Monday, February 27, 2023

A Super-Serious Vintage Pen Collector's Log Book

Christopher's vintage pen log book (in which he documents all of his vintage pen-related acquisitions) --photo snapped while he was on vacation in Hawaii:
(photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 467

Aloha! Today's review is one that Christopher sent in during his Hawaiian vacation...

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

Christopher writes: "One of the nicest periods in the production of Parker Vacumatic fountain pens was the Third generation between 1942 and 1948 (1955 in Canada). Further streamlining in the overall design was achieved by dropping the second (blind cap) jewel and rounding off the blind cap in a very smart design finish. Although the very successful Speedline filler could have carried on, the Second World War -now in progress- made the use of aluminum questionable. So to offset this, Parker turned to the available plastic (Lucite) for a new Vacumatic filler depressor.

This particular Parker Vacumatic is the Standard model, identified by a triple cap banding and has a Jet black matching cap jewel. As with all standard size Vacumatics, the overall dimensions are quite impressive and second only to the Vacumatic Maxima. Otherwise, most of the other features follow the design of the past Vacumatics regarding this model.

The grip section is also a matching jet black and supports a 14k Gold flexy Parker arrow factory ‘Stubbed’ nib . It is my educated guess that this pen was a special order in its day.

Personally, I was so smitten with this fine writing instrument that I have taken it with us on our vacation in Hawaii, where I will be using it frequently!"

Many thanks to Christopher for his write-up & photo of this handsome vintage fountain pen!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 466

I was so happy when Lawrence sent in another installment of his thoughts on his favourite fountain-pen-and-ink matchups (or what he calls "Lavalife and pens"; ). This review (Part 4) continues on after part 1, part 2 and part 3...

Lawrence's review:

This is a fairly small group which only includes a handful of pens. This group I call "Purple Pleasures" (for reasons you'll see later on LOL). This ink/pen group is basically an "offshoot" of the Syrah group (i.e., the "grail group"), and was an "unintended byproduct" of my search for the perfect colour for my grail pens. This group was based on Montblanc's Lavender purple:

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

It's a very nice ink actually. And it goes on brilliant purple and dries nicely without losing too much of the colour (some inks tend to become "desaturated" as they dry). I got this ink while I waited for the Syrah. I got it knowing that this is definitely not burgundy, but just want to try to see how it looks (a part of me almost felt like I was having an "affair" of sorts, because I deviated from the original goal / "the one true path"..blah blah blah...basically I know I have "sinned" so there... LOL).

Most of my grail pens are black so they match well with it. But instead of the gothic vampire vibe, this gives me more of a "happy" Sesame Street's The Count vibe. Still good, but not too satisfying for me.

Because of my "hoarding" tendencies LOL, I, of course, have more than one purple/violet ink. The other one I got was J. Herbin's Poussiere de Lune. Most J. Herbin inks have this "faded" look, but this one is actually quite "saturated" (relatively speaking). I admit, I got this ink because of the name LOL (I know it's a silly reason to get an ink but whatever):

Although purples / violets look okay with most of my black pens, I have never really warmed up to them. It's like when stories portray people having affairs, it's usually like a side thing LOL. Anyway joking aside, although these colours are pretty good, they are sort of not quite the "nostalgia blue" nor are they the "grail/Syrah burgundy" group, so they are kind of stuck in the middle, and almost ignored. Until fate intervened....

On a shopping spree at Nikaido, I obtained an unusually coloured pen (at least for me it is). This is the Faber Castell Neo-slim olive green, which I lovingly named my "Tiki pen" (I have reviewed this pen before):

Because I have never had a pen of this colour before, I also decided to look for an ink to match it. Maja helped me find a good match using the colour wheel and I ended up with Kyo no oto sakuranezumi:

This ink was a great match for the Neo-slim. This ink has a similar consistency to my J. Herbin inks, and actually also has this "faded" look. Funnily enough, compared to Poussiere de Lune, it's even more faded. However after a few weeks of using this ink, I found that the Neo-slim, due to its unusual nib design, did not quite love this ink. It writes rather dry and suffers from "hard starts". It's quite a shame. However this incident renewed my interest in purple / violet inks again. Anyway, I discovered a few of my pens (in addition to the Neo-slim) that will occasionally work with this particular colour group from time to time.

My Waterman Elegance is one of these pens. I sort of got the idea from an online review of this pen using purple ink, so I tried it out and it's okay. However I do have another ink group that this pen is more suitable for (which I will talk about in future installments):

Another pen that I tried with this group is the Kaweco sport brass. I don't really feel anything for this particular colour match, but this pen happens to be a 1.3 stub and it shows off a really cool shading effect from the purple inks. The Montblanc Lavender Purple, in particular, looks great with this larger nib size:

My demonstrators of course will take whatever ink. The one the I have using purple is my TWSBI 580:

The only grail pen I have that ended up regularly sampling the purple is my Visconti Homo Sapiens 1.3 stub. Again, this also because of the stub nib and the way the purple inks look with thicker lines:

As for my Neo-slim, my match-making attempts did not pan out very well. It ended up leaving this group due to the problems it had with the nib drying up. However, there is a nice closure to this of this writing the Neo-slim is happily on a heavenly escapade with an Italian black ink named Leonardo (courtesy of Maja) LOL.

That's it for this group. 

Wow! Our thanks to Lawrence for another fun and informative review (and all the photos that accompanied it). Thank you for the kind words, Lawrence; I can't wait for the next installment :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Seeing red - February meeting report! (with lots of photos)

February's meeting was our second best-attended (31 is the record) --26 VPC members including seven brand-new members (Akemi, Gurmeet, Lisa, Luc, Mandy, Sally, and Syd -- a new record!) -- came to our meeting at the Kitsilano branch of the Vancouver Public Library on February 16th. I took lots of photos, so without further ado.....

(~please click on images to enlarge~)
Our meeting theme that night was "Your Favourite Red Fountain Pens and/or Red Inks" and we saw many wonderful examples, including these four Italian-made beauties (top to bottom): Jerred's Filcao 'Roxi' (reviewed by Jerred here),  Glenn's brand-new Leonardo 'Supernova' "Star Light", Jerred's modern Conklin 'Nozac' "Toledo Red" and his Delta 'Oblo' ("oblo" being the Italian word for "porthole").

Brand-new member Akemi brought a bright red Jinhao 'X450' and her uber-cool Benu 'Skull and Roses' "Red Rose" fountain pen for our meeting theme!

(From Benu's official website: "Inspired by one of the most popular motifs that represents the eternal struggle of good vs evil, the Red Rose fountain pen has been crafted in the dramatic red color.")

We also saw several very nice vintage fountain pens at our meeting, including this red Esterbrook 'SJ' model (photo above) belonging to Phil ...

We also saw a modern red Esterbrook fountain pen---Julienne's aptly-named Esterbrook 'Estie Oversize' "Sparkle"! Below it is her new London Pen Company 'Christopher 13' fountain pen, made by Sean Allott, a pen maker located in London, Ontario.

Sally--another brand-new VPC member---brought her own London Pen Company fountain pen to the meeting- a 'Christopher 14' model (which is the same length as the 'Christopher '13', but chunkier) in Jonathon Brooks' amazing "Primary Manipulation" resin. Sally's pen is shown sporting a custom (reground) nib.

Above: Julienne's London Pen Company pen next to a stylish burgundy Pilot 'Elite 95S' fountain pen belonging to new VPC member Mandy. The Pilot is a pocket pen, but when posted, becomes a full-sized pen.

Hadi's handsome Pilot 'Custom 845' (made of ebonite and coated with urushi lacquer) which he purchased in Japan...

Rene brought a multitude of red fountain pens to show us, including this stunning Platinum ' 3776 Century Limited Edition - Kinshu" (which came out in 2021), and a vintage flat-top made of mottled red hard rubber.

More of Rene's red pens (top to bottom): a nice mottled red hard rubber vintage pen with a domed cap, a Jinhao '5000' dragon fountain pen, a mysterious hand-painted fountain pen marked "Secap" and "Made in Japan" that Rene found in Paris several years ago, a Kaweco 'Special Red' (part of Kaweco's 'Collection' line) and a vintage Parker '45'.

Alejandra's elegant Pilot 'Decimo', a slimmer version of Pilot's ever-popular 'Vanishing Point' model...

Above: Chris' Pilot 'Custom 74' "Wine Red" and his new Faber-Castell 'Ambition' "Rhombus" fountain pen

Chris' beautiful 'Platinum '3776 Century' "Bourgogne" and my brand-new Platinum '3776 Balance Maestro' in black below it...

They might look very similar but, unlike the '3776 Century' model, the lower-priced '3776 Balance Maestro' comes with a gold-plated steel nib and doesn't have Platinum's "Slip & Seal" cap closure mechanism to prevent the capped pen from drying out (I'll do a review of it in the near future, but I wanted to show it next to its "rich cousin" in this blog post!)

Peter's gorgeous Nakaya 'Long Cigar' Kuro-tamenuri fountain pen , handmade of urushi lacquer over ebonite. The pen has a double broad nib that was ground to a 0.8 mm stub---nice! (Peter actually did a video review of this beautiful fountain pen on his YouTube Channel a few years ago -- link)

Over time, the semi-transparent natural urushi lacquer matures and becomes more transparent, allowing the base layer colour (in this case, a deep red) to become visible --a wonderful, natural transformation...

Next to my new Jinhao 'X450' (top pen) is a Aurora 'Optima' in "Bordeaux" resin that I brought in for the meeting's primary theme (your favourite red fountain pens/inks). I bought the Aurora from a fellow Fountain Pen Network member in 2010, and it was probably the most I'd spent on a fountain pen up to that time. 
Although I have many red fountain pens, the Aurora is among my favourites because of its classic, timeless design... and its slightly-toothy 14K gold nib; Aurora makes their own fountain pen nibs and I've always liked writing with this pen because of the feedback you get from the nib. I forgot to bring it with me, but my favourite red ink is Robert Oster's "Australian Shiraz", a gift from my fellow VPCer Alejandra (thanks again, Alejandra! :)

We also saw some really nice red inks...and ink swatches! Our thanks go out to John for bringing in the swatches above; there's nothing like seeing how an ink looks on paper! (the way ink looks on a screen can be very different, as we all know :/

Anna was good enough to fill her new "Mint Blue" TWSBI 'Eco-T' (oops!) with Robert Oster 'Australian Syrah' ink, so I wrote a few words with it. As you can see, it's a lovely, rich colour...

Our secondary meeting theme is always "Newest Acquisitions" so I brought my new Jinhao 'X450' in spiral red lacquer, and my little orange and white Kaigelu '316 Mini' fountain pen (purchased from one of my favourite sellers on Etsy - 'esybuy')

More new acquisitions brought in by our members! (top to bottom): Jerred's brushed stainless steel Sheaffer 'Targa' with factory italic nib, an Italian-made syringe-filler owned by Rene, a Sheaffer Levenger 'Connaisseur' (not sure whose it is, but it's a very nice pen), and two eye-catching fountain pens recently acquired by John--- a cheery TWSBI 'Eco-T' "Saffron" and an iridescent TWSBI 'Diamond 580' "Iris".

More new pens - (above photo, bottom to top) Anna's new Kaweco 'Sport' in "Smooth Sage" and her black vintage Pilot 'Elite' (which she filled with Diamine "Strauss" ink), Alejandra's vintage Eversharp 'Skyline' and a TWSBI '580 ALR' "Punch Pink" (I can't remember who brought it in, but I own one and love mine!)

Above: Some of Rene's newest acquisitions--two tiny vintage fountain pens, a vintage fountain pen with a snake clip, and a vintage Parker 'Duofold Senior' Lapis" that Rene bought as a "self-gift" for his birthday (happy belated birthday, Rene! :)

A closer look at that cool snake clip...

Alvin's classy stainless steel Pilot 'Elite' with crosshatch pattern, which came out in the 1970s. For more info on Japanese pocket fountain pens, check out this superb article on Richard Binder's excellent reference site.

Phil's modern Kaweco 'Original' (top) fountain pen and Anna's vintage Montblanc '32' fountain pen...

The Montblanc '32' has a 14K inset nib and was first produced between 1946 and 1970, according to the informative website...

Last, but certainly not least--a charming miniature silver notebook and mechanical pencil belonging to Stuart! The inscription reads: "Compliments of Bauman-Massa Jewelry Co. Commercial Building St Louis, MO"). Stuart thinks it was made around the turn of the previous century.

Stuart also brought in some items he previously reviewed for this site --a gorgeous Sheaffer desk base made of Norwegian marble (reviewed here
), a Sheaffer ballpoint counter set (reviewed here), a handsome Sheaffer 'PFM V' fountain pen in burgundy (shown here), and one of his Faber-Castell 'Ambition' fountain pens (this one) that he filled with his favourite red ink--Graf von Faber-Castell's "India Red". Stuart also showed us two new fountain pens---a brand-new Parker 'Sonnet' in brushed stainless steel he bought from the Vancouver Pen Shop at their new location's grand opening and a vintage Waterman C/F.

Many thanks to all of our new members for coming to your first Vancouver Pen Club meeting, and for bringing some pens for us to see. I didn't photograph them, but I remember Gurmeet's lovely Parker 'Jotter XL' "Rose Gold" ballpoint, the beautiful vintage (ca. 1929) Morrison fountain pen with gold overlay that Lisa showed us, Luc's marvelous red fountain pens (a Penlux, a Conklin 'Duragraph" "Elements - Fire", and a Pilot 'Vanishing Point'), as well as a wonderful vintage Waterman '52' with gold overlay that Syd brought in.

Thank you to everyone who came to our February meeting ... whether you brought in anything for our topics or not! I'll be posting our March meeting info here on our website --as a blog post, and also at the top of each page in big red letters--- as soon as I confirm the venue and date.

(~Blog post and photos by Maja~)

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 465

 I'm still working on the blog post about our meeting on Thursday, so here's one last review from Christopher to tide you over. Our thanks to Christopher for all of his reviews -- more recently, and in the past!

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

He writes: "Although ballpoints have not been my main focus of vintage pen collecting, I will admit that I do have a special place in my heart for the Parker Jotter. Attractive, well designed and dependable are the benchmarks of the Jotter. And may I add that it has definitely stood the test of time. And if you require a new refill to fit even the first year of Jotter production, 1954, a simple trip to any number of stores in most cities will do you proud and keep your faithful Parker Jotter writing at its best. 

Still, I have been after a all metal Jotter that comes off as a gold pen. And as luck would have it, the other day I happened on just the one. Finished throughout in 1/10th 12K gold filled, it just happened to be a cap-activated 51 complete with the pearlized grey plastic cap jewel. The Parker arrow clip is unmistakably the 51. And vertically down the cap and barrel are repeated groups of chased lines which identifies this fine pen as one of the Custom models. As for dating, I would have to say mid 1950s. So you can bet that I will be visiting my local office supply shop to acquire a Parker refill to get this golden beauty up and writing."

The Parker 51 'Jotter' was discontinued many years ago, but the Parker 'Jotter'  ballpoint is still going strong after 69 years; it now comes in a multitude of colours/finishes (and two sizes---standard and 'XL'), so check it out next time you're in a pen shop or office supply store!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 464

Many thanks to all who attended our meeting tonight! I'll post some meeting photos here in the next few days. In the meantime, enjoy this review of another one of Christopher's newest finds--a Parker Vacumatic Streamline Standard with Star Clip!

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

Christopher: "When the Parker Company followed the current trend back in the day, their pens and mechanical pencils took on a new stylish look. It was a wave of the future and most pen companies never looked back. Gone was the tubular and in was the streamlined and the buying public welcomed it, providing companies like Parker with strong sales. Behind it all was the ever so innovative Kenneth Parker, who understood the strength of design with his product.

 This particular Parker Vacumatic is dated coded 1940 and shortly after the company streamlined their pens and mechanical pencils. It also sports the new split feathered Parker arrow clip with the company branding running vertically down the middle. Still, if you look closely, you will also see that unlike most Parker pens that sport the Blue Diamond Warranty directly above the feathers, this pen features a five pointed ‘Star’. The so called Star clips are quite rare because shortly after the star was applied to represent a Parker pen warranty, it was decided that the star symbol was just not appropriate, thus replaced with the blue diamond."

"The all matching finish on this pen is the Emerald pearl and the barrel transparency is red ambered, but otherwise nice and clear. The 14K Vacumatic nib has the two tone platinum mask and, at the other end, a long screw on matching blind cap covers the newly offered Parker Speedline filler. The fittings are 14K gold filled throughout and when you step back from this fine pen, the condition and exterior brilliance is impressive. The nib also has quite a bit of flex, but lays down the ink smoothly. I was lucky to get this pen and happy indeed to add it to my collection."

 (Photo above: Parker Pen counter, 1940)

Our thanks to Christopher for the review of this gorgeous vintage fountain pen!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Don't forget -- our next meeting is tomorrow -Thurs. Feb. 16 !

Don't forget our in-person meeting tomorrow - Thursday February 16 - at the Kitsilano branch of the Vancouver Public Library from 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM! (click here for detailed info). 

Questions? Please contact us at

Hope to see you there! (no RSVPs needed!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 463

If you've been following our online "show & tell" closely, you know that VPCer Christopher is a huge fan of the Parker 'Vacumatic'. A few days ago, he sent in this review of another lovely example (thank you, Christopher!)...

(photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)
He writes: "Can any pen collector get enough Parker Vacumatics? I think not, and was very happy to add this fine early 1940s Debutante example to my collection.

Finished in silver pearl with silver fittings, the barrel transparency -once cleaned- could not have been better. Plus, atop the black section I found the 14K Gold Parker Vacumatic Arrow nib to be quite flexy. The Vacumatic filler is complete with a black plastic button covered by a third generation blind cap. Although not a large pen, posted quite adequate for any writer's hand. In closing, I am most satisfied to add this fine Parker pen to my collection."

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 462

Our next meeting (which is this Thursday--Feb. 16) will feature red fountain pens and inks, so I thought I'd post a quick review of a red pen I bought in Richmond last month at Nikaido-- my new Platinum 'Prefounte' fountain pen' in "Crimson Red"!

(please click on images to enlarge)

The design is minimalist --a slender cylinder with flat, softly-rounded ends and no trim rings or adornments (and no branding in huge letters on the barrel--I'm looking at *you*, Platinum 'Preppy'!!). The body of the 'Prefounte' is made of highly-polished polycarbonate resin and comes in five clear colours -- Crimson Red, Dark Emerald, Vermilion Orange, Graphite Blue and Night Sea (a bright blue).

The pen only takes Platinum's proprietary ink cartridges or a Platinum converter, but it comes with one blue black Platinum cartridge to get you started. Platinum ink converters cost around $10-$12 CAD (which almost doubles the price of the pen), but as the barrel lacks holes, you could easily convert the pen to an eyedropper-filler and save yourself some money. If you decide to do this, make sure you apply some silicone grease to the section threads to prevent ink leakage.

Late addition: I totally forgot about the Platinum cartridge adapter (sold separately) that allows you to use international ink cartridges in your Platinum fountain pens! I picked one up from Nikaido for under $3 CAD yesterday (as an aside, Nikaido is now open again on Mondays!)


Like several other Platinum models, the 'Prefounte' uses Platinum's “Slip & Seal" mechanism in its (snap) cap. This mechanism consists of a spring-loaded inner cap that--according to the Platinum USA website--"prevents ink from drying out in the pen with the cap on for one year". The cap snaps on firmly with an audible "click" and stays on securely. The pen's model name is screen-printed on the front of the cap, while the back of the cap has the nib width ("0.5M", in my pen's case), manufacturer's name (Platinum's stylized "P" logo and the word "Platinum"), and country of origin ("Made in Japan").

The elegant, chrome-plated stainless steel clip has a raised elongated pentagon at its top--a classy little touch--and clips onto paper and fabrics well. It is a bit tight, but I don't think this is the type of pen you'd clip onto a dress shirt pocket.

The pen's length is 13.8 cm capped, about 12 cm uncapped (nib tip to barrel end), 15.2 cm posted, and weighs 10.6 grams with no cartridge inside.

The section is very subtly tapered and 10.6 mm in diameter (according to Jet Pens) nearest the section-barrel joint. The section is a decent width for my hands and there's very little step-down from barrel to section, so I find it very comfortable to hold and use. The pen is light and well-balanced when posted, and the cap posts deeply, so I always use the pen posted.

(I love sections that match the rest of the pen, but I'm glad the section is colourless, so you can see that crazy-long collector!)

The stainless steel nib, feed and grip section are the same as the ones on Platinum's highly-popular 'Preppy' pocket fountain pens, so if don't like the nib on your 'Prefounte', you can easily swap in a 'Preppy' nib. The nibs slide off their feeds, but it's actually easier to swap out the nib-feed unit (gently -- the feed has a long, thin "tail") or the whole section. The 'Prefounte' comes in two nib widths -- 0.3mm and 0.5mm-- and the nib widths are engraved on the nibs, below the Platinum logo. The 0.5mm nib on mine writes very smoothly and lays down a Medium-Fine line. The ink flow is very good, and I've had no hard-starting issues with it.

Cleaning the pen out can be a bit challenging because of the aforementioned collector (the grey thing with all the fins, in the photo above); the collector is friction-fitted into the section and -apparently- impossible to remove without breaking it. What I do is: I remove the nib and feed together by pulling them out of the collector (again, take care not to break the feed), fill the collector with water using a syringe and shake the liquid out and/or suction it out with the syringe.

All in all, I really like the "Prefounte"--it's a nice-looking, well-made fountain pen that you can carry around and use without worrying about start-up issues (which is great if you're writing an exam, or taking quick notes). Best of all is its cost -- $14.95 CAD + tax; for the price of a McDonald's Extra Value Meal and a Apple Pie, you can own one of these cool starter pens. Many thanks to Joe & Sara of Nikaido for the pen!

(~Review by Maja~)