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.





Pelikan M150 – F nib – 1988 Edition

14 11 2013
This scan is the only one I've been able to just about 100% color correct accurately. Which means it will probably never happen again, and look completely abnormal on every other screen on the face of the planet

This scan is the only one I’ve been able to just about 100% color correct accurately. Which means it will probably never happen again, and look completely abnormal on every other screen on the face of the planet

When it comes to the pen display case at my local pen store, I’ve always got my eagle eyes on, carefully examining the case every visit to see if anything new has shown up. Where these mystery pens come from is not my concern—mine is to navigate the financial dance that will allow me to take the pen home. And thus, I brought home this strange, old Pelikan M150.

Hello 1980s product packaging design!

Hello 1980s product packaging design!

I have to start with the box, my first identifying clue. “M150/481 F”—and what do the other numbers (“915 181”) mean?—plus the pen’s color listed in four languages (German, Italian, English, and French).

Why is the word for guarantee in French?

Why is the word for guarantee in French?

Inside the paper box, a nice plastic case. Inside the case, (besides the pen), the “Pelikan Garantie” in seven languages, with picture guides for use of Pelikan writing instruments and nib types, and an extra bit:

I am going to guess that was written with a Sharpie marker, fine tip.

I am going to guess that was written with a Sharpie marker, fine tip.

An almost illegibly-smudged stamp, and a handwritten date, both of which also seem to be French. What is the significance of the date? Was it when the pen was made? When it arrived in some shopowner’s stock? I’m a pen user, not a detective, but I think it’s probably safe to hazard that this pen hails from the same year that I do. Remember West Germany? So does my pen.

At the absolute least, even if the date means absolutely nothing, the origin of this pen can be dated to some time within the existence of the country of West Germany. French involvement is also safely suspected.

At the absolute least, even if the date means absolutely nothing, the origin of this pen can be dated to some time within the existence of the country of West Germany. French involvement is also heavily suspected.

But enough attempted history, on to the pen itself.

True classic

True classic, no other word for it

Normally I go for silver accents, but I like the gold and black. It’s classic. The pen has a small, compact body, comparable to the Pilot Prera, but thinner.

The contrast! Modern vs classic! European vs Japanese! So different, and yet so alike!

The contrast! Modern vs classic! European vs Japanese! So different, and yet so alike!

Posted, the M150 is a little longer, but for me it’s still a comfortable enough size that I can easily write with it unposted. Or write with it posted. Both are good.

Even though there is ink in there, it's safe to say that unlike many of the ones I'm seeing on eBay, this one does NOT have a green ink window

Even though there is ink in there, it’s safe to say that unlike many of the ones I’m seeing on eBay, this one does NOT have a green ink window

The M150 is piston-filled, and has a perfect little ink window that you don’t even really notice until the ink is low.

 The F stands for FANCY

The F stands for FANCY

The nib is gold-plated stainless steel, European fine, with a surprising amount of flex to it (not that I can make any use of the flex, as I am a chronic flex failure). Still, I’m pretty sure most stainless steel nibs I encounter are of the zero-flex persuasion, whereas this little guy is like “FLEX? SURE! LET’S DO IT!” The nib also unscrews from the body for easy customization.

Maybe the F actually stands for flex, not fine. Or maybe the world was different back then. Ok, the world was definitely different back then, but you know what I mean.

Maybe the F actually stands for flex, not fine. Or maybe the world was different back then. Ok, the world was definitely different back then, but you know what I mean.

I will note that when the pen came into my possession, there was some kind of pockmark-like pitting on the nib, along the slit, that I don’t think is supposed to be there.

I assure you, that is not ink. If only I had a jeweler's microscope so I could really get a good look at it.

I assure you, that is not ink. If only I had a jeweler’s microscope so I could really get a good look at it.

That said, I don’t think it’s had any impact on performance. This pen writes beautifully, right away, every time. The flow is excellent, even when I try flexy writing it doesn’t skip out, nor is it too juicy when I go back to writing normally. The nib is more of a tactile feel, not slippery-skating, but rather the satisfying feel of the pen on the page. Never scratchy (except maybe when held perfectly perpendicular to the page while writing, that does feel a bit weird on the nib), there’s just that hard-to-capture feeling of WRITING. I love it. And the pen itself feels great to hold, floating weightlessly and timelessly in my hand, waiting to cast my spell of words on blank pages.

IT'S A PELICAN BEAK DO YOU SEE IT I NEVER REALIZED UNTIL I WAS LOOKING UP SOME STUFF ABOUT PELIKAN TODAY AHAHA VERY CLEVER

IT’S A PELICAN BEAK DO YOU SEE IT I NEVER REALIZED UNTIL I WAS LOOKING UP SOME STUFF ABOUT PELIKAN TODAY AHAHA VERY CLEVER

Where to get one, I’m not sure. Pen shows? eBay? Wave your hands around at the sky and hope one falls off a passing plane? All I know is I love mine.





Cross Spire Titian Red Lacquer Fountain Pen – F nib

26 05 2012

The name slides together too easily. Crosspire. Perspire. Expire. Empire.

I’d waffled around on the Cross Spire for a while—it looked neat, but the standard diamond-dimpling just wasn’t my thing. But as soon as I saw the Red Lacquer model come in at Office Supplies and More, I said hold that hot tamale, I’ll be back on payday.

Do not eat. Not an actual tamale.

Sleek. Slim. Shiny. What more do you want, you ingrate? The cap screws on to close and to post, and takes less than a full revolution to do so. Convenience-wise, this saves time, but be warned: this makes it a little too easy to open. I have, on occasion, opened up my Nomadic Wise-Walker bag to find the cap clipped to a pocket, and the rest of the pen laying down in the bottom of the pocket, having come unscrewed of its own volition.

“Lustrous lacquers,” according to Cross. I would also add sultry shinys, buxom beveling, and a healthy dose of putting away the thesaurus before I pull a muscle trying to stretch alliterative synonyms together

Undoubtedly, this has got to be the thinnest fountain pen I own. The Kaweco Liliput or perhaps the Ohto Rook are the only others that comes close, but they are not standard length pens like the Spire. I’m not bothered by the thinness of the barrel, I just have to be mindful if I get in a blaze of writing that I don’t seize up my hand like I’m trying to bore through the table, one letter at a time. When I get like that, pens this thin will be uncomfortable to write with for extended periods of time. But if you prefer thin pens, you won’t need to be mindful at all (just don’t be mindless either, then you won’t be able to think of anything to write).

I’m sorry, grip, but size does matter

Visually, I wouldn’t change a thing about the grip. It looks so elegant. Practically speaking, however, having such a small grip adds one more point to pay attention to when I’m writing—this is not one of those comfortable-at-all-angles-grips for me. Let’s keep in mind though that I hold my pens like a broken-wristed cave-dweller; the grip isn’t a big deal, but it does take me an extra second to make sure I’m holding it in a nice, comfortable way.

Like art deco and skyscrapers. You know you’re in the fancy when the decorative silvery bits are described as “polished chrome appointments.”

The nib is 18k gold, and the pen takes special Cross Slim cartridges (standard international cartridges are too fat to fit in the barrel). I’m a little disappointed about the cartridges thing, as it means I’ll have to either refill the tiny cartridges or find a converter if I want to use any other kind of ink. Compatibility with standard model cartridges is something I like to see to draw people in to fountain pens (one less obstacle to convenience, having standard cartridges), but let’s get real; this isn’t an entry-level pen. This game isn’t being played where cartridges mean a diddly-dang-doodle; this is an object of art and luxury, and if that means having bizarre proprietary cartridges then so much the better for Cross. The pen writes fine (the kind of lines you’d need for everyday regular-world writing), and it writes well; it’s the sort of pen I’d use at work, if I worked on serious and important business things.

I’d say this pen is sexy and it knows it, but pens aren’t capable of having knowledge. Stop being so silly.

This isn’t a pen you need. It’s a pen you want. Come up with an important occasion, and reward yourself with one of these (unless you hate the color red). I’d recommend trying to find one in person, if you can, and if not, start bugging your favorite online pen store to carry the lacquered version of the Spire. You could hit up the Cross website, if you’re not interested in saving any money in this acquisition. Or you could try poking around online for deals—a quick, bleary-eyed search found a 30% discount at Pens & Leather. Let me know if you find a better deal and I’ll pass it on; given that I’m tired and I already have one, I’m not particularly motivated to sleuth out the best deal on this pen right now.