Katherine: It’s late in the month and I’m looking back thinking “What have I written with the most this month?” and the winner, hands down, is this funky combination of a Pelikan with a custom urushi finish by Bokumondoh and a Straits Pen custom ink. Honestly, the Pelikan (originally a M200) holds so much ink that I’m getting a little sick of this purple-ish blue. It’s a lovely color… but after staring at it week after week, I’m ready for something new (good thing May is just around the corner!).
Before we hop into my birthday month, here are some quick thoughts on April’s pen and ink —
First, the pen. I sent this M200 to Bokumondoh despite her warnings that this particular finish ends up pretty thick. I love the beige and black polka dots, and the sparkle of the raden. It came back about a month later, and the finish is, as promised, quite thick — but the serendipitous thing is that now I can use my M200 as a slip cap. Game changer! I can still thread the cap if I need to, but the barrel is now thick enough that I use it as a slip cap 90% of the time.
Second, the ink. This is a custom ink that the folks over at Straits Pen cooked up — it’s a wonderful shade of purple-blue that flows well and dries reasonably quickly. I hope to see it in production soon. Perhaps at the SF Pen Show?
Pam: Thank you Anderson Pens for your ink match up giveaway. I was a lucky winner of the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuya-Kusa, a new blue (for me.) I will admit that I have been lax in my admiration of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks as of late, however I plan on rectifying that. Starting with pairing this beautiful cornflower blue ink with the Brute Force Design Writer in Sea Glass. The beautiful and deep blue of Tsuya-kusa is deeper and more nuanced than a turquoise or sky blue. (That’s right, I said it. I like it better than Iroshizuku Kon-Peki.) It’s also a warmer blue with more red tones based on my amateur comparison.
Creator in Chief behind Brute Force Design, Troy, is a wonderful artist in pairing metals and woods in his signature pen designs. I chose a lighter version of the Writer model due to the beautiful transparency and seafoam green tint of the material. The nib of choice for Brute Force is a Bock nib. The one I have here is really wet and very well displays the color and depth of Tsuya-kusu to the fullest extent.
Bring on the spring/summer, world! My inked pens, allergy meds and I are ready for you.
Franz: For the month of April, I thought of inking up my Ryan Krusac Legend L-16 with the limited edition Montlbanc Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ink. I haven’t used the L-16 ever since our review of the pen and I also inked it for two main reasons. First reason is to mark the pen’s first year anniversary with me since I got it at the Atlanta Pen Show in April 2017. Second, the broad cursive italic is very nice to practice my italic calligraphy writing. I’ve been using this pen to write some quotes and post them on instagram. If you’re interested, you may check out #FTDquotes tag on Instagram. =)
As for the MB Saint-Exupéry ink, this was my first time inking a pen with it and the burgundy color is quite rich and has purplish tones. I don’t have many burgundy inks and I find this ink to possess some beautiful shading, and the broad nib brings out the saturation very well. There is no sheen that I can see in the writing which is fine and the flow is very wet. Even if the ink does not match the cocobolo finish of the pen, the ink color complements it well.
What pens and inks have you written with lately this month?
Katherine: This is a serious looking pen. But not too serious. All three finishes (amber, smoke and clear) are demonstrators, but the amber and smoke aren’t obviously so. As usual, the cigar shape isn’t my favorite, but I like the way the translucent amber and smoke materials look with ink sloshing around. My long time gripe with the clear one was that the cap liner (on all three, but most obvious on the black) is black… and very obvious. BUT, I’ve recently discovered that it’s not hard to remove the cap liner — a fat eraser (like one of the ones on those easy grip chubby kids pencils) can easily pull it out. Then it looks oh-so-much cleaner! If this pen came in the 912’s styling (flat ends, rhodium trim), it would be a must-own for me, instead I very much enjoy it, but I’m not in love with the way it looks.
Pam: Le sigh. It’s another cigar shape pen. Its saving grace is due to the demonstrator quality of them. The clip is… not aesthetically pleasing to me. I really enjoy the black and transparent material. Per usual, I am more fond of rhodium trim, however I don’t think that trim is available in the 823 model. Oh, what I would give for a ruthenium trim on the clear/transparent model. I will admit that the vanity in me prevent me picking up this pen. (Spoiler alert: I regret not picking up this pen sooner.)
Franz: Now I feel out of place. I love cigar shaped pens but the Pilot Custom 823 is more torpedo shaped, no? Hihihi… Either way, I love the 823’s shape and for some reason, that smoke finish is a winner for me! The 823’s size is substantial in the hand but at the same time it’s not too big, if that makes sense.
Just like what we learned in our review of the Pilot Custom 912, Pilot assigned a lot of their pen model names according to the company’s year when they were introduced. Namiki/Pilot was founded in 1918 and they are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year as well. So for the Pilot Custom 823, the first two digits (82) mean that the pen was released in Pilot’s 82nd year, 2000. The third digit represents the manufacturer suggested retail price in 10,000 Japanese Yen, ¥30,000.
The Business End
Katherine: Yay for Pilot #15 nibs! I really enjoy them. The medium on this pen was no different — a wonderful balance of smooth and wet, but not overly so in either direction. I’ve also had the pleasure of using a handful of other nib sizes on 823s and have been quite happy with all of them. Personally, I own a #15 FA, and love the bounce (the #10 I own is softer/flexier) and smooth writing it gives me.
Pam: Franz was kind enough to allow me to borrow a 823 with a fine nib. What a nib!!! It’s honestly everything one could love about a Pilot nib. Granted, my experience with Pilot is limited to a few select pens (Elite, Myu, m90, Murex, Volex) and I typically use the Pilot Prera and Vanishing Point at work. What was quite different about this particular nib is the size; it’s so big!! It’s also a great “upgrade” in both size, material and performance.
Franz: The 823’s nibs are very pleasant to write with. No adjustments were necessary to provide a great writing experience. However, among the three, the broad nib was modified by Mr. Dan Smith into a juicy stub. The medium and fine nibs had a good flow as well. The 823 nibs definitely have the bounce to give that flair in your writing.
Write It Up
Katherine: I thought the 823 was overhyped until I borrowed one from Franz for this review. As I wrote with it (and stared at it, trying to settle my feelings on its aesthetic) I realized why it’s such a popular pen… It’s a solid workhorse of a pen that writes wonderfully and feels solid and comfortable in the hand. It’s not too big, not too small, not too smooth, not too feedbacky… Somehow it’s a fantastic balance on so many axes (plural of axis, not that I’m balancing pens on wood chopping implements). I guess it’s implied, but I had a great time writing with it — though I did forget to loosen the knob the first time and was momentarily vexed as I wrote the feed dry.
Pam: I didn’t just write with this pen for an extended period of time. I “borrowed” this pen from Franz for an extended period of time. It’s has just enough stiffness and give from the material and size to make the writing experience tactically enjoyable for me. I found the pen to be very well balanced unposted. It’s a bit tall for me posted. The ink in the chamber is a bit mesmerizing.
The nib was Pilot smooth with little/no feedback. The nib performed surprisingly better than I expected on cheap office paper. It didn’t feather as much as usual. Ink used was Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku. The pen and ink combo shined in both my Midori insert and Hobonichi (Tomoe River paper).
The writing experience of this nib is quite unique to this nib/pen. I am a bit addicted to the particular writing experience that this pen provides. I would highly recommend trying this pen out yourself. Just remember, the first taste is free. ;P
Franz: The biggest thing that I love about the Pilot 823 is that there isn’t a step between the barrel and section and that the threads aren’t sharp. When the cap is posted it is plenty long for my large hand but like Pam, I prefer to write with the pen unposted because the weight is more balanced. So with fingers on the threads, the unposted length is very comfy for me.
Katherine: Solid clip, 1.75 turns to uncap and an ink capacity that lasts pages and pages and pages. And it low-key looks so your boss doesn’t wonder why you’re writing with a glitter stick. But some oooh and aah when your teammates notice the ink sloshing around inside.
Pam: I loved this pen at work. It was less than two turns to get you writing and as previously stated, the F nib does a pretty good job on office paper. The clip was just enough to easily slip in and out of a my white coat pocket with little issues. The ink capacity of this pen is fantastic and by far exceeds my other EDCs for work. For quick note taking, the VP is the height of convenience. However, for end of the day wrapping up “thought gathering” and where you have an extended note-taking session, I kept reaching for the 823. I may be adding another Pilot to my pocket for work at the rate we are going.
Franz: The 823 is a great companion for use at work and when I’m out and about. The fine and/or medium nib was great for the copier paper in the office and it just wrote well. The ball clip is sturdy and fits onto my shirt pocket as well as my jeans pocket. The biggest advantage of the 823 is its ink capacity. When you operate the vacuum filler (pictured below), the pen gets about 75% filled up. There is a maneuver you can do to fill the pen 100% of ink which is about 2.5ml. Dan Smith shows this in his video review of the Pilot Custom 823 here.
As Katherine described earlier, the 823 does have a shut-off valve (second picture below) and you need to unscrew the knob to make sure the ink flows freely onto the reservoir and feed. Gotta make sure that it is unscrewed or else you’ll find the nib writing dry after a page or two of journaling (trust me, I know). The shut-off valve helps contain the ink when you are flying, or if you are shipping the pen filled with ink. I received my 823 filled with ink in the mail from my friend and aside from ink spots in the cap, no other ink was wasted.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The 823 is a solid pen. It’s not my favorite aesthetically, but I’m more than willing to forgive it that for how well balanced of a pen and nib it is. However, at $250-300 new, it’s not a pen I’m in a hurry to acquire (well, also because I arguably have more than enough pens…) but I do one day want to own one with an FA nib. I’m sure this will upset someone, but the 823 reminds me a lot of another pen I love, the Pelikan M800 — solid workhorse pens with an ink capacity for days and a clean professional vibe (assuming you aren’t sporting a maki-e M800 or something). If you like cigar shaped pens and gold trim, I don’t think you can go wrong with the 823.
Pam: #PenAddictProTip I agree with Brad. As in you should try the 823 for yourself. I believe that this pen is in the “everyone should try it or own it” category, like the Lamy 2000. You may not like it, but it’s a pen that is so easily and quickly reference for what it brings to the table: a LARGE gold nib, piston filler, a classic shape with a modern twist and a fantastic writing experience. It is well deserving of the “pens you should know” pantheon. The price maybe a sticking point, but I have had such a great writing experience with this pen that if you enjoy it as much as I did, it may well justify the price for you.
Franz: Well, if you haven’t noticed yet, the Pilot Custom 823 is a definite win among the three of us. It is a decently sized pen with great balance and is a great fit for small to large handed writers. Currently in the United States, only the Amber finish is available. I really wish that the Smoke and the Clear finishes would be made available in the market. You may purchase the two finishes from Japan sources if you are patient and knowledgeable enough to do so. I was lucky enough to secure my Pilot Custom 823 in Smoke from the secondary market.
You can call it a cigar-shaped, or a torpedo-shaped pen, it doesn’t matter as long as you try one. It’s a fantastic pen for me and I’m happy I own one.
We would like to thank Pen Chalet and Ron M. for sending us this Pilot Custom 912 as a review loaner pen. Pen Chalet has been a great company that sells pens and stationery items at competitive prices. They also frequently run promos for specially priced items as well as provide discount coupons. Check them out if you haven’t yet.
That being said, the opinions below are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: I like the way this pen looks. Flat ends, with some taper, and silver rhodium hardware. It’s nothing flashy, but I much prefer this look to cigar shaped pens.
Pam: This pen hits several check boxes for me in terms of aesthetics. Flat top, check. Rhodium trim, check. Non-garish clip, check. It’s perfectly understated and professional. Oh, what fun this pen hides!
Franz: A lot of Pilot pens have a simple look and this is one of them. The shape of the 912 reminds me of a Parker 75, a Lamy 2000, and maybe even a Sailor Pro Gear. A flat top pen with slight taper. And do you notice how the clip’s shape looks like a sword? The pen is mightier than the sword, right? =)
Here’s a quick informational tip. A lot of Pilot pens are assigned numbers as their model names. I’ve come to know that the first 2 numbers of the model name indicates the company year when the pen model was released. In the case of the Pilot Custom 912, it was released within the 91st year of the Namiki/Pilot company which was founded in 1918. So, 1918+91 years means the 912 was introduced in the year 2009. The last digit was/is the manufacturer suggested retail price for the pen in 10,000 Japanese Yen. So 2 x 10,000 = ¥20,000.
The Business End
Katherine: Ooooh the FA nib! This is the second #10 (the smaller size) FA nib I’ve used, and just like the other, it was a delight. I love the flex and softness of FA nibs — they don’t have quite the snap back that some vintage gold nibs have, but they’re plenty for my untrained hand and ultra reliable (see the EDC portion). The one caveat is that the stock feed with the 912/742 tends to have a hard time keeping up if you flex a lot. To solve this, I widened the feed channel on my FA nib (the 912 was a loaner, so I didn’t, but I made the modification to my 742) and rarely have rail roading problems. With the improved flow the 742 is a fantastic, fun writer.
Pam: The FA nib is really really fun. It’s one of the best softer/flexier modern nibs. It’s a great alternative to those who don’t want to tempt fate with vintage gold nibs or on a more modest budget. (If you are a newb like I am with vintage pens and find the idea daunting.) The nib can take quite a bit of pressure and allows for some generous line variation. Yes, the nib survived my writing pressure.
Franz: Pilot nibs in general are so good out of the box whether it be the steel nib of a Pilot Metropolitan, or the 14k gold nib of a Pilot Stargazer. The Pilot Custom 912 just follows suit and is a very smooth writing nib. The FA nib has that soft bounce and it was a pleasure writing with it. I don’t do much “flex” writing and the nib and feed kept up with my writing doodling. So it’s a great one for me!
Did you know that some of Pilot’s nibs are date stamped? You can barely see it in the photo below but this nib is stamped “315” which means the nib was manufactured in March of 2015. #justoneofthosethings =)
Write It Up
Katherine: This pen is plenty comfortable for me. It’s well balanced, not too thick and not too thin. The nib is also stiff enough that it’s easy to write with for pages on pages (versus some really soft nibs where super light pressure is a must) but soft enough that it’s easy to add some flair to my writing when I want to (or for whole pages at a time, if I must admit).
Pam: I am reminded of how reliable and wonderful Pilot pens each time I pick one up. It’s a pretty light pen, well balanced and had a good width. I can’t use my usual grip with this pen given how this nib performs, but even in the tripod grip, it’s a good comfortable section.
Franz: Comfy posted or unposted. Nuff said. Thanks. =) Yep, writing with the Custom 912 was such fun. Unposted, the length was sufficient and I was writing along fine. The cap posted deeply onto the barrel and didn’t change the balance very much but I appreciated the longer length.
Katherine: What really makes the Pilot FA nibbed pens stand out to me over vintage flex is how incredibly reliable they are. I carried this 912 in my backpack for a few days, and I never had a leak or found ink in the cap — it’s a durable pen that has all the conveniences of modern pens, but with a fun flexy nib.
Pam: This is a great pen for lettering in planners to add a pop or a flourish to your dailies or to do lists. The clip worked well in my Hobonichi A6 notebook. One of the perks of modern pens is that I know that it will perform well and consistently. It survives the transit in my daily bag without any issues. I didn’t really use this pen at work, but it’s a great companion for “planner time.”
Franz: I got to use the Custom 912 at work for about 3 days and found it to be a great pen for daily use. The clip secured the 912 on my shirt pocket nicely. Pilot supplies the 912 with a Con-70 ink converter and it holds a decent amount of ink.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: If I didn’t already have a 742, I’d be asking Pen Chalet how much they want for the pen so I’d never have to send it back. I really like it (and prefer the way it looks to the 742). But… alas, a girl cannot have every pen that catches her eye. Overall, the 912 is a comfortable, non flashy daily driver AND a fun pen for doodling and dabbling in calligraphy.
Now back to telling myself I don’t need a second FA nib. I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib. Ugh.
Pam: If you are looking for a modern “flex” nib or want to start practicing your hand letter/calligraphy from a consistent and reliable writer, I would highly recommend the 912. If you are a newb like me and just want to have the fun of a softer nib without delving too deep into your wallet or the vintage world, this is a great pen to start with. Granted, that being said, there is almost no alternative to a flexy vintage gold nib. One of the great things about fountain pens is that there is a pen to suit anyone. This pen hits a particular spot for me as the best of both worlds, soft nib with a reliable performance and good body. It’s a “happy writing” spot.
Franz: To state the obvious, I really liked the Pilot Custom 912. It has been on my list for a while now but I haven’t been able to acquire one. Reviewing this loaner from Pen Chalet could be the helpful nudge I’ve been needing.
Even if the term “solid” may be overused in reviews, I have to say it. The Pilot Custom 912 is a SOLID pen to use and recommend. It isn’t an inexpensive pen, but there is value in it. The nib is a great writer, the build seems durable, the threads are smooth, and the pen’s silhouette is beautiful. However, there is one caveat/drawback with the 912. As of this writing, the pen has only been offered in a black finish. For me, I love black pens and don’t mind the lack of options (would love to have a blue though). But knowing the awesome people in the pen community, a lot of pen folks want color options for the pens. So if the aesthetics of the 912 appeal to you, go get one and try it out!
Once again Ron, we appreciate your lending this Pilot Custom 912 for review!
Katherine: The grey frosty cap reminds me of dirty snow, and the dusty purple ink of cold winter nights… just kidding. I just really like this pairing, and the pen is new to me, so I’m really excited and using it a lot. I first saw this pen over a year and a half ago (on May 12th, 2016 — I don’t remember many dates, but I remember important ones!), in the pen case of a friend (who shall remain nameless), and I fell in love. I tried other pens in the meantime, a black FC 45 IPO (which we reviewed) and a Wonderpens Model 20 in the same “bronze” material… but it wasn’t quite the same. To me the combination of this smokey material and compact form factor (with a sprinkle of nostalgia) is magical. Don’t judge. Anyway, friend decided to buy some fancy urushi pen or something, and offered me this pen… and now it’s MINE.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Wow, I’m dramatic tonight. Time to go to bed… Waiting wasn’t really that bitter. Just lots of scoping FC tables at shows and on IG.)
Pam: This has been one of the worst winters at work within recent memory for me. Between medication shortages and the flu vaccine being practically ineffective (twice I have gotten the flu… twice!), it has been an incredibly busy season at the hospital. Thus, my homage to this season is the Pilot Prera (in white) paired with Pelikan Turquoise. The Pilot Prera is a workhorse pen for me given that the F nib works wonderfully on office paper. Pelikan Turquoise a wonderfully vibrant ink that pops off the page of my rather dull reports at work. As people say, it’s the little things in life. Stay warm, healthy and safe this season everyone. (Please be patient with your local pharmacies and pharmacists as we troubleshoot the ridiculously long list of medication shortages.)
Franz: The first month of the new year is represented by a vintage Pelikan! Actually, this is my oldest Pelikan pen and it’s a Pelikan 400 in black-striped finish. This was actually one of the last pens I received in 2017 so it’s more of a recent acquisition. Upon my review, this 400 was manufactured around the year 1953 due to the lack of engraving on the cap band and the nib imprint without the Pelikan logo. The black stripes are between green translucent strips that let you see your ink level very subtly and I find it very captivating. It took me almost a year to find this pen at a reasonable price and be in decent condition. And having an oblique medium nib allows me to use it at work and for my journaling as well.
When I received the pen in December 2017, it took me three days to decide what to ink it up with… three days! I’m sure you fountain pen folk will understand. Anyway, I decided to ink it up with Pilot Blue Black which is very familiar to me and usable at work. Since Pilot Blue Black is water resistant, if not waterproof, it’s what I use at my workplace for documents to alternate with Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium.
It’s almost the end of January and I find myself placing this Pelikan 400 in my pocket on a daily basis and have just reinked it a couple days ago. Even if it’s smaller than what I prefer in pens, I just post the cap and write away. I do alternate it during the day with my Pelikan M805 with a medium cursive italic nib though, but that’s for another pairing post. =)
What favorite pen and ink combo have you been writing with for the month of January?
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!
While we absolutely believe that every day is fountain pen day, the first Friday of November is quite special because we get to celebrate our favorite writing instrument throughout the world in unison. This is also a day or a weekend wherein different deals and discounts are offered by our favorite retailers. Check out the Sponsors tab of the FPD website for more info on these deals.
More importantly, Fountain Pen Day is also a great time to share the joys of writing with a fountain pen to family, and friends!
To celebrate, we the trio, are running a giveaway with three prizes for three lucky winners:
A limited edition green demonstrator Oeste Prera fountain pen
A bottle of the 2017 limited edition Lamy Petrol ink
A bottle of one of our favorite inks — Sailor Jentle Yama-dori
Follow us on instagram, @handoverthatpen & regram our giveaway image or post a picture of your favorite fountain pen and ink with the hashtag #hotp2017FPDGAW (Please make sure your account is public so we can find it! And no giveaway accounts.) or —
Comment on this blog entry with your favorite fountain pen and ink (not necessarily a pairing)
The giveaway is open from now, 11/03/2017 until 11/10/2017 11:59pm Pacific time. One entry per person please.
The giveaway is open internationally, but we aren’t responsible for any taxes, customs fees or duties that may be applied, and will be shipping without tracking due to cost.
Katherine: My pairing for the month isn’t thematic in any way, just a pen and ink combo I was (and am) excited to use — Pen BBS June Pearl (picked up from Straits Pens at the SF Show a few months ago) paired with a Pilot 742 FA sporting a Masuyama Needlepoint grind. Ignore the washi, I was trying to decide how something looked… and now it’s just there.
I love the pairing of the pale shimmer ink with the soft flexy nib of the 742. Written in a fine line, June Pearl is pretty light, but in the FA I get swirls of shimmer and more readable text. All in all, I really enjoy writing with the 742 and the FA nib, I’m just (unfortunately) not a big fan of the body.
Pam: For October, the month of Halloween, it would seem most appropriate to bring out the Sailor 1911, Nagasawa edition; a demonstrator with the ruthenium trim. Even the converter has the ruthenium trim! It is one my favorite colorways: monochromatic. Honestly, I was not a fan of the 1911, but this particular finish was so unique (at the time) that acquiring it from Claire was instantaneous. (Thank you Claire!!)
I wanted a dark ink to complement the “darkness” of the 1911, but not a black ink. The only ink that came to mind for me was Sailor Shigure. The dark and deep purple is a wonderful complement to the rhuthenium trim. It’s also one of the few inks that I adore that doesn’t have an obvious sheen to it. That only adds to the mysterious and haunting vibe of the ink when paired with this pen during the Halloween season.
Franz: This month, my pairing is more of a discovery and rediscovery of sorts. First, the pen. I haven’t written with my Lamy 2000 for almost a year and I’ve definitely missed it. The 2000 is easily one of my favorite black pens of all time. And now for the ink, I recently bought a bottle of Kobe’s #17 Shioya Blue without trying a sample but I figured it could be a suitable ink for work.
So a pen and nib I know very well, and a new ink. As expected, the Kobe ink flowed very well with the cursive italic nib. Actually, the italic nib showed the shading properties of this ink very nicely. I’m so glad I did this pairing and since I wrote with the 2000 a lot, the ink level is now below 50% . I’ll most likely top off the ink in a week or so. Thank you for reading our inky thoughts here.
Wishing you a Happy Halloween! And please comment what pen and ink combo are you are currently using.
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.
The San Francisco Pen Show took place from August 25-27. This is the second in a series of recaps. Check out one from my dog’s POV here.
It’s a little funny to go back and see what I thought I wanted to buy as of last, last week… Allegedly an Aurora Novum, but I saw zero of those at the show. Oh well!
All in all though, the show was a huge success for my pen collection, and a moderate injury for my wallet. I stayed under budget, but not by much. To cut to the chase (a little more on workshops and such below), here’s my haul:
Omas old style Paragon (date stamp ’97) in Arco Verde
Pilot Capless in Black Stripe
E Faber Permapoint in a cool brown striated material w/ yellow trim*
Spors glass nibbed pen in marbled pink
Brute Force Designs small (don’t remember model name) acrylic pen in a marbled brown
Vintage Sailor from the collection of Susan Wirth
Written in Rice octopus 7-pen wrap
Four bottles of Chinese ink: Pen BBS 226 June Pearl, Pen BBS 178 Rose Quartz, Starry Silent Corderite, Students Ink 25 (yellow, no sparkle) [swabs here]
Five grinds: (one each) Masuyama needlepoint, Masuyama formal italic, Dan Smith CI & two Dan Smith sharp-ish stubs
The Omas Arco materials have long been on my wishlist — last year at the show I asked around, but ultimately everything was out of my budget. This year, I found this one at Peyton Street Pens within the first hour or two of the show at a competitive price (and for reference, my budget for an Arco pen wasn’t significantly higher this year than last!). Teri was kind enough to hold it for me while I agonized over the price and dragged various friends back to her table to see it. In the end, I decided I’d regret not jumping on it… and I’m glad I didn’t, it’s a joy to use and to look at.
Above are another two pens I picked up on Friday, both from friends. The back pen is from Leigh Reyes, a glass-nibbed Spors pen from wartime Japan. Yep, that crazy material is vintage. The front pen is a E Faber “Permapoint”, from a fellow SF Pen Posse member and SF Show dealer, Gary Naka. It’s a pen I’ve been eyeing for months, and he finally restored it and was willing to part with it — yay! I love the unique finishes on both pens, vintage pens are so cool. I also had the brown pen ground to a fine CI by Dan Smith, so in addition to being cool looking, it’s quite fun to write with.
This show was also the first time I worked one-on-one with a nibmeister, and I was lucky enough to work with both Dan Smith (above) and Mike Masuyama (below). They have very different styles of working (see their different set ups), but both produced great nibs for me!
The grind I was most nervous about and most excited about was a formal italic on my Nakaya Decapod Twist, medium nib. I tried a friend’s formal italic several months ago and loved it — but they are notoriously sharp, and most people were surprised I wanted one, including Masuyama himself. I’ve had a few days with the nib now, and I really enjoy writing with it. Yes, it’s sharp — but I haven’t caught paper with it and writing with it feels… like it will keep me awake? I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s fantastic.
This year the show featured some new inks in the ink testing stations, and even a new model of ink testing stations for shimmer inks (though I failed to capture a picture). I didn’t spend much time with the ink testing stations this year, but they were consistently quite popular!
Loot and new shiny pens aside, the show has always been a place for friends new and old to connect and discuss a shared passion. This year I met many people I’d talked to online for the first time, which is always a little strange for me (I’m kind of awkward :P) but was overall a great experience. I also like to think I did a good job of introducing folks to each other — in the picture above, Todd (one of the show organizers, a local Pen Posse regular, also known as farmboy on FPN) helps a friend replace a broken nib, on the spot, no tools needed other than a shred of paper towel. He’s super cool like that.
No show would be complete without classes, seminars and meet ups! This year Pam and I hosted a repeat of the Planner Meet-up, which I thought went very well — we met ladies (why are there no men who show up?) from around California and shared washi tape, planner layouts and took a look at different brands and designs. I also attended Leigh’s workshop on Creative Uses of Fountain Pen Ink (picture above) where she shared some of her tips and techniques for “making a mess” and getting artistic with materials one already has… not that I really needed more help making a giant mess. And lastly, I attended the Hanko Making class lead by Rui Saito, who wrote part of my Chinese name for me in her beautiful calligraphy.
There will be many more pictures to come of the pens and inks I picked up, and maybe a little bit of house cleaning to help my wallet recover… But in the meantime, thank you so much to everyone who came to the show and said hi! And to those who I haven’t met, I hope to meet you at a future show! Sometimes I loathe to admit it, but this hobby is great because of the social aspect — sharing a love of shiny objects (and journaling, plannering and making ink blobs) while spending uncomfortable gobs of money. What else could a girl ask for?
Katherine: The Metro was my first pen as an adult (and therefore first pen in ~15 years). It’s a sleek, practical pen that is comfortable for me to write with. However, I don’t love the metallic finish and how light the pen is. I’ve commented before that if the TWSBI Eco was my first pen I may never have gone off the deep end, but it wasn’t, the Metro was my first pen. It’s a good enough pen that it lead me to love fountain pens and keep exploring — but wasn’t a pen I loved enough to be comfortable sticking with (as cliche as “buy it for life” is, that was my initial goal). But, to the Metro’s credit, I used it for nearly a year before I decided I was willing to spend more money to try another pen.
Pam: I was really interested and excited to get my hands on a Pilot Metropolitan once I found out from the Pen Addict Podcast that the nibs on the Pilot Metropolitan were interchangable with the nibs on the Pilot Prera, Pilot Plumix (a stub nib), Penmanship (a EF nib) and Kakuno (the smiley face nib). I bought an all black Metropolitan and was a workhorse pen for me at work. It was a great gateway pen as I learned to use a fountain pen more on a daily basis. The Metropolitan taught me how to swap out nibs, clean the pen and the differences between using a cartridge and a converter.
Franz: The Pilot Metropolitan is a neat looking pen with a satiny finish that I enjoy holding. Its torpedo shape gives it a timeless look that I’ve seen in the majority of Pilot’s pens. If you search for this pen on the net, you’ll find that this pen varies either by the overall color or the accent design on the barrel. These accents give the pen some personality but still maintains its simplicity and subtlety.
The Business End
Katherine: I have had both a Fine and a Medium, and both have been smooth writers that are on the dry side — but not annoyingly dry. A great dryness for taking notes at work without having to worry about smudges. However these nibs don’t have a lot of character — I’ve never thought “wow, I’m EXCITED to write with this Metro!”
Pam: I preferred to use the Pilot Metropolitan with the EF steel nib from the Pilot Penmanship. It was the nib that worked best with cheap paper. My ink of choice “back in the day” was Private Reserve DC Electric Blue. The dark color was great professionally, however, there would be instances that the sheen would still come through, which is a treat for me! The EF nib had some feedback as one would expect, but surprisingly smooth for a $6-8 dollar pen nib. I suspect that if you like the Pilot Prera nib, you will like the EF steel nib. Both nibs state “Superior Quality” on them which gives me the impression that they are possible similar?
Franz: This medium nib is a very nice smooth writer with a little bit of feedback. I got to try out a fine nib before and even though it was a very good writer, my preference is a thicker line. I’ve always had good experiences with Pilot nibs out of the box.
Write It Up
Katherine: Now that I’ve explored more pens, I know that I prefer slightly larger and heavier pens. However the Metro is sufficiently comfortable for me to use it for extended periods of time. I’ve journaled with it quite a bit and drawn with it. (No choice really when you only have one pen…)
Pam: I really enjoyed carrying the Metropolitan for quick notes and for journaling. It was overall, a very well rounded pen for daily use and carry. I actually prefer writing with this pen posted. Yes, it can feel a bit top heavy, but I really enjoyed the total weight of the pen when writing. My only complaint because I write with a “white-knuckle-grip-that-horrified-THE-Micheal-Sull” is that based on my hand placement, the step on the Metropolitan is quite noticeable for me. Depending on my stress level, the step may leave an impression in the area between my thumb and index finger. Yeah… I knew when I had a stressful day at work…
Franz: Because the Metropolitan is lightweight and has a thinner section, I prefer to post the cap and grip it higher. Writing with this pen for twenty minutes wasn’t really unpleasant but I felt my hand cramp a bit.
Just like Pam, the step from the barrel and section can be a bit sharp and dug into my fingers. So this pen isn’t an ideal journal pen for me.
Katherine: +10 points for being a snap cap — easy to grab and get writing. Additionally, the metal body of this pen is durable — by the time I retired it, I had a small dent or two on either end, but no noticeable damage. It held up well to being thrown in my backpack (hopefully clipped to a notebook, but not always) day after day. However — of all the pens I own, somehow the Metro and the Prera (same feed, same nib, go figure) are the pens that spit the most into their caps when I fly with them. I’ve flown with at least a dozen pens at this point, and as long as I keep them nib up, other pens have been fine.
Pam: The Metropolitan was my most used “beginner” pen for it’s durability and snap cap. The versatility of the pen with interchangable nibs compelled me to purchase another Metropolitan when the retro pop ones were released so I can swap between the F nib and the stub nib (from the Pilot Plumix).
Franz: This pen is great to use on a daily basis for quick note-taking at work or on the go. I found no fuss when I used this at work as it easily clipped onto either my shirt or jacket pocket, and there was no delay in uncapping the pen.
I have to share that I found myself one-handedly capping and uncapping the pen compulsively at my desk. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this with snap cap pens.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The Metro is a solid entry-level pen. I personally didn’t find it particularly charming, but that’s just a personal opinion. It felt a little too sterile (and now we know why most of my pens are vintage. Complete with germs of generations past!) but checks all the boxes for a solid writer — good nib, durable body and comfortable to write with.
Pam: Up until the Pilot Prera or the Pilot Vanishing Point (oh, you will be missed my dear lost pen), the Pilot Metropolitan was my go to pen. Yes, the aesthetics of the pen may be bland as it doesn’t have the modernity of the Lamy Safari or the demonstrator quality of the TWSBI Eco (which wasn’t available when I first started dipping into the FP world), but it’s a solid pen for a GREAT price point. The price point is one of the best factors of this pen, as the threshold for entry of the FP rabbit hole is low. The pen even comes with a cartridge of ink! For a beginner “beater” pen that you can learn a lot from as one needs to get more comfortable with getting ink on their fingers, the Metropolitan is a wonderful introduction.
Franz: The Pilot Metropolitan is a great pen to have in your collection as it is a reliable pen that just writes when you need it to. This is a pen I recommend for no matter what hand size you may have. Of course, not every single person may like it so if you can, try before you buy.
In our TWSBI Eco review, I recommended the Eco as a second or third pen for beginners. The Metropolitan was actually the first pen recommendation I had in mind. I bought my silver Pilot Metropolitan from Goulet Pens in January 2013, and wrote with it for about four months until I gave it to a co-worker as she became interested in writing with fountain pens.(#Penvangelized!) This year, I gifted a Pilot Metro in Retro Pop Red Wave to another co-worker as her first fountain pen and she loved it as well.
Thanks for your time and hope you enjoyed our review of this cool pen!