I have a thing for demonstrator pens. Like, a thing. A HUGE thing.
One of the ways I like to spend my non-productive free time is looking through fountain pens for sale and then feeling bad about how I can’t afford them. But then someone was selling Stipula Etruria Rainbow Limited Editions for about 30% off their average price, which was also 30% off its original MSRP. That comes out to about 50% off, like WHOA that’s pretty cheap. Although still not that cheap, given that it’s a Stipula.
I swore that I would only get the pen in clear, and when I asked about availability, apparently the last one was taken, so phew! Except, there was another one left. Daaaaaaayum.
But anyway, I got the pen.
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Yes, that is the Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon Encyclopedia.
Apart from a number of other pens like Nakaya’s plain urushi offerings and Sailor’s King of Pen, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pen that’s as big, as black, and as pen as the Bexley 58. At around 6 inches (12.2 cm) it dwarfs most pens in length, even the typical Mont Blanc 146, included above for a poorly-angled comparison. The 58 is a half-inch thick, 3/5ths at the cap (1.25 and 1.5cm), which puts it pretty close to the MB 149’s thickness too. It’s just a big pen, no matter which way you look at it. I like to refer to such entities as a batuta, Spanish and Italian for a police baton.
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Well, giveaway is over! Alright, there were a couple late entries, which I would have not considered if it wasn’t for the fact that less than 10 people entered, so I let them pass so it wouldn’t look like I was rigging the results or something, with so few people in here. We had 10 people total, which is weird since I’m basically giving away free stuff, but oh well.
Now obviously, there is more than one pen in the picture. You should be able to put two and two (in this case, one and one) together: I’m giving away another pen! This one is a slightly slimmer full-size pen; a vintage lever-filler Diamond Medal pen from the 20s or 30s. It’s rather worn, but in good working condition. Feel free to skip the following paragraph if you’d rather not read about some pen history.
Diamond Medal pens were essentially OEM pens - Sears had other companies make them and then sold them in their stores under this brand. Namely, the National Pen Products Company in the early 1920s and 30s, who could not sell the pens on their own. The National Pen Products Company’s pens were quite well-made, with 14k gold nibs and good celluloid/plastics. Sometime around 1936, Parker also made pens for them. They can bear some resemblances due to being made by other pen companies, especially Parker’s distinctive designs. Some were even fitted with the same Vacumatic filling system and imprinted Vac-Fil instead. This one is more likely to be from the National Pen Products Company since it doesn’t really match any of Parker’s pens’ aesthetic.
Winners were chosen like so:
Being a computer science major, I figured the old drawing from a hat thing is a bit old-school, so I made a quick program that had the 10 entries which randomized their order in the list. Then I had 4 random numbers generated (each with a different seed number). I took the average of first/second and third/fourth pairs, then averaged those, and then rounded up or down accordingly (from the tenths place), which corresponded to the position of the names in the list. This kind of helps to mitigate the mere psudo-randomness of the random number generator.
As you can see, the lucky winner of the Rotring Core is Miruku, while the winner of the Diamond Medal pen by a very small margin is nekonekotea!
Pens will be sent within the week, though the Core may take longer since I’m having some trouble looking for a converter for it.
Early this year, I swore that I’d only buy a single pen. About eleven and a half months later, I find myself in possession of no less than
11 13 new pens. Like, goddammit man.
But of the thirteen, many were given to me, either as raffle prizes, or as goodwill. So I’d like to take the opportunity to pay it forward and pass on some of the good stuff - blessings being the fancier word - for anyone who’s interested in fountain pens, but just doesn’t quite have the scratch to get one.
Up for grabs is a Rotring Core in the Lysium finish. It comes with a stiff fine nib, perfect as a daily workhorse pen. While its looks are certainly… avant-garde, it writes great, and is very comfy in the hand too. I’ve dip-tested and smoothed it up a bit to make sure it writes decent too. I’m throwing in a converter too so you can just buy a bottle of ink and fill it up so you’re good to go, as well as a couple of cartridges in case you don’t feel like heading to the stationery store that day. You also get a handwritten letter filled with love and fluffy things from me!
This is a totally free giveaway, no strings attached. You don’t have to like, reblog, or do anything to curry my favor (not that I’m stopping you). All you have to do is send in a question, stating who you are (online aliases are fine), e-mail* or other ways to contact you, and why you’d like it. Doesn’t even have to be an essay, you could just say “I want a free pen”, that works. The only condition is that you don’t spam entries. One entry per (actual) person.
Entries will be put in an excel spreadsheet thing, and then a random winner will be drawn. Open to both local (Philippine) and international people alike. I’m paying for shipping too so you have nothing to worry about asides any taxes the postal service decide to levy on you. If you win, I’ll send you an email and we can talk shipping details (specifically your address) from there.
I’ll be digging around my pen boxes and storage to see if there’s any other goodies I can pass on for later as well.
Deadline for entries is 0800 January 5, Saturday, GMT+8.
* - since emails or links aren’t allowed in questions, just break them up like “email at gmail dot com” or something.
By the way, this giveaway is over.
got a pen from the post office.
generally when you buy random pens on ebay, you’re taking a risk.
sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a bust.
unfortunately, this latest one was a bust.
like literally - the piston mechanism is busted, or so i thought.
i was able to disassemble the thing. unlike the pelikan 100, the piston unit is normally threaded onto the barrel. the knob itself is actually a free-floating knob attached to the threaded piston rod which simply turns and does not engage any parts. the piston rod itself is what works on the hollow yellow tube which is partially threaded inside. the piston head is merely attached to the piston cylinder.
it’s certainly a different approach to piston fillers. i kind of appreciate the fact that the piston rod doesn’t engage the knob itself, which means it’s less likely to snap off. however, since the piston head and the cylinder are detachable, a poorly done seal job means that either ink will leak horribly through (if seal is too loose), or the seal will get stuck at the end of the barrel, the seal+cylinder will get left behind the barrel, forcing the owner to take the pen apart and put it back together.
so overall, it looks like the piston was actually intact, just that the seal is… oh god. another simple repair project (clean and lube everything up, replace the seal with o-rings or something).
Right, so I quite like the aesthetic of the Pelikan 100. So I got one off EBay.
However, the wonderful seller didn’t mention a single word about the piston being leaky (cork seal’s deteriorated) so it seems I have to get to fixing that. Of course, unlike any sane pen collector, who instead would just send it to a proper restorer, I decided I would disassemble the pen just to make sure that it indeed was the piston leaking.
So here are the results of my recklessness+labors:
I removed the binde, which was also loose. Figuring out a better, non-permanent way to get it to stay still. By the grace of the wonderful Lord God Jesus Christ, I was able to remove the piston unit without much fuss.
One of the more common issues is that the threads crystallize and break off upon removal of the piston unit. Thankfully, it did not. The staining is very bad though, and I’m considering buying one of David Nishimura’s or Rick Propas’s clear demonstrator barrels to replace this one. Plus at least it’ll be more stable than 75-year old celluloid.
This is a close-up of the piston unit. As you can see, that cork is just plain nasty. Cleaning out insides was like a pen colonoscopy as well. Nasty, nasty stuff.
Edit: By the way, I just realized that you wouldn’t be extending the piston rod if you gripped the wrong place, but rather, tightening it, and possible shearing off the threading as well as damaging the piston’s other moving parts. For the love of god, don’t do that.
Finally, an exploded view of the piston unit. As you can see, the exterior is done in hard rubber, while the insides are a rougher kind of plastic. Replacing the cork should be a relatively simple task.
So now I’m considering grabbing a seal or two online, but I’m also looking around the house to see if there are any wine bottles I can uncork for a replacement seal I can cut out. Of course, I’ll be having the wine as well. Not at the same time though.
Update 1 (12/11/15):
Earlier, I was able to extract the piston rod from the Pelikan 100 but the nose cone stopper thing was pretty stuck. I finally gathered the balls to get it out today. Being the resourceful (read: poor and tool-less) amateur pen restorer, I didn’t have a knockout rod. Instead, I fashioned a knockout wooden dowel from a barbeque stick, which I then used in conjunction with a highly professional laptop charger power block to hammer out the nose cone. It has gone well. Cleaned up the insides further (especially the area where the nose cone was stuck) with some soap and water. Now awaiting a fresh cork seal. I have yet to unscrew the section out of the pen because I’m really afraid to damage the feed, nib, AND barrel of the pen all in one go.
Just yesterday, I got a pen in the mail. The specs:
Maker: National Security
Pen Material: Celluloid, Plastic
Length Capped: 123 mm
Length !Capped: 114 mm
Length Posted: 147 mm
Barrel Width: 11~mm
Nib Type: Generic Warranted Gold nib
Nib Material: Gold 14ct
Nib Grade: Fine, Semi-Wet
Flex Grade: Semi
Feed Material: Ebonite/hard rubber
Pen Trim: 14ct plate; heavy brassing
Overall Condition: User-grade
And now for a little story on how it got here:
I originally traded a couple pens (an old style Duofold, a Rotring 400) in exchange for this pen and about 10 or 20 bucks around half a year ago. Unfortunately, after 10 weeks of waiting for nothing, I finally got to contacting the seller, who then got in touch with the post office. Apparently the British post thought it was weird that someone was sending a pen in a box, god forbid, and decided to just leave it in a holding center. A couple weeks after, he got it back (no refund on shipping, to add insult to injury), and sent it. 10 days later, the person in charge of parcels sends me an SMS that it’s here, so I got it right after my statistics exam. A nice end to that day, I’d say.
It’s a pretty short pen, on par with the Pelikan M405. The thickness is quite nice though, and the section is just right for its length. It posts to a perfect length of ~15cm, which is about perfect. The celluloid itself is nice, but a little dull. I expect more glitter, more depth. It’s a beautiful color though - dirty gold is how I would put it.
It is heavily brassed. Heavily, heavily, heavily, heavily brassed. It doesn’t look right. But it can’t be helped. The pen, as it is, didn’t write very well. Inconsistent flow when not flexing, not very smooth. I’ll have to do a bt of tuning on it before I’ll put it through its paces. Flexiness is so-so; a maximum of about ~1~mm. Not that I got this for the flex anyway, though it’s a nice addition.
I got this mainly because it was a bulb filler. I’m a bit of a geek with pen mechanisms, especially filling systems, and bulb fillers aren’t something you come across often. Which is quite strange since they are so simple to fix, don’t need any special parts, are simple to use, and have a pretty good space-ink ratio. As long as it’s designed well anyway.
And they are especially cool when paired with a transparent barrel. In fact, anyone who makes a bulb filler without a transparent barrel (ideally clear) is a world-class idiot. This is truth, don’t question me on this. It might be interesting to note that this is the original sac that came with the pen over 50 years ago. It’s just a little stiff, but not still not to the point where it’s ossified. Surprisingly well-made, if that’s the case.
Earlier I mentioned the importance of design in creating a bulb filler. This is where the pen just absolutely, totally, completely blew me away. Hell if I know how other bulb fillers are designed, but this pen’s was incredibly well-thought-out. Okay, here’s how it works:
Writing: There’s one primary deep channel for ink to flow down, and another channel, similarly deep, connected to the main. The first channel goes all the way to the back end of the feed while the second channel stops right at where the barrel expands into the ink chamber, so both channels are constantly being fed ink. This makes sure the nib is always primed, which keeps the pen from starving.
Filling: When squeezing the sac to refill, the tube that extends through the entire ink chamber serves as the exit tunnel for the air. It comes out a hole bored into the secondary channel and exits through the primary channel. As the sac retracts into its original shape, the ink comes through both primary and secondary channels, and this is repeated until the pen is filled. By boring the hole into the secondary channel, airflow out of the pen is facilitated when refilling, and prevents any unnecessary openings in the feed, which decreases chances of the pen leaking due to internal air pressure forcing ink out of the pen.
Seriously, when I took it apart and saw the thought that went into this, my mind was just blown. I salute the designers of the filling system and feed, because they really knew their stuff.
Larger version here (recommended!)
Having just gotten a few ink samples of Iroshizuku from a friend, I figured a nice comparison would be a great idea. (I realize now that I also had a sample of Tsutsuji, but derp whatever) At the moment, I only own bottles of the first three, with the other four + Tsutsuji in 3~5mL samples, though I now wish I’d gotten Yuu-Yake too.
Iroshizuku inks are Pilot Pen Co.’s premium line of inks. All the colors are inspired by nature’s four seasons and weather and given pretty Japanese names to make them sound nice and fancy - which they certainly are. The bottles, whose pictures you can just look up on Google (do it now!) ooze of Japanese aesthetic too. A very simple affair - no fancy pen holding or weird V-shapes, but a smooth elongated oval, with the bottle’s insides tapering just ever so slightly like an exponential curve, and right at the very bottom is a tiny little cone that holds the very last drops (雫) of color (色).
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