Fountain Pens, Ink, Paper & More

I was browsing Lamy fountain pens in the price range of a Safari and stumbled upon this Nexx M in Graphite. The look appeals to me far more than the Safari, though both pens share a youthful style. I just think the Nexx M puts a little more emphasis on the word “style.” (I’ve always thought the Safari just looks clunky.) My only Lamy stub experience was a disappointing 1.9 mm, so I had to get this in the more common/useful 1.1 mm. It’s smooth, with just a touch of drag, but the line is a scant 1.1 in comparison to any other stub I’ve used. As a result, the effect is subtle. For a quick and easy inking, I just popped in the standard Lamy Blue cartridge, and was just as quickly reminded that it’s appearance is far too washed out for me. I prefer a more vibrant blue. Is the pen better than a Safari? For me, yes. Would I get another one? No.

Yes, yet another Nahvalur Schuykill, this time in Dragonet Sapphire with a double broad nib—my favorite Nahvalur nib size. What better to pair one of my favorite pens than with one of my favorite inks. This Monteverde Capri Blue was a “blind buy”—I hadn’t sampled it or even really seen a swatch. It had a super low price on Amazon, and I had previously had great success with Monteverde inks. So I have one of the big boy bottles: a whopping 90 ml. And I have no doubt I’ll use every drop. I keep coming back to it.

If one Nahvalur Schuylkill with a 1.1 stub is good, a second has to be great, right? Right. This Schuylkill in Chronis Teal might be even better than yesterday’s Betta Mint. For the ink, I quickly fell in love with Birmingham Pen Company. Grey ink is actually one of my go-to inks, so Birmingham’s Smokebox fit the bill nicely, with perfect shading. At times, it’s as light as I would ever want to go, but the darker tones help it pop on the page.

I wasn’t sure about Monteverde Olivine ink until I put it in this 1.1 stub. Nahvalur makes some excellent stub nibs—right up there with Kaweco, in my book—and this Schuylkill in Betta Mint makes for the perfect matchy-matchy. (Yes, I’m one of those.) It shows off some nice shading, yet you can actually tell the ink is green. My previous attempts at using this ink essentially looked black.

Since this is my first time sharing my daily writing here, it includes the following: the time; current temperature, expected high, expected low, current conditions; ink swatch; pen brand and model; ink brand and color; daily quote; English word of the day; and Spanish word of the day. Oh, and in the margin, I write my work schedule.

And yes, you don’t have to have good penmanship to use good pens.

Had fun this morning finally trying out these Ink Sample Vial Labels from The Dormouse’s Desk. These are the first seven of several dozen ink samples in my collection. It will be a slow process, as it is fun, but gets tedious quickly. That’s no fault of the labels, though, which take ink very well.

Not pictured are the handwritten labels identifying the ink in each vial. Although my Uni Jetstream ballpoint writes well on the labels, when looking at my poor penmanship, I can’t help but wonder if I should switch to a typewriter before I waste any more labels.

Coming soon is a review of a much-needed ink sample vial storage solution. Stay tuned.

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It’s Pen Chalet’s fault. I wasn’t going to buy another fountain pen for a while, but then Pen Chalet showed the new Monteverde Innova Formula M. After gathering my jaw up off the floor, I knew I had to have it.

The majority of the barrel is covered in a metallic weave. The weave is made up of bands of a series of metal (?) threads. This is most apparent on the ends of the weave. As these bands are seemingly tucked into the barrel, the individual strands separate a little more than they ideally would. This makes it sound like a defect, but honestly, I don’t see a way around it. So we’ll just call it the character of this particular design.

The trim is gunmetal, which Monteverde seems to prefer for a lot of their pens. And it’s the perfect choice for this design. As it should be, the nib matches the trim.

Speaking of the nib, I have the broad nib, and I must say, it just might be the smoothest broad nib in my collection. While it didn’t seem overly wet, at first, in writing with it more extensively, I found the feed was just barely keeping up with the ink flow.

As a lover of heavy pens, this one is to my liking. But if you don’t like heavy pens, you’ll probably hate this one. It’s one of the heavier pens in my collection. Posted, it’s almost beastly. Unposted, it’s extremely comfortable.

This brings me to my only real complaint of the pen. Uncapping, capping, unposting, and posting, require excessive effort. In my video, I struggled to post the cap. With a lot of effort, it made a loud snap. Think twice before using this in a meeting.

But there is so much more to love about this pen. It’s unique. It’s beautiful. It’s not outrageously expensive.

In addition to the blue one, it also comes in black and bronze. I would have thought that I would have bought the bronze version—I love bronze, and I love brown pens—but it was the blue one that called out to me. And I couldn’t be happier.

I am obsessed with the TWSBI Eco. So much so, I have EIGHT inked up right now, out of TWENTY currently inked pens in all. It's time to empty some, but which ones will end up on top?

Check out Fountain Pen Companion: TWSBI Eco fountain pens on Amazon:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s interesting coming back to my first fountain pen. A friend told me the Pilot Metropolitan would be a great starter pen, and he was right. (Thanks, Colin!)

Now, two years or so later*, I have a little more context with which to judge the Metropolitan. I now know its grip is a bit narrow for my taste (and comfort), and the medium nib leans towards the wrong side—the finer side—of what I like to use.

That said, I still have to say that it is a great pen to launch into this wonderful world of fountain pens. If given the chance, I’d recommend it to the fountain pen-curious, as well.

* In grabbing the Amazon link for the Metropolitan, Amazon reminded me that I last purchased it on February 12, 2019. That’s nearly four years! My, how time flies…

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Monteverde gets a lot more love for their inks than their pens. I’m a huge fan of both. Many of their pen designs are unique from any other pens. Their designs tend to be modern—like the Ritma—and unconventional—like the Regatta. They also have the world’s only (?) fountain pen multi-tool.

Monteverde Pens are frequently on clearance or deeply discounted. I recently picked up a black Ritma for $24! And the pictured Trees of the World “Avenue of the Baobabs” was snatched up on Pen Chalet for $46. Steals. Plain and simple.

The Baobabs has a 1.1 stub (far better than TWSBI stubs, in my opinion) that shows off this Krishna “Candle Day” ink beautifully. So I’m happy to use this as today’s pen.

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SPOILER ALERT: Moonman A1 wins.

I think I understand why the Pilot Capless is apparently no longer being made. The “special alloy” fine nib offers a joyless writing experience that feels dry with more feedback than I would like.* With a fine nib producing an extra fine line, the ink lacks any character whatsoever. Admittedly, this is based on the included black cartridge, but even black ink can have character. At a price tag of around $80 on Amazon, at the time of this writing, I expect better.

By contrast, the extra fine nib on the Moonman/Majohn A1 dishes up a fine line that actually lets you see the ink. With the option of a clipless version, as well as a handful of colors, the A1 has a leg up on the Capless. Not to mention the $41 price tag on Amazon, or sub-$30 on eBay.

To be fair, it’s not all bad with the Capless. The way the parts fit together is buttery smooth. The nib unit appears to be more ink-tight. And they come stocked with nibs ranging from extra fine to medium.

But with an extra fine nib on the A1 that writes so well, do you even need any other nib options? Okay, it would be nice. Like really, really nice. But I’m good for now.

* UPDATE Perhaps after “warming” the Pilot Capless in my shirt pocket, the ink seems much more fluid! Still lays down a super fine line, but a much better writing experience. The A1 remains my preference, though.

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