Tag Archives: writing instruments

Perfectly Pleased with My PPP

Sometimes, pens are perfect just as they are…

…until they break. Ack.

This one happened purely by accident. I was writing with my Sho-Hakkaku in my Apica notebook on my knees. Apica, a Japanese brand, makes very nice, glassy-smooth paper—but rather floppy notebooks. One overzealous loop with an “O” sent my pen skidding across the page—even as the notebook slid from from lap. The result? A freshly sprung nib.


Luckily, fountain pen-verse is full of nibmeisters, and I’d been wanting to try one out for a while. So I got in touch with Mr. Pendleton and sent him my pen to be fixed. For good measure, I asked that he add a bit of stub to it too, since the EEF was quite thicker than my other Danitrio. I figured I’d have enough ink to feed a fat nib with my eyedropper conversion.

I was expecting the standard wait time of 3~4 weeks, but Mr. Pendleton managed to deliver even sooner than that and I got it by yesterday morning. My pen’s good looks must have charmed him, who knows? 😉 In any case, I did promise a writing sample with this pen—so here it is, with added pizzazz!

I call this a thank-you doodle-note. (Doodote? Notoodle?)
I call this a thank-you doodle-note. (Doodote? Notoodle?)
Now if only nibmeisters can find some way to modify the nib size displays as well as the nib itself...
Now if only nibmeisters can find some way to modify the nib size displays as well as the nib itself…

Personal Penny #2: Of Dostoevsky, Dreams, & the Holy Grail

Hang around the FPN forums long enough, and you’ll eventually stumble upon the words “holy grail pen”.

No, it’s not a pen modeled after the Holy Grail or King Arthur legends (though that’d be cool—-imagine having Excalibur as your pen clip!). It’s just a generic term for that pen (or pens) you’ve been wanting to get but haven’t because of its cost and/or availability.

For me, there are holy grail pens, and then there are dream pens—the kinds you also want to get, but have a slightly better chance at actually buying. The differences between Dream pens and Grail pens are in degrees. Both can hit you when you least expect it, leave a lasting impression that makes you want more, and dig a hole in your heart until you fill it up by actually buying the darned thing. (Or give up. There’s always the option to give up.)

Grail pens just hit harder and dig deeper—because they’re just that much more difficult to get.

I consider myself lucky to be picky about my pens—it means I don’t get hit with the OMG-Want-This-Now Bug as often. Still, I have fallen victim once or twice…maybe even thrice.

Take, for example, the Montblanc Fyodor Dostoevsky (Dostoyevsky if you like extra consonants) Writer’s Edition. Beautiful pen, tapered section, ink window!!!, with gold accents and a shiny blue cabochon in the clip…it was love at first sight. Then I saw the current price tags and love turned to heartbreak.

At that moment, the Dostoevsky transformed from “lovely pen” to Grail status. I was sure I would never get one, and would have to settle for longingly looking at Google images from far away…but THEN!

An eBay listing appeared for a used Dostoevsky! Just the fountain pen, without boxes or papers—-which meant it was being listed at a fraction of the market price. Heck, even at a fraction of the original retail price! (MB Writers’ Editions tend to sell for more in the years after they come out. Darn limited supply.)

So, I bid on it.

And, six days later, I got it.

Today, I have a Grail pen. And it is beautiful.

Yes, I know I spelled his name wrong. It was hot. I wanted fro-yo. Accidents happen…

Of course, another interesting fact about Grails is that they tend to multiply. Probably because human desires for unattainable things tends to run unchecked—precisely because it is unattainable, there can’t be more harm in fantasizing more about the things you can’t get, right? So the logic goes in my brain. XD Ha! Illogical logic, but since these desires are related to emotions, I can relate.

So, just for fun, I’m going to list some of my private wanna-haves below. Because listing them is more likely than me actually getting them. Comprende?

-Dream Pens-

Aurora Archivi Storici (thanks to an FPN member!)

MB 146 UNICEF (2009 version) (thanks to another FPN member!)

Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku (short octogan) in Ki-dame (just because it’s pretty. But if I really want it, I’ll need to save up serious $$$ and sell off some others to justify its use in my EDC)

Hero Century Dragon (I know where I can get this pen for much cheaper—it’s just, the pen is too heavy (38g!), so even if I do, I wouldn’t use it. It’s still nice eye candy, though.)

Pilot Custom 823 in Amber (the main appeal of this pen is its ability to be used on AIRPLANES, thanks to the pressure-releasing valve. But in the end, it still looks too plasticky for me to justify the cost—I don’t fly all that often, so meh.)

Sailor pen with Sabi-togi nib (I’ve heard so much about Sailor’s XXF+ nib that I want to try one someday, just to see how it compares to my .38mm gel pens. But that’s not a reason to go out and throw money at one. And the ink capacity of Sailor pens…depressingly small! )

Guanleming 2001 hooded demonstrator for less than $10 (seriously! they went from $3~5 on isellpens a year ago…now Todd’s out of stock, and the only ones I can find go for $12.75 on eBay—ridiculous. But if I get desperate…)

Another Fancy-smanchy demonstrator with gold trim (but as all the ones I like have ridiculous price tags…eh. No thanks.)

-Grail Pens-

MB Dostoevsky (by a miracle of eBay and luck + virtue?)

Danitrio Kaguya-hime (no chance of getting this limited edition—even if it pops up, I don’t think I can bear to pay that much…)

Pelikan Moon Goddess (very, very, VERY tempting. Thank goodness it’s sold out, or I’d be seriously bankrupt.)

Waterman Serenite (despite what people say about its flow problems, its proportions are divine. If I could custom-order one with a maki-e design of my own choosing, that’d be the icing on the cake. Sadly, Waterman discontinued the Serenite models.)

Various Danitrio maki-e pens (that I will not list, for the sake of my sanity and wallet)

****** (Currently in the works—a custom project I will talk about when it finishes. ^-~)

So…the moral of all this?

I like pens. But I refuse to go absolutely crazy over them. Balance is key to maintaining a healthy collection! 😉

(For reference: Dostoevsky on left, MB 146, 2009 UNICEF Edition on right.)

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…