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Archive for April, 2012

The Week Impending

Posted by Dirck on 30 April, 2012

I’ve got a biggish entry bubbling in my head, so I’m going to mention a couple of things that the next week offers and then go and get started on that.

The primary thing this week promises is anticipation.  The previously mentioned pen-repair tools, from their diverse sources, are on their way.  This means they need merely make their way from diverse places around North America and Europe, and through the hands of the rapidly thinning crowds of customs officers charged with making sure all duties are paid and no contraband accompanies.  I suspect fewer of them (we are cutting, it seems, to enhance national security; go figure) will lead to greater rather than lesser delays.  The same situation applies to my inbound TWSBI Vac 700.  Patience is a virtue.

Letter writing must also be attended to this week.  I have gotten abominably behind (again), and must see to my lingering correspondence and languishing correspondants.  I hope patience is a virtue they still value.

That gala I attended last week has put a notion in my head, or rather the poetical key-note speaker has.  Between wanting to check up on some of the things he said and the letters, I may well beg off here later in the week.  I presume, therefore, upon the patience of the reader.

And finally, the world is no doubt wondering what pen went to the event with me.  It was the Parker 75, on the grounds of that clip looking rather better in the pocket than the others’.  Today’s pen was the nearly-successful runner up; I got so far as inking it before asking my wife’s opinion (she asked mine on the topic of ear-rings).  It was patient enough, lying yesterday in thwarted readiness, so it gets the reward of virtue.

Today’s pen on consolation run: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Diamine Amazing Amythest


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Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2012

My wife and I have been invited to an authentic grown-up-type evening out tomorrow, and as it happens the mortar is pretty much set on the “Play Area” for our son at her parents’ place, so we are able to accept.  This leaves me pondering which of my various appropriate pens should get to ride along, which given my peculiar mental imbalances is a matter of much thought.

I don’t have a Friday film to offer, but I can let you have a look at what we’ll be about.  Apparently the active campaign of both federal and provincial governments against arts and culture hasn’t yet stifled the local publishing industry.

Today’s pen (just out of the running at my companion for the event): Parker Vacumatic
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Nature Adores a Vacuum

Posted by Dirck on 26 April, 2012

I’m dreadfully excited!  Aren’t YOU dreadfully excited?  How could you not be excited?  The forums are a-buzz with it!

Part of the excitation is that I find Facebook serving me for a rare change, rather than merely revealing friends’ movie choices and announcing events I can’t possibly attend.  The announcement was timely, too, for I found it when it was only an hour old.  At 5:17am CST (which is what I live in), TWSBI posted nothing more than a link, reading TWSBI Vac700 Sapphire Fountain Pen and taking the clicking enthusiast to a page on their site where the purchase was possible.

Now, if you’re looking at this little screed of mine at all, you’re probably interested in fountain pens, and as a person of that sort, if this is news as yet unknown to you, you are probably clutching at your keyboard and hyperventilating.  You’re also cursing my eyes and fingers for not providing that self-same link; let me correct that oversight.

Now that they’ve all run off, I’m going to explain myself for the one or two of you who are only fountain-pen curious, or were brought here by Google’s misconstrual of a request for information on Rev. Awdry’s engines, modern British novelists, or how to form a capital G in script.  The Vac700 is a follow-on of sorts to TWSBI’s big breakthrough pen, the Diamond.  Why that pen was a big deal is that it was a pen with most of the elements of pens costing several hundred dollars, at what we may still consider a popular price (it cost less initially!).  This new release has been mooted about for about as long as the Diamond has been available, and the reason it is a big deal is that it is also at a price which, if not precisely popular is still achieveable and incorporates a vacuum filler.  That is a big deal because it is an extremely efficient filling system, which has hitherto been available only in slightly unreliable vintage pens, or in a very few modern pens of rather astonishing expense.

So, for those who are not deeply moved by fountain pens… you now understand why you try not to sit too near those of us who are on a long plane-ride.  And to those few of you who I’ve enticed into trying out the baffling world of self-filling fountain pens; I’m sorry for how much money you’ll eventually devote to it.

I ordered one in Smoke, by the way, which I justify to myself on the strength of having recently sold along one of my Parker “51”s (having justifications at hand soothes the conscience amazingly).  You think I’d be here blithering on if I didn’t already have my order it?

Today’s pen: Waterman Super Master
Today’s ink: Diamine China Blue

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Bailing Furiously

Posted by Dirck on 25 April, 2012

While I was toying recently with a description of an apparent Parkerpalooza, I find that I’m actually getting drowning in Watermans.  I have… wait while I check… four descriptive pages on the hob at the moment.  Because this is occupying my imagination, I’m going to jump into that suddenly-developed project rather than sit here making humming noises.

Before I go, though, I will comment briefly on yesterday’s reunion.  We got along as well as ever we did, perhaps even better given my greater understanding of the ethnic folk-ways of fountain pens.  I was, I think, a little hesitant at first, but by the end of the day we were writing furiously together.  The rift is fully mended.

Today’s pen: Parker Vacumatic
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Opening a New Door (step 1)

Posted by Dirck on 24 April, 2012

I’m taking slightly fraudulent advantage of the access to credit which saw me into the recently-acquired new car.  Since the available credit is, technically, mine to do with as I please, the presence of any fraud at all is mainly the invention of my old-fashioned and oft-reinforced terror of debt.  I am not, I keep telling this phantom, buying a load of festive hats or similar frivolity.  I am making a reasoned and logical purchase with an eye to developing my capital and my capabilities.  I am… investing!

I have in the past lamented some of the lacunae in my powers as a fixer of pens.  Point grinding is the least of these, as that is just a matter of overcoming a small lack in abrasives and a serious mental block that has installed itself under the heading of “Vandalism”.  More troublesome is my incapacity in the area of Sheaffer’s vacuum-filling pens.  They’re a ton of trouble to take apart, they’re nearly as much trouble to refit, and they’re not a lot of fun to put back together.  I have some of the tools for the ends of this operation, but nothing to really address the middle.  And so, I don’t repair them.

This is about to change, or so I hope.  Having enough money to envision getting the tools, I am going to take the next step and act upon the vision.  I’ve sent an email to a notable repairman and tool fabricator, outlining what I want.  The total will be rather less than some pens one could get, but it’s a lot more than I usually spend on anything that won’t directly sustain my life.  I’m also looking at getting tools to deal with cap-dents in some models and to address point deformities in a slightly less ad-hoc, semi-MacGyverish manner than I currently do.

This is but a first step, of course.  Even once the tools are in hand, I’ll be some months before I feel in any way ready to offer repairs to the public; my own will have to survive and thrive under my hands first.  However, I now at least have a foot in the door which has thus far barred me from advanced work.  Any salesman will say that’s tantamount to a victory.

Today’s pen: Waterman Super Master
Today’s ink: Diamine China Blue (something gentle for the first outing after so long a coma)

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Posted by Dirck on 23 April, 2012

Tomorrow, I’ll be getting back together with an old friend.  Once a constant companion, even to the extent of travelling to distant corners of the world, we parted ways due to a mutual misunderstanding– mainly, but not entirely, my fault.  After years of estrangement, we are getting back together, thanks to the internet.  I know things can never go back to the way they were, of course, and although there are some regrets connected to that thought, it is probably going to be a healthier relationship.

I am, as usual, speaking about a pen.  The pen in question is one which I got for my high school graduation, and when I contemplate the notion of being a single pen user, this is the pen upon which my experience is founded.  I had, up to that point, been a serial user of Sheaffer cartridge pens, with a bit of Osmiroid dabbling, but I had never gotten a good pen.  After graduation, my father directed me to go to a local stationer’s (such things still existed then) and select a pen to please myself… within reason.  I don’t recall what the choices were, since I hadn’t my current grip of makers and models, but I do recall having a bit of an internal wrestle with that last proviso.  The problem was this– there were several pens only very slightly more expensive than my habitual Sheaffers which also seems not much better, and there were several that were jaw-droppingly more expensive.  Within reason, though, was a very narrow window, composed of this single model.

As a mark of my naïveté, I had never heard of Waterman, and I was somewhat confused as to how such a strongly Anglic name came to be made in France.  I was, however, impressed that there was a mechanism included stand in for cartridges!  This was living high indeed!  So, I spent sixty dollars on a Waterman pen, and spent the next fifteen years using it.

…and abusing it.  Even though I had used fountain pens for years,  I didn’t know anything about maintenance.  It was by mere instinct that I flushed the pen now and again.  Usually not more frequently than every fourth month.  I also learned by perilous trail that an ink from an art shop that says it can go in a fountain pen might mean, “for a day or so.”  It became reluctant to write, and I became dogged about forcing it.  One day, it broke at the section.  It was this disaster, and the subsequent replacement, which put my feet on the path of learning all that is learnable about fountain pens.  The unspoken goal was to one day rehabilitate the poor broken Waterman.

The turning of the world has brought about the sought-for result.  There are regrets, still, in the way this has happened.  I jumped into the initial attempt at repair far too soon in my studies, and my efforts did little more than to stand in the way of what would now be (probably) successful repair.  I say I have restored the pen to use, but this is not through any technical artistry.  I found a donor, a pen in Mumbai with a rough body but a cared-for section.  My previous harping on the inadequacy of mere replacement comes back to nip at me, and I must now ponder if with the replacement of such a central component I may call it the same pen.

That small dark cloud aside, I am looking forward to tomorrow’s launch.  I would have run it out today, but I wanted to finish writing a page for my site for it.  You see, through all the years of our acquaintance, I never knew the model name.  Since 1984, it has merely been “The Waterman”, and the tendency of Waterman to be slightly obscure with its model names hasn’t helped.  I have, since my site was first initiated, been struggling to pin the pen with a label, and it has resisted.  Coincidence piled up this weekend, though, and I was finally able through rediscovery of the original box and its obscure sticker to apply the internet’s vast resources to find a single resource that I consider valid and sufficient.  Having found the name, I am actually rather content to have not known it previously.  I may well have fled the store if I had known what a silly name the pen was suffering under….

Ladies, Gentlemen, I present the rehabilitated Waterman Super Master. No flash photography, please.

Today’s pen, also with a silly name: Parker Vacumatic
Today’s ink, likewise: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Last Man Standing

Posted by Dirck on 20 April, 2012

The Friday slackness is not a film today (awww!), but a mere link to an article (boo!) in which we read of the twilight of Beijing’s only pen repairman.  This may be less of an elegy than it thinks it is, as I can recall at least three articles describing three different people as the only person in North America who does exactly the same thing.

If it’s true, it’s bad news for China; they’re caught firmly in the cogs of consumerism if that kind of population supports so little in the way of repair.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Admiral
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Unexpected Largesse (Act II)

Posted by Dirck on 19 April, 2012

Chronologically, I really should have followed Tuesday’s act I immediately with this, but I was both anxious to pursue that Moderne and in need of some composing of my thoughts on today’s topic.

The prompting item was a small unexpected package in the mail.  The sender was known to me, and I feared for a moment I’d had some small stroke that made me forget a repair commission.  Within, I found some pens and a letter.  The sender is a regular (for some reason) examiner of this effort, and he had read a posting I’d made a while ago in which I mentioned that I was working myself up towards the grinding of nibs.  Here, said the letter, were some pens I could practice upon; pens he not only had no immediate use for, but pens which he had no real connection with.  They had been sent to him in turn, he said, by a well-regarded repairman in England to whom he’d mentioned an inclination to learn some skills in that direction, and as they were free to him they were now free to me.  He also mentioned a slight self-serving aspect to the donation, in that it might result in a nibmeister no great distance away, but that’s so speculative that it hardly has any bearing on the matter.

Here I am, then, with a pile of (mainly) Platignum pens and a rather warm feeling in my cockle-proximate zones.  What this drives home, once again, is that for all the various forums we frequent– the FPN, the FP Board, FP Geeks, Forum Styloplume, and diverse others– describe themselves as “communities”, they are but a reflection of the actual community which exists in the physical world.  I believe I’m mentioned in past installments… perhaps… similar kindnesses perpetrated simply because the link of interest in fountain pens exists.  I’m very proud to be in this community.  I’m somewhat abashed that I’m not more active in it.

All of which is a rather long form of “Thanks!” to the donor who I leave anonymous that he may not be pestered by importuning opportunists (any community has some of those lurking about in it).  I’ll make the best use of them I can, and pass along the survivors when appropriate.

Today’s pen: Hero 100
Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue

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Where’s My Deerstalker?

Posted by Dirck on 18 April, 2012

An internet acquaintance (I hesitate to presume upon “friend”, although Facebook describes him as such) has a selection of Inexplicable Objects on his site, which is otherwise mainly a blog of such longstanding that I believe it predates the word.  I now have one of my own, although I am going to attempt to unravel it.  First, let’s have a look at it:

It doesn't look like a culpable mystery....

The barrel has been polished to within an inch of its life, but the imprint is still just legible: PARKER MODERNE.  This brought me up against my first mental agitation.  This is a biggish pen, and my expectation for Modernes is something smaller.  Vis:

The game, as Jeremy Brett said at least once, is afoot!  The first step is to give my authorities a good, hard read.  One of the first steps in unravelling a mystery such as this is allowing yourself to actually comprehend what you’ve read about the item in question, and I find in this activity the first clue to resolution.  My previous shallow reading on the Moderne was founded on having a single, small, Canadian-made exemplar, so having gotten from a skim, “Moderne is a Canadian version of the small Duette Jr.” I was content that I had learned what I needed to.

Through the magic of thinking while reading, though, I expand this.  After 1934, the Moderne was essentially a variation of the Challenger which appeared only in Canada, and may have been used as a way of using up parts backlogs.  “Oh, that makes sense.”  Let me provide you with a glimpse of a Challenger:

Observe, Watson, the differences in the (unspeckled) band, section, clip and derby.

What of those differences?  Well, the image above shows a Challenger made after a big re-design in 1937.  Before that, as you can see for yourself on someone else’s extremely useful website, there was rather less distance between the Challenger and the latter-day Modernes.

I have thus far been somewhat vague about the age of this newly-arrived Moderne.  Let me have a glance at the date code….

51.  Hum.  Well.

Thus, the pen retains an element of inexplicability.  The notion of the Moderne existing primarily as a means of disposing of last year’s Challenger parts is perfectably acceptable to me.  However, since Challenger production officially ended in 1941, that date code is a big issue.  Do we wish to believe that the Canadian market was so conservative that it not only kept the Vacumatic on the shelves for five years after the US conclusion of production, but kept pre-1937 Challenger parts in circulation until the fourth quarter of 1951?  The other possibility is an inversion of the normal date code for the first quarter of 1935, or some kind of lunatic spasm that brought a Canadian die-setter to stamp some pens in an outdated mode for the fifth quarter of 1941.

The investigation continues….

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Admiral (carrying a concealed something)
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green (mysteriously disappeared from store shelves)

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Unexpected Largesse (Act I)

Posted by Dirck on 17 April, 2012

I’ve just been thrown to an unexpected Vietnamese lunch by my father– a Dutch treat, if you will, given his ethnicity.  I thus put off until tomorrow The Case of the Inexplicable Object, and delay yet further the other tale of Unexpected Largesse that would have been sole owner of this title but for the paternal charity.

I will briefly mention that I’ve opened up an art wing to my website– the Portrait Galleries make shameless re-use of previously uploaded content, but in a possibly-amusing and potentially-interesting manner.

Today’s pen, slightly dizzy: Hero 100
Today’s ink, barely able to keep its monocle in place: Diamine Prussian Blue

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