Tag Archives: fountain pen

Sho-Hakkaku in the Snow

It’s cold and snowy today, so I took the chance to sneak outside and stomp around (gracefully, mind you) in the soft sticky white stuff. This is the kind of weather I like best–gray skies, still wind, thick, fat flurries trailing lazily down from the skies to land in your hair like a dusting of powdered sugar. If you grab a clump of snow, you can even see the individual snowflakes before they melt.

In a pause between my frolics, I took some photos of my newest pen–a Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku in Ki-dame urushi finish. I funded it with sales of some of my other pens. (Because apparently, all the charm of precious resin and vintage nibs couldn’t compare to those of a pen coated in poisonous tree sap. True love defies logic, once again.) It was still snowing, so the sky was too dark for a perfect picture, but I tried nonetheless. I’m sure there’ll be more chances for us to get intimate in the future.

Sho-Hakkaku in the snow, all capped up against the cold.
Sho-Hakkaku in the snow, all capped up against the cold.

So on a side note, what’s that lavender bag in the background? I have no idea, either–I grabbed it off a friend who didn’t want it anymore, because it was the perfect size to fit my Sho-Hakkaku in. Judging by the designs, I’m guessing it used to be a Tumi accessory of some sort…whatever the case, it does its job well! The inside is lined with blue silk, the drawstring closes quite nicely, and the whole thing protects my pen from bumps and scratches when I’m on the move. And of course, it’s pretty, which is the most important thing. 😉

I ordered this pen direct from Nibs.com, so the nib was tuned by John Mottishaw before being shipped. Like my other Danitrio, it spots a soft 18k gold EEF nib, but since it’s still new, it doesn’t have as much line variation yet. The most interesting thing to note is that while both of my Danitrios write the same size width line (with no pressure on the nib), the feeling is completely different.

Writing with the Sho-Hakkaku is like gliding on ice–smooth and noiseless. Writing with my Takumi sometimes feels like playing around with a rounded needle–it’s smooth, but there’s still the occasional “poke” on the paper if you’re not careful. Looking closely, I can see that the tipping on the Sho-Hakkaku is actually rounder and fatter than the Takumi, despite the two having the same nibs. The side-nib view of the Sho-Hakkaku also resembles a rounded spade, while the Takumi is more angular. I’m guessing Mr. Mottishaw’s work is to blame here, and I thank him heartily. Both nibs write very well.

When I have more time in the future, I’ll upload more photos with writing samples. But right now, I just want to enjoy the snow day…and my new pen.

Sometimes the most beautiful things are startling in their sheer simplicity.
Sometimes the most beautiful things are startling in their sheer simplicity.
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Personal Penny #1: A Dusty Memory of Seoul

Once in the lower levels of Lotte World in Seoul, Korea, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a little pen store nestled next to the underground parking lot and a convenience store. Pen Cafe, it called itself, a tiny space smaller than a typical American garage, stuffed to the brim with pens.

Website here: http://pencafe.co.kr/

The display cases outside Pen Cafe in Seoul, Korea.

What a wonderful place. There were three “salesmen” inside—Korean men in glasses and business suits—and no customers. I didn’t speak any Korean, nor did I look the part of a typical pen-buying customer. If anything, I probably looked like a little lost schoolgirl who’d wandered into the place by accident. Their glances reflected as much, as they mostly ignored me.

But I didn’t care. Just being able to see the pens was enough. And there were so many of them—even exotic versions and limited editions of pens I’d never seen online before. So glorious! I spent precious minutes pouring over each pen in the display case, moving methodically from left to right. I was too timid to take pictures of the pens themselves—it seemed rude—but I did manage to snag a shot of a glass Parker display case with a giant Aurora nib on top.

Parker display case. Aurora nib unit. When you’re a pen lover, the more the merrier, I say.

I asked for some prices of their inks—Iroshizuku, Montblanc (of which they had the LE Winter Forest in a bottle!). The salesman took out a giant calculator, typed in the price in Won, and converted it to USD for my benefit. It was all full retail price, so I was disappointed and decided not to buy anything. They were still looking at me as if I were in the wrong place. I knew I should have brought my pens with me that day…

Eventually, I wandered outside to check out their displays…and was pleasantly surprised to see some LE on sale, like this Parker Duofold here.

I do believe this was my first time see a real LE fountain pen in person. (Montblancs don’t count—there are so many MB boutiques that their limited editions are something of a “norm” to me now…)

I wonder how old this ink must be by now…

Still, upon closer inspection, I couldn’t help but notice how dusty the pens were. Day by day, they must have sat in these display cases, watching the people go by, probably being ignored most of the time, maybe only earning the occasional glance or two from a random passerby…

“Mom, can I get this panda pen for my birthday?” “Oh sweetie, we can find one of those at the dollar store.”

So many layers of dust…so many forgotten years spent waiting and waiting….so many words left unwritten…

Did the pens hold their breath as the people passed by? Did they try to look sharp for the holidays, in hopes of attracting more eyes? Did they ever despair of getting a good polish once in a while?

Waterman Serenite Maki-e Phoenix

The Waterman Serenite really caught my eye—-so elegant and poised despite being incased in its plexiglass cage. I asked if I could have it taken out to look at. Just to see the phoenix design from different angles. I wouldn’t even try to touch it.

The salesman were adamant in shaking their heads. One even raised his eyebrows at the audacity of my suggestion.

Very well, then. I asked—tentatively, I admit—for a price quote.

The pen was so neglected that none of them knew off the top of their heads. They had to bring up the store website and look for the pen in their inventory listings. The result? Something ridiculous—a price that was easily twice or three times of those still on the market today. Not that there were many left, as Waterman only made 120 of these pens.

Number 58 of 120 pens made in the world.

There was nothing else I could do. I sighed internally and left the shop, leaving the salespeople discussing whatever topics they had on hand.

Walking back to the display case, I expressed regrets to my imprisoned princess. Raising a hand, I touched the glass in a vain attempt to wipe off the dust coating her slender frame.

How I wished I could have given the phoenix her rightful wings and restore her place in the skies…