Thursday, March 30, 2023

March 30th is National Pencil Day!

National Pencil Day is celebrated annually on March 30th to commemorate the date (in 1858) that Hymen Lipman registered the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil; previous to his invention, erasers were separate from pencils!

Here's a quick shot of my favourite wooden pencils --my current Blackwing graphite pencil collection:

(please click on image to enlarge)

The black pencil on the extreme left is the Palomino Blackwing, the first Blackwing graphite pencil produced by the company's new owners (CalCedar) back in 2010, when they revived the iconic Blackwing 602 pencil (which had been discontinued in 1998). The original 602 was first made by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company in the 1930s and, over the ensuing decades, was used by many famous artists, writers and composers.

The large group of 26 pencils is my (incomplete) collection of Blackwing 'Volumes' -- a limited edition line of graphite pencils (of varying hardness) featuring a new design every quarter. The first one (number 725, which I don't own) came out in 2015 and the latest one (number 192 from Winter 2022, which I do own) is a pencil with an extra-firm graphite core that honours the songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney, who wrote an estimated 192 songs together. Each pencil features a different line from a Beatles song on the obverse side; pencils with 12 different song lines were released.

The blue and orange 'Palomino Eras' special edition pencils were released in 2021 as a tribute to the Palomino pencils that inspired the Blackwing 602's revival in 2010. The dark grey pencil to their right is the first 'Eras' pencil, which was released in 2020 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the brand's revival
. The group of four pencils on the extreme right are Blackwing's standard line of graphite pencils (i.e. not limited/special editions):"Natural" (extra-firm graphite), "602" (firm graphite), "Matte" (soft graphite), and "Pearl" (balanced graphite). For more info on Blackwing pencils, take a peek at my reviews on this blog: review #1, review #2, and review #3.

Blackwing's 'Volumes' line has become extremely popular over the years -- the limited edition pencils sell out pretty quickly (and then they pop up on the secondary market at highly-inflated prices). I was fortunate to find individual limited/special edition Blackwing graphite pencils for sale locally at Nikaido and The Vancouver Pen Shop; a lot of pen stores only sell them in boxes of 12, which can get pricey. Whatever pencil you use on National Pencil Day --- wooden or mechanical, limited/special edition or not---I hope you have fun using it! 😊

(~blog post & photo by Maja)

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 473

Today we're featuring one of the vintage pens that Christopher brought to our last meeting!

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


Christopher writes: "Although the Sears Roebuck Company was founded in 1893 as a mail order option, they did not open their first retail outlet until 1924. But by 1929 they had grown to over 300 department stores across the United States. It is interesting to note that this quite substantial Webster black hard chased rubber, short ribbon ring top made by the National Pen Company was the first official fountain pen to be marketed through Sears retail department store outlets."


"A fine pen of impressive quality, offset with 14K Gold Filled fittings and atop a matching jet black grip section, a No.1 quality 14K gold medium flex Warranted nib. This pen is a lever filler which takes a generous amount of ink, which it lays down both consistently and responsibly. I am nothing but pleased with this impressive vintage department store item that, in turn, says a lot for both the Sears Roebuck Company in the mid 1920’s and the National Pen Company of Chicago."

For more information on the National Pen Products Company, check out Richard Binder's glossary entry on it here. Our thanks to Christopher for sharing this charming ringtop with us!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 472

I have two fellow Vancouver Pen Club members to thank for a recent purchase --- one who inspired me to buy this fountain pen, and the other for the discount code that saved me some money when I did so!

The pen in question?

My lovely new TWSBI 'Eco-T' in "Saffron":

(all photos by Maja, except where noted ~ click on images to enlarge)

Isn't the colour beautiful? I fell in love with the pen as soon as I saw the one that fellow VPC member John P. brought to our February meeting...


I already owned a couple of TWSBI 'Eco' models (I bought the 'Eco' in black--in the photo above-- from my fellow VPCer Stuart a few years ago), but I didn't own an 'Eco-T'. Being a big TWSBI fan, I thought I should own one....so I went ahead and placed my order with Blesket Canada, a family-owned business (online and brick & mortar) in Brampton, Ontario.

I used the discount code--DOODLEBUD22--- provided by another fellow VPC member (who has an excellent YouTube channel called --you guessed it-- Doodlebud) to get 10% off my online order..
.

...and shipping was only $3.00 !!

Now, there are lots of reviews of the 'Eco-T' online, so I won't be doing yet another one in this blog post...but I did want to point out the differences between it and its older cousin, the highly-popular TWSBI 'Eco' model.

The 'Eco' (black pen above) came out in 2015 and was *the* economical TWSBI model that everyone was waiting for (I remember the excitement building on The Fountain Pen Network before its release). It didn't disappoint -- for less than $29 USD, you got a well-made, piston-filing fountain pen that came in a variety of nib choices (EF, F, M, B, and 1.1 Stub). It was easy to use, it had a one-piece section/barrel unit that could be easily cleaned, and a nib that could be easily removed (by pulling it straight out). The 'Eco' was lightweight but chunky, so it felt good in the hand, even when unposted. The pen posted easily and securely, though, thanks to the O-ring between the barrel and turning knob (I found--and still find--it a bit too long to use posted).

The 'Eco-T' model came out in 2017 and is pretty much the same pen as the 'Eco'; at first glance, you might easily mistake one for the other. There are a few subtle differences, though....


The barrel ends are a slightly different shape---the black 'Eco''s has a hexagonal shape with six sides of the same length, whereas the 'Eco-'T''s hexagonal barrel end is comprised of three longer sides alternating with three shorter ones...



... and the same applies to the two cap tops.

Where the two models differ the most, however, is in their section shapes. I took some photos of the two sections, but it was very difficult to capture the difference on camera, so I borrowed this image from an article on thewritingdesk.co.uk :

(image source)

The 'Eco-T' has a rounded triangular grip (similar to the Lamy 'Safari') ---which is cleverly mirrored by the cap top and barrel end shapes---whereas the 'Eco' section is round. This is a subtle difference, but it makes the 'Eco'-T' fountain pen easier for me to hold, and more comfortable to use. Not that the 'Eco' has an uncomfortable grip----far from it--- but I prefer the 'Eco-T's'. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

My new 'Eco-T' came with a #5 size Medium steel nib that writes very smoothly. It's a joy to use ... and look at ---love that saffron colour! Many thanks to all who contributed in some way to my purchase of this beautiful pen :)

(~blog post by Maja~)

Friday, March 24, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 471

For the last couple of years, I've been slowly acquiring fountain pens handmade by small pen makers, like this one made by the Birmingham Pen Company -- their 'Model-A' in "Jurassic Amber" resin...

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

Here's some background about this very small pen manufacturer (which is *not* located in England!), taken from their official website:

"The Birmingham Pen Co. is a tiny family owned & operated manufacturer located just north of Pittsburgh.

In 2008, brothers Nick and Josh entered the fountain pen industry operating from their parents' basement. After a decade of contracting with many of the world's premier fountain pen component and ink manufacturers, Birmingham Pen Co. turned its first house machined fountain pen in 2018.

Today our workshop is in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Dad has become the chief pen machinist operating our CNC lathe; he's developed some innovative custom tools that allow us to produce beautiful and unique pen parts efficiently. Mom is incredibly helpful with extra processing work and lends a hand with creative new product names. Now we're entering our fifth year of fountain pen production, with ink manufacturing also in full swing."


From what I've been able to gather, the first fountain pen made by them was the 'Model-A' "Cotton Candy" fountain pen, released on February 12, 2018. Two days later, the 'Model-A' in "Jurassic Amber" resin (the pen in this review) was released. 

Since then, the company has come out with additional models, including the 'Model-C' and 'Sixth Avenue'. The 'Sixth Avenue' is the longest and widest model, whereas the 'Model-A' is the shortest model, but the longest when posted. The 'Model-C' is longer than the Model-A, but it's a bit slimmer. 

  
Specs for the 'Model-A', taken from their official site:


In terms of capped and uncapped length, it's very similar to my Woodshed "Hallowe'en Nights" fountain pen (an early Woodshed model size), although the Woodshed pen can't be posted and the Birmingham Pen Co. can be.

 

Above: A close-up of the beautiful "Jurassic Amber" resin that the pen company describes as "hues of brown, tan, yellow and gold convene in a crystal like pattern resembling a prehistoric amber deposit" on their Instagram account.

 
The pen can be posted, but it's very long; I think it's long enough to use comfortably unposted...and it has a nice grip diameter for my hand. It uses standard international ink cartridges or an international converter.


The pen came with a Knox single-tone gold-plated #6 steel nib (a brand of nib that the Birmingham Pen Company sells on their website). This German-made nib features an engraving of a "lion rampant" (that's a heraldic term ;). The nib width isn't marked on the nib, but it whatever it is, it's a smooth writer. I've since replaced the original nib with a two-tone Knox nib because I think it matches the pen's resin even better.

As I mentioned, the Birmingham Pen Company (BPC, for short) sells Knox nibs (currently only two-tone gold-plated oblique nibs are in stock), as well as silver-coloured steel Nemosine nibs. Both nib brands fit in my BPC 'Model-A' pen (and most likely the other BPC models, as well). Some of the Nemosine nibs being sold on their website are 0. 6mm and 0.8mm stubs, which isn't that common; most factory stub/italic nibs seem to come in wider sizes (like 1.1mm), so it's nice to find a #6 sized stub nib in a narrower nib width.

I got this pen second-hand a while back, and I love using it! It's very well made, feels really good in the hand, and it looks great :) In addition to making their own fountain pens, the Birmingham Pen Company also produce their own line of fountain pen inks (which are very nice, as well). I've bought from them on several occasions, and their customer service was always top-notch.

Late addition to this blog post: I found a nice article on the Birmingham Pen Company in the New York Times! The article was posted online in November of 2022 - link.

(~blog post by Maja~)

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 470

Here's that nice vintage Sheaffer desk set that Stuart brought to the March meeting last week!

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

Stuart writes: "(Here's) a gorgeous Sheaffer desk set from the late 30’s. It’s a Canadian one, and has a base of beautiful Belgian marble, not used as commonly as Italian marble or the various onyxes. The sides are elegantly tapered, and there’s a circular hollow on top to hold stamps and whatnot.

The pen’s the standard Sheaffer Lifetime model of that time, with a two-tone nib."


"It has the thin veins of colour running through the stone that are distinctive to this marble."

"The trim is reverse-trim - chrome instead of gold, to harmonize with the cool tone of the marble."

Congratulations on another great vintage desk set, Stuart, and thank you --as always-- for your reviews :)

Monday, March 20, 2023

Some photos from our March meeting (theme: Skinny/Slender Fountain Pens)

Happy first day of Spring! We had our March meeting on the 16th, and although there were only nine members in attendance (possibly due to Spring Break vacations), we had a great time discussing our newest pen-related acquisitions, as well as our March meeting theme -- Skinny/Slender Fountain Pens. I snapped some photos during the meeting, so without further ado, here they are...

(please click on images to enlarge ~ all photos by Maja, except where noted)

Jerred (who suggested our meeting theme--thanks again, Jerred!) kicked off our "show & tell" with three slender Delta fountain pens, two of which are shown above--a gold-plated one he reviewed here, and one with a lacquer finish that resembles the "thuya lacquer" used on some Parker '75' pens. Jerred also showed us an ultra-slender fountain pen --not photographed--- that he reviewed here three years ago. 

Jerred also brought his Faber-Castell 'Neo Slim' fountain pen for our meeting theme. He pointed out that it was actually made in China (check under the top of the clip), which surprised me as so many of their fountain pens are made in Germany. I always learn something new at our meetings!

Above: Jerred's Pilot Grandee Urushi, a slender, elegant fountain pen made of ebonite and coated with urushi lacquer. Jerred reviewed the pen here on our blog a couple of years ago.

Stuart brought in some slender vintage fountain pens, including these two handsome Sheaffers  - a black 'Snorkel Valiant' and a green 'Craftsman TM (thin model)' Touchdown-filler.

The Snorkel has a beautiful conical, two-tone gold nib, while the 'Craftsman' has an open gold nib. I think the gold trim really suits the pens' colours.


And this is the pen Stuart bought for himself for his birthday earlier this month---a very short, very skinny brass Kaweco 'Liliput' pocket fountain pen!

The pen has a 1.mm italic nib and posts by screwing the cap onto the end of the barrel

This is the slender fountain pen Stuart bought last October during the Vancouver Pen Shop's annual sale--a Graf von Faber-Castell 'Guilloche'. Its barrel is made of rhodium-plated guilloched metal, and the pen sports a 18K gold nib. Stuart also brought in a new desk set, which we will be featuring in Wednesday's blog post (link).

Mandy brought two skinny pens to our meeting for the evening's theme--a Pelikan 'Steno' (P470 model) and a Traveler Company's brass pocket fountain pen that was made in Japan. The Traveler has a clip that can be removed to make it even more portable.


Above: A photo of all the skinny fountain pens (and one not-so-skinny) that I brought for the meeting's topic. From L-R: Sailor Chalana, Pilot Birdie, Pilot Juliet (all three of which I got as gifts from my good friend Glenn in Australia :), Cross 'Century'/ 'Century I' (which I reviewed here), Cross 'Metropolis', Montblanc 'Noblesse' (first generation - reviewed by me here), Lamy 'cp1', Jinhao 65 (reviewed by me here), Diplomat 'Traveller' "Flame" (I did a review of that one, too -- link), Sheaffer 'Slim' Targa and a standard Sheaffer 'Targa' (to show people the big difference in width).

I also showed four new fountain pens (not photographed for this blog post)--a Benu 'Talisman' "Foxglove" & a Platinum 'Preppy' Limited Edition I later reviewed here---bought both at Buchan's the day of our meeting--as well a Conklin 'All American' "Rainbow" Limited Edition (a purchase inspired by the one Kelley brought to our January meeting---thanks, Kelley!) and a Kaweco 'Liliput' in brass (like Stuart's, but with a different nib). I will be reviewing my Kaweco 'Liliput' next week here on our blog (update--review later posted here), and the Benu probably next month or May.

My tiny Sailor 'Chalana' below my Cross 'Century' (a/k/a 'Century I', to distinguish it from the slightly-girthier 'Century II)'

Look at the difference in their nib sizes! (and yes, that's a gold nib on the little Sailor)

A tiny Sailor converter on the tiny Sailor 'Chalana'...


That's Phil's vintage Conway Stewart 'Dinkie' ringtop fountain pen below my Sailor. The Conway Stewart pen came with its original box, which was in fantastic condition for its age.


Above: Two more slim fountain pens Phil brought for our meeting theme---a modern Diplomat 'Magnum' and a grey vintage Esterbrook 'SJ' lever-filler that he found at the Vancouver Flea Market for $5! Phil also showed us his new Sheaffer Triumph 440.

Our meetings' secondary themes are always "Newest Acquisitions'. Those are Julienne's two lovely new Pilot fountain pens in the photo above--a black Pilot 'Custom 742' and a blue Pilot 'Custom 74', both purchased during her recent trip to Japan. Julienne also brought a chrome-plated Caran d'Ache 'Ecridor' for our meeting theme.

This is Vladan's gorgeous new Kilk 'Epigram' fountain pen. The resin is a beautiful shade of green and the pen looks even better in person, believe it or not! Oh, and in case you're wondering why we didn't have "Green Fountain Pens" as our March meeting theme, it's because we'd done that theme (at least) four times already :)

The Kilk fountain pen was designed and manufactured in Turkey and has a Latin motto on its sterling silver cap band--“Vincit Omnia Veritas”, which translates to “Truth Conquers All Things.”

Vintage fountain pen lover Christopher brought several slender fountain pens for us to see, including this Moore BCHR (black chased hard rubber) fountain pen (which he reviewed here) and the Webster BCHR ringtop below it (update - Christopher wrote a review about the Webster here).

He also brought along a very interesting Parker ringtop and a beautiful vintage all-metal Rexall 'Signet' fountain pen (the bottom two pens)...


(photo courtesy of April)

I was so distracted by the /amazing/ nibs on April's fountain pens that I forgot to photograph them, but she was kind enough to snap a photo of them for this blog post.
Photo above, top to bottom: Pilot 912 with AF nib, Jinhao 100 with replacement Wing Sung 629 nib, vintage Waterman 12 PSF in black hard rubber.

April also included some notes about the pens' wonderful nibs:

--Re: the Pilot 912 FA nib, April writes: "...(it has a) Spencerian grind (adding flex and regrinding to needlepoint) by Nibs.com (not by John Mottishaw himself but his students) - It has a lot of tipping materials left as a needlepoint grind, which I find very interesting."

 --Re: the Waterman 12 PSF:"It's a XXF nib with full flex capacity. The lever was replaced with a 3rd party part. That’s why it’s a different color than the clip. The 12 PSF was made between 1915 - 1917 and "PSF" stands for Pocket Self Filling, which was how Waterman called their lever filling system at that time. Later on, Waterman changed the naming system and used #5 on the decimal point to represent lever filling system. This 12 PSF was the precursor of the widely known Waterman 52 model."

--Re: the Jinhao 100 with replacement Wing Sung 629 nib that was modified by her friend in China: "The (nib's) flexibility was achieved by both chemical and physical modification. It was first chemically treated then it was reduced in thickness. Part of its shoulder was also cut off to increase flexibility."

(photo above & all photos below courtesy of Sherman)

Sherman couldn't make it to our meeting, but he's obviously a fan of slender fountain pens, as you can see by the group photo that he sent in for this blog post!

From left to right:
élysée Jewelry (90 Line) Bi-Color Barleycorn Gold & Platinum
élysée Jewelry (90 Line) Laque Intarsia Antique Greek Black
élysée Design (80 Line) Rolled Gold
élysée Design (80 Line) Laque Jade
élysée Design (80 Line) Laque Coral
élysée Classique (70 Line) Laque élysée
élysée Classique (70 Line) Laque Brown
élysée Classique (70 Line) Laque Cobra
élysée Classique (70 Line) Carré Gold
élysée Classique (70 Line) Barley Silver
élysée Spherical Finial (60 Line) Damascene Globetrotter Stainless Steel
élysée Spherical Finial (60 Line) Dynamic Steel GT (Gold Trim)
élysée Spherical Finial (60 Line) Dynamic Steel CT (Chrome Trim)
OMAS 88 Slim Line Champaign Black
Montblanc Slim Line Satin Black
Montblanc Slim Line Satin Blue
Montblanc Slim Line Satin Burgundy
Montblanc Slim Line Brushed Stainless Steel
Sheaffer® TRZ Model 63 Matte Burgundy
Cross Classic Century Chrome
S.T. Dupont Classique Laque de Chine
Waterman Exclusive Tortoise Shell Lacquer GT


Sherman adds: "I'd like to draw to your attention that the OMAS 88 (above) is really, really tiny and slim. It’s a really cute pen indeed. But if I knew it was that slim, I wouldn’t have bought it, I believe. But I was at the very beginning stage, so I didn’t even know the size impact even though the seller did reveal the measurements!"

(Above):"The nib of the Montblanc Slim Line did have at least two versions from my collection...

I like the one with the Montblanc logo on the nib."

"The Sheaffer TRZ (the stickered pen in the photo above) is also very slim; I had a hard time in finding a converter or cartridge. Glad that I bought both of them from Peyton Street Pens.

For the élysée, I would say the Design Line is quite small when you hold it. I did not take measurements, but I'm just sharing a handfeel. Maybe I should try to measure them, to validate my saying this.

In any case, I have all these as my slimmest collection so far. Enjoy." 

Thank you, April and Sherman, for sending in photos and notes about your pens, and many thanks to everyone who came to the meeting last week! It was great to see so many fountain pens that matched the meeting topic/theme, but please remember--even if you don't have anything that matches our monthly meeting themes (or any new acquisitions), come to the meetings anyway --they're all about having fun seeing, learning and talking about pen-related things in a casual setting!

**The date and venue of our April meeting will be posted on our blog as soon as I confirm them. Meeting information will always be posted at the top of each page on our website (in big red letters, so you can't miss it :)

(~ Blog post by Maja ~)

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Belated Happy St. Patrick's Day pens

A couple of pics of some nice green pens, courtesy of Sherman, who writes: "Took a family photo of my green collection. Wish everyone had a fun St Patrick’s Day. All the best! "

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

Our thanks to Sherman for sharing his collection with us! ☘️

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 469

At our February meeting, Jerred (unexpectedly) gave me this lovely little fountain pen as a 'thank you' for an inexpensive pocket pen I gave him. In my excitement, I forgot to photograph my new pen during the meeting, so I thought I'd post a few photos of it that I took earlier this month. I'll be posting photos from our March meeting (which was held last Thursday) early next week, but in the meantime, here's the pen I got from Jerred:

(please click on images to enlarge)My new Rosetta 'Napoleon' pocket fountain pen in "purple marble"

This diminutive fountain pen is a Taiwanese-made cartridge/converter-filler with an Italian acrylic body and shiny chrome trim. Because of its short length, the pen can only accommodate one standard international cartridge, or a mini converter in its barrel.

Despite it being a smaller pen, it has some heft to it -- 26 grams, according to the manufacturer. When capped, it's 4-1/2″ (11.5 cm) long....


...and with its cap posted (via screwing the cap onto the end of the barrel), it's the size of a full-sized fountain pen (5-3/4″ or 14.6 cm), and very comfortable to hold and use.

(I love the resin's purple shade and depth :)

My new Rosetta 'Napoleon' fountain pen immediately reminded me of my two Jean-Pierre LĂ©pine 'Mini Indigo' fountain pens, which also post via a threaded barrel end. After I composed this review, I discovered that Stephen Brown (SBREBrown) had posted a comparison of the two models on his YouTube channel here !

The pen originally came with a monotone steel IPG (Iridium Point Germany) Medium nib which wrote smoothly, but I thought this replacement #5 size two-tone steel nib (above) by Dryden Designs would look even better on this classy little pen; the gold colour in the nib goes very nicely with the purple resin, and I like the interlocking double D logo engraved on it. The Dryden nib writes smoothly, with no adjustment(s) necessary.

Side note: The Dryden nib was part of a 3-pack of identical nibs, sections and converters that I got for the ridiculously low price of $6.97 via Amazon.ca last March. Unfortunately, they are sold out there. Amazon.com is still selling them (link), but for $20.50 USD (incl. shipping to Canada) for a 3-pack :/



(image from: Rosetta's official blog )

Rosetta launched their 'Napoleon' model in June 2012 and it originally came in seven different colours (photo above) -- Rose Marble, Lemon Ice, Blue Marble, Onyx Black, Tortoiseshell, Red Marble, and Purple Marble. You can still find some new old stock online (iPenStore.com carries the Onyx Black version in fountain pen form).

Well, that's it---a short review of a short fountain pen! Many thanks to Jerred for this great pocket pen and his generosity:)