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Christmas Inks and Pens!

If you're like me, then your family knows that you're into fountain pens and ink. Here's a photo-fest of my new goodies.

First-up is this Jin Hao x750 in flat black. It's a really classy pen, and my wife got it for me so that we could compare it to the x750 that we got on eBay a while back. So far, this new pen is way better than the old one. We think the old one might be a fake.

Next up, is this bright orange Monteverde Artista. Audrey got one of these at a pen show this summer, and I had been saying that I liked it enough to get another one. Well, she beat me to it, and got me one for Christmas. Thanks!

Lastly (for pens) we have a new Metro. You'll have seen, by now, the new animal print Metros. I don't care for most of them, but I do really like this lizard-print one. It's sort of a gunmetal grey with a band of lizard-print. Very classy.

My mom and Audrey both got me some ink for xmas. First up is this Noodler's ink called Blue Steel. It's an ink exclusive to Dromgoole's in Houston. It's an interesting bottle of ink that I'm looking forward to reviewing once I've had a chance to write with it some more. It's a bit lighter and a bit more green than I was able to capture with artificial light.
Audrey ordered this next ink in a sample with the pens. I have only recently started really using J. Herbin inks, and I have liked quite a few of them. This one surprised me. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, but I really like this grey/brown.
The next few are swatches from samples and bottles that I got for Christmas, but that I haven't put in a pen just yet.
Noodler's Live Oak is another of the Dromgoole's exclusive inks, and it's a darkish tree-green.
Noodler's Alamo's Twilight is supposed to be a red that is exclusive to Dromgoole's. My bottle, however, isn't red at all. I think something may have gone wrong with this one. I've contacted Noodler's to see if I can get a replacement for it. The brown is okay, but I'd rather have the ink as it is supposed to be.
R&K's Salix is a dusky blue that I think is a modern iron gall. I've heard of people using it in non-gold nibs, but I don't know if I'll chance it yet. Anyone used this one?
I've had samples of Ancient Copper before, and I reviewed it about a year ago. I keep talking myself out of buying a whole bottle of this, and I don't know why. It's a fantastic ink.
The last two are a couple of greens that I didn't know about. I've heard of Sherwood Green, but I don't know if the Fast Dry is a different formulation or not. Diamine Green-Black seems to be a really dark green, and much more green than black. I'm looking forward to them.

Pen Review: Diplomat Traveller

Diplomat is a German company that doesn't seem to have a very large distribution in the US. I've seen them at the Raleigh and DC shows, and it's always the same two reps. I sort of get the impression that they're it for the American side of Diplomat, though I don't know for sure. They're very nice folks, and they always remember us when we see them.

This is a pen that my wife bought at the DC Pen Show in 2012. I've been meaning to write a review of it ever since, but it's her pen and I don't use it very often. I think Diplomat pens sort of fly under the radar, and I'd like to see that change.

There are two pens that share this look. The Esteem is a larger pen that seems to be aimed at the male crowd, and the Traveller (sic) is the slim version of the pen. It certainly fits my wife's hand better than it does mine.

The Look

The Traveller comes in lots of colors and a couple of different finishes. Audrey went for a nice, soft green that they call "Lapis Spring Green." The finish is a satiny green that looks matte and feels smooth but not slippery. You can also get this in a lacquer finish and a silvery finish that look more shiny and, perhaps, more slippery.

The green body is broken up with a silver ring above the section, a silver clip, and a plastic finial (I think that's what the very top of the pen cap is called, anyway) with a Diplomat teardrop snowflake in it.  The clips on Diplomats are distinctive. They're teardrop-shaped, and they have a small teardrop carved out of the middle. It's a classy little pen.

The section is black plastic with a very small step from the section to the barrel. There's a little flair at the end of the section that keeps your fingers from sliding down to the nib, but there's nothing much there for grip. My wife reports that she doesn't find the section slippery when she's writing with it for extended periods, though.

(The following pictures are a little rough. I took a million pictures of these nibs, sections and other pens, and every one is a little blurry. I've had it. I ain't takin' any more.)

The Stats

This section will be a little slim on hard data. The reason that I don't have many stats on this pen is that the website doesn't have them. Their site is functional, but not very detailed. As I mentioned above, I don't think they really have much in the way of staff, here in the States, and that is probably reflected in their web design.

The body and cap are both metal, and I'm guessing they're aluminium. The section is plastic. The cap snaps on pretty well (with an audible click) but I don't want to clip it to a placket. It's fairly secure, but I would worry a bit about the pen falling inside my shirt and making a mess. (I haven't had that happen, but I would worry about it.) Audrey prefers that her pen caps snap rather than screwing on, so this is a feature she likes.

The clip is metal, and quite stiff. The end of the clip turns up a bit, so I don't have a problem putting it on a pocket, and it's not going anywhere once it's on there.

I don't have a scale of the sort that would be helpful, so I'll just say that the Traveller pen weighs in somewhere between the Lamy Vista (which is all-plastic) and the Pilot Metropolitan (which also has a metal body and a plastic section). It's slightly heavier than the Vista and a bit lighter than the Metropolitan.

The cap can be posted, and this gives the Traveller a slightly back-heavy feel. It's not uncomfortable for me to write like this. That's a good thing, because I have large hands and the slim and short nature of this pen means that I need it to be posted to use comfortably.

Capped length: 5 1/4"
Uncapped length: 4 5/8"
Posted length: Just a touch over 6"
Nib: Steel. I've used medium and fine.
Filling Mechanism: cartridge or converter
Cost: $50-$65

The Diplomat is in the middle, though the color is a little washed-out. 

The Nib

The nib is steel, and it's stamped with the Diplomat symbol and "DIPLOMAT since 1922" in addition to the F (or M). It's a small nib, and I think I would have included fewer words on the nib. In fact, it would have been okay to leave the words off altogether, but the pen doesn't say Diplomat anywhere but the nib (and the converter) so I suppose it's okay that they include it here. The branding on the pen is pretty obvious (with the clip, finial, and nib), but it's not obnoxious.

Diplomat Traveller nib fine green

The nib in this picture is a fine nib, and I don't see that option on this pen on the website. They seem to only offer it in medium at this point. I bet that they'd switch one out with a fine nib, though, since they have them available on some other finishes. The pen actually came with a medium when we bought it, but there was an issue with the section cracking and when I emailed them to let them know, they offered to send me a whole new nib/feed/section kit. That was more than I'd asked for, and I asked them for a fine nib. Audrey usually likes the fine nibs better, but this time she prefers the medium.

The nib is steel, but there is some flex to it. It's not a lot of flex, but it's not a nail like most of the other German steel nibs I have. It writes quite well, and the feed has no problem keeping up even when I flex it a bit.


We had a small problem with this pen. The plastic section cracked from the bottom (near the nib), and that led to a fair amount of ink being on my fingers. It appears to have happened spontaneously.  As I said above, the issue was sorted quickly.

The other issue is a small one. There's a little chipping developing in the paint at the bottom of the cap. The picture below is a super-close-up of the ring where the cap meets the barrel. The reps said that if the chips get any bigger, they'll replace it. It's pretty hard to see this issue, but I'm a little critical.

The Final Word

All of the women that I've had test this pen have liked it. My mother was just in town, and she liked it best of all the pens that I have. The section is really narrow, and the weight is light, but substantial. It is too light and too narrow for me, though I do see the appeal. I'd encourage the dudes out there to look up the Diplomat Esteem (or the new Aero, which is super cool).

The nibs that these come with are really pretty good. They're the best part of this pen, and I encourage people to test them out if they have the opportunity.

Whoops. I forgot to post the pictures of the packaging. It's worth seeing, so here they are. 

I keep most of my packaging (so far, anyway), but this one is actually worth keeping, I think. The metal clamshell is classy and durable.

Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Elliot K and Karen Y, the winners of my first give-away!

Also, thanks to all of my readers for their participation in the give-away. There were 185 total entries in the contest, and that's pretty awesome for a first give-away. I'm really looking forward to having more of these opportunities on the blog.

Now, do you know someone who is into nail polish? My wife is giving away 12 (12!) nail polishes on her blog Click this link, and enter to win this huge group of polishes.


Last day to enter the Write Notepads Give-Away!

Hello folks!

This is just a reminder that this is the last day to enter the give-away so, if you've been putting it off, now is the time!

Click this link to get over to the give-away post and enter! Winners will be drawn by Rafflecopter tonight at midnight. Good luck, and Merry Christmas!

It's Friday. Here's a cat.

Eclipse loves a sunbeam and a string. She loves that string.'s First Give-Away!

Hi folks,
I've been wanting to have a give-away for a while now, but I was never sure what to give away. Well, Chris from Write Notepads & Co has solved that issue for me. Chris has provided me with some notebooks to give away to my readers.

There will be 2 winners, and each will receive 2 notebooks from Write Notepads & Co. Each winner will be sent a Limited Edition Baltimore notebook and a regular Write notebook.

To enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The give-away will run from now until 11:59pm (EST) December 24th. I'll announce a winner on the 25th. 

Ink Samples and Anderson Pens

If there's one question that pen/ink bloggers get more than any other, it is something like this:

What ink should I get?
If you like this color, you should get Private Reserve's American Blue
That's a good question, but it's a hard one to answer. One of the reasons that we like fountain pens so much is that your your color and ink choices are so broad. This is a double-edged sword. It means that even when you narrow it down from "I want some ink." to "I want a blue ink." you still have to find the right one (or ones) for you. If you have unlimited funds you can just buy tons of bottles of ink until you find some that really suit you. 

If you're like the rest of us, though, the best thing to do is to buy some ink samples. This was actually one of the things that helped me to get back into the fountain pen game after an absence of several years. I'd get the occasional bottle of ink, but it was always a gamble. I don't remember where I heard about it, but I discovered that I could get ink samples sent to me in the mail. EUREKA! 

These samples are from Anderson, and they're 3ml samples. That's the same volume as and 50% more than you get from the Goulet's for the same price. (Sure, it's only 1ml more, but value is value.) 

It can be a little tricky to fill some pens from the sample vial if you have a pen with a fat body or a long nib, so I generally use a syringe for that. It's cleaner and you waste far less ink that way. You can get a small one with a blunt needle at a medical supply store, or you can just get one from most ink vendors and avoid feeling weird shopping for needles.

Brace yourself for a picture frenzy. 

Omas Parker J. Herbin Stipula Scribal Workshops

Omas Black Red Grey Blue Parker Quink Black

Omas Black, Red, and Grey

Omas Parker Quink
Omas Blue, Parker Quink Black, and J. Herbin Terra de Feu

J. Herbin Stipula
J. Herbin Terra de Feu and Stipula Musk Green

I didn't like Scribal when I first tried their inks, but Lisa Anderson says I need to give them another try. 

Scribal Workshop
Left: Damselfish
Right: Siren

So, if you're not sure what to try out next then order up a bunch of samples. they're generally in the $1.25 range, and they come with enough ink to let you fill up a converter a couple of times. 

These were swatched on an Anderson Pens' Proper Pad, and I think the text was written in Noodler's Texas Pecan.

****Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any vendors mentioned in this post. I'm just a happy customer. I paid for these. Anderson Pens didn't provide the samples for free or anything, though they did give me one more than I ordered because they thought I might like it even though I hadn't ordered it. They're good folks.****