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Posts Tagged ‘Diplomat’

Choices, Made and Awaiting

Posted by Dirck on 20 January, 2015

This is a slightly scattered entry, as the title suggests.  It has, one might say, tendrils in past, present and future.

Let’s start with something in the present progressive tense:  I am reading.  Those who paid attention to the little thing about books in the right sidebar may have noticed that there’s a rather slow turn-over.  Borges, in fact, I leave on the list only as a means of prodding myself; I need to find a good lump of time to give his work the attention it deserves, and until that comes to me, the book sits quietly on the shelf looking at me with slightly menacing good humour.  Leaving that one out, though, I have been rather low-key on my reading in the past year, with Good Reads revealing that I only sank a dozen books.

I suspect under-reporting on my part.

Still, for someone who likes reading, and who accepts that reading is a necessary fuel, prop and pre-condition to writing, that’s not so good.  The internet has come to the rescue on this.  Here’s the plot for this year, as thrown in my face by Facebook:

2015 Reading Chall

Ambitious, eh?  I’m going to have to do some research on the matter of other writers with the same initials, and thanks to the fruits as yet unsampled of Christmas I now have some good candidates for things I own but have not read.  I also intend to cheat now and again, using one book to satisfy several points occasionally, because I’m well aware that being resolved to read makes no more hours appear in any day.  Cheating aside though, I’m pleased at the prospect of increasing my text intake this year.  I’ll bring in the present perfect tense, although its effect runs back some decades: I have chosen to read.

This brings us to the plain present tense.  I have a gift certificate.  I am, in fact, extremely tense about this, for the most contrary of reasons.  Point of tension number one is the amount of it.  After a late November declaration starting with my parents and taken up on all fronts that there’s not a lot of money in the family’s collective economy for fripperies, it seems that my wife and I were the only ones to stick to the policy.  Part of the unexpected and sadly imbalanced bounty was this certificate, taken out at the only store in town worth looking at for a pen, and with a ridiculous figure written on it.  Its an embarrassment of riches.

This is also, looked at in a different light, the second point of tension.  The store carries Lamy.  The only Lamy I’m currently interested in, the Dialog 3, is also their most expensive in regular trims.  As large as the gift is, it doesn’t cover that pen, nor even put me within sensible reach of it.  What else do they have?  Let me slightly infringe on copyright to show you…


Click to go to the company’s site. See? It’s not copyright issues, it’s free advertising!


There is this Faber-Castell e-motion (this company, who also make the LOOM, need to ponder their capitals a little).  It’s visually interesting… but I cringe at the staining prospects of that wooden barrel.  It’s stylish… but it’s not really in the style that I pursue.  One hears nothing but praise in reviews for Faber-Castell’s pens, even if it is sometimes a little faint, and I know that they’re extremely willing to be put right in case of disaster… but I don’t want to spend a packet on a pen I’m not really in love with, and those previous ellipses indicate that however polyamorous I am in the pen department, I might regret this addition to the harem.


Same deal. Free publicity!

Also in stock is this Monterverde Regatta.  It has, in different tones than the Faber-Castell, the same list of virues, with the possible exception of quite so much crying up by reviewers; I say possible because the name of the pen is less instantly familiar to me than than the other.  It goes so far as to replace the worry about barrel staining with a very intreguing and quite positive magnetic cap-holding system, something I don’t have in any of my current pens and which I admit to admiring.  However, the hesitations appear here, too.  I’m not caught up in the current fascination with visible carbon fibre (I might change my tune if someone would get around to building that space elevator).

Not this time; picture © ME! 2015 (although I don't mind it being used under

Not this time; picture copyright ME! 2015 (although I don’t mind it being used under Creative Commons Attribution).

There’s also the colour scheme.  Thanks to a client, I got to spend some time last weekend with a Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black.  As with the Regatta, it has the full stealth trim, and while I think I would have liked it a lot in about 1985, my tastes have changed.  It’s just a little too much dark for me.  This doesn’t even get into concerns about the effect of wear on the finish.  The body might end up looking rather neat as bits of brass appear through the black, but the point is apt to just look squalid.  That the finish may wear off the point over time I take as almost certain, given the masking on many of my pens from the 1930s through ’50s.  Even the rhodium on today’s pen is letting a little yellow show at the edges, and I baby this thing.

The final point of tension is one of scheduling; the chap at the store more familiar with their suppliers’ catalogues and the ordering there-from keeps not being in the store when I look in.  For some reason, he took time off from a retail enterprise in the wake of Christmas!  Can you fathom it?  This means that the conversion of the certificate into whatever pen I finally settle on (which I hope will not be as protracted an affair as some authors make of it) keeps getting put off– the store carries, but doesn’t currently have in stock, items by Visconti and Diplomat, and with four manufactures to look at, something should appeal to my jaded palate.  This at least should resolve soon; I’m told he’ll almost certainly be in on the day I’m planning to next visit.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of choices in various tenses, I think I’ll make one more choice public in a couple of tenses.  I was not able to finish Atlas Shrugged on my last attempt upon it (page 99 and I flung it down, based entirely on the writing as the philosophy had yet to manifest), and despite it filling the final tick on that chart, I choose to leave it to one side, and I will henceforth avoid it.  I shall persist in not reading it.  I hope to have it said at some distant future date that I went my whole life not having read it.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Shinryoku

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Step Off

Posted by Dirck on 16 December, 2013

I have a Christmas wish to say aloud; I understand Santa, like some national governments, has loads of staff devoted to watching the internet.  First, though, let me show you some contextual pictures:

I have a very small problem with a design element which these pens have in common with a lot of other moderns.  Let me steal some pictures from elsewhere so you can see more of it.  First, from a news item on FPGeeks


— and then from Montegrappa’s own site.


I invoke “fair comment” for the above and some material to follow.  The thing that is giving me a problem, which is actually muting my enjoyment of fountain pens, and which I’m going to ask Santa to leave notes in the stockings of the world’s pen designers, is the substantial step where the section meets the barrel.  In many cases, it doesn’t affect the function of the pen except of a minority of the tender-skinned, but it’s a threat, a constant menace to the mind if not the hand.  The reason for it is clear enough, as it makes for a smooth transition from cap to barrel when the pen is closed…

…but it isn’t necessary to make it a large step.  Today’s pen, for example, has a smooth cap/barrel interface, but the step is very small.   It’s not necessary to do silly crap like this


…unless you’re only interested in a pen that people stare at.  The smooth transition isn’t too hard to accomplish with modern materials, and I notice that some of the grander pens like the Mont Blanc Meisterstück and the Pelikan Souverän aren’t troubled by the cap overhanging the barrel.  Perhaps umlauts help.

In any event, I hope it will stop.  That thing I lifted from the Geeks has a Zeppelin tie-in, so it combines two things I find really neat– fountain pens and rigid bodied lighter-than-air flight– yet it leaves me doing little more than shrugging.  I’m asking Santa, in essence, for a renewal of my joie de vivre supplies.

Same as everyone else, really.

Today’s nigh-stepless pen: Sheaffer Targa
Today’s quietly festive ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis

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Sold Out

Posted by Dirck on 16 July, 2013

What I’d meant to touch upon yesterday, and would have but for the visit from the Histamine Elf and his pursuing nemesis, the Draught of Groggy, was a purchase I probably shouldn’t have made.  It also wasn’t a purchase I’d intended.

I have to go back a couple of days before the weekend.  My wife was reloading her swarm of Sheaffers– all No Nonsenses and Viewpoints, all fine italic points, all different colours of ink–  and she made a terrible discovery.  Our bottle of Violette Pensée had become infected!  You can tell a bottle of ink is infected, by the way, when the thing you’re using to draw the ink out emerges with a strandy clump depending from it.  My response to this discovery was to ponder briefly how long it had been since the bottle had been bought, becoming somewhat content with the answer memory provided, and declaring we might look in at the local source of semi-boutique inks and get a fresh bottle.

We move to Saturday, then, when we discover that not only does that local source (Paper Umbrella, font of much joy) have Violette Pensée in stock but there is a sale underway in connection with the local incarnation of the Fringe Festival.  15% off, the signs say, of all fine writing instruments… and here we come to the “probably shouldn’t” element of the story.  I was buoyed up by a recent payment from a client, and Temptation said, “Say, you don’t have any Diplomat pens yet, do you?  They carry Diplomats here….”

As it developed, they were out of Diplomats, but for one that was somewhat more expensive that even Temptation could nudge me into, given that it was not of a finish which called out to me.  However, having myself been in the position of small-scale entrepreneur about fifteen years ago, I didn’t want to dangle the possibility of a sale and then snatch it away.  I walked out with a Lamy Studio in matte blue, which my wife described as “sexy”– how could I resist?  A new page, if not a new pen-maker, will appear on the site presently.

The point of this story, though, is not “I got me a new pen!”  While a new pen, as opposed to an old pen newly purchased, is less of a commonplace in my life, it’s not so grand a pen to be worth all this balloon-juice.  My home town, despite the presence of its own Fringe festival and a (technically) international airport, has ever been considered a somewhat provincial place.  A purported economic boom has shown its work mainly in the number and newness of the pick-up trucks on the roads.  I am thus delighted with the implication to be drawn from the frustrating of my initial intention.  They were out of Diplomats, almost, and this reminds me of the regular depletion of the stocks of ink in the same store.  People who are not me(!) are buying fountain pens and their accessories. If there is, in fact, a market for fountain pens in a town which spends a lot more effort shouting about sports than arts, there is reason to hope.

…and thus, while the money probably should have been spent on necessities rather than as it was, I don’t regret it.  Call it fertilizer on the seed-bed of hope for a decent place to live.  Support your local businesses, folks!

Today’s pen: Waterman Préface
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Shin Ryoku

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The Mountain Will Not Come to You

Posted by Dirck on 4 October, 2012

I am not a captain of industry.  That’s probably clear from almost everything I’ve said previously, but I wanted to make clear that what follows is the opinion of the untutored.

I have been mulling over an item of intelligence which I saw yesterday on the Fountain Pen Network, and I find my initial reaction remains in place.  The item, which you may of course read for yourself, indicated that a major UK retailer is in the midst of replacing Mont Blanc pens with Diplomat pens.  The reason given by staff at the store is that Mont Blanc was insisting that their pens be presented in the jewellery department, and the store, unfashionably thinking pens to be an item connected with stationery, would not move them from the stationery department.  Thus, a parting of the ways.

My initial reaction, which takes Mont Blanc as its subject: “What a bunch of silly buggers.”

I am unmoved from this position by the information that to those who think $1000 is the natural unit, it is not uncommon to enter retail environments in which “department” is defined not but the nature of the merchandise (shoes, underwear, crockery) but by who makes it (Huge Bass, Scaramanga, DoNKeY, and yes, I am cocking my snook).  That reveals a whole different batch of silly buggers, who I’m not here to deride… today.

Silly buggers, front one: Mont Blanc is trying to separate their pens from the general category of pens.  These are not pens, they cry, they are precious gems.  This is problematic, because it can then lead to abandoning any idea of function whatever, and should the bubble that the ultra-expensive limited edition pens float upon ever burst, the owners should at least have the solace of it writing very well indeed.  Which, at those prices, it should.

Silly buggers, front two: How big, exactly, is the market for furiously expensive jewel-pens?  We hear much about the gap between rich and poor widening briskly, but we do not hear about the rich side doing a whole lot of recruiting.  Now, I, being a mere non-MBA, sub-$500,000/year peasant, can’t really comment on the wisdom of Mont Blanc’s marketing plan; I’m sure they are paying some people with appropriate degrees huge amounts of money to direct their ship.  However, it seems to me that lopping off an income stream because the owners of it don’t want to rearrange their business to suit your notions is not going to harm anyone but you.  The retailer in question has a replacement for the empty shelf space, and the difference in cost between Mont Blanc and Diplomat suggests to me that the volume of sales of the newcomer will handily balance the lost profits on the infrequent vast-ticket purchases.

As I say, I’m not a marketing guy, so my opinion has no weight, but it seems to me that there is a limit to the number of times a company can say,  “Screw you if you don’t want to sell our stuff” before they run out of places to sell it.  Since Mont Blanc’s humblest pens are well beyond me, I’m only concerned about this in an academic manner, but I’d still hate to see a venerable pen-maker disappear because it mistook amputating a limb for nail-trimming.  On the other hand, if the emperor doesn’t accept that he’s naked and going after his fingernails with a tree-chipper, he’s only got himself to blame.

Today’s pen: Parker IM
Today’s ink: Quink Blue

By the way, I should own up to taunting the pen-maker in question throughout.  Although one might not know it from the way they print their name on many of their products, or the fact that they are frequently refered to as MB, they would like us to write their name “Montblanc”.  I assume this is because they don’t want their valuable exercise in branding mistaken for a common mountain which anyone might look at.

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