TEMPTATION

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Nakaya Neo-standard in Unpolished Shu, from Nibs.com.

Today I found out that one of my friends is selling her Nakaya neo-standard in unpolished shu, with a rhodium-plated soft medium nib for just under USD500. Unpolished shu is a warm red, a very attractive color. And the nib is the size I’m interested in. It’s USD700 at Classic Fountain Pens (Nibs.com), brand new. What bothers me is that it’s still twice the price I’ve paid for my most expensive pen so far.  Nakaya pens are usually what a lot of people think of as grail pens. Sure, I can rustle up the money, but I don’t think it’s prudent to be spending so much.

There’s also a Montblanc 146 being sold with an EF bicolor nib, for a bit over USD300. It’s a good price, but I already have a 146 with a cursive italic M nib, which I got for lower, and on lay-away, too.

I remember the time I saw a Pelikan M800 brown tortoise being sold for a good price, but wasn’t fast enough to buy it. For a while I felt bad, but then again I already had a green-striped M800 that I was already enjoying.  I guess it was the thrill of the hunt that got to me.

For a year and a half I haven’t bought any new pens, thinking I’ve achieved a kind of inner peace. The two pens I mentioned above have almost seriously derailed that inner peace. Sometimes I think I have too many pens already. I really should enjoy what I already have, until a more reasonably-priced new pen comes along.

 

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SHOPPING MY STASH

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Yesterday I was cleaning my desk, and I found a Sheaffer Skripsert, a vintage cartridge fountain pen from the late 1950s. It was a gift to me, from a friend in the US. I looked around some more, and found my three Sheaffer No-Nonsense pens in a previously mislaid pen wrap – translucent purple, translucent grey, and red. The first two were from the 1990s, while the red was from the 1970s. Since they were discontinued about twenty years ago, I guess you could call them vintage. The purple one, in fact, was the first pen I ever bought with my first salary. I hadn’t seen them in over a year – I guess it was time to use them again.

I hadn’t bought a pen in a long time, because I (think I already) had all the significant pens in my usual price range, and couldn’t find any new ones that fascinated me. But seeing my old pens after a long time got me all thrilled all over again – I guess this is what’s called “shopping your stash”.

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The No-Nonsenses still had their original squeeze converters, but I was thinking I would buy modern Sheaffer twist converters in case the rubber in the squeeze converters eventually failed. I asked a friend how much the converter was at National Bookstore, and was astounded that it cost Php500, or roughly USD10. In contrast, a Faber-Castell (standard international) converter from Everything Calligraphy costs only Php120, or USD2.40. Another friend told me I could try fitting a standard international converter in the pens. Alas, while the nipple fit the diameter of the converter opening, the entire converter was too long for the barrel of the No-Nonsense. The modern Sheaffer twist converter from my Prelude fit it perfectly.

The No-Nonsenses have some of the best steel nibs I have ever experienced. I told myself this is the year I’m going to let these humble pens shine.

Daily Prompt: Shine

COLLECTING FOUNTAIN PENS

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Writing with fountain pens is a joy – the pen writes on its own weight, there’s no need for me to press down hard on the paper, and I can use any color ink I want. I have about eight pens inked in different colors at any given time, and use a different color each day when I write in my journal.

I have been collecting (or should I say, accumulating) fountain pens since 2008, but have been using them since 1986. I have about 35 pens of various ages, makes and prices. I don’t really have a focus, I just buy pens based on features that I like (eg.piston-filler or converter, German fine or Japanese medium nib, favorite brand, others). There was a time I was actively buying on eBay, even while worrying whether my pens would safely arrive in the post. Several brick-and-mortar and online stores for fine writing instruments have since opened in my country, which made shopping a lot easier. I joined online fora and Facebook groups catering to my hobby (I even moderate one), where everyone enabled everyone else on their purchases. For some people, the retail therapy can be addicting (“I must have ALL the colors of the Lamy Safari!”). Fortunately, that isn’t the case with me.

I stopped buying on eBay, because the retail stores that opened locally allowed me to handle pens I was curious about. I also didn’t relish the idea of customs fees being charged “creatively” at the post office for purchases made online (after having heard all the horror stories). I stopped buying the cheap and cheerful pens, opting to upgrade to better-made, higher-quality ones. I even sold off a lot of vintage pens, just to be rid of the maintenance required.

I still haven’t broken the USD 250 ceiling. To me, any pen beyond that point may have more expensive materials and be more decorative, but may not guarantee a better writing performance. I’d also be worried about using such an expensive pen outside of the house, where it may be lost or stolen. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from admiring my grail pen, a Pelikan M910 Toledo. I get to handle it whenever some friends of mine and I have a pen meet. I admire it, but I don’t feel bad that I don’t own it and can’t afford it.

The last pen I bought was an Edison Pearl in Cumberland ebonite, with a 1.1mm stub, the 7th anniversary pen of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines. That was in 2015. I haven’t bought anything since then. Apart from a self-imposed moratorium on spending (2016 was the year of expensive dental work), I couldn’t find any pens in the USD 100 to 250 range that I didn’t already have, that I wanted. I finally achieved (as we liked to joke in FPN-P) “inner peace”. It’s 2017, and so far I haven’t been tempted by any new pen, except perhaps for the Faber-Castell Ambition in coconut wood.

I’m not in any rush to get a new pen, so far I have been enjoying the ones that I have.

Daily Prompt: Tempted

FABER-CASTELL ONDORO IN SMOKED OAK

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Founded in 1761, Faber-Castell is one of the oldest manufacturers of pens and pencils in the world. The company has been in the family for 8 generations, now run by its chairman, Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. Its premium writing instruments are made in Stein, Germany. Faber-Castell products were introduced in the Philippines in recent years by Crown Supply Corporation.

The Faber-Castell Ondoro is a fountain pen with a six-sided barrel and matching stainless steel cap. It comes in orange, grey-brown, graphite black and smoked oak. My pen is of smoked oak; I bought it primarily because I was fascinated by the beautiful wood finish. The cap is heavy and has a sturdy clip, so I don’t post it at the end of the pen when I write.

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The Ondoro’s nib (mine is a medium) is one of the best steel nibs I have ever experienced – smooth, firm and wet. This is the same nib in the other Faber-Castell pens (Basic, Loom, Ambition). There is a dotted design on the nib and no breather hole. The grip section is metal, but curved, so the pen isn’t slippery to hold.

The pen comes with a converter. There was a concern that if you filled the pen the usual way (by dipping the nib up to the section into the bottle), it would stain the wood. Fortunately any ink that gets on the wood can easily be wiped away immediately with a wet tissue, without any staining. Since some inks are more saturated than others, I’m being careful and fill the converter with a syringe, and just dipping the nib in the ink to prime it.

The smoked oak Ondoro costs a bit more than the resin ones, but to my mind it’s worth it. The design is classic and timeless. It performs well out of the box and is a reliable writer.

Faber-Castell fountain pens (and other products) are available at selected branches of National Bookstore and online at Design Pen Faber-Castell Philippines. I am not affiliated with the company or its distributors, except as a customer.

PEN AND INK LOVERS

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If you’ve backread this blog, you’ll realize that many of my old posts center on fountain pens and on my friends who use and collect them. The Facebook group I help moderate, Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, has grown exponentially over the last few years and now has about 3,300+ members. What’s the culture like, in this group?

Much has been written about the demise of cursive handwriting. They no longer teach it in many schools around the world, in favor of learning how to operate digital keyboards. Some people tend to think of using fountain pens as a hipster-ish affectation. In fact, while most fountain pen lovers dig analog stuff, many just like the way fountain pens write – smoothly, and under their own weight. For many it’s to escape the aching, death grip they use on ballpoint pens. It’s no surprise that many of the users and collectors are of a certain age. Here in the Philippines many of the traditional users are professionals like lawyers (or law students) and artists. Nowadays FPN-P members are from all walks of life, and the number of younger people using fountain pens (high school and college students) is growing.

Many new members come to us interested in calligraphy. They start with dip pens and calligraphy ink, and branch out into fountain pens with flex or italic nibs. Some of the more adventurous members learn to hack some fountain pens (usually the inexpensive Jinhao or the Ranga) by installing dip nibs like the Zebra G nib in them. Some people stick to the inexpensive, daily carry budget pens, like the Platinum Preppy and the Pilot Metropolitan, while others confine themselves to vintage pens, or have upgraded to well-known fine writing instruments with gold nibs and better build quality. There are those who claim they’re only users, not collectors, and are later surprised to find themselves amassing an accumulation of pens in the journey to find “the perfect pen”. Some collect pens in a single color, or different colors of the same model, or a single brand. Some joke that they collect only “Axis Powers” pens (from Japan, Italy and Germany). There are arguments over whether to ink a pen or not (the usual comment is, you might as well use it as it depreciates, as rarely does it increase in value over time). We geek out over pens, the same way others do over anime or guns or other hobbies.

I’ll admit, one of the things that keeps me interested in fountain pens is the possibility of using the myriad ink colors now available. Back in 2008, when FPN-P was first founded, the only place you could buy fountain pens (Parker and Sheaffer) was National Bookstore and (other brands) on eBay. The only ink colors you could buy back then were black, blue-black, blue and red. Fast-forward to 2016, and you have different brands and colors of fountain pen inks being offered by a number of brick-and-mortar and online stores. My friends amass ink collections, not just pen collections. Some hoard their favorite colors, some trade different colors. Some are obsessed with inks that sheen or shimmer. And then there’s the continuous hunt for the best quality paper for one’s budget, from Bevania Splendorgel to Tomoe River. There are brands of journals for everything! (And the perennial question: Is next year’s planner paper fountain pen-friendly?)

There’s never been such a good time for fountain pen users as now.

Daily Prompt: Culture

FOUNTAIN PEN DAY PHILIPPINES 2016

International Fountain Pen Day is celebrated every first Friday of November, but this year Fountain Pen Network-Philippines celebrated it the entire weekend of Nov. 5 & 6!  This is the third year we are celebrating with major pen brands and purveyors of fine writing instruments, inks, stationery and writing accessories.  Thanks to the management of SM Aura Premier, we were granted a good space at the third floor atrium opposite Toy Kingdom.  An estimated 300 people visited the event over the weekend.

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Photo by Kailash Ramchandani

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Pengrafik, one of the major sponsors of the event, offered Wahl-Eversharp, Karas Kustoms, Platignum, Ranga, Wink, and Nemosine fountain pens for sale.  They also sold Diamine and KWZ fountain pen inks, Bali leather pen cases and wraps, as well as Tomoe River, Curnow Journals and other brands of stationery. (Photo by Kailash Ramchandani)

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Scribe Writing Essentials, the other major sponsor, offered discounts on all its fountain pens. Available for sale were Pilot, Sailor, Visconti, Montegrappa, Platinum, Edison, Pelikan, TWSBI and Noodler’s pens.  They also had a promo on Rhodia notebooks. (Photo by Ticky Tabujara)

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Photo by Eliza Rehal

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Photo by Kevin Apolonio

Everything Calligraphy sold Pilot Metropolitans and 78Gs, Jinhao and Nemosine fountain pens.  They also had Diamine, Pilot Iroshizuku, Robert Oster and Blaze Wu inks available.  Also available were Elias pads and journals, Field Notes and Rhodia notebooks.  They also offered calligraphy penholders and nibs, and calligraphy inks.

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Faber-Castell offered their full line of fountain pens and other writing instruments at a discount. (Photo by Eliza Rehal)

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Times Trading had Lamy writing instruments on sale, also at a discount. (Photo by Edrie Alcanzare)

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Sheaffer

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Caran d’Ache

National Bookstore offered Sheaffer, Online and Caran d’Ache fountain pens at a discount. (Photos by Pher Mendoza)

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Artwork by Amado Chua. (Photos by Maia Castaneda)

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Artwork by Maia Castaneda. (Photo by Kevin Apolonio)

All around the event venue were artworks by established and amateur artists that used fountain pens and inks.  The exhibit was organized by Claire Armedilla.

There was an introduction to fountain pens workshop for kids aged 7-12, conducted by the young Amani Rehal.

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Photo by Ronin Bautista

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Photo by Eliza Rehal

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Photos by Kailash Ramchandani

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Photo by Eliza Rehal

Fozzy Castro-Dayrit , Lorraine Nepomuceno and Imma Frias conducted successful penmanship workshops on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

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Josef Lees, Business Development Director for Asia from Platignum Pens Singapore, spoke about the brand and its products. (Photo by Kailash Ramchandani)

There was also a group of local nibmeisters doing pen repair, for donations to FPN-P. These included Angelito “Butch” Palma, John Raymond Lim, Anthony Goquinco, Mark Tiangco, Jonathan Isip, and J.P. Reinoso.

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Photo by Kevin Apolonio

The Fountain Pen Day weekend was enjoyed by all!  Many thanks to the organizers and sponsors!

CHECK OUT FOUNTAIN PEN DAY-PHILIPPINES 2016!

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The Philippines will once again celebrate Fountain Pen Day this November 5 & 6 (Saturday and Sunday), 2016!  It will be held at the 3rd floor atrium of SM Aura Premier in Taguig, opposite Toy Kingdom.  Fountain Pen Day, founded by Cary Yeager in the US, is celebrated internationally on the first Friday of November – this time we are celebrating with a weekend of exciting sales and activities.

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Major sponsors include Parker, Sheaffer, Lamy, Faber-Castell, Scribe Writing Essentials, Pengrafik and Everything Calligraphy.  Each sponsor booth will have attractive promos, so if you’re looking for fine writing instruments, ink and stationery, do drop by!  Other sponsors include Asia Brewery and PNB Savings Bank.

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Fountain Pen Day-Philippines  2016 is organized by Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, which has a forum and a Facebook group page (with now over 3,000 members). This is the third year in a row that it has been promoting the use of fountain pens, and the love of handwriting and calligraphy, to everyone.  Admission is open to the general public.