Yearly Archives: 2016

Diamine’s Enchanted Ocean 1

An ink sample I got from Scribble.

Not any blue, but an Enchanted Blue

..but not any Enchanted Blue, this is the Enchanted Ocean.

It combines the seriousness of a blue-black ink and the joyfulness of Hello Kitty merchandising, which means that you will be embarrassed to take it out at work as well as feeling awkward taking it out at a children’s party, too.
Diamine Enchanted Ocean
Photographed against the light to make the sparkles more obvious.

Diamine Enchanted Ocean

The double adjustable OHTO Conception 0.3 8

OHTO Conception 0.3

Today: a mechanical pencil I ordered in October. I planned to do a review for a while now and it was supposed to be released today, but the day before yesterday Jeff Abbott released a review of this pencil at the biggest stationery blog of them all, The Pen Addict.

He said all and more I could have said, so change of plans then, I only post a short review of this mechanical pencil, but talk about why I like sliding sleeves, again.

The indicator that shows how much lead will advance

The indicator that shows how much lead will advance

Sliding Sleeves

I don’t know why sliding sleeves are such a niche. In my imagination drafting and technical drawing is done on a computer, so there’s no point in having a rigid sleeve/pipe around the lead so that you can use your mechanical pencil more precisely with a ruler.

OHTO Conception 0.3

In my imagination most use mechanical pencils for writing, at least when we talk about today and when we talk about Earth. Of course there will be exceptions, too.

When writing with a fixed sleeve you have to ‘click’ after you used up the 0.5mm or however much you have advanced the lead.

If you have a sliding sleeve it will retract while you use the lead, so you will have 4mm or more to use up before you need to advance the lead.

If you use soft leads (I don’t) the advantage gets even better than with hard leads because you use the lead p so much faster.

OHTO Conception 0.3

The OHTO Conception

Most of my ideas about this pencil can be seen in this video:


In short: You can adjust how far you want the lead to advance and you can adjust whether you want a fixed or a sliding sleeve.

Balanced on a type, in sliding mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

Balanced on a type, in sliding mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

That’s a lot of value for the $15 I paid on eBay. Unfortunately the pen is not available for this price anymore. As far as I can tell OHTO doesn’t have an official presence in the UK, so I wonder whether all OHTO pens here are grey imports anyway. If they are I certainly didn’t have to feel bad for buying it for a good price from Japan instead of buying it for a higher price from a grey importer in the UK.

With 23g the pen’s weight is pretty average for a pen with a metal body and slightly heavier than your average pen with a plastic body.

Balanced on a type, in fixed mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

Balanced on a type, in fixed mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

You might remember my table with the force needed for different sliding sleeves. Well, the OHTO Conception, at least my 0.3mm version, is a bit difficult to place in that table. When I first checked I got a very good value, 5cN or even better, but when I checked another time, after the pencil was in fixed sleeve mode, a force of four time that was needed. It seems that changing from sliding to fixed sleeve mode and back will not always put the sleeve in the same state. Sometimes you then have a ‘better’ sliding sleeve, sometimes a ‘worse’ one.


A great pencil, that could do with a bit more grip. I only wish I had bought another colour.

Price: October 2016

A hand turned fountain pen 1

Cuerden Valley Farmers Market

Cuerden Valley Farmers Market

Today: another fountain pen related blog post. I try not to have too many of those, as this is mainly a pencil blog, but neither the last post about fake Lamy Safaris, nor this one were planned. They ‘just happened’, so please bear with me before we go back to pencils.

David Royle hand turned pen

Farmers market surprise

The weekend before last our family went to to the farmers market at Cuerden Valley, a park about three miles South of our home.

Shredded Dollar pens

Shredded Dollars pens

We didn’t know what to expect and there weren’t much more than maybe ten to fifteen small stalls, but one of the stalls came as an unexpected surprise: Wood turned pens!

Shredded Dollars resin

Shredded Dollars resin

All the pens on sale there were made locally by David Royle. He started wood turning in 2004, but only recently, in 2012, started with pens and explained that he is still on a learning curve. He did also do mechanical pencils in the beginning, but because of problem with the pencil mechanism he stopped doing them.

The maker himself

The maker himself

Special wood and other materials

My assumption is that he buys the complete pen bodies and mechanisms and then creates and adds the wooden ‘shell’. Some of his wooden pens use rather special wood. One example is wood from Jim Beam or Jack Daniels Whiskey barrels.

Whiskey pens

Whiskey pens

He told me that his whole house will have a nice whiskey smell like when he works on those. Another example is English oak taken from the roof of a 17th century cottage.

17th century English oak pens

17th century English oak pens

There’s also material other than wood that is quite exciting, e.g. shredded Dollar notes made into some sort of resin ..and there are also acrylic pens.

Acrylic pens

Acrylic pens

He said the whole house will smell horrible when he works with the acrylic material.The most special pens are probably the inlay wood pens where coloured wood shapes are inlayed into the wood first before turning. This seems  very labour intensive process.

My purchase

I bought a fountain pen with African Wenge (African rosewood) wood for £31 (~$39; €37). It came with a converter and features a common Iridium point Germany nib1 that is slightly springy, by springy I mean that you can vary the line if you press hard.

David Royle hand turned pen

The pen is quite light and, unusally, features a thread on both ends of the body so that you can screw the cap on the end when writing. The grip section is a bit slim and doesn’t provide much grip, but other than that it is a nice fountain pen which is made beautiful by the wood on cap and body.

David Royle hand turned pen

I had a look and found web sites selling tools and ‘blank’ pens for pen turning. They seem to cost around £6 (~$7.50; €37) and come from China, which reminded me of Richard Binder’s article on IPG nibs.



Well, finding pens at a farmers market was an unexpected surprise and hearing from the maker himself was fascinating.

Price and exchange rates: December 2016

As always: if you want to see an image in full resolution please right click and open in a new tab/window.

Bullet pens

Bullet pens

  1. As reported in other places many of these nibs are not from Germany. []

Fake Lamy Safari fountain pens in Europe

I am quite sure that I’ve written about my use and like of Lamy pens in previous blog posts.

My admiration for Lamy started in the Eighties

I’ve started using Lamy Safari fountain pens more than 30 years ago (my first fountain pen was from Pelikan though) and have been very happy with them throughout the years. I really can’t remember what colour my first Lamy Safari had, but I am quite sure it came in a cardboard box like the one seen here (scroll down), the one the first Safari came in. The next ten years the Safari (I had a few over the years) was being used every weekday.

I’ve also spend some time near Heidelberg (the place were the Lamy Safari is made), because I have some relatives who live two miles East of Heidelberg. It’s a great place, even though that doesn’t have anything to do with the design and quality of their pens.

..but what’s that? Dark clouds over Heidelberg and the Lamy factory. The fake Safaris are coming!

real: top, fake: bottom - the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both

real: top, fake: bottom – the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both


Invasion of the fake Lamy Safaris

I recently bought two Lamy Safaris from eBay UK and paid £23.98 (~$30; €28.50). Buying two Lamy Safaris from a normal UK online merchant would have cost £28 (~$35.50; €33.30), so not much more expensive, but the ones from eBay came with converters and they were colours not being made anymore.

real: left, fake: right - the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light

real: left, fake: right – the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light

Well, when I got the pens I noticed that they didn’t feel right. One of them was lime green, Lamy’s special colour in 2008. The ‘screw’ in the cap had the wrong colour and the ink feed was shiny, something I have never seen in any of my Lamy Safaris (I confess, I have a two digit number of them – Oops.). I have a few lime green Safaris, which were bought from Papier Pfeiffer. So I thought I compare the eBay lime green Safari with my Papier Pfeiffer Safari: well, the colour was similar, but not the same. In artificial light the difference between the real and fake colour looks even bigger than in reality.

real: top, fake: bottom - the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny

real: top, fake: bottom – the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny

A quick search on the Internet revealed that fake Lamy Safaris are a thing. Desk of Lori wrote about it and Goldspot Pens made a video about fake Safaris.

The fake Safaris have certainly improved since Goldspot’s video. My nib looked quite good, the line goes straight to the middle of the breather hole. The ink window also matched up correctly with the grip section, so that’s another area where the fake Safaris have improved.

real: bottom, fake: top - the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines

real: bottom, fake: top – the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines

Goldspot Pens mentioned that their real Safari’s cardboard ring had text printed on both sides. I checked several real Safaris and they all only had the text printed on the outside, so the printing on the cardboard ring doesn’t seem to be a reliable indicator whether the pen is real or not.

the fake Safari's F nib is much wider

the fake Safari’s F nib is much wider

So what things did I notice that were different between the fake and the real Safari?

  • In the case of lime green the colour of the fake Safari is slightly off
  • In the case of lime green the ‘screw’ at the top of the cap is the wrong colour
  • The text on the nib is light instead of dark
  • The surface in the embossed LAMY letters of the body have a shallower pattern and some scratchy lines
  • Corners in the plastic are less pronounced
  • The ink feed is shiny instead of looking matt and washed (from testing)?
  • The second Lamy Safari’s cap is cracked near the top, so I assume the plastic isn’t as durable as the real ones
  • The fake Safaris don’t start well. Starting them after the first filling took a along time and they needed some help (pushing ink through) before they finally started
  • When you push ink through the nib section the fake Safari’s ink comes out from the filler hole (under the ink feed), not through the nib’s breather hole.
  • The fake Safari’s F nib is much(!) wider than a real Safari F nib

I have sent the seller a message in case they were not aware that they are selling fake Safari. The two colours I bought are now not available anymore, there’s only a yellow Safari left now.

The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap

The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap

Thinking how much progress has been made since Goldspot Pen’s video was made the fake Safaris could, if they improve further in the next years, be very difficult to spot ..but even if the appearance is gettng closer to the real thing, it still looks as if they are not as durable, don’t write as well

and they’re also not much cheaper1.

Price: November 2016

Exchange rates: December 2016

  1. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the manufacturing process is not really bothered about being environmentally friendly. []

Farewell Joe Dever / Medieval Manuscript Marginalia 5

Farewell Joe Dever

I just found out that Joe Dever, the author behind the Lone Wolf books and other books and games, has died.

His Choose Your Own Adventure books are great. I didn’t own any as a kid, but lent a few from friends who had them. Twenty years later I bought some and again rediscovered them another ten years later.

As his millennium gift Joe Dever made his books available free of charge online.


Well, here’s my Choose your own Goodbye:

1 If you wish to bid him farewell turn to 2

2 You say “I bid you farewell, my brother. May the luck of the gods go with you.”1



Medieval Manuscript Marginalia

This morning Radio 4’s Today programme talked about marginalia in medieval manuscripts2.

You can listen to it online, the segment about the marginalia starts at 1:43:40


In this segment Dr. Johanna Green from the University of Glasgow looks at the doodles and ink flow tests in the margins of a 15th century manuscript.


I believe that the use of the twitter screenshot in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Joe Dever. “Flight from the Dark.”, Section 349 []
  2. I was quite tempted to spell it mediæval []