A fun fact involving pens, taken from the current issue (240) of Retro Gamer: The original design of the Atari logo was created using Radiograph pens.
One constant in the Atari story is its striking logo, long referred to as Fuji after its resemblance to the Japanese mountain. In 1972, Evelyn Seto was a production artist, working for George Opperman who had produced the original design, and it was her task to create the artwork for printing. “This was pre-computers, so it was done by hand,” she explains. “I had to draw and ink the symbol using tools such as French curves and Rapidograph technical drawing pens. We used the font style Harry for ‘ATARI’.
Retro Gamer 240, p. 23
The question is whether these were Rotrings or Koh-I-Noors. It seems more likely they were Rotrings. As far as I know the Rapidograph had been around for around two decades at that time.
I started by consulting Ana’s refill guide to look for some nice refills.
It didn’t take long to pick some cool stuff for my order, not only refills, also a new pen (the Jetstream Edge in white). To get free postage with my order I also picked a few more refills with the intention of improving my wife’s Lamy 2000 multipen (the original Lamy ballpoint refills often skip when you start writing).
What did I order? Jetstream refills, I like them based on my positive experience with them from the Hobonichi pens and from my Jetstream 4 in 1. I also got some Zebra refills. I haven’t used them myself but bought them before to go with a pen I gave someone as a gift.
When trying to fit the Zebra refills into the Lamy 2000 there was big disappointment. They didn’t fit. A quick look at the end revealed that the Lamy refills are slightly slimmer. Maybe D1 isn’t quite as standardised as I thought. I have to admit though that I don’t have much D1 experience as I generally prefer pencils and fountain pens.
A quick check with the callipers revealed that there are minute differences in the diameter. The Lamy M21 diameter is 2.32 mm, the Zebra JSB 0.5 diameter is 2.36 mm. 0.04 mm (0.0016 inches) difference. I also measured the Uni SXR-200-07 which turned out to have a diameter of 2.33 mm. Even though the Zebra didn’t fit the Lamy 2000 I managed to squeeze it into the Rotring 600. That left me with the uni for the Lamy 2000. The refill is only 0.01 mm wider but that was enough the turn a relaxing Sunday drive refill with butterflies (and the Loving You song in the background) into a heavy metal squeeze fest (with some Rammstein song playing from a broken stereo) with thoughts in my head that the Lamy 2000 will crumble under all the pressure. In the end it did, luckily, work. According to my own refill guide the D1 diameter is 2.35 mm. Who would have thought a fraction of a millimetre makes such a difference…
Since I talked about Holbein: Radio 4’s book of the week happens to be about him: The King’s Painter: The Life and Times and Hans Holbein.
Holbein was celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2020. They are the Japanese stationery manufacturer that imported Rotring into Japan and they took on an ever bigger role after Rotring was bought by Sanford and manufacturing was moved out of Germany.
Holbein became a manufacturer in 1946, so you tend to see 1946 being mentioned as their starting date, but their origins lie in 1900 (as a retailer) and to celebrate their 120th anniversary this 3 in 1 Rotring 600 was released last year.
It comes in matt white, which looks very special, probably mainly because that’s not a typical Rotring colour. The 600 3 in 1 is a recent addition to the Rotring lineup and features a black and red ballpoint pen as well as a mechanical pencil.
You change the pen/colour by twisting the knurled top part of the 600. You’ll find more information about this pen in my video.
I have a small update for my 2016 blog post about Massimo Fecchi, the Italian artist who draws comics with the, in my opinion, best proportions, shapes and lines with beautiful variations.
When I asked Massimo about his pencils in 2016 he used a Rotring Tikky II for his initial drawings. Recently, he posted a photo of himself drawing for fans at the Comic Con in Wels, Austria. In this photo, he has switched pencils, or rather pencil models, not the pencil brand. When I asked him he told me that he is now usually using a Rotring 500 in either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm. He described it as being lighter and more precise than the Tikky II.
I find it astonishing that even though most of us amateurs associate heavier pens, including mechanical pencils, with a more luxurious pen or better quality, while the professionals, in this case, Massimo, who use pencils as tools to get work done value lightness, probably to stop them from getting some sort of finger fatigue.
I believe that the use of this Massimo Fecchi’s photos falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
When Scribble offered me to send some Kaweco inks for testing I was quite excited.
My wife and I have, between us, a few Kaweco fountain pens and ink cartridges and in 2012 it got even ‘worse’ when Cultpens had an offer where you could get a free Kaweco Twist and Out Cartridge Dispenser, that offer involved buying even more cartridges.
..but recently I started assuming that the Kaweco inks have some special properties, based this sentence Cultpens had in their description of Kaweco inks:
The colours and character of these inks is very reminiscent of the long-discontinued rotring inks.
..so Scribble’s offer was very much appreciated.
Well, Cultpens has now removed this sentence from their web site, but nevertheless, I was intrigued. What are those colours and characteristics? They’d have to be somehow special to be worth mentioning. I wouldn’t be surprised if neither Rotring nor Kaweco make/made their own inks, so maybe all of these inks are made by a third party, probably a German company, so are these inks maybe even identical?
Luckily I still had some NOS Rotring ink (even unopened) from many years ago. These are pretty hard to come by these days. I only found one on eBay USA and one on eBay in Europe.
I didn’t know what to expect from the Kaweco and Rotring ink, so the whole thing was more exploratory and I didn’t have any hypotheses, mainly because I wasn’t even sure what Rotring’s magic ink properties are supposed to be.
To find out more I thought I compare the Kaweco and the Rotring blue to some other blues. Unfortunately I didn’t have what I would think of as the standard blue, Pelikan’s royal blue, at home. I also didn’t have Lamy’s blue. I guess after writing with these for more than a decade when I was in school I wanted to try some other inks and never stocked up one them again.
For comparison, additional to the Kaweco and Rotring, I picked Diamine’s Blue Velvet (one of the 150 years anniversary ink) and Cartier Blue (or should that be must de Cartier, as written on the ink bottle?).
Well, I wasn’t disappointed, but as I mentioned, I didn’t have any expectations either. The Kaweco Royal Blue is definitely a different ink than the Rotring Brillant Blue, also called Ultramarine. To be honest, there are so many languages on the box, I am not sure whether Ultramarine is supposed to be the English name for this ink or the ink in another language, but I have seen people call this ink Ultramarine on the web, so it might help identifying this ink.
The Kaweco Blue is stronger and less red than the Rotring Brillant Blue. Have a look.
The Rotring is the least blue and most red ink in this comparison. It is however still a proper blue ink.
The Diamine Blue Velvet is strong and dark and certainly happier and less serious than the Kaweco (oh my, this is getting very subjective now).
The Cartier Blue is probably the most reserved and modest of the bunch.
Well – I am still not clear about these properties of the Rotring and the Kaweco that Cultpens hinted at without going into any details.
Maybe some water can help to solve the mystery?
No. I’m still not any closer to finding out what these properties are. Well, it doesn’t matter though. They are all nice blues. I wonder which one I should try next in a fountain pen…
By the way, I used a dip pen with a Brause No 361 nib (Shangching calls this nib the blue pumpkin), to make it easier to control ink cross contamination. This results in much more ink being out on the paper than with your average fountain pen.