Tuesday, November 15, 2016

International Ink Cartridges

[PHOTO - left to right: International Short, Jinhao International, Waterman International Long cartridge.

Most of my fountain pens are filled from bottles of ink.  However, when I am away from home or office and not certain my pen will last through the day without a refill, I use a pen with a cartridge. Ideally, that will be a Waterman long international, which fits in my Waterman Carene, Levenger Truewriter and Jinhao 159/x750, among others. Most pens that will hold a long international cartridge will also hold two shorts - one installed and one in reserve. Frustratingly, this is not always the case.

What drives me crazy is the number of pens that are only a few millimeters shy of holding two shorts or a long international cartridge! Dear fountain pen makers: Does it never occur to you to test that before you put them into production? Way back when I first began collecting fountain pens, I was impressed by how smart that was that you could always have a spare cartridge in reserve inside your pen. But the more pens I collected the more I was surprised that was not the case. That irritation faded into the background the more I used piston-fillers, pneumatics, bladders, capillaries and converters.

[PHOTO - left to right: Taccia Portuguese, Levenger Truewriter, Waterman Carene, JinHao x750]

One of my favorite pens - a Taccia Portuguese is about the length of a pocket pen and writes perfectly, never drying or clogging, and no false starts. That makes it a perfect candidate for carrying around all day.  Except that it is too short for an average length converter. One short international converter is all that it will hold. Until now I have used a plunger style micro-converter, which probably holds less ink than even an international short cartridge. And since the Portuguese is a wet writer, it doesn't write long before needing a refill. The metal band at the bottom of the body prevents it from being converted to an eyedropper fill. So, it has always stayed home in spite of its portability. Until today, when an order from China arrived that I had forgotten about: 5 packages of JinHao cartridges (25 cartridges) for less than three dollars and FREE shipping!  The price was great, but even greater was the realization that they were medium length cartridges - a length between short and long international cartridges. This is a cartridge volume that appears to compare to that of proprietary cartridges like those of Lamy and Pilot. Unfortunately, I don't know the actual volume by comparison. But really, I don't care - I'm just thrilled to have an international cartridge that will last longer in those pens too short for long cartridges. Especially, my Taccia Portuguese, which can now become the awesome pocket pen it always was meant to be.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Esterbrook Radio Nib #914

The Esterbrook Radio Nib #914 combined with Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder, Model 40 (T-40) is a great combination for drawing.

The nib was found on eBay and the holder on Amazon. The two together were less than $20.00.

The Radio Nib is supposedly the one that Charles Schultz used to draw Peanuts. This nib is long and flexible and easily provides a variable line. It is easy to see why it was Charles Schultz's favorite nib.

The Tachikawa nib holder is made from wood and has a soft band that keeps your fingers from slipping and makes the pen very comfortable to hold.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wenger Junior Zippered Padfolio

The Wenger Junior Zippered Padfolio makes a great portable stationary kit, with room for four pens, stamps, pad and address book. 

1. Interior pocket is large enough to hold a small Kindle.
It also has pockets for credit cards and drivers license. The Padfolio comes with the smaller white lined pad pictured below (#3), not the Rhodia pad. The folio appears and feels well made; constructed with "Ultrahyde", (a form of bonded leather that looks and feels like real leather) on the outside and synthetic materials on the inside. The zipper is sturdy and pulls open and closed easily.  

The pen loops comfortably hold full size fountain pens. The pens pictured are a Cross ATX, Cross Apogee, highlighter and Namiki Vanishing Point. All that combined with the Kindle is a bit too much (#1), but it will all zip closed. Without the Kindle, it zips closed easily (#2). 

2. A Rhodia No. 16 tablet fits snugly.

A Rhodia No. 16 pad just barely fits and is considerably larger and thicker than the stock pad. A book-bound style pad, such as a calendar, Circa Junior (Levenger) or composition book will not slide in securely. The fabric slot for the pad only works sliding in from the top; that is it is horizontal to the Padfolio, and there is no vertical slot.  The interior pocket is roomy enough for a set of thank you cards and envelopes.

3. Padfolio with stock pad of paper.

The cover pocket does not zip or snap closed, but is great for stuffing in a small address book or small envelopes (#4). The address book pictured here would actually fit in all the way but was pulled out a little for the sake of the photo.

4. Padfolio includes one pocket on the outside.

At about $17.00 on Amazon (that includes shipping), the Wenger Jr. Zippered Padfolio is a great value for a leather(-ish) case, and compares well with genuine leather cases I have seen for as much as $95.00. Time will tell if it lasts well.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Release: The Meaning and Symbols of Holy Eucharist

The Meaning and Symbols of Holy Eucharist, which is an introduction to liturgical worship, has just been released on Amazon by Saint Austin's Desk, a subsidiary of Saint Austin's Pub.  (Ha! It's just one person: me.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Brand New Book from 1898!

How can you have a brand new book from 1898?

Well, when you order it from Abe Books and it comes to you with not a single page cut!

Books in the past were bound in folio form with larger sheets of paper folded and sewn into the binding, which meant the pages had to be "opened" (cut) to be read.  In the nineteenth century, books were being trimmed before they were bound, but some books were left uncut for the more refined readers.  A brief article and video about this appears at Abe Books here.

I enjoy reading books on Kindle, if it is a book I am reading cover to cover, but I prefer reading reference books and non-fiction books the traditional way - because I like to quickly skip around as I am studying or researching a topic.  The other problem with Kindle books are footnotes - especially from old books.  Several months ago I began reading the biography of Thomas Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry the VIII) by Arthur James Mason. It was one of those free, or nearly free, Kindle books with awkward formatting.  While reading, the footnotes appear in the middle of a sentence with a few odd characters thrown in. I can handle that OK, but it is often difficult to match up the footnote with the originating text.  Not a problem, if I wasn't interested in that point. But if it did pique my curiosity, I found myself wasting a bunch of time trying to find the source.

After several episodes of that, I decided to go to abebooks.com and see if I could find a used copy. I prefer hardbacks if I can afford them, so searched for that first. Surprisingly, I found a nineteenth century copy from England purported to be in very good condition, and it was just about the least expensive copy available. When it arrived I was pleased to see that the cover was in excellent condition.  However when I opened the book up I realized that not a single page had been cut. The book is 116 years old and it has never been read!  You might respond, "No kidding. It is a book about Thomas Cranmer. No wonder no one read it!"  I get it, but it is actually a very well written history book, and I am Anglican. So, I love it.  The crazy thing is, I am so pleased with the idea of having a new uncut book from 1898 that I can't bring myself to cut it!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Retro 51 - Tornado Elite Mechanical Pencil

The Retro Tornado Elite mechanical pencil follows the design of the Retro 51 pens. However it is much smaller, measuring only 3 3/8" in length. The Tornado Elite takes 1.1mm lead and comes with a tube of 20 refills, and a tube of six replacement erasers. So, there's no need to buy refills for quite awhile. As expected from Retro 51, the build quality of this little pencil is excellent. Even though it is small, the pencil feels substantial to use. The graphite used for the lead writes smoothly - not scratchy like some poorly made graphite. The eraser is soft and works easily. The pencil fits perfectly with a journal, sketchbook or small pocket.

I brought the Tornado Elite and a small sketchbook to the Chicago Art Institute to sketch some of my favorite pieces of artwork. If you are looking for a compact mechanical pencil, the Tornado Elite is an excellent solution.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Big Pens

I love large pens. However, it is difficult to determine the relative size of a pen online. So, here is a somewhat random assortment of my favorite large pens together for size comparison. They are listed left to right: (1) Jinhao 159, (2) Delta Scrigno, (3) Laban Mento, (4) Levenger Boulevardier, (5) Libelle Siena, (6) Sheaffer Legacy, (7) Pilot Custom 823, (8) Bexley Poseidon, (9) Visconti Rembrandt, (10) Lamy 2000.

If you had never held any of these pens, by looking at the photo, you might think the Libelle Siena or Sheaffer Legacy are relatively small pens. But they are both fairly large. They just look small next to the Jinaho 159, Delta Scrigno and Laban Mento, which are simply immense.