Little Rock Pen Show

This was my 2nd time at the Little Rock Pen Show, and it was bigger than last year. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Papier Plume from New Orleans had a booth this year–I saw their ink bottles first and I was like oh, someone brought some of PP’s inks. Then I looked up and saw Patrick Rideau and was like oh, no PP actually came to the show! He had an even longer drive than I did.

Ironically, I had just made a purchase off their website the day before; they started carrying Flow Magazine and they have it much sooner than Barnes & Noble (who’s still trying to unload copies of the previous issue) does. They charge a couple dollars less than B&N, but then you add that back in with shipping and it’s virtually the same price. Plus, you’re giving your money to a small local business instead of a chain, and that’s always good. Flow is a Dutch magazine (there’s an English language version) that I discovered through my Hobonichi Facebook group, it reminds me of Real Simple but fancier and with really nice paper. There’s a yearly supplement called the Flow Book for Paper Lovers that has lots of stationery, paper crafts, and goodies you can use in journals/planners; neither PP for B&N seems to carry it and I ordered it off the Flow website. That was going on 3 weeks ago and I’m still waiting. *sigh*


Anyway, the show! The first table I made a beeline for was the Vanness one, because I wanted to see if they had brought any of the KWZ Inks with them. They did, although they’re out of the two colors I’m really interested in, Brown Pink and Honey. KWZ is handmade in small batches by a chemist in Poland and at the moment Vanness is the only place in the US that carries their standard inks, although Massdrop offered a 3-pack of their iron gall inks a while back. They’re surprisingly affordable for such “boutique” inks, $12/60 mL for the standard ink and $2 more for the iron gall. I settled on Brown #2, which has a reddish tone and shades beautifully, and I swallowed my nervousness and also bought a bottle of the Turquoise IG. Iron gall inks are infamously caustic to pens, but they bond with the paper and are pretty much bulletproof. I want something I can address envelopes with and not worry about rain washing away the address, but most iron gall inks come in horribly boring colors. I figure I’ll limit exposure to either dip nibs, which can be quickly washed off after every use, or one of my Pilot Petit eyedroppers, which cost less than $5.

After that I found Shawn Newton and picked up the pen I sent him for grinding, the vintage UK Parker button fill I bought at last fall’s Dallas show. It had a 14k oblique nib that I just COULD. NOT. get to work for me. I tried holding that thing at every conceivable angle and no matter what I did, it would catch on the paper on the upsweeps and spray ink. He ground it to a stub and did a lovely job; right now I have the Brown #2 in it, but I recently bought a small bottle of Iroshizuku Momiji and may swap it for that and put Brown #2 in something else.

And then I just wandered around and looked at pens! I had some dumb idea that my goal pen for the show was going to be a Sailor Sapporo Mini, which of course I did not find, so I decided to just scoop up some vintage pens and not be a name brand snob about it. With old pens, while it’s cool to find something like the Parker, I mostly just buy pens that are pretty. I found a lady’s ringtop pen/pencil set from the 1920s that I really liked that was priced $80-$100; the dealer had a lot of pens so I was like hey, give me the $80 price and I’ll buy another pen from you. After much agonizing I decided on the green/bronze pen because I thought it was an interesting color combo. The nibs on both are a little chewed up, but nothing a quick rub with a micro mesh cloth won’t solve.

After I’d checked into my Airbnb (a very cute bed/bath suite with its own entrance and separated from the main house with a pocket door), I went to Big Orange for dinner, a burger place that had a ton of great online reviews. I sat at the bar and was waited on by a skinny hipster with an honest-to-dog waxed mustache, but he was a good server so I won’t hold it against him. I told him to give me whatever was the staff favorite and I wound up with a turkey burger dressed with havarti cheese, red onion, butter lettuce, bacon, and a (fresh, local) fried egg. It was uhhh-mazing.

I’m probably not going to Little Rock next year, because I’ve decided to attend the Chicago show and that’s in April. I’m going to take Amtrak–specifically, The City of New Orleans, the train in the Arlo Guthrie song. It leaves NOLA every afternoon at 1:45 and arrives at Chicago at 9:00 the next morning. A round-trip ticket is just over $100, which is probably what I’d spend on gas if I drove; not to mention I’d have to spend the night somewhere midway because it’s a 14 hour drive. Chicago has Uber, so I’m just going to use that to get around. I haven’t been to Chicago since I was a little girl, so I’m going to spend an extra day and sightsee. Top of the list: visiting Field Notes HQ!

Everyday Carry

The JetPens blog has a fun, detailed entry on Everyday Carry, with some suggested items–I like the section of “EDC Example Kits” towards the end. EDC is one of those things that I never heard until I started using and collecting fountain pens but which makes absolute sense. I’ve always loved things like pencil cases, of course I love pens and other stationery items, and I find a weirdly soothing effect in organizing/compartmentalizing my possessions. Most everyone has an EDC, even if you don’t carry it to such philosophical heights. Some people take it to extremes, as if they were expecting the zombie apocalypse to break out at any moment, but mine is pretty simple.

I use the Nomadic Easy Classification case to hold:

  • A weekly-ish rotating cast of 2 or 3 fountains pens (usually one mini and lately my Vanishing Point has been staying in there permanently).
  • A Field Notes notebook and ballpoint.
  • Mechanical pencil.
  • Fine-tipped Sharpie.
  • Foldable mini scissors.
  • Flash drive.
  • Photography business cards.
  • Cell phone.

I guess my journal/planner is a separate part of my EDC, I bought the Hobonichi Techo planner with the blue/green cover for 2016 and I am really impatient for the year to end so I can start using it! This will be my first experience with Tomoe River paper.

Fountains pens #3

It’s full! Actually, since I usually carry 2 or 3 pens in my carry case, and leave another pen or two out on my desk at home, it’s more than full.

Fountain pens #3

Left to right:

  • Jinhao 159. My latest purchase, I just got this last night. Like all Jinhaos, less than $10.
  • Kaweco Skyline Sport. I recently did an eyedropper conversion on this because the dinky little squeeze converter only holds a DROP of ink. It’s a very nice mint green color that never shows up in photographs.
  • Vintage Sheaffer. This was a gift from a pen friend in Canada.
  • Pilot Prera. I got this to replace my old ivory-colored Prera, which I dropped on our stupid tile floor. This is one of my favorite pens.
  • Esterbrook J. I bought this off another pen friend for cheap. A classic mid-20th century pen.
  • Jinhao X750. I bought this pen specifically to use the new J. Herbin 1670 ink, Emerald of Chivor, in. I use another 1670 ink, Rouge Hematite, in my gold X750.
  • Bexley Imperial. This is my most expensive pen, although I bought it through Massdrop and didn’t pay full retail.
  • Platinum Plaisir. Came with a broken converter so I use cartridges in it.
  • Sheaffer 100. I had this inked with Diamine Ancient Copper for a long time, but recently cleaned it and took it out of rotation for a while.

And I just realized that my Kaweco Liliput Brass is nowhere to be found, it’s tiny so it tends to get lost in the wraps.

Not my photo

Not my photo

Aaaaand after the Dallas Pen Show (pens I bought at that shown in a previous blog) I think I’m going to take it easy for a while. I still get emails from Massdrop, but I haven’t seen anything since the Liliput that I NEED to have. The new special edition Vanishing Point was released this week, and it’s gorgeous, but the best price I’ve found is $192 and I’m happy with the VP I just bought in Dallas. Maybe if it’s still around at Christmas, I’ll ask all of my family members to go in on it together. (My birthday money is already earmarked for some Soviet cameras.)

Vacation #1

(I’m also taking the first week of November off, hence the “#1”.)

I took the last full week of September off and spent several days at my parents’ condo on Dauphin Island, Alabama. While it was hotter than I’d hoped it would be, it still provided some much-needed peace and quiet so I could recharge my batteries. I would go down to the beach in the evening and watch the sunset, and I went into Mobile one day, but a great deal of the time was spent reading on the balcony or in quiet shaded spots on the island, and drinking lots of cheap pink box wine.

It wasn’t a photography-heavy vacation (the next one will be), but of course I took a few shots with my cell phone.

v formation and sunset

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre.

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre

I tried to tour Bellingrath Gardens, but it was just too hot. There was usually a breeze on the island, but the gardens were too far inland, and there wasn’t ANY air moving among all those plants and trees. I got about 1/3 of the way in, then had a gardener take me back to the gift shop in her golf cart.

Mermaid fountain, Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Magnolia Cemetery was one of the things I saw in Mobile. It was raining, so I just drove around (it’s one of those cemeteries) and shot some photos out of my car window. That was the only rainy day we had, and it stopped around 1:00, not bad.

Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL

I also had fried catfish and hushpuppies (THE iconic food of Alabama, like gumbo in Louisiana) at Wintzell’s Oyster house, strolled around Dauphin Street (Mobile’s answer to Bourbon Street, but much nicer, honestly–not as tacky and sleazy). I found a fun used bookstore called Bienville Books.

I came home on Thursday morning, spent one night at home, then got up early to drive to Texas for the Dallas Pen Show. It was MUCH bigger than the Little Rock show, the only other one I’ve been to, and I found my two wish list items and then some:

dallas pen show

The pen that looks orange but is actually red is a Pilot Vanishing Point, a “clickable” fountain pen. It’s got a stub nib. I love Pilots and have more of them in my collection than any other brand; I’ve wanted a VP but I wanted to see if I could find a used one to keep the price under $100. I just made it with this one at $95, it’s a few years old but was never used and came in the box. (A brand new base-model VP usually retails for $140.)

The pen beneath that is a Parker Duofold and it’s kind of a weird one so I decided it had to come home with me. It’s a Victory but apparently this particular color/shape was only made for the UK market. It’s a button-fill but it’s old enough to predate the distinctive arrow-shaped clip that Parker started using in the early 1930s (at least on American pens), and it’s got a 14k oblique nib.

Those were my two wish list items, but I had some money left in the budget, so I also got a 1960s NOS Japanese desk pen (some no-name brand, kind of a Pilot knock-off) and some ink. I went about $25 over budget when all was said and done, but I can live with that.

Oh, and I also got to eat a cheeseburger at In N’ Out Burger.

In N' Out cheeseburger

Bexley Imperial

(There is eventually going to be a Fountain Pens, Part 3. I’ll do it when I’ve filled my 3rd pen wrap, which is about half full now.)

So I’m kind of wishing I’d never heard of Massdrop, because they are enabling my fountain pen addiction like whoa. They organize group buys of items–not just fountain pens, but that’s what I’m into them for–for discounts. Although really, I ignore probably 90% of the drops, because they’re too expensive or just not my thing. Massdrop offers a lot pf pens that are either industrial-looking and kind of drab (IMO), or rather gaudy. However, this could not be ignored:


The orange and blue pen is the Bexley 701 I bought from Inkpen Vintage at the Little Rock show in February. The green pen is the Bexley Imperial I bought through Massdrop ($60 off MSRP!) and which arrived on Saturday. Bexleys tend to be very large pens and I wanted to see how they compared; the Imperial is a bit larger than the 701.

I haven’t inked it up yet; I’m waiting for the arrival of another Massdrop order, the J. Herbin 1670 ink 3-pack that they put together for the release of the newest color, Emerald of Chivor. There are 4 colors in the line so far, and you had to choose EoC as one of the colors; since I already have a bottle of Stormy Grey (it’s what’s in the 701, as a matter of fact), I chose Rouge Hematite and Bleu Ocean as my other colors. So I’ll have all 4 colors once the order arrives… at least until they release another color in the line. I’m going to ink the Imperial with Bleu Ocean; I bought another Jinhao (at $8–with converter!–probably the best fountain pen for the price you can buy) for EoC.

For the uninitiated, 1670 inks are very special to a certain kind of fountain pen user because, well, glitter:


They have gold mica flecks in the ink (I’m assuming it’s mica, anyway, it would clog the feed if it was any kind of plastic) and color-shifting properties, EoC especially has a weird red shift to it that’s quite startling. It reminds me of those old outline markers (I think Pentel still makes them), where you’d get a gold or silver line surrounded by a thin line of some non-metallic color, red or blue or purple.

Last week I committed to another drop, the Kaweco Liliput, which I’m getting in brass. I have a Kaweco Skyline Sport that’s one of my favorite small pens. They released the Franklin-Christophe drop this morning, and I’m almost relieved that none of the color options I wanted made the cut. They’re offering it in, get this, either ice with blue-violet accents or blue-violet with ice accents. WTF? I mean okay, I guess that’s what got the most votes, but still. I really only wanted it if I could get it in smoke and ice.

Going to the Dallas Pen Show is starting to seem redundant, but I’m hoping to find two pens that aren’t likely have a Massdrop: A Parker Duofold–pretty much any kind, I’m not picky–and a Pilot Vanishing Point. All the VPs that come up for auction on eBay are special editions and way too expensive.

Fountain pens, part 2

fountain pens 2

Left to right:

  • Eversharp Doric: This was my first real vintage pen, which I found for about 1/3 of its actual value of one of my favorite stores in Breaux Bridge.
  • Ohto Tasche: This is what’s sometimes called a “vest pen”, in that it’s very small, but when you post the cap it makes it regular-sized.
  • Pelikan Pelikano: Pelikan is another swanky brand (a German one) that is too expensive for me to bother with. The Pelikano is a child’s pen.
  • Pilot Petit 1: These were my entry back into fountain pens after many years away, when I found them at Kinokuniya Books in Japantown.
  • Pilot Cavalier: This is my most “ladylike” pen.
  • Sheaffer Balance: This is one of my oldest pens, both it and the Doric are from the 1930s.
  • Parker Urban: My only all-black pen.
  • Everysharp Skyline: This is the model that came after the Doric. I love this design, which I find very “dieselpunk”.
  • Parker 51: One of the most-collected vintage pens in existence. I got this for scandalously cheap in an eBay auction.

Fountain pens, part 1

I kept my collection stopped at a baker’s dozen for a year or so. I told myself that was a respectable but still sane collection, and every time I bought a new pen, I would give one in my collection away. The problem with that is I eventually ran out of pens I could bear to part with, while finding new ones I desired. So I decided fuck it, let’s get crazy–although I know lots of people whose collections are MUCH larger than mine.

I recently discovered Massdrop, which is a terrible enabler. They organize group buys of all kinds of products for discounts. The first one I signed up for was a 3-pack of the J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary inks. One of the bottles had to be the new color coming out next month, Emerald of Chivor. the other 2 could be any of the other 3 existing colors. Since I already have a bottle of Stormy Grey, I chose Rouge Hematite and Bleu Ocean, so when I receive my inks I’ll have a full set (until the next new color is released). I’m also getting a Bexley Imperial for $60 less than the MSRP. Plus, I agreed to take a couple of pens–a Sheaffer Award and an Esterbrook J–off the hands of a fellow pen friend looking to whittle down his collection. And in less than 2 months, the Dallas Pen Show!

fountain pens 1

Left to right:

  • Pilot Vortex: I like the rubberized grip on this one, as I tend to hold my pens tightly.
  • Pilot Metropolitan: From the first release.
  • Sailor Clear Candy: Sailor is a super-duper posh Japanese brand, I only have inexpensive plastic ones.
  • Reform 1745: Has a custom-ground .07 mm stub nib. I have NEVER seen one of these pens in anything other than black and green.
  • Pilot 78G: One of the first pens I bought when I started collecting and still a favorite.
  • Jinhao X750: Jinhao is a ridiculously inexpensive Chinese brand. They’re enamel over metal and really heavy, but great nibs for the price.
  • Sailor Lecoule: This has the same nib as the Clear Candy but I like the body better. I may give away the Clear Candy at some point.
  • Pilot Prera: This is my favorite pen body shape, cylindrical with flat ends (as opposed to torpedo-shaped, like most pens). The cap makes a lovely “snick” sound/feel when you put it back on.
  • Bexley BX701: I saw some complaints in the Massdrop forum that the Imperial wasn’t available in black, which made me laugh. Who buys a black Bexley?

Let no one say I don’t fully commit to my weird obsessions!

Hey, did you know that old cameras aren’t the only kind of obsolete technology I collect? I’ve also collected fountain pens for a few years now, and lately have been getting more into vintage pens. That culminated this weekend with my getting up at 5:00 am on Saturday and driving 6 1/2 hours to attend the Little Rock Pen show–basically just one room in the Riverfront Wyndham. But you know, pens are small, and one small-ish conference room crammed with tables of them is still a LOT of pens.

fountain pens

I gave myself a budget of $200 and that’s what I spent, to the penny.

Left to right:

The black pen with mother-of-pearl chips is a Sheaffer Balance from the 1930s. Sheaffers are like the Kodak of mid-century fountain pens. This is my 2nd vintage Sheaffer (I also have a modern Sheaffer 100); a while back a pen friend gave me a brown Sheaffer Craftsman from the 1950s. (If Sheaffer is Kodak, than the Craftsman is the Brownie; they churned out millions of them over the decades surrounding WWII and they’re still floating all over the place.) Like the Craftsman, this is a lever fill. It has new ink sac and a NOS Sheaffer #3 nib, which is about about a modern M-F nib.

The blue and orange pen is a Bexley BX701 in Blue Shimmer. I’m having a hard time pinning down when this series was made, although I can say it’s no longer in production. Bexley was founded in 1993 by a group of vintage pen enthusiasts/refurbishers, so it’s not real old. They are known for oversize pens in funky color designs; I’ve always wanted one but the fact that literally every one I’ve ever seen is amazeballs is kind of why I’ve never bought one. However, blue and orange is one of my favorite color combos, so as soon as I saw this one I knew it was the Bexley for me. It’s NOS with the original M nib (although it’s a large nib for a large pen, and the Bexley M is almost a B in any other pen) and a new converter.

Both of these pens were $100 each, but they were being sold by the same seller so I was like I got cash, make me a deal. And he gave me the pair for $150.

…Which left me with $50 to spend on the green and black pen, a piston-fill Reform 1745 with a custom ground .09mm italic nib. This is in no way an expensive pen, that price was for the grinding, which if done wrong can ruin a pen. I tried their tester pen and wow, worth every penny.

What I obsess about when I’m not obsessed with photography

I hate August. I was never crazy about it in the Bay Area, but my loathing has reached new depths since moving to Louisiana. Part of that is because it’s the start of hurricane season, something my family has not had good luck with in recent years: my grandparents lost their house in Rita, a couple weeks after Katrina; my parents were able to fix theirs, only to have it wrecked in Ike a few years later.

But mostly it’s just the weather. Summer (which lasts roughly half the year in south Louisiana) is never pleasant, and no two ways around it, but there’s something particularly nasty about August. It goes over 90 for most of the month, and it’s so humid that my sunglasses steam up whenever I leave an air-conditioned interior. Or maybe it’s been like that for weeks, and August is just when my tolerance starts to wear thin.

I was able to keep photographing outside until the middle of July–the last shoot I did was the Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette the weekend before I went to California. But the lovely weather in Laguna Beach must have eroded whatever resistance I had built up, because I pretty much went into hibernation when I got home. Although next weekend is the Lomographers of Acadiana meetup; we’re doing the capitol building in Baton Rouge.  (I really wanted to do the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans, but the last Saturday of August overlaps with Labor Day weekend, which is when Southern Decadence happens. It’s like Gay Mardi Gras. I’m not opposed to that or anything, I just don’t want to deal with the crowds. I avoid the French Quarter during actual Mardi Gras, too.)

So since I haven’t been able to obsess over photography, I’ve briefly transferred my attentions. For a few weekends I was scouring all the antique stores in Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, looking for vintage fountain pens. Most of what I came across were Wearevers, a cheap but respectable brand that churned out millions of pens in the decades surrounding WWII. It was the Kodak Brownie of fountain pens.

But I came across a real treasure at Lagniappe, my favorite store in Breaux Bridge, an Eversharp Doric in pristine cosmetic condition–it’s pre-WWII and made of celluloid, which eventually crystallizes and starts cracking, but none of that is evident in my pen.

This isn't my photo but my pen looks just like this one. For some reason green seems to have survived more than any other color Doric--or maybe Eversharp just made more of them in that color.

This isn’t my photo but my pen looks just like this one. For some reason green seems to have survived more than any other color Doric–or maybe Eversharp just made more of them in that color.

I don’t think the seller knew what they had, because they were charging about 1/3 of what they could have asked. That happens a surprising amount of time with antiques dealers, which just seems lazy to me. I mean I know they can’t know everything about everything (to use the American Pickers’ phrase), but wouldn’t you spend 5 minutes Googling the thing? Sometimes this leads them to charge way too much–I once saw a Tom’s Peanuts jar in the same store that had an $800 price tag, WTF–but more often it works to my advantage.

Anyway, I bought it and cleaned all the dried ink out of it. The vacuum fill won’t draw ink, but I was expecting that; rubber seals eventually dry up but it’s not a big deal to replace them. I have no experience working with vacuum fill pens and I’m sure not going to practice on this one, so I cruised some shops on Etsy that refurbish fountain pens, contacted a couple of the owners with good feedback, and asked if they took commissions. One guy in South Dakota who specializes in Eversharps quoted me $40, which is about what I expected to pay. Added to what I paid for the pen, it still comes to well under half of what I’ve seen pens in worse condition than mine go for online. I’ve seen pens in my condition sell for $300.

And of course I wound up buying a pen from him as well, an Eversharp Skyline (which I believe is the model that immediately followed the Doric).

I love the fantastic “dieselpunk” look this pen has. I am Team Dieselpunk, even if it is the redheaded stepchild of cyberpunk and steampunk.

Last weekend I decided to check out the secondhand bookstores in Lafayette, which I have shockingly neglected to do before this. Most of them were crappy and like 80% of their inventory was trashy romance novels, but there’s one on West Congress that was really cool. They have a history and a science section, and they sell art books and cookbooks, and had a bunch of funky old books on needlepoint and embroidery from the 1970s.

I got one of those “Images of America” books about New Orleans cemeteries, and an old edition of Clarence John Laughlin’s Ghosts Along the Mississippi. That’s kind of essential reading for any photographer working in south Louisiana, and new copies go for about $70, so I was happy to find it used. All the revised editions have the same 100 B&W plates; what do I care who wrote the introduction? I need a copy of Richard Sexton’s Vestiges of Grandeur, but that’s probably too new (and too pretty) to wind up in a secondhand bookstore. Amazon has it for $30, and I wouldn’t have to pay shipping with my Prime membership. That’s not a bad price for a large coffee table book that contains dozens of color photographs.

Basically I’m doing research with these books, for when it finally cools down enough to go back out with a camera. I’ve already found a couple of places in the Laughlin book and I’m not even finished looking at it. Although I always Google first, because a lot of those houses have been restored since he photographed them (boring!), and a few of them have been demolished or burned down or taken by the river.

oh, and also the president was arrested for murder. more on that later.

I’m taking a break lately from being obsessed with cameras, to being obsessed with fountain pens.

There are a lot of people who won’t use a fountain pen that costs less than $300, and hooray for them, it’s their money. But there are lots of great fountain pens to be had for $50 or less–much less. As for the whole gold nib vs. steel: eh. I’m sure gold is probably smoother; but again, there are plenty of fine writing instruments with steel nibs.

I have been prowling for Asian fountain pens that are both amazingly cheap (even with shipping from Hong Kong) and difficult to find in this country. Earlier this week I received a Pilot (the brand is called Namiki in Asia) 78G, a pen that cost me about $10, including the shipping.

It looks gorgeous. I got the red, which is a nice dark catsup-y red and looks fabulous with the gold accents. The stripes on the cap are not metal but painted on, so there may eventually be wear, but it’s not an area of the pen that gets handled a lot. It’s ergonomic, and I love the shape, which is reminiscent of classic 1950s design. It’s comfortable to hold,  not too wide or too narrow. It’s a medium nib, but Japanese mediums are western fine.

And more importantly, it writes amazingly smooth. I mean, there’s a noticeable difference between this and my other fountain pens. So far the only ink I’ve used in it is Private Reserve’s Midnight Blues, and part of the smoothness may be due to the ink, but ink only contributes so much. The best ink in the world, coming out of a crappy pen, isn’t going to feel nearly this smooth. It even makes my handwriting look better!

I only have 2 really minor quibbles: that the cap is screw-on, and that it comes with a squeeze converter. The cap bit is important because I use my fountain pens at work (I loathe the cheap ballpoints that the firm supplies), and you can’t leave a fountain pen uncapped during periods of disuse. The ink collected in the nib will dry and form a little ball of dry ink that will have to be shaken loose before the pen will write again. So I’m constantly having to screw on and screw off the cap. However, there are also advantages to a screw-on cap, mainly in that it’s much harder for it to come loose inside a purse and leak ink on your most important possessions.

My gripe about the squeeze converter is just that I don’t like them. They don’t hold as much ink as a screw-type converter, and they aren’t clear so you can’t tell how much ink is in them. But it’s the converter that the pen came with. *shrug*

Bottom line is: I would be impressed by this pen at nearly any price (any that I would pay, anyway); for $7 it may be, dollar for dollar, the finest fountain pen made. I would recommend it if you’re curious about fountain pens and don’t want to invest a lot of money in something you’re not sure you’ll love.

I’ve also ordered a Jinhao (a very inexpensive Chinese brand I’ve mostly heard good things about) X450 from, and have the Pilot Prera from them on my wish list. My goal is to amass a modest collection of inexpensive but respectable pens. The most expensive pen on my to-buy list is a Sailor (also a Japanese brand) Reglus, which retails for about $115. I’m going to wait for my birthday, then finance it with whatever birthday moneys to ‘rents kick down to me. Should pay for about 2/3 of it.

Pens I have purchased thus far:

  • Lamy Al-Star, graphite body and fine nib. This is the pen I take to work most days. It’s not pretty, but it’s a workhorse and a reliable performer with a large converter that never runs out during the day. I usually keep it inked with Papier Plume ink, right now I’m using a bottle of peacock blue.
  • Noodler’s Piston Fill, turquoise body with a fine nib. This is dedicated to Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink.
  • Sheaffer Prelude, incandescent green body with a medium nib. This was an impulse buy when Goulet Pens had it on special. It’s a great writer (I use it for letters a lot) with a nice heft to it. Right now it’s filled with Noodler’s Cayenne.
  • Ohto Tasche, pink body with a fine nib. I’ll be honest, I mostly bought this for the cute factor, but it’s a good pen with a clever design, and it’s perfect for your pocket or purse. The only thing I don’t like about it is it’s too small for a converter. It takes universal short cartridges and right now it’s loaded with Pelikan Brilliant Black. (I also have turquoise cartridges.)

Pens I plan to buy in the near future:

I’ve joined the Ink Drop at Goulet Pens, too. 5 ink samples a month for $10. So you can have ink ADD without dropping way too much money on full bottles. Each sample is enough to fill a converter at least 2 or 3 times.

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