Posts filed under thoughts

2017 Purchases

Another year has come and gone. And it’s time to see how much I’ve spend on this hobby of mine. This year has seen a drastic decrease in the number of pens I’ve purchased. The main reason being each pen that I buy is significantly more expensive in general so it makes sense that I buy less pens. I’d be worried if I didn’t. I spent a total of $3800 on 7 fountain pens. One of them was a shoo in on Christmas eve. It’s a Pilot Custom 823 in WA from Tokyo Quill. I had expected it to receive the invoice next year. Comparing it to last year’s 19 pens, I feel I’ve exercised a great deal of self control. However with the average price of each pen is more than $500, it is probably due to the higher end fountain pens that I’ve been buying rather than due to any self control.

Ink purchases has gone up when compared to last year’s 19 bottles. I got 27 new inks at $500 in total, some were multiple bottles of the same inks for gifts. 27 bottles of inks at $500 total is not too bad. Well, inks will always be cheaper and it’s easier to impulse buy when compared to pens.

I’ve added a new category to track this year. It’s a category to cover non-pens and non-ink related products, mostly paper and pen cases. That came in at $340. The bulk of it was due to a Pelikan M400 B nib that I’ve purchased for modding.

I’ve sold 6 pens, none of them purchased within the year. And 16 bottles of inks were also sold, some from within the year. I’ve gone a little crazy with Robert Oster Signature inks so I had to cull some to make room for more inks. My collection is probably due for another culling pretty soon.

So that’s $4600 over the course of 12 months, baring nothing just comes up in the next 2 days. Now comparing this to last year’s purchases which came in at more than $5000, I think this is a step in the right direction. It’s not that I’m losing interest in the hobby but as any hobby matures, I think you’d get to know what you like and what you don’t. In turn, you’ll be able to apply these criteria to your purchasing decisions. At the end of the day, hopefully it will means less buy to try, more buy to use.

Which direction has your fountain pen and related products purchases been going?

Posted on December 29, 2017 and filed under shopping, thoughts.

Affordable gold nib pens

So you started down the rabbit hole of a hobby known as fountain pens. You have got a stainless steel fountain pen or maybe more than a few. You write with them and you are enjoying the writing experience the pen provides you. However, you always read about the fable writing experience that gold nib pens seemed to give. You wonder, then you research but the price have always put you off. There is no way you can spend so much on a pen even if it is a gold nib one you might say but you know in your heart of hearts that is not true. You are afraid, afraid that you might be exposing yourself to the point of no return.

Enough melodrama, all that might be true but you can still find affordable gold nib fountain pens locally or online. Here are a few entry level (entry level only in terms of price) gold nib fountain pens if you are looking to dip your toe into the pool. The prices stated below are the manufacturer's suggested retail price for Singapore. You can get about 20% off if you visit the stores.

Pilot Custom 74 - SGD$160

This is one of the most common starter gold nib pen. Pilot is known for a good writing experience right out of the box. The Custom 74 is one of the more affordable gold nib pen they sell. Its design is one of the few models with a gold nib that has a little pop of colour. The orange, purple and blue models are exclusive to the US market. If I am not wrong, the clear and black barrel are the models available locally.

Platinum 3776 Century - SGD$208

If you are looking an alternative to the Pilot Custom 74, the Platinum 3776 Century is a good bet. Do note that both pens may look really similar but they provide a vastly different writing experience. The Platinum 3776 Century has a stiffer nib with more feedback than the Pilot’s. It have quite a few different colour option available as well. Personally, I lean more towards the Platinum 3776 Century maybe more for aesthetics and the feedback that the nib gives me. Who can say no to a heart shaped breather hole?

Pilot Vanishing Point - SGD$267 and upwards

Now this is the only retractable pen on the list and it is not a pen for everyone thanks to the clip’s position and height. However, the 18k nib that comes with the modern version is nothing to scoff at. Yes, the nib is tiny but it packs a punch. It is a wet and juicy nib that has very slight line variation. Like the other two pens above, the Pilot Vanishing Point has a number of colour options more so than the Pilot Custom 74 and the Platinum 3776 Century.

Lamy 2000 - SGD$305

This is the only non-Japanese fountain pen on the list and clocking in at $305 this is really on the border of affordable. Even so, the sleek and modern design of the Lamy 2000 speaks for itself. The nib is very good and mine wrote well right out of the box. However the nib’s line width can differ greatly even with the same nib size. I’ve seen EF that writes like how you expect it to and EF that writes like a M nib. This is one pen best purchase in store if possible.

Wing Sung 698

This is a made in China fountain pen and possibly the cheapest on the list. I’ve not personally tried the gold nib of a China made fountain pen yet. However for its price on eBay, it might be worth a try. It is cheaper than some stainless steel pens even. However, personally I would rather topping up a little more money and get a pen from a reputable brand.

Posted on April 14, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, thoughts.

Traveler’s Notebook - Olive Edition

Traveler’s Notebook has recently released the 2017 limited edition. It is a dark olive colour in the regular size. I’ve pre-ordered mine from Overjoyed and it arrived last week. The olive edition is very similar in feel as the camel. It feels velvety to the touch and it comes with two Olive elastic as well as a blank notebook. In addition to the standard brown and black, Traveler’s Notebook also have a camel edition (which have since been added to the regular lineup) as well as a blue edition.

I’ve been using my camel Traveler’s Notebook since May last year. My camel is worn, scratched and stained but that’s how it shows its character. I promptly switched over to the olive edition once I was done with the photo taking. I think the olive edition would go the way of the camel but what’s the point of buying it and not using it?

Here are some photos to see how the olive compares to the camel edition.

Posted on April 4, 2017 and filed under Stationary, thoughts.

Stainless steel nibs for everyone

Stainless steel nibs are what a beginner fountain pen user experiences. As you spend more time using fountain pens, most would move onto gold nibs. Personally, I am a fan of stainless steel as well as gold nibs. A good stainless steel nib can be on par and sometimes be better than a gold one. It all depends on the individual nib characteristics. The stiffness, the ink flow and the smoothness are the three main nib characteristics I usually judge my nibs on. I believe stainless steel nibs can be enjoyed by anyone be it a newcomer or an experienced fountain pen user. Here is a list of stainless steel nib pens that everyone can enjoy.

Faber Castell Loom
The Loom is Faber-Castell’s entry level pen. The original M nib I got with the Loom is super smooth. It’s like writing with butter on hot glass. Personally I found it way too smooth but if smoothness is the priority, you can’t go wrong with a nib from Faber-Castell.

Kaweco Supra
I love the size of the #6 Bock nib that my Kaweco Supra comes with. The nib has just right amount of smoothness and the ink flow is generous. What’s best is the #6 nib is interchangeable with other pens such as the Tactile Turn Gist and Franklin Christoph pens.

Platinum Balance
The Platinum Balance is not one of my favourite stainless steel nib but I think it deserves a mention for it’s surprisingly bouncy and soft nib. It can provide you with some cushion as you write that’s similar to how gold nibs behave.

Pilot Metropolitan
This is a popular beginner fountain pen and the nib is just plain outstanding. It comes in fine or medium nib and I prefer the fine. Pilot being a Japanese company does an excellent job with the fine nib. I’ve purchased 4 Pilot Metropolitans so far and all of them wrote out of the box. The nib is a great balance of smoothness and feedback that Pilot has mastered.

Pilot Murex
The Pilot Murex has good looks paired with a great writing experience. It is a complete package. The nib is plain but all business when it comes to writing. It provides a characteristic feedback and this is one of my favourite steel nib pens.

Sailor ProColor 500
I had one bad experience with an entry Sailor pen but the Pro Colour is different. The nib is stiff and hard as a nail. Though the nib is finer than the Pilot’s equivalent but it doesn’t scratch the paper. It glides effortlessly across the page and provides the perfect balance of feedback and smoothness. I wish Sailor would improve their entry level steel nibs so that they can provide some competition in the entry level Japanese steel nib pen space.

Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night
The stainless steel nib I got with the Visconti Van Gogh is outstanding. It isn’t just because it writes well with a good ink flow but the nib provides me a natural line variation with having to push the nib. Though the nib was sold as an EF, I found it wrote like a stub nib. It also has some give as I write as well. The nib is also beautifully adorned with scrollwork.

Do you have a favourite stainless steel nib pen? Drop me a comment and tell me about it!

Posted on March 3, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, thoughts.

Culling the herd - Part 2

Check out if you have missed part 1 here.

So after all that hard work of actually using the pens day to day and deciding which pens you are keeping, you have to sell those you are not keeping. There are a few different places you can sell your pens.

  1. Fountain Pen Network Classifieds
    You have to be a Gold Member to post sales thread on Fountain Pen Network Classifieds. However, the classifieds is a high volume place, your post might get lost in the shuffle but it is also high traffic which will mean more eyes looking at your post. This means your item may sell that much faster. Note, since the forum is an international site, you have to be willing to ship your item overseas.

  2. FPGeeks For Sale
    Anyone can post a sale thread on FPGeeks. There are a good number of people looking at the posts but you might have to bump your thread up every couple of days. Also people tend to communicate via FPGeeks’ PM system so make sure to check your inbox there. Note, since the forum is an international site, you have to be willing to ship your item overseas.

  3. Pen Addict Slack Sell-Trade
    The Pen Addict Slack is free to join and anyone can post their item up for sale. Things tend to get lost and searching might be hard because of the post limit of Slack. However, the group have circumvent that with a Google Sheet. Sellers update the Google Sheet and post in the Sell-Trade room to give everyone a head’s up. Note, since the forum is an international site, you have to be willing to ship your item overseas.

    Personally, I have never sold a pen over eBay but it feels like a hit or miss type. I would probably only use eBay as a last resort to sell a pen. It feels more trouble than it is worth but it would open your item up to a wider audience. Note, since the forum is an international site, you have to be willing to ship your item overseas.

  5. Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers Black Market (Facebook only)
    Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers (SFPL) as the name suggests is the home base for most Singaporean fountain pen users. Selling your item here is the best and easiest way to sell locally. What I enjoy most is your dealing location is mostly “the next pen meet” and you can get business done easily. Note, this is a very Singapore centric Facebook group, so assume anyone replying you here is located in Singapore.

  6. Fountain Pen Market Buy and Sell (Facebook only)
    Another Facebook only group but this one is international. I’ve not personally sold anything off this particular Facebook group but what’s the harm of posting your item up if you are using Facebook anyway? Note, since the forum is an international site, you have to be willing to ship your item overseas.

  7. Carousell This is a buy and sell app and website. It is mainly Singapore and Malaysia focused. It’s also another great way to increase visibility of your item to local markets. It is similar to eBay but much easier to post things for sell. Communicate with buyers can be done via the app but I found their push notifications in constant which end up with missing out on offers on your item.

And finally a few tips on selling your pens and inks online:

Photos and more photos
Nothing entice a buyer more than pretty photos of the pen in question. I’ve been the receiving end of that plenty of times.

Provide close up photos
Every buyer will have to inspect the nib before buying. Of course there is no way to inspect it if you are buying it online, so provide photos of the nib and of every little detail on the pen.

Be honest
Be honest when you are describing your pen on your listing. Clearly state and provide photos of any flaw. You can only be dishonest once, it won’t be long before the community is wise of that fact. There is no gains in being dishonest. Plus, you will most likely be selling more than one pen.

Price accordingly
Do your research, find out what others are selling the same pen so that you do not overprice. Also when you set a price there is the listed price and there is the true price. The true price is what you are willing to sell for while the listed price is usually a little higher so that there is room for negotiation. It is best to set this true price early on so that you don’t get tempted with a low baller’s offer which leads to my next point.

Don’t rush
If you are in a hurry, you can get sucked into accepting an offer that is lower than usual. Selling should be done with patience. It is ok to wait a few months for the right offer to come along especially if your pen is rare and/or limited.

Price low to move quickly
Of course if you are in need of cash quickly, pricing them low will move your pens very quickly. This is usually universal.

Knowing where to list a pen is half the battle
Different pens would find their target market at different places. Such as trying to sell a Nakaya on Carousell is probably not the best idea, these should be sold on Fountain Pen Network or FPGeeks or SFPL.

How much is shipping?
If you are selling your pens internationally it is best to find out what’s the regular shipping cost. You can weigh your pen with all the accessories it is coming with before hand. It is just a quick check online for the shipping cost. Alternatively, you can just assume it is going to the US and it will weigh at least 500g and then add tracking. That’s usually a safe bet.

I hope these information has been helpful and you know what to do when you have to cull your herd.

Posted on February 17, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, thoughts.

Culling the herd - Part 1

I’m sure everyone who is into fountain pens and inks will find themselves the owner of too many pens and/or inks and/or paper. Personally, I have been forced to face the realities of my addiction not just because I do yearly tally of my spendings. I use my Dudek Block as a good gauge of when my pen herd needs some thinning.

Recently I’ve purchased and ordered two top tier fountain pens from Montblanc and Nakaya respectively. (It’s my first Montblanc fountain pen!) I began the process of culling the lesser used pens from my pen stand. This is in part to make space for the incoming pens of 2017 and also to free up some funds to acquire more pens.

So these pens are up on the chopping block right now.

Why these 4 pens? I have all 4 for some time (months if not at least a year for some)* but I almost always pass over them to ink up another pen. It can’t be because they are not gold nib pens because I use plenty of steel nib pens on a daily basis. The only way to find out is to ink them up and take them out for a spin. The Faber-Castell Loom is a gift from my aunt, it originally came with a medium nib which was too wet but super smooth. I swapped it out with my Faber-Castell Ondoro’s F nib and sold the Ondoro. That one I sold last year because of the grip section and the faceted barrel. After a week or so with the Loom I found the nib and the pen rather boring. Functionally, there is nothing wrong, it was just kind of regular. Since I didn’t have to decide to keep or sell the pen, it was easy to defer the decision by putting it into cold storage.

The Lamy CP 1 was next. Filling it with the Sailor Jentle Kin Moku Sei, it wrote beautifully. It even has a little stubbish quality in the 14K EF nib. The nib provides a nice feedback that I enjoy. However, I found I wasn’t enjoying the pen body as well. I didn’t want to keep the body but I balk at the thought of selling the nib. Luckily for me, Lamy’s nibs are interchangeable. It’s just a simple matter of swapping the nib out and selling the Lamy CP 1 with another nib.

I had backed Tactile Turn Gist Kickstarter for two pens - one bronze the other zirconium. The bronze that came with the 1.1mm nib was sold a few months after I got the pen. Stub nibs are seldom for me since they are usually too wide for my liking. The one I have left is the zirconium with a titanium EF nib. Now the titanium nib can be tamed with a dry ink but it sings in a different way from gold nibs. I am very gentle with the nib because I was afraid I will spring the nib. I decided that’s no way to live so that is going to go. Also, I found the cap cracked all by itself in the pen stand. After a week of use, the crack turn into a chip. Will Hodges of Tactile Turn will be sending me a new cap once my old one get to him. If you have the same issue, do drop him an email.

Finally, the Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night. This is a pen I’ve purchased during my Italy trip a few years ago. I got the Visconti Van Goh along with a Delta The Journal and Lamy Al-Star Copper Orange. Both of which have since been sold so this is the last pen standing, so to speak. The week of using this pen I re-discovered my love of the pen. The steel is slightly springy and also slightly stubbish in character. This I’m told is hard to achieve for an EF nib. I am on the fence for the Visconti. There is nothing wrong with the pen, it’s just being pass over for no good reason. Maybe it deserves a better home where it will be used? I’ll be keeping this pen for now.

So this is usually how I go about culling my pens especially once my Block gets full. Tell me in the comments, how you decide for your collection!Stay tuned next week for part 2 where I write about where I sell my pens and some tips regarding selling.

Posted on February 10, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, thoughts.