Review: Wahl-Eversharp Decoband (Amalfi Blue, Superflex Nib)

We want to thank Mr. Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for lending us this Wahl-Eversharp fountain pen for review. Detlef’s pen store is located in Carmel, California and he also travels to a lot of pen shows.  When we return this pen, the HOTP crew may just decide to take a road trip and visit the pen store.

The opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily or otherwise) for this review. 

We have also asked Claire (@writteninrice) to be our guest once again and review this pen with us. Thanks Claire!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This is a pretty cool looking pen, and the huge nib looks very cool. I really liked details on this pen — the complex blue material, the red ebonite feed and the classy use of gold and black trim. But, even at first glance, this is a huge pen! It stands out and is hard to miss.

Claire: This is a pen with gravitas that hearkens back to pens of a bygone era.  The Wahl Eversharp Decoband is a large pen that’s an attention grabber. The nib on this pen is just lovely and I love the  red ebonite feed. In fact, I couldn’t help but post a nib shot of this pen on Instagram the second I got it in my hands.  I am not typically a fan of pens with gold hardware but for this pen, it works.

Pam: The Decoband is an acquired taste for me.  It is undeniable that the blue material is beautiful and deep, that the red ebonite feed is awesome, and that nib is gorgeous.  I am just not a fan of the shape and the overall aesthetic.  Despite my reservations about the pen, it’s a beautiful pen that is very reminiscent of the fountain pen’s golden days.

Franz: Is this pen big enough or what?  The Decoband is massively impressive and is probably the biggest pen that I’ve held in terms of length, girth, and weight. This is a revival of Wahl-Eversharp’s Gold Seal design in 1929. The proportion of the pen is very similar to the vintage one except for its larger scale. The Decoband fits quite perfectly in my bear paw…err… large hand and is quite comfortable for me to use.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic is such a stunning material and as Katherine pointed out, the black finials on the cap and the bottom of the barrel makes it a classic looking pen. The packaging is also impressive as the box big and shiny. They also supply the pen with Wahl-Eversharp’s ink bottle which is a nice touch.

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The nib is huge and it writes quite nicely. It’s very smooth without being glassy, and has a nice softness to it. However, I didn’t think it was comparable to many of the “full” flex vintage nibs I’ve tried. The Decoband nib is smooth and wet, but line variation is not its strong suit. Perhaps a finer point would produce more line variation, but out of the box, this is more of a wet and medium writer.

Claire:  As I mentioned earlier, the super flex nib on this pen is eye catching. I love the frosted detail noting the brand and specifics.  In hand, the nib is a little on the squishy side. After primarily writing with hard nibs this was a bit disconcerting. Though, it didn’t take too long to  get used to the experience and really start to enjoy the way this pen puts ink to paper. The super flex nib boasts arguably the best modern flex on the market. While it doesn’t have the snap back that I experienced with vintage flex nibs, it does provide an amazing amount of flex.

Pam:  My favorite part of the pen is the nib and the red ebonite feed.  It’s an absolute beauty.  The nib is one of the smoothest and softest nibs I have tried.  The line variation is not as great as a vintage flex, but arguably this nib is the best “modern flex” nib out there.  I did find the nib to be quite wet, so I don’t see this my ideal for daily writing (don’t forget my writing pressure), but it would definitely give those who want your autograph a special flourish!

Franz: The Decoband is available in two nib options. First is the semi-flex extra fine nib, and second is the Superflex nib which is what was loaned to us. I typically do not write with flexible nibs and the only “flex” pen I own is a vintage Parker Televisor. The Superflex nib’s variation was remarkable to me. It definitely has a wet flow that even without pressure, the line is a medium width and when pressure is applied, it lays down a nice wide line.  The Decoband’s feed is made of ebonite coated with red urushi lacquer and assists the generous ink flow of the nib.

In addition, I was able to try out the semi-flex extra fine nib from a friend at the 2017 LA Pen Show and I think that the semi-flex is more of an everyday writing nib for me. So you have two great nib choices for the Decoband.

Superflex nib

Ebonite feed with red urushi lacquer

Write It Up

Katherine: At first I thought this pen would be okay — but a couple minutes into writing with it I noticed my hand was more tired than normal, and starting to get a bit of cramping. Additionally, if I tried to use it posted… well, I wouldn’t. I’d probably poke myself in the eye. All in all, a pen I’d rather look at than use, which is unfortunate, but such are small hands.

Claire: This is a hefty pen that is more apt for larger hands than mine. I found that my hand started cramping up after just a few minutes of writing. Overall, the pen felt well balanced and of an appropriate heft for its size.  Unfortunately, this pen is just too wide for me to use comfortably for long writing sessions.

Pam:  This pen was meant for bear paws as I found the pen to only be comfortable for a couple of minutes before my hand would notably tire.  I don’t recommend using the pen posted for those with small hands as the pen is quite large and heavy.  The pen is heftier than most on the market, likely due to the material used. The width is not a problem for me, but the pen is quite top heavy, given the length of the pen, particularly posted.

Franz: As I’ve said above, the pen fits my hand nicely and I was happy to write with it in my journal. In case you didn’t know, the pen’s internal mechanism is made of solid brass parts and the weight of the pen uncapped is about 40 grams. Compared to the Pelikan M805 that I use every day is about 20 grams uncapped. It is a heavy pen that after journaling for about ten minutes, my hand felt very fatigued. While this pen impresses me a lot, I would only use it to write quick notes, a short letter, or a nice signature. I wrote with this pen unposted because it is too long for me when the cap is posted.

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Dot grid pad

EDC-ness 

Katherine: I sat down with this pen and wrote a few pages with it, but didn’t EDC it since it’s on loan from Bittner Pens (thank you again!) and didn’t want to risk any damage. However, based on the handful of pages I wrote with it, I wouldn’t consider it a candidate for EDC for a couple reasons: 1. it’s just too big, 2. nib is a little too wet, I’d have to wait for all my notes to dry before being able to close my notebook!

Claire: This is not a pen that springs to mind in association with the letters EDC. This would be a great pen for an office job that required occasional notes. I did not get a chance to carry this pen around to test it out for longer than playing with it for an evening at Katherine’s place.

Pam:  Thank you Bittner Pens for your generous loan of the Decoband.  That said, it lived in the original box unless we were testing it out.  I would recommend this as a great EDC for a fancy desk to hold and carry.  This pen is a bit large for the usual jacket or shirt pocket and given the weight, may not stay in the pocket for long if you were to bend over.  Not to mention, this pen is best suited (in my opinion) for your autograph; what better pen to do that with than this beauty?

Franz: Because this Decoband is on loan, we only dipped the nib in ink and did not fill it. I was not able to use this pen in my office but I imagine that it would be a pen I’d keep on my desk and write with it only when seated. The Decoband is too big to fit securely in my shirt pocket although it would be okay for a jacket pocket.

The pen has a pneumatic filling system which is why there are solid brass parts inside. To fill the pen, unscrew and pull out the black knob, extend the metal sleeve, submerge the nib in the ink bottle, cover the hole on the knob, push the knob/metal sleeve down to the barrel, and uncover the hole. This action compresses the sac inside and when you let go of the hole, the pressure will draw ink in the pen. According to Wahl-Eversharp, the Decoband holds an ink capacity of 2.1ml. Now that’s appropriate for the amount of ink that it lays down from its superflex nib.

The pneumatic filling system

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I’m pretty biased with this pen. It’s clearly not meant for people with smaller hands, which makes me a big meh on it. But, if I had a large handed friend I really liked and needed to get a pen for, this would be a contender. It’s a beautiful, classic looking pen with a nib full of character. However, at a price point of $800+, there’s no way I can justify a pen that’s so large my hand cramps for myself.

Claire:  I love the blue material on this pen.  Even though this pen is far too big for my hand it seems to be well balanced and well made pen.  This pen has a the aesthetic of a vintage pen but also is quite large, which to me is an interesting combination.  The superflex nib is the only modern pen that I’ve written with that is maybe a flexible as vintage flexible nibs straight out of the box. Overall, I think this is a lovely pen for a person with larger hands than myself.

Pam: The nib/feed of this pen is great for everyone. The pen itself however is much better suited for bear paw individuals (Hint, hint Franz!) and for those who really enjoy the vintage aesthetic.  It’s a steep price so it’s not great for most wallets.  However, I can say for this pen in particular, you pay for what you get.  It’s a large, statement-esque, hefty pen, that has all the trappings of the fountain pen’s glory days.  It’s obvious that Wahl Eversharp did not skimp on the Decoband.  That said, it’s not an “every day carry” pen, it’s a “special occasion” pen.  But for us fountain pen lovers, every day with a fountain pen is a special occasion!

Franz: I really like the Decoband because of its large dimensions and the awesome nib it is issued with. As a friend from the Pen Posse said, this is a “whale” of a pen for large handed people but as I say in most of our reviews, try it out for yourself when you can.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic version of the Decoband is a special edition color and will be limited in production. This is similar to the now sold out Lapis Blue. So if you want the Amalfi Blue, better contact Detlef of Bittner Pens, or Syd of Wahl-Eversharp right away. Hmmm….

Thank you Detlef for giving us the opportunity to review this awesome pen.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Posted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Unposted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Oversize Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Posted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Pen & Ink Pairing: May ’17

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!

Susie’s familiar shawl with a powerful message
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Inky Giveaway Winner!!

Hello Friends!

Wow! 136 entries for our Inky HOTP Giveaway. Thank you for your comments and Instagram entries and we were very happy to get to know your favorite pens and inks.

Without further ado, our giveaway winner is Sandra, who commented on the giveaway post!

Congratulations Sandra and hope you enjoy the ink samples and the Col-o-ring ink testing book! We will be sending you an email shortly to arrange shipping.

 

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Review: Sailor Professional Gear (Medium Fine nib)

Update 05/15/2017 : We are adding the information that the Turquoise Sailor Pro Gear pictured above was a 2016 limited edition pen release via the Japanese shop, Wancher. Pam purchased this online via the global marketplace, Rakuten. And the Kingfisher finish that Claire is holding below is another Japanese limited edition Sailor Pro Gear. These limited edition finishes are currently unavailable via US retailers. We apologize for not establishing this bit of information. Our main focus for our pen reviews is to show how different pen sizes feel on different hand sizes and we hope that we continue reflecting this point.

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I love the look of the Pro Gears — the clean lines and squared-off cap just look really classic, but aren’t boring. The one pictured above is Pam’s, and I think the translucent material is gorgeous, and the gold trim, while louder, really makes the green look more rich. I own a Pro Gear in the Keio Atman “Kingfisher” limited edition colors… That’s another upside, no matter what kinds of colors you liked, there’s a Pro Gear out there for you! (It might just not be cheap…)

Pam:  In a previous review, I made terrible analogies comparing my love for the Sailor Pro Gear’s smaller sister, the Progear Slim to the ardent love that Darcy had for Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice fame.  Just like last time, my love for a Sailor is of literary proportions.  I was originally attracted to the Progear Slims as they are only slightly smaller than the Progear, but at a significantly lower price.  That being said, you don’t always get to choose what limited edition you love and must have so my collection expanded to the Progears as well.  Let’s just say I felt remiss for missing out on such a wonderful pen for so long.  The relationship status I I have with my wallet on the other hand is “complicated.”

Claire: Hang with me here, I can wax poetic about the Sailor Pro Gear all day long. This is by far my favorite pen available on the market.  I currently own three Pro Gears and one Realo. I love the way this pen looks, the flat finials pull the pen together in the best possible way. The size and weight is perfect for my hand. If I had to choose one pen to write with for the rest of my life, a Pro Gear would be that pen. I love how many colors are available, especially if you’re willing to do the leg work on Japanese exclusives.

Franz: A turquoise-y disposition! (Yep… that will now be a term and a hashtag, thank you very much!) For the past six months I have come to appreciate Sailor pens more and that’s due to both Katherine and Pam. Largely, Pam is to blame though for she has set out to collect some special/limited edition Pro Gear Slim and Classic pens available. And what’s not to like? It’s a pen that Sailor designed almost 15 years ago so the aesthetic works.

The Professional Gear has been on my “list” of pens to own for the longest time. Just like the three ladies above, the flat ends definitely appeal to my taste. The gold trim blends well with the color of the pen and gives it a warm feel.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (Kingfisher version) — Claire

The Business End

Katherine: The MF is fun to write with — fine enough for daily use but just wide enough to see the character of one’s ink. My Pro Gear (which I’ve written with more) has a H-F nib, which is extremely fine, but also wet. It’s a magical combination of wet and fine, which leaves me with saturated but very fine lines. Additionally, despite being labeled a “hard” fine, it has some bounce to it. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can get line variation out of mine. And, at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I also love the feedback on this nib. It’s a nice pencil-y feeling that isn’t too smooth, it’s got character!

Pam: I have had some variability in my experience with the Sailor 21k MF nibs.  I have seen some that are more on the fine and harder end of the spectrum while some are broader and slightly wetter.  Given that the MF nib is broader than the F or EF, the nib is wonderfully smooth and really shows off the ink qualities like shading or sheen really well.  Surprisingly, I didn’t consider grinding the MF down, probably because I paired this turquoise demonstrator Progear with Robert Oster’s Fire and Ice; be still my heart, the sheen!

Claire: The 21k hard fine Sailor nib is my favorite. I love how hard the nib is; though it isn’t too hard. It’s hard to quantify what makes this a Goldilocks nib in my opinion. I love the pencil like feedback that these 21k nibs give so consistently. All three of my fine nibs have given me the same lovely out of the box performance.  The only qualm I have with this pen is the converter isn’t the best. Sailor converters don’t hold very much ink and are notorious for having issues. Typically when I get a new Sailor converter I open it up and put silicone grease on the threads and piston.  That so far has saved me from running into any of the issues I’ve heard others to have.

Franz: In my experience, Sailor nibs are well tuned out of the box. And this H-MF is no exception at all. I enjoyed writing with this nib for hours. (I have held it hostage from Pam for a while now) And like Katherine, I found the feedback to be pleasant like writing with a pencil.

Sailor Pro Gear 21-karat H-MF (Hard, Medium-Fine) nib

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen surprised me with how small it is for the not “slim” version. And it’s a wonderful size for my small hands. Both this and the Pro Gear Slim are comfortable for me to use for extended periods of time, but I do prefer this to its smaller sibling (Which is unfortunate for my wallet. And there are slightly fewer limited/store editions available in the Pro Gear). This pen isn’t too narrow, it’s well balanced and the nibs are a delight to write with — I regularly toy with the idea of collecting on in each nib size, but haven’t quite convinced myself not to stick to my pen limit.

Pam:  As all pen addicts know, the smallest differences can make all the differences turning a good pen to a great pen.  Fortunately, going between the Progear Slim and the Progear isn’t such a large difference that it’s an issue.  In my hand, the Progear is a bit longer, equally well balanced and slightly girthier than the Slim.  The extra girth is great for longer writing sessions in my opinion.  Even in more petite hands, the Progear is comfortable and well balanced, capped or uncapped.  Honestly, if the Slim is comfortable for you, the Progear would be equally comfortable.  If the Slim is slightly uncomfortable for you, the Progear will be just right.  All I can say is, beware of picking up a Progear, you won’t want to put it down.

Claire: I can write with a Pro Gear all day long without running into any hand fatigue. Many times when I’m taking notes for school I’m switching between Pro Gears so I can have a variation in ink color. The way the section tapers fits my hand perfectly. The section on the Pro Gear is really what makes the pen.  The more I write, the more I want to find more to write.  I really can’t write enough about how much I enjoy writing with this pen.

Franz: The Pro Gear is slightly bigger in girth and length compared to the Pro Gear Slim. Because it is larger, it’s more comfortable to journal with. And I wrote blissfully for a good ten minutes. I even got to finish a letter for a friend with it. But once I unposted the cap, it became a bit tiresome even after only five minutes of writing. So definitely for my large paws, I gotta have it posted for longer writing sessions.

EDC-ness

Katherine: This is a great EDC pen — not terribly expensive, not too small, not too big, fantastic nib, durable plastic body, what’s not to like? The clip is solid too! Plus, because the converter is mediocre… even if everything goes wrong, you’ll never get lots of ink on your clothes! (Honestly, because the F I have is so fine, I get plenty of writing out of one converter, so capacity isn’t an issue for me EDC-ing this pen, as long as I remember to check my ink level regularly)

Pam:  I have at least one Progear or Progear Slim in my rotation at all times.  The nibs can’t be beat and the finer nibs (EF in 14k or F in 21k) performs admirably on cheap office paper for work.  The clips are secure without being overly tight and the pens do tolerate being in white coat pocket easily and well.  Additionally, depending on what colorway you choose, the pen can be subtle, professional and classic looking or bold, loud and modern.  For those in the office setting, this pen can be like a tie, the pop of color or a small, subtle way to show off some personality.

Claire: If I had a job where a fountain pen would be useful in day to day work, this would be the pen I would bring with me every single day. The Pro Gear is often the first pen I reach for when taking notes for class. When I graduate and move to a desk job, you can bet this will be one of the pens I carry with me on a day to day basis.  At home, this is almost always the first and only pen I reach for for my evening journaling.

Franz: I once again echo the three ladies above and agree that the Pro Gear is a nice pen to use on a daily basis for my workplace. The pen was clipped securely onto my dress shirt and was always ready to write. You do need to rotate the cap twice to deploy the pen but I just accepted this since it gives me happiness to use the pen. With signing my name multiple times at work, I didn’t feel the need to post the cap and the medium-fine nib was perfect for the copy paper used in the office.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I really like this pen. It comes in so many colors and I’ve been very tempted to collect quite a few. But, alas, my pen limit has prevented me from doing that and instead I only own one Pro Gear, but it’s a solid pen and I love writing with it. It’s a very comfortable pen and a very solid one. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of purchasing — and it’s fun (and frustrating…) to hunt down crazy colors and limited editions to find the perfect one (or ten).

Pam:  My love for Sailor Progear or Progear Slim has been effusive to say the least.  However, once you pick up one of these pens, you will understand.  The pen is well made, the nib is beautifully crafted, the shape is elegant and the color ways can be unique.  (Speaking of nibs, Sailor makes some amazing specialty nibs like the zoom nib.) Like the Lamy 2000, everyone should at least try this pen, and I would surmise that it’s pretty inevitable that you will own one.  Additionally, if it’s a limited edition Progear, I am sure one of us would be happy to “insure” the purchase…

Claire: The size of this pen is perfect, it’s just long enough to fit perfectly in my hand. The balance is exactly what I look for in a pen. The tapered section allows the pen to be comfortable to write with without adding additional weight to the pen. I only have one gripe with this pen: the converter. While I haven’t run into any of the glaring issues I’ve heard of with this converter, I really wish it could hold more ink.

Franz: Sailor has done right with the Professional Gear design. Proportions are great and the build quality is awesome. And just in case you still aren’t sure what my thoughts are, this pen is awesome. It is perfect for me posted, and “okay” unposted. I seem to have always hesitated to buy this pen due to its size in my hand. But after spending some time with Pam’s Pro Gear, I may just get one myself when I find a finish that attracts me.

In closing, every serious pen user should pick up and write with a Sailor Professional Gear. You never know, this pen may just appeal to you and change your mind as it did mine.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and 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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An Inky Giveaway!

Hello friends!

Many of you followed Katherine on her adventures through Japan, including many store exclusive inks. In the meantime, The Well Appointed Desk‘s Col-O-Ring ink testing book debuted! So we’re giving away a great bundle to try out and test some less common Sailor inks — 21 (We have BB Emerald in the picture twice, sorry) 4ml samples of uncommon Sailor inks + 1 Col-O-Ring ink testing book!

To Enter:

  1. Follow us on instagram, @handoverthatpen & regram our giveaway image or post a picture of your favorite fountain pen and ink with the hashtag #inkyHOTPgaw (Please make sure your account is public so we can find it! And no giveaway accounts.)
  2. Comment on this blog entry with your favorite fountain pen and ink (not necessarily a pairing)

The giveaway is open from now, 05/07/2017 until 05/15/2017 11:59pm Pacific time. One entry per person please.

The giveaway is open internationally, but we aren’t responsible for any taxes, customs fees or duties that may be applied, and will be shipping without tracking due to cost.

 

43 Comments

Pen & Ink Pairing: April ’17

Katherine: It’s still March as I write this — I’m picking a little early since I’ll be out of town for a lot of April. But, even though it’s March, I have no doubt I’ll keep this pen inked through April. 🙂 My pairing for the month is my new Newton Pens Prospector and Montblanc Tolstoy. I chose BSea’s Galaxy Trek resin, which reminds me of the deep ocean. It’s a dark, almost black, blue in many areas with swirls of lighter blue and even white and an occasional brown. I had to pair it with a blue ink, and I chose Tolstoy. There could be lots of reasons for this pairing… blue and blue, reminders of my childhood (swimming off islands in the Philippines and wondering what lurked in the dark waters… and my numerous failed attempts at reading War and peace as a 13 year old), but really it’s just because that’s the blue ink I had on hand when I ripped open the Prospector’s box a few days ago. I only had the presence of mind to record an unboxing video because my boyfriend, Shamiq, suggested it. Then I grabbed the bottle of ink on my desk, filled the pen and proceeded to oooh and aaah over the pen and the shiro nib. And, because I can see into the future, I’m sure I’ll still be ooohing and aaahing over this pen in a couple weeks.

 

Pam:  Spring is in the air!  The air is still crisp and a breeze is still about.  We still get the occasional rain this season, which just makes me want to curl up with a *mug* of coffee and a good book.  In lieu of that possibility, I chose Pelikan M200 Cafè Créme to be paired with Robert Oster Caffè Crema!  This particular pen has a wonderful architect nib done by Dan Smith of the Nib Smith fame. It shows off the subtle shades of this pen quite well and keeping a crisp line.

I considered this combination for more of an autumn month, but my love for coffee, Robert Oster inks and Pelikan flocks is year round.

 

Franz: April’s pairing for me is the Pelikan M800 Grand Place Special Edition release, and the newly released Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz which is their Ink of the Year for 2017.

Now I’ve got quite a few.. ahem.. a lot of inked up pens especially after March’s 6 Pen Challenge so this month’s pairing is a true winner at the moment. The ink is definitely a very nice brown which matches the creamy swirls of the pen. The nib of the M800 is a juicy fine cursive italic nib ground by Dan Smith (The NibSmith), and that generous flow creates spots in my writing wherein the ink pools to an almost black. So far, I’ve got only bought the ne bottle of this ink to test it out but I think a second bottle will be in my inventory sooner than later.

While writing with the M800 Grand Place, I catch myself sometimes just pausing admiring the chatoyant swirls of the pen. It’s almost hypnotic.

 

Writing Samples (click to enlarge)

 

Thanks for your time, and keep enjoying your pens. And please tell us what new ink pairings you’ve discovered recently.

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Review: Montblanc Diplomat 149 (Medium Cursive Italic)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The 149, like its little brother the 146, is a very classic style. As I mentioned in our review of the 146, I find the design inoffensive but a little boring.

Pamela: I am not a huge fan of cigar shaped pens.  Despite my appreciation of the 146 proportion and finish, I found the 149 to be “too much.”  It’s a BIG pen! It’s has a great classic, vintage feel, just not my cup of tea.

Franz: Oversize pen alert! Here’s a big one. The Montblanc Diplomat 149 is a simple black pen and is quite pleasant to hold. The resin is smooth, and scratch resistant. Its iconic torpedo shape speaks to me. I’ve been aware of this pen ever since I started using fountain pens but I’ve only seen and held one in person two years into the hobby. I had to have it!

Carrying over from our review of the Montblanc 146, the Montblanc Diplomat 149 is part of the Meisterstück line (Masterpiece) and was first introduced in 1952. It is a piston-filled pen which contains a large ink capacity. The number of the pen meant that: 1 – Meisterstück Line, 4 – Piston-filler system, and 9 – nib size.

In the Hand: Montblanc 149 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Montblanc 149 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The nib on Franz’s specimen, like the other Montblanc nibs I’ve tried, is fantastic. It gets the job done smoothly and flawlessly. The pen is smooth without being glassy, with just enough character not to be boring. I suppose having a grind by Masuyama-san doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

Pamela:  Montblanc and Masuyama?  Yes please!  The nib is a joy to write with and as always, smooth.

Franz: The medium 14K nib of this 149 was a very smooth and juicy when I bought it in January 2015. This was the third Montblanc nib I have written with and so far Montblanc is 3 for 3 in terms of nib quality. I loved the nib’s springiness which gives the writing some character. At the 2015 LA Pen Show, I had Mr. Masuyama turn this nib into a cursive italic and it has been one of my favorite nibs ever since.

Franz’s writing sample on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

Write It Up

Katherine: While the nib on this pen poses no problems… the size of the pen does. This pen is quite the monster for me. It’s a little too long and a little too girthy to be comfortable. Small hands, huge pen… just ain’t a fit. 146, please!

Pamela:  The pen is really unbalanced for me due to my grip and the length of the pen.  I felt that my hand fatigued more easily using the larger 149.  This pen gave me hand muscle quite the work out.

Franz: During my journaling, the 149 was comfortable for me for the first ten minutes. As I wrote longer with it, my hand felt a bit fatigued. The grip section is about 13 millimeters and it’s one of my wider pens. Lengthwise, I prefer to write with the cap posted but it’s not as secure as I want it to. There was a moment when the cap came loose.

EDC-ness

(Daily use at work/home, at least a day or two)

Katherine: Honestly, I didn’t even try. I borrowed Franz’s pen for a week, but found that it never left my desk. It’s just barely comfortable for me to use, but certainly isn’t a size that I’m comfortable putting in my pocket. Not to mention, it doesn’t fit any of my pen cases. Womp.

Pamela:  The pen is not a shy one.  It’s also far too large for me to carry around without being stopped for brandishing a weapon.  This pen stayed in my backpack as I transported it around, however, it was bit too heavy and large to be an EDC for me.

Franz: I’ve used the 149 in rotation at work for quite a while now, and it’s great for quick notes and perfect for signatures. I appreciate the quick uncapping with just one rotation of the cap, as well as the medium cursive italic nib that writes well on the office copy paper.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: This feels like a pretty short review for me. Take everything I loved about the 146… and resize it to be too big for my hands. Sadness. The 146 is a perfect size and weight for me, versus the 149 feels like I’m out to club someone. Maybe some baby seal stationary. (That’s gotta exist, right?)

Pamela:  I agree with Katherine that my review of the 149 is shorter than usual.  The 149 is a great pen for those who love GREAT (big) pens, enjoys the quality of Montblanc nibs and has the “paws” proportional enough to use larger pens comfortably.

Franz: Talk about iconic! Yep, the Montblanc 149 is one of the most recognizable fountain pens. As evidenced from both ladies above, this pen isn’t for everyone. But one should at least write with it for a period of time and decide for themselves. The 149 fits right at home in my bear paw. Even though it can get tiring for my journaling/letter writing, I love it for quick notes during meetings, and perfect for signatures.

There are quite a few oversize pens comparable to the Montblanc 149. Photos were taken below for comparison. I honestly prefer the size of a Pelikan M805 as it’s almost the same length uncapped, but a little bit thinner and allows me to grip the pen better.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200

Oversize Pen Comparisons

Oversize closed pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823
Oversize posted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823
Oversize unposted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Osaka Pen Store Recap

Hello Osaka! This follows my (Katherine’s) posts on pen shopping in Tokyo and Kyoto.

My very first stop was at Daimaru, but I apparently forgot to take pictures, and their pen selection was pretty underwhelming. Instead I bought a bunch of Jinbei-san stationary. And a plush. I do need things to write on!

Next up, Hankyu! This store is in Hanshin-Umeda station (right next to the JR Osaka Station), which makes it easy to access (Hanshin is also in the area, and Nagasawa is within walking distance). I think there’s also a Tokyu Hands nearby.

Hankyu stocks a large variety of pens — including some Nakaya and high end Sailor stuff. They still had a Sailor 105th year Zuisei in stock!

And a selection of Nakaya…

And their own store exclusive inks! Swabs and swatches will be coming soon. I got all three. I have great self control. Hah. 

Next up, Yodabashi in Umeda is actually one of those giant multi-level camera/electronics stores, so I was expecting a small display. But surprisingly they have a pretty extensive Platinum display. (As context, we kept going to electronics stores to look for Nintendo Switches)

And a selection of converters and inks.

Walking distance from Umeda Station is Nagasawa, which is inside a Maruzen. Nagasawa is by far my favorite store of this trip. And also the only store with interesting Nakaya in stock — they had several with rollstops and non-yellow gold nibs. Amazing! (And bad for my wallet. That toki-tamenuri decapod with the rose gold goldfish stop? It’s mine now.)

They also carry several limited edition pens — here is the Platinum Censke, in pink and yellow gold: (I was very tempted to get a yellow gold one to put a Nakaya Maki-e converter into!)

And the store exclusive Sailors in pretty pastel hues:

And, of course, their inks! 

In addition to their own line of Sailor inks, they also had a great selection of other brands’ inks. 

It’s actually a little kiosk thingy inside Maruzen. And they can handle tax free for you as you pay — so no need to shuffle around to another counter. 

Next was Morita, which was a ten minute walk from the closest subway stop from Hanshin-Umeda:

Mr. Morita was super friendly, but was also the pushiest person I met in Japan. He kept offering to show me different things. More funny than annoying though. He also has a line of exclusive Sailors — third row from the top, right and center of the divider — robin’s egg blue! And two exclusive colors of ink, Red Wine and Shade Green — swatches to come!

Also at Hanshin-Umeda station was Hanshin department store. They had a small selection, but I wouldn’t go out of my way and instead spend more time in Hankyu or at Nagasawa.

The Namba Takashimaya has a Maruzen inside it — in the basement and slightly across the subway station. Like the other Maruzens, a decent pen selection and they carry their Athena inks in black, blue, blue black and sepia.

And they had this Duofold on display. I think it looks a little derpy. But wow that’s a lot of money. 

I also made it out to Kobe, to eat beef. And we finally found a Nintendo Switch at the Toys R Us in Kobe Harborland. There is a Nagasawa there too, but it’s primarily a stationary store, not a fountain pen store. And they had a no picture policy. So, no pictures.

Instead, here are pictures from the Kobe Nagasawa Pen Style Den. It’s on the third floor of a small ish building (and one train stop away from Harborland), once again a kiosk inside a larger store. But, unlike the other Nagasawas, this one carries vintage! (At crazy prices) And two store-exclusive designs of Nakaya Maki-e converters.

And has samples of the different Nakaya finishes to touch and see: 

And a good selection of ready to go Nakaya, including one in the now discontinued Shiro-tamenuri. (But not as many pens will roll stops as the Umeda Nagasawa)

And a case of this year’s Oeste Prera. (Which the other Nagasawa had too, I just forgot to take a picture). 

We also stumbled upon this Stationary Store (that’s what Maps calls it, I can’t figure out what it’s called otherwise) that is ENTIRELY CAT THEMED. They do carry a small selection of fountain pens, but also cats everywhere!

And a small selection of pens, both fountain and not:

But omg so much cute cat stuff: 

Because I don’t know the name, here’s the address: (It’s also next to the “NMB 48 official shop”, which might be easier to map to)
3-10 Nanbasennichimae
Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0075

I had been warned that there wasn’t much fountain pen shopping to be done in Osaka — so I was pleasantly surprised. The Nagasawa stores had the largest and most varied selection of Nakayas, as well as their own interesting exclusives.

And Osaka was full of delicious okonomiyaki. But I forgot to upload pictures.

 

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Kyoto Pen Store Recap

My visit to Kyoto was fairly brief, and I’d done a lot of shopping in Tokyo, so I didn’t go out of my way to hunt down any pens. (I promise Osaka will be more exciting!)

My first stop was Isetan — it’s the giant department store attached to Kyoto Station. Fountain pens are waaaaay up (floor 10, I think) They have a small pen and stationary section, but nothing particularly interesting. There didn’t seem to be any limited edition anything… But if you’re in the area and want to pick up something at Japanese prices, not bad! Also, if you take the escalator all the way up, you’ll stop through several floors of random quirky stuff, like rocks with faces painted on for $15.

And a tray of “American Taste” pens on a side shelf. Hah.

The other store I made it to in Kyoto was Tokyu Hands. If you’re unfamiliar with Tokyu Hands, it’s not a Kyoto-specific store — they have branches all over Japan, and some in Singapore too! They sell a variety of things from cooking utensils to handbags to… fountain pens! The Kyoto branch is very close to Nishiki Warai, a well known shopping/eating street.

Tokyo Hands stocks a pretty generic selection of inks and pens — including ones at several price points, capping out at about $200. No Nakaya or Namikis here. But they also carry a solid selection of inks, no exclusives, but much more than a couple department stores that have seemed to only stock Pilot blue and black.

In addition to many of the usual subjects, Tokyo Hands also stocks Kyoto Celluloid — I didn’t see this at other branches, but I’ve been told that the Singapore branch also stocks these.

And, because I actually came to Kyoto to see temples, here’s a picture of one of the temples within Enryaku-ji, on Mt. Hiei. Kyoto was amazing, and I think there were a couple more ink places I could have stopped by, but priorities!

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Tokyo Pen Store Recap


Pelikan M805 demonstrator, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

As some of you may know, I, Katherine, am currently in Japan! I spent the last few days in Tokyo, and am now writing this from my Airbnb in Kyoto. I’m here primarily to see the sakura — so look! They’re so pretty! We lucked out and hit Tokyo right as the blossoms hit full bloom, but before it rained.


Chidori-ga-fuchi boat ride

But I know you’re here for my notes on fountain pen shopping in Tokyo, so I won’t bore you with any more pictures of sakura. 🙂 As a disclaimer, there are much more complete lists of fountain pen stores in Tokyo. This is by no means an exhaustive list — for that I like this one. This is my first time in Tokyo, so while I certainly hit up some fountain pen stores, I didn’t spent a lot of time pen hunting.

Ameyoko – Bruno (the link above) mentions that there are a couple stores here. I couldn’t find them. Instead I got distracted eating takoyaki, eyeing trays of sashimi and trying to figure out what the other edible offerings were. Fun place, but not terribly easy to navigate.

Maruzen Oazo
This was my first stop. I was trying to get to Maruzen Nihombashi, walked out of Tokyo station, crossed a street… and looked up to see a MARUZEN sign. The pens are on the top floor (I think? I was pretty tired) and while there’s only one long counter — there’s a lot of good stuff here!


They had all the brands I would expect and a handful I didn’t recognize.


And a small selection of beautiful Nakaya. That green + silver chinkin really caught my eye.


And an ink shelf to the right of the pen counter. The green boxes in the bottom left are their exclusive brand — Maruzen Athena. They had black, blue, blue black and sepia in stock. Each bottle is ¥2000 plus tax (8%).

Maruzen Nihombashi
This branch had a slightly larger (I think) selection of pens spread across several counters in the basement. Additionally, the Nihombashi branch has some exclusive inks (and they come in the old style Sailor bottles!) — also ¥2000.

Eurobox
Eurobox is a small and somewhat hard to find purveyor of used pens in Ginza. It took me a couple attempts at peering into different buildings to realize that it’s NOT on the ground floor. There is no street facing Eurobox sign. Walk into the door way in this picture (the right one, not the random antiques store next door):

Then go up four flights of stairs… and ta-da!

The owner, Eizo, wasn’t in when I visited, instead it was his son. I’ve emailed Eizo before and he’s always been helpful and speaks pretty good English. His son was also very helpful and nice. He insisted on ducking out of the picture above.

They carry a fantastic selection of vintage pens, primarily American and German. Their prices seem to be fair, but aren’t a bargain. They know what their pens are worth. 🙂 A couple pens caught my eye, but the one I want most still needs restoration, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with Eizo. Fingers crossed everything works out!

Mitsukoshi Ginza
The selection here is tiny — I’d suggest going to the Nihombashi branch instead. I didn’t make it because I ran out of time. The Ginza branch carries a handful of brands, but nothing super interesting or unique compared to other stores. And no ink that I could find.

Itoya Ginza
Itoya really deserves a post of it’s own. It’s a massive stationary/art/neat stuff store that spans two buildings. Fountain pens are in the main building, on the third floor. The annex still has a section where you can build a custom notebook. Neat!

They carry a wide selection of the typical brands you’d expect, but also a handful of less common brands like Manu Propria, Danitrio and Nakaya.

Sorry for the glare-y photos, the store is very well lit and my phone doesn’t know how to deal with that.

And, they stock Kobe inks! Only one bottle per person per color though. No hoarding. ¥2000 each.

Additionally, if you’re in Japan on a visitor visa and have your passport, you can go to the 6th floor and your 8% tax will be refunded to you. Just don’t be a late evening shopper like me — then you feel bad keeping people at work after store close. (More on that at the bottom of this post)

Kingdom Note
Kingdom Note is primarily famous for their incredible selection of custom inks. But they have quite the selection of pens too. As I was there, they were helping two people pick pens — each pen was lovingly handled and tested.

Here’s the crazy wall of inks behind the counter — the far bottom corner is the home of their custom inks. You can see the little black boxes with white labels. Each is ¥2000 plus 8% tax.

They also still had their current  line of vegetable sailor pens on display (though I didn’t check availability) and a handful of other exclusive designs.

Yodobashi Camera (Shinjuku, I think?)
Not worth a trip. But if you’re already hitting up electronics stores while looking for a Nintendo Switch — you should certainly pick up a couple bottles of Iroshizuku at a great price! (¥1620 + 8% tax)

Takashimaya Nihombashi
I know I said no more sakura pictures… but Takashimaya borders a beautiful street, aptly named Sakura-dori. Crazy. Why stand in a crowded park when you can eat delicious karaage (8 blocks down from Takashimaya), take a lovely stroll, then go buy some pens?!

Takashimaya has its own line of store-exclusive inks. I have no idea what availability is like, but they had all of them in stock when I went. My self control is terrible and I got three bottles. Each is ¥2000 + tax. Writing samples to come. Eventually. If you want a tax refund (more on that later), Takashimaya requires you to buy at least ¥5000 of “consumables” — and seals them so you can’t open them in Japan.

The pen selection is nothing special — but is decent and the staff were very, very nice. They also had a case of Namiki maki-e pens. No Nakayas though.

They did have this neat Pilot nib-tester thing! The only other place I saw this was Maruzen Nihombashi. Maybe the others had it and I just didn’t notice.

 

All in all, this is what I bought myself:

  • Maruzen Athena Hatobanezu ink (Nihombashi only)
  • Kingdom Note blue shelfy mushroom
  • Kobe #51 (Itoya)
  • Maruzen Athena Blue Black (Nihombashi and Oazo both had it)
  • Three bottles of Takashimaya ink
  • Pilot Sunset Blue Capless
  • 2 Nakaya Maki-e converters

A note on sales tax:

I mentioned this above, but I wanted to elaborate a little more, since I didn’t know much about the tax refund process when I started shopping. All the stores add on 8% in sales tax. I’m not sure if that’s Japan wide or just Tokyo. As a visitor (foreign passport and a visa that lets you stay less than six months) you can get this tax refunded if your purchase is over ¥5000. Some stores can process it for you in house (Takashimaya, Itoya, probably any of the big department stores) and some can’t, you have to go to a separate tax counter (Maruzen, Kingdom Note) somewhere in the city. But you have to get your refund on the day of your purchase. So plan ahead! Also, you should google the tax refund process yourself — I could be wrong. 🙂

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