2017 Pen Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Review: Classic Pens LB5 (Tairiku in Amethyst Mauve, Broad Nib)

HOTP Editorial: Please note that the Classic Pens LB5 were limited edition releases from 2012 and since then has been unavailable for sale from their authorized retailers. The LB5 pen can occasionally be found for sale in the secondary market, or at a pen show. Granted that because this is a limited edition pen, this may only happen a few times and far in between.

This review, and our pen blog is primarily focused on providing a point-of-view (or is it a grip-of-view?) from different hand sizes as well as compare the LB5’s size against other more common pens. Thank you for reading our thoughts and reviews!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This is a very sizable pen made out of a very unique and interesting material. The something or another fancy acrylic has a lot of depth, in a way that is totally unique from celluloid or other acrylics. I really like how this pen looks — I just wish it were smaller.

Pam: Holy nightstick Batman! That’s how big this pen is (at least to me). It’s one of the most notable features of the pen. The second thing that I noticed of this massive beauty is the material.  The material has a lot of surface area to show off it’s depth and iridescence.  Pictures can’t do this pen justice. One of my favorite materials of the LB 5 is the purple.   The overall aesthetic of the pen is very much a classic shape with the traditional gold trim.  However, maybe it’s the size or the material, but I wouldn’t consider the aesthetic of the pen to be “vintage” looking.

Franz: CHATOYANCE! Pardon my French. An over-sized pen with a beautiful acrylic material? Please tell me more!

The Classic Pens LB5 is an impressive pen to behold. Their unique material lures you in and the Sailor King of Pen nib performance keeps you coming back for more. As the blog photographer for HOTP, I tried my very best to show the beauty of the LB5’s material but nothing beats seeing it in person.

In the Hand: Classic Pens LB5 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Classic Pens LB5 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

Background Info: Classic Pens was established in 1987 and has been known for collaborating with other pen brands, and artists to introduce stunning limited edition art pens. The pen in review is part of the LB Collection wherein LB is an acronym for Lambrou and Brown. Andreas Lambrou and Keith Brown are the two founders of Classic Pens. The LB5 series was introduced in 2012 and 2013 to commemorate the company’s 25th year anniversary and was aptly named, Classic Pens LB5 25th Anniversary Shizen (Nature) Pens.

The unique acrylic was made by two companies. First, Sintetica from Italy cast the sheets of pearlized acrylic and then Carville from the United Kingdom used an exclusive diffusion bonding technique to bond multiple sheets together and made the material more stable. The acrylic was then sent to Sailor Pen Japan to each be turned into a King Profit (King of Pen) pen. A difference to be noted is that the LB5 was made 5mm longer than the King Profit pen. And the pen was fitted with a 21-karat King Profit nib. The nib sizes offered were either a medium, or broad. There were a few Nagahara Cross Point nibs available at a premium price.

The LB5 was manufactured in six different colors: Tensui (raindrops) in Space Blue, Kaen (violent flames) in Flame Red, Midorigi (new green trees) in Forest Green, Tairiku (continent) in Marble White, Kouseki (metal ore) in Diamond Brown, and Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve which is the pen we are reviewing. This limited edition was issued only with 50 pens in each color. with a listed price of $1,600 in 2013. Important to note that in recent years, Classic Pens changed their name into Lambrou Pens.

close up of the cap’s acrylic

 

The Business End

Katherine: I’ve tried LB5s with both an unmodified Medium and a Broad Cursive Italic, both were lovely. The first time I tried it, I was surprised by how soft and bouncy the nib was. I loved writing with it, though it is a monster of a nib. I tend to hold my pens pretty far forward, and the size of this nib means I hold it at the very lip sometimes. Not a problem, but an observation.

Pam: This nib is a Sailor nib, so it’s perfect. Actually, it’s not the typical size of the Sailor nibs that we know and adore so well. Like the pen, it’s bigger!  With the extra size and material of the nib, comes with more bounce. Perhaps, it’s my natural bias to love all things Sailor but I really enjoyed the “oversized” nib with the “oversized” pen.  (Oversized is in quotes because I know it’s the perfect size for bear paws.) Oddly enough, I felt that this nib was proportional to the pen and performed extremely well. It was a smoother nib than I expected and I didn’t feel the pencil-like feedback that Sailor nibs are known for.

Franz: The LB5 is made by Sailor so naturally, the nib used was their King of Pen line. As Pam mentioned, the size of the KoP nib was balanced against the larger size of the LB5.

Most Sailor nibs write perfectly out-of-the-box and this was no exception. The unmodified broad nib wrote smoothly and had a bit of bounce to it. The 21-karat KoP nibs are not meant to be used for flex writing but its springiness provided a little flair to my writing. As shown in the second photo below, the LB5 section is comparable to other over-sized pens and was comfortable for my grip.

Sailor King of Pen Broad Nib
Over-sized nibs from left to right: Classic Pens LB5, Wahl-Eversharp Decoband, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149
Franz’ writing sample on a Nanami Crossfield Journal

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is a littttle too large for me. It’s usable, but if I grip it tightly, my hand ends up pretty tired. If I grip it loosely though, it’s great! A fun nib in a pen that’s beautiful. Unfortunately, though, I tend to be a not-loose gripper by default, so I don’t think this pen will ever be a favorite for journaling.

Pam: The pen is easier to write with the tripod grip. My “iron fist” grip had the larger pen feel unbalanced.  The tripod grip being a “secondary grip” for me did tire out my hand, however the width of the pen was still very comfortable in either grip.  The threads were not sharp so I wasn’t so worried about my “iron fist” grip getting too uncomfortable.  If only my hands were larger, this pen would be much more comfortable.  This pen would be great for the “normal” or medium hand size.  (Just not pixie hands.)

Franz: The bear paw… I mean, my hand wrote with the LB5 effortlessly in both posted or unposted modes. As mentioned earlier, the LB5 is 5mm longer than the “standard” Sailor King of Pen. This is because Classic Pens requested Sailor to lengthen the barrel to make the pen more comfortable to write with when unposted. I truly appreciate the extra length of the barrel and was sufficient for my larger hands. I do post the cap sometimes when i feel that I’d like the pen to be a little heavier and it was still a pleasant journaling session.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: This pen is too large for me to EDC comfortably. I tend to stick my pens in notebooks sandwiches, or occasionally in my jacket pockets… and this is just too big. It’s like having a hot dog in your pocket. But, if you have larger pockets than I do, it seems up to the task. Solidly made, and takes about 2.25 twists to uncap, so solid but not too tedious.

Pam:  This pen is a bit too large for my pockets, whitecoat or jeans.  I would also not recommend being rough with this pen given that the material is so beautiful and may be scratched by keys.  This beast will need a home in a case.

Franz: Is the LB5 a good pen for Every Day Carry use? Well, it could be. As detailed by the two ladies above, it is a larger pen to bring along. When I used this pen at work, I had to make sure that the dress shirt I was wearing had a deep breast pocket and even then, it still stuck out semi-securely. I am able to conceal and secure the LB5 when I constantly wear a suit jacket at work though. Now for carrying cases, it barely fit in my Nock Co. Sinclair case that I use on the daily. It does fit nicely inside my Franklin-Christoph Penvelope Six case and is quite secure in my bag. The broad nib is a little too wet for the cheap paper used at work but I believe a medium nib would be perfect.

Just like most Sailor pens, it is a cartridge/converter filled pen so when I used this pen on the daily, I found that I needed to refill every three days or so. An advantage of the c/c filler is it makes the pen light weight instead of having a filling mechanism installed which potentially makes a pen heavier.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I can see why this pen is a grail for many, but the size just means it doesn’t work for me. I wish pen makers wouldn’t only make their flagships massive… It’s gorgeous, has a fantastic nib and has a really unique material. But, I prefer smaller pens. :/ Womp.

Pam:  I love the nib of this pen.  Unfortunately, this pen wouldn’t be balanced to have a small pen with a large nib.  I would highly recommend this pen to those who have the fortune of having a “normal” hand size and can find one of these pens looking for a new home.  The way I see, if both criteria are met, the stars have aligned and you are meant to have this pen. ;p (Wallet protests aside.)

Franz: As we have noted in the beginning of this review, the Classic Pens LB5 has long been sold out. If you are interested in the pen’s unique diffusion bonded acrylic, Andy Lambrou currently has another edition of limited edition pens in these acrylics. The Lambrou Pens LB6 Virtues is slowly being issued in seven different colors. This edition however is more limited since they are releasing only 10 pens in each color.

My final thoughts on the LB5? I am channeling the thoughts of the people who had reviewed the LB5 before (Dan Smith, SBRE Brown, Matt Armstrong, etc.) when I say that, I love this pen! The Classic Pens LB5 has been a part of my Top 5 pens ever since I brought it home from the pen show. Why? Is it because: it’s a limited edition? the material? the pen size? the aesthetic? the value? the connection I have with the pen maker? I can’t specifically answer why but I feel that it’s the whole package that the LB5 delivers.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Franklin-Christoph Model 31, Aurora 88, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Classic Pens LB5*, Sailor 1911 Large, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Franklin-Christoph Model 31, Aurora 88, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Classic Pens LB5*, Sailor 1911 Large, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Franklin-Christoph Model 31, Aurora 88, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Classic Pens LB5*, Sailor 1911 Large, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

Closed pens from top to bottom: Tensui (raindrops) in Space Blue, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, Kouseki (metal ore) in Diamond Brown
Unposted pens from top to bottom: Tensui (raindrops) in Space Blue, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, Kouseki (metal ore) in Diamond Brown
Closed pens from left to right: Closed pens from top to bottom: Midorigi (new green trees) in Forest Green, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, Tairiku (continent) in Marble White, Kouseki (metal ore) in Diamond Brown
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