Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 499

Here's a review of another one of my favourite handmade fountain pens--my Confetti bespoke fountain pen by Robert of RJ Custom Pens of Canberra, Australia!

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

Robert sells his handmade pens under the name "CustompensandgiftsCo" via his etsy store and I paid $176 CAD (with free shipping) for mine in late 2022.

As with previous pricier etsy purchases, I paid for the pen via Klarna in four equal, interest-free installments. The pen was shipped very quickly --with tracking-- and arrived safe and sound (it came with a presentation box--not pictured).

The pen was described as "A lovely bright pen for any fountain pen enthusiast" in the etsy listing ...and it is both lovely and bright --I can't think of a colour that *isn't* in the material!

The pen's beautiful resin was made in-house by RJ Custom Pens from "(their) own alumilite resin recipe using eyecandy micas polished to high gloss with diamond paste." It's a very attractive material, and it was expertly polished by Robert.

I ordered the pen with a Medium steel JoWo #6 nib, but it came with an Extra-Fine... which I wound up loving :)(Isn't the section beautiful??... and look at the depth of the resin!!)

The pen was fitted with a Schmidt K5 international ink converter, and came with two ink samples of Pelikan Edelstein ink, which was a nice touch.

Here are some photos of the other side of the pen, against a light background:

The pen is cylindrical but widens a bit in the middle---it's very subtle, though. The fit and finish of the pen are excellent. It's a fairly light fountain pen -- 21 grams total weight with its converter in place, and 16 grams without its cap on.

As for dimensions....Well, I didn't see any in the etsy listing, but the pen was so gorgeous, I didn't care lol, so I ordered it anyway (actually, when I saw the length of the nib, I had some idea of its dimensions). According to my own measurements, it's about 15cm capped and 14cm uncapped (nib tip to barrel end). The pen doesn't post, but it's long enough to use comfortably unposted. The maximum barrel width is approximately 15mm, while the section width is about 11.5mm closest to the barrel threads and 11mm at its narrowest.  

Many thanks to Robert of RJ Custom Pens for this wonderful handmade fountain pen; I absolutely love using it, and I'm sure it won't be my last purchase from him :)

(~Blog post by Maja~)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 498

Over the last couple of years, I've been slowly accumulating fountain pens handmade by small pen makers, such as this beautiful writing instrument below...

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

 ... my Walltown Pens 'Catsburg 14' "Fat Cat" fountain pen in "Alchemists Delight" colorshift resin!

The pen was made by Brett Arnold in Durham, North Carolina and purchased from the Walltown Pens' etsy store in late 2022 for $242 CAD  (including shipping to Canada). I paid for it via Klarna in four equal, interest-free installments.

This beautiful resin was made in-house by Walltown Pens and beautifully polished. It's referred to as a "colorshift" resin because (as you can see from the photos above) the colour of the material shifts based on the angle of the lighting. This is due to the addition of metallic pigments to the resin. Some colorshift resins (e.g. McKenzie Penworks' Diamondcast Colorshift resins) are described as featuring a "3-color flop". This refers to the three different hues that can be seen when the material is viewed from different angles.

 In this case, the resin (as in the alchemic process) changes from other colours to gold, thus the name "Alchemists Delight". It goes from a lovely dark greenish colour...

 to a gorgeous pinkish tone (seen even better in the photos at the end of this blog post)... a wonderfully sparkly gold colour...

(you can see the gold colour best in the very first photo of this blog post)

It's hard to capture the colour changes in photos, but luckily many small pen makers include short videos of their pens, showing how they look from different angles, in their etsy sales listings.

(you can see the greenish and pinkish hues quite well in the photo above)

A word on buying handmade pens online...

At the time I bought it, there were no other Walltown pens for sale that used the "Alchemists Delight" resin other than my 'Catsburg 14' model. I loved the larger size of this model *and* I fell in love with the resin, so I immediately bought it before it sold out. I learned my lesson, having hesitated in the past to buy other handmade pens I really loved, only to see them bought up by others. Never again!

It's impossible to predict what pen model/resin combination a small pen maker
will put up for sale at any given time (and I'm not just talking about Walltown Pens - this applies to most of them) unless they post a heads-up about this. Normally,  a small (or larger) batch of handmade pens will be released ...and then the feeding frenzy starts! Since I started buying handmade pens, I also noticed that small pen makers rarely seem to put duplicate pens up for sale at the same time -- once a particular pen is sold, you might not see another one like it up for sale for a long time. Now if you want to have one made for you, you might be able to commission a pen maker to do so (Walltown Pens do commissions, as well).

Model sizes:

I asked Brett about the sizes of the different Walltown Pens models they sell ---I was looking for a size comparison photo (for future purchases from his store 😁)----and he quickly sent me this helpful photo:

WALLTOWN PENS fountain pen models: (the models are named after places in Durham, North Carolina)

Specifications for my Catsburg 14 pen (taken from its etsy sales page)

Closed length – 145 mm, 5.5 in
Open length – 133 mm, 5.2 in
Diameter Body – 17 mm –14 mm
Diameter Cap – 17 mm –14 mm
Diameter Grip – 11.5 mm
Weight Overall – 28.6 g

And lastly, a few more photos I took on a different day: The pen's colour changes quite dramatically to a warmer (pinkish) hue!

The Catsburg 14 model has a cigar shape with very gently pointed ends; I didn't own a handmade pen in this shape before I bought this one. I suspect it's more challenging to make a pen of this shape than a flat-top pen, but Brett's workmanship is excellent--the fit and finish are superb.

The pen came with a converter and your choice of #6 Jowo steel nib width, colour and design (plain or floral nib engraving); I chose a monotone gold-coloured nib in Medium, which writes very smoothly.

The pen doesn't post, but it's a big ---but not heavy--- pen that feels substantial in the hand. In fact, it's so chunky in the hand that I tend to hold it lower down the section vs. my usual "high-gripper" area.

I usually include a lot more text in my pen reviews (lol), but this is one where a photo is truly worth a thousand words; I hope I've captured the amazing colorshift resin made by Walltown Pens, and Brett's fine craftsmanship in my photographs. This is a wonderful fountain pen---it's both a joy to use and look at--- and I'm extremely glad I was able to acquire it. Many thanks to Brett and Susan Arnold of Walltown Pens for this great pen, and their excellent customer service!

(~Blog post by Maja~)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 497

Continuing my quest to buy a fountain pen from at least one online store in each Canadian province (since the pandemic started) 🙄 ...

Thus far, I'd crossed British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia off my list.
I crossed one more province off my list after a recent online purchase --my new lime Lamy 'nexx' fountain pen from Endeavours & ThinkPlay, a brick & mortar store in Fredericton, New Brunswick !

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

The pen was $29.99 CAD (on sale) and shipping was $18 CAD (ouch), but I also ordered a few other things from their web store at the same time--a Platinum ink converter, a mini ink converter, and a loose Pilot CM (stub) nib for a 'Metropolitan'. Unfortunately, they couldn't find the Pilot nib in their store stock, but the rest of the items arrived safe and sound.

The Lamy 'nexx' fountain pen was designed by Andreas Haug, who also designed the Lamy 'nexx m' (the nexx's fancier cousin), 'Accent', '4pen' and 'Smile' (a 'nexx' model with twistable emoticon rings in the cap). I believe the 'nexx' was first released in 2006, and in its earlier days was only available in a few colours---blue, green (now called "lime"), red and pink. The current 'nexx' lineup includes rose and smaragd ("emerald" in German, but it looks aquamarine to me). There were also some special edition colours that were released yearly -e.g. yellow, violet, black and neoncoralred (the SE colour for 2023).
It's available with Fine or Medium polished steel nibs, the same nibs found on the Lamy 'Safari', 'Vista', 'Al Star', 'Joy', 'Studio' and other Lamy models. My 'nexx' came with a Fine nib that's smooth and reliable, like the Fine nibs of the same type I have on some other Lamys. The pen fills via Lamy's proprietary cartridges (the pen came with one blue ink cartridge) and/or a Lamy Z28 (formerly Z24) ink converter.

Unlike the 'Safari'/'Al Star'/'Vista', the nexx's triangular grip section is made of solid rubber with rounded edges, making it non-slip and even more comfortable to hold. The barrel is made of naturally anodized aluminum and is very light, but sturdy. It starts out cylindrical in shape at the threads, and then tapers down to a triangular shape, which mirrors the triangular section at the other end of the pen---a nice design touch.

The pen's plastic clip (described as "selfsprung" by Lamy) has a flattened oval cutout showing the model name (in white), as well as a round hole at its top, presumably to accommodate a lanyard or chain. At first, I balked at buying the pen because the cap screamed "School Pen!!" to me, but it was a good price (and I really wanted to buy a pen from New Brunswick lol). I noticed that the clips on the newer 'nexx' models don't have a cutout or hole.

The triangular barrel end (like the whole barrel) is very smooth --no sharp edges at all--- and the pen is very comfortable to hold and use. The pen caps well, but doesn't post terribly deeply. When it is posted, I find that it's well-balanced ... but I don't tend to post it because the cap, though light, is so large.

The pen writes very well and is extremely reliable---no hard-starting or skipping, even after being capped for several days (and it caps very well, with a nice 'click'). I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a light, well-made, reasonably-priced knockabout pen that's comfortable to use for long periods of time. Many thanks to the folks at Endeavours & ThinkPlay for this cool fountain pen!

Specifications (from

Length - Capped 13.7 cm / 5.4 inches
Length - Posted 15.5 cm / 6.1 inches
Length - Uncapped 12.8 cm / 5.0 inches
Diameter - Grip 11.8 mm
Diameter - Max 16.0 mm
Weight - Barrel (Empty) 0.36 oz / 10 grams
Weight - Cap 0.21 oz / 6 grams
Weight - Whole Pen (Empty) 0.57 oz / 16 grams

(Note: the 'nexx' was only made in fountain pen form)

(~blog post by Maja~)

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

May 2023 meeting photos - topic: your oldest fountain pen!

Our May meeting was held on the 18th at the Kitsilano branch of the VPL with sixteen members in attendance, including three brand-new members - Felipe, Liz and Ray! Our primary topic was Your Oldest Fountain Pen , and Newest Acquisitions --as always-- was our secondary meeting topic.

I was hoping that Alejandra would be at the meeting as she suggested the primary topic (which we'd previously used back in 2015), but she wasn't so I kicked off the "show & tell" with my old-timer---a vintage Sheaffer #4 Self-Filling fountain pen in black chased hard rubber (a/k/a BCHR--you'll see the term used a lot in this blog post!):

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

Sheaffer started producing BCHR "flat-top" fountain pens in 1912. Mine has a few features indicating it's an early example--(a) a Sheaffer nickel-plated clip that says "SHEAFFER-CLIP" (which was only used until 1922; after that, they said "SHEAFFER'S"), (b) an early imprint on its flexy nib that says "SHEAFFER 4 SELF-FILLING", (c) a solid, narrow, spear-shaped feed (not shown) and (d) the barrel imprint below:
The pen's barrel imprint reads: "W.A.SHEAFFER PEN CO.    PAT.AUG.25.08. FORT MADISON, IA. U.S.A.    DEC.10.12-JAN.27-OCT.20-NOV.24.14". The earlier flat tops had patent dates on them, and the earliest ones of those had the company name in a slightly larger font (as my pen has), so the imprint on my barrel is the first block imprint. There's one more barrel imprint (but you can't see it in my photos) -- a "4" stamped on the bottom of the pen's barrel.

Based on all this, I believe my pen was made between 1914 and 1922 (and I'm leaning towards the earlier-to-middle part of that range, because of the early barrel imprint). One last thing---you might be wondering why the pen looks brown and not black; that's because the hard rubber material fades in colour with exposure to light (see article on The fading is pretty even on my pen, though, aside from the section area (ie. the area not exposed to light).

Above: My antique Sheaffer on the far left, with some brand-new pens - (L-R) my Before Breakfast 'Onigiri' ballpoint (reviewed 2 wks ago), two SpectraPly (dyed Birch veneer laminate) ballpoints by California-based Penwerkz, and the six newest additions to my THink writing instrument collection ("Northern Lights", "Yucatan", "Zabaione", "Ascot", "Maldives" and "Lagoon" fountain pens). I was so happy to add these latest THink pens to my collection!

The lovely little rolled gold Sheaffer ringtop fountain pen in the photo above is Stuart's oldest fountain pen. Stuart says its nib imprint also says "SELF-FILLING" and estimates it was made in 1920 or earlier. The other two fountain pens are his Persian Blue Sheaffer 'Tuckaway' (top pen) and Sheaffer 'Sentinel' in Persian Blue .

These are Stuart's newest acquisitions --a Scripto mechanical pencil and a Burgundy Sheaffer 'Tuckaway' (ca. 1949, per Stuart) fountain pen. Obviously, they aren't part of the same set, but the Scripto and Sheaffer were sold together on eBay (presumably because they're the same colour) along with the attractive Sheaffer clam shell presentation case.

The 'Tuckaway' fountain pen (on the right, above) has a reddish (ie. not white) dot. I can't find any references to a red dot being used on Sheaffer pens, so I suspect it's an after-market modification (if you know otherwise, please let us know!)

Two different nib styles on Stuart's Sheaffer 'Tuckaways'---the open nib on the Burgundy, and Sheaffer's wonderful conical "Triumph" nib on the Persian Blue version.

Daryl couldn't find his oldest fountain pen (I believe he said it was a Waterman #7!) in time for our meeting but, nonetheless, he brought along some eye candy -- a gorgeous Conklin 'Endura Abalone/Chrome' Limited Edition fountain pen-- for us to see!

The pen was a limited edition Goulet Pens-exclusive model that came out in late 2020 (there's also a version with gunmetal trim, but it's not a Goulet-exclusive). According to Conklin's official website, "The Endura Abalone uses the highly iridescent inner nacre layer of authentic abalone shell from New Zealand." Lovely!

Renz brought some very interesting antique dip pens for us to see! These were made by the Warren Manufacturing Company in North Manchester, Indiana and say "WARREN'S COMBINATION NON-DETACHABLE Pens and Holders" on them. Renz said they date from around 1882 and were purchased at the DC Supershow (the massive pen show held annually in Washington, D.C). Renz does some fine calligraphy work, so I'm glad he found these at the show :)


The dip pen ends were cut at an angle--I'm not sure of the reason, but it does make them look more quill-like...

Above: Some great vintage fountain pens of Renz’s.
From top to bottom: a very valuable Waterman #7 with yellow cap band, a vintage Conklin BCHR Crescent-Filler (with #4 gold nib) and a Wahl BCHR flat top with a wide gold band.

The Waterman #7 fountain pens came with ten different cap band colours--black, blue, brown, grey, green, pink, purple, red, yellow and white. Each band colour corresponded to a different type of nib; in Renz's case, the yellow cap band (which is made of casein) corresponded to a Rounded nib (a firm medium-broad nib with a spherical tip designed for left-handers).

Brand-new member Felipe brought in some of his modern fountain pens, including his wonderful Conklin 'Turquoise Duraflex' Limited Edition (a Goulet Pens-exclusive released in October 2018, only 1898 were made) and a blue Faber-Castell 'Grip' fountain pen (the Conklin is a lovely turquoise colour ---my photos don't do it justice---but the light green background makes it look more green)

Christopher brought in the oldest fountain pen we saw that evening ---his amazing Wirt BCHR with gold overlay; Christopher estimates it was made around 1889.

The lovely box in which the pen was housed did not originally come with the pen, but Christopher said it once held myrrh...

It was Ray's very first meeting and he showed us a nice assortment of vintage pens (many were very recently acquired, so they matched our primary and secondary topics :)
From top to bottom: vintage Parker 'Vacumatic' Major in "Golden Pearl", Sheaffer 'Triumph' model (a "Valiant" ?) in "Marine Green", Parker 'NS (New Style) Duofold' (made in Denmark) in "Chocolate Brown" (I believe it's this colour), and a Waterman red ripple hard rubber fountain pen and pencil set.

Kelly's oldest fountain pen is the attractive grey marbled Parker 'Challenger" (second from the bottom). She also showed us two clear demonstrator fountain pens she modified--the chunky little Moonman 'Q1' (top pen) and a Lamy 'Vista'. The fountain pen at the bottom of the photo belongs to Ray, and I think it was made by Onward.

So, how did Kelley modify the two demonstrators above? Well, she put a Zebra G nib in the Moonman, and she swapped out the Lamy 'Vista' fountain pen barrel for a 'Vista' rollerball barrel to create an eyedropper-filling fountain pen! (the 'Vista' fountain pen barrel has a cutout so the user can see the ink supply in the ink converter; the rollerball version lacks the cutout)

It's always nice to see older fountain pens belonging to our members' relatives, like the Redipoint rolled gold fountain pen belonging to Phil's great-grandfather, and the Waterman black hard rubber eyedropper-filler with silver overlay that belonged to his great-grandmother. The Redipoint has a lovely inscription on its cartouche that says "Father" in a flowing cursive script :)

The top pen is a new acquisition, also belonging to Phil--a handsome vintage Eversharp 'CA Fifth Avenue' ballpoint. The pen has a very odd refill that doesn't include a metal ball---that part is fixed to the nosecone of the ballpoint-- so the ball draws ink from the refill via capillary action (the "CA" part of the model name). Unfortunately, many refills either dried up or leaked into the barrel which lead to people returning their pens (under warranty), costing the company a lot of money. In fact, this model was known as "the pen that killed Eversharp"


Brand-new member Liz also brought in some great vintage pens--a Parker Vacumatic in "Silver Pearl" (with double striped jewels) and a jet black Conway Stewart '1206'. The pen in the middle is a modern Pilot 'Custom 823' in amber, also belonging to Liz.

The vintage Conway Stewart pen company made a ton of different models but, thankfully, they imprinted the model numbers on them! There's an excellent reference site for old Conway Stewart pens here. On that website, it says that this model was made from 1936-1942 and has 18K gold bands on its barrel.

Isn't Amy's new purple Opus 88 'Omar' fountain pen gorgeous?? I love how the cream-coloured barrel and cap ends complement the purple marbled cap and translucent purple barrel. Amy told us she very recently bought the pen to celebrate her birthday (happy belated birthday, Amy!)

From vivid purple to basic black! These are a couple of fountain pens belonging to Jerred. The top pen is a "Business Line" model made by the German pen company Online (with a very long cap!).

The glossy black fountain pen below it is a Japanese urushi-coated fountain pen. After I posted this meeting report, Jerred emailed me to say that the pen was branded
"Lance", but that the pen's clip said  "Warranted" and its nib was marked "Superior". Jerred added "It's likely a small maker made the barrel and then bought the nib and metal hardware to add on separately.  This was not uncommon."

🌟Jerred also sent me some very interesting information about Japanese gold nibs that I think is well worth reading:

Jerred writes: "The basics about Japanese gold nibs is thus: In the lead up to World War II (and during the conflict) the Japanese government required that citizens turn in gold fountain pen nibs as gold was considered a war resource. Gold doesn't tarnish, and is thus suitable for things like warships where exposed copper wiring contacts would quickly corrode due to exposure to seawater. The nibs were generally replaced with low quality steel or even brass nibs, as iron was also relatively scarce. If someone was found in possession of a gold nib, the pen would be confiscated and the person fined or even sent to work camps. Gold nibs didn't really become popular again in Japan until the American occupation ended in the early 1950s. Nibs made after this point will have a "JIS" mark as well as a number code on them. This was a certification system used by the Japanese government to direct economic growth by only allowing certain companies to legally produce goods in any given industry. The number code with the JIS mark was registered to one maker. Due to this, finding a gold nib on an older Japanese pen that does not bear the JIS marking is quite rare."

Verrry interesting! Thank you to Jerred for that info :)
That's Jerred's new Delta Unica and a vintage Waterman in BCHR belonging to one of our members below it (it might be Ray's Waterman ca. 1903-04, but I'm not sure)

Peter brought in his trusty Pilot Vanishing Point, but I photographed it at our April meeting, and Rene brought in his earliest fountain pen --an Eagle cartridge fountain pen (ca. 1890) that was the world's first cartridge-filling fountain pen!-- but I also photographed it in April. I'm sorry I didn't take a shot of Harold's handsome gold-coloured Diplomat 'Aero' fountain pen, and I really wish I'd snapped a photo of the wonderful vintage fountain pens that Vladan brought; they included: a pre-war Parker Vacumatic Debutante, a Parker Vacumatic Major (ca. 1943), an Osmia that belonged to his father and a vintage Pelikan 400NN (the same model as his father's, but not the same pen). Sorry, guys :(.

Many thanks to everyone who came to our May meeting, whether you brought something for the topic(s) or not; you brought yourself, and that's the most important thing!😊

**I'll post info about our June meeting on this website (it'll be at the top of each webpage, in big red letters) after I confirm the venue and date.

(~Blog post by Maja~)

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 496

We're in the middle of a long weekend and I'm still working on the blog post about our May meeting so, in the meantime, enjoy this pen review sent in by Christopher! (thank you, Christopher :)

Christopher writes: "Just when you feel that you have exhausted any hope of finding something new and interesting in the way of vintage pens, along comes something that you just did not expect. Such was the way with a pen that I just ran across and, in picking it up for a more careful examination, was blown away."

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

"The new acquisition has all the bells and whistles. Starting with an exquisite artfully chased finish on black vulcanized rubber right in the center of it all on the barrel is a good sized triangle with the model name ‘Tucolor’. Then, on either side of this triangle, are the words Diamond and Point. Below this manufacturer’s name --again, on either side of the triangle-- are the words and letters, Fill and E-Z. The cap sports a tapered to a ball end nickel plated clip with the company name running vertically down the center as New Diamond P.P. The word New, also being neatly presented in a triangle. Above the clip, the cap is topped off with an attractive deep forest green end piece. While below the clip is quite a wide 14K Gold filled banding. This pen is a lever filler which takes quite a large rubber ink sack. The grip section is a long one and, in turn, houses a beautiful and flexy No. 2, 14 Karat Warranted Gold nib. All in all, a fine, great quality writing instrument that posts well at all of 6 ¼ inches but caps back to a pocketable 5 inches accordingly.

The Diamond Point company hailed from New York City and was established before the beginning of the last century. It began by having its pens made in job lots but in time started to produce its own with a focus on quality. In the 1930s, it moved away from black hard rubber to produce fountain pens with brilliant coloured plastic finishes. But, at the same time, it changed ownership and rebranded itself, dropping the word Point and adding the word New with a double P to replace the word dropped. The rebranding was to distinguish the new ownership from the old. Unfortunately, as time went on into the 1940s the quality was sadly lacking until the company closed during the 1950s.

This pen, fortunately, was made at a time during the late 1920s and just before the market crash on Wall Street in October of 1929 when the quality standard of Diamond Point was at an all time high. Just a beautiful item and a strong addition to my vintage pen collection."

Friday, May 19, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 495

Many thanks to everyone who came to our meeting last night! The 16 of us had fun talking about our oldest fountain pens and newest finds, and I think a good time was had by all. I'll post some photos from the meeting in the next few days (most likely right after the long weekend).

Now, just to show you that our club isn't just about fountain pens, here are some "glamour shots" of one of my favourite capless rollerballs-- a Retro 51 'Tread' rollerball in the "Spark" colour that I acquired a few months ago...

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

The 'Tread' collection first appeared in the 2019 Retro 51 catalog, and was described by the company thusly: "This new series uses an chain-like pattern acid-etched on the barrel for a tactile feel that is finished in two vibrant classic lacquer colors (Spark & Flare) plus the all matte black nickel, Flint. Each pen is loaded with a rollerball refill and packaged in Retro brand tube."

The pen's specifications
(from the same catalog):

LENGTH: 4 inches/125 mm
DIAMETER: 0.43 inches/11 mm
WEIGHT: 1 oz/ 28 grams
REFILL: Rollerball (note: it can also take a Parker style ballpoint or gel refill!)

(I love the barrel design --not only does it look great, but the raised pattern feels really neat :)

Have a safe & happy Victoria Day long weekend, everyone!

(~Blog post by Maja~)