Posts Tagged ‘Parker ’51′’

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What’s Your Opinion Of Pen Brands

09/02/2014

You already know pens are not created equal. Those of us who write about them can only comment on the brands with which we have experience and that can be a limited pool given the number of pen manufacturers. If your favorite brand never gets mentioned at Inkophile, it is because I have never used a pen from that line so it would be helpful to hear your opinions to see what my collection might be missing.

Contemporary pens get frequent posts because readers can purchase the same model easily. Vintage pens get less attention because they are more difficult to acquire and have unknown backgrounds. Some have been well maintained or fine tuned by a nibmeister. Others have been abused if not mauled. Even a NOS (new old stock) pen may have been stored in inclement conditions causing stress to plastic bits and rubber sacs. But if there is consistency amongst multiple pens, remarks are in order.

With the exceptions of some obscure manufacturers with discontinued models, this is my list of pen brands.

Contemporary:

  • Platinum – Very good build quality. Nibs are consistently excellent in the #3776 line. The music nib is tops in my book both for shape and flow.
  • Pilot – Very good build quality. Nibs are good and offered in a substantial variety of sizes and shapes. I do not recommend the Custom 742FA due to significant flow issues. The resin Pilot (Namiki) Falcon is a mainstay in my rotation, but it does need use to achieve a reasonable degree of softness. Quite worth the effort in my opinion.
  • Sailor – Excellent build quality. Feels very solid. Nibs are very firm and come in few choices. A bit overpriced, but I’ve never owned a bad one.
  • Pelikan – Excellent build quality. Very smooth nibs. The piston filler is easy to maintain. This is my favorite European pen.
  • Waterman – Good build quality. Limited nib choices but solidly built.
  • Rotring – Very sturdy.
  • Sheaffer – Good build quality with limited nib choices.
  • Levenger True Writer – Disappointing build quality. Half my collection shows damage with only ordinary use. Some nibs are very good. Others not so much.
  • Lamy – Very sturdy. Some of the nibs are outstanding.
  • Kaweco – Good build quality. I can only comment on the medium nib which is smooth and flows well.
  • Retro 1951 – Good build quality. Very rigid nib that flows well.
  • Noodler’s – Build quality in line with price. Nibs are good to very good. The flex improves with use.
  • Jinhao – Disappointing build quality. Nib is decent.
  • Baoer – Good build quality especially at the price. Nib and flow are acceptable. This is the best of the Chinese pens I’ve tested.
  • Hero – Decent build quality. The nibs I have are fairly good but the ink flow is erratic requiring adjustment to be useful.

Vintage:

  • Waterman – Endures the test of time admirably. The pre-WWII flex nibs are the best available.
  • Pilot – Some very attractive pens. Elite short/long pens are risky as the plastic sections even NOS can develop fractures. The fine nibs can be scratchy.
  • Sheaffer – My experience is with the Touchdown model. Excellent build and nibs.
  • Parker – Vacumatic and ’51′ models are outstanding. Nibs are very good.
  • Pelikan – Have owned a dozen of the M200 to M400 models as well as a few others. Excellent build. Well-cared for nibs can be superb.
  • Reform – Average build quality. Can’t comment on the nibs since mine have been modified.
  • Montblanc – Disappointing build quality. Mine fell apart. The nib is fabulous – smooth and loaded with iridium.
  • Esterbrook – Some have held up well while others have not. The 9000 series nibs are good with the finer ones being scratchy.
  • Wahl-Eversharp – Good build except the levers which can become loose defying repair. The stub nibs are especially sweet.

These are general observations and individual pens may perform better or worse. I’ve used too many brands to remember them all, but these are the ones in my current collection as well as a few I have sold or given away.

Vintage pens are a chancy lot so no recommendations. However, the Parker ’51′ carries less risk due to its workhorse construction. I’ve owned a number of them and only one had a stinky nib that was in all likelihood greatly abused by a former owner. Pelikan piston-fillers can need a tune-up so look for ones have been repaired recently or are functioning well at purchase. That makes Waterman, Parker and Pelikan my top three vintage brands. If you want a truly wonderful experience, buy from someone who specializes in the pen you want. That doesn’t exclude eBay where guys like Rob Morrison sell fantastic pens at auction. Just look for a depth of knowledge and rave reviews. You’ll pay more but won’t have a pricey repair just to get enjoyment out of your new/old pen.

Contemporary pens are easier to recommend – or not. The Japanese pens are consistent winners as are the Pelikan and Waterman. I only have experience with one new Sheaffer, so am a little reluctant to give it a wholehearted recommendation though I found nothing wanting in the one Sheaffer sent for review. If you can work with the grip, the Lamy is good though the calligraphy nibs can be flow challenged. Noodler’s can be good, but the flex nibs need time to reach full potential.

So that’s my list. Consider it opinion to be tossed out if it doesn’t mirror your experiences.

Now what is your favorite brand of pen and how would you evaluate its build and nib?

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Fountain Pen Ink and Summer Heat

06/09/2012

Once a week my fountain pens get a little play time whether they want to exercise or not. Doodles and a few written words ensure the ink still flows and the filler isn’t empty. To my surprise this time, several pens were dried out and in need of cleaning. Perhaps I missed a week but the more likely scenario is that warmer weather caused the ink to evaporate. No damage has been done but cleaning will take longer than usual with dried ink in the nibs and feeds. It was a reminder to pare my rotation for the warmest months and to add some lively summer hues.

  • Diamine Claret
  • Diamine Coral
  • Diamine Jade Green
  • Diamine Mediterranean Blue
  • Iroshizuku shin-ryoku
  • Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
  • Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses
  • Sailor Yaki-Akari (turquoise)

My current utility inks, Noodler’s Zhivago and Waterman Florida Blue, are already loaded in a Parker ’51′ and a Waterman Carene stub. When temps get really hot, J. Herbin Larme de Cassis and Rouille d’Ancre will replace Kiowa and Nightshade.

From past experience none of these inks will be hard to rinse out should evaporation occur. Better not to have the problem in the first place, so my selection could get reduced further to one blue, one pink, and a turquoise all in wide nibs to maximize the effect. Summer will be colorful indeed.

Inkophile's Summer Inks for 2012

Inkophile’s Summer Inks for 2012

Swabbed swatches are fun but not great representations of ink colors. From a nib these inks will be more concentrated and darker. Note that Diamine Coral did not turn out accurately. It is more pale as well as brighter than in the scan. Kiowa Pecan is darker and slightly less green than pictured but to some extent that is dependent on the pen.

Thanks to Biffybeans/Stephanie and Ann Finley for some of the inks pictured here.

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Noodler’s Black Ink – The Proof Is In The Photos

02/18/2012

Ha! Thought you were going to see a bunch of photos in this post? Why reinvent the wheel when PenFisher has posted the definitive lot at FPN.

If I had to make do with just a single ink, Noodler’s Black would be the one. When I rediscovered fountain pens over ten years ago, black ink was all I used. The now discontinued Parker Penman Ebony worked well in my art pens so that was good enough for me. Then I discovered Noodler’s Black and realized a fountain pen could write even better, smoother, and clean more easily than with Penman. That opened the flood gates to the world of ink and I’ve never looked back.

Recently I ran across a Moleskine journal from seven years ago that had been paired with a Parker ’51′ Aerometric F. Mind you this is an old journal with arguably better quality paper than the more recent stuff but it’s clear that Noodler’s Black, Moleskine and the ’51′ were a winning combination. My daughter has used NB in a Lamy Safari F on inexpensive paper for the past year with nary a whiff of trouble. Moms and daughters don’t always agree, so take this as high praise.

Note to Nathan Tardif, the man behind Noodler’s:  If you ever decide to rename Black, consider Basic Black. Basic fits well because it is a foundation ink as well as a foundation color. As of today at least, it would be a unique name and you are almost as well-known for that streak of quirkiness you bring to ink naming as you are for your excellent inks.

Additional remarks from 2009 on Noodler’s Black in a calligraphy pen.

Leonardo Calligraphy Pen Meets Noodler's Black Ink

Leonardo Calligraphy Pen Meets Noodler's Black Ink

More on Noodler’s Black from Dave Garrett.

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Starting Out The New Year With A Clean Sweep

01/02/2012

What better way to start the year than with a thorough cleaning. Ten pens got the treatment and are drying, nibs down, in a wad of paper towel. That leaves a mere five for general use and two for testing. Does that sound like a lot? I assure you that is lean for me.

  • Parker ’51′ Aero F with Noodler’s Zhivago
  • Parker ’51′ Aero Special XF with Noodler’s Black (pen test)
  • Sailor 1911 F with Noodler’s Red-Black
  • Lamy Vista 1.1 with Iroshizuku shin-ryoku
  • Levenger Mink True Writer Masuyama CI with Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
  • Montblanc 220 OB with Rohrer & Klingner Magenta
  • Pilot Elite Socrates F Pocket Pen with Diamine Presidential Blue (ink test)

When a fountain pen won’t do, there are four more writing instruments at hand.

  • Levenger Starry Night Roller Ball with a black felt tip refill
  • Autopoint Mechanical Pencil
  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen with a black cartridge
  • OXO Pink Highlighter

Elena sent a couple of Mitsu-Bishi 9800 2B pencils that will get some playtime soon. It’s likely the Levenger Kyoto True Writer Masuyama Stub will get a load of Iroshizuku syo-ro or possibly Private Reserve Ebony Blue in the near future. I love writing with this pen so it never stays clean for long.

That’s my winter rotation. What’s on your desk to start the new year?

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Looking Ahead To 2012

01/01/2012

What are you looking forward to in 2012? Post in the comments. I will come back as often as I can to moderate them since I can’t keep the spammers out unless I check every comment.

I’ll start. I’m looking for more products to review but for now only a few acquisitions. It would be nice to have another stub or italic nib on a quality pen that is easy to clean. Another Parker ’51′ Aero Standard with a medium-fine nib or stub would be fab, too. A bottle of Iroshizuku and a couple of Noodler’s would be good additions and expand my rotation. Pretty simple, eh?

If I had a windfall, a camera to take pen and ink photos would be high on my list as would a new computer but purchasing a pen or two is more likely. A sweet flex nib would be fun but getting a good one is a challenge so I’ll stick with the stubs and italics. They get daily use and are a better investment.

Your turn. What’s on your list?

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A 2012 Moleskine Planner And That Paper Issue

12/11/2011

Last week the European Paper Company sent a Moleskine Weekly Notebook Diary/Planner 2011-2012 that I won in a giveaway. How could I not give it a test spin for Inkophile readers?

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2011-2012

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2011-2012

The planner comes with a supple, soft cover and two page layout. On the left side is a weekly calendar and on the right a lined page. There are lots of extras at the front of the notebook including a monthly calendar, schedule of international holidays, map of time zones, dialing codes, chart of measures and conversions, and more. The back has a pocket with a sheet of stickers. There is a ribbon bookmark and the whole package stays together with a neat elastic band. All to the good and fitting with the Moleskine brand and price.

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2012 - Interior Pages

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2012 – Interior Pages

As always Moleskine looks great and feels wonderful in the hand. The planner paper is thin which allows space for a huge number of sheets in a notebook a mere one centimeter thick. The good news is that the acid-free (pH neutral) paper feathers much less with fountain pen ink than the last time I tested a Moleskine. The bad news is that the paper shows significant bleed-through though less so with Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan, Zhivago, and Red-Black inks. Since both sides of the paper are necessary for the diary’s format, this could be a deal-breaker for fountain pen users.

Moleskine Academic Planner - Written Sample

Moleskine Academic Planner – Written Sample

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2012 - Written Sample (Reverse)

Moleskine Academic Planner for 2012 – Written Sample (Reverse)

Other writing instruments worked better but still there was a little ghosting. With such thin paper, this is to be expected. Years ago I used a Parker ’51′ Aero Special with a fine nib and Noodler’s Black ink in a Moleskine journal with good results. Pendemonium‘s Noodler’s Legal Lapis worked well as did J. Herbin Poussière de Lune. I suspect all would be good with this planner as well.  The Sharpie Pen and the Zig Millennium 05 were well-suited to the narrow line-spacing. In fact due to its fine point, the Sharpie will be my first choice for the Moleskine when I don’t have the ’51′ with Zhivago to hand. When I need color the Millennium with Pure Violet ink will do.

One of these days I’d like to test a recently manufactured regular Moleskine journal to see if the bleeding is an issue. Writing on one side of the page would solve the problem though it would be a less than economical use of the journal. There have been enough remarks on Fountain Pen Network from people who have no issues with Moleskine to make me think there are pens and inks that suit the paper beautifully. If you have had that sort of experience, the Moleskine Weekly Planner should be just right. If not, then expect to test and experiment until you find a suitable match. If you love fat juicey pens, I wouldn’[t recommend the Moleskine. Switch your pen or find a different planner, one known for tolerating fountain pen ink.

Parker '51' With J. Herbin Vert Empire On Moleskine

Parker ’51′ With J. Herbin Vert Empire In An Old Moleskine

Some non-fountain pen ink tests from DIYSara.

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Fun, Edgy, Fanciful Notebooks From Daycraft

12/10/2011

With the end of the year approaching, it is time to consider new options for 2012. Have you heard of Daycraft? They make some of the best looking journals and diaries on the market. Whether edgy, fanciful, or twinged with humor, each design hits an aesthetic vibe. Something for everyone, no?

Daycraft Skinz Notebook

Daycraft Skinz Notebook

The company sent a few notebooks for review and I must say they are easily some of the most interesting looking journals I’ve seen anywhere. Unfortunately, they have yet to enter the U.S. market. Someone really ought to import this line even if only on a limited basis. The Cookie Bookie Notebooks are especially fun and received high marks for unique appeal and ingenuity from the group here. (See update below.)

Daycraft Cookie Bookie Notebook in the Cheese Cracker Version

Daycraft Cookie Bookie Notebook in the Cheese Cracker Version

The attention to detail in the presentation is amazing as you can see on the Daycraft website. But once you move past the packaging and the brilliantly designed covers, will the paper deliver an acceptable fountain pen experience?

Daycraft Illusions Notebook Written Sample

Daycraft Illusions Notebook Written Sample

The good news is that fountain pen ink works very well in the Illusions Notebook I used for testing purposes. The paper has a smooth but not coated feel so ink dried quickly. There was a tiny bit of feathering and a few indistinct edges with the most free-flowing nibs and inks. For a private journal this level of performance would not concern me but it could bother a perfectionist.

Daycraft Illusions Written Sample (back)

Daycraft Illusions Written Sample (back)

The bad news is that the ink showed on the back of the paper. Writing instruments other than fountain pens worked much better. I used mostly pens of the felt tip variety since they tend to misbehave more than rollerballs and ballpoints. Even the Sharpie Permanent Marker Ultra Fine Point performed with only the faintest ghosting. However, count on one-sided use with most fountain pens sporting nibs graded larger than fine with a few possible exceptions.

To my surprise Noodler’s Zhivago in a vintage Parker ’51′ Aero fine and Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan in a Levenger True Writer custom cursive italic did not even show on the reverse. Noodler’s Red-Black in a Sailor 1911 fine showed only very lightly. No other brand of ink fared so well. Individual colors may or may not bleed-through but success with three Noodler’s should mean others will provide a good experience, too. A wet writer or a wet ink will have problems but experimentation might reveal colors in other brands that can handle the paper.

Daycraft notebooks are so cool, I would use them regardless of any bleed-through. Yes, every once in a while, form takes precedence over function even for an inkophile.

Daycraft Slab Notebook in Gold

Daycraft Slab Notebook in Gold

Update: MOMA carries the Cookie Bookie Notebook! I just learned there is a USA distributor for whom I can provide contact information if you are a retailer interested in stocking the Daycraft line.

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