm
Barrel Diameter: 14mm

The pen is 17.2 cm (nearly 7 inches) when posted, but
at 13.1 cm from nib tip to barrel end, it's not a small pen uncapped so I always use it unposted. The pen feels really good in the hand unposted, with a nice section diameter (12 mm at section threads, 11.5 mm just below the threads) and a nice weight to it (16 grams without the cap; 28 grams including cap). All in all, a very pleasant fountain pen to hold and use.

The cap band has "PENBBS" engraved on the front and "355" on the other side. I have a hard time remembering some pen model numbers, so I'm sure glad they put the model number on the cap band.

Aside from the fact that the pen's nib is two-tone, it's exactly the same nib that's on my PenBBS '352'. It has some nice scrollwork engraved on it, "PENBBS" & "SINCE 2005" in block letters and (below that) "F" & "China" in cursive. At the time I bought it, the pen was available with either an Extra-Fine or Fine nib, so I chose the Fine (there's now a Medium option available). The pen wrote very smoothly right out of the box and laid down a true Fine line.

The nib is a #6 size nib but it's a couple of mm shorter than a #6 Jowo or Bock nib. Normally this isn't a big issue, but the PenBBS cap doesn't have enough "head room" to accommodate these other nibs - something you might want to keep in mind should you be contemplating a nib swap.
The only replacement nib I've heard that fits in this pen without any modifications is a Platinum '3776 Century' nib (old-style--I'm not sure about the newer ones) but that's a pricey nib swap.

The double-ended-sword clip is simple but elegant-looking with its beveled edges, and it clips onto things securely, without being overly-tight. It's the same clip that's found on some other PENBBS models, like the '352', '456' and '480'.

I love that the same material was used throughout the pen, including the cap top. So pretty....

The top the cap is very gently sloped, whereas the bottom of the barrel isn't. Neither cap top nor barrel bottom have any ornamentation, which I think suits the simple look of the pen. Also, I like seeing all the inner parts of a demonstrator pen, so I prefer demonstrators that don't have a lot of unnecessary adornments on them. That's just my personal taste, though.


As mentioned earlier, the pen is a bulk-filler which, incidentally, isn't the same thing as a vacuum filler---vacuum fillers fill on the downstroke,whereas bulk-fillers fill on the upstroke. Basically, the bulk-filler filling method works like a medical syringe, but with a twist (literally!)...

I looked at some online photos of the older (unimproved) filling-system for this model and those pens had plastic blind cap threads vs. the metal ones (in the photo above) that the improved version has.

On their etsy sales page for this model, PenBBSOfficialStore states: "Please read the instructions before placing order." This kind of worried me before I ordered the pen because I thought the improved filling system was really complicated... but it's actually not. Here are those manufacturer's instructions for the improved version of the '355' that came with the pen (click image to see enlarged view):

Basically, you unscrew the blind cap (piston knob) at the end of the barrel, pull the metal piston rod up all the way, then turn the blind cap counter-clockwise to engage the rod with the threads on the piston head. Fill the pen by immersing the nib fully in bottled ink, then draw up the ink as you would with a syringe. Finally, turn the blind cap clockwise to disengage the rod from the piston head, push the rod all the way down (towards the nib end of the pen) and screw the blind cap back down. This last step should be done over a sink or with the nib wrapped in a tissue as a a bit of ink might come out.

Note: The pen has an ink shut-off valve that prevents ink in the barrel from getting to the nib and feed, which is handy if you're taking the pen with you on an airplane and want to avoid ink leaks due to pressure changes. The valve also helps prevent the ink from "burping" when the pen is in use. The two drawings on the very bottom of the instructions (ie. above the words "PENBBS 2020") show how this works.

There are several PenBBS models that use a vacuum-filling system, but as far as I know, only the '355' model and the '535' model (a Limited Edition made for the Year of the Ox) are bulk-fillers. The '535' is a longer, showier pen with a wavy body, a rose gold-coloured nib and matching trim, a fancy filial, and built-in rollstop made of labradorite stone. Very different than the '355' models!

Final thoughts: The '355' model comes in a large variety of colours (20 at last count), both demonstrator colours and solid colours. It's a big, handsome fountain pen with a large ink capacity (over 2.2 ml of ink ) that looks great, feels good in the hand, and fills easily.
Usually pens with mismatched nib and trim colour drive me crazy, but this one has silvery trim and a two-tone (silver- & gold-coloured) nib, so it doesn't really bother me. In fact, there might be a reason for adding a bit of gold colour to the pen:

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

(excerpt from "Thorin's Song" in the novel "The Hobbit")


(photos & review by Maja)

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 415

In our last blog post, we featured a birthday gift Christopher recently got from his wife Chris--a special Parker gift box in which Christopher is now storing some of the jewels of his vintage Parker writing instrument collection. One of those fountain pens is the one we're featuring today...

Christopher writes: "Originally in my early vintage pen collecting days, I was not one for black pens. Just too ‘Plain Jane’ for me. But in time, I grew to like the smartly finished jet back colour. Let’s just say it grew on me! With this in mind, I expanded my collection to include some really nice examples in black. More recently, I ran across a jet black Parker Vacumatic, double jeweled and in superb condition. Still, with old dried up ink in the barrel, it was impossible to see any transparency. So, the pen had to come apart but, once rinsed out thoroughly, I was astounded to find that it was in fact the somewhat rare barrel with the black transparent longitudinal windows."

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

He continues: "The pen holds a Parker‘ Speedline Vacumatic filler’ at the end of its barrel. This filler resides well buried under a long black jeweled blind cap with a 14K Gold Filled tassie. At the other end of the barrel, the grip section sports a Parker 14K Gold arrow nib, with generous flex. This nib is, in turn, covered with a cap having the double 14K Gold Filled Junior model rings. At the top of this cap is the typical Parker arrow clip with the wide feathered ends. To finish things off nicely, this clip is held in place with a brass clip screw covered with a matching black cap jewel.

Overall, this pen’s condition says it right and very well looked after prior to my involvement, may I add. It will now become part of the Parker Vacumatic division of my vintage pen collection and brought out from time to time to lovingly use."

What a great find! (you rarely see vintage Parker Vacs with those kind of windows, as Christopher pointed out). Well done, Christopher!