Archive for November, 2012

On ink pens

Ok, I’m a pretty weird character.  I geek out on the strangest things.  Flashlights.  Radios.  Ink Pens.  Specifically, fountain pens.  I know, I’m weird, but they’re so neat!  I’ve been fascinated for years, but the most I ever did was buy a Sheaffer school fountain pen at Wal-Mart a couple decades ago for like $6.  It’s a cartridge pen (it takes cartridges instead of using ink out of the bottle), and it writes really well…for a $6 pen.  That was the first fountain pen I ever bought.  I still have it, in fact, and use it regularly.  The second thing I bought was a calligraphy set.  Don’t remember how much it was, or where I got it, but I guarantee it wasn’t much.  I played around with calligraphy a little, but to be honest, my hand isn’t steady enough for that.  And any case, I’ve since lost that pen set.

Fast forward a decade and a half.  I’m in Office Depot, and see a Yafa fountain pen.  I say to myself, “Well, it’s about $13, but that’s cheap for a fountain pen.”  It is, indeed, very inexpensive, but here’s the problem with impulse purchases…you have no idea what you’re buying until you get it home.  I take it out, and it feels really good in the hand.  It’s larger round, pretty hefty, and looks good.  But the pen simply doesn’t write well.  It takes forever for ink to get from the cartridge to the nib (the tip of the pen), and when it the ink finally does get there, it skips, and has trouble starting. I put the pen in my pencil cup, and basically ignored it.

So a couple weeks ago, I was looking through my pencil cup looking for a working pen, and found the Sheaffer and Yafa pens.  So I readied my Google-Fu, and came across John Morgan’s oPENions site.  He has a very good beginner’s guide, and a several good reviews on inexpensive yet good writing pens.  Using those reviews, I made additional Google Searches, and hit several forums on those pens and others, eventually coming across mention of the Jinhao pens.  Inexpensive Chinese-made pens that write fairly well, and are only about $10.  So I went to ISellPens.com, and found everything I needed.  I bought a Jinhao medium nib pen, which came with a converter for bottle ink, a bottle of black Noodler’s Ink, and a Sheaffer converter (I wanted to try to convert that old school pen to bottle ink).  I had the stuff in about four days, and immediately cleaned out the pen for its first inking.

So far, I’ve been very happy with the Jinhao.  It’s heavy, and has a large diameter, so it feels very significant in your hand.  It writes fairly well, with very little skipping, and starts right away, even after a weekend of non-use.  Unfortunately, the Sheaffer converter didn’t work, as the school pen I have is only for cartridges.  Still, it can be used for something else.  I’m finding that fountain pens are wonderful to make you really WANT to write better.  To concentrate not only on what you write, but HOW you write it.  Next time I get a few dollars, I’m going to get one of those Lamy Safari pens, and maybe some blue ink.  It’s a hobby that can be really expensive, but not necessarily so.  And like flashlights and radios, it can be endlessly interesting.

…I still don’t use the Yafa.  Bad writing is just bad writing.

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