Welcome to another one of our pen reviews! This time, we are joined by our second guest reviewer and she is also our first left-handed guest, Roz Hung.
Roz is a techie by profession and enjoys writing and sketching as well. She’s always admired fountain pens but was afraid to use them until Pam took her under her wing less than a year ago. Pam let her write with a few pens to see what she might like and own. Roz primarily uses her fountain pens for journaling, and scheduling on her planner. Currently, she’s also using her pens to sketch and doodle for Inktober and tries to keep up with the daily prompts for October. When Roz isn’t busy writing or drawing, she spends her time baking in the kitchen. Thank you for joining the fun and helping us out Roz!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Roz: My first impression of the Kaweco Perkeo was how attractive and friendly its colors were. While the colors are solid and the pen has no sheen or gloss to it, I think the facets really give it a subtle eye catching quality.
Katherine: The Perkeo is a little weird to me. My initial reaction was “ooooh facets!” then “hm… the facets on the body and cap are different…” I like the colors overall, but have clear favorites.
Pam: The Perkeo has a design that will appeal to both children and adults. The cap of the Perkeo heralds back to the beloved Kaweco Sports that we all know and love. The colors are eye catching and pretty sophisticated, in my opinion. The faceted body is an ode to Kaweco’s overall aesthetics. I am really impressed by this starter pen.
Franz: These Kaweco Perkeo pens fascinate me. It is a substantial pen compared to the Kaweco Sport and the colors may be subdued but at the same time they are enthralling. The fine facets of the barrel makes it an elegant looking pen and makes the Perkeo stand out.
The Perkeo currently has four finishes: Indian Summer (black and yellow green), Bad Taste (pink and black), Cotton Candy (light pink and gray), and Old Chambray (white and light blue). As we expressed above, the Perkeo’s finishes are captivating and I’d like to add that Kaweco’s naming of these colors are equally intriguing. The Indian Summer and Bad Taste are both supplied with a black steel nib, and black finial. And both the Cotton Candy, and Old Chambray sports a chrome steel nib, and chrome finial.
Note: The Perkeo pen we used for the In the Hand photos above was the Indian Summer finish. During our review process, we focused on using Katherine’s Cotton Candy Perkeo shown below.
The Business End
Roz: I admit at the top of my lungs that I know nothing about nibs! However, I liked the line width of the Kaweco’s nib and I only needed to make minor adjustments to my horizontal tilt for a smooth writing experience.
Katherine: The variability on these nibs is surprising — my boyfriend and I each own one, and mine writes like a dry EF, and his writes like a wet Fine, even when inked with the same ink. Both are smooth and decent writers, but the variability in flow and tipping was surprising!
Pam: For the times I “crave” for a “chubby” line width, I gravitate towards a Kaweco EF nib. What I love about the Kaweco EF nib is that it creates a very round line that can sometimes compliment my writing style.
The ones that Katherine had were F nibs. Unsurprisingly, they wrote well out of the box with no issues for me. However, between the two pens that Katherine had for us to try out, I did notice a difference in the line width despite both pens being marked as F. One was drier than expected and the other flowed quite well. Aesthetically, the nib seems to be disproportionally too petite for a “regular” sized pen. Or maybe that’s just me.
Franz: The nib on this Perkeo wrote with a very thin line width but it wrote immediately and quite smooth with minimal feedback for a fine nib. Visually, the nib is very slightly recessed and I initially thought that the nib was the same that Kaweco uses for the Sport model but I believe I was wrong. Side-by-side, the Perkeo nib is a size bigger than the nib on the Sport. The Perkeo is inked via a cartridge or a standard international converter and that makes it convenient since I have a few in my drawer.
Write It Up
Roz: I wrote as much as I could with this pen. The length of the Kaweco fit my hand nicely, and since it was so light I could write with it posted and unposted. My only (mild) struggle was with the triangular section. At the beginning, it would take me a bit to work my way to a comfortable grip on the section – after a few times of writing with this pen, I got to a point where only minor mid-writing adjustments needed to be made.
Katherine: I really expected to hate the Perkeo because it has a triangular grip, and the only other triangular grips I’ve used (and stronnnngly disliked) are the Lamy Safari and Jinhao x450, but surprisingly, I quite enjoy the Perkeo. Maybe it’s the shape of the triangular grip, or the angle or some other sorcery, but it’s a light comfortable pen for me. This is the “entry level” Kaweco folks should look at. I’m not sure why you’d buy a Sport anymore unless you want to carry it in your pockets. Or have a really small pen case?
Pam: The Perkeo is pretty light, just like the acrylic Kaweco Sport, which is both an advantage and disadvantage in my book. I find that in pens that are too light, I tend to bear down harder on the paper. Yet for portability and journaling purposes, the weightlessness of this pen made it really easy to start and continue using with little fatigue (if I don’t bear down). Interestingly enough, the disadvantage of weightlessness that I pinpointed on the Sport, was offset by the length and size of the Perkeo. It was a joy to write with.
The triangular grip didn’t bother me very much since the corners were well rounded. I find the triangular grip on the Perkeo to be more comfortable than the Lamy Safari with my grip.
Franz: Surprisingly, this is a pen that I can comfortably write with unposted for a long period of time. Posting the cap makes it a little long but the added weight definitely makes it better though. The Perkeo’s section is approximately the same width as the barrel and this let me grip the pen wherever I found comfortable. My fingers naturally landed right on the transition of the triangular grip as it ends toward the top of the section. I enjoyed approximately 20 minutes of writing on my journal and my hand did not cramp at all.
Roz: I kept the Kaweco in a Nock Lookout case and it did great! I actually did use it throughout my day, the lightweight feel of the pen made it easy to grab and made quick notes.
Katherine: I enjoyed this for the few days I carried it. It’s light, durable (yes, I dropped it. maybe intentionally) and the facets make sandwiching it in a notebook pretty secure — no worries about a rounded pen sliding out or shooting out of either end of my notebook (generally not a problem except with the fattest roundest and clipless-est pens though, tbh). And the lack of a fancy finish means it can go in a pocket with keys and come out looking the same!
Pam: Other than a clip, this would a great EDC. It doesn’t take much to uncap, it’s a postable pen (no lost caps!), and light! Again, some see the weight as a disadvantage, however, the construction of this pen should be able to stand up to a trip to the washing machine. Ink stains not withstanding.
Franz: Using the Perkeo at work for 2 days was quite nice. It’s a no frills kinda pen that just wrote which is what an Every Day Carry pen should be. I placed the pen in my dress shirt pocket and for most of the time, it stayed upright. The length definitely made it easy to grab and not fish out of the pocket like a clipless Kaweco Sport or something similarly sized. The facets on the cap made sure the pen did not roll on my desk. And even if the pen was open and cap unposted, the pen did not roll away as long as I place it on the desk gently.
The snap-cap allows for quick usage when needed and provides a positive snap when you want to close it. The fine Kaweco nib was suitable for the not-so-stellar copier paper found in our office. And as Katherine described above, it passed the durability field test. Two thumbs up!
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Roz: I think the Kaweco is a really fun pen and I enjoyed trying it out. It was an easy writer (after some adjustments) and it fit my hand size quite nicely.
Katherine: I like it! It’s not life changing, but if the aesthetic suits you, it’s a light and totally reasonable pen. Mine is somewhat sentimental, so it’s sticking around, otherwise though, it isn’t a pen I likely would have purchased on my own… but it’s really hard to say no to your non-pen-enthusiast boyfriend wanting to get matching pens as you stand in a cute stationery store after having driven ten hours to see a total solar eclipse. So it’s my eclipse pen. (Except he got the yellow and black, which is eclipse-y themed. I have the pink and grey, which is more… rubber eraser themed)
Pam: Honestly, the pen is a GREAT example of a starter pen for those who want to try out a Western sized nib. For the price, the design and the nib performance, the Perkeo is a contender to be a great starter pen. Will it surpass the Lamy Safari or the TWSBI Eco? Maybe not, but depending on what you are looking for, why not try the Perkeo?
Franz: The Perkeo joins the ranks as one of the recommended starter pens. The only thing to consider is the fact that a converter is not supplied with the pen and is an additional expense. But hey, the Lamy Safari and/or Al-Star does not come with a converter either. I love that the Perkeo takes a standard international one!
Well, what else can I really say differently about the Perkeo that the three ladies above haven’t yet? Ditto? Hehehe… =) The bear paw likes it a lot! But seriously, if the colors appeal to you and you’d like to try an inexpensive pen with some facets, go get one of these. I for sure did and not just because it’s blue. =)
Katherine: I really like the material of this pen. It’s so pretty! The design of the pen isn’t my favorite though, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not bad. It’s probably worth noting that I’m not a big fan of what I think of as FC’s “chunkier” designs, or the indented rings they like putting on pens. I love their models with clean lines — the 45, the p66, 66 and (a little bit less) the 20, but the 31 just isn’t as clean. But, personal preference.
Pam: I was blown away by the size and material of this pen. The material of the pen is stunning with alot of iridescence and depth. I really like the shape of the pen, but the size of the pen is a bit much for me. I have mixed feelings about the indentations on the body and the placement of the nib. It adds texture to the body and interest in the eye, but also breaks up the lines of the pen shape. The nib is semi-hooded which baffles me a little bit. I didn’t notice this before on other FC pens and I can’t decide if I like it or not. Overall, I think the model 31 is a great add to the line up for those with larger hands or prefer larger pens.
Franz: “Holy swirly purple pen Batman!” Yep, that was my reaction when I saw this at the LA pen show in February 2017. This was the first Model 31 I ever saw and it was (at that time) the only prototype in the purpurae material. When I saw this pen, I knew I had to have it. Anyway, going back to the pen model, this is a fairly large pen size in the Franklin-Christoph line up. Their model 19 is still the largest of the group but I think the model 31 is just a level below that.
Now for the details that my co-bloggers have mentioned, I love the indented rings on the barrel as it’s quite distinctive. While I’m at a pen show hovering at a Franklin-Christoph table, I can immediately identify a model 31 from their display because of these rings. The nib is recessed just like their model 20 and provides a smooth transition from the section to the nib which I’m liking very much.
The Business End
Katherine: Like all FC nibs, this one was a comfortable and unproblematic writer. Franz had a steel medium in it and it was smooth, wet without being soggy, and an all around undramatic but very reliable writer. No complaints!
Pam: Like all FC nibs that I have tried, it wrote well. Smooth, saturated lines without getting too heavy. The black anodized nib is amazing. I particularly like how the logo stands out on such a sleek nib.
Franz: Surprisingly, I asked for a stock medium nib when I got this pen and Mr. Jim Rouse actually chose the Shadow (black) finish of the nib to match the pen. As with all Franklin-Christoph pens bought at a pen show, the nib is tuned by Jim to your writing preferences. So this medium nib is one of the smoothest, and perfect flow writers I have.
Thanks very much ROUSE! 🙂
Write It Up
Katherine: This pen was a wee bit top heavy when posted (the cap doesn’t post super deeply, so the pen ends up kinda long), but when unposted, is very comfortable. The threads are on the section, so I don’t even have to worry about gripping them when I hold my pen further forward. I could write for pages with this pen.
Pam: I preferred writing with this pen unposted. In my pixie handed fist grip I found it to be top heavy when posted. I had no issues writing with this pen as I found it relatively light (for it’s size) and well balanced. The width of the pen is quite comfortable for either the fisty grip or the tripod grip. For a larger pen, it is quite comfortable in petite hands.
Franz: As seen from the “In the Hand” photos above, the Model 31 is perfect for my hand with both the cap posted, or unposted. The elongated section is great because my grip comfortably lands right before the threads start when unposted. If I post the cap, it does get a bit long but it’s not unwieldy at all. The light cap doesn’t make it top heavy for me especially when I move my grip a little further back. #BearPaw
I wrote with the 31 unposted, and posted equally within twenty minutes and it was a very pleasant journaling session.
Katherine: This made a solid EDC carry. It feels solidly made, uncaps fairly quickly and has a reliable clip. I wouldn’t hesitate to keep this pen in my pocket, or even throw it in my jacket pocket with my keys (don’t worry Franz, I didn’t!).
Pam: Like all FC pens,I have no qualms using this pen as an EDC. It’s well built and should there be a clip, a great add on to any shirt pocket!
Franz: I have used the Model 31 at my workplace quite a few times already and it works nicely as an Every Day Carry type of pen. The medium nib writes nicely on the cheap copier paper and the cap twists off very quickly for fast writing requirements. The only issue of this specific pen is that it’s clip-less and at times I worried that It might roll away when I set it down. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.
Let me just add that when I bought this pen, Jim said that I can request to have a clip installed if I wanted to. So far I like it as it is but if I change my mind, I’m sure Franklin-Christoph will take care of it because their great customer service is legendary.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: All in all, I think (like most of FC’s pens) this is a very solid, well made pen. However, the aesthetics just don’t jive with me. I love the material, but ultimately found the pen a little too chunky and a little too busy for my tastes. But, if the look appeals to you (and now that I’m looking at their website… perhaps that yellow and black?) it’d be an easy buy for me.
Pam: Franklin-Christoph has a pen to suit every taste, hand size and aesthetic. The model 31 is a bit big for me and the material is not exactly my cup of tea. Although this pen doesn’t particularly scream “buy me,” I have been a fan of FC for a while. The pocket 20, model 45 and model p66 are totally up my alley. FC materials are also always amazing, so you really can’t lose! The model 31 is a great add for any collection really. You should really check out their table at your nearest pen show.
Franz: Dude… it only took me a couple years but I think I can finally say that I found a Franklin-Christoph pen that fits my hand very nicely.
If that last statement isn’t enough, let me just establish that I am very smitten by the Model 31. Before the 31 came out, I was leaning more towards their Model 03 and/or Model 02 but couldn’t decide which one I liked better. But I am thankful that I met this pen at the LA pen show and it has not been un-inked since I got it. I’m afraid that I might inadvertently start a Model 31 prototype collection if I’m not careful. (Channeling @murberdraws from Instagram)
As contrasted by the experiences of the two ladies above, I would recommend the Model 31 for people with medium to larger hands. If you think the model 03 is kinda small, and the model 19 is too big, try out a model 31. You never know.
“Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”
On Friday September 22, 2017, the Pelikan Hub for Palo Alto was held at the Lathrop Library in Stanford University. The Hub was organized by co-Hubmasters Lawrence C. and Glenn T. and it was definitely well organized. Thank you very much for a terrific event gentlemen!
Our group had a mixture of members of the San Francisco Bay Pen Posse, and also members of the Stanford Pen Club. It was a nice gathering and I was happy to meet new people interested in the hobby. As we introduced ourselves around the room, I found that there were people into pens for about a month and up to about 40 years so it was an eclectic group and a lot of people shared their experiences and knowledge.
Speaking of knowledge, we were very lucky to have Pelikan pen expert, Rick Propas aka The PENguin, a part of our hub. He had talked about the history of the Pelikan pen company, the first model Pelikan 100, and the evolution of the Pelikan pen models. He showed a few rare, or one-off pens that are in his collection.
Rick Propas attends a few pen shows in the United States. He sells pens at pen shows, and also via his website: www.thePENguinpen.com
I broadcasted an Instagram Live video and also uploaded to my YouTube account. Rick imparted a lot of information and I am very thankful he had taken the time to do so.
Rick showed his grail pen, the Pelikan 75th Anniversary. I got a chance to photograph this fabulous pen that evening.
Lawrence and Glenn were given Edelstein ink bottles by Pelikan and they made it available for participants to take ink sample vials of. Here’s some of the bottles emptied out.
A big thank you to Pelikan for once again hosting the Pelikan Hubs around the world and providing an avenue for people to meet and learn about fountain pens and Pelikan pens! Also, we appreciate the generous gift of the Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz ink bottle for each registered participant. I love this ink!
I have been attending the Pelikan Hubs since it started in 2014 and hope that this annual event continues to occur successfully. See you next year!
Hello friends! Thank you for hanging in there and I hope that you’re enjoying my detailing of the San Francisco pen show. This is the continuation of my SF Pen Show Report – Part 1.
This carries on to the events on Saturday afternoon and evening. And ends on Sunday’s last day of the show. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 26 – Continuing on the Second Day
Planner Meetup – Special Event
Around 1:00pm, Pam, Katherine, and Christina had once again hosted a planner meetup and had discussions with others on what they do to decorate, organize, and utilize their planners. There were some exchanges of stickers, washi tapes, and notebooks as well. Photos courtesy of Christina.
One of the vendors that were considered a big hit at the show was Atelier Musubi who traveled all the way from Singapore. Their beautiful journals are cloth bound, contains Tomoe River paper, and are handmade in Singapore. In addition, these journals are handmade by a person living with a physical disability.
Here’s Atelier Musubi’s table located in the Grand Salon and was visited by some artists that you may possibly know.
Within the same room, the table of the SF Pen Show principal sponsor, Wahl-Eversharp was there and were selling a lot of their Skyline pen models. Also displayed were the Magnificent Seven Decoband pens.
Right beside Wahl-Eversharp was the Armando Simoni Club (ASC) table. Pens and chocolates… mmm…
Pen World Magazine – Readers Choice Awards Ceremony
A first for the SF Pen Show, Pen World magazine presented a few of the Reader’s Choice Awards at the show. Editor-in-Chief Nicky Pessaroff presented the winners their awards below. Congratulations to all!
Best Every Day Carry Pen: Franklin-Christoph Model 31
Best Non-Fountain Pen: Cross Classic Century 170th Anniversary Ballpoint
Best Artisan Pen: Ryan Krusac Legend L-14
Best Writing Experience: Aurora Sole 88 Limited Edition
Best Metal Mastery: RiKwill/Conway Stewart Churchill Prisme and Jour et Nuit
Pen of the Year: Montblanc Artisan Edition Homage to Kandinsky Limited Edition III
Pen Addict Meetup – Pen Dash
This year at the SF Pen Show, the Pen Addict Brad Dowdy, and Lisa Vanness of Vanness Pens tried a different type of meetup. In most meetups, people sit down, show their pens, get to know each other, and learn from each other. The Pen Dash is somewhat of the same concept except for the fact that every ten minutes the participants will have to stand up and proceed to another table with a different host or as what I referred to them as subject matter experts (SME). Brad made a write up of it on The Pen Addict.
I was able to do an Instagram Live Video and post it to my personal YouTube. Please forgive my blunder in the video and know that the first room DID follow directions to move tables. I just thought they were signaled to move right then. Ah, the hitches of live television. Haha!
Here are photos I got to take before going live on Instagram.
Susan Wirth Memorial
First, a sip of water, deep breath, and go.
As most of the pen community knows, the passing of Susan “Susie” Wirth earlier this year had left a great big hole in the pen show world. Anyone who knew her knows that it’s not a pen show without her. In 2012, she was one of the first five people I personally met in the pen world. This was way before I became part of the SF Bay Pen Posse.
My friend Rebecca Joyce got the chance to film Susie at the 2017 LA Pen Show. If you’re interested, here’s that very informative video.
This was my first pen show to not see Susie’s table, to not see her face, to not smile and giggle as I saw her inky fingers, and to not hear her distinct voice. It felt weird to me and I’m sure to other people as well.
A week before the pen show, I decided to do something to honor Susie. I figured, what’s a small inexpensive thing that people appreciate at pen shows? Buttons! So I edited the picture I took of Susie’s identifiable shawl while she was wearing it and made it into a button. Saturday morning, I gave out these buttons to honor her. I told everyone, “This is her day!”. I’m sure everyone agreed.
I am thankful that the SF Pen Show Organizers allocated some time during Saturday evening to honor Susie.
I am also thankful to see John Martinson at this show. He worked with Susie at every pen show and has become a good friend to me. John brought some of Susie’s pens to show people and he also brought out Susie’s banner. I loved seeing it once again.
During the memorial, John M. spoke about Susie. He ended by saying that the best way to honor her memory is to share the love of pens, to write more letters, and share what an italic nib can do for one’s writing. Thanks John!
You were definitely missed Susie.
Groove Situation – Pen Show Concert
Each year, the show organizers gets a band and play a concert after the show. This year, due to the hotel renovations, the concert was held outside by the fountain. The band was different this year but their music, and song selection was still awesome. The band’s name is Groove Situation and their FaceBook page is here.
What’s pretty cool is that their bassist is Pen Posse’s very own, Jon R.
Overall, the turnout for the pen show concert was great and a fun time was had.
Inside the hotel, my friend Bruce Eimon introduced Taizo Yamamoto and his paper products. They are launching “Paper Tasting” (paper samplers) and they laid it out on an empty show table. Their website is http://yamamotopaper.com/index.html.
Saturday evening went on and we all just hung around and had great conversations. The evenings of pen shows are opportunities to reconnect, interact, and meet new friends. I eventually went home to rest up for another pen show day.
Sunday, August 27 – Third and Final Day of the Show
Wow, the weekend is almost over and this is the day I feel happy and sad. Shall we say, verklempt?
Not gonna lie, the past few days were tiring especially with the amount of sleep (or lack of) I’ve had. But Pen Show Time Zone prevailed and got ready for another fun filled day.
I once again arrived around 7:00am to assist the 8:00am class attendees (Sorry Nik!), as well as assist the registration desk. Duty calls! As a reward, I got my name on Masuyama-san’s list as well.
On Sunday, the show had another combination of paid classes, and free seminars.
Shodo Demonstration (Japanese Calligraphy) by Rui Saito (free seminar)
Journaling by Susan Thom (free seminar)
Creative Uses of Fountain Pen Ink by Leigh Reyes (free seminar)
What can turn a Good Nib into a Great Writing Nib by John Mottishaw (free seminar)
Here’s are some photos I got to take during the day.
John Mottishaw arrived in the morning and Joel Hamilton caught him at the registration desk.
The Nibsmith, Dan Smith was always busy with a customer.
Over at Ryan Krusac’s table, the prototype of the limited/special edition Legend Pen he collaborated with Cary of Fountain Pen Day was on display. It’s beautiful for sure! And the proceeds of this collaboration will be donated to Shawn Newton’s scholarship fund.
Here’s a bit of a penvangelism story. Jon, my co-worker, brought his kids to the pen show and I took the liberty of giving them a tour. Of course the first stop was the Pay-It-Forward table and the kids got their starter kits. One of Jon’s kids wanted a pink ink to match the pink pen and we eventually found J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen from a table of a pen posse member. =) We continued the tour around the ballroom and we eventually sat down and showed them how to fill a pen with ink, how a pen works, etc. It’s inspiring to see teenagers wanting to learn how to use fountain pens.
A bit of background, Jon got into fountain pens when he started to work with a pen addict (me) and he really wanted to come to the show and find a pen he’d like. We found a green pen with a 14k gold nib over at Peyton Street Pens with the help of Nivardo. Needless to say, Jon and the kids were happy.
As the show comes to a close, I got to walk around the ballroom a little bit and take some pictures again.
See? Even puppies want to see some pens at the SF pen show! =)
My final purchase at the show was at the Vanness Pens table. Replenished my supply of Akkerman 05 Shocking Blue, and Bungubox Sapphire. Also picked up these special edition Curnow notebooks with Joey Feldman’s artwork in the cover. During the weekend, Joey was doing individual art sketches behind the notebooks when people bought them. He actually did this special piece for me (of me) on Saturday and I just picked it up on Sunday.
Joey has dubbed me, Franzulini: Leader of the Free Pen World. I loved it! If you’re reading this, thanks again Joey! =)
Post Pen Show
As the show closed, I packed up the PIF table, and helped with taking home some Ink Testing Stations. Ink Boss Christina was pleased. =)
And I got a chance to have a photo with the legendary Cary of Fountain Pen Day. Thanks Ricky! =)
My Mother and I took a pen vendor friend out to dinner which has become a tradition now. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and found other pen friends coming back from dinner as well. We hung out at the bar for a bit.
Needless to say, I was tired but I was very happy. The photo below was the last one I took before I gave in to the fatigue and finally went home.
The San Francisco Pen Show has come and gone and I’m very thankful I was able to attend and be part of it. Pen shows for me have evolved quite a lot and it has now become a true social event that I look forward to attend. Whether it be SF, LA, Atlanta, or others, what makes pen shows is the people I meet, or visit with. I mean, pen people are so kind, generous, and cool. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with those kinds of people? There were a lot more stories that you can’t just place in a report and I treasure a lot of them.
A HUGE Thank you and Great Job to the show organizers: Ricky, Todd, and Syd. The SF Pen Show gets better year-over-year and it starts with them. To the amazing Pen Posse peeps, great job and thanks for the volunteer work! Just a reminder, 2018 SF Pen Show will be on August 24-26. So, plan your days off now! =)
And to you my dear readers, thank you for sticking around for this lengthy report. And again, I hope you enjoyed it.
For those who attended the show, comment what your favorite part of the show was and what you bought. For those who weren’t there, let me know if you have questions as well!
“Pen shows are about the people and the stories between each other. The pens start the story and the people get closer.”
Time for another pen show report! This will be another long read just like my 2016 SF Pen Show report so I dare not call it a “recap”. This year, I have become much busier working the show as the volun-told Class Registrar, assisting at the Registration Desk, and also being behind my registered table hosting the Pay-It-Forward table. So being busier means less time walking around the show and less photos taken by me. I’ve asked a few friends if I may use their show photos and they have obliged oh so kindly. Thank you!
Oh wait, for those who only want the short version? Okay, well, it lives up to their tag line, “THE FUN PEN SHOW”. And the post is done. j/k!
So go ahead and grab a snack to hold you over if you wish. This may be the lengthiest pen show report you’ve ever read. Quite lengthy that I had to divide it into two parts. I tried to be thorough and provide you the unique multiple perspective that I experience at this pen show. I hope you enjoy it!
Thursday, August 24 – The Day Before the Show
The Pen Show doesn’t really start until Friday but Thursday is typically the day when vendors, and attendees who travel from out of town arrive at the hotel. Thursday afternoon is a time for vendors to claim their badges, paperwork, AND table assignments. Some vendors with multiple tables and large displays start setting up so there would be less work to do on Friday morning. The show organizers also host food and drinks in the evening for the vendors. Just like last year, they served burger sliders as well as grilled cheese with tomato soup. Yum!
I arrived around 7:00pm to take care of some class logistics for the next day, as well as meet up with pen friends from all over. Some Pen Posse friends decided to have a late dinner and we trekked to the city of Millbrae for our favorite place, Peter’s Cafe. I think this may become a yearly tradition for Thursday night.
Afterwards, I hung out at the bar with a couple friends and got to check out some cool pens from different people. I also finally got to meet Leigh Reyes who arrived the same day all the way from the Philippines. A couple months ago when I knew Leigh was planning to attend the show, I reached out to her and “made” her do a free seminar which was on Sunday.
Friday, August 25 – Show Time!
On the first day, the ballroom opens to vendors to setup at 7:00am, and the All-Access Pass Holders are let in at 8:00am. The General Public was admitted at 1:00pm later that day.
Okay. This is no big secret but it still needs to be said. What’s one of the SF Pen Show’s secret weapon for success? The SF Bay Pen Posse. And I am very grateful to be part of this group. There were a number of volunteers months before, during, and even after the show. The people at the registration desk that greets and helps show attendees are ALL volunteers. No one gets compensated monetarily, but an attendee’s smile while being at the show would be enough for them. So friends, I’d like to take this opportunity and thank you all for your help! Also for the whole weekend, Desk Boss Margaret kept us in line so special thanks goes to her as well! =)
I arrived 7:00am (too early…) at the hotel to make sure I get to assist the people who pre-registered for the classes and also help out at the registration desk. Friday paid classes were:
Basic Spencerian in the morning, and Spencerian Flourishing Techniques in the afternoon by Master Penman Michael Sull
While at the registration desk, I get to see what people bought. This Pen Posse member came up to me and showed me his “First Blood” purchase from Stylo-Art.
Around 11:00am, I finally got to walk around a little bit at the show, took a few photographs, and visited with friends.
Steve Curnow and his family are back at their usual spot at the SF Pen Show. They have quality paper goods and a very good spread as you can see.
The show’s registration desk from above.
As you walk past the registration desk, Greg Weddig is back at the show and selling vintage pens as well as his Valley Oak Iron Gall Dip Pen ink. Sharing the table with Greg is Gary Naka who was also selling restored vintage pens.
Kenro Industries is back as well. This year they were represented by Neil L., and Cary Y. (Fountain Pen Day). Kenro is the US distributor for Montegrappa, and Aurora pens. They showcased the Montegrappa Game of Thrones pens, the Aurora 88 Flex pens, and a lot more.
While I was at the mezzanine level, I yelled down to Ricky to pose for a photo and this is what I got. I asked for captions from the SF Bay Pen Posse group and I’ll share the top three (IMHO). Which one would be your pick? ;-P
“Where the F— did the Mont Blanc carpet go?!”
“WHAT?!?! Do you think I’m in charge or something?”
“Trust me! Drop your Namiki Emperor, I’ll catch it”
Still within the foyer, our very own Katherine split a table with other pen posse peeps and was selling her hand carved stamps of pens, and ink bottles. She also created a Hand Over That Pen 2017 SF Pen Show stamp for friends to mark on their journals.
To complete the table, here’s Lawrence and Yuan who were selling pens, inks, washi tapes, etc.
Right beside was Claire R. (@writteninrice) who occasionally is a guest reviewer on our blog. She sells great quality pen wraps and she loves prime numbers. Her current wrap design holds 7 pens very securely. Her fabric combinations are just so cool!
Ink Testing Stations
A very unique feature of the San Francisco Pen Show are the Ink Testing Stations (ITS) set up for show attendees to enjoy. This year, round tables were scattered around the show for attendees to sit down and test the different ink brands, and colors. The pens used for the ITS were Dollar 717i. For 2017, there was a total of 783 inks available for testing. The ink lists for the past 3 years can be found on the SF Pen Show Ink Testing section of the show website.
Months before the show, the Pen Posse with the direction of Ink Boss Christina, all 783 pens were cleaned, labeled, organized, and inked up for the show.
We had different companies donate inks for the Ink Testing Stations. Luxury Brands donated their inks, Franklin-Christoph gave us their inks as well, Robert Oster donated 60 bottles of their inks, and Vanness Pens donated Organics Studio inks. Thank you very much for your generosity!
Right before the ballroom was an Ink Testing Station table. This table always had people sitting down. To my knowledge, one person successfully wrote and tested all 783 inks during the weekend!
At the show, Patrick represented the Robert Oster company from Australia. Here’s Patrick speaking with Brian and Christina of the Pen Posse.
Walking into the ballroom, you will find Andy Lambrou of Lambrou Pens (formerly Classic Pens) and his associate, Monica, to your left. He has been attending the San Francisco pen show since 2014 and brings exquisite pens. This year, he brought a case full of Classic Pens CP-8, Lambrou Pens LB-6, and a few of the LB4 Tahiti pens.
Walking over to the left was Itoya’s table. Itoya is the US Distributor of Sailor pens as well as Taccia pens. It was Itoya’s first time at the SF pen show and they brought a nice display of their Pro Gear pens inked up with their different inks.
A little further in to the ballroom was The PENguin’s table. That’s Mr. Rick Propas who is a very well-known expert of German pens especially Pelikan pens. I always try my best to visit with him and say hello. Also, to take a look at his pens for sale.
Classic Fountain Pens aka nibs.com came back to the SF Pen Show this year and had several Nakaya pens on display. There were testers with their different nib sizes inked up for people to try out. Jonella set the table up on Friday and was there to answer questions, and take in orders of their pens all weekend. I’ve known her since my 2014 LA Pen Show experience (Pen Posse OPM).
Also at the Classic Fountain Pens table was Pony Boy. He was guarding the Nakaya pens! Pony Boy does quite a lot of traveling too. Check out #adventuresofponyboy on Instagram
Here’s Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit blog came back to the show! And once again, he helped the Vanness Pens team at their table.
Lisa Vanness and Leigh Reyes during a light moment behind the Vanness Pens table. Photo by Gary Naka.
Kick A$$ Calligrapher Nik Pang was at the show as well. He was selling nib holders and was writing people’s names.
As I walked out of the ballroom to do more pen show duties, I saw more people testing out the Ink Stations.
One of the SF Pen Show’s sponsors is Straits Pen represented by Sunny Koh. He brings in a lot of pens and inks from Asia. I caught him having a snack by the registration desk with a friend.
I had a registered table at the show and that was gonna be the Pay-it-Forward table. But I decided that I would set it up on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. So I had my friend, Mark C. sit at my table and sell his freshly roasted Monsooned Malabar coffee beans. He also, by request, brewed some coffee for people to try out what he was selling. I was very thankful he did that. And that’s my cup that he has the pour over dripper on. =)
Back at the registration desk, I met this nice fellow named Ralph and he got me beat with having two shirt pockets filled with pens. Cross pens at that! There were a couple Parker pens too. He showed me a Cross Townsend in Lapis Lazuli that I almost drooled on but I didn’t get to take a photo of it though. =(
I noticed these Kisses chocolates left out on a table. Let’s just say I got some much needed sugar boost! =)
Friday’s show went on, met more awesome friends during the day. The show ballroom closes down at 5:00pm and the Pen Collectors of America (PCA) held a pen auction at 5:30pm. I registered and got paddle 27 but I eventually didn’t go and just hung out with people. I gave my paddle to a pen posse friend and apparently paddle 27 was very active. Haha!
One of the reasons why I did not go to the auction was that I realized that I missed my reserved time with The Nib Smith, Dan Smith. So I waited to be the last person he’d help for the day and I picked up the only pen on my pen show list. The Fabulosa! I mean, the Aurora 88 Nebulosa.
After a fun first day, a large group of us went to the Pen Posse favorite, Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria for dinner. It was a quick 5 minute drive from the hotel.
I only got to take this one picture of the pizza before we devoured… ate it.
After dinner comes my favorite part of pen shows. Back at the hotel bar, it’s hanging out with the people you saw at the show. Sharing the items bought, and telling the stories of the day. As Eleanor said before, it’s Pen Shows After Dark!
Saturday, August 26 – Second Day
On Saturday, the ballroom once again opens to vendors to setup at 7:00am, and the All-Access Pass Holders are let in at 8:00am. The General Public was admitted at 10:00am in the morning.
After a late night of pen-joyment, I sleepily got ready for another fun day. Pen shows are the only events that I would look forward to going to bed in the wee hours of the morning and then wake up WAY earlier than when I have to go to work. It’s what I call Pen Show Time Zone (PSTZ) and I love it.
Typically, Saturday is the busiest day for the pen show and is the day when the most number of people attend. This year was no exception and with all the events jam-packed, it definitely was a busy show day.
I arrived around 7:00am once again for the registration desk and for the classes and seminars being held on Saturday. When I arrived, there were already a few people in line for Mr. Mike Masuyama’s sign up sheet. Masuyama-san did something different this year in that he asked the registration desk to do the sign up for him instead of it being at his table. So the sheet was brought out at 8:00am for people to write their names and phone numbers. The photo below was around 7:45am and good thing I got to take it.
For Saturday, there were a combination of 2 paid classes and 3 free seminars.
Pens 101: Pen Basics by Loren Smith (free seminar)
Pens 102: Vintage Pens by Ricky Chau (free seminar)
Here are examples of the special edition books that Virginia designed for the pen show. You can add or remove pages as you go.
Something new for the pen show this year was that there were volunteers each day to do calligraphy demonstrations. The volunteers came from The Pacific Scribes Guild, and Friends of Calligraphy Guild. Their tables were located at the foyer across the registration desk so I got to check them out and two ladies wrote my name.
Pen Artisan Guild Annual Contest
Another new event for the pen show this year was that the Pen Artisan Guild held their first annual contest for guild members and created one of a kind pens for the contest.
Show attendees had the chance to vote for the pen they like. And The People’s Choice Award went to pen number 11, by Jonathon Brooks of the Carolina Pen Company. Photos of the guild pens are courtesy of Ricky Chau.
At 10:00am. the General Public was let in to the show and it definitely got busier. Here are Ricky Chau’s photos of the ballroom around that time.
What is the Pay-It-Forward table you ask? Well, it is a table at a pen show fully motivated by kindness, happiness, and a great love for writing instruments. The PIF table was originated by Oscar, The PENthusiast, and a smattering of other generous pen folk at the 2017 DC Pen Show. If I am not mistaken, this idea was inspired as well by Rachel Goulet of The Goulet Pen Company. The PIF mission at pen shows is twofold. First is to create and give out Fountain Pen Starter kits to newbies young and old. Second is to provide an avenue for experienced pen people to donate items that are no longer loved, and to give these items a second chance to be loved by another home. Items encouraged to be donated are pens, ink bottles, notebooks, and other stationery related things. Monetary donations are also welcome either at the pen show or the PENthusiast’s website.
Right before the 2017 D.C. Pen Show, I reached out to Oscar to come to SF with the PIF table. But due to schedule issues he couldn’t make it. He did send a box full of PIF supplies for us to host at the show. We then put a call out on a blog post, and at the SF Bay Pen Posse group to ask for donations at the show. Let me tell you, a lot of people have come up to me and donated new pens, used pens, mostly full ink bottles, notebooks, and other items. Since Thursday night I’ve had items given to me for the table and I am floored with the generosity of the pen community. I decided to have the PIF table up by noon on Saturday and Sunday at the show. The table was located right before the ballroom so a lot of people stopped by, asked questions, and eventually left happy.
Because of all the pens and inks given at the table, we didn’t really use all of the supplies that Oscar sent. Which is great because the next planned pen show appearance of the PIF table will be at the Colorado Pen show in October.
I did make a big blunder that I should be burned at the stakes for. Out of all the excitement and busy-ness, I did not write down the names of the people who donated items during the show. I do remember and know a lot of the people who donated but at the risk of forgetting anyone, I shall just say a big… THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY! You all know who you are and your kindness is deeply appreciated.
During both days, a lot of people asked about the Give A Pen, Take A Pen racks. I explained that it doesn’t have to be exactly give and then take. If there was a pen (or two) that they would like to have, they may just take it. Now if they have a pen that they don’t love anymore, they may just leave (give) it on the rack for someone else to possibly love it as well!
Here’s a quick story. There was a young lady who wanted a fountain pen from the rack but instead of just taking it, she felt it necessary to give a pen so she left a ballpoint. #onelessballpoint ;-P
Another one. An awesome person was looking at the Give A Pen, Take A Pen and placed this beautiful pen on the rack. He made the pen himself and wanted to donate it. I’m glad I got to take a photo of it because someone had taken the pen not even five minutes after. To the awesome gentleman who left this pen and if you are reading this, please let me know your name for I missed it during the show.
On Sunday morning, Lisa and Mike Vanness came up to me and asked where the Pay-It-Forward table was. They had a crate full of empty ink bottles that they’d like to donate. I told them it’s not set up yet but we can definitely place them at the table for people to take. Et voila! Thank you!
In the photo below, the gentleman on my right is Mr. Ron L. and the lady behind him is his daughter. They helped sort out the donated pens and placed them in the starter kits with ink samples as well. Their efforts truly helped us out at the PIF table and made it possible to provide more kits to people on Saturday and Sunday. Thank you Ron! You are a gem for the pen posse, the pen world, and to myself.
I also would like to give special thanks to another person who helped out at the PIF table. None other than my mother, Edna or as she placed on her name badge, “Franz’s Mom”. She helped me out at the table on both Saturday, and Sunday. She was such a pro talking to the newbies at the show. Here she was on Sunday checking out at a nib with her loupe.
Thank you Mother! Big Kisses! =)
This Pay-It-Forward initiative by Oscar and company was such a great idea and I am glad to provide help as well. The PIF table was such a success at the show and we are planning on how to make it a much better experience for show attendees next year at the SF Pen Show.
With that, thank you for reading this far and I hope you are enjoying it! The report for the rest of Saturday, and Sunday pen show will be published on Friday, September 15, 2017 and will be found on SF Pen Show Report Part 2.
Katherine: As many of you know, I’ve been “upgrading” my collection at a pretty rapid clip over the last year. The SF Show quickly approaches and about a year ago, my most expensive pen was a Danitrio… but other than that, I’d never spent more than $120 on a pen. That’s changed quite a bit, so this month I thought I’d revisit the cheaper side of the hobby — I inked up a Lingmo blue demonstrator with some Hero Pink ink (the entire set of ten colors was $30!). It’s a slim pen, but I love the pairing of a bright ink on the clear feed of the Lingmo! A bright and sunny combo for the summer!
Pam: July is the peak of the summer months here in California. My inky homage to the cloudless (and hot) days and swimming pools during this time of year is Sailor Souten! I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Pilot MYU with a Fine nib. (Thank you Andrew!) The feed has a chip on it that creates a wetter ink flow. (It writes more of a Medium Fine to me.) With the extra flow of the pen, and the unique design, I had a hard time finding an ink and pen combination that I loved…until I tried Sailor Souten. Sailor Souten is reminiscent (if not identical) to Sailor Sky High. The bright color and sheen really comes through with the extra wetness with this Pilot MYU. The bright color of the ink is a great compliment to the minimalistic design and color of the MYU. It’s like the unexpected bright pocket square to a gray suit. Or maybe this is a pen-ink version of the mullet: The pen looks like it means business, but the ink is a party.
Franz: Aww man! July has been a busy month for me and I’m “grateful” that I have my pen friends and my pens to keep me going. #hotpGratefulInJuly! It took me a while to decide which pen and ink pairing I’d be highlighting for July for I have a “few” pens inked up. I’ve decided to feature my 2016 Limited Edition Stealth Glenmont from the Edison Pen Co. I acquired number 101 of 150 last October of 2016 and I was lucky because this pen was sold out less than 12 hours when it was announced by Brian Gray. Being that this is a black pen, the ink options are unlimited and I initially inked it up last year with a blue-black ink.
This month, I was reminded of what my friend Gerald (@mycoffeepot) once said. “Stealth pens crave pink ink”, April 2013. (And by the way, he does pen reviews on YouTube) So, I got myself a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji and satisfied my stealth pen’s craving. With the broad cursive italic nib customized by Dan “The Nibsmith” Smith, the juicy ink flow brings out Tsutsuji’s gorgeous color. And that sheen! =) I’ve been happily journaling with this pen and it’s almost time to refill the converter.
We would like to thank Mr. Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for letting us review this Montegrappa Game of Thrones Baratheon fountain pen. His family pen store is located in the beautiful town of Carmel, California, and is well known in the pen shows in the United States.
And as always, the opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: It’s a cool looking pen — though I was a littttle disappointed that there wasn’t more texture to the barrel, which makes it feel more mass produced and gimmicky to me. But really, I’m not sure what I expected, I think my standards may just be unreasonable here. Out of all the GoT pens, I like this one the most, which is a litttle disappointing, since the Baratheons aren’t a terribly interesting house to me.
Pam: Fan disclaimer: I am only on book 2 of the series so I have been holding out on watching the series in its entirety. Therefore, I have to say, this is a really good representation of the houses from the awesome fantasy series. My biggest gripe about the set of 4 is that I believe that they could have made a set of 5 to include the Tyrells because who doesn’t love an experienced, witty woman throwing some shade? (Think of an edgier Dowager Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey for those not familiar with the glorious shad-ability of Olenna Tyrell.)
House Baratheon is one of my least favorite, but I think of all the pens, the Baratheon pen is the best made and unique of the bunch. The clip is perfect representing the Baratheon stag. I find the other clips, Lannister’s Lion, Stark’s Wolf, and Targaryen’s Dragon, to be too triangular and similar in shape and less pleasing to the eye. The stag is the most unique and well done of all the clips in my opinion. There was so much potential for the dragon on the Targaryen’s pen for it to be more serpentine in shape or maybe even wings! The rest of the decor are similar among all the pens, with the exception of the colors to represent each house.
Thank you again Bittner Pens for allowing us to borrow this beauty!
Franz: So… let me just say it. I have not watched a single episode, segment, nor even a second of Game of Thrones. *cringe*. Nothing against the show but I just haven’t given it a chance yet. So my approach with this pen review is just all about the design, performance, and of course the Hand-le-ability of the Montegrappa GoT Baratheon. I think I will let the person who has the most knowledge of the pen’s theme handle the rest of what the pen represents. Right Pam? ;-P
Just by handling the pen, I loved its overall looks and the heavier weight is more what I prefer. The brushed cap finial, cap band, and section ties up the design of the pen as well. And that clip design. Wow. Love the clip!
The Business End
Katherine: I enjoyed this nib — it was smooth, wet (and least when dipped, but I’m pretty sure I wrote enough to get over the initial super wetness of a dip) and prettily matching. However, I wouldn’t buy this pen for the nib, it was solid, but not unique. No surprise there.
Pam: Montegrappa did not skimp on the nib and did a wonderful job making it fit in with the Game of Thrones theme. I am pretty sure that all the nibs are the same design, with a sword in the center, but a different color to match the clip colorjng. Montegrappa did a great job with that detail.
I found the nib to write wonderfully. I can’t particularly comment on flow or saturation since we dipped the pens. The nib was smooth with little feedback and was very pleasant to write with.
Franz: Oh yeah, the Baratheon’s steel nib also has brushed background for the engraved sword. Such a pretty thing to look at. As for its writing performance, it wrote smoothly and didn’t skip at all. It was a well tuned nib out of the box.
Write It Up
Katherine: Overall this pen was well balanced and comfortable for me… BUT, I did notice the threads. They weren’t terrible, but I did notice they were there and was a little annoyed. Nothing major, but worth mentioning because I typically don’t notice sharp threads because I hold my pens pretty far forward. Despite my grip, I still noticed the threads on this pen.
Pam: I didn’t end up writing with this pen for the 20 minute time span because it just plain hurt to do so. The step is pretty sharp on this pen and pretty unforgiving with my iron fist grip. I ended up with indentations of the step along the skin between my pointer finger and thumb. Yes, I understand that I could just loosen my grip and that would ease some misery, but the step is sharp enough that I wouldn’t recommend this pen for those with “fisty grips,” particularly if it’s around the step.
Franz: The length and girth of the Baratheon was comforable for me either when it was posted or unposted. The only issue I had was that the brushed steel section made my fingers slip closer to the nib as I wrote with it. So writing with the cap posted afforded me to grip the pen higher above the threads and my fingers did not slip anymore.
Katherine: I didn’t carry this — but it seems very solidly made. The clip is solid and I’d be comfortable clipping the pen to a shirt pocket — but not springy enough for me to clip it to jeans.
Pam: Since the pen was borrowed, it stayed in the case until we were ready to write with it. The clip seems solid and able to clip onto fabrics well. The weight of the pen is considerable for this pen and I can see where it might drag down a shirt pocket. I don’t know if the clip will prevent it from slipping out. Also, given the pristine finish of the pen, I wouldn’t recommend it being thrown in a jeans pocket with your keys either. This pen would be great in a pen case on the go. Like a sword, this pen deserves a proper sheath. 😛
Franz: Since it is a pen on loan, we did not fill it up with ink and we didn’t get to use the pen at a work setting. However, as Katherine said, the clip works very nicely and clips on to my shirt pocket. The Baratheon has a cartridge/converter filling system so a full fill will last me a good 2-3 days if I would use it at work. Now something I love about the pen for its EDC-ness? The acme threads allow the cap to be unscrewed with just one turn. Love that quick deploy!
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: Ehhhh. I’m not big on franchise merchandise, and this pen was no exception. BUT, if you’re a GoT fan and you enjoy themed stuff, this pen could be perfect for you. It’s a well made, solid writer and seems like it can withstand the rigors of daily life (and hopefully your life is less stressful than any of the characters…).
Pam: I genuinely enjoyed this pen, not only due to the theme and the details involved in making these four into reality. The set of pens is a great collectors item for both fountain pen and Game of Thrones enthusiasts alike. Notably, these pens would be more of a “collectors” item for me than practical due to the price. At around $300 per pen, it’s a bit of an investment for one pen, let alone all four. That being said, the details and construction of the pen are fantastic and deserve to be rewarded. If you are in the perfect cross section of GoT and fountain pen fandoms (and your favorite house is represented with these four options), this is a great pen for you! You will get a quality writing instrument and wave your house banner high at the same time!
Franz: I truly appreciate the design of the Montegrappa GoT Baratheon pen sans the Game of Thrones knowledge. The Baratheon actually inspired me to take more pen photos than usual so please enjoy them below. The pen is comfortable for my use in terms of its dimensions, and nib performance. I just wish that metal sections did not make my fingers slip.
With an MSRP of $350, this might be a justifiable buy when you are a great fan of the show. For me, the price is just a little too high even if I do love the design and build of the pen. A pen’s value (or any other item), is both all relative, and subjective.
Once again, big thanks to Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for lending us this Montegrappa GoT Baratheon pen!
The Taccia pen company was very generous in letting us review their Spectrum pen line. Multiple units were provided so we were able to try out their steel and gold nibs. We very much appreciate this opportunity! And special thanks goes to Ron L. for connecting us with Ms. Shu-Jen.
As always, the opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: I’m not a big fan of the aesthetics of this pen. I think the colors are pretty, but the semi-opaqueness (you can see the converter, but it’s not really clear enough to be a demonstrator) just isn’t my thing. I think it looks messy. But, that’s the super, super subjective part of this review. On we go!
Pam: The Spectrum is a very modern feeling pen with both the shape and material. The material with the odd balance of translucence and opacity gives the pen a “space age” feel for me. I do really enjoy the different colors. Each of them are rich and very pleasant. My favorite is the teal, it reminds me of one of my favorite inks, Yama-dori.
Franz: Taccia has been a pen brand that I’ve seen around especially at pen shows I’ve attended but I haven’t had the chance to try their pens out until now. The colors of the Spectrum are quite pleasing to the eye and its translucency is striking for me. The shape of the pen kind of resembles a Parker 51 or a vintage Conway Stewart. And I second Pam’s opinion of the green pen matching Sailor Yama-Dori ink
The Business End
Katherine: The Taccia nibs are apparently made by Sailor. Interestingly, they look like Sailor nibs, but seem to be tuned differently (and it’s not necessarily a bad thing). The steel nibs are wetter than the comparable Sailor nib widths (though we were comparing against gold Sailor nibs) and have less of the signature Sailor feedback. It feels like a nib smack in the middle of Sailor feedback and fineness, and a western nib that’s a little smoother and wetter. Nice, but not the same as a Sailor nib, which is what I initially expected after being told they’re made by the same person. The gold nibs (Thank you for sending us the range, Taccia!) were even more western feeling, smoother and broader than the equivalent Taccia steel nib and Sailor gold nibs. What a difference tuning makes!
Pam: The non-Sailor Sailor nibs did not perform how I expected. I was expecting it to perform like the Sailor nibs that I love and adore. Instead, I felt that the steel nibs from Taccia was a big improvement of the Sailor steel nibs. I find the Sailor steel nibs to be really dry. The Taccia gold nibs provide slightly more feedback for me and also provide a wider line width. I prefer the Taccia steel nibs and the Sailor gold nibs for my writing style/purposes. Comparisons of the nibs and how they perform on Rhodia paper in the picture below.
Franz: Taccia sent us 8 pens to try out and compare their steel and gold nibs. This ranged from fine to their music nib size. They sent us their “Spectrum” of nibs! And yes, these nibs are made by Sailor for Taccia. We really appreciate being able to write with the different nibs. Aesthetically, I like the engraving on the steel nib as it gives a nice border to the Taccia brand.
I had the same experience as the ladies above in that the steel nibs seem to be much smoother and less feedback-y and I liked that. As for their line widths, they seem to be the same to me but the 14k gold nibs do offer a little more bounce so the line width can be thicker. Also, the music nibs are so fun to play with and I got to write on a letter with it!
Write It Up
Katherine: I journaled quite a bit with this pen. Overall, I found it comfortable, but a tad bit heavy, perhaps because of the metal section. I did notice that after extended writing sessions, my hand got tired feeling — but took quite a bit to reach this point, so I don’t think it’s an issue.
Pam: I really enjoy writing with the pen. I prefer to write with it unposted due to length. It’s a bit front weighted and it can tire the hand. I found the width of the pen to be quite comfortable. Overall, it does well and I have no real complaints about the pen during a lengthy writing session.
Franz: Let me tell you right now, I did not journal with the Spectrum unposted as it is too small lengthwise and the section is quite thin. And the lip where the cap meets the pen dug into my finger. So posted it is! And posted, I found this pen quite comfy as I grip it on the barrel above the threads. The cap gave the pen balance for me and I did not feel any hand cramps after almost twenty minutes of writing.
Katherine: The Taccia feels very well made and sturdy. It carried for a couple days at work and it was a champ — the clip is solid, no spitting into the cap & it’s solid enough that I’m not worried about the occasional fall. (Dear Taccia people who lent me this pen — I promise I didn’t drop it!)
Pam: I kept the pen in my Nock Sinclair for several days and it did wonderfully! It gave me no trouble whatsoever.
Franz: As I used the Spectrum at work with its medium steel nib, I found it wrote nicely on copier paper. For quick notes, I can write with the pen unposted so it was a nice experience. And my co-workers loved the color of the Forest Green too!
My one nit is that it takes two and 3/4 turns before it uncaps. Kinda too long for my constant need to use at work. It’s a good pen to just stay on my desk during the day and write when I get to sit down.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: At about $150 for the steel nibs, the Spectrum feels expensive. That’s just a little cheaper than it’s gold nibbed Sailor cousins, or the Platinum 3776 at US MSRP (but 2x the 3776 at Japanese prices). The price is my biggest gripe about the pen. Other than that, I don’t love the aesthetic, but know many people who do, but the pen is a comfortable writer with interesting nibs. If you see one on sale and like the way they look, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up!
Pam: I really enjoyed playing with this pen. I don’t know if I love the pen for the price. For the $150 for the steel nib, I would consider getting a Sailor Pro Gear Slim and those come with a gold nib. That being said, I really like the performance of the Taccia steel nib and the aesthetics of the pen. If you are up for a modern aesthetic with a great steel nib and a splash of amazing color, this pen is for you.
Franz: The Spectrum is a fun, solidly built pen with stunning colors which for me brings value against the offered price. And then their steel nibs are fantastic writers out of the box.
The Taccia Spectrum is an awesome pen even if it is a bit small for my bear paw, I probably would get one for myself. I just need to decide between the Forest Green (which is a crowd favorite), or the Ocean Blue (because… blue!).
Thanks again to Taccia for lending (entrusting) us these pens and to our pen posse friend, Ron L. for being our liaison to Taccia.
Katherine: This month my pairing is a Platinum 3776 in the red “Bourgogne” color, with Sailor Okuyama. I picked up the 3776 (I previously rated it one of my top pens) because of the C nib. C stands for “coarse” and is Platinum’s BB nib. It’s quite broad, but, out of the box, not a gusher — which I like. Additionally it writes smoothly when upside down, so I can use it at work too! Overall I’m really enjoying the sheen of Okuyama, laid down by a nib that gets the sheen going, but isn’t gratuitous.
Franz: A co-worker of mine once said that Purple is the color of royalty, and madness. I totally agree! So for the month of June, my royal pen and ink pairing is the Franklin-Christoph Model 31 Omnis in Purpurae finish, and the Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst special edition ink. The deep purple and black swirls of the “Purpurae” madly matches the dark purple of the Amethyst ink. The acrylic has chatoyance that just can’t be captured on camera that well especially on the lighter swirls of the pen.
A quick aside, I got the Model 31 at the 2017 LA Pen Show and it was (at that time) the initial color prototype. Scott Franklin of Franklin-Christoph commented that this was the first purple 31 out there. I initially called the color “Purple Soul” but Franklin-Christoph recently introduced it as a regular part of their Model 31 line up as “Purpurae”. The Amethyst ink was Pelikan’s 2015 special edition Ink of the Year and has become my top favorite purple ink due to it being a darker color, and its sheen when ink pools in the writing.
Will this pen and ink pairing become an OTP (One True Pairing) for me? We shall see!
Pam: Summer is in full swing but I still miss the rainy season so this pen is a reflection of having the best of both worlds. My choice for the June pairing is Sailor Pro Gear Blue Lagoon with Akkerman Hofvijver Gris (#29) ink. This is probably one of my favorite OTP/pen and ink pairings since I started collecting pen.
The Sailor progear has a really unique and whimsical color pairing with the neon green and soft blue. The gentle blue with such a vibrant hue reminds me of the “Unicorn Barf” colorway with the blue and bright pink. I have been trying to get the term “Unicorn Snot” for this blue and green combination to stick…but alas. The Sailor nib is perfectly wet enough to show off the wonderful gray ink, as usual.
Akkerman #29 is my first ink from Akkerman and I couldn’t be happier with this ink. It’s practically my “gateway” gray, getting me more interested and more inclined to try out more gray inks. I had thought that gray inks would be only dilute and dull blacks. I am so glad to be have been mistaken! Originally obtained via ink sample from Vanness Pens, I quickly tried to obtain a full bottle of this wonderful gray. The gray reminds me alot of pencil graphite and I really enjoy the shading available in this ink. Not to mention, the bottle of Akkerman ink is always a treat in itself!
Katherine: My pairing for the month is, once again just based on usage — a Ban-ei Kamakura-bori vintage urushi pen + Diamine Eclipse. I bought this pen while I was in Japan last month, but it only arrived a couple weeks ago since Eurobox had to complete the restoration. I paired it with Diamine Eclipse because the pen holds a whopping 3ml of ink — and I really like Eclipse and haven’t used in a while. I predict I’ll be using it for weeks to come. I really like Eclipse since it’s a dark, dark purple ink that’s very work friendly, but has some hidden character. The pen, on the other hand is full of fantastic detail… but doesn’t really match the Eclipse. Oh well. 😛
Pam: The skies are clearing up and the hotter spring nights are great for seeing the stars. So my ink and pen pairing for May is the Sailor Pro Gear Slim in the Galaxy finish with Private Reserve Electric DC Blue.
The dark blue ink has an incredible red sheen that reminds me of the night sky and the depths of space. The sheen shows up even with the EF nib on the Pro Gear Slim, granted, the nib has a great balance of fine line and wetness. In my not so discerning opinion, the sheen rivals that of the famous Robert Oster inks like Fire and Ice.
Some people have reservations about Private Reserve or Noodlers inks potentially causing damage to a pen. I can only attest for the Electric DC Blue, but I have not had any issue with this ink in my beloved Galaxy.
Franz: My pairing for May is a personal (read as emotional) one and please be advised that this will have a different feel from my usual write-up. I inked up my Teal Parker 45 with Sheaffer Skrip Peacock Blue ink. I believe the pen matches this turquoise ink quite nicely. It’s also a great vintage ink for a nice vintage-y pen.
I chose to ink the Parker 45 as a homage to the Queen of ink, Susan Wirth. She recently passed away unexpectedly this month. I acquired this pen from Susie’s table at the 2016 LA Pen Show and it has an italic nib. If I’m not mistaken, the Parker 45 is one of her favorite pens as well. She’s also a great advocate of writing with Italic nibs.
Susie was the first person who taught me about writing with an italic nib. I can still hear her distinct voice in my head as she says, “An italic gives you traction in your writing. Without it, it’s like a car that goes all over the road.”. I met Susie at the 2012 SF Pen Show and I immediately learned a lot from her. At the time, I did not know that she went to every US pen show and that she had been attending shows since mid-1980’s. But as I continued to attend the LA and SF Pen Shows annually, I’ve learned how much of a big part of the community she is. At the 2016 LA pen show, I brought my mom along and when she met Susie, she got the Susan Wirth Experience. This resulted with my Mom buying her first flexible nib fountain pen. So just like me, my Mom learned a lot from Susie at her first pen show.
Susie is already missed in the pen community but I know that she will live on in our hearts and in our writing. Thank you for everything Susie!