Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen

6 09 2014
A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's Apache Sunset

A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler’s Apache Sunset

Some pens are just so terribly lovely that they make you want to cry. Even in a little cellphone picture on Twitter I could tell this was one of those pens. I tweeted the Goldspot Pens people, and they were kind enough to let me borrow this pen for a test drive.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

I opted to give the White Ivorine a try, and it looks phenomenal with the gold plated accents. I may have said this about other pens, but this pen truly makes me wish I had a billiard room. If I had the time I’d take it up to the Biltmore Estate and demand they let me do a photo shoot.

Everything is magically comfortable

How many shades can I make White Ivorine appear to be? All of them, apparently.

One thing words and pictures can’t quite convey is how luxurious the resin feels. You pick up the pen and it’s the first thing you notice—this is different. This is nice. The grip is comfortably sculpted, the barrel that becomes the threading for the cap has its edge smoothly rounded off. The little details of design all speak of expert handling—as well they should; every Parker Duofold is finished by hand.

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

The cap posts quite high up on the pen. Personally, I like the balance of the pen with the cap unposted, but it’s not too terribly back-weighted that I couldn’t write with it posted. The Duofold logo on the top is wonderful—can I get a Duofold signet ring so I can stamp this pattern in wax? Possibly on everything from there on out?

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

I almost want to stare at this nib more than I want to write with it. It’s satisfying, but rather firm for a gold nib (a deliberate condition, just something I wasn’t aware of going into it). I’m not trying to downplay how it writes, because it does a good job with excellent flow, but it’s not the kind of life-changing experience that convinces you to have a first-born just so you can give it up in exchange for the chance to write with this nib. It’s good, but it’s not that good. I imagine, however, that the more you write with it, the better it will get. I’d be willing to write a mile of words with this Duofold. The feel in my hand leaves no room for complaints.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

If you’re the kind of person who has Benjamins to throw down, this Parker Duofold will not disappoint. For the rest of us, now is a good a time as any to start a dollar-a-day Duofold savings fund.

 

Thanks again to Goldspot Pens for letting me try this pen!

Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens





Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown

27 06 2014
It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she's currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW EVERY SINGLE THING stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she’s currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW ALL THE THINGS stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

This pencil was the very first item I put on my JetPens wishlist nearly four years ago, when the madness was just beginning to take hold, back when more than ten dollars for any one item seemed exorbitant, luxuries beyond the comprehension of my budget. Onto the wishlist this went, a maybe-one-day dream, until to my surprise I opened the bubble mailer to see that JetPens had sent me this sample to review. Inside the clip, I see the year stamped “2006.” I think I’ll consider this both a birthday (June 24th) and belated high school graduation gift (2006). Thank you JetPens for providing this sample!

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

The body is shiny aluminum, specially treated (so I’m hoping it will prove durable). The accent is rubber, like the grip. The whole thing looks fantastically executive, in spite of being a magnet for fingerprints and little debris specks.

Subtle "0.5" label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Subtle “0.5” label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Guess what happens when you post the cap? As you push down and it snaps into place…THE LEAD ADVANCES. Either right now you’re hearing a choir of dragonfly angels singing joyful hallelujahs, or you’re thinking, “DUH, why would it not?” Hypothetical second person, it only takes one pencil in your life where that’s not the case to turn such an intuitively expected bit of design into a delightful surprise.

It looks like it's got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

It looks like it’s got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

If you grip low (like on the nose cone), then this design won’t suit you, but for me the grip falls right in a goldilocks zone of comfort. The rubber has just the right amount of contour, and the material is neither too smooth nor too tacky. The pencil itself has a well-balanced heft to it, with or without the cap posted. Feels like I should be penciling in some significant or substantial things.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Technically, there’s an eraser. Practically, I would save it for only the most dire of erasing emergencies. If lives are somehow on the line, and erasing is the only thing standing between you and certain death. The eraser is the lead stopper; to get to it, you have to unscrew the grip from the body. Remember this when the time comes.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It’s lead! What more can you say? The sleeve holds the lead securely, and the cap keeps the whole stabby lead situation from escalating into puncture wounds if you’re reaching in somewhere blindly to retrieve this pencil.

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

The Tombow Zoom is a simultaneously shiny and classy mechanical pencil that seems to hit just about all the right notes. Thanks again to JetPens for providing this sample!

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown at JetPens

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – all models at JetPens





Lamy Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

12 03 2014
Lamy Turquoise is a wonderfully vibrant, beautifully shaded, and quick drying ink. One of my faves

Lamy Turquoise is a wonderfully vibrant, beautifully shaded, and quick drying ink. One of my faves

The Lamy Dialog 3 is one of those pens that I bought after saving a dollar for every day that I still wanted it. This was before the price hike, and I made sure my local pen store, Office Supplies and More, saved one for me because I knew eventually I’d be getting this pen.

This is probably the only pen box that I really, truly love

This is probably the only pen box that I really, truly love

The Dialog 3 is a work of design art, right down to the slim and beautiful box. The matte black metal body is smooth to the touch, but like Pilot’s matte black stealth Vanishing Point finish it’s somewhat delicate.

Why did I put the Vanishing Point in the foreground? Because it has even more easy-to-spot wear. The Dialog 3 has some too, but it didn't show up as well on the camera

Why did I put the Vanishing Point in the foreground? Because it has even more easy-to-spot wear. The Dialog 3 has some too, but it didn’t show up as well on the camera

You can see where the matte finish has begun to wear away in places—the Vanishing Point finish does the same thing. I guess it’s just part of the sacrifice of looking cool.

Clip is up, clip is down

Clip is up, clip is down

What makes the Dialog 3 special is its twist retract/deploy mechanism. The nib deploys completely, a full and regular-sized Lamy two-tone gold nib, and when the nib deploys the clip draws close to the body of the pen, making it less obtrusive (especially when compared to the Vanishing Point clip).

The creature slowly emerges from its protective cave

The creature slowly emerges from its protective cave

As satisfying as it is to deploy, take care when retracting that you don’t twist past aligning the lines on the body or you’ll start unscrewing the pen. Once you get the hang of it, no problem, but I know there was a learning curve phase for me, particularly when I twisted slowly, and I often accidentally unscrewed the pen.

When Lamy has sculpted grips, I don't like it. When there's no sculpted grip, I find myself wanting some ergonomic consideration. There's no winning with me

When Lamy has sculpted grips, I don’t like it. When there’s no sculpted grip, I find myself wanting some ergonomic consideration. There’s no winning with me

I love the weight of this pen in my hand, but I do feel like the weight and the cylindrical body cause the pen to slowly slide down ever so slightly as I hold it. Some kind of indent in the body for gripping might help, but would detract from the aesthetic. No winning there.

14k, as opposed to the Vanishing Point's 18k. But, a bigger nib. I wonder if anyone sells gold nibs for scrap? Which of the two nibs would nab me more dough at Cash4Gold?

14k, as opposed to the Vanishing Point’s 18k. But, a bigger nib. I wonder if anyone sells gold nibs for scrap? Which of the two nibs would nab me more dough at Cash4Gold?

This nib is fantastic. It’s like writing with buttery whispers—smooth, smooth, smoooooth. The flow is perfect. This nib, a 14k gold F nib, writes about the same as a Japanese M. There’s a little bit of give to the nib if you press it to the page, but the pen is so glassy smooth, skating across the page, that such give never really has a chance to come up while writing since no pressure is required to write.

The Lamy Dialog 3 would probably be a lot more popular if the Pilot Vanishing Point didn't exist

The Lamy Dialog 3 would probably be a lot more popular if the Pilot Vanishing Point didn’t exist

In nib performance, the Lamy edges out the Vanishing Point on smoothness. In clip comfort, the Dialog’s low profile can’t be beat. But the Vanishing Point keeps a better seal on its nib (left unused for an equal amount of time, the Lamy Dialog will dry out faster), and when it comes to price and convenience of the deployment mechanism, the Vanishing Point takes that cake and runs with it. If you’re looking for a high quality workhorse pen, go with the Pilot Vanishing Point and save yourself some money.

Possible reasons to get the Lamy Dialog 3: you have collected every conceivable Vanishing Point

Possible justifiable reasons to get the Lamy Dialog 3: you have collected every conceivable Vanishing Point. You have way too much money. You have a personal family vendetta against Pilot.

The Dialog 3 is pretty purely an item of luxury—especially if you opt for the matte black finish. No one NEEDS the Lamy Dialog 3, and at the price it’s climbed to now the purchase is almost impossible to justify. But the pen is a thing of modern beauty. The writing feels wonderful. And if you do decide to buy one, I certainly won’t judge you.

At time of writing, the best price left on the Lamy Dialog 3 seems to be over at JetPens, and if there aren’t any left there the next best price is over 60 bucks more, and the regular retail cost is about another 80 bucks beyond that. Unbelievable.





Zait Jerusalem Olive Wood Fountain Pen

25 01 2014
The purple looks even better in person. A little more dusky I think than this scan could capture

The purple looks even better in person. A little more dusky I think than this scan could capture

I think I’ve found the exact embodiment of what ordinary people are thinking of when they think of a fancy fountain pen. Though I didn’t exactly find it—Zait contacted me to see if I would be interested in one of their pens, and without any idea what exactly I’d be getting I agreed. Thanks to Zait for providing this sample to review

Orange background plate brought to you by my favorite coffee shop, Joe Van Gogh.

Orange background plate brought to you by my favorite coffee shop, Joe Van Gogh.

Imagine my squealing delight when I opened the box and unwrapped the bubble wrap to this beauty. The beautiful wood (Jerusalem Olive Wood I’m told, though ‘TREE!’ is about the finest recognizeable distinction I can make when it comes to types of wood) goes perfectly with the chrome accents. The black nylon-coated threads to post the cap are visually balanced by a black ring between the wood and the chrome at the top of the cap and the black background of the floral center band. It’s a good looking pen.

Let's play a game called what color is the wood, really. The answer is: I cannot Photoshop to save my life.

Let’s play a game called what color is the wood, really. The answer is: I cannot Photoshop to save my life.

To post or not to post? I can’t decide. The weight of the posted pen is solid and reassuring, but with the size of my hand borders on becoming unwieldy. The pen is certainly long enough for me to write comfortably with it unposted…but there’s some ineffable quality that the extra weight adds. The faceted grip looks great, but picks up my fingerprints like crazy (so if you’re looking for a pen to star in a crime drama…). Any white residue on the nylon-coated threads is just a protective wax applied before shipping, and wipes away with a soft cloth.

Majestic mountains!

Majestic mountains are no match for the goat!

The nib is a gilded stainless steel iridium tipped Bock fine/semi flex. If, like me, you live under a rock you might not have known prior to a little Googling that Bock is a major nib supplier to a lot of companies. Though I no doubt own many pens with Bock-made nibs, this is the first I’ve seen with the Bock branding. Look at the little goat. Why a goat? Because Germany.

Just enough flex to make me feel bad for not being able to adequately utilize it

Just enough flex to make me feel bad for not being able to adequately utilize it

The semi-flex fine nib is a lot like the nib on my old Pelikan M150 in terms of both fineness and flex. It makes for a great everyday writing pen (I find fine nibs typically have the most success in random paper encounters) and, being both fine and a little bit flex, good for drawing. I did have to adjust the tines just a smidge* (one was a fraction of a millimeter high) but this is a fix so quick that it’s worth learning for every fountain pen user. Once the tine was in place it was smooth sailing—a nib with a nice tactile feeling on the page, excellent flow and no problems with starting, skipping, ghosting, or anything. Now, the aesthetic choice of a gold-colored nib on an all chrome-accented pen is another matter…

Not only is there a wax seal on the box, but there's a wax seal medallion INSIDE the box! IT'S LIKE THE ARCHDUKE OF FANCY WRITING IS HERE AMONG US

Not only is there a wax seal on the box, but there’s a wax seal medallion INSIDE the box! IT’S LIKE THE ARCHDUKE OF FANCY WRITING IS HERE AMONG US

These pens are handmade and hand-assembled. The Jerusalem Olive Wood is sustainable and sourced locally to the company’s production plant in Jerusalem. It comes with a converter and takes standard short international cartridges. This pen retails for $100, which includes registered international shipping from ISRAEL! Which probably isn’t very exciting when you live in Israel, but here in America I’m always excited when something comes all the way across an ocean. All in all, a very satisfying fancy pen that would make a handsome gift—for you or for someone else.

Jerusalem Olive Wood Fountain Pen — model ZPXXI — at Zait Pens

* When advised that I had to adjust the tines a little on the nib, Zait Pens told me the following: “We were very surprised by the non-alignment of the nib tines. Each of our fountain pens are ‘Road Tested’ for at least two days by our resident calligrapher to ensure that no problems arise with nib function. After each two day writing test the nib housings are dismantled, washed, re-polished and re-assembled.  Now you have alerted us to this problem we are reviewing our re-polishing and packaging techniques in case either of these may be responsible.”

I was very pleased with how responsive they were to the problem!





Sheaffer Taranis Roller Ball (Stormy Wine Feat. Gold Plate Trim)

6 12 2013
Fanciest Roller Ball I've Reviewed Yet! -- and just in time for my 150th review!

Fanciest Roller Ball I’ve Reviewed Yet! — and just in time for my 150th review!

Unless you are temporally challenged like yours truly, you’ve realized by now that the gifting holidays fast approacheth. Not to worry—Sheaffer is on top of it, and kindly sent me this sample to review and to pique your gift-buying interest. Thank you, Sheaffer.

Gift experience simulation: engaged

Gift experience simulation: engaged

Maybe you’re a jaded pen aficionado who has so many fancy pen boxes that you make box forts in your spare time—I’m not. Maybe this box is simple, but I was impressed. THE BOX COMES IN ANOTHER BOX, how much fancier does it get without turning into a Russian nesting doll of pen containment? And the box for the box? So perfectly wrappable that I couldn’t resist.

This picture is probably the closest to accurate color I could get. Reproduce the color in your home: put some red wine in a glass. I used Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink the wine. Keep drinking the wine. (If you are underage, make someone else drink the wine for you). Leave about a sip in the bottom of the glass. Look at that sip and squint.That's about the color.

This picture is probably the closest to accurate color I could get. Reproduce the color in your own home: put some red wine in a glass. I used Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink the wine. Keep drinking the wine. (If you are underage, make someone else drink the wine for you. If you are against wine, make someone else perform this experiment and take pictures for you.) Leave about a sip in the bottom of the glass. Look at that sip and squint.That’s about the color.

True to the name of its color, my Stormy Wine Taranis Roller ball arrived on a cold, stormy afternoon—and though I couldn’t have wine at the time (had to go to work) this is a perfect warm wine color. If this had been the fountain pen version, I could think of some perfect matching colors of ink…or if Sheaffer made a fountain-pen-ink-to-rollerball-tip converter…hint, hint, Sheaffer; my money dollars are waiting.

The ends are squared, like chopsticks. Using Sheaffer Taranis pens as chopsticks is not advisable. Talk to your doctor before eating roller ball pens as part of your heart healthy diet. Wwait

The ends are squared, like chopsticks. Using Sheaffer Taranis pens as chopsticks is not advisable. Talk to your doctor before eating roller ball pens as part of your heart healthy diet.

The Taranis (named after the Celtic god of thunder) is a design piece, no doubt. I might have to bust out my top hat, just so I can take my hat off to its designer, U.S. architect Charles Debbas. The details are simple but deliberate, and undeniably classy. I come down on the side favoring the long clip, but if it’s too plain for you I’d suggest finding someone to engrave a Celtic knot band down the face of it. But that’s just me; originally I thought (with my bad eyesight) that the SHEAFFER branding on the grip was something Celtic.

Haha, not even close. Does pronouncing "Sheaffer" with an Irish accent make it marginally more Celtic? Probably not.

Haha, not even close. Does pronouncing “Sheaffer” with an Irish accent make it marginally more Celtic? Probably not.

Even though the branding is upside-down for my left-handed perspective, I love this grip. It’s streamlined art deco. It’s modernized classic. Everything about this pen is lining up perfect for my hand—the ridge for the cap to snap on doesn’t hit anything, nor does the posted cap edge, and the weight feels nicely balanced. The cap posts smooth and snug, and doesn’t throw off the balance.

Seems the pen world is determined to start learning me a thing or two about roller balls.

Seems the pen world is determined to start learning me a thing or two about roller balls.

The refill it came with is a Sheaffer rollerball refill II (306), and it’s taking me some getting used to. I haven’t used a lot of rollerballs like I have gel pens, fountain pens, and ballpoints, so I don’t know if it’s common for the pen angle to so dramatically change the ink flow. It’s great for line variation in drawing, but for writing I’m still trying to get it under control. When I’ve got it, holy rollerball it’s smooth. It’s glorious. Like writing with power and butter. When I don’t, I cry out to the Celtic god of thunder to show me mercy and let my lines be consistent again.

Bartender! Quickly! Fill my glass! No, not with wine; more pens!!

Bartender! Quickly! Fill my glass! No, not with wine; more pens!!

The Taranis comes in five finishes, with boss-sounding names befitting a Celtic god—Stormy Night, Icy Gunmetal, White Lightning, Stormy Wine, and Sleek Chrome (translated: black, gray-silver, white, purplish red, more different silver) and is available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen. Thanks again to Sheaffer for providing this sample!

Sheaffer Taranis by Sheaffer