Saturday, April 3, 2021

New pens for all the homosapiens out there

 Visconti's New Homosapiens Offerings

    I've written about the Homosapiens model before and the edition I wrote about was last year's "Blue Lagoon" model and since that came out Visconti has broadened the horizons of what the HS line can be perceived as. Before I go off talking about the new colors let me just copy and paste a quick introduction to the brand and the HS line that I wrote for my original Blue Lagoon review. The brand Visconti was founded in 1988 in Florence Italy and their Italian heritage shines through in the products they make to this day. Founded by Luigi Poli and Dante Del Vecchio, two avid fountain pen collectors at the time, the brand has had collectors and enthusiast in mind from the very start. All of Visconti’s pens and writing instruments are designed in a 15th century Florentine villa that shows the brands dedication to the past masters of Italian artwork. While Visconti has a lot of different lines and collections, the Homo Sapiens line is their homage to nature. The original homo sapiens is dedicated to the volcanoes of Italy, even using a mix of natural Basaltic Lava on the regular Homo Sapiens models but the line is ever expanding as you'll see with the pens I'm introducing in this blog. Alright, now that the history lesson is out of the way I'll talk about the first of two of the new Homo sapiens editions, the "Tuscan Hills".

Visconti H.S. Tuscan Hills 888

Aesthetics-    A lot like the other 888 versions of the H.S. this one is based upon another aspect of nature with the specific element being earth, last year's Blue Lagoon was based on water. However something a little different about this version is that this one's material is not quite as see through as the previous 888 editions, instead they decided to go with a more opaque resin that is still a little see through but not to the point of being able to see the internal vac filler rod or the ink color clearly. 
This decision was a good one that lends itself to the name tuscan hills because nothing about dirt, earth or ground is see-through so it is more true to form in this respect by not having it be completely see through. Visconti is also doing a little bit of a refresh with some of their products and logos recently, a refresh that I don't prefer over how things were before and its nice to see that the 888 is the same as previous versions in respect to the nib stamping and packaging however it is unclear to me whether the magnetic my pen insert at the top bears the old Visconti logo or the updated modern one. 

Performance-      It's no secret by now that Visconti makes beautiful writing instruments of exceptional quality and the homo sapiens model is one of the brands most iconic lines which means it may get a little extra attention to detail at the end of the day. I must admit that it is unclear if this model still uses the bock nibs found on earlier versions of the H.S. models or if they have opted for the new Visconti in-house nibs that are featured on the multi-colored lava models.
(Image for reference, Comes with a single tone nib)
In either case the pen will write very well, the bock nibs did have a small history of needing adjustments out of box but it really isn't too big a deal and its something that has been mostly fixed with the introduction of the in house nibs. The thing that makes me keep coming back to my H.S. is the ink capacity, this pen can out write some of the other offerings from other brands that are in this price bracket which makes it one of the best workhorse pens for everyday writing. This pen even holds more ink than the 823 from pilot which is often cited as a pen with a huge ink capacity, pretty much the only way to get a bigger capacity would be to purchase an eye dropper pen which are decidedly less common. 

Visconti H.S. Demo Stones

Aesthetics-    Seeing as how this is also a member of the Homo sapiens family the pen is pretty much the same in size and shape but the difference is obviously in the color options. For this 3 color collection Visconti was inspired by the beauty and opulence of precious stones and seeing as how there is a red, blue and green pen the stones in question are rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The addition of these colors are quite nice for the Homo sapiens line because it means that a full demo version of the model will always be available and not exclusive to the more limited editions. It is true that they has the skylight and crystal dream which both featured ink windows but these are the first full demos to be added if my memory serves.
One thing slightly different about these models is that in place of an emblem bearing the Visconti logo on the cap, they have an insert with a domed piece of the same color material as the pen to make it look like a cabochon gem insert. 

Performance-    The performance of these pens is going to be similar to the Tuscan hills but I know that these have the new in-house nibs so that is a nice touch but other than that performance and ink capacity is nearly the same!

Swing by and see these fantastic new colors in person, you can also try the nibs out if you've never written with a H.S. before but be warned, once you pick one up its hard to put it down! Oh, one more thing, remember to enjoy and keep writing!
-Kyle

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A new SHIPment of Sailors just arrived!

 New Sailors Come Aboard at Pen Boutique!

    Hello all you pen friends out there, this is Kyle and I'm writing this blog about something that inspired me today. As some of you may now by now, I'm back at my apartment in Japan and am writing our blogs remotely but today was a holiday in Japan which meant I had off from uni. With my whole move back to Japan I wasn't able to take any of my ink with me so I decided to venture out and get myself some new ink, I purchased Sailor's ink studio 141, 730, 653, 473 all of which can be purchased at Pen Boutique, but while I was out on this ink buying adventure I saw a couple pens up close that caught my eye. It just so happens that we carry these pretty limited Sailor models at Pen Boutique! Due to the nature of our relationship with the brand we are very fortunate to get a couple rarer options to stock and those are what I'll be showing you and talking a little bit about in this blog so let's just get straight into it!

1911 Large Bespoke Nibs


    If you are familiar with Sailor you'll know that the 1911 model is an homage to the brands beginnings and bears the founding year of the brand in the name. Don't let these black and gold cigar shaped pens fool you, they are not your average cigar shaped pen and the nibs are what really set them apart. Sailor manufactures all of their own nibs in house which means they can control the manufacturing process completely and that gives them freedom to do the unique grinds you can see in this dealer exclusive line of pens. This line has fude, concord, Naginata Togi, and cross point nibs which is really unique to have brands actually offer these directly from themselves as opposed to having a third party do work on the nib which is the only way to get these nibs from other brands usually. As you can see from the above picture, some of these nibs look as if they've been dropped or that they wouldn't write but that is the result of meticulous and precise alignment that gives the writing from the nib a very unique character. For Example, the middle nib in the picture is called a "Fude" and this nib will have an extremely wide line due to the increased surface area that is caused by bending the nib up however reverse writing with this type of nib is not recommended, the bottom nib is called a concord nib and is essentially the opposite of the fude, the nib is bent down instead of up and the benefit of this is that you are getting the best of both worlds with a narrow line initially but when reverse writing you get the same result as a fude!
Cross Music Nib
This wonderful and unique line of pens is available between $660-$900 depending on the complexity of the nib and construction, drop by and see them in person if you are nearby!

Iro Miyabi King of Pen

    This pen is another unique version of one of Sailor's most noteworthy models, the "King of Pen" which is of course, their own oversized flagship pen akin to the 149 or M1000. This new addition to the K.O.P has an ebonite body as the base of multiple layers of Urushi lacquer that is applied in the "Ishime Nuri" technique which gives the pen the unique look and texture. The thing I found really interesting about this model is that the section also has the Urushi work applied to it and if you are familiar with the regular ebonite K.O.P you know that the section is plastic instead of ebonite.
This is just an interesting little detail that sets it apart from the ebonite version and also begs the question of whether the section on this pen is still plastic or if they made it in ebonite specially for this model. Iro means color and Miyabi means elegant which means the direct translation of this model is "Elegant color" and each of the four colors represent elegance and gracefulness in the eyes of Sailor. You have the usual M or B 21k oversized nib option that is standard on most K.O.P models and they are available at Pen Boutique for $1,600 regardless of color.

Sailor Luminous Shadow

    These pens sport a couple similarities to the previously mentioned "Iro-Miyabi" line in that they are also using the 21k oversized nibs and they are also available in four distinct colors however these aren't exactly King of Pen sized. When I originally saw these I did think they were K.O.Ps but on closer inspection you can see both ends are flattened similar to the pro gear but it is more severe on these models. Another thing that sticks out is the interesting single cap band design that sports a somewhat modern font and definitely breaks from the normal K.O.P cap band design. Another unique part of this pen is that all the trim including the nib is "shadow" colored which is similar to what is seen on the "Wicked Witch" 1911 models but this is the first time they are doing it on an oversized pen to my knowledge.
I also like that they made the section from the same material the whole pen is made out of which, as I previously mentioned, is not a feature on the standard ebonite models and I just feel it gives a better sense of overall coherence. These pens are still Cartridge/Converter which is standard with the K.O.P models and while it would be wonderful to someday get a "Realo" or piston filling K.O.P I am fine with the converter. The pens are made from a marbled turned acrylic that make each pen unique much like how shadows are ever changing. These are extremely limited and only 300 pieces per color are available world wide so be sure to act fast! The Sailor Luminous Shadow models in all colors are available at Pen Boutique for $1,100 each. 

    I hoped you enjoyed this quick look at some of the most unique Sailor models we have currently available at Pen Boutique and while I'm not currently in Maryland, I did have the opportunity to go to some of my local shops here in Tokyo to take a hands-on look at all the models listed above which inspired the idea for this blog! Remember to stay safe in regards to covid as well as enjoy & keep writing!
さようなら、Kyle
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fountain pen items that are out of this world!

 Fountain pen items that are out of this world!

   
    Hello to all you pen friends, wherever you may be in the world, I hope you are doing well! Recently we got some exciting news that the Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars and was even able to send back video and audio recordings of the mysterious "Red Planet". This really is groundbreaking milestone in the history of space exploration and should be celebrated correctly, and what other way to celebrate than with some space themed stationery items? Let's take a look at perhaps the most obviously themed items that actually are not fountain pens, I speak of none other than the Fisher Space Pen!

Fisher Space Pen

    I think that even if you or a loved one doesn't know a lot about pens or stationary, you've heard of Fisher. The brand was born to solve the issue of the unreliable ballpoint pen refill and the final product ended up being almost indestructible. The unique feature of being able to write over grease, underwater and other harsh conditions are what landed the pens debut on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. The brand now makes a bunch of different pens in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors making them perfect for anyone. I particularly like Fisher pens because they are relatively compact and extremely durable making them a good option to throw in a purse or bag and not have to worry about if it will write or not. Perhaps the most popular of the models is called the Bullet and is the perfect size for a pocket and even has an adjustable clip. The Bullet comes in at around $21.25-$34.00 but I encourage to take a look at the full selection of Fisher products so you can make an informed decision for your own needs!

Colorverse Inks

    Arguably the stationary brand with the largest commitment to science themes, they have a massive line of inks sure to capture the area of study you're most interested in. The ink brand was started in South Korea with the idea of the universe being boundless and unexplored thus acting as a sort of muse for the brand. The brand makes both shimmer and standard inks which is always a nice thing to see, they also make the same colors (some) in both shimmer and standard which is something pretty unique and to my knowledge is specific to Colorverse. I think my personal favorite would be Hayabusa which is a spectacular purple color that is available in both shimmer and standard. The other nice thing about Colorverse is that they have quite a variety of sizes which means you don't have to commit to a whole bottle of a color you may not like. Colorverse inks are available at a reasonable price range between $6.50-$40 for the bigger box sets. 

Pelikan Moonstone

    Pelikan is no stranger to releasing some pretty fantastic special edition pens and their M200 special editions are no different. Last year the Special edition color was called Moonstone and was a gray, I'd describe it as a bluish grey ink but the pen is what really shines here. I must admit the initial promotion pictures made the pen look just like a translucent grey pen but it was actually a deeper and shinier pen with flecks of reflective glitter which really makes it more dynamic and colorful. The M200 is a fantastic steel nib pen as well and has a rather bouncy nib which can feel really nice and offer a little line variation, the piston also is very smooth and ink capacity isn't bad either. The moonstone pen comes in at around $192 and $26.25 for the ink but the two can be purchased together as a box set for $216. 

For the high rollers

    This is a pen that I've long lusted over and is one with impeccable attention to detail which is the standard when it comes to the higher price pens that they produce. This pen also placed the universe as its muse and has a portrayal of Adam from the famous Creation of Adam painting. The pen has Sterling detail throughout which adds a satisfying weight but the real prize of this pen is the enamel work. The planets and stars really have an understated beauty as if you were seeing them in the sky. The oversized nib with ebonite feed is buttery smooth and gives a commanding feeling when writing with it, I find that they also get the length of oversized pen right and the weight is also balanced nicely. I believe a small sapphire is also embedded in the clip of the pen which is a nice little detail especially when nestled in a breast pocket. The box for this pen is rather stunning and holds the pen up right in the air almost as a reference to the monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I said this pen was for the high rollers I wasn't joking, this pen can be yours for the price of $3,505 so come by and check it out!
さようなら、Kyle
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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

10 Tips to Help your Fountain Pens Last a Lifetime

 A Few Tips to Help your Fountain Pens Last a Lifetime:

    Hello all you wonderful pen friends, this is Kyle and I'm hoping that this quick list of ten points will help you maintain your pens while also maintaining your interest in your pens so that they will last a lifetime. Keep in mind that all of these points will be in accordance with my own opinion and you may have differing beliefs when it comes to something like inks or paper, and that's totally fine! This list is just to spark ideas or give direction to people wondering if they are using and maintaining their pens correctly. One more thing before we get into the first bullet point is that I won't be putting these in any particular order because everyone's priorities with pens may be different. Ok, enough intro, let's get into the first point!

Store your pens nib up

    This is arguably the phrase uttered the most throughout pen stores and pen clubs alike but is it really necessary? Yes and no. I say this because technically it is the best way to store fountain pens because they work on capillary action which means ink will eventually leak if they are left nib down for long enough. The no part comes from my own personal experience in which I used to have a big 40 pen case that stood on my bookshelf but the pens were stored sideways. In my experience with using this orientation to store my pens none of my pens have leaked and perform as expected, granted sideways isn't the same as face down but don't get bent out of shape when someone says nib up. Basically as long as your pens aren't nib down you should be good!

Clean your pens regularly

    If this list were in order of importance this would be close to the top and is the key to making your pens last a long time. As fun as it is to switch inks and try new ones out in the same pen, it is CRUCIAL that you clean your pen sufficiently before you do this. This helps to prevent internal staining which can be important with demonstrator pens and it also ensures that ink will not crust up in the pen which can be very hard to resolve especially in pens with tough or older filling mechanisms. Cleaning your pens is really simple and is almost a mindless activity that can be done while listening to music or watching something. The way I clean my pens is I have two cups, one with cold water and one empty, I expel excess ink into the empty cup then proceed to fill and empty my pen with the clean cold water until it runs clear. After that I leave it nib down on a towel to dry, come back after leaving it like that overnight and you should have a spotless pen! *Don't use hot water, it can pose a problem with glues, seals and solvents that may weaken or break with the hot temperature!

Choose your inks carefully

    The many colors, brands and varieties of inks may be overwhelming at first glance but there are a few crucial things to know before you ink your pen with the new ultra glitter sparkle ink. There are three basic types of fountain pen friendly inks: Regular ink, shimmer ink and water proof/pigmented ink. The first one is going to be the most common and generally speaking is the easiest to clean out of pens. The other two have actually particulate in the ink that makes them waterproof or glittery which is all good and fun but this means that they are more likely to clog your pens. My suggestion when it comes to using these tricky inks is to dedicate them to a pen that is easily cleaned, the pen I use my shimmer inks with is a TWSBI Eco because the nib and feed come out making cleaning really easy! *NEVER EVER USE INDIA INK (it will do nothing but clog and destroy)*

Use your pens everyday

    This step may seem daunting at first, especially if you have more than 5 pens inked at any given time which I have definitely been guilty of. My reasoning behind this is that it can prevent drying and hard starts because you are getting ink flowing through the nib every 24 hours. This is also just to take time out of your day to use these wonderful writing instruments that should hopefully bring you joy every time you use them. It is important to take time for yourself during the day and writing can be a very therapeutic way to use this time so try to do it everyday!

Invest in a nice case

    Whether you take your pens to school, work or maybe you just leave them at home, it is very important to have a safe place to keep and transport your pens. I don't take my pens out of my apartment very much but I have a leather wallet that has three pen sleeves inside so that my pens will be nib up and in a smooth, tight environment to minimize damage while traveling. I've recently downsized my collection to only 15 and those all stay in my rickshaw pen rolls which can also be stood up when wrapped up keeping my nibs from leaking. Please please please don't keep your pens in a drawer, I don't really like keeping them in a stand on my desk either, I think keeping them in a nice covered soft environment is best to minimize scratching. Also, don't put the case in a backpack or bag loose, try to put them in a pocket that's tight (in the bag) to minimize movement or you may find an inky mess when you go to write something.

Get fountain pen friendly paper

    There seems to be some misconception that using non-fountain pen friendly paper will damage or harm your fountain pen, THIS IS FALSE. Pen friendly paper does not really have any effect on the condition of the pen itself. It does affect the experience you will have during writing with your pen though. Tomoe River paper is my all time favorite fountain pen friendly paper because it minimizes bleed through and enhances the deeper quality of the inks I use. If you opt for non-fountain pen friendly paper which is less expensive, it tends to bleed quite a bit due to the watery nature of FP ink, feathering is also a very annoying problem that makes your writing look clumsy and messy when it really isn't, not great for business or legibility. With that being said, sometimes in a school or work environment we are forced to use lower quality paper and a way to circumvent some problems this poses is to use a thin nib size like F or EF because they putout less ink.

Minimize the amount of pens you travel with

    This one sort of goes back to the case point but what I mean is that you should really only carry a few pens when you are out on the town. I limit myself to three and usually end up bringing one fountain pen, one ballpoint and a pencil. This is because traveling with pens can cause them to leak and you are also risking something happening to them while you are out of the safe space of your desk or home. You could drop your case and damage it, someone could drop it while looking at it, you could drop it while signing something, Maybe I'm just a nervous person but I really really don't like taking my pens out of the house, maybe a safari or an eco at the most but my more expensive pens will be snuggling up in their cozy pen case while I'm out.

Know the limits of your pen and don't push them (careful when letting someone try a pen)

    This applies more to gold nib pens but I suppose could also be said for steel nibs, please don't push your nib too hard when trying to flex. Steel nibs, with a couple exceptions, don't really flex at all so just try not to put much pressure on the nib when writing and you should be fine since steel is a pretty firm metal it takes more to bend it. Gold is a completely different story and is very easy to bend. I tend to only flex or push my pens that have nibs that are advertised as being flex nibs because I don't really write with flex anyway but if I do I want to be careful about it. I will say that as you own and use your pens more and more you will learn how each nib and feed reacts to different amounts of pressure and you will become acquainted with the thresholds pretty quickly so its not something to worry about too much. If you ever find yourself wondering if you are putting too much pressure on a nib you probably are and should back off a bit. Also, please be careful when lending pens to people, make sure they are knowledgeable about how to effectively use a fountain pen to avoid innocent nib injuries!

Have fun with your pens and try new things

    This is obviously not a point to increase the longevity of your pens but more to increase your interest in the hobby itself and writing as a whole. You should always try new things with your pens whether its trying a new journaling style like Bullet Journaling or maybe learning how to write in cursive. These small changes in your writing norms will really spice up your writing even if it is just for you in a journal or maybe you'll impress someone at school or work. Go out and join your local pen crew and make friends, talk with people about pens, learn and grow your knowledge to keep up your interest in this fantastic community. Oh, and please please please remember to always Enjoy & Keep Writing!
さようなら、Kyle
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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Cupid's Favorite Pens & Ink!

Valentine's Gifts for your Special Pen Friend!

    Hey everyone, it's Kyle and in this Valentine's Day themed blog I'm going to be going over some of my favorite items that fall into the lovely Valentine's day color scheme. There isn't necessarily one direction or price range I want to go with but I'll try my best to include something for every price range to get you in the giving spirit. I always liked Valentine's Day and the colors, hearts, decorations and now that I have a hobby in which I can express that through creative writing, colorful inks and fun things that I can theme, I find I enjoy holidays even more. Also, every good Valentine's day has a Valentine's card to go with it so without further ado, lets take a look at how to give a spectacular V-day gift or maybe take those Valentine's cards to the next level!

Inks Worth Adoring!

Graf von Faber-Castell, Yozakura, 75ml- This wonderful pink was released last year and is a very well behaved ink from GVFC. The pink is fairly light but not overly so which makes it nice and legible, great for everyday writing or writing cards. Since this is a lighter shade of pink I would suggest a broader nib size but that's just what I prefer, you do you!
Diamine, Electric Pink, 50ml- This is part of Diamine's wonderful line of shimmer inks and this particular color has a silver sheen in it as opposed to a gold. This pink is very bold and legible which makes it a good option for any nib size however, since it is a shimmer ink you want to be careful about putting it in smaller sizes because of clogging but if you use and clean regularly you shouldn't have a problem. The shimmer also adds an extra festive touch if you are going to use this to write or sign some fun Valentine's day cards, I think actually that I am going to award this ink the most festive because the pink shimmer really does scream valentines day, cupid, love vibes!
Sailor, Ink Studio #131, 20ml- This is a true, popping, vibrant, pink and it is extra nice because it is part of the ink studio line. This means two things, you are getting a smaller bottle but I find I don't use pinks crazy often so I can stretch the 20ml a long way, the second thing it means is that is a delight to write with and is perfectly behaved as well as having spectacular shading. This is what I would describe as unapologetically pink and will really set your Valentine's cards aside, I really recommend any ink studio ink and this is NO exception!
Diamine, Candy Cane, 50ml- Surprisingly enough I think more of pink than red when it comes to Valentine's Day, which I feel is maybe the opposite of most people, but either way this is my obligatory red ink choice. It is a nice, mid-tone red that is not eye-shatteringly bright but also not too dark for V-day, the perfect cartoon heart colored red which in my eyes makes it the only correct shade to commemorate the day of love!

Pens Sweeter than Candy!

Aurora, Optima, Pink Kaleidoscope, $715.50- I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a pen that packs a big punch in a smaller package, Aurora's in-house nibs are a big part of this. The piston mechanism combined with the wonderfully clear ink window making it a great option for being so practical. The brand new pink color way is one that's perfect for Valentine's Day but it's very limited so grab it at retail price while you still can!
Graf von Faber-Castell, Guilloche, Yozakura, $385- This is the pen that was released in conjunction with the earlier mentioned Yozakura ink and is a lighter, more understated look than the Aurora. This pen gives me sleek, professional, elegant vibes and is really in the high caliber of gift giving whether you buy for a loved one or yourself. The pen also has a very nice weight to it and the guilloche texture is very interesting to the touch when compared to a regular smooth pen, overall a very strong and elegant pen to add to any collection!
Visconti, Van Gogh, Souvenir de Mauve, $239- This pen is what I believe to be the perfect V-day color way and mixes pinks from dark to light along with the whites which make a delightful pink mist effect. The color is based on a famous painting by the Dutch post-impressionist but the pen reminds me of a delectable raspberry ice cream with white chocolate which is what I imagine is the perfect Valentine's Day dessert. The price point also puts it in a fair gift price range and its not surprise that this pen writes beautifully, especially with thicker nib sizes the steel nib feels like butter. 
Esterbrook, Estie, Maraschino, $156 Regular or $200 Oversized- Again, here we have my obligatory red pen and is one that came out pretty recently, I chose this because I think its quite a good match to the candy cane color of the ink mentioned earlier. The Estie is a great pen and I prefer the oversize but both sizes take the same Jowo #6 sized nib which can make it a very versatile option if you have a lot of custom grinds. The Estie is also a very solid feeling pen that, despite being the least expensive pen on this list, holds up and maybe even surpasses a lot of pens in its price range!

I hope this list is helpful or can give you ideas on how to get festive this holiday season, Remember to Enjoy & Keep writing! 
さようなら、Kyle

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

My favorite Budget Friendly FP!!!

TWSBI Eco

Available in 13 Colors

Specs:

  • Description: One of the most affordable and well built piston filling pens that comes in a myriad of fun colors, perfect to start a collection with!
  • Nib: Stainless Steel
  • Material: Clear Resin
  • Filling Mechanism: Piston Filler
  • Weight: 21g Empty
  • Measurements: 5.46in Capped, 6.59in Posted
  • Ink Capacity: 1.75ml

History & Origin:

    TWSBI was not always known as TWSBI and in fact, they were not always making the fun, colorful pens that they've become known for. Originally named Ta Shin Precision, the brand was what is known as an OEM manufacturer. This means that they would make parts and equipment for other brands, now I know you're asking how this relates to them making pens today. In short, they were doing this for 50 years which means they are veterans in the manufacturing field and one day they decided to start selling solely under their own name, thus TWSBI was born. The name is an interesting one and is not without meaning, according to TWSBI's own website the name stands for the phrase "Hall of Three Cultures" which is San Wen Tong in Chinese. When reversed the initials becoming TWS and then BI was added which literally means writing instruments which is a really cool name. Enough of the brand's history, lets get to the looks of one of the best fountain pens I've written with (yes I mean every word of that!).

Appearance & Packaging:

    The pen has some very interesting and incredibly efficient packaging that has come to grow on me as I accumulate more pens and start to see the un-necessary fluff and pomp that a lot of other brands add to maybe justify their higher price points. The TWSBI Eco comes in a translucent clear box that is rather slim, when opened the pen is in a precision cut piece of hard foam that keeps the pen from moving at all and is by far one of the most secure ways of packaging a pen. Along with the pen you get a piston wrench which allows you to take the piston mechanism out, this can also be used on a couple non-twsbi pens, and some piston grease to make sure the Piston stays in good working order. The box also has a cool fold out manual that is only one page so the packaging is incredibly consolidated while still keeping very good care of the pen when it's on its way to a new owner. The pen itself is pretty interesting looking and is mostly a clear demonstrator with the exception of the cap and piston knob which can be in a variety of vibrant clear resins, my personal favorite is the purple.
 The pen does look quite contemporary when compared to something like a classic cigar shaped pen but I find it can brighten up any collection and may even be better for getting children started with their first fountain pen, a bit like the Lamy Safari in this way. The fact that every bit of this pen is clear makes it a really nice version of a demonstrator because some just have a big ink window but with the eco you can actually watch the ink travel from the supply, down the section, through the feed and out of the tip! Anyways, lets take a look at how this cool looking pen actually writes!

Nib & Performance:

    The nib on the Eco is one made of stainless steel which makes it rather stiff, that being said, it provides a very reliable line and to this day I haven't had any skipping or dryness issues. Pair the previous fact with the fairly large ink capacity and you have an affordable, cool looking work horse pen! Something that is a little unfortunate when it comes to the nib is that, unlike the diamond 580, the nib unit is not available separately in other sizes which means that you are pretty much locked into the nib choice you initially go with. While this added convenience would be nice to see, it is tough to think how TWSBI could manage this with the fairly slim and streamlined form factor of the Eco. Another thing to note is that the Eco nibs are friction fit, this means that instead of a screw-in unit the nib and feed are just pushed into place. 
This makes removal for cleaning pretty easy because you just CAREFULLY pull both out and clean it normally but the fins on the feed are rather fragile and can bend or snap off if you aren't careful so please exercise caution when cleaning. Aside from that the pen writes very nicely for its price bracket and I find myself recommending this quite a bit when someone is looking for a new pen or maybe even their first pen! Let's take a look at some pros and cons, then I'll wrap it up and let you decide what color you want! ;)

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Fun color choices
  • Piston filler
  • Large ink capacity
  • Demonstrator may help with learning how to properly clean a fountain pen

Cons:

  • Replacement nib units are not available 
  • Fins on feed are a bit fragile
  • Section may be a little slim for bigger hands

Price & Conclusion:

    Earlier in this blog I said that the TWSBI Eco was one of the best pens I've written with and that is true, value alone makes that statement true not to mention that it is solidly built and perfect for taking notes (which is what I mainly use mine for). The Eco can be purchased from Pen Boutique at $30.99 for the demonstrator color versions with special rose-gold toned editions coming in at $49.99. This is an exceptional price, for this you can get a reliable piston filler and a bottle of ink for around $50 and in some cases less than $50 which just makes this a pen everyone should have in their collection. If anyone, including yourself either doesn't have one of these or has expressed interest in getting their first fountain pen, I can't recommend a better option than the TWSBI Eco, oh, and remember to enjoy & keep writing!
さようなら、Kyle

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Best Everyday Carry Fountain Pen? A closer look at the Diplomat Aero.

Diplomat Aero

12 Colors to choose from

Specs:

  • Description: A very solid-feeling pen that can handle the challenges of everyday life while also providing a smooth writing experience.
  • Nib: Stainless steel or 14k Gold
  • Material: Anodized Aluminum
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and/or Converter
  • Weight: 41g empty 
  • Measurements: 5.5 inches capped, 6.26 inches posted
  • Ink Capacity: 1.03ml cartridge, 1.12ml converter

History & Origin:

    Diplomat has been making pens since 1922 and pride themselves on all diplomat writing instruments being manufactured in Germany. The Diplomat brand has had an interesting journey to get to where it is now and is only just recently picking up more and more traction in the U.S. market. Originally a small German brand, diplomat was purchased by its French CEO and is now being distributed by Yafa brands. The design of the Aero is one that is instantly eye catching and is inspired by the shape of a Zeppelin with its thin ends and plump center. It also has a propellor logo on the finial which is a nice little touch to really evoke the inspiration of the aircraft. Diplomat is also a relatively mysterious brand with not much information on the brands history or origin so I apologize if this section is lacking but lets take a closer look at how the pen actually looks!

Appearance & Packaging:

    The pen comes in a pretty interesting box that, at first looks relatively mundane, with a white slip cover that is protecting something pretty cool. When the cover is taken off you are left with a metal cover on a black box which gives a very sturdy and industrial feel to the product. When the metal cover is taken off you get the pen and a converter is included which is always a nice, convenient thing to see. The pen itself comes in multiple colors of anodized aluminum and some more special edition or exclusive colors that are really vibrant, making these modern pieces of design pop! 
The fluting of the cap and barrel has a double purpose, it helps the pen look like a Zeppelin but also removes some weight from the all metal pen which its good because this pen is quite hefty and I think it would've been too much had they not cut those pieces of metal out. I think out of all the colors my favorite is the flamed aluminum finish which was a raw piece of aluminum that they blow torched to give it a multi colored look. 
Now that we know how it looks lets take a look at how it writes!

Nib & Performance:

    This pen comes with the option of a Stainless Steel Nib and a 14k Gold nib that Diplomat makes in house. I've had the privilege of being able to write with both and I can say that you won't be disappointed with either nib option. I think I gravitate more towards the steel nib for this pen because it falls more into what I believe this pen is for, that is, a workhorse pen that I can throw around and not have to worry about it breaking. It is also a pen that I would give to someone who was interested in trying their first fountain pen and a gold nib would be too delicate and expensive for these purposes. Now don't get me wrong, I love gold nibs and this one is no exception so if you find yourself wanting a new gold nib pen I think that the minor price bump that it adds to the pen still makes it a reasonable and good option for a "step-up" pen. The steel nib is one of the smoothest I've tried and is tested in Diplomats factory before being sent out so it should write well out of the box and if it doesn't something is wrong. 
The one qualm I have with this pen is that the section can be pretty slippery because it is just flat anodized aluminum and while it has a nice weight to it, if you have sweaty or lotion-y hands it may prove a challenge to wield. Other than that I think this pen is quite literally a very solid choice for a fountain pen for people on the go or who don't want to have to worry about throwing their pen around. Lets take a look at my pros and cons and then discus price.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • option for Steel or Gold nib
  • Converter included
  • Affordable "next-step" price
  • Unique design

Cons:

  • Section can feel slick at times

Price & Conclusion:

    The Diplomat Aero is quite possibly one of the most durable fountain pens you can buy, I've dropped it, put it in a bag with no case, even left it outside overnight, it still writes as well as when I first took it out of the box. The Aero can be purchased at Pen Boutique between $156-$280 depending on whether you want a steel or gold nib. The flame finish is a little more expensive due to the process of creating the unique finish and colors. As I said earlier, I really enjoy this pen and sometimes its nice to have something not so delicate that you can use into the ground every single day and I firmly believe this is one of the best choices for that. Hopefully the Aero will fly its way into your EDC (everyday carry) and whatever you decide to do please remember to enjoy & keep writing! 
さようなら、Kyle

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