Our apologies dear friends. We skipped our August pen and ink pairing post for we all have been swamped for the past couple of months. We did not want to skip September as well no matter how late it may be. Thank you for reading and your kind words!
Katherine: This pen was the star of my SF Pen Show 2017 Haul — an “old size” Omas Paragon in Arco Verde. It has a smooth, relatively wet (but not puddle-y!) B CI. The nib is marked BB, but I think it was narrowed a little bit, but is realistically somewhere between a B and a BB, it’s wider than my other Omas B by a hair. I paired it with Waterman Tender Purple for both contrast and how easy to clean it is. The pairing has been very fun for me — a smooth broad CI putting down vivid stokes of purple, with a hint of sheen in the wetter spots. This might end up as a “one true pairing” for me, since I suspect this will be an annoying to clean pen. 🙂
Pam: As a great fan of alliteration, it would only seem appropriate that September would herald in the Sailor Sky with Sapphire ink. The Sailor Sky was my second Sailor Pro Gear Slim. The rest is how we should say, his-ssstory. This pairing is also one my first first “ink will match the pen” type of pairings. (I am working on being more adventurous!) It’s one of my most sustaining pairings!
Sailor Sky is a special edition color, although I don’t think it’s limited. It’s a special edition like the 4 Seasons. (I think.) The barrel color reminds me of a summer sky. I originally paired this pen with Bungbox Omaezaki Sea. However, what really stuck was Bungbox First Love Sapphire, an ink that Franz has introduced me to. To say the least, it was love at first write. I absolutely love the sheen on this ink! It’s a very distinct blue ink with a red sheen that comes through beautifully with the F nib of the Sailor Sky. Some people have compared it to Akkerman’s Shocking Blue. More than anything, I highly recommend trying First Love Sapphire, you might fall for it too.
Franz: So for the month of September, my pairing is the Pilot Custom 823 in Smoke or Black Transparent finish and Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku ink. Ku-Jaku/Peacock is a deep turquoise blue and is such a nice ink color for both work and personal use. The 823 is the first pen I’ve ever inked up with Ku-Jaku. Even though the nib on the 823 is a stock fine, I still appreciate the color it lays down on paper especially on Tomoe River paper in my Nanami Cross Field journal.
The Smoke finish definitely conceals the ink color inside the barrel but you can definitely see the ink level as you write. During meetings in a professional setting, this pen doesn’t call attention to itself but I still enjoy the subtlety of its transparency and places a smile on my face. Now on to trying to remember what that meeting was about.
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!
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.
The San Francisco Pen show is just around the corner for the HOTP crew! Here is a sneak peek of some of the things that will be at the pen show and what we are each looking forward to for 2017!
Pam: It’s odd to think that I met Franz at the registration desk of the SF pen show in 2015, 2 years ago! That said, my first full experience of the SF Pen Show was last year. With the knowledge from last year, I can say that I am really looking forward to:
Starting bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday morning! To start, I will be at the registration desk to greet you and very likely at the HOTP table soon after. Stop by to check out the amazing show exclusive stamps that Katherine has made! And the “Pay-It-Forward” loot!
I will also likely be making a majority of my pen purchases that day. I am most excited to get a “sea glass” pen from Troy at Brute Force Designs!! I hope to get the great Mike Masuyama to work on some of my pens.
Don’t forget the planner meet up! We will be meeting at 1pm on Saturday in Salon 4. The Pen Addict meet up is a must for me. It’s very surreal to see a face to go with the voice for me each time I meet THE Brad Dowdy (Downy). And finally, I will be ending the night by attending Susan Wirth’s Memorial.
Sunday is class day! I will be attending Nik Pang’s Copperplate class, the Hanko (Japanese seals) class by Rui Saito and a mystery class by the amazing Leigh Reyes. Oh, yes, Leigh Reyes will be at the SF Pen Show. May the fangirling commence. ::squeal!::
Itinerary aside, I am just really excited to meet pen friends, new and old, near and far. The pen show is a great time and place for me to nerd out with all things pens and stationary with nerds just like me. And at the end of the day/weekend, it’s just what it’s all about. See you all at the FUN pen show by the Bay!
Katherine: I’m mostly on the hunt for unusual pens and have been excited to hear that there will be a couple of European vendors that are new to the show AND Stylo Art will be there! My wallet quakes in fear. I’d love to pick up an Aurora Novum, but we’ll see if I can find one that fits in my budget. -____-
I’m also sharing a table with a couple friends from Pen Posse, where I’ll be selling washi tape and hand carved stamps. Keep an eye out for me in the lobby! 🙂
Franz: Whoa! It’s been a year already since the 2016 SF Pen Show and now I can hardly wait for next week! Year over year, the SF pen show seems to become much bigger and busier. I try my best to help out at the show with assisting at the registration desk. Pen Posse members try to take shifts in manning the desk to make sure that we help people get in the show, or direct them to classes and seminars. Being at the desk lets me see old friends when they arrive and make new friends as well.
This year, the pen show has more vendors attending that weren’t present in 2016. Some vendors off the top of my head: Shawn Newton (Newton Pens), Hugh and Karol (Kanilea Pen Co.), John Mottishaw (Classic Fountain Pens), Motoshi Kuzuno and wife, Shuko (Stylo Art Karuizawa), Claire Rice (WrittenInRice), Miroslav Tischler (Penkala Pens), and A LOT more!
Events that I’m looking forward for the weekend:
I will attend an actual live pen auction sponsored by the Pen Collectors of America (PCA) on Friday. I just don’t know if I can control myself from over-bidding on a few lots.
As Pam said, there’s a planner meetup on Saturday. I’m not a planner kinda person but I do use my Hobonichi Planner as a daily quotes, and gratitude journal. I’m curious to see what other people do.
Saturday afternoon, Pen World Magazine will hold a ceremony to announce this year’s Readers Choice award winners.
Of course after the show on Saturday, the Pen Addict Meetup is a thing to attend. I love getting to sit down and talk pens with the attendees and dealers. There are door prizes too! Last year, Pam won an ink bottle from Vanness Pens that is so awesome and I’m still secretly planning to steal…oops… ssshhh!
And yes, a memorial to the Queen of Ink Susan Wirth at 7:30pm Saturday.
On Sunday, I’m hoping to attend Leigh Reyes’ seminar in the morning and then John Mottishaw’s in the afternoon.
The San Francisco Pen Show for me has evolved into primarily a social gathering. I love seeing the different vintage and modern pens offered for sale and I may buy a pen, or two, or three! ;-P But what really floats my boat is seeing old friends, visiting with the pen show vendors, meeting Instagram friends in real life.
This year, we will have the Hand Over That Pen table to host the Pay-It-Forward initiative. The Penthusiast Oscar Rodriguez along with a lot of awesome pen people started this fantastic PIF table to provide beginners, and children who are attending the show with pen starter kits. It was a great success at the D.C. Pen Show a few weeks ago. There will also be a “Give a pen. Take a pen.” part wherein people can donate pens they no longer use and just want to donate instead of selling. People can also take a pen that they would want to own. This will be a little bit smaller than what they did at the recently held D.C. Pen Show but we believe it’s important to keep the ball rolling.
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.
Once again, we’d like to thank Mr. Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for lending us this ASC Pens Arlecchino 2 fountain pen for review. 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.
The opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Pam: The pen is a pretty and appealing shape. The material however is quite busy. For someone who really enjoys a lot of monochromatic pens, this is a bit of a shock to the system. The material is unique, and unorthodox in a pen. In summary, the shape and silhouette of the pen is wonderful, but the material is an acquired taste.
Katherine: I think the star of this pen is the Omas Arlecchino material. However, it’s just not my thing. It reminds me of pumpkin soup. Or the Filipino dessert commonly called “cathedral windows“. Or fall leaves that are turning. Anyway, reminds me a lot of things, mostly makes me hungry… but just isn’t my thing on a pen.
Claire: I really fell hard for this pen in the short time I had to write with it. I was quite surprised since this isn’t the sort of pen I would normally even bother to try. The barrel is a lot longer than what I normally find comfortable. I do find the material to be a bit busy for my taste but other than that I like the shape of this pen.
Franz: I first saw the ASC Arlecchino 2 pen at the 2017 LA Pen Show when a friend from the San Francisco Bay Pen Posse bought one and I was immediately intrigued with the unique finish of the pen. Actually, I’m loving the design of the pen and the celluloid material.
This material was part of the Omas stock bought by ASC Pens when the Omas Pen Company sadly shut down in 2016. According to ASC pens, they acquired just enough of this rod stock to create a limited edition of 100 pens to pay homage to the original pen called, the Arlecchino (Italian for harlequin).
The Business End
Pam: The nib itself is a great writer and performs well, as expected. The nib was very enjoyable as a writing experience. I did find the nib to be springy in the perfect Goldilocks kind of way.
Katherine: The nib on this pen is… okay. It’s a perfectly comfortable and usable writer, but it didn’t feel unique in any way, nor did it have much character to me. But, if you told me this was the only nib I could use for the rest of my life, I’d be a little annoyed, but I’d be okay with it. It’s inoffensive. (A glowing review, I know.)
Claire: I loved the feel of the nib and the overall writing experience of the pen was pleasant. The nib has a bit of bounce without being so soft or mushy. It’s not what I would reach for as a workhorse nib, but it’s great for a little extra pizzazz.
Franz: The Magic Flex nib is such a smooth writer and is quite springy which gives my writing some flair! The black ebonite feed kept up with my writing even when I flexed it a little.
Write It Up
Pam: The shape and size of the pen lends to great comfort for extended writing. Honestly, maybe it was the nib, or the light weight of the pen, but the pen didn’t leave an impression for me. It was a comfortable, well balanced pen, but no more, no less for me.
Katherine: This pen was pretty comfortable in the hand for a long period of time. The gentle taper of the body makes it a little more interesting than what I envision a “generic” pen to look like. This also (I think) makes it a better balanced pen.
Claire: I had trouble putting this pen down when writing with this pen. I was more than a little disappointed when I had to let Pam, Katherine and Franz have a chance to give it a spin. This pen is not like any of the pens in my collection and really was a lot of fun to write with. I had no trouble writing with this pen for pages on end. There was no trace of hand fatigue or pain even after a few pages.
Franz: I really enjoyed writing with the Arlecchino 2 as it is light and well balanced when unposted. Writing with the cap posted made it a little too lengthy and I found it unbalanced. (Yes. Shocking, I know!) My only small wish is for the section/barrel to be just a hair thicker to be perfect for my bear paw. But that’s just me.
Pam: This pen would be quite a show stopper in any pocket or as a notebook companion with the colorful material and sweet nib. The clip seems sturdy enough to be kept in shirt pockets.
Katherine: This was another loan from Bittner Pens — so once again, no real EDC usage. But, it seemed well made, and could hold up to every day use. It’s a solid pen that is a comfortable size both to use and to tuck into a pocket or notebook. And the clip feels solid enough to keep it firmly attached to a shirt pocket, if I had shirt pockets.
Claire: I didn’t have a chance to carry this pen with me for a few day, but I can see this being a daily writer in my arsenal. The diameter of the pen is just about perfect for long writing sessions which is ideal for me.
Franz: I was not able to fill this pen with ink and use at my workplace so no real world EDC report. But it’s important to note that it is piston-filled for a nice ink capacity, and the Arlecchino 2 is ready to write with just one twist of the cap.
And I believe my co-workers will see the colorful material and say, “What kinda pen is that?!”.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Pam: I very much appreciate the beauty of the pen and reliable writing experience. That said, I can’t recommend this pen due to the price tag. Particularly for a pen that didn’t actually leave an impression with me. I prefer the writing experience of a Pelikan (ahem, Franz-fluence). The material is the only compelling reason to buy the pen for me. Luckily for my wallet, the material isn’t my style.
Katherine: This pen was perfectly usable — decent nib, good size, and comfortable in hand. However, it didn’t shine in any way for me. It was an okay, inoffensive pen, body material aside. In another material, it’s a pen I wouldn’t mind owning, but isn’t high on my list of must-acquire pens. In the Arlecchino material… I’d rather have a bowl of pumpkin soup. Maybe with some chives and a pinch of paprika to round out the colors.
Claire: Overall, I really like this pen. the only gripe I have with this pen is that the inside of the cap was not polished. For a pen at this price range, it seems a little bit sloppy to me. Other than this pen is lovely, though I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying MSRP on this pen. This brand has access to some of the hottest materials, and they are charging for those materials.
Franz: I love this pen! I love its shape, its material finish, its springy nib, and the history that it represents. However, I just can’t love its price tag. Yes. I know that it’s a limited edition of 100 pens, it’s celluloid, it’s a “flexy” nib, etc. Believe me, I understand why it costs the way it costs and also please know the fact that I “want” it. But my heart and mind says, “Hold on, not yet.” Perhaps it’s because I have a few other pens that I also want that has a lower price tag? I know that someday I’ll own the Arlecchino 2, but not yet.
If you want this LE pen and have no qualms about the price, grab it while it’s available. Reach out to Detlef of Bittner Pens.
Thank you for letting us review the Arlecchino 2 Detlef!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Katherine: The 146 (and its bigger sibling the 149) are the classic black cigar-shaped pen. The shape is boring to some, but timeless and classy to many others. Personally, I find the shape a bit boring, and while many buy the pen for the “prestige” that comes with such a recognizable brand, I found that unappealing. As I’ll discuss in later sections, I loved the innards of the pen, but I much prefer using pens that aren’t as obviously branded, especially at work. All in all though, the “look” of the 146 is inoffensive to me, if I didn’t have a self-imposed 15 pen limit, I’d likely still own one.
Pam: The 146 is a classic pen with a very classic shape. Typically, I would find the Montblanc 146 with gold trim to be another snoozer or write it off as “another typical pen.” I don’t usually like the cigar shape in a pen, like the Platinum 3776 or the Sailor 1911. That said, Montblanc created a very well proportioned cigar shape pen. It looks streamlined rather than chunky and sleek rather than boring. Maybe it’s the more dramatic taper at the end of the body and cap or it’s the custom ruthenium trim or I enjoyed writing with this pen so much that a “another typical pen” has much more appeal now.
Franz: The LeGrand 146 is such a nice, simple-looking pen. I love the timeless shape of the 146 and that may be the reason why a lot of pens have copied its appearance. The pointed ends are different from the usual pens I own.
So here’s a bit of historical information about this pen. In mid-1948, Montblanc came out with the Masterpiece/Meisterstück 140 Series and the three models introduced were the 142, 144, and the 146. All three were introduced as a piston-filler and until now, the 146 is offered as a piston-filler pen. Over time, the 144 changed to a cartridge/converter filler pen. The Meisterstück 140 Series was a refresh of the Meisterstück 130 Series introduced in the mid 1930’s.
According to Montblanc’s numbering system adopted in the 1930’s, 146 meant that 1 (part of the Meisterstück/Masterpiece line), 4 (piston filler system but it was a 3 in the 130 Series), and 6 (denotes the nib size).
*Please note that this historical information was taken from Mr. Andreas Lambrou’s “Fountain Pens of the World” book. If I have misquoted, or given incorrect information, please let me know. Thanks!
The Business End
Katherine: I love well-adjusted Montblanc nibs. I’ve used Franz’s (pictured in this review) and love the delightful CI that Dan Smith put on it. But I also, for a few months, owned my own 146 — an early 90s French specimen with an uncommon 18k nib. That was one of the most delightfully smooth (but not glassy) nibs I had ever used. Given my current experiences with MB nibs, I would never hesitate to recommend one to a friend, even out of the box.
Pam: Montblanc nibs are juicy with some springy-ness to them, based on my time with them at the Montblanc store (which may be longer than I care to admit). I really enjoyed the Montblanc B and BB nibs as they created a stub-like line for me. Therefore, what other “improvement” could you make to a well done nib from Montblanc? Well, someone had the genius idea to send the pen to Dan Smith for a 0.4mm CI grind. I (not so) jokingly told Franz that the 0.4mm is the perfect CI width and I may be forever ruined for all other CI grinds. CI grinds tend to run a bit dry, but this nib is well tuned and provides a consistent, well saturated, beautifully crisp line. Again, ruined… I am, ruined (or forever spoiled.)
Franz: Springy nib… check! Cursive Italic… check! Juicy ink flow… check! Smooth sweet spot… check! Running out of checkboxes here! What can I say? It’s a beautifully tuned nib! Kudos to Dan Smith on this one. As for straight from the factory experience, I have used another 146 nib which was a stock medium and it was a smooth well tuned nib as well. So far, I’ve been pleased with the quality of Montblanc’s nibs.
Write It Up
(20-minute writing experience)
Katherine: The 146 is very comfortable for me — it has a good weight and is comfortable in hand, even when writing for extended periods of time. I prefer it unposted — when posted I find it a bit too top-heavy and my hand gets tired faster.
Pam: I have enjoyed the 146 both posted and unposted in the traditional tripod grip, preferably posted for me. The 146 can be a bit top heavy in my “iron grip.” Given the CI grind, I primarily used this pen in the tripod grip and had no issues with the width of the pen. The girth of the pen at the section is within the usual limits and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time.
Franz: I may have been waxing poetic about this pen but admittedly, the LeGrand 146 size is just a smidge small for my bear paw. Please don’t get me wrong for when the cap is posted, I wrote with it comfortably and I absolutely had no complaints. I loved journaling with it for about 10 minutes but when I unposted the cap, my grip adjusted towards the nib and the pen felt small and unpleasant. I actually felt my hand cramping after writing for five minutes. Please refer to the pen in hand photos above to see how awkwardly small the unposted 146 is in my hand.
So yeah, mixed results on this one for me and just like Pam, I prefer the 146 posted.
Katherine: This is weird to say since I EDC my Nakayas… but I didn’t like carrying around my 146. While the clip was good, it uncapped decently and was great to write with, I just wasn’t comfortable using a pen that everyone around me identified as “Katherine is using an expensive pen”. Funnily enough, Nakaya and Danitrio are much less recognizable to the layman than my 146 was.
Pam: This pen is a be a great EDC pen as it is a sturdy, well made pen with a secure clip and threaded cap. I didn’t carry this pen around daily as it’s not my pen to damage or lose, but also because would be distracting in my interactions with my colleagues and patients. I am not that comfortable in letting the world know/assume the “cost” of my beloved pen hobby. (Or maybe that’s the SF bay area hipster in me.) Montblanc is such an iconic brand that people will notice this pen very readily. Granted, it’s also a beautiful, classy pen with a very unique ruthenium trim.
Franz: I used the 146 at work and out and about on a weekend and I had no qualms of being able to use this pen as an Everyday Carry pen. The cap unscrews after about 1 and 1/4 turn. Pretty fast deployment there and on the flip-side, the pen never uncapped itself in my pocket. The ink capacity of this piston-filled pen allows one to just keep on writing for a period of time. The subtle ink window above the section threads definitely helped me figure out if I’d need to refill the pen or not. I didn’t really care about the “perceived prestige” that the white star on the cap instills or what other people would think because well, I just don’t. Haha! =) As long as it’s a functional pen with a look that appeals to me, I’ll keep on using it.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: Overall, I really love writing with 146s — they’re comfortable, balanced and have great nibs. But I found that I was uncomfortable with the obvious and easily recognizable branding. The moment my boss said, “Oh! You’re using a Montblanc!” the idea of keeping a Montblanc around for normal use went out the window.
Pam: After spending time with the 146, I can see why this pen is such a popular flagship pen. It’s a great size pen that suits many hands, has a classic (albeit “boring”) aesthetic from a historical and iconic brand that backs up it’s name with great nibs and performance. This pen has taught me and made me question a lot about my own pen preferences in terms of shape, nibs and writing style.
I would recommend this pen to anyone looking for a solid performing pen and isn’t wary of being seen with such a recognizable (and expensive) pen. Not all settings are optimized for that. It would be a “must have pen” if it was not so cost prohibitive to have, therefore, it would make a great grail pen to fill the “quintessential classic” slot in any collection. So if you are like me and this a grail pen, I recommend the 146 as a “must try for yourself” pen.
Franz: The LeGrand 146 design is almost 70 years old and as I said in the beginning of this review, it is timeless. This is a nice pen to have in one’s collection quite frankly. If you are able to, please try to write with a 146 and see if it is a good pen for your hand. The nibs are great and it just writes. I really like it when the cap is posted as I detailed above. The only “con” I would say about this pen is that it’s quite pricey when brand new. However, a thorough search in the secondary market may provide one with a reasonable and more affordable price for the pen.
Just a little background on this specific pen. I saw this exact 146 in early 2015 on Dan Smith’s Instagram feed, @TheNibsmith (@fpgeeks back then). He said that he just finished grinding the 0.4mm cursive italic on it and wished he owned the pen. I dug up info from Dan and the original owner of this pen to find out how he got a ruthenium trim. I planned to send a pen to that person who did the custom ruthenium trim but I never got around to doing it. Fast forward to April 2016, I found this pen offered for sale and I pretty much jumped on it. Needless to say, I love this specific 146 not only for its writing capabilities but its history as well.