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Pen And Ink Links

09/29/2020

Are you up for a few posts about pens and inks?

From the archives, a very nice pen.

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A George Raft Autograph And The Pen

09/26/2020

Films and film stars of the 1930’s, 40’s and early 50’s have fascinated me for years. Film noir and musicals are of particular interest though the Thin Man movies and My Man Godfrey all starring William Powell are favorites, too. However, the man at the top of my list is George Raft, a dancer on Broadway before becoming a leading man in Hollywood. He was also a very good man, uncommon in the cut-throat entertainment industry.

George was born 125 years ago today, September 26, which got me looking at files and photos. Based on autographs, he most often used a fountain pen with brown ink. I have also seen him use turquoise. He appreciated and could afford the finest quality available so it would be reasonable to assume he owned a Montblanc pen. Both of the ink colors, especially for the time, showed sophisticated taste, not surprising for the debonair actor. I wonder which brand of ink he used.

This autograph from my collection looks to have been written with a ballpoint pen. What do you think? If so, that would date it to the mid 1950’s or later when ballpoints became common. The paper has yellowed and appears to be at least that old. “George” is written less firmly than “Raft” so either it was written on an uneven surface or the pen failed to write consistently when first put to paper. There are none of the blobs of ink that one would expect from a ballpoint so perhaps the signature was written with a fountain pen. Again, what do you think?

If you have an interest in George Raft, here are some notes from research for a possible tribute site. Perhaps because he was and still is a legend, there is a bit of inaccurate information about him circulating online. Correcting the record suits the investigative journalist in me. Whether that comes about or not, he made audiences during the Depression, World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, forget their troubles. For that alone, he has earned my respect.

Often remembered as the quintessential movie gangster, he was also a romantic lead adept at comedy as well as drama. He insisted his tough guy characters have redeeming qualities. None were all bad even the most villainous ones.

From his start on the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen to dancing on Broadway to making movies in Hollywood, George became a style icon, suave, handsome, kind, funny, charming, generous and ever the gentleman. Women whether fans or friends adored him. His prowess was legendary but he never spoke ill of any woman much to his credit. It might seem incongruous, but he was self-effacing, shy, and insecure. He needed no pick-up lines since his shyness kept him from making the first move. He was an unassuming ladies’ man for which he was richly rewarded.

A genuine tough guy, George was fully capable of decking any comer should one be foolish enough to ask for it and not afraid to stand up for what he knew was right. He was resilient, perhaps because life knocked him around, but it also made him empathetic and generous to a fault. He was forever giving money away and expected nothing in return. He basically lived by his own code of helping others whenever he could. He was a very, very good man.

George was one of the highest paid actors of the 1930’s. His earliest outstanding role was as the coin-flipping Guino Rinaldo in Scarface (1932). If there had been a supporting actor category that year, he would have at least been nominated if not the winner. Several other films were standouts include Bolero (1934), Each Dawn I Die (1939), They Drive by Night (1940) and Some Like It Hot (1959). My current favorite is Red Light (1949) for George’s performance though not the plot line. Nocturne (1946) is also a good film.

He dropped out of school at the age of eleven and for the rest of his life was embarrassed by his lack of education. His prodigious memory may have filled the gap as he was nevertheless said to be a most charming companion.

A lack of belief in himself, made selecting scripts difficult. George said he never regarded himself as an actor. “I wanted to be me”.

George had some very bad advice and made some poor choices of films. He made Bogart’s career by turning down High Sierra and, on the advice of his agent, The Maltese Falcon, a film that would have been perfect for him.

His acting suffered at the hands of mediocre directors. Good ones brought out good performances whether comedy or drama just as working with good actors elevated his delivery. He had chops as they say, but he was seldom encouraged to show it. Hollywood was a narrow-minded and often cruel place to work (still is), and George like Jimmy Cagney and other multi-talented actors were seldom allowed to stray beyond unimaginative type-casting. However, George was feisty and fought for what he thought would be better roles earning him a reputation for being difficult. His chutzpah was admirable even if his choices were not.

But first and foremost, George was a dancer. He was a self-taught, natural dancer who spent countless hours honing his skills. Known for his lightning-fast legs, sensual hip motion and light footwork, he was smooth, classy and could make the tango an act of vertical seduction. He was the bad boy any woman could love. (Links below.)

The quintessential tough guy said this about himself: “I must have gone through $10 million during my career. Part of the loot went for gambling, part for horses, and part for women. The rest I spent foolishly.”

Charismatic whether the villain, hero or someone in between, George Raft deserves legend status if not for the roles he played, then the man he was.

George Raft and Janet Blair Dance the Tango in Broadway (1942).  Another version edited to Dean Martin’s Sway. Watch their hands. Elegant and sensual even if suited to a G rating. The first clip is the original though interrupted by some cuts to other characters. It is still worth watching.. I have read that this film was at least in part based on George’s real life experiences on Broadway.

George Raft and Carole Lombard in Rumba (1935). Carole was not a dancer but she was very athletic. George had to manage her as well as the gorgeous dress. He makes her the focus but in truth he was the star.

George Raft Dances to Sing Sing Sing by Louis Prima (1929). Not the original score but very fitting. Look at the legwork and the fit of George’s clothes. He was still doing these moves when he was 60!

George Raft Enhanced Dance Scene from Loan Shark (1954). Not that anyone could imitate George’s swaying hips or smooth moves, but dancing with him looked like something even an untrained partner could manage.

More videos at George Raft The Dancer and films at Hollywood-The Golden Age. My George Raft YouTube channel and George Raft Films have clips and films saved while doing research. If you want to learn more, he has his own Facebook group called George Raft The Actor, Dancer, Producer. Good stuff there.

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Links And A Bit Of Green

09/15/2020

This photo turned up unexpectedly and reminded me how much I like green ink. Perhaps you enjoy it, too.

Why green? No idea really, but it is a cheerful photo from the archives.

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When Just A Few Pens Will Do

08/25/2020

Recently, I cleaned all of my inked fountain pens. Yep, not a single filled pen on my desk. Can you imagine that? A Platinum #3776 Century Nice from Luxury Brands is patiently waiting for a fill but which color? It will be the only pen on my desk for the next few weeks so it wouldn’t seem right to call it a rotation unless a mechanical pencil and a uni-ball Signo 307 count.

Well, that didn’t last. I ran across some swatches and resistance was futile.

Two pens qualify as a rotation, right? So it will be the Platinum with Kyo No Oto Kokeiro and a stainless Lamy Studio with Diamine Eau De Nil.

As for the inks, Eau de Nil has average flow from the Lamy and dries fairly fast. Kokeiro flows a bit too freely from the Platinum pooling enough to dry slowly depending on the paper. No feathering with either one. All fine but the colors are why I selected them. In this case, the blue plays well against the yellow green creating a nice pair for a minimal rotation.

That will do for now. I’m already considering inks for an autumn rotation despite the current heat wave. Stipula Calamo Verde Muschiato and Iroshizuku Yu Yake look promising. They could even be added to my summer inks for a four pen rotation. Wouldn’t that be neat and simple.

Shopping List:

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Pen Links For A Hot Weekend

08/14/2020

Temps are expected to hit 100℉ this weekend with rolling blackouts likely, perfect for some hot links to suit the weather.

 

Platinum #3776 Century Nice rose gold nib

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Friday Links And Clever Spy Pens

07/17/2020

Despite the temptation to think that lockdown days are all alike, retaining optimism for the coming weekend adds a little spiciness to Saturday and Sunday. A few pen links should start things off right.

From the archives:

Five years on, this passport cover continues to have a place in my life. It is no longer available but there are several at Amazon that might entice me to add a second notebook to my writing routine. The Traveler’s Notebooks tucked inside are good with fountain pen ink, Uniball-Signos, graphite as well as a variety of felt tips and gel pens. The paper is thin but will tolerate a light wash of watercolor. In other words, I can use any tool on my desk. Having no restrictions suits me just fine.

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Mechanical Pencils In The Spotlight

07/05/2020

Cult Pens has deemed July 5th as Mechanical Pencil Day making this a good time to review a few models beyond the ubiquitous Pentel.

Autopoint, Pentel, Ibis Sketch, Tombow MONO graph, Pilot Opt., uni Kuru Toga, Zebra DelGuard

For years, an Autopoint has been a staple in my rotation while a few uninspiring MPs accumulated in a drawer. No love for that lot. Then came the quarantine and the time to play with the unloved bunch to which I added one that is especially comfortable in my hand. Much to my surprise, I now like all of them if to varying degrees.

Just as pens and inks need to be matched for best performance and a satisfying writing experience, mechanical pencils and leads benefit from similar consideration. How could I have missed this?

Lead properties include diameter, lead darkness, smoothness, sturdiness and durability. Pen characteristics include grip, diameter, materials, lead advancement, and eraser size. Color and form are less varied than in fountain pens as MPs are more workhorse than eye-candy though there are a few pastel and neon models in addition to black, white, and red. Doesn’t that sound simple compared to the vast world of fountain pens and inks?

Best features:

uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip – Lead advances with only a gentle shake but the mechanism broke quickly.

Pilot Opt. – Shaker advance with wide barrel.

Tombow MONO graph – Locking shaker advance with long needle tip.

Zebra DelGuard – Tip design reduces breakage to zero for me.

Uni Kuru Toga – Lead rotates producing a very uniform line.

Pentel icy – Best value and availability.

Autopoint Jumbo All-American – Very sturdy. My first one lasted 15 years.

Ibis Art Sketch – Wide 1.8mm rectangular lead.

Zebra DelGuard, uni Kuru Toga, Pilot Opt., Tombow MONO graph

Comments:

Only the Autopoint 0.9mm with HB lead stood up flawlessly to heavy-handed use.

The Zebra Delguard 0.7mm with 2B lead did very well with soft to medium pressure. With HB lead, the tip did not break easily. This pencil is a very comfortable diameter for long writing sessions.

The uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip 0.5 HB has a gel grip and advances the lead with a gentle shake rather than having to press a button. This significantly reduces the interruption of writing flow. Uni Nano lead is less inclined to break in it. Unfortunately, the shaker mechanism broke after only two weeks of modest use.

Pilot Opt. 0.5 has the shaker mechanism so lead advances easily. It is a bit heavier than many of the other pencils with a slightly wider diameter than most and has a soft grip. The clip is far and away the easiest to use. Just push the top against the barrel and the clip opens.

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 is another pencil with a shaker advance but this one locks so the lead won’t advance if jostled in a case or pocket. The metal sheathing for the tip is very long making it especially suited to precise lines and for use with rulers. It is paired with Uni Nano Dia 4B lead for a dark line.

The Pentel Icy 0.7mm with Pentel B or HB lead is a little more prone to breakage but it is inexpensive and available everywhere.

The Uni Kuru Toga 0.5mm has a unique tip that rotates the lead so that it maintains a consistent line shape. The tip gives a little to accomplish that feat and for me worked best with a light touch. I like it best with Uni Kuru Toga 2B lead.

The Ibis Art Sketch Mechanical pencil is unique. It comes with a flat 1.8mm 2B lead that puts down a very wide line.The lead is too solid to break and very smooth.

Ibis Sketch 1.8mm lead

Conclusions:

I already own four Autopoints, so there is no need for another. If I were to purchase a second pencil from one of the other models, it would be the DelGuard 0.7mm. In addition to lead not breaking easily, the grip and balance suit my hand very well. Uni Nano Dia lead is strong and a good match for it whether HB or 2B.

The shaker pens are very convenient to use. The Tombow MONO graph with its needle point is perfect for tiny writing and fine details because the lead tip is highly visible.

As for 0.5 and 0.7mm leads, I used Kuru Toga, Pentel, and uni Nano Dia. The latter wins as it breaks less easily in the 0.5 size than the others.

At 0.9mm, the Autopoint HB lead does not break at all. For those who are heavy-handed, this lead in an Autopoint pencil might be just the thing. The line is a bit soft but that for me has been an acceptable trade-off.

The erasers are very similar in size with the Pentel and the Autopoint being somewhat larger. I rarely use them and prefer a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser when needed.

Not a day goes by that I don’t use a mechanical pencil. It is an essential tool in my kit and a bargain at the price.

Teoh review of the Uni Kuru Toga.

Product Links:

Available at Amazon from which I might receive a tiny commission should you purchase through these links.

Autopoint All American 0.9

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 pastel, neon or gunmetal

uni Kuru Toga 0.5 colors or black

Pilot Opt. 0.5

Zebra DelGuard 0.7

Pentel icy 0.7 (newer model)

Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker 0.5

Ibis Art Sketch 1.8mm

Autopoint 0.9 HB lead

Pentel 0.7 HB and B leads

Uni Kuru  Toga 0.5 2B lead

uni Nano Dia 0.5 4B and 0.7 2B leads

Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser block or stick

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