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 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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Parker 61 Fountain Pen and Pencil Set

I am probably the only fountain pen collector who doesn't have a Parker 51 or 61.  So, I have had my eyes on them for several years. But up until recently had not found one of the quality/style I would like, and that I could afford.  Yesterday - with the help of a very pleasant eBay seller - I purchased my first Parker 61 (pictured here).  I had been searching for either the black plastic model like this one, or the stainless steel Flighter. I don't care for the gold trim versions, so that limited my choices considerably. This set is in mint condition, and included the mechanical pencil, as well.  While, I have not received it yet - I already find myself with the dilemma of whether or not I should use it. I buy pens to use them, not as collector pieces to be displayed.  But this set almost seems like it should be kept in pristine condition. Plus, from what I have seen from other owners of the capillary fill system, they are not very easy to clean.  Hmmm...I probably won't be able to just store it away, since I originally wanted these as daily writers. My only other matching pen and pencil set is a Cross ATX, before they were made in China - same color scheme: black and chrome. If you have one of these Parker 61 sets, I'd love to read your impressions...please add a comment.