Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pen Frogs

Have you ever seen one of those pewter desk-top pen holders for $80 or more, with a sculpture of Atlas, a dragon, or an animal to hold one single pen? And did you exclaim, "That's ridiculous! There's no way I'd spend that much for a pen holder. I could buy an awesome pen for that amount!" You didn't? Oh, well I did.

Anyway, if you'd prefer a much cheaper solution to keeping your pens handy on your desk, a glass frog is the answer. I snuck this picture off of EBay because these are more interesting and colorful than the one that I have - mine is clear glass like the one in the upper right-hand corner.

These frogs are designed to sit at the bottom of a vase for flower arranging but are even better for arranging pens on your desk. And, they hold a whole handful of pens all at once. They are easily found in antique stores and range from $5 - $20. The ones with color are more expensive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Namiki Falcon & Cross ATX

This summer I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. And my affection for fountain pens was no mystery to my family and friends. Even knowing that, I was surprised by the quality and quantity of pens that I received. So much so that it will take a few posts to describe and review them all. These are the four fountain pens that I received: Cross ATX Basalt Black XF point, Namiki Falcon soft/fine point, Taccia Portugese black & silver medium point and a Laban Mento Tiger Pearl medium point. Two of them are outstanding writers (Namiki & Taccia), one is a very pleasant writer (Laban) and the last is an adequate writer (Cross).

Namiki Falcon.
The Namiki Falcon has a "soft-fine" nib, which is nothing like any other pen that I have used. When you read reviews on blogs and the FPN where people describe the one pen that "they can't live with out", this is one of those most frequently mentioned - and I can see why. The nib is 14kt gold and has a hump or bend in the middle that increases its flexibility. Since a Japanese fine point is more like an American extra-fine point, this flexibility greatly improves the feel of writing with this pen: you receive a very fine line without the feedback or scratchiness of an XF steel nib. In addition, the pen responds well to variations in pressure, so that there is a slight brush effect when you write. Thank you to my dear friend for this marvelous gift!

Cross ATX.
By contrast, the Cross ATX with its steel XF nib is extremely rigid and not all that pleasant to write with. I specifically "requested" this pen because I love the look and design of the ATX series (and it was on sale), especially the way the clip extends from the top of the cap down. It has a simple elegance that hints of Art Deco and is made of brass and chrome with a tactile matte black finish. One of the first fountain pens I ever purchased was the same series with a medium point nib (pictured below), along with a roller ball, ball point, and pencil - all in basalt black.

I bought the XF to complete the set. All of my other Cross ATX pens were made in the USA, but this last one was manufactured in China. This was quite a disappointment - not that I have any disdain for the Chinese but one of the reasons why I liked Cross so much was that it was American made, because so many of the quality pen manufacturers are either European or Japanese. Apparently Cross was aware of this because they used to print "USA" on the pen caps. I still think the ATX series is a great design - comparable to the look of the Lamy Studio, but the writing quality does not measure up. When I want to write in fine and extra fine I will pick up the Namiki Falcon or Lamy Studio instead.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bird on the Wire

The Bird on the Wire [right] and The Telephone Pole [below] are large pen and ink drawings using Rapidograph drafting pens. The Bird on the Wire was drawn from a photograph that I took and the Telephone Pole was drawn from life. The drawings were then made into full size limited edition numbered prints of 100 each in 1984. I rediscovered these prints recently during a move. Of those not sold before they were stored, a few were damaged. So, the total number of salable prints is less than a hundred. I've offered these for sale on Ebay. They were designed to be a set but they can be purchased separately. Each is signed and numbered by the artist. The unframed black and white prints are presented on 17.5" X 22.5" heavy textured paper and are faithful to the original drawings. The Bird on the Wire is $35.00 and the Telephone Pole is $20.00. The set can be purchased for $50.00. Shipping is extra.