Made in USA

Titanium! 6

Good things take time

Well, it took a while before I got my Tactile Turn Gist – you might remember my previous blog post about this Kickstarter.
I guess I just happened to pick a combination (polycarbonate body and brass finial) that was produced very late. Others in the UK got their TT Gist more than a month before me.

Brass finial

Brass finial

Good looks

Now that I finally got it and I have to say that I really like the look. The lines on the pen’s body and the look of the clip are two of my favourite bits. This also happens to be my first fountain pen with a titanium nib.

Titanium knife and titanium pen

Titanium knife and titanium pen

Marks on the pen’s body

One thing was however rather disappointing. The body of the pen has marks in three places of the body where it has been held in place during machining. After contacting Will Hodges I was told that these marks are normal, at least on the polycarbonate pens – but on pens made from harder materials he was able to buff them off to some extend.

Thinking how ‘violently’ the pen was rotating in Will’s youtube video I am not too surprised about the marks. Maybe I will get used to them over time.

Not so easy to see on the photo: the marks where the pen has been clamped

Not so easy to see on the photo: the marks where the pen has been clamped


As mentioned before this is my first titanium nib. To my excitement I like the flexibility of this nib. You don’t need much pressure to produce a wider line. I just wish the line was a bit finer when least pressure is applied. First tests in a Field Note with Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 50#T were disappointing, but that seems to be down to the paper and ink (I have only used this paper with pencils so far, also not a great choice). On copy room paper I got great line width variation without much effort.

The titanium nib is quite flexible

The titanium nib is quite flexible

I don’t have much experience with titanium, but I do have titanium scales for my Victorinox Deluxe Tinker, so I thought I show the titanium nib and the titanium scales next to each other. I like the concrete-like look of the material – it has a very utilitarian feel to it.

My titanium scales are made from grade 5 titanium (Ti-6AL-4V). I am not sure what titanium is used for Bock’s titanium nibs.

Titanium knife and titanium pen

Titanium knife and titanium pen

If you want to know more about my titanium scales have a look at this video, the description has links to the maker’s, Andrzej’s, web site.




Rustico Field Leather Notebook 1


Last week I got the Rustico Field Notebook I ‘ordered’ from Massdrop in July.

When I saw the notebook I couldn’t resist – the Rustico notebooks, which are made in Utah, are just beautiful. I decided to get the buckskin version. I assume it will darken after a while – a few years ago I bought a briefcase from Wolf Leder, which got much darker / more yellow over the years.


I paid $28.80 (~£18.50; €25.30), which included two packs with three Field Notes each. I think I should have only gotten one pack of three Field Notes …and am trying to sort this out for nine days now. Despite having had several emails sent backwards and forwards I still don’t know if I should send the additional Field Notes back and where to. You can see that communication with Massdrop isn’t great, but the prices are fantastic – especially if you are from outside the USA. I didn’t have to pay customs / fees on any of my orders so far.

This wasn’t the first item I got from Massdrop [1]The Pebble watch shown in on of the previous blog posts was from them, too, and was just a bit more than half the UK price. – and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The only disadvantage is that you usually have to wait quite a while before you get your items – in this case it took four weeks.


Update: Massdrop has told me that I should have only received one pack of three Field Notes and that I should send the other one back.

Price: July 2015

Exchange rates: August 2015

I’d like to thank Michael (from – currently offline) for the California Field Notes shown in these pictures. He sent them three years ago and I still haven’t used them up – but I certainly enjoy using them regularly.

The Massdrop link contains a friend invitation code.


1The Pebble watch shown in on of the previous blog posts was from them, too, and was just a bit more than half the UK price.

Label Roll 3

In the last few days I had more visitors than usual, so I had a look where they came from. Turns out that both the Pen Addict Podcast and Erasable linked to my blog, with more than 100 visitors coming from the Pen Addict Podcast and more than ten visitors coming from the Erasable Podcast. Thank you.


Anyway, this blog post was supposed to be about something else: about the Label Roll I bought in my local Tesco homeplus for £4 (~$6.30; €5.60). Not cheap, 3M products never seem to be, at least not here in the UK, but they always seem to be useful and last a long time. Post-its don’t seem suitable to label things, the glued area on the back is just too small and won’t last long enough – and their labels, which have the whole back glued, are even more expensive.


One of the main advantages for me is that the labels are much bigger than what you get from a embosser / demo label maker, so it is easier to read on big items. So, despite the expensive price tag quite a nice new item of stationery.

Price and exchange rates: June 2015

Happy Independence Day! 1

As a pencileer, molyvophile and molyvologue [1]See explanation in this blog post. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than to sharpen an American pencil with an American blade.

…but which pencil to choose? In the end I narrowed it down to the Mongol and the Ticonderoga. As these pencils where also made in other countries I obviously only put the American made versions on the short list.

Independence Day Mongols

In the end I did go with the Ticonderoga, just because I thought Faber-Castell takes some of the emphasis on the USA away. So, the chosen pencil is the Dixon’s American Ticonderoga. I did have a few of them in stock, but haven’t actually used them yet. My Ticonderoga experience so far was limited to the ‘Korean’ Ticonderogas, the awful Ticonderoga Renew and the Microban Ticonderogas.

Independence Day Ticonderoga

The knife was easy to choose, my Leatherman Style CS …just because it is the only knife I own that is, as far as I know, made in the United States of America.

Independence Day Leatherman

OK, let’s start sharpening. Because I only have a few of these American made Ticonderogas I want a less acute angle than usual – I just don’t want to waste too much of the nice pencil.

Independence Day Sharpening

I don’t want to go for a proper obtuse angle either, as that would probably be a very strange writing experience.

Independence Day Point

Here way are. By the way, the American blade was sharpened with something American, too: The Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, which could also be used to sharpen blades of pencil sharpeners.

Independence Day Point Close

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Idependence DayAs usual, please click on the pictures to see them in a higher resolution.


1See explanation in this blog post.

Norcom notebook #77073 20

Seeing this notebook in the The Works store in Southport, I couldn’t resist but buy it. It looked like it had character. The paper didn’t have the sterile and boring look printer and copy paper has. It looked a bit rough and it looked a bit as if it was made on older machines – and even better: it’s Made in USA, you see too few of these products here in Europe. There’s the occasional Scotch tape, Made in USA (I’ve even seen these in China), and there’s the occasional pen and eraser, but that’s about it. Other promising details on the cover are: 100% recycled, more smear resistant, easy erase, less bleeds.

I cannot deny that I was quite disappointed after trying the paper out. One claim is not true – Less bleeds? The ink is bleeding was bleeding through the paper at a phenomenal rate. I was trying to write as fast as possible to compensate, but no use. Unless the paper was stored wrong when being shipped to Europe or unless ‘less bleeds’ refers to the sheets having softer edges, resulting in fewer paper cuts at the edge of the paper (‽), ‘less bleeds’ is certainly not an attribute of this paper.

Ink bleeding through

Good news however regarding the ‘more smear resistant’ and ‘easy erase’ claim. It is easy to erase graphite from this paper and the paper is definitely more smear resistant than probably any other paper I know. The paper is very soft, but the surface is rather unusual. Graphite does not stick to the surface as it does on most other paper. This results in most pencil strokes looking very light, certainly much lighter than usual. Some pencils like Faber-Castell’s Castell 9000 2B leave much lighter marks on this paper than on other paper. For other pencils the difference is not as big, most notably for the Chinese made, yellow Amos Dixon Ticonderoga HB, a pencil I came to like. The pencil point of this Ticonderoga does not last very long, it is being ‘eroded’ at an incredibly fast rate for an HB pencil, but it does write well and, I am sure I heard this before in the context of the Blackwing, the lead being used up so fast makes you feel like you’ve done some work [1]Update: I found a comment from Henrik about this.. The American-made General’s Kimberley 525 2B yielded excellent results, too.

I assume the Norcom notebook #77073 is either not being made any more or is not made for the American market, as it is not listed on Norcom’s website.


At 59p (~ 92¢; 67c) for 70 sheets this notebook provides excellent value for money, but the paper is not really suitable for use with pencils and definitely not suitable for use with fountain pens. It’s probably more than adequate when used with ballpoint pens.

Price and exchange rates: September 2011

I would like to thank

  • Sean for the General’s Kimberley 525
  • Kent for the Dixon Ticonderoga.

More about the General’s Kimberley 525 at pencil talk.


1Update: I found a comment from Henrik about this.