The appropriate number of inks is represented by the following formula: n+1 n= the number of inks you currently have.


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Nibs & Nails

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Monteverde's Artista Crystal

Audrey first picked one of these up at the Triangle Pen Show last year, and she had to get one. She was also looking at the Pilot Prera, as they're a very similar style, but the price jump between the two pens ($36-$58) is pretty extreme and she went for the Artista. (Her pen is the pink one at the right.) I liked it so much that she got me one for Christmas this year.

These come in a variety of colors, so there's something there for everyone. Well, everyone who wants a demonstrator, anyway.

The Look

The Artista always comes as a demonstrator. The cap and the barrel are both entirely transparent, giving a good view of the nib and the converter/cartridge. As you'll see below, the section of this pen is all-metal. It looks flashy, but the eyedropper lovers out there aren't going to like it because you can't convert this pen to an eyedropper. (That's fine with me, though. I kinda hate eyedroppers.)

The plastic that these Artistas are made from is a heavy, stiff sort of plastic. It's not nearly as light as the plastic used on most of the other demonstrators that I've used. I'd compare it to the plastic TWSBI 540, but it has a sturdier feel to it. I've not heard anyone say that the Artista cracks, though, so perhaps it really is harder.

The barrel is smooth and the pen has a slight taper from the middle down to the end of the pen.

The nib is decorated with little swirly vine-like designs and an "Iridium Point" marking, and for the medium nib. It's a little crowded, but it's not a big nib, so it's not overwhelming. 

The sections are chromed, and it can be a little difficult to hold on to if you have sweaty fingers (or you've got lots of lotion on or whatever). It could have done with some texture on the section, but it's okay as-is and it looks really nice.

Branding on the pen is limited to an unobtrusive "Monteverde USA" engraved around the ring on the cap...

 ...and a small Monteverde symbol on the clip.

Excuse my dirty fingernail. I've been diggin in the garden today. Hooray Spring!

The feed on these pens is clear. I really like that. It's not all that noticeable once you fill it with a dark ink, but if you've got a bright ink in the pen, or you're cleaning it out, you really notice. It can be stained by some inks, but I really doubt that you'd notice since it spends most of its time in the section of the pen. 

 The pen posts very solidly, and you can use the pen with the cap posted or not. My hands are large, so I like the pen posted, but I can use it unposted without problems.
Here it is unposted. It fits well in the web of my hand. 

The Nib

This is a really nice nib. I've been using it a lot, and the medium nib is pretty fine. It's a very smooth nib, and I can always count on it to start-up when I start using it. That's actually a little more rare for me than for others, given that I will sometimes set a pen aside for several days at a time. This one is reliable.

It's a nail, though. It's not "special," but it's a good steel nib.

I just realized that I don't have pictures of a writing sample with this pen. For now, the couple of pictures below will have to do, I suppose. (I've actually had this same ink in my Artista ever since I got it.)

The Parts & Packaging

Here's a broken-down look at the pen. It's a cartridge converter pen, and it comes with both options in the box.

The converter is a pretty average converter, but it's perfectly functional. The action is smooth, and it holds enough ink to keep this medium-fine nib going for quite a while.

 The box comes inside a cardboard sleeve, and all of the Monteverde pens I've had have come in the same box.
 Inside the box is a satin-ish card to hold the pen. Underneath that card is a box with a couple of cartridges and a converter. Nothing super-fancy, but it's a perfectly serviceable box.

Here's how it compares, size-wise to some other common models of pen.

Get your own Artista Crystal from these, and many other, fine retailers. 

Anderson Pens: $36
Goulet Pens: $36
Jet Pens: $38 (A little more expensive, but free shipping.)


Wordless Wednesday: Nibs & Nails

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Find your own TWSBI Vac 700 at Anderson Pens.
Find a Knox nib for it at


A Colibri Pen (Model = Mystery!)

So, today I'm showing a pen that I can't tell you much about. I know. It's weird. I didn't even know that Colibri made fountain pens, but apparently they do (or they did, anyway).

There's no model number on this pen, and I don't really know it's heritage. I found it at an estate auction last summer, and I bought it without seeing it. They said "Fountain pen in a fancy box!" and I jumped at it. I think I was bidding against one other person, and it was a lot of fun. If you've not been to an auction, then you should go to an auction. Bid on something. It's a rush!

Turns out that this pen was given to someone who bought a Cadillac. I guess they used to give you gifts when you bought fancy cars?

Anywho, here are a few pictures.

 It's a pretty unassuming pen. It's actually the only pen in my collection that has a gold-colored trim. As you can see, the cap is the largest part of this pen. It's also where the weight is, as the barrell is a pretty light (but not cheap-feeling) plastic.
 The clip is going to be polarizing. It's not my favorite, but some people like bold clips. The real problem with it, though, is that it's way too stiff. It's crazy-stiff.
 The "COLIBRI" stamped into the cap-band is pretty classy.
 These two pics show the pen posted. It's most comfortable to write with this way, for me. It's slightly too light, otherwise. The problem is that it's not all that good at posting. You've got to really cram the cap on there to make it stay. It will, though.

Ah, the nib. I actually really like this nib. It's very fine, and the look is a good one. The two-tone blends into the gold bit at the end of the section, and I like the simplicity of this design. Nothing crazy. Just a brand name and a two tone. Good stuff.

 I haven't been able to pull the nib or section on this pen, but I haven't really needed to. It's been easy to clean out.

It's a cartridge pen, but I think that a converter would probably fit in the barrell. I haven't tried it, though.

How does it write? Well, it writes well. Take a look at the review below to see an extended sample. It's one of my grading pens, because it's fine enough to write lots of notes in margins and it will keep your ink from bleeding through the paper. 


Wordless Wednesday: Nibs & Nails

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Anderson Pens' big Giveaway!

Folks, if you're not watching the Anderson Pens video podcast then you're missing out. The Andersons are great folks, and I always look forward to seeing them at pen shows. They've got an online and a brick/mortar store now, and their 100th podcast is coming up.

You'll want to check out this giveaway. The Franklin-Christoph pen they're giving away will be awesome, and worth the price of a stamp.

I usually miss the live podcast and catch it later in the week on YouTube, but I might skip trivia night that week to have a chance at that pen.

That's them. The Andersons. 


Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50

Have you ever wanted to have a toy-version of a 1950s Corvette and a fountain pen? Did you want them to be the same color? Well, have I got a deal for you!

I saw Syd at the DC Pen Show last year, and he was so convincing that I came home with this Menthol Green Skyliner 50. I really liked the look, and I really liked the feel of this pen. I've had it for the better part of a year now. So, let's see what it's got.

The packaging for this pen is pretty great. I generally just throw the packaging for my pens into a cabinet and forget about them. Not so with this one. The box is heavy-duty. It's a bit bigger than your average cigar box, and the lid is fastened down with magnets. I think the graphics are a bit too busy, but they're certainly not boring. The pen comes in a really nice plastic case. I've used this same case to protect other pens, and I really think that Syd ought to just sell these things. I'd get a dozen, I think. It's a really safe way to transport or send a pen. Only one safer way, but I'll get to that later.

 The cap on the Skyliner 50 is palladium coated. It looks super-shiny. My only problem is that it attracts fingerprints like nothing else in my collection. The finish is mirror-bright and totally smooth except where it says "Skyliner 50." I love the look, but I do wish it wouldn't attract so many fingerprints.

The body color continues up to the top of the cap, and is bisected by a strip of metal that curves over the top and then becomes the clip. It's very springy, but a little stiff.
 The pen is finished off with another ring of palladium-coated hardware right before the extreme taper down to the end of the barrel.
The end of the barrell unscrews smoothly to expose the end of the converter. It's (of course) a cartridge/converter pen. You'll need to use the long Waterman cartridge-type if you want to use a cartridge because there's no other break in the barrel. It's all once piece from where the nib-unit screws in. This gives it a smooth look and feel , but it also means that you never know how much ink you've got left unless you take out the converter.

The converter is a really nice one with a smooth action and mostly metal parts. It's threaded at the end, but the Skyliner 50 doesn't use those threads. It's just a push-on/pull-off arrangement. The higher-priced versions do screw-in, I think.

Some people aren't impressed with this sort of filling system, but I don't have any problem with it. I like pistons and vacs, but they're kind of a pain if you can't see how much ink you've got left, and lever-fillers are a pain to clean. C/C is definitely the most convenient for people who change inks a lot (like me).  This one works just fine.
In the writing sample, you'll see that I call this a ceramic coated nib. It's not, actually. I was just looking at the stats on the Wahl-Eversharp page, and it's just a Rhodium plated stainless steel nib. The fancier pens come with a stainless steel nib that's both gold-plated and ceramic-coated. (That's a lot of hyphens!) Mine is the lower-end model, but it still has the semi-flex that the other nibs have. I hear that they're smoother, but I guess I can't speak to that.

It's a really nice looking nib. This pic is after I've filled it with the Wahl-Eversharp Wahlberry ink, and you can really see the pattern in the nib with that ink limning the nib.

Here's a picture of all the parts, deconstructed. It's a light pen, but it posts really well, and i like the extra weight when it's posted. The cap is where most of the weight is, but it posts so deeply on the barrel that that weight is close to the web of your hand, and that's about perfect for me.

In the picture below you'll see this assemblage of parts from the opposite angle. The barrell is all one piece, and the step is barely noticeable. Additionally, the grip section is long enough that I don't touch the threads when I write. I know some people grip higher than I do, but the threads are quite small, and not sharp at all, so you're unlikely to be bothered at all by them.

Here's the writing sample with this pen. I'm not at all experienced with flex writing, so it's not fancy. I'm sure you can find some other reviews (like this one) where they really know how to use the nib. It's not super-flex, but if you push it a little you'll get some nice variation. I haven't really pushed it, since I know I don't really know what I'm doing.

Now, while we're talking about the nib, I've got to say that I had a mixed experience with this one. For the first month or so I had a nib that was hard to start. It skipped and ran dry and it was kind of a pain in the ass. I sort of thought that this might be normal with a pen like this, since I'd never had a semi-flex before. I mentioned this in a thread on FP Geeks, and Syd showed up and said that wasn't normal at all, and that he'd get it fixed up for me. He sent out another nib, and it was a little better. It still wasn't great. I took a video and sent another email to Syd, and he sent out a whole new nib-unit package. It was sent in a bubble-mailer wrapped in bubble wrap inside a section of PVC pipe. Now, that's the most secure I've seen something sent.

Long story short, I seem to have initially gotten a bum-pen. I don't know what was wrong with it, really, but the new unit that Syd sent out was lightspeed-better than the original. I really admire good customer service after the sale. Syd is great, and it really saved this pen for me.

Now, the big con with this pen is the price. You'll see that they range from $150-$365. Even the low-end plastic model that I have is pretty expensive for a pen with a steel nib and a plastic body. (I didn't pay full price for this pen, but the discount I got was given to everyone at the pen show, I think.) It's unique, and I really like the work that Syd has put into the reboot of the Wahl-Eversharp brand. I can't wait to see what else Syd has in store for us.

Speaking of reboots, btw, I've heard that the nibs on Skyline pens will work in the vintage pens, and the vintage nibs work in the new pens. I've heard the vintage nibs were great, so I'll be looking for one in the next pen shows.

Check these pens out at Wahl-Eversharp's page or at the only other retailer I know of: Anderson Pens.