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Col-o-ring Ink Testing Books: Coming Soon from Well-Appointed Desk!


Just like the rest of you ink-nerds, I'm into keeping track of my inks and swatches. It's super-helpful to be able to go back and see what an ink looks like without needing to put it in a pen. There used to be a pretty cool product from Maruman that gave us small cards on a ring. The paper was pretty good, but not perfect. It was a little too absorbent and a little rough on one side. Not perfect, but good enough.

Then they cancelled the product. Bummer.

Ana (at the Well-Appointed Desk) has been working on a replacement for these cards-on-a-ring, and they're finally ready for public consumption. The paper looks better than its predecessor. And the name is rad. I bought the first ones, and I'm excited for them to arrive for testing.

That's Ana's picture. Not mine.

Check out Ana's post about them!

The New Aurora Flex Nib

This nib is coming out soon, and I'm glad that I got a chance to check it out for a few days. Thanks for this review (and the YouTube video to go with it) go to Cary and Kenro. I had to send this back to them all too soon.

The pen that this nib is fitted to is the same sort of Aurora that I reviewed a couple of weeks back: the Aurora 88. This one is an upcoming limited edition of Anniversary pens. There will only be 188 of these in each of 8 (at least, I'm pretty sure there will be 8) colors. You can find the blue and red ones right now, but they're only available for pre-order at this time. They should be out soon, but I've heard that the demand for these $650 pens is pretty high so you should get in contact with your favorite retailer.

The nibs at Aurora are all made in-house at their Italian facility, and this one is no exception. According to Cary at Kenro, this one required some special new equipment to fashion. It's a 14k gold nib, and it's shaped differently than the regular 88 nibs. You'll see that below, but it would be a good idea to check out the video for this pen so that you can see it in action.

Here's some more of this awesome yellow pen. I hear that there's going to be an orange one, as well, and that's rad. 

 Below you see the standard nib (top) compared to the flex nib (below). (I had both of these pens at the same time for about a day before I had to return the black to Kenro.)

As you can tell, the flex nib has longer, skinnier tines than the standard fine nib and a lower shoulder. That difference is part of what makes this nib flex while the standard nib is a solid nail. They're very different writing experiences.

Here's a view from the bottom. Both of these feeds are marked "F", but their line weights aren't really the same. The flex nib writes about a size larger than the regular fine nib, I think. You can also see how much longer the tines are on the flex nib.

A few writing samples:

These writing samples were done with the new Aurora Blue Black ink. The flow of the flex nib really allows the Blue Black to show its great shading. I didn't have much trouble from this pen with this ink in my every day writing. I took many pages of notes with this pen, and I can say that it's a very usable every day driver. There's some flexing while you write, but it's not irritating and there's none of this stuff where the  inside of the nib is scratchy and it catches on the paper.

The tines didn't have any problem returning to the right place after flexing, either. There were zero misalignments in my time testing this pen, and I'm a total noob when it comes to flex nibs.

None of this is to say that it was problem-free. There were some railroads in that top line below, and I attributed it to the pen running out of ink. It was. The 88 can hold a good amount of ink, but the wet nib goes through a decent amount of it. I re-inked, and the bottom set of squiggles were much better.

I did have an issue with railroading when I was flexing while making the video review, and it appeared that the surface tension of the ink between the tines was too weak under flex. When you flex a nib, you're basically doing something like when you blow bubbles with a bubble wand. You can't let the surface tension pop or it's game over. That made me think that maybe the ink just wasn't ideal for this use.

As a result, I decided to flush it out and re-ink with Aurora Black. That's one of the best inks when you need a wet ink, and it performed super well. Once I started using Black instead of the drier Blue Black, the pen was pretty awesome.

Remember, folks, it's not just the pen. It's the pen, the ink, the person, and the paper that determine the way a pen performs. If a pen isn't working the way you'd like, you might just be able to alter one or two of those variables instead of sending the pen off for expensive alterations.


I think this nib is actually pretty great. It's not vintage flex. It doesn't flex as soon as it hits the paper. If you want that, you're going to have to go vintage or you're going to have to go for a dip pen. 

This one is usable by anyone, it's tough enough to make it through the hands of a few hundred people at events before it came to me, and it is a pretty worry free experience. Use the right ink, and this pen and nib will really shine.

Somethings borrowed!


So, I ran into my friend Greg at the Philly show and he loaned me a few really cool pens. I don't have terribly many pictures of these pens, but you can find the video on my YouTube channel. I really suggest watching that video for a better idea of what these pens are like.

Quite the assortment, huh? Let's talk about them from left to right.

The first one is an ST Dupont Olympio. This pen comes in a variety of styles and in large and small sizes. Obviously this is the gold one, and it's the larger size. It's actually a really big pen. Dupont pens always catch my eye at shows. They've got an interesting style, their nibs are always beautiful, and they have one of the best slip caps in the biz. Seriously. Listen to the cap snap on in the video. The pen posts.

As cool as the Olympio is, though, it didn't really click with me. It's just too ostentatious. It's huge and gold, and it feels like I'm driving a Bugatti to a pawn shop. It doesn't make it less rad. It just makes me a little uncomfortable.

Of all of these pens, the Dupont has the best nib. For sure.

The second pen is a Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe. That's basically a Sailor Pro Gear with a metal shell around the barrel. It looks really cool, and the weight is probably a plus if you think the regular Pro Gear is a little too light for you. That weight is in the middle of the pen, and that's kinda odd to me. It's a nice pen, but the weight is a little weird compared to the regular Pro Gear, and I can't see any way to justify the price-hike. It's a big hike.

The last pen is a Waterman Carene. I've had this pen on my list for a long time. They're kind of expensive, though, and that has kept me from getting one without testing one out. I'm also a little leery of inlaid nibs after my experiences with the Sheaffer Targa. That said, I'm a big fan of this pen. The shape is awesome. The slip cap is great. The nib is unique, pretty, and writes perfectly. The clip is articulated. There's nothing not to like. Well, you won't like it if you want a bouncy nib. It's a nail. A nice, reliable nail.

Thanks for letting me borrow these cool pens, Greg, and I hope we can do this again soon!

Here's the video:

Aurora 88 Pen Review


This is a review that I've been working up to for a couple of months. In that time, I've used up the entire volume of ink that this thing holds. It's got a fine nib, and that's a lot of use for me on a single pen. This is one of those pens that I just kept reaching for.

When Cary (from Kenro, these days) offered to send me this pen, I wasn't all that excited. I didn't know much about the modern 88, and I'm not usually into black and gold pens. They're sorta subtle for me. Well, they used to be. Since I've gotten this pen, I've gotten two other black and gold pens. I guess I caught the bug.

Read on, check out the pictures, and watch the video for more info and such.

***This pen was sent out to me for review, and I'm sending it back. Regretfully. With no particular haste. It's awesome.***


Capped: 5.36"   (136mm)
Uncapped: 5.12"  (130mm)
Posted:  6"    (152.4mm)

Body:  .54"   (13.9mm)
Section:    .46" - .4"  (11.8mm - 10.3mm)

Nib: 14k gold
Feed: Ebonite

Filling System: Piston. A really nice piston.

Cost: $695 $550 (MSRP) or $495 (at Pen Chalet)


There's a really nice ink window that hides underneath the cap. It's a little hard to see in this picture due to the . The threads are small and unobtrusive. The section has a nice taper that changes about 1mm from top to bottom, and there's a great flare at the base of the section that is really comfortable to rest your fingers against. I've written pages at a time with this pen, and there's no strain.

Notice the finger prints. You can't keep your prints off of this pen. It's not a problem of this pen, but of all glossy black pens. I bet the matte version of this pen would solve this problem.

The picture above shows the piston partially unscrewed. I wasn't really out of ink at this point, but it was getting close. The knob isn't loose, and the piston feels as good as any other piston I've ever used.

You can see through the ink window in the pic above and below. It's pretty much out of ink, now. A very useful window. Big and only a little bit off-clear. Slightly smoky, I'd say.

Nib and Performance

The nib on this one is difficult to tear your eyes away from. It's a beautiful counterpoint to the black body, it perfectly matches the hardware, and it curves around the slightly-red ebonite feed. (At least, I think it's an ebonite feed. It certainly looks like one.)

The nib size isn't anywhere on the nib, but you can find the size on the feed. It's a little hard to see, but you can make it out in the picture below.
There's that curve on the side of the nib. I don't know why, but I really love that curve.

Performance? Awesome. No skips. Hard like a nail, but smooth.

How's it feel?

Great. Audrey and I both hand-modeled this pen, and it's a good fit for both of us. She's clearly a better hand-model than I am.
Is that the new Aurora Blue Black in the background? Yep.


Pens: Tactile Turn Gist, Sailor ProGear, Aurora 88, TWSBI ECO, Lamy 2000, Sailor 1911L, Pilot Custom 74, Pelikan m1000.

I've never had more trouble taking a picture of anything than a tray of glossy black pens.

Wrap Up

This pen is great. If you're looking for something wilder, you can check out their other patterns. There's a really swirly orange one if that's what you're into.

The only drawback to this pen is the price point. I wish it were way lower. Unfortunately, this sort of pen is going to command a pretty steep price. At this level, though, you're in upper-tier Pelikan territory. These aren't anything like Pelikans, though, so they're likely to appeal to very different audience.

Anyway, check one of these out if you have any chance to do so. They're worth the time, and the price if it doesn't scare you off.

Video Review

Another Q&A Video

Hey folks,

I posted this Q&A video a couple of days ago, and totally forgot to post it here. Sorry about that!

Here's the video:

Montblanc Lucky Orange

It looks like there's sheen in this image, but you can't see that with your eyes.

A Limited Edition Montblanc! And a good one, this time!

You know I love an orange ink, and this is the kind of orange that I love. Bright, saturated, and happy. The perfect thing to use in the dead of winter to cheer yourself up.

While the color on this one is awesome, it's not a perfect ink. I had some issues with this one drying out in my nib when I didn't use the pen for a couple of days, and it was doing that in a Franklin-Christoph nib that never has that issue. Weird. Once it gets going, the ink is fairly wet, but that drying-out issue is a problem.

Check it out below, and grab a bottle before it's all gone.

Written Review!

I wrote the whole top bit out, and then spelled "disappointment" incorrectly. So I left it. Call me lazy, but I wasn't writing it again.

Close Ups!

The ink is still wet in the pic above. I like the way ink looks when it's wet. I bet you do, too.
As you'll see below, this ink works really well on copy paper. That's a big point in its favor.

Copy Paper Test!

Look at that! No bleed through, even with a broad stub nib. That's seriously good performance.

On Tomoe River:
As expected, beautiful.

In a Currently Inked Journal:

Not quite as nice as it was on the Tomoe River, but still awesome.

Color Comparisons

Bottle Service.

These LE bottles always come with a little hat. Gotta protect that snowflake.

You can see some flaky precipitates around the threads in these pictures. It's just dried ink, and nothing to freak out about, but it does say to me that this ink might be just a little over-saturated. It looks awesome, but that is probably why it's drying out in my nib.

Video Review and Water Test!

The orange doesn't stand up to water. It's kind of a mess after you clean the water off of it.

So, while not a perfect orange, it's a darn good one. You can find it at your favorite Montblanc retailer, and my favorite Montblanc retailer is Anderson Pens where I bought this ink for $19.

The TiScribe Bolt


I've done a few reviews of Urban Survival Gear's TiScribe products, and they just seem to be getting better and better. The first pen was a little pocket-sized fountain pen that I reviewed back August 2015. It was a pretty good little pen.

Second was a really interesting project: The TiScribe HL. You don't really see machined highlighters, and this one is really cool.

Now, we've got a bolt-action-style gel pen. This TiScribe Bolt is a solid copper pen (just like the others), though it's also available in brass and titanium. Thanks for sending this pen out, Kelvin!

You can also get extra tips and finials that can change up the look of your pen. Tastes vary, but I really like the Ti pen with copper ends. It's a really cool look.

This image is from the kickstarter page.
Kelvin (at Urban Survival Gear) listed this as a "fidget pen" on the kickstarter, and it's got a lot of fidget-potential. Check out this gif from the kickstarter page:

 It's pretty tough to stop doing that, actually. The bolt action on this pen is so smooth that you might have a hard time not-messing with it. It also doesn't make much noise, so that'll be a little gift to your coworkers.


So, this is what the pen looked like when it was brand new out of the packaging. It was so shiny that I had a little trouble balancing the brightness for photography. Like a new penny!

The clip and carrier in this pen is made from titanium, regardless of the metal of the pen. It looks good against the copper of this pen, and I bet it looks good against the brass, too.

This is the emblem that's engraved in the finial, and it's the only bit of branding on the pen. I like that minimalism. 

A bit more used...

I took pages and pages of notes with this pen, and it's starting to tarnish a bit. I tend to leave the tarnish on the metal, but this one might get a polishing. I really like the look of this pen. 

These ridges are comfortable and secure in your hand, so it doesn't slip even though it's an all-metal pen.

The fit and finish on the TiScribe Bolt is  really on point. As you can see in the photo above, there's very little gap between the edge of the pen and the tip of the cartridge. So little that there's no tip rattle at all. I hate tip rattle, so that's a great feature.

More used...

Yep. More tarnish. 

The only place that isn't touched is the finial, which is still bright and shiny. 

 Parts and insides

These pens are designed to use a gel refill, like the Pilot G2, though you can get a conversion kit which will allow you to use Parker-style refills if that's your preference. I replaced the G2 that came with the pen with this Signo 307 refill.

There aren't many pieces to this pen. Body, refill, spring, and tip. That's about it. It appears that you can remove the finial, but I haven't tried to do that yet. 

Next to the TiScribe HL

Final words and a video review:

Check this pen out. If you like the bolt-style pens, then this one is an excellent version of the type. If you're into the EDC style, then check out this pen. It's bomb-proof. If you like pens that look like bullets, then check out this pen. It looks like a big bullet.

See? Plenty of reasons to use a non-fountain pen.

**This pen was sent out for review in return for my honest review. That's what you've got above.**