The Good, The Bad, And The Rest


Most often, pens, inks, and paper are great fun to use. Other times they can be stinkers. Almost as bad are the ones that are unpredictable or unreliable. Such is the case with a few of the products often mentioned on Inkophile and now is the time to put out some caveats.

YMMV hasn’t been attached to every post or comment but perhaps it should. For now this entry will suffice, but it will also earn a permanent presence in the sidebar. Any updates will appear as a post first with relevant info added to “The Good, The Bad, And The Rest” listed in the Pages section.

  • Fountain pen nibs are so easy to get wrong with just the tiniest manufacturing error. Some retailers check the nibs before sending pens off to new homes. That can be helpful, but I don’t always want a pen to flow as generously as other users. So that doesn’t always work for me. If you want to tweak a nib to get the perfect tip and ink flow, find a nibmeister who understands exactly what you want. You might want to put him/her to the test with a pen of no importance first or with one that has a replaceable nib should you be less than enamored with the modified one. If this is the right person for you, then send a pricey, special pen. However, any modification carries with it the potential for damage, but if you want a special nib, it might be worth the gamble.
  • Lamy 1.1mm nibs are inconsistent. The flow can be perfect, stingy, or anywhere in between. Perhaps because the nibs can be swapped, they slip into position incorrectly causing erratic flow. Be prepared to adjust the nib should you encounter a stinky one. Note that the fine nibs in my collection have flowed well without adjustments.
  • Levenger True Writer – rings, nibs, collars. The decorative cap ring has come loose on my older TW fountain pens but can be reattached with a spot of glue. More recent models have that issue less often. There was a time when some of the nibs were inconsistent. A new pen like that should be returned to Levenger. Another option is to send it off to a nibmeister and have it modified. I did that with a disappointing broad nib and now have a terrific stub. My biggest frustration with TWs is that too many of the collars have cracked. That is the part that holds the nib in place. If it is loose, the nib wobbles and that makes for a less than satisfying writing experience. At some point the collar may break entirely resulting in a leaky, useless pen. At least three of my TWs have hairline cracks so I am a bit jaded on this issue. I will continue to buy this model because the size, weight, and looks are just right for me but I will treat them gingerly in hopes they will last forever.
  • Pelikan piston fillers. In my experience, these are high maintenance pens because the piston mechanism can stop working. Then it’s off to the shop for a tune-up. Meh.
  • Apica 6A10 – mild feathering along some fibers like Moleskine paper produces and significant feathering on some pages. For me it is worth using because the texture is soft and soothing to my fatigued hand, plus the color is not light-reflective even under bright lights.
  • Staples Sustainable Earth Sugarcane paper. This is an inconsistent paper that I use regardless. Sometimes ink spreads far beyond the letter outlines but with the right ink and a fine nib, it’s good stuff.
  • Private Reserve ink and that sour odor. The smell is very off-putting but it doesn’t come with all colors. None of my other inks have this problem so I’m placing the target on PR alone.
  • Any fountain pen ink can spoil or grow mold. Always check before filling.
  • Ink stains from Namiki Blue and Iroshizuku syo-ro on Esterbrook barrels, and from Private Reserve Arabian Rose on a Levenger converter. I use all three inks more carefully now.
  • Photos and scans lie. So do monitors. Take all color rendering as approximate or at best, relative. Even things that are black can be misrepresented as gray.

There is one other thing worth mentioning. In my experience BlogSpot/Blogger is horrible for posting comments. I can only do it anonymously and at that there are issues. So if your blog is hosted there, please don’t think I am ignoring you. It’s the platform and nothing more.


  1. I know, Margana, I know! Blogger stinks badly. Now, migrating is an Herculean task right now.

    Thanks for keeping your blog alive.




    • Migrating would be a nightmare. Sympathies, my friend. Where is your blog headed?


  2. I was migrating it to WordPress, following your example. But I have, so far, given up. I have a BIG number of internal cross-links that are not modified in the automatic migration procedure enabled by WordPress. Leaving them behind meant that I had to keep the Blogger site active, thus duplicating the old information.

    Now I just discourage anyone asking from using Blogger.

    Thanks for your interest and support.




    • Too bad it isn’t simple but I understand the problem and how daunting it would be to create new links. That wouldn’t work for me either. At least you can deter others from using Blogger. That’s a very good thing.



  3. Funny how we are all so wonderfully different. The last few days I’ve been doing another inventory of all my pens because I bought a new one and commented, to myself, how I love pistons, and how my Pelikan pens (4), 2 of which are more than 20 years old, are rather reliable. But I do so appreciate another take on favourite products, nibs, etc…..so thanks.


    • Welcome. Pels were my pen of choice years ago. Several of mine were made in the 1970’s. Nice nibs but the plungers were in need of servicing. Of the four or five remaining in my collection, only one gets occasional use. I don’t dislike them but I have found piston fillers need professional assistance more often than other styles. To the plus I like that many of the nibs can be swapped. So it’s really only the filler that carries a caveat. Otherwise, Pelikans are good pens.


  4. Hi Inkophile! You’ve made a lot of good points here. I agree with the LAMY 1.1 issue which you’ve identified. I also agree with some of your Levenger True Writer comments, and wish they applied a bit more QC to their process. As far as the Apica 6A10 issue, I have not experienced this yet, but instead have seen this in the Apica CD15. I do love the smooth grey paper on the 6A10 and have found it to hold up pretty well with some wetter writers; the white CD15 is the one I have found to feather and I take care to use it only with dry-ish and finer writing nibs. Lastly, while I really enjoy the Staples Sustainable Earth tablets, and have purchased (or rather hoarded) several, the quality varies from tablet to tablet. It’s too bad. I still enjoy them though and I got such a good price on them that I really can’t complain.


    • Thanks for the feedback. We have similar tastes, eh?

      I don’t have experience with the Apica CD15 but am on my eleventh 6A10. The earliest ones were without a doubt more consistent than the later ones but that hasn’t deterred me. The number of pages that don’t get along with my inks is fewer than five per journal but I would have been remiss in not mentioning it.


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