Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category


Review: Platinum #3776 Yamanaka Fountain Pen


Carol at Luxury Brands sent a Platinum #3776 Century Yamanaka for review several months ago and it has been a joy in every respect. But then I am a sucker for a clear demonstrator with silver furnishings and a nib that makes writing a pleasure.

The Yamanaka was designed to “reflect the image of a ripple of the brilliant” Lake Yamanaka near Mount Fuji. It’s a beautiful medium sized, light-weight pen, well balanced and comfortable in the hand. The textured effect reminds me of rain on a window pane and makes this pen very stable in the hand. No slipping whatsoever. Posting makes it slightly less well balanced in my smallish hand. For most users that won’t be an issue.

Loaded with Platinum Mixable Silky Purple, this is one of the smoothest nibs I have ever used. With practice, the soft medium nib will produce a very fine line to a bold 0.8 line. Typical of modern soft nibs, a little effort is necessary to achieve that range. However, it is good enough to create flourishes and a unique signature. When flex writing isn’t needed, the nib offers a hint of feedback and yet a nice grip of the paper. That makes it excellent as a daily writer.

The pen is a relatively wet writer so the line is just a little wider than a typical Japanese nib though not so wide as a Western nib. Throttle back just a tad and the line can be better controlled. Even an extra fine line is possible. Loaded with Platinum Carbon Black, it would make a useful pen for drawing expressive lines whether doodles or something more artistic.

Some users claim that matching ink and pen brand can produce ideal results. Filling the Yamanaka with Platinum ink might have made a believer out of me. All I can say is WOW! Match made in heaven and my little sample bottle of Silky Purple won’t last long. In addition, the ink is gorgeous in the transparent barrel though any colorful ink will look jewel-like.

Like other Century pens, this one can rest uncapped for several minutes without the nib running dry. Brand or color may contribute to how long ink will remain fluid. If you tend to pause while considering what to write next, this could make writing a much more enjoyable and relaxed experience. If you are a casual user, the Slip & Seal cap keeps ink from drying out even when stored for extended periods of time. No burps or hard starts either.

While I like the soft medium nib, it won’t suit everyone. My experience with a Platinum medium nib has been no less satisfying and I think it’s a size many writers could enjoy. It is a little less free-flowing so the line is a bit more narrow. Both pens make excellent daily writers.

Such perfect timing. The Yamanaka review is ready to post and the pen is in need of a refill. The breeze is gently tapping the shutters against my window and the lighting at my desk is as good as it gets. Time to close my laptop and put the pen to best use writing a long overdue letter. Life is good!


Update: öli ũclip magnetic paperclips


Recently some öli ũclip magnetic paperclips crossed my desk and got pressed into service. My initial impressions formed the basis for a review, but my opinion has changed enough to warrant an update.

Unfortunately, the colorful little clips don’t always stay in place. Unlike a traditional paperclip or a binder clip, these babies have too little tension to grasp paper securely. As long as my journal is closed tightly with a band around it, they keep pages together. Shake things up even a little and the clips wiggle free. The large one placed on the outside of a Midori Traveler’s Notebook literally took a nosedive for the pavement. It didn’t get damaged, but the papers went flying.

öli ũclips may well be the most attractive clip on the market, but for me they have turned into decorations rather than tools. Perhaps that is all they need to be.



Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pens


Nemosine Pens may be a new name to you, but it has been around for a few years. Unlike its competitors, the company has staked out the under 1.1 mm italic nib as a unique part of its offering. For as little as $14.99, is it a bargain or a waste of pocket change?

The box states

  • precision nib made in GERMANY
  • pen body made in TAIWAN
  • inspected and packaged in USA

So the pens are of mixed heritage. The box also announces a “3 YEAR PERFECTION WARRANTY.” Apparently they really like putting info in ALL CAPS including the company name, NEMOSINE. The packaging amounts to a simple white, cardboard box that contains the pen, instruction sheet, and some cartridges to get things started. Given the price point, this is an economical presentation that suits the product.

The two Singularity pens I purchased arrived in perfect condition. The company has misnamed the magenta since it is most certainly purple. The aqua is more accurately named and a very attractive color at that. Both have silver-colored furnishings and stainless nibs. Neither has any obvious flaws though they haven’t been in rotation long enough to know whether they will endure the test of time.

The size is very comfortable for me and the design is quite pleasing in the transparent, demonstrator style. There are other colors available. The Singularity feels sturdy, but lightweight. The cap screws on solidly which makes this model a likely prospect for a carry pen. In addition to the visual treat of seeing the inner workings, the level of ink is always on display. This feature makes a demo a very easy travel mate. Grab and go, you know?

Sometimes small things can make a big difference. The convenient piston converter contains a tiny plastic ball that breaks the surface tension and keeps the ink flowing into the feed. This is a plus and something all converters ought to include.

If you really want to load it to the max, this model can be converted to an eyedropper-filler with a smear of silicone grease. Get the sort used on fountain pens for best results.

Isn’t that an attractive nib? It really elevates the pen’s appearance over anything else in its class.

The Singularity comes in extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, 0.6 and 0.8 calligraphy tips. The 0.6mm nib is quite sharp making it an italic. It does not glide, but it can add character to letter forms. A lubricating ink will improve its performance. The sweet spot is on the small side, but in line with the nib size. This could make the 0.6 a challenge for someone who rotates a pen. It isn’t an insurmountable problem, but something to consider. However, the nib size is very well suited to grid paper and performed admirably with Noodler’s Purple Martin in a Midori #002 Traveler’s Notebook.

The 0.8mm is smoother and is not quite as sharp so it is closer to a stub. The sweet spot is larger, but so is the line. It’s an all-purpose size for me, but then I do like wide nibs. For someone who wants to explore stubs, especially with little investment, this is a good entry pen.

The two pens are twins in one regard. They are chatty with the 0.6 out-squeaking its sibling. Paper and ink can influence this trait so an ink that aids flow will reduce the chatter at least on a very smooth paper. I used to live with a Society Finch who thought a squeaky, chattering fountain pen was signalling an invasion. He would harass the offender until it went silent. I am not so sensitive and find the sounds to be inoffensive.

The weakest aspect of both pens is the flow, but I have found that to be true with other entry-level italics including the Lamy and the TWSBI Eco 1.1mm nibs. The Singularity flow is sufficient to keep up with the nib’s width and rate at which it puts down ink and neither pen has failed to write. However, at times the line isn’t as filled in as it should be or the outlines as consistent as one might like. Writing at the right pace for the flow will achieve best results.

For a brand comparison, the Nemosine nibs are more narrow and have more consistent flow than the Lamy 1.1mm. The Lamy broad nib is smoother and wetter than the Nemosine, but it isn’t crisp like an italic. Lamy pen has a unique style while the Singularity has a more traditional design.

For another comparison, I like the look of the Singularity better than the TWSBI Eco and the 0.8 stub is at least as good if not better than the Eco 1.1. Flow is more inconsistent with the Eco than the 0.8 stub, but ink can play a significant part and some brands and colors will be more helpful than others. Paper is a factor, too, and slightly absorbent paper pulled just enough ink from the Singularity nib to produce relatively clear, clean lines. Isn’t that a neat trick!

At the price point, there isn’t much to lose. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the Singularity and will get plenty of use from these low-end gems. As proof, the aqua demo with Diamine Marine earned its second fill in only a matter of days. From the standpoint of eye-appeal, it’s a happy-looking pen and is sure to follow me everywhere. Next thing you know, it will be begging for a matching journal and myriad accessories. My inexpensive pen could become a rather expensive hobby. At least I will have an abundance of color to show for it and that is always good for an inkophile.

xFountainPens offers the lowest prices I could find on the Nemosine Singularity and carries replacement nibs as well.


öli ũclip magnetic paperclips


öli ũclips are a popular accessory for Midori, Hobonichi and other journals. I purchased a few from Oliblock on Etsy who has them on discount Labor Day weekend. It’s a good time to buy if you want to add some eye-candy and organization to your reading and writing.

Here’s what I like. The colors are vibrant and the magnetic clips are secure. Placement is a little tricky as the magnetics like to grab each other. The vinyl is washable and durable. Since you are going to have these for a long time, pick colors and themes that will keep you happy.

Here’s what I didn’t like. The clips are thick so your journal will get a bit bulky even with the smallest style. Opening one is a two-handed maneuver but that is true with other clips. On the larger version, the logo is upside down and the image on the other side is unnecessary, unattractive and detracts from the colorful image. It says “LAURA LJUNG KVIST.” with the period just as I placed it. I think this is intended to be on the inside of the clip. However, when I make it so, the outline of the magnet is visible on the front. This is not a deal-breaker but something you should know.

As a final comment, I would prefer packaging that could be used for storage, but this is one of those “destroy it to open it” types. I might not use all five at one time and need a safe place to store them. At least the current package can go in the recycle bin.

The smaller clips suit journals well. The larger version might fit other uses in addition to holding sheets of paper together.

New öli ũclips get released often enough to make them a cute collectible along with being a functional tool. Not that any of us are collectors…


Nemosine Singularity Stub – First Look


Review notes for the Nemosine Singularity 0.8 stub.


Read the rest of this entry ?


Two Stub Nib Pens That Were Almost Created Equal


Recently, a TWSBI Diamond 580 1.1 Stub arrived to join my wide nib collection. The other stock nib model I’ve purchased in the past year is the Conklin Duragraph 1.1 Stub. How do they compare?

Although the pens look very different, both retail for $55 and discounts can be found on the Duragraph. They are the same length capped though the TWSBI weighs slightly more. Uncapped, the TWSBI is longer. Neither needs posting and both are well balanced without the cap. Build quality is good for both and better than expected for the price. Either should last a very long time.

Essentially the pens are comparable except for the filling mechanism. The 580 is a piston filler while the Duragraph is a cartridge/converter filler. The latter screws in which is uncommon and will help keep the converter properly seated. However, the piston does hold more ink – not a bad thing for a wide nib pen.

The nibs on both models are sold as 1.1mm stubs. Neither has tipping material and the nibs are formed from steel. Both models are smooth though the TWSBI has a very modest amount of feedback. The stealth nib on the amber Duragraph has even less feedback. Perhaps that comes from the black coating, but it is minimal and should be irrelevant to most any user. The uncoated steel Duragraph nib has virtually no feedback if that is your preference.

The corners of the Duragraph are more rounded than the 580 and it has a stronger ink flow. Because the nib is a true stub, it can tolerate some rotation without reducing that flow. Lines do not suffer from missing areas even when writing rapidly. The line quality in the images suffered slightly due to the pen needing a refill – not from poor flow. For some combinations of ink and paper, the flow may be too strong to dry in a reasonable amount of time. If you like a juicy nib, this one will do nicely.

The 580 nib has sharper corners and produces a slightly more crisp line. Consequently, the nib has a smaller sweet spot and does not tolerate rotation to the same degree that the Duragraph does. In other words, to achieve consistent lines, the nib needs to be more dead-on. It has less flow than the Duragraph, but that means more inks and papers should work well together. It isn’t lacking flow – it’s just not as wet as the Duragraph. The line is wider by approximately 0.25mm. For someone new to stub nibs or for someone who applies too much pressure, this nib might dig into the paper, something easily resolved by using a lighter touch.

I was asked which is the better pen. It isn’t that one is better, but they are different. In the hand, the TWSBI feels chunkier or maybe it is more solid. The Duragraph looks more traditional and has a larger nib. The shape of the grip fits my hand very well which makes it suitable for many hours of use. When writing for my own purposes, the cracked ice Duragraph does the job admirably. It glides across the paper and has become my standard against which all other stock stubs are measured. When writing correspondence with a bit of italic flair, the TWSBI would be the one. My daughter prefers my writing with the amber Duragraph and Noodler’s Antietam. Perhaps her artist’s eye sees something I don’t. However, the images show little difference. If you want to try out a stub, either will do.

Time for a caveat. The two Duragraphs arrived ready for work. The 580 had an issue that took a day on FPN to sort and resolve. Since TWSBI has had some trouble in the past with pen parts breaking, I was reluctant to tinker with it. But with suggestions from FPNers, I was able to make the pen work without causing damage. The bottom line with a TWSBI is don’t over-tighten it as cracks may develop. Customer service is good about making things right, but it’s better to proceed with caution and never need a repair or a replacement part.

Remember that nib grinding, whether by machine or by hand, is a delicate undertaking. The most minute variation can turn a nib into a stinker. Consider that should your experience with these pens differ from mine. Also, read the seller’s return policy in case you get a damaged pen. I ran into a very restrictive one recently and was put off by it for future pen purchases.

If these pens appeal to you, the Duragraphs were purchased from Pen Chalet and the TWSBI was purchased from Jet Pens though a number of retailers stock them. If your order doesn’t meet the minimum to qualify for free shipping, add an ink that shades well and you’ll be good to go.

Oh, if you wondered about the paper, that’s a Midori Traveler’s Notebook Grid Insert #002 sent by Jet Pens for an upcoming paper review. The Celtic i-clips holding the pages open were purchased at Amazon.


TWSBI Eco Review


If you haven’t ordered a TWSBI Eco, this review might make your decision easier. Dan Smith does a great job of presenting the pen’s attributes along with his impressions. Would I be giving something away if I said the Lamy Safari finally has a true competitor?


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