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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.

Update: I just did a short writing sample video for a fellow on Reddit, so I'm posting it here. 

A Giveaway at Pen Chalet! (and also a discount code)

Hi folks,
Ron at the Pen Chalet contacted me to help spread the word about their current giveaway. Head over to this page to enter, and get your chance to win one of two gift cards ($50 and $25). You have until the 14th of April for this one, but don't dawdle.

Also, Ron has been gracious enough to offer 10% off to my readers who enter the coupon code INKDEPENDENCE at checkout. Go check them out.

Wordless Wednesday: Nibs & Nails


Want to see more nails? Go check out!
Check out the Sheaffer VFM. It's a great starter pen. 

Sailor Jentle Sky High

Sailor's Sky High is one of my favorite inks. It's a bright blue that flows perfectly in every pen that I've had it in, and that's way more than average. You'll see in the written review that I've got writing samples from 4 pens. Every time I go to ink up a pen, I'm tempted to put Sky High in it. I've gotta stop that at some point, but I haven't really reached that point  yet.

There are just going to be a lot of pictures below. It's a great ink. You should get it. I need more Sailor inks. I've only tried about three of them, and they've all been excellent.

At Anderson  Pens. They've got the best price on this ink. $12.50 for 50mls.

 I like it in most everything, and it looks a bit different from all of these nibs. It's probably best in my Grandfather's old Parker 51 and in my Conklin Crescent's 1.1 stub. They're radically different nibs, but Sky High is super in both.

Check out that difference. you'd never even guess they were the same ink.

The above is what this ink looks like most of the time, though.

Here's the ink video. I had some "help" from my buddy Jack the Cat on this one, and then I ran out of storage on my iPad and I had to stitch some more video on it. 

Here's the spoiler:

Franklin-Christoph's Piper Black Cartridge (Classic Black?)

This is a review that has been waiting a really long time. You'll see in some of the photos that there is a bit of black that comes from my review of their Black Magic Black.  Soooo, this review has been hanging out in my stack for close to a year. Weird, but I'm glad I found it.

This is a perfectly serviceable black ink. It actually performed better on office paper than it does on this Rhodia. I can't remember having any problems with this one, but it didn't work well on Rhodia. It seemed to be reluctant to write on that paper, for some reason.

It's not the darkest black that you'll find, but it works just fine for most uses.

I say, in the written review that this is only in cartridges, but they've had it made in bottles, and you can find it with the rest of the bottles here. I haven't tried the bottled version of this ink, but Scott tells me that it's the same formula.

And here's the video with a water drip test:

Wordless Wednesday: Nibs & Nails with China Glaze C-C-Courage and Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50


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Check out the The Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50.

Pilot FriXion Retractable Ball .05mm

Thanks for sending these out, JetPens!

I've had a blue pen from the FriXion line for quite a while, but I've never gotten around to reviewing it. It's the thin, capped version, and it's not bad. The ink is a little too light, and the eraser is hidden under the cap when you post the pen (and I usually do), so it's not in my Top 10 or anything, but it's not bad. At least it's not hideous like the original versions. Those lame.

The Look:
The ones that JetPens sent out to me are the newer clicky-versions, and they're flame-free. They come in a sleek, classy form that I wouldn't be embarrassed to pull out in a meeting even if I were wearing a tie. The one awkward bit is the milk-white knob on the top of the pen that you use to erase the ink with. I'm glad they went with that look rather than some other color because it sort of blends in to most of the office surroundings. I hardly notice it's there until I want to erase something. Also, I don't have to up-post the pen to erase, and that's an improvement over the previous versions.

 A really minor detail, but still neat:
When you're ready to write you can see three yellow squares. 

When the pen's tip is inside you don't see the squares. 

The Feel:
I'm not sure why, but they don't feel as good as they look. Your mileage will vary on this one, but there's just something that's not-right about them.

  • Maybe they're a little too light. 
  • Maybe I'm pushing on them too hard to overcompensate for the weak ink color. 
  • Maybe the grip needs to be cushy-er or maybe it needs a bit more patterning on it to keep my fingers from moving. 
  • Maybe the body should have a bit more contour or a longer clip. 
Whatever it is, it's keeping me from wanting to write with these for long periods of time. I get a little cramped and I keep shifting my grip to find a sweet-spot. This might not be an issue for you, but it's a little bit of an issue for me.

The Ink:
This is really where a pen sinks or swims. I'm trying to be even-handed here, and it's a bit of a toss-up. 

  • The ink looks weak. The "black" ink is just not black. It's grey. The "red" ink is just not red. It's kinda salmon. If you like a grey or salmon pen then this might be right up your alley. 
  • It always feels like it's running out of ink; like you're constantly on the last dregs of a pen's ink supply. 
It looks a little more red here than it does in real life. It's not pink, but it's not a dark red, either. 

Check out the railroad. Give me some more ink-flow, man.

  • You can erase it! 
In this super-close-up you can see a little of the ink in the erased bit, but in real life you don't really see that. 

Seriously. It's not like the old-style "erasable" ink pens. I remember when I was in school I'd get these terrible ball points that would skip and jitter across the page, and you could kinda erase the ink with this rough, black, sandpapery eraser on the top of the cap. It was more likely to tear through the page than it was to erase the stuff you wrote. God forbid you try and erase two things you wrote in the same place. Sayonara, notebook paper!

That doesn't happen with the FriXion pens. The ink is thermosensitive, so it just takes a little heat to 86 the ink, and the eraser on the pens is really a not-quite-smooth plastic piece that doesn't wear away when you erase. It also doesn't wear away the paper. This is kind of special. 

In fact, it's likely to be special enough that it will make some people overlook the lightness of the ink. My roommate (an intern-architect) was moved from "Ugh. Not for me." all the way to "Hey! Can I have this?" by the erasable ink. She really liked that she could sketch something and then erase part of it. It's a big selling point. 

A caveat: the JetPens description says that any heat will cause your ink to disappear. I haven't really tested this, but I'm going to do that soon, and I'll post a video of the results. On the flip side, cold can (reportedly) cause your ink to reappear. That means you can write and send secret messages with these, but that you shouldn't think that things you write will be gone forever if you erase them. 

At $3.80 per pen, they're on the expensive side. The body is sturdy, though, and it's going to last. I've got no fear of this pen breaking on me. You can also buy refills for this pen pretty cheaply from, so this isn't a throw-away if you use it up.

This is pretty neat. I didn't do a water test on this ink, but I wanted to do the heat test I mentioned above, and it came out kinda cool. I've never used iMovie on my iPad before, so this was sort of like two experiments in one. There's some unfortunate lense flare at the moment when the ink disappears, but here's the video: