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Sailor Bungbox Omaezaki Sea

12/19/15
Following up Akkerman's Shocking Blue isn't easy, but this one is in the same vein, so it's next!

I don't have many of these Bungbox inks (because they're expensive and hard to get in the US), but my friends at the Triangle Pen Club sometimes give me samples of inks that I don't have, and I'm super-grateful for that. Pen folks are pretty great.

This ink is lot more blue than the Akkerman was. That's partly because it's got a lot less sheen and partly because it's a lighter hue. I actually like it a little more. On fancy papers, I think the Akkerman wins because of the absurd amount of sheen. On regular papers, though, I think the color of this one is more interesting.


Written Review



Close-Ups





Copy Paper Test



Color Comparisons



That Sheen!



Pretty nice, eh?

Chromatography



Video Review and Water Drop Test




A Pen Lover's Last-Minute Christmas List!

12/16/15

So, this isn't my shopping list. Some of these are things that I already have. Some of them are things that I do want. Some of them are things that I don't want, but that I know other people are really psyched about.

If you've got a fountain pen lover in your family, or you'd like to make someone into a fountain pen lover, then check out these things. If you've got other ideas, then please let me know in the comments and I'll try to add them.


Pens 

Pilot Pens:

The very popular Metropolitan has just been released in several new colors and patterns this season. At $15, this is a very good pen to start out with. It's also a fine pen to lure your friends and family into the hobby.


TWSBI Pens:

The new Eco is a great starter pen that I really enjoy using. At less than $30, it's a good pen at a great price. It also comes in lots of nib sizes, so there's something for everyone. These need to be filled from a bottle, so it would be a great combo gift.

Photo from AndersonPens.com

The 580AL in Blue is apparently a limited color, as it has been discontinued. It's a really nice looking color, and I haven't heard anyone with an idea why it was canceled. My guess is that the couldn't get the blue parts any longer.

Photo from AndersonPens.com

Aurora Ipsilons

I just reviewed this pen line a little while ago, and it's really good for the price. At just about $100, the Ipsilon line gets you a classy Italian pen whose parts are all made in the same factory in Italy.



Sailor Pens:

Looking for something more up-market? You can't go wrong with a Sailor. They've got some of the best nibs around. The nibs run about a size smaller than you might expect, as is the case with most Japanese nibs. There are lots of different types of Sailor pens, and prices start around $150 and go up to around a $1000.

I reviewed the 1911 Standard here. It's a pretty sweet pen, and the Pro Gear I have is excellent as well. These come in a Sky Blue form, as well, and that's really cool.

Photo from AndersonPens.com
Looking to make an impression (and have a pile of money sitting around)? Get someone a King of Pen. It's difficult to get an idea of the scale of this pen, on its own.  It's about the size of a Montblanc 149, so it's one of the biggest pens around.King.

Photo from AndersonPens.com

Faber-Castell

I really like this brand. They've got a couple of pens that are especially good in the low-middle price range, and their nibs are always excellent. The Loom comes in several colors, and sports a solid metal body for $40. The Ambition is a great pen for a lady. It's a little thin for me, I think, but it comes in several finishes and it ranges from $70-170.

The Ambition. Pic from AndersonPens.com
The Loom. Pic from AndersonPens.com
Franklin-Christoph!

My favorite pen makers. They don't have anything in the low-price range, but all of their resin pens are made just down the road (and then down some other roads...) from me in NC. These are high quality pens that their makers stand behind. We've got a few of them in our collection, and they're our favorites. Audrey has as many (or more) of these than I do. Check out their styles. Seriously. Great pens. They don't pay me to say that.

The 03 Iterum. Pic from Franklin-Christoph.com
The Model 20 Marietta. Pic from Franklin-Christoph.com
The Model 02 Intrinsic. Pic from Franlin-Christoph.com


Ballpoints:

So...fountain pens aren't for everyone. Some people just want a ballpoint/rollerball because they are dead inside concerned with practicality.

To that end, check out the Retro 51 line. There are all sorts of styles, and it's a great quality pen for a really reasonable price. Help your family upgrade from a Bic.

Twinkle! Pic from AndersonPens.com


Paper

Pen lovers know that paper is as important as the pen and the ink. It's the other, other leg of the stool.

Rhodia is what I use all the time. I buy it when I see it in stores so that they'll know people want it. I use it for my reviews. Everything.

Maruman paper is one of those best kept secrets. It's not available in most places, but check it out. It's really good paper.

There this stuff called "WhiteLines" paper, and it seems rad. I've never tried it out, but I do like the look and the idea a lot.

Want something hand-made in the USA? Check out Write Notepads & Co. I blogged about them a few years back after meeting them at the DC show, and they make great notebooks. It's a family business that's something like 3 or 4 generations of bookbinders.  Buy from their site or from Anderson Pens. Everything you buy there will trigger a donation of notebooks to schools in need. Each notebook comes with a code that will tell you where your specific donation went. Cool, right? Yep.

Finally, if you're looking for the cream of the crop, you should look to Tomoe River. It's the new hotness for fountain pen lovers. I haven't had a chance to use it, really, but it's supposed to be thin and awesome. It shows off an ink like nothing else. That's what I hear, anyway.



Accessories and Stocking Stuffers

Want to get someone in to the hobby without making a big deal of it? Want to give a user something that they're going to like? This is my favorite category for that.

Write Notes Ledgers
Little Write Notebooks? I haven't tried this size, but it looks like a good one.


Syringes with blunt needles
 So, I sent my mom one of these for a birthday (I think), and she was dubious until I told her what it was for. They're good for filling up pens without any mess at all. You can refill a cartridge if you want to. The possibilities are ENDLESS. (Okay, there's an end, but it's still a good gift.)

Bulb syringes
This may seem silly, but it's the business for cleaning out your pens. So much better than just running it under the faucet or using a converter. 

Pen Flush
Want that pen extra clean? Use pen flush. Sure, you can make it yourself, but this JB's is perfectly mixed, safe, and awesome.

Thank You Cards
It's a bit of a tradition in my family for some people to give other people thank you cards. And stamps. It's a polite reminder that your family really likes to hear that you like the stuff they got you. You can find some pen-related ones from the Proper Pads collection. I use them, though not as much as I should.

Platinum Preppy
Know a kid? Someone who is dubious about fountain pens, but might like them? Someone who uses Varsity pens, and needs an inexpensive upgrade? The nibs on these are much better than other pens in the price range, and the ink is a winner. Takes a proprietary cartridge, but that's not a big deal.



Annnnd I'm done. That's what I can think of right now. If you've got other ideas, post them in the comments!

*** Edits!***

I forgot to add cases to this list. The Monteverde 36-pen case is pretty sweet if you need to store a bunch of pens. Nock Co.'s Brasstown and Lookout are good options for transporting a few pens. Franklin-Christoph has an array of more up-scale pen  storage and carrying accessories. The Penvelopes are especially cool, and very sturdy. They used to have a really impressive display case sort of thing, too, but I don't see it on the site any longer. 

Akkerman #5 Shocking Blue

12/12/15
Put this on your Christmas list!

A little while ago, I posted a poll on the blog. It asked what ink brands you wanted to see the most, and it was nearly a tie between Akkerman and Bungbox. That's fine with me! I have (I think) a complete set of Akkerman samples from Anderson Pens, and I'm happy to have an excuse to dive into those little vials.

This blue is pretty shocking. (Sorry. Couldn't help it.) On fancy papers (like the Rhodia I used here), you can barely make out the blue color. It's almost completed obliterated by the crazy amount of sheen on top of the ink. It's a purple/red sheen on top of a dark blue ink. You can see a bit of this sheen (just barely) on copy paper, but it really changes character on Rhodia.

Written Review



Close-Ups!


 



Color Comparisons



On a Maruman Card

It kinda matches the sky! I'm not sure why it looks so light on this card. It didn't come out light in either of the pens that I used it in. Different papers, you know.


Copy Paper Test


Pretty impressive performance, actually. I thought that this one was going to do more bleeding, but it didn't really do much of that. There's a little bit of bleed from the Panther sample, but that was written with a big, wet nib.


Chromatography






Water Drop Test and Video Review



This ink is fairly expensive, at $29 for a 60ml bottle, but this ink looks expensive and the bottle it comes in is rad.
Picture from AndersonPens.com
In short, this ink rules if you like sheen and you're not going to get it wet. It doesn't play well with water, but very few inks have more sheen than this one. It's pretty rad.

Find this ink at Anderson Pens in 60ml bottles or 3ml samples. You'll have to follow these links to order online, or you can call Anderson Pens to order your ink. You won't find them on the regular site, though.

Staedtler Black

12/11/15

Hi folks! This is the other ink in the Staedtler line, generously provided by Corey at Staedtler. Thanks Corey!

Like Aurora, Staedtler is only running two inks at this point. I reviewed their Royal Blue ink a little while ago, and I really liked it. It's a little under-saturated, but it flows consistently, and it performs so well on copy paper that the lack of saturation is totally forgivable.

The black ink shares several of these qualities. It's a little under-saturated, but not to the point of appearing grey. It performs super well on copy paper, just like the blue does. Unfortunately, it's a little too dry. As I say in the written portion below, black inks can have a difficult time standing out. The space in that hue is much tighter than it is in the blue range. Black inks have to rely on their saturation and performance, alone. So, this ink is a bit of a mixed bag.

Written Review




Close-Ups!




Bottles and Such


You can get this ink in bottles or international cartridges.



The wind was really strong when I was taking these pictures, and it ripped this little card right out of my hand and into the lily "pond". The effects on this card don't bode well for its water-resistance.



Color Comparisons

Fortunately, I had a couple of my favorite black inks to compare to this one. Kiwa-Guro is my favorite black ink, and Dark Matter is one of my go-to inks even if it's not as well-loved as Aurora's black ink. Staedtler does have an edge on those two when it comes to performance on weak paper's, though.



Copy Paper Test

There's just a touch of bleed with this ink on Staples' 20lb copy paper, but we can probably chalk that up to a weak spot in the paper.



Chromatography

I'm always a little surprised by the complexity of a black ink.




Video Review and Water Drop Test


I like my black inks dark and saturated, so Staedtler's offering isn't really my style. I'm sure it's going to have plenty of fans, though. 


Thanks for sending this ink out for review, Corey!

The Sailor 1911 Standard (Demonstrator)

12/5/15

This review has been a long time coming. Ron at Pen Chalet was kind enough to send this out to me for review ages ago, and it's taken me until now to review it. That's not usually how it goes, but there was a bit of an issue with this pen, and it needed some TLC before I could really review it. More about that later, but suffice to say that it was weird and not something for you to worry about if you want to get one of these pens.

Specs

Sailor 1911 Standard
Street Price: ~$156
Available colors: Lots of them.
Nibs: XF, F, M, B, MF, Zoom, and Music. 
Trim: 24k gold
Inclusions: 2 cartridges and a Sailor converter.




Package

The Sailor box is a big, substantial box that would make a nice presentation box. It's a dark navy (midnight?) blue with gold trim and the name and logo in gold.


Oh. Look. My cereal made it into the picture. Sure, I could have cropped it out. I didn't, though.

Inside, it's a white silk lining with the name and logo again. There's a little removable bed/pillow thing with a strap on it. Pretty typical, but the box is pretty nice. Not the nicest box I have (that honor goes do a Delta Fusion 82), but it's better than lots of them.


Under that pillow you'll find the paperwork, cartridges and the converter. I really like when a box has this space under the pen. It's irritating that some don't because you just have cartridges and such rattling around in there. Hooray for hidden spaces!



Appearance

I really like the way that this pen looks. That was a surprise, as I usually shy away from gold furniture. Sometimes it's just a gold colored plating that ends up looking cheap. Not so, this pen! It's 24k plating and it looks rad. There will be lots of pictures of this pen. It's hard not to take pictures of it. 



Yeah. This is the same picture as the one at the top of the page. So what. Wanna fight about it?

The nib on this pen is also kinda pretty. It's not the best-looking Sailor nib (I really love the two-tone ones the best), and it's a little bit busy, but there's something about it that I really like. I don't know what it is, but it calls to me.



 The body of the pen is transparent, so you can see some things that you generally wouldn't. The inner parts of the cap, the threads where the body meets the end of the pen, the threads where the nib unit screws into the grip section. The body also seems to be fairly tough. I post this pen (it's a little short if I don't) and I I can't see any scratches or scuffs.


The following is a gratuitous nib-shot.


I like the detail on the tip of the cap. It's difficult to photograph, but there is a column of clear plastic in the finial that makes it look very interesting from the top-down view. The clip has a graceful shape and it works just as it should. It clips on pockets and plackets just fine. Quite secure without being too tight to function.



The big gold band at the waist of this cap is a very nice touch. Full disclosure, I don't love it on the solid-color pens, but it's really attractive on this transparent one. It adds just the right break-up between the cap and the barrel when it's capped. It reads "Sailor Japan Founded 1911" around the band. Good font. Good placement. Looks great.



The only draw-back to a clear demonstrator pen is that this tends to happen. After a fresh fill (and a ride in my pocket), some ink leaked onto the nib and collected at the base of this inner cap. It was easy enough to clean out when I removed the inner cap with the eraser end of a pencil. Hey, who said pencils aren't useful?




Nib Performance

This was where the issue was. When I received the pen, it did not want to write. It was kind of okay on the down-strokes and the left-to-right strokes, but it just didn't do much of anything on the up-stroke or the right-to-left stroke.





I've had this problem with pens before, and I thought it was probably a badly adjusted nib or something. So, I got it to my friend Jim Rouse who had offered to take a look at it for me. Super grateful for that. He has a ton of experience with fountain pens.

I also thought it might have something to do with the shape of the nib. It's a little odd, and I thought maybe it was a problem. Turns out that it isn't a problem at all. The nib was fine. The tipping is a little odd, but it's not defective. It's just got a slant to it.




The problem turns out to have been some glue that got onto the feed during production. They use a little bit of glue to keep the nib unit in the section, and that had gotten into the feed. It wrecked the ink flow, but Jim says that it came out easily when he put it in the ultrasonic cleaner. After that? It works perfectly. Hooray!



The flow is a little on the wet side, and the nib angle takes a little getting used to, but neither of these are problems.

How's it Feel?

It feels really good. The pen is light, but not too light. The length is a little short on this model, but it posts really well so I use it that way. The section is a little bit small, but I have large hands so I often feel that way. It measures at around 10mm at the section, and I generally like about 11-12mm. It's just a shade narrower than I prefer. No big deal for anyone who doesn't have big hands. If you have big hands, then you might like the large sized model better. It's more expensive, but more comfortable for some folks.

Comparisons

The following pictures are a bunch of comparisions to other pens that people might have in their collections. I'll let the pictures do the talking, but please feel free to ask questions in the comments section.










These next couple are a bit over-exposed. I don't know what the deal was, but I had issues making my camera behave for these. I think it was a combination of too much sunlight and too much shiny metal.

Esterbrook J, Sailor 1911S, Sailor Pro Gear

Faber-Castell Ondoro, Sailor 1911S, Sailor Pro Gear

Ugh. So washed out. Just look at these for size comparisons. They're all more beautiful in real life.

Here's the gold 1911 nib next to the two-tone Pro Gear nib. See what I mean? That two-tone is hot. The regular one is nice, though.



Video Review
 This is a super-long video review (for me), but it's not half bad.





Wrap-Up


I try not to tell people to buy pens that I've been sent for review at no charge. I can tell you that this pen is pretty great, though. I had some issues in the beginning, but that was a fluke that I've never heard of before. I know lots of Sailor owners, and none of them have had any problems. Buy with confidence. 

The only real issue that you might have with Sailor pens is the size. The low-cost ones are on the small side, and they might not be great for folks with large hands. That said, the nibs are great. They're typically nails, but that's fine if they write well. I don't really want flexible nibs most of the time anyway.

Find this at any place that sells Sailor pens. Check them out at Pen Chalet!

***This pen was sent to me at no charge for review, but all impressions in this review are my own and uninfluenced.***