“Stone” Paper (Da Vinci Notebook)

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Q. What do egg shells and paper have in common? A. They are both made of calcium carbonate. At least the “stone” paper from this Kickstarter project is made from the same stuff as egg shells. Nick, the creator of the Da Vinci Notebook, sent me a sample of this interesting paper and I decided to put it through a few paces.

The first thing you’ll notice about the stone paper is that it feels very soft and that there is almost no discernible texture to the paper. The phrase “smooth as a baby’s bottom” comes to mind. It also has some heft to it. I cannot find the paper weight in the information that Nick sent me but I’d guess that a single sheet of stone paper weighs about the same as at least 3 sheets of Rhodia. Seems to me that a 100 page, 5″ x 8″ notebook of this stuff would weigh a pound or more. Lastly, in the initial impression category, would be the color. The paper has a flat white color to it. It is not bright white like most copy paper but it is not in the cream color range either. I’d call it flat or off-white or soft white. Whatever name fits the color best, the important point is that it’s easy on the eyes. The paper is also described as water and tear resistant. I’d agree that it does have some water repellency, but it didn’t seem to take much more effort to tear than the decent copy paper I have. When it does tear, it seemed to do so neatly without many fibers showing along the tear line.

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How does the paper perform? Well, it depends. For most pen and ink combinations it performed well and felt smooth. For a couple of pen and ink combinations it was more or less, as the kids might say, epic fail. Let’s take a look at pictures of particular pen/ink combinations.

First, my go-to-non-fountain-pen-of-choice, the Pentel Energels. I’m happy to say that the Energels took to the stone paper like a fish to water. This was especially true of the wider 0.7 mm point. In my experience, Energels write well on most paper surfaces but they felt particularly smooth on the stone paper and laid down a solid and consistent line.

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Unfortunately, the dry times for the Energels on the stone paper were less than ideal. Energels are, in my experience, the fastest drying gels pens on the market today but something about the gel chemicals and the stone paper inhibits drying times. Regardless, there is smearing evident, even at the 10 second mark. That said, the writing experience is so smooth with the gel/stone paper combination that I might be willing to take my time writing and enjoy the ride.

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What about fountain pens? Well, the few that I tried did not fare particularly well. My fine nib Kaweco AL Sport with Kaweco Blue did reasonably well. The writing was smooth but there was a touch of feathering on a letter or two. My TWSBI Mini, also with a fine nib and sporting Kon Peki, was less successful as the sharper point of the TWSBI dug into the stone paper a bit. You can see the digging in with the “T” of TWSBI in the pictures below. My Parker Vacumatic (also fine, also Kon Peki) was the one epic fail of the lot. All in all, I think good results could be obtained with a rounded fine nib and less slippery inks, but I did not immediately find a fountain pen/ink combination that worked like a charm with the stone paper.

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Let me finish with the pen/ink combinations that took to the stone paper best. Hybrid and ballpoint inks did very, very well on this paper. Color saturation was amazing (on par with gel inks) and the dry times were nearly instantaneous. I think I can use a touch of chemistry to explain why the ballpoints worked so well. Apparently, the stone paper is made with 80% calcium carbonate and 20% non-toxic resin (I’m guessing these are weight percentages). Ballpoint and, to a less extent, hybrid inks are oil-based (i.e. hydrocarbon) media which I suspect bind effectively with the resin (i.e. hydrocarbon) of the stone paper. Interestingly, my Lamy rollerball (water-based ink) also wrote nicely and dried quickly on the stone paper but a post-writing water test showed some differences. The water-based rollerball ink and the gel inks smeared noticeably after dabbing with water but the hybrid and ballpoint inks held up great.

For what it’s worth, I also used some pencils on the stone paper. Very sharp and hard points dug into the paper too much, but softer/wider leads wrote smoothly. You can see the evidence of digging into the paper by the bits of embossing on the back.

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Let’s conclude. Fountain pens and inks? Probably not. Gel pens and inks? Yes, but take your time to avoid smearing. Rollerball inks? Yes (but avoid water as always with rollerball inks). Ballpoint and hybrid inks? Yes, absolutely, my goodness yes! In fact, I decided to back the Kickstarter project for the Da Vinci Notebook based solely on the positive results I saw with ballpoint and hybrid inks. Backer options start at $12 on Kickstarter so trying the notebook for yourself won’t cost too much.

On a related note, Oxford makes a stone paper notebook that is available from Walgreens of all places (Sorry, I can’t bring myself to put a link to Walgreens on my blog). After playing with the Da Vinci Notebook paper sample, I ran over to my local Walgreens and got lucky. The paper in the Oxford book does have a similar texture and also provides a smooth writing feel. However, the Oxford paper is noticeably thinner than the Da Vinci Notebook sample. In fact, the page beneath the current page does become slightly embossed from writing in the Oxford notebook. I’m happy to have the Oxford notebook to play around with more stone paper, but I’m hopeful that the Kickstarter Da Vinci Notebooks will be a clear step up in quality.

A sample of the stone paper was provided to me free of charge by the creator of the Da Vinci Notebook Kickstarter project. Opinions and perspectives are entirely my own.

Parker Vacumatic

 

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I believe this is the first vintage pen I’ve reviewed on That One Pen and boy is it a nice one to start with. First, let me be honest here, I don’t know much about vintage pens. I’m certainly not a vintage collector but seeing so many Parker Vacumatics and Parker 51s at the Philadelphia and Long Island pen shows put the vintage bug in my ear. So, I spent some time surfing the fountain pen forums and ebay listings looking for a quality vintage pen and eventually came across this Parker Vacumatic on ebay. It has been wonderfully restored and, compared to prices I was seeing at the pen shows, I think I got a reasonably good deal. It wasn’t a steal by any stretch, but I feel comfortable that I got very good value for my dollar. Importantly, of all the Vacumatics out there, I’ve always liked the ones with the black and blue checkered look so I’m especially happy to find this little gem.

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I’ve been using the pen consistently for about a week now and, although not a perfect writer, it’s darn close. I’m thinking seriously about sending the pen off to get the nib tweaked a bit. Given the investment I’ve already put into the pen, a few more bucks to get the nib closer to perfect would make some sense. It is a fine nib but to me, it writes closer to a medium. Actually, the best way to describe the writing would be to call it a wet fine. So, I might send it off to get the nib thinned a bit and maybe get closer to a wet, extra fine writer. The pen is currently loaded with Kon Peki which flows especially well. I may try something like Parker Quink or Waterman Florida Blue that might be a bit stingier with the flow. I’m open to other suggestions as well. Do you have an ink you use in pens that write just a bit too wet for your tastes?

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In terms of size and feel, the Vacumatic is also close to perfect. The posted length of the pen is ideal for my relatively small hands. The grip width is just a touch on the thin side for what I prefer but still comfortable. The gold nib is fairly small and matches the overall design of the pen beautifully. Even though the pen has been restored, everything about the writing experience just screams vintage to me. It’s a cool feeling writing with something so old yet so effective.

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Filling the Vacumatic could not be easier. Insert the nib into the ink bottle and depress the plunger 5 or 6 times and you’re ready to go. Being a restored pen, the tension of the plunger is tight but not too tight. I don’t have a lot of experience with Vacumatic plungers, but this one seems to work as well as these systems should. As you can see, there is a cap that covers the plunger and there is no discernible seam between this cap and the body when closed. Again, an old pen that just plain looks and works great.

Rating
I really, really dig this pen. It most certainly would be a “Carry It” pen for me, but the cost of the pen and the fact that it is vintage most likely means that it will not spend a lot of time in my pocket. For now, I’m keeping it in a pen case and leaving it safely on my desk when not in use. I suspect, as time passes, the reins will be loosened.

Analogy
Frankly, I’m having trouble with coming up with an analogy here. The Parker Vacumatic may be the oldest thing I own. It’s certainly the oldest thing I own that gets used on a regular basis. So, think of something old that is also cool looking and still works like a charm and you’ve got a good analogy for the Parker Vacumatic. In short, it’s a winner!

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Bexley Admiral

I attended my second pen show of the year by making it to the Long Island Pen Show in mid March. Compared to the Philadelphia Pen Show I went to earlier this year, the LI show is a more modest affair. In terms of space and number of merchants, I’d put the LI show around 50-60% the size of the Philly show. Despite its smaller size, the LI show more than holds its own. Anyway, the show is not our focus here; perhaps a post about the show will come later. Those interested in a review of the LIPS should go here. Right now, let’s talk about my favorite purchase of the show – this small but beautiful bit of fountain pen fun…

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I bought this Bexley Admiral from Richard Binder with a fine nib. As you may know, Richard tunes up the nib of any pen he sells so you’re guaranteed to be more than satisfied with your purchase. Now, there are a few oddities to the Admiral that makes it less than perfect, but the writing experience is great – at least for my everyday writing style. At this point, I have around 15 fountain pens with different nibs and it’s clear to me that I prefer a stiff fine nib that lays down a moderately dry line. I don’t want dry dry, but I definitely do not want anything most folks might consider wet. The nib of the Admiral fits my bill rather well. In fact, it may be the stiffest nib in my collection and the line is offers is fairly typical of an American or European fine line (shown here with Waterman Mysterious Blue).

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It’s not apparent from any of the pictures, but this is a small, pocket-sized pen. Capped, the Admiral is about a centimeter longer than a TWSBI Mini. Posted, the Admiral is about a half centimeter shorter than a posted TWSBI Mini. If you only write with big, heavy pens then you should stop reading and avoid the Admiral all together. Now for some of those oddities.

First, the name. A pen called the Admiral should be a big , brawny handful of a pen. Look, the size works for me but a more appropriate Navy-themed name would have been something like the Bexley First Mate or the Bexley Ensign. Then there’s the nib. While I really like the function and the look of the nib on its own, the gold tone of the nib is mismatched with the blue, white and black camo/cow pattern with silver trim of the pen body.  I suspect it’s a matter of stock and scale at Bexley and that they don’t want to tailor their nibs to all the pen bodies they sell, but the combination may be a turnoff for some. Lastly, the short length of the barrel means a full-sized converter is a no go and we’re stuck with one of those stubby plunger converters.

BexleyAdmiralConverter

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the Bexley Admiral. The nib/body mismatch and small ink reservoir are, no pun intended, small concessions to make for a pen that can go anywhere with you and that, thanks in no small part to Mr. Binder, writes wonderfully. If you’re looking for a smaller fountain pen that might make more of a style statement than other pocket pens, the Admiral is a great way to go.

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Kaweco AL Sport

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Holy cow! I am absolutely digging the Kaweco AL Sport. There are two minor issues with the AL Sport that prevent me from possibly labeling it as THAT ONE PEN, but it really is a fantastic writing implement. Minor issue #1 – The grip section is just a touch too thin for me. It’s not annoyingly thin. I just wish it was a few more millimeters wider to maximize the feel in my hand. Minor issue #2 – There’s no clip. Yes, you can buy a clip but it looks a bit too large for the sleek style of the pen and I hear it doesn’t hold the pen all that well. The lack of clip is actually a very minor complaint as this pen has been residing comfortably in my front pocket since I bought it a few weeks ago. I would; however, prefer that it could grab the lip of the pocket so that it never wiggles into an uncomfortable horizontal position while in my pocket. It rarely does this so minor issue #2 really is a minor issue.

Now, onto the reasons why I love this pen. First, the look. Just look at that color and minimalist design. Originally, I was thinking about snagging the gray AL Sport, but once I saw the blue color I quickly changed my mind. I’m not sure if my pictures show it well enough, but the blue body color does lean a bit towards the purple side of blue. The octagonal shape of the cap prevents the pen from going anywhere when resting on your desk and the silver Kaweco emblem on the cap is a sharp touch of bling. It’s true that you’re likely to make contact with the threads while writing but I don’t find the threads to be all that sharp so it’s a non-issue for me. Since the cap covers about half of the pen body when posted, the pen feels solid when writing.

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Speaking of writing. I originally bought the pen with a medium nib. That was a mistake. The medium nib skipped a bit here and there and just didn’t give a great writing experience so I ordered a fine nib which turned out to be one of the best pen-related purchases I’ve made in a while. The pen absolutely positively sings with the steel fine nib. I haven’t experienced any skipping or dry ink issues with this smooth-writing fine nib. Any fountain pen that can put up with my lefty hook and come up aces each and every time is a welcomed addition to the collection. The writing shown here was done with the Kaweco blue cartridge that came with the pen.

If you were to ask me what are my two must have fountain pens right now I would probably go with my TWSBI Mini and this AL Sport. Both are rock solid performers and fit my hand well. This got me thinking that it seems that I prefer fountain pens with relatively small nibs. I think I control the pen easier with the smaller nibs and they seem to be more tolerant of my hooked and somewhat upright writing style.

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Rating
Carry it, carry it, carry it, carry it!! The pen is great to write with, is a real looker and easy to take anywhere. Go buy one. Right now. I’m serious. Buy one right now!

Analogy
The Kaweco AL Sport is like my Wilson Six.One 95 BLX tennis racquet. The AL Sport fits my writing style just like the Wilson racquet fits my tennis game. Both have a great feel and with just a bit of tweaking (grip wrap for the racquet and fine nib for the pen) they become a near perfect instrument for the task at hand.

Turns out I’m not the only one to review this great pen.
Fountain Pen Quest
Ed Jelley
Anderson Pens
SBRE Brown
The Clicky Post
The Pen Addict

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TWSBI 580

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I got me a TWSBI Mini (love it), a TWSBI Vac 700 (dig it), a TWSBI Classic (solid) and, our focus here, a TWSBI 580 (meh). Other than the decent collection of Parker Jotters I have, I’m fairly sure these four pens make TWSBI the most popular pen manufacturer in my collection (excluding the various inexpensive Pilot G2s or Pentel Energels I’ve got here, there and everywhere). I’m more or less all in when it comes to TWSBI and, for the most part, the investments have paid off nicely. The one exception; however, may be the 580. It’s certainly not a bad pen but the investments I’ve put into the pen just haven’t paid off they way I had hoped. Yes, “investmentS” plural.

Like the vast majority of my fountain pen purchases, I bought the 580 with a fine nib. But that’s not all. At the time of the original order, I decided to throw in the broad nib thinking that, for the extra $20, it would be like getting two pens in one. But that’s still not all. A couple of weeks later I was enticed by the notion of a 1.1 stub nib and was unable to fight off the temptation. So, that’s one pen and three nibs. But, the spending on the 580 doesn’t stop there. I really, really, really wanted this pen to work for me and knowing that the vast majority of my writing is done with a fine nib, I took the 580 and fine nib to the recent Philadelphia Pen Show for tuning. I managed to get on Richard Binder‘s sign up sheet and he did solid work smoothing out the nib for me. Even after all this, the 580 and I are still trying to work out our differences. Thing is, I really like the look of the 580 and all my other TWSBIs are all-stars in my collection so I’m not ready to give up yet.

What’s not working out between me and the 580? (1) I can’t get the broad or stub nibs to behave consistently. Maybe it’s my lefty hook. Maybe my relatively small lettering doesn’t work with wider nibs. Maybe I haven’t found the right ink yet (tried Fuyu gaki, Noodler’s Bernake Blue, Waterman Mysterious Blue – seen here). Maybe I hold the pen too upright and the 580 nib is more sensitive to angle than the Mini, Classic (same nib as Mini) and Vac 700. Still, no matter what I do with the wider nibs I get bits of skipping. (2) The fine nib works…well, fine, especially after some tuning from Mr. Binder. But, the nib does seem to dry out quicker than my other TWSBI pens. If I don’t use it consistently it’s a bit of a struggle and a fair amount of doodling before the nib responds well again. In short, the 580 just seems to be too moody for my liking. My Lamy 2000 can be persnickety as well but once I get that bad boy going it’s all good – very good in fact. Right now, the 580 doesn’t seem worth the fuss. I’ve tried to meet you more than half way, but TWSBI 580…it’s not me; it’s you.

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Rating
If I were to be totally honest, the 580 may be a “Give It” pen for me. But, I’m not there yet. I’m going to keep working with the tuned-up fine nib. I haven’t tried many of my favorite inks yet and I’m hoping against hope that the right combination is still to be discovered. Right now, we’ll “Desk It”.

Analogy
Okay, bear with me here. The TWSBI 580 is like the Rush album Vapor Trails. I’m a decent fan of Rush (not a die-hard, but definitely a fan) to the point that I have most of their studio albums including Vapor Trails. When VT first came out in 2002 I couldn’t stand it. The music was solid but the sound quality and the overall mix made the album practically unlistenable for me. Thankfully, the band realized there were issues and recently released an improved version. Now, I consider VT among my 3 or 4 favorite Rush albums overall and so it may be with the 580. The mix isn’t working for me right now but I’m hoping I’ll find the right ink one of these days and the pen will start to rock.

The thoughts of others on the 580:
The Pen Addict
Tyler Dahl
Delectable Pens
Ink on Hand
Fountain Pen Day

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Philadelphia Pen Show

I spent this past Saturday at the Philadelphia Pen Show.  It took a bit over 2 hours to get to Philly from my northern NJ home.  Save for a bit of snow, the trip was uneventful and finding the Sheraton  hosting the show couldn’t have been easier.  I got to the show around 10:20 am so I was among the early arrivals for Saturday.  The show took up two large rooms which made it a bit larger than I had imagined in my mind but I hear that the Philly show is only about half as large as the one in D.C..  I was more than impressed by the options available in Philly so I’m a little frightened as to what could be going on in D.C.!

I decided not to take any pictures because I wanted to take it all in and fly under the radar.  During the 4 hours or so I spent at the show, I circled the room several times visiting different vendors multiple times trying to get a handle on the offerings and prices.  Generally speaking, the prices were comparable to what you could find from pen retailers online but I certainly overheard plenty of haggling at a number of tables.  Since I was mostly in the market for modern pens, I wasn’t on the hunt for deals (although I did get one) and spent my time really just trying to take it all in.

So, what did I learn going to my first pen show?  First, there are wwwaaaayyyy too many pens in the world.  When you’re at a pen show, the absurdity of tracking down particular pens and having a collection of more than a couple of decent pens can hit you square in the face – at least it did for me.  That’s not to say I’m going to slow down my pen collecting, but you are forced to come face to face with your obsession in a rather stark way at a show.  I knew to bring cash and I knew plenty of people would be spending mad amounts of cash.  Still, I wasn’t fully prepared for how quick and easy it would be to spend money.  One gentleman dropped over $1K in the span of about 2 minutes on 3 Parker pens while I was browsing a table.  Again, I knew the money would be flying but to see the cash move in person was quite a spectacle.  I think I’m going to start a pen show cash stash to be better prepared for the next show.  Selling some old pens and bodily fluids to fund future pen show trips may also become an option.

I also learned that pen vendors are a patient and polite bunch.  It was nice to meet Lisa and Brian Anderson in person.  Turns out they’re as nice in person as they seem in their weekly podcasts.  I spoke with several other vendors and they were all, to a person, very accommodating.  In addition to the Andersons, specials mention goes to Susan Wirth.  I talked Parker Jotters with her for a good five minutes and she was simply delightful.  I’m not the kind of guy who uses the phrase “simply delightful”, but that’s the best way to describe Susan.  She was a hoot and very helpful.

Lastly, I learned that Richard Binder and nib adjustments are the real deal.  I never had a pen adjusted before but I do have a few that write less than ideally so I made sure to get on Richard’s list as soon as I arrived.  I was #10 on his list for that day and it took about 2 hours for my number to come up.  I ended up having him smooth out a fine nib for my TWSBI 580.  Nothing fancy as far as nib work goes and it took Richard less than 5 minutes to produce a result I was happy with.  The man knows what he’s doing and he seems like a thoroughly fine fellow to boot.

What will I do differently at my next show?  I went into the show with a list of 10-12 pens to check out.  Turns out that the list went out the window about 20 steps into the show room.  Next time, I’ll go into a show with fewer pens in mind.  I’ll then start by circling the show two or three times to see what’s what and then focus on pursuing these preplanned pens for a time and leave the rest of the day in search of a few surprises.  I would also set aside some time to take in all the ink options.  While I did buy a bottle of ink, it felt more like an add-on than a well-considered purchase.  As part of a future plan to leave more time for surprises, I will definitely play with more pens next time.  I spent a lot of time looking at the Philly show.  Next time, I’ll leave time and space to play with more pens.

What did I get?
Kaweco Blue Al Star Sport(M nib) – Paid a fair price, but by no means a bargain
Early ’80s glossy green Parker Jotter – Probably overpaid a bit, but I really connected with the color
Monteverde One Touch Engage – I got a very, very good deal on this directly from the Monteverde representative.  It’s going to make a great test grading pen for years to come.
Organics Studio Neon Ink – List price

All in all, I’m happy I went.  It was a lot of fun and even though I didn’t get the best bang for my buck in all cases I learned a fair amount.  I live about 90 minutes from Hofstra so I suspect I’ll be going to the Long Island show in March.  When I do, I’ll be a bit wiser and better prepared to take advantage of the day.

(Updated – forgot to include all the links in earlier version.)

Pilot Vanishing Point

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If a pen could be an evil genius, then the matte black Pilot Vanishing Point would fit the bill.  The Vanishing Point may be one of the most talked about and reviewed fountain pens going today and for good reason.  It’s unique, incredibly well made and a solid writer (mostly).  The questions we have to answer are whether or not the uniqueness wanders into overly quirky territory and if the design elements required by the retractable nib make the Pilot VP a pen worth using for extended writing sessions.  For me, the answers two both questions is “no”.  The design works but the writing experience is a bit awkward for me.

Obviously, the retractable nib thingy is way cool.  Yes, the fact that the clip has to be on the end where the nib resides can make for an awkward grip, but the design and build quality of the retraction mechanism and the overall pen are excellent.  If you like to collect a variety of fountain pens, you probably should have a Pilot VP solely for its unique features.  Also, if you’re looking for a quality fountain pen to use as a pocket carry to make quick notes, you could do a lot worse.  So, even before we get to its qualities as a writer, there is much to recommend this fine fountain pen.

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The Pilot VP comes with an 18 k gold, rhodium-platted nib.  It’s shown here loaded with Noodler’s Dark Matter.  Given these nib materials and the overall excellent quality of the pen, the typical street price of $140 is reasonable (remember, everything is relative here).  The nib is rather small and, like typical Japanese nibs, a medium is more a medium/fine and a fine is more a fine/extra fine.  I would say my medium-nibbed Pilot VP behaves like a wet fine.  How does it write?  Well, it depends on how you hold the pen.  As a left-hander, I’m typically an overwriter with a bit of a hook.  But, like many lefties, I sometimes switch to underwriting when underlining and making other strokes or if the pen I’m using requires it.  When I underwrite, the VP works wonderfully.  It’s smooth, lays down a fairly wet fine line and never skips.  However, when I overwrite, the performance is a bit inconsistent (not bad, but inconsistent) and, believe it or not, the nib makes an occasional squeaking noise.  I suspect right-handed folks and lefty underwriters would really like the Vanishing Point and could find a spot for it in their regular rotation.  As a lefty overwriter, I have my reservations.  Clearly, a visit to the nib doctor may be called for if I want to make the Pilot VP more than an occasionally used novelty.  I do like the overall size of the pen; it fits my medium-sized hand quite well.

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Rating
Because of its limits when I overwrite, the Pilot VP is a “Desk It” pen for me.  If it weren’t so unique and so well built, I would probably lower this to a “Give It” rating.  But, I think I will pursue the aforementioned nib work in an effort to promote it to a “Carry It” pen.  Stay tuned…

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Analogy
The matte black Pilot VP is the Darth Vader of fountain pens.  As Vader is part machine and part man, the VP is part mechanical novelty and part traditional writing instrument.  Although Vader was never able to fully realize is galactic ambitions, I’m hopeful a bit of nib work will turn my Pilot VP into a fully functional death star of a pen.

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Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln

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We fountain pen users can be a picky bunch and spending a fair amount of money on a variety of pens only exasperates that pickiness.  Now, I’m going to have a few picky things to say about Retro 51’s Tornado Lincoln fountain pen, but don’t let these little issues dissuade you.  If you can find a Lincoln for $50 or less, buy one.  It’s a unique looking pen and it writes very, very well for a moderately priced pen.  Pair it up with a uniquely colored ink like Diamine Ancient Copper and you’ve got yourself a fun and classy combination.

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Let me get my three points of pickiness, in descending order of annoyance, out of the way.  (1)  The metal body, which looks fantastic, gives way to a somewhat inexpensive-feeling plastic grip section.  The section is a touch slippery, although not discouragingly so, and doesn’t seem to hold its own with the stunning body and cap.  (2)  When posted, the pen is a tad too long for my taste and the balance is a bit top heavy.  Also, you have to push the cap on firmly to get an adequate post.  (3)  The converter doesn’t fit into the grip section as firmly as it should.  As you can see from the picture below, there is a step down from the main compartment of the converter to the portion that sits inside the grip section resulting in a bit of wiggle.  It does stay put, but you’ll want to be cognizant of the wiggle when separating the grip and body sections to avoid any ink accidents.  One the positive side, the available volume is somewhat larger than your average converter.

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Persnicketiness out of the way, let’s get to the many good points of this fine pen.  The color.  My goodness the color.  Maybe it’s kitschy to make a pen look like a penny and name it Lincoln, but it works for me.  Importantly, the finish is not purely copper as there is a brush effect that blends the copper color with wisps of black giving the Lincoln a rich appearance.  The iconic Retro 51 knurling at the top of the cap provides a nice contrast against the smooth, brushed look of the rest of the pen.  I expect the finish will oxidize with time.  That’s fine with me; it will just make the pen more mine.

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Now, it’s obvious why I decided to put Diamine Ancient Copper in the Lincoln.  However, it seems like I stumbled into a fantastic match as the nib has performed like a dream from the first stroke.  There hasn’t been a hint of skipping and the ride produced from this steel fine nib is generally smooth with a bit of feedback.  As you can see, I’m reviewing the pen using Rhodia which gives the smoothest feel you can expect; there definitely was more feedback on Field Notes.  Check it out.  Field Notes Drink Local and the Lincoln work well together don’t you think?  The nib was able to generate a bit of shading with this beautiful ink revealing colors ranging from a light copper to a deeper brown.

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Rating
It’s a unique looking pen and writing with copper/brown colors may not be the most practical for every day use, but screw it, the Retro 51 and Ancient Copper combo rocks and should be within close reach at all times.  It’s a “Carry It” pen.  The slightly awkward length when posted might make it cumbersome to use for quick note taking, but the positives easily overcome this mild inconvenience.  Again, if you can find this pen with the nib size you want for under $50, it’s a no-brainer purchase.

Analogy
The Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln is like a US penny.  Okay, that’s too easy.  How about this?  The Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln is like a good pair of casual brown leather shoes.  Both the Lincoln and a good pair of brown shoes look good from day one and neither really needs any break-in time.  Also, both should develop a character of their own over time.

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What have others thought about this solid pen?
FP Quest
Pencil Case Blog
The Pen Habit

Once again…a gratuitous collage of pen and ink.

Retro51LincolnCollage

Lamy 2000

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Don’t look now, but it’s another Lamy 2000 review.  If the world needed on thing it was definitely another Lamy 2000 review especially from a Johnny-Come-Lately to the pen blogging world like me.  Before we really start, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this multipart Lamy 2000 review available at the Fountain Pen Network.  It covers the Lamy 2000 from every conceivable angle and is certainly a lot more complete than the nonsense I’ll be writing here.  In fact, just look at a couple of the pictures here and head over to that FPN review (check out the reviews listed below too).

Along with a Waterman Charleston I bought years ago, the Lamy 2000 (M nib) was my entry into the world of nicer (and pricier) fountain pens.  We all know there are more expensive pens out there, but the Charleston and the 2000 were certainly the first pens I spent more than $100 obtaining.  It’s fair to say that neither pen is a daily go-to pen for me, but they definitely have sentimental value.  If I had to choose a favorite between these two early additions to my fountain pen collection, the Lamy 2000 would win going away!

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Perhaps it’s because the Lamy 2000 has been around for nearly 50 years, because when I think classic pen shapes, the 2000, first released in 1966, comes to mind.  I wonder if Lamy is planning anything special for 2016.  Seriously, is there a simpler, more iconic shape in the pen world than a Lamy 2000?  Then there’s the Markrolon (polycarbonate) material.  L…O…V…E it!  It’s lightweight (maybe a touch too light for my taste), easy to hold and the fine striations of the material give the pen a unique texture that can show classy signs of aging (check out the aforementioned FPN review to see what I mean).  Also incorporated into the body of the pen is a subtle ink window that’s so seamlessly incorporated into the overall design of the pen it’s rather difficult to photograph effectively especially in the fading light of a cloudy winter afternoon.

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And then we have the nib.  It’s a platinum-finished 14k gold semi-hooded nib that can write like a dream.  I say “can write like a dream” because you need determine if you and the 2000 nib are a good pairing.  If the nib works for you, you’ll love it.  Otherwise, despite all the other positives of the pen, you’re better off staying away.  Even though I’m a lefty and have a few quirks to my writing style, the nib works for me.  The medium nib on my Lamy 2000 is a bit on the wet side (just a bit though) and shows more line variation than any other medium nib I have.  I don’t go out of my way to induce variation but the 2000 gives just enough variability yielding a distinct look I don’t see from my other fountain pens.

Rating
Honestly, this hard for me.  While I love the design, material and generally enjoy the writing experience, I have to say that the Lamy 2000 is a “Desk It” pen for me.  I need to be sitting at a desk with fairly ideal posture to get the pen to write consistently and in a way I enjoy  This isn’t a pen that works for me when jotting notes in a Field Note memo while walking down the hall.  However, if I’m at my desk and have the time and space to write carefully, the Lamy 2000 gives a smooth ride.  It’s not an everyday carry pen so much as it’s a let’s-sit-down-and-play-with-the-Lamy-2000 sort of pen.  Before I finish, I should mention that the piston mechanism of my Lamy 2000 stopped working at some point; I probably overtightened the piston’s screw.  I sent the pen to the Lamy USA affiliate in Connecticut where it was fixed for free and returned to me in about two weeks.  So, should you get one?  Probably, but take it for a test drive before consummating the relationship.  Speaking of test drives…

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Analogy
Do you collect classic cars?  Neither do I.  But, if I did collect classic cars I might tell you that the Lamy 2000 is like my 1966 Ford Mustang.  I know, I should be referencing a German car, but look I’m American and I know jack-squat about classic cars.  Even if you don’t know cars you do know what a mid- to late- ’60s Ford Mustang looks like because they have a characteristic and simple style much like the Lamy 2000.

The following reviews all came from just the first page of a Google search.  In other words, there are a boat load of Lamy 2000 reviews as you might expect for such a classic.
Fountain Pen Network (THE Lamy 2000 review)
Pen Addict (a long and sordid tale with a happy ending)
FP Geeks (“glowing” would describe this review)
Ed Jelley (another glowing review with Ed’s characteristic simple/clean pictures of this iconic pen)
Tyler Dahl (the glow continues)
From The Pen Cup (the word “love” is used three times in the last paragraph of this review)

Another gratuitous pen and ink collage:

Lamy2000Collage

Waterman Charleston

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The Waterman Charleston may be the fountain pen that started it all for me.  And by “all”, I mean the sickness that is pen collecting and the idea that spending more than $5 or $25 or $50 or…I better stop there…on a pen is an acceptable use of money.  I don’t remember exactly, but I think I’ve had my Charleston for nearly 10 years and I’m pretty sure I bought it at the now defunct Joon Pen in NYC.  The Charleston is definitely one of the first two or three nice fountain pens I bought.  In the years since buying it, my fountain pen purchase habits have ebbed and flowed, favorite pens have come and gone, but there is something a bit nostalgic for me when it comes to the Waterman Charleston.  Admittedly, it’s not my favorite pen.  In fact, it’s probably not even in the top 5 at this point; however, it was something of a gateway pen for me and for that, I’ll always appreciate it.

The MSRP on the Charleston is around $200 with a typical street price around $170.  At that price, there are other pens I favor but the Charleston does have a lot going for it.  First, the Art Deco style along with the black and silver finish make the Charleston one handsome pen.  The 18k gold, fine nib is a solid performer.  I would say it’s a quarter of a step behind the writing experience I get from my 14k gold medium-nib Sailor Sapporo.  Even though one is a fine nib and the other is a medium nib, there are definite similarities between the two pens with the Charleston offering just a bit more feedback than the Sapporo.  The posted length of the pen, about 17.5 cm, is nearly ideal for my hand but the weight, 25 grams, is a touch light for my preferences.  Hey, if you know of a pen that is around 16-18 cm long when posted with a weight of 30-35 grams, let me know.  The width of the pen is pretty spot on for me as well.

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All-in-all, the specifications of the Waterman Charleston really should work for me and, for the most part, they do.  Having said that, the writing experience falls just a bit short of the feel I get from many of my other fountain pens.  Perhaps if I made myself write only with the Charleston for an extended period it would grow on me even more but I typically gravitate to other pens before too long.  Also, there is one little thing about the pen that causes some minor annoyance.  There is an ever so slight wiggle to the grip section.  It feels like the section is loose even though it’s fully screwed in.  I’m not sure where this very, very slight wiggle originates but it’s definitely there.  It seems I’m not the only one to notice it.

Rating
I really should love this pen.  The style, size and writing experience are all solid but the sum here is just a bit less than the parts.  Don’t get me wrong; the Waterman Charleston is a winner and you should definitely give it a full audition.  If I were forced to use only this pen for several weeks I’d be perfectly happy.  But, nobody’s forcing me so I don’t.  Overall, a weak “Carry It” or a very strong “Desk It” option for me.

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Analogy
The Waterman Charleston is like the pizza from your second favorite pizza place.  The pizza is great.  You don’t mind giving the folks who run the joint your business and you can’t recall ever getting a bad pizza there.  That said, it’s still your second favorite pizza joint that you order from only when your first-choice joint is closed for vacation or if you just need a change of pace.

Weird.  I couldn’t find many other reviews of the Charleston.  If you did one or know of others, please let me know.
Best Fountain Pen

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