Inks

A weekend in Shropshire

To celebrate my 40th birthday we spend the weekend in Shropshire …and of course I couldn’t resist buying more stationery.

 

A dower house form the 1820s, between Weston-under-Redcastle and Hodnet
A dower house from the 1820s, between Weston-under-Redcastle and Hodnet

Independent stationery shops

What a nice weekend it was – and I found an independent stationery shop in Shrewsbury – what a nice surprise. I hardly ever come across independent pen shops these days. The one where I live closed down and one in the town where I’m from closed down, too [1]There still one left in my home town, but it’s more of a post office / news agent / bit of everything shop.. I’d like to visit the Pen Company one day, but it’s several hours away. What’s left nearby is either focusing on art supplies or is part of a chain, which usually means that staff are not really excited about pens.

After buying some souvenir stationery in Shrewsbury Abbey I discovered Write Here. First: stocking up on Koh-I-Noor 1500 pencils – and then a fitting eraser from Koh-I-Noor as well.

Sheep in the country side
Sheep in the countryside

Koh-I-Noor

In the 18th century Jospeh Hardtmuth started the pencil factory in Austria that would become Koh-I-Noor. Koh-I Noor is the name of a famous diamond. I seem to remember reading somewhere, probably in Petroski’s book, there were several pencils named after diamonds because diamonds and graphite both consist of carbon. In the 19th century manufacturing then moved to Bohemia, to Budweis in what is now the Czech Republic.

The Koh-I-Noor 1500, the pencil I bought,  started being produced in 1889 [2]see Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth’s history.. After WWII the factory, in what was then Czechoslovakia, was nationalised and Joseph Hardtmuth’s descendants started manufacturing in Austria again. A few years ago the Austrian ‘branch’ of the company went bankrupt and was taken over by Cretacolor, but the Czech ‘branch’ of the company does still exist under the Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth name.

I have previously bought new old stock Koh-I-Noor 1500s in Shanghai and in my home town, but these are one of my few new ones. Too bad Write Here didn’t have HB and F (yes, you can get the 1500 in F), so I went for the B and H, which I’ve been using all of this week so far.

The shop window of Write Here
The shop window of Write Here

Write Here

Later that day I went back to Write Here, asking whether they have any fountain pens with flexible nibs. I’ve been looking for a nice fountain pen with a flexible nib for a long time now. My Lamy 2000 with an M nib and some of my Pelikan M200 nibs in F are quite flexible, but the line at its thinnest is too wide for me. Noodler’s nibs are nice and flexible, but when using any of my different Noodler fountain pens I usually end up having dirty hands because they spill ink after a while.

Pens in the shop
Pens in the shop

After asking for a pen with a flexible nib it took the owner of the shop a second to think about my request before taking a fountain pen out of his jacket and telling me to try it. What a nice, flexible nib that was. It was a fountain pen from Omas. I knew about Omas, but I never tried one before. When I started writing there was some feathering, but when I tried it on another paper the pen wrote smooth while still producing crisp lines. Unfortunately the pen was far too expensive for me. It turned out that this shop is also the distributor for Omas in the UK and I was told that very soon a cheaper pen with this nib will be released. I say cheaper, but it is still a £300 pen, which would make it more expensive than the most expensive pen I own.

Stationery bought in Shrewsbury
Stationery bought in Shrewsbury

Pen and ink

Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury

I then bought the Monteverde Tool fountain pen – more in my price range, and the owner of the shop told me about Sailor’s pigment ink which contains nano pigments, so it doesn’t clog up the fountain pen.

I’m still not sure what to think about the fountain pen. It seems to skip quite a bit (using the cartridge that came with it), I hope that will get better over time. I also wonder why the scales on the pen incluse 1/200 metre and 1/300 metre. I have seen 1/x inch scales, but 1/x metre scales are certainly not very common and don’t seem to make much sense to me. Is this how imperial users imagine the metric system to work?

The ink can behave very well when used on good paper, but when I use it to fill in forms at work it feathers quite a bit. I think time will tell whether I like this ink, but so far I don’t think I’ll buy another bottle.

References

References
1 There still one left in my home town, but it’s more of a post office / news agent / bit of everything shop.
2 see Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth’s history.

Pelikan Wanderlust

Wanderlust Box
The Wanderlust box arrived, still sealed

You might have noticed that I’m trying hard not to have too many fountain pen related blog posts here on Bleistift. One of the reasons why the pencil theme and the name of the blog (the German word for pencil) were chosen was because it feels as if there are orders of magnitude more blogs and resources about fountain pens on the web than there are about the humble pencil. This time, however, I can’t resist focussing on inks and fountain pens …because I have received Pelikan’s Wanderlust ink.

Wanderlust ink in Preston
The Wanderlust ink bottle in Preston

For the Wanderlust project an ink bottle [1]Actually, there are three ink bottles, travelling at the same time but on different routes. is travelling around the world I was lucky enough to keep it for a few days while it was on it’s way from from Asia, through Europe, to South America. Before arriving in England it travelled from Malaysia to Singapore toIndonesia to the Philippines to Australia to Israel to the Azores to Spain to Belgium to Luxembourg to the Netherlands.

Wanderlust Route
The Wanderlust route so far

Looking at the twelve letters written by previous participants, I was admiring the different writing styles, as well as the different kinds of paper that were being used. I was surprised to see that many participants share common attributes and could identify with many of them. Other participants were roughly my age and work-wise from many were from a similar background: there were many participants in academia or with an engineering background. Also: half of the participants don’t live in the country they were born in.

The twelve Wanderlust letters so far
The twelve Wanderlust letters so far

When I first heard about the Wanderlust project I thought the ink in this box would be an ink created especially for this project. It turned out that the ink in the box was a standard ink from Pelikan’s Edelstein range. My box did contain their Topaz ink, but earlier participants on my route had a different ink in their box.

The Wanderlust ink bottle
The Wanderlust ink bottle
My Wanderlust letter
My Wanderlust letter

I did plan to use my favourite fountain pen, a white tortoiseshell M400 [2]Recently fixed free of charge by Pelikan after the piston came out, like all previous issues I had with other pens over the years. Their service is really excellent., but when I read the letters from the previous participants, which included nice postcards from Granada and an olive branch from Israel I thought I should also theme my letter according to my country. I wrote on British paper (Imperial Parchment, White Wove, made in Scotland and recently bought on offer in Tafford Centre’s Pen Shop) and used a Pelikan 100N fountain pen, which as far as I can tell has been produced for the British market in the 1930s or 1940s. It features a G.W. (Günther Wagner, the plant manager who took over Pelikan in the 1870s) stamped nib [3]which is so rare that it wasn’t even featured on Ruettinger-web where you can normally find information about all things Pelikan. I’m quite proud that a photo of my nib is now featured on … Continue reading.

Granada Drawing
Details on some of the envelopes

Granada Drawing
Click to admire fine details

 

One of the reasons why I love Pelikan fountain pens is their performance. They always start (unlike all my Cross fountain pens), they don’t skip, I never got my hand dirty because of ink in the cap (unlike my Noodlers and TWSBI fountain pens) and even if they even been unused for many months they don’t dry out or have problems starting (unlike my Cross, Noodlers, Hero  fountain pens – some of them don’t even survive a few days of non-use without drying out too much to start easily). The only other fountain pen brand I know that performs well in all these areas is Lamy.

The GW nib used to write my letter
The GW nib used to write my letter

The only shame is that Pelikan doesn’t make flexible nibs any more [4]Some of their recent nibs are however slightly flexible, as shown in this blog post from nearly exactly one year ago.. If you want one you need to get an old and flexible nib or get a nib custom ground one. Pelikan started a nib grinding service recently, but unfortunately they don’t do flex nibs.

The Wanderlust box will now make its way to South America. I hope the next participants enjoy it as much as I did.

New sticker: Preston's coat of arms
New sticker: Preston’s coat of arms

New sticker: Lancashire and Loriot
New sticker: Lancashire and Loriot

References

References
1 Actually, there are three ink bottles, travelling at the same time but on different routes.
2 Recently fixed free of charge by Pelikan after the piston came out, like all previous issues I had with other pens over the years. Their service is really excellent.
3 which is so rare that it wasn’t even featured on Ruettinger-web where you can normally find information about all things Pelikan. I’m quite proud that a photo of my nib is now featured on Ruettinger-web.
4 Some of their recent nibs are however slightly flexible, as shown in this blog post from nearly exactly one year ago.

Mahatma Gandhi ink

If you are interested in fountain pens you probably came across Montblanc’s Mahatma Gandhi fountain pen. Keeping  in mind that Gandhi led a simple lifestyle, gave up unnecessary expenditure and promoted Indian-made goods there is a huge discrepancy between what he represented and what Montblanc’s Mahatma Gandhi pen stands for. No wonder this pen made headlines in several newspapers, including USA Today and The Guardian.

More affordable was Montblanc’s saffron coloured Mahatma Gandhi ink, which was released around the same time but sold out very soon. De Atramentis started selling an ink with the same colour and the same name. Even though there is a chance that Montblanc’s Gandhi ink was manufactured by De Atramentis I wouldn’t bet on it. Old Montblanc ink and De Atramentis inks are made in Germany, but as far as I know Montblanc’s old inks were made by Gutenberg [1]previously mentioned in this article – not by De Atramentis. Montblanc’s new inks are made in Austria.

De Atramentis’ Mahatma Gandhi ink is probably a copy of Montblanc’s ink, but it might be worth a try if you were keen on getting Montblanc’s Gandhi ink and missed your chance when it was first released. Unfortunately, De Atramentis’ shipping costs outside Germany are quite steep.

References

References
1 previously mentioned in this article

No Montblanc Season’s Greetings ink for 2010

Sad news, at least for those of us who like fountain pens. After searching the Fountain Pen Network and not being able to find any information about this year’s Season’s Greetings ink I  just called a Montblanc boutique…

…and found out that there is no Season’s Greetings ink for 2010 …What a shame!

Maybe this should not be too much of a surprise after they recycled 2008’s White Forest ink in 2009. The reasons for last year’s recycling are now unclear. Was it because of quality issues or did they just have too much stock left?

If you want to read more about the Season’s Greetings inks that were available from 2005 to 2009 have a look at this blog post.

Pelikan Edelstein Ink Collection

If you like fountain pens you are probably also interested in ink. Pelikan has released a new series of luxury inks, the Edelstein Ink Collection [1]Edelstein is the German word for gemstone or jewel. The price for a 50ml glass bottle is €12.90 (~$16.75) in Germany and £11.95 (~$18.50) in the UK. The Edelstein inks are available in seven colours. According to Niche Pens they will be available for purchase towards the end of September.

More information about the Edelstein inks from Pelikan.

More information about the Edelstein inks from Niche Pens.

References

References
1 Edelstein is the German word for gemstone or jewel