Aug. 21, 2022

R1 The Pen Primer Re-issue

R1 The Pen Primer Re-issue

Re-issue note: I listened through this episode in preparation for this re-issue and I was very pleased with how well it stood up to two years in the stationery world.  There were a (fortunately) few deletions and while there could have been a few additions, I will let this stand for now.  This re-issue now has the transcript and fits in with the current intro and outro.  Please let me know if I missed something big through our email at john at stationeryorbit dot com

Start the Wayback Machine Mr. Peabody...

This is the first of the primer episodes and I’ll be talking about pens today

Update: this podcast will be produced on a two-week schedule.

The Pen Addict  

The Tokyo Inklings

Uni Jetstream 

Parker Jotter  

Fischer Space Pen 

Uni Power Tank  

Uni Deluxe 

Pilot G2   

The EPIC Refill Guide  


Tombow markers


Glass nib pens  

Comic/Manga nibs 

Fountain pen makeup 

Nib makers 

What are nib grinds 


AL Star  

Lamy 2000 





Pelican M1000




Custom 74   

Vanishing Point/Decimo  

Custom 823  

Pro Gear /Realo  

Pro Gear Slim    

1911 Large  


You can find me at 

@gneissguyco on Instagram


1 Pen Primer revisited

John: [00:00:00] This is episode one of stationary orbit. This is the first of the primary episodes, and I'll be talking about Pence. A little bit of housekeeping to start one piece of information. I forgot to mention in the introductory episode, this podcast will be produced on a two week schedule.

What am I writing with today? I have a brand new Leonardo memento, zero with a medium nib inked with sailor mano Yomo G and I'm writing in my trusted touch and be glider and Loro combo. As mentioned in the introductory episode, there are several other podcasts you can listen to right now to feed your pen addiction, including the pen addict with Brad Dowdy and Mike Hurley and the Tokyo inklings out of Japan. So what kind of pens are there to start you out? As mentioned before the Pen addict has a blog that has been a cornerstone of fountain pen learning, and you can go to.

Link in my show notes to see Brad Dowdy's top five pens. And that'll give you another idea as to what the variety of pens are and what the price ranges are for those pens. To start everything [00:01:00] off, you have the trusted ball point. The ball point is a pen. That was created using a paste or oil based ink using roller ball to transfer the ink onto the paper.

They are named Biro's in the UK after Lasio Biro who started using newspaper printing inks for ball points. And then they were patented in Britain in 1938 and the Royal air force air crews used them in world war II, making them very popular in the. And thus the Biro name being used in the UK. The Bic crystal is the most popular pen in the world.

It is in the permanent collection at the museum of modern art. It started production in Catalan, under contract to society Bic from France, thus the Bic name for the us variety of ball points. A few other ballpoint types that are currently in the world that are popular are the uni jet stream and the Parker Jotter.

The Parker Jotter is notable for the fact that it's a very similar product to the original product produced in [00:02:00] 1954. Other ball points include pressurized ball points, including the Fisher space pen and uni power tank pen. One of the downfalls of ballpoint pins is that it requires gravity to feed the ink into the ball and onto the paper pressurized ball points, bypass that by having pressurized cartridges that push the ink onto the ball and then onto the.

Roller ball pens are another variety of ballpoint pens, but instead of using a viscous oil based ink, they use liquid ink. They were introduced in 1963 by Otho from Japan. And a grand example of a roller ball is the uni deluxe, which is a pen. I was lucky enough to find back in the nineties when I was using them for pharmaceutical paperwork and they were highly.

Resistant to being dissolved by solvents, which is why we were using those. And then there are the new kids on the block with gel ink pins. What makes them different from [00:03:00] normal ball points and roller balls is that it's a water based ink that includes a pigment and that pigment can include fluorescent or metallic pigments.

They were first produced in 1984 by a Sakura they are well known and loved by the named jelly rolls. Other gel link pins that are currently produced, include the pilot, G2, the uni signal, and the zebra SSO. A reference that I'm going to include in my show notes is the epic refill guide that was produced by the well appointed desk and Anna Reinert.

So if you have a love of roller ball and ballpoint pens, and gel link pens, go to the epic refill guide and you can see what kind of refills you can use in various. The popular ones, being the G2 refills from the pilot G2 or the G2 refills, which are the European version of G two S it's complicated.

Other pin types include the felt tip pin, which is characterized by the ubiquitous Sharpie pin brush point pins, [00:04:00] which include my favorite, which are Tombo marker. Multi pens, which are typically ballpoint or geling pins. You also have multi pens that are typically ball points or geling pins, but they're much smaller cartridges.

And they're able to have multiple cartridges in one barrel. Then you have calligraphy pens, dip, nib pens, which include glass nib pens, folded nib pens and come, or Mangen nibs which are the predecessor to fountain pens. Then you have fountain pens. This is usually the rabbit hole that your. Pen addicts end up going down, 

Fountain pens, some of the original producers were Pelican from 1838. Watermen started in the 1880s and the Shaeffer lever fill was produced in 1912. Modern fountain pens were made possible through three innovations, Iridium tipped, gold nibs, hard rubber for the bodies and feeds and free flowing in to get the ink onto the paper.

Fountain pens are made up of several different parts, [00:05:00] including the nib, the tines and the feed, which make up the nib section. You have the grip section that holds the nib and the feed. You have the barrel that holds the grip section and the cap that goes over the top of the grip section and nib section.

And then the finials which are on each of the ends. And those are typically. Decorated by the manufacturers with their logos or other decorations. The folks at Goulet pens were nice enough to put together an anatomy of a fountain pen page. And that link is in my show notes, fountain pen filling systems are also widely varied.

They start at cartridge systems, which is what most fountain pens come with. You either have international short for the smaller pens or international long for the standard size pen. There are companies that have proprietary cartridges. Those include Parker Lamy Shafer, cross sailor platinum slash Nakaya Waterman and pilot slash Namiki.

So if you have any of those [00:06:00] pens, you have to use a proprietary cartridge for those. Other filling systems include converter systems, which are just an add on to the cartridges. And they include a piston style filler that allows you to use bottle links instead of cartridge inks and then you have piston style filling systems, which were popularized by the Pelican pen company and are used in higher end fountain pens.

And then you have the vacuum filling system of which the TWISBI VA 700 and. Pilot 8 23 are members of that family. You also have pens that are capable of being eye dropped. You have to be very careful with eyedropper, bring a pen because you're filling the entire body with ink as a reservoir. You need to make sure that it can be properly sealed and that the materials for the.

Grip section and the barrel are compatible and are not both metallic, which is usually where you end up with a leaking eyedropper pen. [00:07:00] Then you have an entire family of fillers that are bulb or sax style fillers that include lever, fillers, button, fillers, and Crescent fillers, getting into fountain pen, body materials.

Pretty much anything that could be turned on a lathe will eventually end up being used as a fountain pen, but the popular ones are acrylic. Ebonite celluloid, and then your metal style bodies, which are aluminum brass, copper steel and titanium Ebonite is known for being the basic material that Urushi pens are built on.

And celluloid pens are the old style of body material that were popular during the heyday of fountain pen. It's very hard to find celluloid bodies anymore. Most of the bodies that you'll find on the market are acrylics for nib materials. You have steel titanium, palladium and gold nibs steel nibs are the most [00:08:00] common style of nib that you'll find on the market.

Titanium nibs are quite a bit rarer than that, but they have quite a bit of flex to them. If you are used to writing with a medium nib, you might want to go with a fine nib for a titanium, just because they put a lot more ink on the paper. The Playdium nibs were generated by Visconti for our time period that Visconti stopped using them because palladium is hard to source and gold nibs are a lot easier to get for the higher end fountain pins for your nibs.

If it's not a proprietary maker. You can make a bet that it's either a Jowo nib or a Boch nib, and Daniel pie has a wonderful guide for the nibs and who makes them. And that link is in my show notes. So you have the fountain pen, you have your nib, you have your ink. What else can you do with the fountain pen?

And the answer is nib grinds. You can do anything from a basic flow fix where if your fountain pen isn't flowing well enough, [00:09:00] you want it to write wetter. You can take it into a nib Meister and have them open up the nib on it and get it to flow better. You can also have a fountain pen nib reduction where you take a coarser nib, either a bold nib or a medium N.

You reduce it down to a finer and extra fine, then you have all of the different grinds that are reflected in the handwriting style that you want to use. Cursive italics, obliques, architects, and stub nibs then you also have a whole other variety of grinds that are Japanese style, which are specifically made for Japanese characters and the definitive source for that inform.

Is the Tokyo inklings and their podcast. They talk extensively about Japanese grinds. If you wanna get a nib ground, who do you go to? So some of the nib meisters that are out in the world include [00:10:00] Nagahara Yukiyo, Mike Masayama Richard Bender. Mark Bacas Dan Smith, Kirk spear, and Deb Kinney. I've actually had grinds by Mike Masayama and Kirk spear.

And the wonderful thing about being able to sit down at a pen show with a nib meister is that they actually get to see the way you write. That's very important for me because I'm a right handed over hooker for the way I write, which means I drag my hand across the page the same way lefties. But I'm doing it with my right hand.

And that makes it very hard for me to write with some basic medium nibs because the flow isn't good enough. And the nib isn't ground specifically to my writing style. So being able to sit down in front of a nib Meister makes it where they can watch the way you write and they can tune a nib to suit your handwriting.

A few other [00:11:00] basics for fountain pens, including what makes a pen. A demonstrator. Demonstrator pens were something that were generated during the heyday of fountain pens, where the manufacturers wanted to be able to show their customers how the fountain pen worked. And it just caught on that these transparent barrels allowing you to see the internal workings of the pen.

Ended up becoming something that was requested by the consumers and the manufacturers now make any variety of demonstrator style fountain pens. You also have two different style of pens out of the Japanese market. One being urushi pens, which is a Japanese laquer style. It's an ancient technique. It was used on.

A lot of different materials over the years in Japan, and then found its way into the fountain pen world. There's another variety of urushi, which is Maier, where they hand paint on patterns or apply gold or abalone, and then urushi over the top of that. [00:12:00] So that gets us out of what exactly a fountain pen is and what the fountain pen is made up of and what you can do with a fountain pen.

Now I'm going to get into where you can find fountain pens. So you have a variety of fountain pen brands. You have European Asian American slash boutique and vintage are the categories that I have broken this down into for the European. Manufacturers you have Lamy Kaweco Pelican Visconti Monte GRA Monte Verde fabric, Castel, Leonardo.

Blanc and St. DuPont, the top three on those in my list are Lamy Kaweco and Pelican. And I'm gonna give you some examples of models for each of the top manufacturers in my categories. So Lomi produces the safari, the AAL star and the Lai 2000. Which is also featured in the museum of modern art. [00:13:00] Along with the B crystal Kaweco produces the sport Lilliput student and super models.

Pelican produces the M 200 through M 1000 and I won't get into the different models and what they mean because the pelicans perch, which I'm gonna include a link to that website on my show notes is the defacto. Source of information for Pelican and all of the different models, getting into the Asian market.

You have platinum pilot, sailor TWSBI Opus 88 moonman pen, BBS and Jin Hao that are manufacturing fountain pens. I find it kind of funny that the Japanese have a tendency to have a mainline brand and then an upper brand that's associated. Kinda like what you see with Honda making Acura and Toyota making Lexus in the fountain pen market, you have platinum [00:14:00] and their higher end are the Nakaya fountain pens.

And pilot has a higher end called Namiki. So for the platinum fountain pens, they produce the basic preppy, which is, I believe a three to $5 pen. And then they have the 37 76, which is their higher end gold nib pen. Pilot has the metropolitan. Custom 74 vanishing point and custom 8 23 is just a sampling of the wide variety of pens that pilot produces.

And then sailor has their pro gear, their pro slim, the, and then the 1911 series, which includes the standard large and king of pen models. TWSBI is a up and comer in the Asian market. They're produced outta Taiwan and while their early. Offerings had some QA QC issues. Their later offerings, their current offerings are very solid pins, including the go the eco, the five 80 and the vac [00:15:00] 700.

And then we'll get into the American and boutique manufacturers. The reason why I call a lot of the American manufacturers boutique manufacturers is because many of them offer custom. Pen options when you're ordering from their websites. So the American manufacturers include Franklin Christoff, Carolina pen company, Edison pen company, Newton pens, Schon designs Conklin

kanilea pen company, Karas pen company. And even Amazon has gotten into the fountain Pen market and they are selling their own fountain pen on their. One of the interesting things about the boutique market in the American market is how often there's cross pollination within that market.

A lot of the other manufacturers end up using Jonathan Brooks, blanks and Jonathan Brooks runs Carolina pen company, but you'll see his bodies and the, his acrylics [00:16:00] used in Canole, a pen company and Franklin Christoff pen. Finally you have the vintage market. And while I understand that some of the vintage makers are still manufacturing pens, the common items that you'll see on the vintage pen tables at pen shows are these vintage pen models.

And those include ever sharp Shafer Parker, watermen, Esterbrook, and Delta. And while I'm not a big person into the vintage pen market, I know that there are a lot of them that are out there. You need to be careful about. Finding folks who are good at restoring vintage fountain pens. And you also need to be careful about your expectation on writing with a vintage fountain pen, because of the aware that was already there from the previous owner is something that may not be compatible with your handwriting style.

And you may have to have the NB ground. Even if you get a good pen and a good nib, it may still have to be ground in order to fit your [00:17:00] writing. So that does it for our pens primer episode.