2018 LA Pen Show Report: Franz

Hello Friends! I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2018 Los Angeles International Pen Show that was held on February 15 thru 18. I actually try to make it to the LA pen show every year as kind of like a vacation for myself. Things I look forward to at a pen show: hanging out with pen-minded people, perusing thousands upon thousands of different pens, possibly buying a pen (or two) that I can’t go home without, seeing and visiting with old friends, creating new friends, and just having a fun time!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sunset sky at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel. I have arrived!

Each year, the LA pen show is held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel in Manhattan Beach, California. This year, they’re in a transition period and changing their name to Westdrift but is still under the Marriott brand. The hotel was still undergoing construction during the pen show. There’s more to be said about that part but I’d rather just focus on the show which was all fun for me!

I arrived on Thursday afternoon just in time as the first day was wrapping up. I immediately checked in and went downstairs to the ballroom.

Pens were found!
Ebonite pens at the Peyton Street Pens table

Walking around, I found a “few” pens that want to be bought! But since it was the first day and the first hour I was at the show, I decided to just take it easy and mull it over until the next day. Basically, if the pen isn’t sold yet then it’s mine. So I didn’t buy anything for myself for Thursday. We left the hotel for dinner with Pen Posse peeps as well as pen dealers from Italy, and Japan. We had great food from Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill. We shared tapas, and pizzas but what we really went there for was the dessert. Salted Caramel Pudding. ‘Nuff said. =)

Salted Caramel Pudding

Back at the hotel, we all congregated to the hotel’s outdoor bar aptly called, “The Tent”. This is the time where pen people sit, relax, talk, and show off their pens.

At the bar: A Pilot Hira Maki-e pen in Ume pattern in the foreground while being photobombed by Kimberly.
At the bar: An Aurora Optima 365 Azzurra pen. Playing with pens is sweet especially when you have dessert on hand.

One of the pen bloggers (code name: Pink Hair) arrived at The Tent and generously let everyone try out the new Wancher Dream Pen. I must say that it is a substantial pen that filled my paws well. I then did a quick comparison in size with a Pelikan M1000. Thank you Agent Pink Hair!

At the bar: Wancher Dream Pen capped
At the bar: Wancher Dream Pen unposted
Side-by-side: Pelikan M1000 and Wancher Dream Pen


Friday, August 16, 2018

Good morning Los Angeles! It’s a beautiful day for a pen show! I woke up early-ish and got ready for the day. I went down around 8:30am and found that the show was already ongoing. Paid for my Trader Pass and I was on my way. Walked around and visited to say hello to friends (vendors and attendees).

I found the Straits Pen table with some Pelikan pens as well their table’s security detail.

Pelikan M400, M600, and M800
Pelikan M101 Originals of their Time 1935 in Lapis Blue
Pen Posse Yuan armed with an ebonite rod for those people with sticky fingers!

Walked around more and saw the Professional Nib Expert, Mike Masuyama at his table working early. I signed up to get some nibwork done as well. Because of how late I signed up (9:00am), I wasn’t sure if I’ll make the cut for the end of the day. That’s how in demand this gentleman is.

Mike Masuyama’s first customer was ready and raring to get her nibs ground!
Mike Masuyama’s work station wherein he pretty much sits behind the whole pen show. This is THE place where he wields his magic and skills to make you happy to write with your pens.
Masuyamasan grinding a nib to a cursive italic

Since Friday morning wasn’t too busy yet, I got the chance to do a Live Instagram video and got to show some of the pen show’s light action on Friday morning. I then uploaded to YouTube for others to watch. I was reading and answering live comments (that you don’t see anymore) so pardon my incoherency at times. Enjoy!


One of the pen dealers who I just met this year at the show was Letizia Iacopini from Italy. I have always heard of her name in the community and how she is an expert of Italian and other pens.  She is also an author of several fountain pen books. Her most recent book was, “Parker in Italia: 1900-1960”. Her table at the show had exquisite pens from the vintage and modern era. Majority of her pens were Italian.

Vintage Omas pens

Modern Omas pens
Own a Ferrari? Why not get a Ferrari Omas pen as well?
One of my favorites in Letizia’s table. A Parker 45 with Italian solid 18k gold basket weave overlay. I mean, WOW.

Then I turn around and walk 3 steps towards the table of Dayne Nix. He always brings in great vintage pens from different regions. As a side note, I met Dayne at the 2012 SF Pen Show and it was from him that I bought my first flex pen, a Parker Televisor and I still have it. Anyway, Dayne’s table display is fascinating especially his array of Conway Stewart Dinkie pens as well as his  demonstration of how a rare Zerollo Dunhill Two Pen worked.

Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 1
Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 2
Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 3
I placed a Pelikan 400 to contrast against the size of these Conway Stewart Dinkie pens

Perhaps one of the most curious pens I’ve seen from Dayne is this Zerollo/Dunhill Two Pen from the 1930s with a matchstick filler. Thank you for showing us this awesome pen Dayne! #onlyatpenshows

Brian and I were fascinated with the Zerollo/Dunhill Two Pen. I took a few action shots and these four showed the pen’s action very well.

At the Armando Simoni Club (ASC) table, a couple large pens caught my eye.

ASC Bologna Wild Dark Side, and Arco Brown
ASC Bologna Extra Israel

I then walked out of the ballroom to check out the Vanness Pens team in the hallway and look at who I found! Mike Vanness and his awesome suit! He always wears colorful clothing.

Mike Vanness

In the corner were Lisa Vanness, Joey Feldman, and Ana Reinert. Joey was creating artwork for people who bought journals at the show.

Lisa, Joey, and Ana
Mike joined in for the Vanness team photo sans Brad who was still traveling.
Vanness always brings in tons of paper, pens, and lots of ink! Akkerman, Lamy, Colorverse, etc.
Vibrant Pink Special Edition Lamy Al-Stars


FOOD TRIP: It was almost 11:00am and a few of the pen posse peeps congregated to go out for lunch. A quick-ish drive to Korea town for Magal B.B.Q.! It’s become a tradition for us mainly because of the magic tea they serve.

Kimchi, etc.
Magic Tea
Volcano Fried Rice

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for more pen show! It was actually energizing to step out of the show for a relaxed lunch. I need to do that more often.

I stumbled upon the Kenro table with all the Aurora pens on display.

The new lineup for Aurora Optima Flex limited edition pens. This time they have rhodium trim instead of the gold ones on the 88 lineup last year.
Aurora Optima pens. Blue Auroloide, Green Auroloide. And dio mio! Look at that Sole Mio!
Someone’s been playing with the caps of those Aurora 88 Demonstrators
The Aurora 88 Marte is showing off its beauty as it basks in the Sun.

Here’s a Pelikan basking in the sun as well.

That Bright Red M101N is enjoying the sunshine by the Dromgoole’s table


Vintage Corner: My friend Janet showed me a Pelikan IBIS in Grey Marbled that Rick Propas was selling and also showed me her Green Marbled one. The Pelikan IBIS was a pen produced from the mid-1930s thru the early 1940s. You don’t see the IBIS often and this was actually my first time to see the marble colored ones. #onlyatpenshows

Pelikan IBIS: Green Marbled, and Grey Marbled

I then went back to the Vanness Pens table to buy some of their special edition LA Pen Show journals by Curnow Bookbinding with artwork by Joey Feldman. Joey was still there and he drew my Pen Show Persona on the back of the A5 journal I bought. This guy is phenomenal and do you notice what he named my sneakers as? Pelikan M800 FTW! Thanks Joey!

Afterwards, I went up to my room to unload my purchases and rest for a while.

As I went back down, I checked on the progress at Mike Masuyama’s table. As it happens, the “last” person Mike was gonna help was a vendor and did not have the pen with him at the moment and I was the lucky person next on the list. Ricky got to take a picture of me as Masuyamasan was tuning my M800 nib. Thanks Ricky!

Masuyamasan’s last customer on Friday

Post Show Dinner: Every year, the SF Bay Pen Posse as well as friends from the SoCal contingent hold a dinner at the Tin Roof Bistro and Joi E. graciously organizes this with the restaurant. As seen on the menu, we call it, “Pen Posse: TRB Edition”. Thank you very much once again Joi!

For this meal, it’s all about the Brussel Sprouts! If you’ve had them at Tin Roof Bistro, you know this to be true.

Brussel Sprouts!!
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse, and Straberry Kunquat Trifle
coffee… coffee… coffee… pen…

Back at the hotel, it’s Pen Shows After Dark time!

At the bar: Cary’s Wahl-Eversharp Decoband in Gatsby Pensbury Etched finish
At the bar: Cary’s limited edition Pelikan M1000 Sunrise
At the bar: Cary’s limited edition Pelikan M1000 Sunrise
At the bar: Yuan brought delicious Port wine


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pen Show Persona: Thanks to Sharon for taking this pic and thanks to Mike P. for the head gear!

Woke up early once again to get ready for the show. I think I got to the ballroom at 7:50am (so early) and it was once again busy with activity. A quick side note, a week prior at a Pen Posse meetup, I joked that I wanted to walk around the show wearing a magnifier head gear to look like a legit pen guy. Friday morning, my friend Mike got me one of these and I committed to what I said. Interestingly enough, what started out as a funny gesture became a very useful tool while I was perusing pens. Sometimes you just can’t see the small print on nibs and barrels. So if you’re going to a pen show, I recommend having a lighted magnifier like a loupe, or this head gear. #pro-tip

After signing up again at Mike Masuyama’s table, I did my walk around and found myself at Paul Erano’s table. Paul is the Grand Poobah of the secret-not-so-secret Black Pen Society.

Paul Erano: Parker 65, Cross Verve, vintage Parker Duofold pens, and a modern Parker Duofold International in between them.
Paul Erano: An array of more pens.

This year, I was fortunate to meet Jesi Coles at the show. She is one of the hosts of the B.Y.O.B. Pen Club Podcast and she also sells pens at shows or on her website. She is known for being a proprietor of vintage Esterbrook pens.

Jesi brought a nib tester display so people can try out the different nib types and sizes that Esterbrook had. This was pretty cool!
Esterbrook J, LJ, and SJ
Esterbrook Pastel pens

Suddenly, I saw 2 to 3 people doing a beeline from one side of the ballroom to the other. Apparently, a seller just brought out their trays of pens and a few pen buyers saw it from afar. #onlyatpenshows

Vintage Pen Trays

Visited the Peyton Street Pens table and found some vintage Pilot Pens from the 1950s. Sent my friend photos and a message if interested, and boom! Pen show muling… done. OPM points!

Green Pilot RMW300 set
Nib close up of the Pilot RMW300
The Pilot RMW300 also had gray and black color choices

Afterwards, I went up to the hotel’s mezzanine level to attend two seminars. This was my first time to sit in a seminar in LA. The first seminar was about writing books on pens by Mr. Andreas Lambrou. He described his process when he was starting to write his Fountain Pens of Japan book as well as the Fountain Pens of the World. I was so into his topic that I forgot to take a photo. The second seminar was about fantastic nibs by Mr. John Mottishaw. He was demonstrating how to tweak nibs to make it write a little better. He asked people to bring up pens that didn’t write quite right and showed them simple tricks to make it better.

John Mottishaw tweaking nibs

After the seminars, we stepped out for brunch at the Shake Shack across the street from the hotel. First time to have their food and it was good!

After brunch, it’s back to the show and I got to stop at the Artus Pens table and chat with Maxim. Artus Pen always has beautiful art pens painted by Russian artists. Their lacquer work is phenomenal and the artwork is just stunning.

Artus Pens
Artus Pens
Beautiful tiger lacquer on a watch. First time to see this at Artus Pen


One of the usually busy tables at a pen show is the Franklin-Christoph team. I barely got to see them yesterday because of people being at their table so I took advantage of a slower moment on Saturday. I got to peruse their show prototype pens and saw a “few” that I liked.

F-C Model 31 prototypes with the fantastic Jonathon Brooks material
F-C Model 45 and a couple Pocket 40 protoypes

Pens from Dale Beebe’s table. Pentooling.com

flexible nib pens
desk sets

More Pelikan pens…

Vintage Pelikan 100, 100N, etc.

I saw Eric Sands of Atelier Lusso who was also at last year’s SF Pen Show. He is a pen maker and he does great work as well. The clips on most of his pens were fashioned by Eric himself.

Atelier Lusso Pens
Atelier Lusso Pens

Back at Mike Masuyama’s table, Mike called me over and I had him do an italic grind on one nib as well as tune a vintage Pilot pen. A friend of mine was listed before my turn but had to leave the show so he entrusted me with 2 of his pens for Mike to work on. I spent a little over an hour sitting and chatting with Mike and other pen friends who walk by. This is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon at the pen show.

Mike checking out the nib with his loupe
Still taking a closer “loupe” at the nib
Mike applying his skills and grinding the magic on to my M800 nib


Sometimes, a vintage pen is stubborn and takes a little more time. Mike seems to be casting a spell on it or something. =P

After sitting with Mike, I walked around once again and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. We went to  dinner just outside the hotel and came back to “The Tent” for more hanging out.

A friend of mine showed me her newly purchased Franklin-Christoph Model 65.

We were admiring different pens with my LED light panel then something happened. A certain brand of urushi lacquered pens kept on appearing under the light and we decided to take a family photo.

A Nakaya family photo from different pen owners
BTS Photo: A photo LED light panel makes a difference when you’re in a dark area
Kikyo (Blue) Urushi on 2 Neo-Standards and a Long. We were discussing how the kikyo finish was different among the 3 pens. Pretty interesting!

Called it a night and went to bed. Sunday is the busiest day and I am helping out at a table so I had to get some rest.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Last day of the pen show! Woke up around 6:30 to catch the sunrise. I swear, pen shows are the only time I sleep late, and wake up earlier than when I have to go to work. Pen Show Time Zone! =)

The show opens to the general public by 10:00am so the Trader Pass holders had 2 hours of last minute shopping before the crowd gets in. I took advantage to take a few photos before I had to work at a table so here are some photos as I walked around.

The Classic Fountain Pens table.

Nakaya nib testers
Neo Standard in Shinobu Blue
Urushi goodness
These ladies took care of all the customers over the weekend. They answered questions about the pens as well as nib grinds. Thank you!
Last but not the least, CFP’s security detail, Pony Boy. #adventuresofponyboy

The PENguin Rick Propas‘ table had a lot of pens for sale and these were a few pens that caught my fancy. He is also a “fountain” of knowledge about pens and is always willing to share it.

Vintage Kaweco Sport pens
Uncapped vintage Kaweco Sport has a nice shaped nib and a blue ink window
These were Kaweco 187 and 189 vintage pens
Vintage Pelikan 140 for $140. These are perfect starter pens for people who want to go vintage and experience a Pelkan pen with vintage gold nibs. The box on the right were the 120 pens that usually sport a steel nib.
A Pelikan 400NN Tortoiseshell set in its original leather case
One of the more sought-after Pelikan pens is this M620 San Francisco from the City Series.
A different perspective to show the different cap finials of vintage Montblanc pens. #whitestarpen
Rick also had a lot of vintage Parker pens for sale. I wish I had funds to just buy all of these.
A nice gold-filled Eversharp Ventura set.
This is one of the premium pen trays =)
Pen shows have knives too!

The Wahl-Eversharp table was manned by Syd and Judi Saperstein

Judi was ready with her sweet smile and to give away sweet candies!
Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Israel. That blue material is fantastic!
The Magnificent Seven Decoband set

Pendemonium’s Sam and Frank were ready for the Sunday crowd

Frank and Sam Fiorella. Two of my most favorite people.
I seem to always catch Sam while taking photos
Typewriters can also be found at a pen show

Bill Weakley’s table had beautiful discontinued Pelikan pens for sale.

The Andersons always brings paper, pen cases, pens, and inks to the shows.

Anderson Pens

Vintage Wahl-Eversharp pens found at table of The Write Shoppe

Wahl-Eversharp pens

Not just fountain pens… Stabilo markers found at Carla M.’s table for kids attending the show.

Coloful Stabilo markers

Ray Walters from the United Kingdom was at the show as well.

Parker Duofold pens, Omas pens

Alright, 10:00am arrives and the crowd is let in. I didn’t get to take photos of the line this year but it was pretty long as usual. Having one public day at a pen show honestly causes the big rush. Sometimes people wish that public was allowed to get in on Saturday as well. Will that change? Maybe. Not sure. I hope so. Anyway, here are my shots of the ballroom while I was helping out at a table around 10:30 so the full force of people haven’t really cleared the line yet.

Around 1:00pm, the crowd let up a bit and I got a chance to walk around and do a live Instagram video once again. Enjoy!

And with that, 5:00pm arrived and the 2018 LA Pen Show was over. Helped a couple vendors pack up, and went to dinner to end a tiring but fun weekend.


Final Thoughts

Pen shows are definitely a fun event to attend. Being in the pen community forges friendships and pen shows are way for you to see your friends. It can never be said enough, if you are near a pen show or can afford to attend one, do it. You find out how a certain pen feels in your hand, you learn about different pens, you find pens you didn’t know existed, but more importantly, you meet people who are as enthusiastic as you are with stationery and pens. To these people, these aren’t just sticks that hold ink. =P

As I’ve said before, pen shows for me have evolved into a social event and honestly is what I treasure more than what pens I bought. To all my friends, it was great to see you as always and to all the new people I’ve met, Instagram people I’ve finally met in real life, hope to see you all more often as well. Until next year!

Thank you for your time in reading my report!


“Pen shows are about the people and the stories between each other. The pens start the story and the people get closer.”

Part of my pen show haul: Sheaffer Flat-top, Pelikan 300, and LA Pen Show journal from Vanness Pens. I also got my Pen Addict “MemberChip” given by Brad Dowdy. Gotta represent Susie Wirth too!

Pen & Ink Pairing: Feb ’18

Katherine: My pairing for this month is a Danitrio Hakkaku in some sort of red urushi (I’m guessing it’s aka-tamenuri, but I don’t know what Danitrio actually calls it) and Kyo-no-oto (06) Adzuki-iro. Clearly red because Valentines day and Chinese New Years! Not because I got a new ink and put it in a pen that matches…

I’ve had this Hakkaku for a little bit now, but I never found it a perfect ink pairing, but now I have and I’m really enjoying it. The Adzuki-iro is a wonderful dark red without too much orange or purple and it pairs wonderfully with the deep red Hakkaku’s urushi. I’m not Pam, so I don’t think I can declare this a “one true pairing,” but we’ll see if I keep these two together over time. (Maybe I’ll report back next year when red is the thematically appropriate color of the season again…)


Pam:  I am not a fan of Valentines Day, but February does have alot to do with love and a great reminder to appreciate those that you love.  Therefore, it would seem fitting that I show an appreciation for one of my favorite literary figures, Sherlock Holmes.  I obtained the lined vintage celluloid pen from John Albert of Romulus pens and named it Sherlock in the process of designing the pen with him.  The black and gray lines reminded me of the now infamous Belstaff coat that is donned by the most recent reincarnation of Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series.  I searched for a while before I found my perfect pairing of ink.  Montblanc Lavender Purple is very reminiscent of the purple scarf Cumberbatch-Sherlock is fond of wearing.  As I told my fellow pen bloggers, I heart Cumberbatch-Sherlock as much as Katherine loves faceted pens. What better time of year to express my love in pen form than this month? Thanks John for such  an amazing pen!


Franz: It’s a blue pen… shocking! =) It has been said before that February is the month of love and well, #iLoveBluePens! So for this month, I chose to ink up and feature this Parker Vacumatic Maxima in Azure Blue Pearl. According to the date code, this Vacumatic was made in the last quarter of 1941. I’ve seriously been getting deeper into the vintage pen realm and loving it. Honestly, any fountain pen lover must own at least one Parker Vacumatic. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the feel of it as well as the coolness of the vacuum pump filler. For about 15 years, Parker produced the Vacumatic in a handful of different sizes for almost every hand size. Having the bear-paw among the 3 of us, the Maxima (the largest) size fits my hand well even with the cap unposted.

Paired with this beautiful blue pen is the limited edition Montblanc Meisterstück Blue Hour/Twilight Blue ink. I love how the pen matches the blue color of the ink when you lay it down on paper and then as it dries, it changes to a blue-green color. I learned about this ink about 3 years ago from reading Azizah’s review on her site: Gourmet Pens-Montblanc Blue Hour.

So a cool blue pen, paired up with a cool blue ink. What else can I ask for? Oh, wait… more blue pens! ;-P


Review: Sailor Professional Gear Slim/Sapporo Mini (Medium-Fine Nib)


Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This pen is adorable. But it does bug me a little that the end of the barrel isn’t black (I’m picky, I know). But oh, it is so cute. (Contrary to what Pam says, they’re still available on Rakuten)

Pam:  CHIBI BUMBLEBEE SAILOR for the win!!! It’s a petite Progear that is small enough that the pen gets posted by screwing on the end of the pen.  Sailor pocket pen are three words that send my heart swooning; great things come in small packages. Unfortunately, these are not being made anymore.  They are available on the secondary market.

Franz: The Sailor Pro Gear Mini is so tiny and charming especially in this yellow finish! Pam calls it bumblebee and I can see that too but in my mind, I refer to it as a banana pen. I don’t know… it’s just something about that black cap finial that makes me think of one of my favorite fruits.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear Mini (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear Mini (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam


The Business End

Katherine: It’s the the same Sailor MF 14k as a Pro Gear Slim (it’s really just a Pro Gear Slim with a shorter barrel, after all) — and unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it. It’s broad enough that I can see the color of the ink, but fine enough that I can stick to my usual tiny hand writing.

Pam:  It’s a Sailor MF (medium-fine) nib.  It’s in the great sweet spot of a slightly wetter/broader line that isn’t too wet.  I would recommend putting in an ink that you want to show off.  Perhaps an ink with some sheen.  I don’t find as much feedback with this Sailor nib, which makes sense given that the MF nib is a bit broader.

Franz: The Mini’s medium-fine nib is very nice to write with. Just like most Sailor nibs I’ve tried, it was very smooth. The M-F line width is actually a good one for me as I find Sailor’s fine nibs just “a little” too thin of a line for me.  The design on this nib is different from any other Sailor pen because this was a pen commissioned and sold by the Nagasawa Kobe stores in Japan.


Write It Up

Katherine: I found this pen usable, but slightly short when unposted. It’s one of the few pens that I prefer posted to unposted. Like the Kaweco Sport, when unposted, this pen makes my hand a bit tired after a while because it’s just barely long enough to fit in my hand and I have to be careful about how I position my hand. Posted though, it’s fantastic — like a slightly longer Pro Gear Slim!

Pam: The size of the pen posted is similar to the Sailor Progear Slim.  The width of the pen is exactly that of the Sailor Progear Slim actually.  They section and body are swappable amongst the Sailor Progear Slim and Mini. Other than the length, if you find the width of the Sailor Progear Slim comfortable, this pen won’t be a problem for you.

Franz: I wrote in my journal with the Mini only in the posted mode because it was quite difficult to write with the cap unposted. I found that the posted length made it a little more comfortable for me. The girth of the section was quite thin for me so I end up gripping the pen on the threads. They weren’t too sharp and I barely noticed them.



Katherine: It’s great for quick notes and pocket use. It’s tiny, brightly colored (and hard to lose…) and seems plenty durable, not that I threw it against a wall or anything.

Pam:  I kept this pen with my Hobonichi A6 notebook cover and it kept up with my adventures in my bag.  It’s really portable.  It’s not the best for quick notes given that you have to screw the cap onto the body to post, However, if you have particularly petite hands and don’t need to post it, a which quick twist of 1.5 rotations, will get you writing pretty quick.

Franz: Ahh… every day carry. It is definitely a pen that fits in your pockets. The M-F nib is actually very appropriate for use on cheap copier papers as the line is thin and the ink spread is minimal. But I don’t think I can recommend this pen for large handed writers because after 2 or 3 words, it’s hard to write with the pen unposted. This is due to the pen falling into the crook of my hand and is uncomfortable. I’d need to post the cap and screw it onto the barrel which takes quite a bit of time if you are constantly needing to cap and uncap for quick usage. It takes almost 2 turns to uncap the pen and then another turn or two for posting the cap. Small hands? No problem as you can see from the two ladies’ experience.


Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: This pen is really cute — but between this and the Pro Gear Slim, I’d prefer the latter. It’s just a little more flexible and accommodating for my hand. But if short pens are your thing — this is definitely a great fit.

Pam:  It’s a chibi Sailor for chibi hands.  It’s a solid Sailor pen, albeit small.  If you are into challenging yourself on how small of a pen you can comfortably write with (like Franz), this is a great pen to borrow from smaller hand friends.  If you are looking for a great pocket pen and don’t mind the extra work posting, you will be rewarded with this Sailor.

Franz: I really like the Pro Gear Mini a lot, and want one for myself. But to be honest, this is more because of me just hoarding wanting the pen in my collection. As a journal, or letter writing pen, I’d use this pen again.

The Mini is a pen more suited for people with a small, or medium hand size. This is coming from a guy who uses his King of Pen Pro Gear a lot in the workplace and for daily use. As well as a guy who constantly annoys pen friends by singing, “I like big pens and I cannot lie…!”.

But one, including myself, cannot deny that the Sailor Pro Gear Mini is an adorable pen to behold. #ChibiPen


Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari


Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Sapporo/Mini, Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)


Pen Photos (click to enlarge)


Review: Pilot Custom 912 (FA Nib)


We would like to thank Pen Chalet and Ron M. for sending us this Pilot Custom 912 as a review loaner pen. Pen Chalet has been a great company that sells pens and stationery items at competitive prices. They also frequently run promos for specially priced items as well as provide discount coupons. Check them out if you haven’t yet.

That being said, the opinions below are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.


Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I like the way this pen looks. Flat ends, with some taper, and silver rhodium hardware. It’s nothing flashy, but I much prefer this look to cigar shaped pens.

Pam:  This pen hits several check boxes for me in terms of aesthetics.  Flat top, check.  Rhodium trim, check. Non-garish clip, check.  It’s perfectly understated and professional.  Oh, what fun this pen hides!

Franz: A lot of Pilot pens have a simple look and this is one of them. The shape of the 912 reminds me of a Parker 75, a Lamy 2000, and maybe even a Sailor Pro Gear. A flat top pen with slight taper. And do you notice how the clip’s shape looks like a sword? The pen is mightier than the sword, right? =)

Here’s a quick informational tip. A lot of Pilot pens are assigned numbers as their model names. I’ve come to know that the first 2 numbers of the model name indicates the company year when the pen model was released. In the case of the Pilot Custom 912, it was released within the 91st year of the Namiki/Pilot company which was founded in 1918. So, 1918+91 years means the 912 was introduced in the year 2009. The last digit was/is the manufacturer suggested retail price for the pen in 10,000 Japanese Yen. So 2 x 10,000 = ¥20,000.

In the Hand: Pilot Custom 912 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Pilot Custom 912 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam


The Business End

Katherine: Ooooh the FA nib! This is the second #10 (the smaller size) FA nib I’ve used, and just like the other, it was a delight. I love the flex and softness of FA nibs — they don’t have quite the snap back that some vintage gold nibs have, but they’re plenty for my untrained hand and ultra reliable (see the EDC portion). The one caveat is that the stock feed with the 912/742 tends to have a hard time keeping up if you flex a lot. To solve this, I widened the feed channel on my FA nib (the 912 was a loaner, so I didn’t, but I made the modification to my 742) and rarely have rail roading problems. With the improved flow the 742 is a fantastic, fun writer.

Pam:  The FA nib is really really fun.  It’s one of the best softer/flexier modern nibs.  It’s a great alternative to those who don’t want to tempt fate with vintage gold nibs or on a more modest budget.  (If you are a newb like I am with vintage pens and find the idea daunting.) The nib can take quite a bit of pressure and allows for some generous line variation. Yes, the nib survived my writing pressure.

Franz: Pilot nibs in general are so good out of the box whether it be the steel nib of a Pilot Metropolitan, or the 14k gold nib of a Pilot Stargazer. The Pilot Custom 912 just follows suit and is a very smooth writing nib. The FA nib has that soft bounce and it was a pleasure writing with it. I don’t do much “flex” writing and the nib and feed kept up with my writing doodling. So it’s a great one for me!

Did you know that some of Pilot’s nibs are date stamped? You can barely see it in the photo below but this nib is stamped “315” which means the nib was manufactured in March of 2015. #justoneofthosethings =)


Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is plenty comfortable for me. It’s well balanced, not too thick and not too thin. The nib is also stiff enough that it’s easy to write with for pages on pages (versus some really soft nibs where super light pressure is a must) but soft enough that it’s easy to add some flair to my writing when I want to (or for whole pages at a time, if I must admit).

Pam:  I am reminded of how reliable and wonderful Pilot pens each time I pick one up.  It’s a pretty light pen, well balanced and had a good width.  I can’t use my usual grip with this pen given how this nib performs, but even in the tripod grip, it’s a good comfortable section.

Franz: Comfy posted or unposted. Nuff said. Thanks. =) Yep, writing with the Custom 912 was such fun. Unposted, the length was sufficient and I was writing along fine. The cap posted deeply onto the barrel and didn’t change the balance very much but I appreciated the longer length.



Katherine: What really makes the Pilot FA nibbed pens stand out to me over vintage flex is how incredibly reliable they are. I carried this 912 in my backpack for a few days, and I never had a leak or found ink in the cap — it’s a durable pen that has all the conveniences of modern pens, but with a fun flexy nib.

Pam: This is a great pen for lettering in planners to add a pop or a flourish to your dailies or to do lists.  The clip worked well in my Hobonichi A6 notebook. One of the perks of modern pens is that I know that it will perform well and consistently.  It survives the transit in my daily bag without any issues.  I didn’t really use this pen at work, but it’s a great companion for “planner time.”

Franz: I got to use the Custom 912 at work for about 3 days and found it to be a great pen for daily use. The clip secured the 912 on my shirt pocket nicely. Pilot supplies the 912 with a Con-70 ink converter and it holds a decent amount of ink.


Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If I didn’t already have a 742, I’d be asking Pen Chalet how much they want for the pen so I’d never have to send it back. I really like it (and prefer the way it looks to the 742). But… alas, a girl cannot have every pen that catches her eye. Overall, the 912 is a comfortable, non flashy daily driver AND a fun pen for doodling and dabbling in calligraphy.

Now back to telling myself I don’t need a second FA nib. I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib. Ugh.

Pam:  If you are looking for a modern “flex” nib or want to start practicing your hand letter/calligraphy from a consistent and reliable writer, I would highly recommend the 912.  If you are a newb like me and just want to have the fun of a softer nib without delving too deep into your wallet or the vintage world, this is a great pen to start with.  Granted, that being said, there is almost no alternative to a flexy vintage gold nib.  One of the great things about fountain pens is that there is a pen to suit anyone. This pen hits a particular spot for me as the best of both worlds, soft nib with a reliable performance and good body.  It’s a “happy writing” spot.

Franz: To state the obvious, I really liked the Pilot Custom 912. It has been on my list for a while now but I haven’t been able to acquire one. Reviewing this loaner from Pen Chalet could be the helpful nudge I’ve been needing.

Even if the term “solid” may be overused in reviews, I have to say it. The Pilot Custom 912 is a SOLID pen to use and recommend. It isn’t an inexpensive pen, but there is value in it. The nib is a great writer, the build seems durable, the threads are smooth, and the pen’s silhouette is beautiful. However, there is one caveat/drawback with the 912. As of this writing, the pen has only been offered in a black finish. For me, I love black pens and don’t mind the lack of options (would love to have a blue though). But knowing the awesome people in the pen community, a lot of pen folks want color options for the pens. So if the aesthetics of the 912 appeal to you, go get one and try it out!


Once again Ron, we appreciate your lending this Pilot Custom 912 for review!


Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari


Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

No Comments

Pen & Ink Pairing: Jan ’18

Katherine: The grey frosty cap reminds me of dirty snow, and the dusty purple ink of cold winter nights… just kidding. I just really like this pairing, and the pen is new to me, so I’m really excited and using it a lot. I first saw this pen over a year and a half ago (on May 12th, 2016 — I don’t remember many dates, but I remember important ones!), in the pen case of a friend (who shall remain nameless), and I fell in love. I tried other pens in the meantime, a black FC 45 IPO (which we reviewed) and a Wonderpens Model 20 in the same “bronze” material… but it wasn’t quite the same. To me the combination of this smokey material and compact form factor (with a sprinkle of nostalgia) is magical. Don’t judge. Anyway, friend decided to buy some fancy urushi pen or something, and offered me this pen… and now it’s MINE.

Patience is bitterbut its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Wow, I’m dramatic tonight. Time to go to bed… Waiting wasn’t really that bitter. Just lots of scoping FC tables at shows and on IG.)


Pam: This has been one of the worst winters at work within recent memory for me.  Between medication shortages and the flu vaccine being practically ineffective (twice I have gotten the flu… twice!), it has been an incredibly busy season at the hospital.  Thus, my homage to this season is the Pilot Prera (in white) paired with Pelikan Turquoise.  The Pilot Prera is a workhorse pen for me given that the F nib works wonderfully on office paper.  Pelikan Turquoise a wonderfully vibrant ink that pops off the page of my rather dull reports at work. As people say, it’s the little things in life.  Stay warm, healthy and safe this season everyone.  (Please be patient with your local pharmacies and pharmacists as we troubleshoot the ridiculously long list of medication shortages.)


Franz: The first month of the new year is represented by a vintage Pelikan! Actually, this is my oldest Pelikan pen and it’s a Pelikan 400 in black-striped finish. This was actually one of the last pens I received in 2017 so it’s more of a recent acquisition. Upon my review, this 400 was manufactured around the year 1953 due to the lack of engraving on the cap band and the nib imprint without the Pelikan logo. The black stripes are between green translucent strips that let you see your ink level very subtly and I find it very captivating. It took me almost a year to find this pen at a reasonable price and be in decent condition. And having an oblique medium nib allows me to use it at work and for my journaling as well.

When I received the pen in December 2017, it took me three days to decide what to ink it up with… three days! I’m sure you fountain pen folk will understand. Anyway, I decided to ink it up with Pilot Blue Black which is very familiar to me and usable at work. Since Pilot Blue Black is water resistant, if not waterproof, it’s what I use at my workplace for documents to alternate with Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium.

It’s almost the end of January and I find myself placing this Pelikan 400 in my pocket on a daily basis and have just reinked it a couple days ago. Even if it’s smaller than what I prefer in pens, I just post the cap and write away. I do alternate it during the day with my Pelikan M805 with a medium cursive italic nib though, but that’s for another pairing post. =)

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Meeting Book


What favorite pen and ink combo have you been writing with for the month of January?


Review: Ryan Krusac Studios Legend L-16 (Cocobolo, Broad Cursive Italic)


Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I love the materials and finish of this pen. The warm, rich wood paired with a turquoise finial is a beautifully organic pairing! However, I think the pens proportions are a weeee bit off? The barrel looks a little too long to me. But, I do tend to prefer stubbier pens.

Pam: This is one big pen.  Even for someone who loves the Pelikan M800 and the Sailor King of Pen.  The craftsmanship on this pen is obvious. From the warm and super smooth finish of the wood, the subtly engraved Ryan Krusac logo, and the turquoise inset, you can see the care that has been put into this pen. It’s a work of art.

Franz: The Legend L-16 is quite impressive in the hand as it is the largest in Ryan Krusac’s Legend pen line. The L-16 denotes that the barrel’s diameter is 16mm and then another size is the L-14 which is 14mm. Ryan had also announced the L-15 size (15mm) but that is still unavailable at the time of this review. The Legend pen can either be ordered from his website or at any pen show that he attends. I happen to have snagged this Legend in Cocobolo from Ryan at the 2017 Atlanta Pen Show. The dark Cocobolo finish is complemented by the turquoise inlays on the cap and barrel.

Being a wood pen, the Legend gets warmer while writing as well as the ebonite section. I must mention that Ryan pays attention to details with each pen he creates. When you are writing with the Legend, the best looking grain of the wood faces you as you write and also, the cap and barrel aligns perfectly each time. Smart move to make it a single thread!

In the Hand: RKS Legend L-16 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: RKS Legend L-16 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
Detail: Turquoise inlays on the cap and barrel


The Business End

Katherine: The pen fits a Jowo #6 nib. The nib on this one had a nice BCI, unlike many of Franz’s other BCIs, this one had a little bit of tooth. It’s unlike most of the Masuyama grinds I’ve used, but it was a perfectly usable nib with some character. Would borrow (from Franz) again!

Pam: It’s a great CI.  I find the nib to be crisp and wet. It is pretty toothy, but I greatly appreciate the feedback.  It makes for a unique writing experience.  It did show off the sheen of Pelikan Turquoise fantastically.

Franz: When you buy a pen from Ryan, you have a choice of steel nibs or 18-karat gold nibs. I opted for a broad steel nib with the intention of having it ground by Mr. Mike Masuyama at the same pen show. Needless to say, the juicy broad nib was transformed into a crisp, juicy cursive italic. The broad nib can go through ink quite fast but the included standard international cartridge/converter does its job as it should. Also, I really love Ryan’s logo on the nib as it makes a “generic” Jowo nib match the pen.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia 6.5 x 8.25 Meeting Book


Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is quite long for me… but surprisingly light. As a result, it’s a very comfortable pen for me to write with despite its size.

Pam: I am surprised how comfortable I found this pen.  The length and width/girth of the pen is similar to the Sailor King of Pen.  The Krusac is lighter for me. Due to the width of the pen, it’s quite comfortable to hold in the tripod grip.  However, for those with the iron fist grip, the step and the threads are right below where I would place my thumb.  No thread imprints for the win.

Franz: The Legend fits my hand very well and my journaling of about 15 minutes was very enjoyable. We may have taken a hand comparison photo of the pen with the cap posted but neither of us wrote in that mode. Reason being? I don’t believe this pen was made to be posted as the cap threads can mar the wood finish. Also, the cap only touches less than half an inch of the barrel which makes for a very long unwieldy pen, and the cap is unsecured and can wiggle off while writing. Unposted, this pen is plenty long even for my bear paw.



Katherine: The lack of a clip or rollstop makes this one a bit of a danger to EDC… I imagine it doesn’t do well when hitting the ground. (Don’t worry Franz, I didn’t test that!) Additionally, it takes a full three turns to uncap — so I found this pen was a suboptimal EDC. But a lovely home desk-living pen!

Pam:  Honestly, it didn’t occur to me to try out the EDC-ness of this pen other than have it live in the Nock Sinclair.  My hesitation was that it didn’t have a clip and I can’t imagine dropping this pen out of my coat pocket, especially since it’s not mine to drop.  This is a “savor the journaling moment” pen where one would enjoy the finer things and slower moments in life.  Keep it at the desk or in a case is my recommendation.

Franz: I do echo the ladies above that the Legend pen being clipless is a risk for ROFY. (Rolling-On-Floor-Yikes!) So I’m a bit more conscious when I am using this pen at work and avoid walking around with it. I do enjoy writing with it while I’m at my desk during a call or something else that doesn’t require me to move around.

And because the pen is single-threaded to maintain the cap and barrel alignment, the trade-off is taking 3 full turns to uncap for use. Not really the best for on-the-go purposes.


Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If the proportions of this pen were a little bit different, I think this would be love. But, thankfully for my wallet, they’re not, and while it’s a nice pen, it’s not aesthetically balanced to me. Despite that though, it’s very usable even for my small hands — light and comfortable!

Pam:  If you appreciate the craftsmanship and the beauty of natural materials like wood, I would highly recommend this pen to you. For many, it’s a worthy grail pen to covet.  If this pen is too big for you, the good news is that Ryan Krusac has other sizes available!  Be sure to check Ryan Krusac out at your nearest pen show to see what works best for you.

Franz: As I started my review above, the Legend L-16 is an impressive pen — size-wise as well as aesthetics-wise. Anyone who is interested in this pen must try it out and see if it’s for you. Ryan is currently based in Georgia so he will always be at the Atlanta pen show but he travels to several U.S. pen shows including the Los Angeles pen show, and the San Francisco pen show.

One of the best parts of buying a pen from Ryan is that you get a handmade pen sleeve by his two daughters, Zoe and Sylvia. They even have their own handmade brand, zoia.co. The grey and black pen sleeve pictured above was included when I got the Legend in Atlanta.

What else can I say about the Legend L-16? I like it… a lot! So much that when Cary (Fountain Pen Day), and Ryan collaborated on a pen to raise funds for Shawn Newton, I jumped on the opportunity to get the FPD Legend pen in the L-16 size as well. The limited edition pen is made with Gaboon Ebony wood (pictures below).


Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari


Pen Photos (click to enlarge)


An Anecdote Of Two Pens


Hello! Franz here and I wanted to share a story about the two vintage pens above. From top to bottom they are: Parker 75 in Sterling Cicelé, and a Sheaffer Flat-Top in Jade Green celluloid.

December 9, 2017

On a Saturday while I was at work, a very good customer looked for me and astonished me. Let’s call him Dr. M, Jr. since he is a dentist. He said that he knew I liked fountain pens and showed me his father’s pens that he found at home. He asked me about them and I shared my little knowledge of vintage pens and told him that the silver one was a Parker 75 likely from the mid-’60s and the green one was a Sheaffer flat-top pen probably from the ’20s or ’30s. I told him that the Sheaffer’s cap and barrel were in beautiful condition and just needs a restoration of the internals. As for the Parker, the internals would just need cleaning from dried up ink and it would write like new.

Dr. M, Jr. shared that his father was a veterinarian and he always saw him with either of these pens clipped onto his shirt pocket just like I do when he sees me. He then said that he would be happy to give these pens to me. At first, I declined and said that these were his father’s pens and he should keep it. But Dr M, Jr. insisted that I be the one to keep them since I am more likely to use Dr. M Sr.’s pens. So I accepted his gift with a very wide smile on my face, and with a promise that these pens will be restored and be put to good use.

After Dr. M, Jr. left, I was so ecstatic and I immediately shared the story on the Facebook group of the San Francisco Bay Pen Posse. Below was my post and a lot of people responded with kind and heartwarming words.

Pen Condition and Characteristics

After doing some light research and examining the two pens , I found that the Sheaffer was probably made around 1938-1940 by looking at the imprint on the barrel and nib as well as the comb underside of the feed. The cap’s condition is almost pristine and the barrel is just a little darker. I think this darkening was caused by the rubber sac’s off-gassing thru the years but I could be wrong on that.

As for the Parker 75, even though I could not find a date code on the barrel, it was made around 1966-1968 due to the “flat tassies”, and the zero engraving on the section. The patina developed on the sterling silver is just uniform and beautiful. I would not dare polish the patina off the pen and keep its aged and used look.

Both pens have flat cap and barrel finials


December 10, 2017

So the next day, I attended the Pen Posse meetup and brought the two pens. As I walked in, Farmboy aka Todd, immediately told me that he won’t restore the Sheaffer and effectively no other pen posse member will restore it as well. He said that since the pen was given to me, no one else should restore the pen but me. That definitely makes sense since it will be a more meaningful repair. BUT… I was petrified because in my 5 years of being into fountain pens, I’ve never restored a pen before. I’ve never even seen one done nor even read a repair book. I was afraid that I might mess it up and break the section, or barrel, or whatever. Well, I accepted the challenge and told them I shall restore the Sheaffer next week under their supervision.

I immediately searched “sheaffer pen resaccing” on YouTube. Learned a few things but I knew the hardest part was getting the section off the barrel without breaking it. So all I really did during the week was soak the section in water to clear out the dried ink as much as possible.

Sheaffer section soaking in a shot glass

December 17, 2017

Resaccing the Sheaffer

Fast forward a whole week and the day has come for me to face my fears. Gary, a pen posse member, guided me along the whole process and he actually brought most of his pen restoration tools. I first had to heat the section so that I can gently pull it off the barrel. This probably took the longest time and it’s the one part of the process that requires patience. Basically, enough heat will expand the barrel so you can slowly take out the section. Emphasis on “slowly” because you risk breaking the barrel due to excessive force if you rush it.

While heating the section, rotating ensures uniform heating of the barrel. Like a rotisserie!

After some coaxing, the section finally came off and I had to clean out the old dried up sac from the section, and the barrel. There were bits of the sac that was onto the inside of the barrel that needed some encouragement with different scraping tools but it eventually cleaned off. The photo on the left below still shows the shellacked part of the sac still on the section and the photo on the right shows the cleaning of the section.

Bits and pieces of the dried up sac

After cleaning both section and barrel, a new sac was measured and cut to fit. I’ve learned from Gary that it’s easier to have different sizes of rubber sacs and trial fit them into the barrel rather than looking for a specific size for each pen. Most of the process here was not documented though, so my apologies. After cutting the sac, I applied shellac on the section and slowly placed the sac. I applied more shellac over the seam to ensure there were no gaps and let it dry. After about 30 minutes, I applied some pure talc on the sac for lubrication, and inserted the section in the pen barrel with a snug fit. Et voila! The Sheaffer has been restored! I waited 24 hours before inking it up though.


Reconditioning the Parker 75

The Parker 75 was a straight-forward restoration in which I’ve done before. I just soaked the section and nib overnight in water to loosen up the dried up ink. Afterwards, I took the nib out from section and flushed water to continue clearing out the ink. The section of a Parker 75 seems to hold A LOT of ink but with just a little patience it eventually cleared out. The converter’s rubber sac had holes and needed to be replaced so my friend Nik P. graciously swapped a “newer” converter for the old one. The sacs on these vintage Parker converters are replaceable.

And that’s about it for the Parker 75!



Well, thank you for letting me share my proud pen story. It feels great when you restore your own pens but restoring gifted pens with a history definitely holds more meaning and gives the pen a more personal (to me) story. Thanks to Farmboy and the Pen Posse for the encouragement, Nik for the help, and special thanks to Gary for the guidance from start to finish!

I’ve been using these two pens since December and love them! I haven’t seen Dr. M, Jr. since I restored the pens but when I do, it will certainly be a proud moment.

Take care and keep on writing friends!

– Franz

Writing Sample
Photo by Gary

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)


Review: Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen (Sky, Broad Cursive Italic Nib)


Happy 2018 folks! Thank you for your continued readership and we are looking forward to provide you with more reviews, and other interesting content. And for our first pen review of the year, here’s a blue pen from Sailor.

Also, just in case you’re wondering, the notebook the pen is resting on is a Musubi handmade diary just arrived from Singapore. We may review this notebook after some use. We are not affiliated in any way. They were quite popular at the San Francisco Pen Show in 2017 and they’re friendly people as well.


Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: Ahhhhhh. I want a sky. They look so cool. Even the converter showing looks cool!

Pam: I am totally biased given that I own a Sailor Sky in the Progear Slim size.  The blue material is the same, however, there are more metal parts to the King of Pen which adds to the weight and hand feel. (More on that later.)

Franz: “Blue Sky smilin’ at me, nothing but blue Sky… do I see…”. Ever had a pen make you just wanna sing? Well, this King of Pen (KoP) Sky did it for me and I got Sinatra’s voice in my head.

It shouldn’t come as a shock to a lot of people that I just adore the blue finish of the pen and the shape of the Pro Gear is a great aesthetic as well. I’d say that in my hand, the Pro Gear KoP size is in between a Pelikan M800 and Pelikan M1000. A pen of substance if you will.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam


The Business End

Katherine: Being one of Franz’s, this pen sports a wonderful BCI. The nib is quite large, but a joy to write with. Smooth, juicy without being sloppy and capable of crispy line variation.

Pam: Sailor has one of the most beautiful and consistent nibs on the market.  The KOP nib is no exception.  The cursive italic was expertly ground and the slight springiness of the nib allows for a great ink flow.

Franz: Mirroring what Pam said, Sailor nibs are well tuned with a hint of feedback out of the box . I’ve purchased a couple Sailor pens in 2017 and it wrote oh so perfectly for me without any adjustment. I got this pen second hand via a well-known auction site for a great price but when I got it, I found that the tines were a bit misaligned and almost too far apart. I inked it up and found that the flow was too much. So what do you do in this situation? You wait for the next pen show and ask Mr. Mike Masuyama to take care of it! Which is what I did and I also asked Masuyamasan to transform the Broad nib into a crisp cursive italic. Been loving the nib ever since.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia 6.5 x 8.25 Meeting Book


Write It Up

Katherine: The KOP Pro Gear is a little bigger than I’d prefer, but still very comfortable and usable. I had no fatigue using it for extended periods, but do prefer the standard sized Pro Gear overall (better for my wallet, I suppose).

Pam: This size reminds me of the Pelikan M800 where it appears to be intimidating to those with pixie hands but is surprisingly comfortable. I find that the girth of the pen to be comfortable to hold for long periods of time.  The weight of the pen doesn’t seem to bother me at all as it’s a well balanced pen when unposted.  It does get long and more unwieldy for me when posted.

Franz: As I mentioned in the beginning, the Pro Gear KoP’s size is between the Pelikan M800 and M1000. These are two pens that I’m very happy to write with so this pen definitely fills my hand well. I wrote with the Sky in both posted and unposted modes at 10 minutes each and found that I’m comfortable either way. I lean more towards writing with cap unposted because it’s just a little bit more balanced that way. The cap band does place a bit more weight when posted but it wasn’t top heavy at all.


Katherine: Works just fine as an EDC. The clip is strong and it takes 2 cap turns to uncap, which isn’t crazy, but feels extra secure.

Pam:  This would be a pretty good EDC pen.  The only down side is that this beauty maybe a bit too eye catching.

Franz: I use the KoP Sky at my workplace quite regularly and found it very useful as a daily carry pen. The broad cursive italic was just perfect for the copier paper we use as well as on my Rhodia meeting book. The clip like every other Sailor is very secure on my dress shirt pocket and the 2 turns to uncap isn’t too bad at all. It does fill either via cartridge/converter so I found myself refilling the converter after 3-4 days of use.


Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: As mentioned earlier, I prefer the non-KOP Pro Gear more. But, I do love the way the KOP Pro Gear looks — it’s like a chubbier cuter (but larger) version of the Pro Gear! And a solidly awesome pen to boot. Alas, I can’t justify the price point (I can barely justify the price point on most Pro Gears these days…)

Pam: The Sailor KOP is a fantastic pen for those who enjoy the Sailor Progear but want something with a bit more heft and solid feel in hand.  It could easily become a daily carry pen or “the” pen that is constantly inked.  If there was a KOP in the right color (combination), it would easily make it to my grail pen list. As much as I love the Sailor Progear Slim and Sailor Progear, the KOP is an easy yes for me.  Too bad my wallet says no alot more than I do.

Franz: Four words. Bear paws are happy! The Pro Gear King of Pen is definitely for medium to large sized hands (but Pam who has the smallest hand among the 3 loves it) and I truly prefer this against the Classic size of the Pro Gear pens. In the photos below, the Pro Gear size comparisons dramatically show the big step up in size between the Classic and the King of Pen. Another key difference of a King of Pen is its nib. It is springier than a Classic or Slim size Pro Gear and provides flair to my writing that I appreciate very much.

Because of the price point of the King of Pen, it does dig into your wallet a bit..er..a lot. But it’s all a question of value. I would like to repeat that I won this second hand pen via an auction for a great price and I’m very happy about it. Would I purchase a brand new KoP Sky if this one didn’t come along? **cough** I would **cough**. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Pam’s Pro Gear Slim Sky.


Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari


Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)


Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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2017 Pen Wrap Up

Katherine: We’d agreed on a prompt of top five acquisitions, I think. But I’m rebelling. 2017 was the year of the Nakaya for me — I went from zero to six, so let’s talk about that.

To start, some insight into my head — I place a lot of value in things that aren’t mass produced and are made by masters of a craft (see also my love for fine dining). Second, I’m willing to pay much more for things I can’t make/do myself (see my love for absurd molecular gastronomy, much less for anything I could conceivably cook at home). Third, I’m pretty busy with work, but I’m obsessive and I tend to be willing to try to do a lot of things (see the hours I’ve spent in the kitchen making my own sous vide egg foams).

Given those things, and my love of pens, I think Nakaya are a natural fit for me. I won’t lie, I’ve dabbled with my own finishes and urushi lacquer, and it’s still something I want to learn more about.  Until then, Nakaya is a delightful mix of beautiful forms*, masterful craftsmanship and daily indulgence, all bundled together in a utilitarian writing instrument.

And, because the adventure doesn’t have to end — Nakaya I still want: another Mini Decapod (vaguely considering letting one go? let me know!), a pen in ishime suzu (black and silver) and a Decapod Twist in midori-tamenuri (a mini deca in midori-tamenuri would be amazing… but my odds are so low).

* I have a soft spot for pens with gently conical ends, and a (excuse my language) massive hard on for faceted pens.

Pam:  2017 was a year of acquiring and within that process refining what my writing preferences are.  It has been the most adventurous and sentimental year yet for me with 2 pen shows and great pen friends.  The five pens I chose is a reflection of my experiences in 2017 as well as the direction that my pen use and “collection” is headed in 2018.

No surprise to the Sailor ProGear Blue Lagoon.  It’s by far my favorite Sailor (don’t tell the Progear Slims) for it’s color combination and performance.  It has solidified my love for the Sailor Progear and Progear Slims.  With all the special limited editions that Sailor keeps coming out with, like the Purple Cosmos, all I can say is that Sailor is going to be keeping my wallet pretty slim.  The Pelikan m800 Ocean Swirl was a very pleasant surprise by my pen-spirators (Katherine, Franz and Roz) that included my non-fountain-pen-bestie getting me a very extravagant gift for my 31st birthday.  I am a very lucky girl. After having an m800 of my own I am wondering why I was so hesitant to try the m800 size before this year.  It’s a great size for pretty much any hand size and so well balanced!

I am actually surprised by the remaining 3 pens on my list given that I never thought of myself as a vintage girl. However, vintage pens have an affinity for small hands as the form factor of the pens are naturally slim and compact.  It’s a great match.  I am enamored by “short long” pens which are pocket pens that cap into a “normal” size pen.  There aren’t that many short long pens with Japanese fine nibs on the modern market; only the Pilot Elite comes to mind. This “gap” is actually well fulfilled by the vintage pens.  All three of the Japanese firms (Sailor, Pilot and Platinum) made short-longs/pocket pens back in the day, going as far as to mimic each other’s designs.  The black stripe Myu by Pilot and this unique Platinum black and silver pen really opened my eyes to treasures of the vintage world.  What I love about the vintage pen world is that everyone has a “niche” in terms of what they get excited about and what they collect.  With the influence of a fellow pen friend, Andrew, I may have slipped down this rabbit hole and I can’t wait to see where it will lead in 2018.

Lastly but certainly the greatest of surprises for me is the Parker 51.  I don’t typically talk about Parkers and why haven’t I?  The nib on this Parker is FANTASTIC, the smooth body and width of the pen is super comfortable for my handwriting, and it’s vintage?! This pen broke me of the idea that vintage pens were “stuffy.” How do you revive a “stuffy” pen?  Put a bright ink in it.  Inspired by Franz’s post of “black pens want pink ink” on Instagram and following that advice, I found great joy and a wonderful writing experience with this pen.

All I can say is that 2017 was eye-opening.  I think 2018 is going to be a year of continual refinement and potentially slowing down the rate of acquiring. Some people have a word of the year and if I had to choose one for my pen use/collection, it would be “intentional” and being more cognizant of my own pen habits and use case (at least until the next Sailor Progear  limited edition or vintage pocket pen comes my way).

Franz: Wow! 2017 is almost over and HELLO 2018!

I’ve enjoyed this hobby very much especially because of all the great people I meet along the way. Lots of highlights and events that passed this year. Here’s just a few I’d like to share.

  • In February, I went to the LA Pen Show and it was all about fun, and food! I mean, pens are great and all but you’ve gotta enjoy some great food too. That restaurant in Korea town with the awesome iced tea was a highlight. Tin Roof Bistro dinner was a success too. Got to spend some time with my sister as well.
  • In April, went to the Atlanta Pen Show for the very first time. I got to meet up with a family friend who has been into fountain pens long before myself and showed him around for his first pen show. Got to see the live Pen Addict podcast. Late night food at the Waffle House… yum.
  • In August, got to attend the SF Pen Show and once again assist with their classes and seminars. That show is just phenomenal. Got to host the Pay-It-Forward table with my Mom and a few other Pen Posse friends.
  • In September, Pelikan Hubs was held, and it was great listening to Mr. Rick Propas provide a history if my favorite pen brand.
  • All year round, Pen Posse meetups happen with the Food sub-committee meetups as well. The pen posse is a great group of people and happy to be part of it!

Also, I’m very thankful that this Hand Over That Pen blog continues to be. My friendship with Katherine and Pam is just… extraordinary.

Here’s my top 5 pens for 2017 in accordance to being inked up and mostly used during the year.

  • Classic Pens LB5, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, Broad nib. This pen was part of my top 5 last year as well. It just shows that I love writing with this pen. The 21-karat Sailor King of Pen nib is very nice especially on Tomoe River paper. The length of the pen is perfect for my hand. It still has Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink in it.
  • Nakaya Neo Standard, Kikyo, Medium nib. This is a new pen for me in 2017 that I got from the secondary market. Just like the LB5, the length of the pen is perfect for me. The dark blue is understated and it’s a pen I’ve been using a lot at work. The ruthenium clip and nib made it an even more subtle and beautiful pen for me. Thanks to J. of Classic Fountain Pens! The medium nib is perfect for either the cheap copier paper or Tomoe River paper that I use a lot. The Neo Standard is paired with Pilot Blue Black ink as it matches the dark blue finish.
  • Pelikan M1000, Green Striated, Fine cursive italic nib. I’ve had this pen since 2016 but I only had the nib turned into a cursive italic by Mr. Dan Smith at the 2017 LA Pen Show. Since then, the M1000 has not been un-inked and I’ve used it almost every day. The nib is springy and wet just like it should. I am a self-confessed Pelikan Addict and this flagship pen is perfect! It has been paired with my top favorite ink, Pelikan 4001 Turquoise.
  • Parker Vacumatic Maxima, Golden Brown, Medium nib. I have such a love for the Parker Vacumatic pens and I always have at least one Vacumatic inked up. The stacked coin design is so beautiful with these Vacumatic pens. I was looking for a Vacumatic Maxima during the 2017 SF Pen Show but couldn’t find one with a great price, and nib preference. But at a Pen Posse right after the show, I was presented this pen for a great price and it has a medium flexy nib. It also sports a Star clip which was a transitional clip in 1939 before Parker chose the Blue Diamond clip. The Maxima is one of the “bigger” pens in its time and I find it comfortable to write with even unposted. Posted, the length makes it perfect, but I avoid doing so because the cap lip might crack. I love using this at work and every time I use it, it places a smile on my face. It has been inked up with Akkerman 05 Shocking Blue ever since.
  • Wahl-Eversharp Personal Point Gold Seal, Lazulitic Blue, Medium nib. Ok, Parker pens seems to always get my attention but Wahl-Eversharp pens do so occasionally as well. I’ve been on the lookout for larger sized W-E pens but haven’t really seen much that is within the budget. I saw this W-E pen in person in early 2016 and did not act on it and thought that it was sold. Fast forward to July 2017, I found this pen again and I immediately sold a pen to buy it. That’s how much I wanted it. No regrets at all and has been in use since bought! The blue material of this Personal Point is just stunning especially for a blue pen lover like yours truly. Just like the Vacumatic Maxima, it has a flexy medium nib which writes oh so smoothly. Currently inked with Pilot Blue Black.


Happy New Year to you all and may 2018 bring you more blessings and happiness!


Review: Lamy Aion (Black, Medium Nib)


Our lefty guest reviewer is joining us again! Roz helped us provide thoughts on this new Lamy Aion fountain pen.  Thanks very much Roz!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The Aion just ain’t my thing. It looks okay — but the different textures on the section and the rest of the pen bug me. Also, it looks really long? (But we already know that Lamy style and I generally aren’t bffs)

Pam:  Why hello there Mr. Minimalist design.  It’s unsurprisingly a Lamy pen, with shape and feel that is similar to the Lamy 2000 and the Lamy Studio.  In my mind’s eye, if the Lamy 2000 was the James Bond of the Lamy line with it’s sleek and beautiful shape, the Aion is the buffer, larger and less graceful cousin.  It reminds me of the fine line Sharpie markers with the squared off profile in the cap.  Aesthetically, I have mixed feelings about this pen.  In hand however, its a different story.  It feels as it looks:  heavy, sturdy, and very comfortable (with a seamless body and section), all pluses in my book.

Roz: I pretty much fell in love with the Aion the moment I got to hold it. Brushed metal, black & silver, and clean lines – yes please. The weight surprised me as well. It was definitely heavier than most pens I would gravitate to, but what was surprising to me was that it was a comfortable weight to hold, even while writing.

Franz: Lamy introduced the Aion a few months ago in the summer of 2017 but U.S. retailers did not get these pens until late November or early December. My co-worker who went to Germany in August for a vacation surprised me with this Aion fountain pen. I was surprised at how nice the brushed aluminum felt in my hands mainly because I’ve found that metallic pens especially their sections get a little slippery for me. The Aion was smooth but the texture allowed me to grip it without issues. It does look like a fatter Lamy 2000 or a VERY beefed up Lamy CP1. I’m loving it so far.

In the Hand: Lamy Aion (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz
In the Hand: Lamy Aion (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz


The Business End

Katherine: Like most Lamy nibs, I find the Aion’s nib wayyyy too smooth. On Tomoe River, it’s almost nails-on-chalkboard-y for me. On less smooth paper, like copy paper, it’s more usable — and perfectly fine.

Pam:  The nib was perfectly smooth and glided over paper superbly.  The wetter nib tended to feather on copy paper, so I kept it on Tomoe River paper most of the time.  It left a well saturated  consistent line with no skipping.

Roz: The nib was easy to write with. Admittedly I prefer a finer nib so there were times when I felt I was almost painting with the pen, but the nib was smooth and the ink was consistent.

Franz: As detailed by the ladies above, the writing performance is smooth and wet. It writes like what a medium nib from Lamy does. One thing to note though, the Aion’s steel nib is stiffer than a Safari’s steel nib. Uhh… I do not recommend putting too much pressure on their steel nibs but the Safari does give a teeny bit of variation.

The shape of the nib is different compared to a Safari’s as well. The Aion nib looks curvy which complements the section. Since I’ve done so myself, the Safari nibs are interchangeable with the Aion.

The Aion nib.


Write It Up

Katherine: I do most of my writing on Tomoe River… so this wasn’t my favorite pen to write with for a long duration. But, ignoring the nib, it’s a comfortable pen for me. The section is within my range and it’s a well balanced pen. I expected my fingers to sliiiide down the section slowly, but they didn’t!

Pam:  I am excited that this pen can be another home for the Lamy Safari nibs given that I have a harder time with the Lamy Safari’s section.  The section with the matte finish/brush metal is a joy for my particular grip and sweaty hands. There is no step! It makes up for my reservations about the aesthetics of the pen. It’s heftier than most pens, but that’s to be expected with an all metal pen (and a bonus for me).  I wouldn’t recommend posting this pen for those with smaller hands as it makes the pen more top heavy and can tire out the hands.

Overall, I savor writing with this pen given how comfortable it is.  The width and the non-slip grip section is spot on, even for those with petite, fisty, grips.

Roz: Writing is awesome with the Aion. I prefer to write with it unposted, the balance seems to suit me better. It was amazingly easy to write with this pen, the slope of the section is so well done it didn’t leave any impressions.

Franz: Using the Aion to journal with is awesome. I wrote with the cap either posted or unpsoted and it was comfy both ways. The unposted length is quite perfect for me but if I wanted a little more weight, the posted length wasn’t too long. One thing to note, although the cap posted on the barrel for more than an inch there were a couple instances when it slid off the pen. It does post securely at first but in my 10 minutes of writing, the cap loosened and slipped off twice. Perhaps I was writing voraciously? I don’t know… haha!

It was still a nice writing experience for 20 minutes and I liked that the section did not have a mark of where my grip should be like that triangular-ish section on a Safari.

The Aion beside a Curnow Backpocket Journal. A Lamy ink bottle in the background.


Katherine: The snap cap is super convenient. And makes a nice clicky sound. Click click. Definitely an EDC-able pen, but wouldn’t be my go to for the reasons listed previously.

Pam:  I would have no problems taking this pen around at work given it’s sturdiness and snap cap.  It harkens back to the days (and present time) of how I prefer snap caps and fast access to jot things down at work.  It’s weight also is a good reminder that it’s in your pocket or the fact that it’s not, if you are forgetful like me.

Roz: The Aion fit well in my carrier, but was a bit too heavy for me to wield throughout the day. What I did enjoy doing was sitting and writing with it for a solid chunk of time.

Franz: Before we decided to review the Aion, I’ve used it at work for about two weeks. The quick deploy of the snap cap, the spring loaded clip for the shirt pocket, and the black finish made for a distraction-free every day carry pen. I’m only wishing it had a fine nib because there were times when the line width was too thick for the cheap copier paper we use at work. I also used the Aion with my Curnow Backpocket Journal. Now that juicy medium nib was perfect for the Tomoe River paper in that journal.

The Aion is filled via either the Lamy cartridges or the supplied Z26 converter. During my two weeks of use, I refilled it three times. I did miss my Lamy 2000’s piston filler capacity but it’s far from being a deal breaker.


Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: Lamy pens and I don’t really seem to get along and the Aion is no different. But, all of my gripes are very subjective — if you like the smoothness of Lamy nibs and the aesthetic agrees with you, there’s no (surprise) reason you won’t love this pen. It feels well made and finished.

Pam:  I haven’t been this excited over a “less than $100” pen in a long time.  If you are looking for an upgrade to your Lamy Safari and enjoy the more industrial, minimalist design, this is the pen for you.  If you enjoy writing with a sturdy, metal pen at a very reasonable price, this is the pen for you.  If you don’t want to spring for the Lamy 2000 (yet) and wonder what else Lamy has to offer after the Safari or Studio, this pen is worth a shot.  Honestly, in this price range, there aren’t that many pens I could recommend over the Lamy Aion with the features mentioned throughout this post.  My only reservation is on the bulky cap, but in terms of writing experience, I have no complaints.

Roz: I *really* enjoyed this pen, everything about it. I think I’m going to put this at the top of my pens-to-get-soon list 🙂

Franz: The Lamy Aion is a knockout pen. Period. =)

It’s a very unassuming pen that brings great value. I love using this pen and will be inked up in rotation quite a few times. I kinda wish they had more color choices though. If they come out with other colors other than black, and silver, I’d probably get another one.

Within the four of us, we have different hand sizes and we found it a comfortable pen to write with. So the Lamy Aion is definitely a pen you should try to write with!


The cap and barrel finials are circular and simple.

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Conklin Duragraph, *Lamy Aion*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Conklin Duragraph, *Lamy Aion*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Conklin Duragraph, *Lamy Aion*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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