What is Your Perfect Pen and Why?

By LPC member Rafal

From time to time we suggest and pick particular themes for our meetings. Those themes have to only loosely be related to pens, inks and papers. The theme for April 3, 2010 was for each member to bring the pen from his/her collection that they would consider the “perfect” pen (for him or her) right now and explain why they chose that particular pen.

There was a strong suspicion that the idea of a “perfect pen” would mean many different things to many different people but some suggested selection criteria included:

– How the pen fits them?
– How the nib matches their preference for most of their writing
(smoothness level, flow rate, stiffness, and point size/shape)?
– How durable is the construction?

– How it matches their esthetic tastes?
– How easy it is to fill and how it matches their ink capacity requirements?

We thought that this exercise might reveal a few interesting observations including:

– The “perfect” pen for someone might not be their most favourite pen;
– There might be a lot of variety in the pens selected by the group or there may be
some similarities; and

– We might even find that there are some repetitions.

This turned out to be a pretty interesting topic of discussion and here are the pens each member brought (along with the reasons for their choice) and a slide show  of those perfect pens:

Rick: Parker 75 Cisele
– Size / weight just right
– Dry writing wine nib –  just likes Rick likes
– Cartridge capability – great for travel
– Classic design

John: Waterman Edson
– Perfect size
– Broad nib – pretty much the only nib for John
– Very pretty  – navy blue color with gold trim
– Sentimental value – it was a gift from John’s employer for 25 years of service
– Does not have a vacumatic filling mechanism 😉

Mike: Tibaldi Iride
– It’s the pen that David wants more than any other from his collection but can’t have it.

Dan: Sheaffer 300
– Has a nice heft
– Spring loaded clip
– Durable

David: Modern Aurora 88 (large) with a stub nib
– Black with silver trim
– Size / feel
– Piston filler
– Great nib
– Classic, elegant design
– Italian pen

Doug: Delta 20th Anniversary
– Feel in hand
– Barrel shape is smooth and flowing
– Ink flow on the wet side
– Nib is ‘right’ – It’s neither fine or medium or broad, it is just right.
– Colour – Orange Black
– Filling system – Vintage classic (lever)
– Construction – Screw-on cap (when posted to end of barrel). At first he thought it was a hassle and stupid. Now everything lines up. Cap never falls off.
– A larger pen, yet again, body flow and colour… Writing for hours…
– Gold nib, and it has some flex
– Classic design

Marie: Sheaffer 300
– Size
– Nice to write with
– Colour
– Durability

Stan: Waterman 100 Year Pen
– Perfect flexible nib – almost calligraphic.
– Lends itself very well to Stan’s style of writing

Patrick: Parker 51 Slender
– Matches his jacket
– Perfect weight / balance posted and not posted
– Awesomeness,
– Classic
– Hooded nib design
– Nice nib
– Discrete

Ben:Waterman Expert II
– Colour – light blue
– Dependable
– Reliable
– Flows smoothly
– Can be used anytime (always ready to write)

Rafal: Parker 51 Aerometric
– Perfect Size
– Smooth, wet XF nib
– Elegant styling
– Very durable and easy to service

After everyone’s choices were revealed, a few things became apparent:
– Out of 11 pens, Waterman and Parker were picked most often [3 times each (27%)/6 out of the 11 in total (55%)];
– Out of modern pens, Sheaffer 300 was picked twice (67%) and out of vintage
pens Parker 51 was picked twice (67%);
– 4 pens were vintage (36%) and 7 were modern (64%);
– The cartridge/converter filling system was picked most often [5 times (45%)];
– The pens picked were either American or Italian brands;
– Surprisingly, there were no German or Japanese pens picked; and,
– The nib/writing characteristics was used as a criteria by 9 out of
11 participants (82%).

It would be interesting to compare the results of this exercise if these same question was asked a year from now.

We’d love to hear what your perfect pen is and why?  Maybe you think the same as some of our members or maybe something completely different.  Let us know!

“Green Day” at the LPC (Photos)

Yes, as promised, here are the photos taken by LPC member Rick (thanks Rick!) at our celebration of everything green (at least, all fountain pen related stuff that is green) on March 20, 2010.  The first pictures are those of the ink bottles that we dipped with a Q-tip to create the swabs/ink scans in my first blog post.  The next are the fabulous pens that everyone brought out.  Check out the mint emerald Vac set – rumour has it that the owner bought it for $40 on Ebay!  Quite the sumgai, if I do say so myself!

Green ink bottles
More green ink bottles
Mint emerald green Vacumatic set
Check out those near-mint Sheaffers and that Waterman Ripple!
More green pens - WOW!
The best for last - writing with a smooooth green Visconti Manhattan
The best for last - writing with a smoooth green Visconti Manhattan!

Some Recent Repair Q&As

Here are a couple of recent repair Q&As exchanged by club members:

QuestionEvery now and then I seem to get a little bit of paper stuck in one of my fountain pen nibs when I’m writing. I was wondering if anyone else has that happen and any suggestions for cleaning it off.

Answer – I did a bit of research and thinking (based on my own experience) regarding the “paper” in your nib problem.  I think there are a number of possible explanations as set out below:

  • How hard do you press on the nib – if it happens on all different types of paper, try lightening up your pressure, let the nib glide along the surface of the paper.
  • Check the nib – if the nib is aligned well and smooth, the paper fibers should not get stuck.  So check the nib alignment first – is the slit off-center?  Then with a loupe, check for rough spots, craters, or sharp points on the tipping – it should be smooth and shiny all around – and then check to see whether the inside of the tines have a sharp edge (if so, they may need to be smoothed – don’t try this yourself unless you know what you are doing!).
  • If your pressure and nib are fine, you should check the nature and quality of paper that you use – crappy or cheap paper will fiber up and also the coating on “coated” paper specifically for use with Ink jet printers will eventually begin to “clog” the nib.
  • It could also be your writing style – some nibs will simply not tolerate significant variations from “standard” writing angles. If you have a writing style other than the typical right handed 50 degree angle, the nib may never work for you properly and needs to be swapped.

You could use a number of items – a piece of brass shim stock (0.002″ thick, available in hardware stores, Lee Valley, etc…), a piece of overhead transparency, a piece of film – all nicely washed in detergent – to floss the nib.


QuestionDo you have any suggestions on how to remove a jewel from a Parker cap (Vacumatic and Parker 51)?  I have a few that have loose clips and find it very hard to remove the jewel to tighten the clip.  What tools do you use?

Answer – Well, I’ve heard of a few things to try but didn’t have any success on the “51” I had with a loose clip.  I think someone had set the jewel with some sort of adhesive; I probably should have tried a little gentle heat before attacking the cap jewel.  In the end, after recognizing my own shortcomings, I had John Culmer fix it up for me – he had to break the old jewel and replace it with another.
Here’s what I tried for removing a Parker cap jewel:

  • Slide a piece of a drinking straw over the clip to keep it from scratching the cap as it turns.
  • Try a soft pencil eraser.  Put the eraser on your table or bench and press the cap jewel into the eraser and turn the cap.   The idea is that the soft eraser grips the jewel and allows you to turn it out.
  • Try some sticky tack/blu-tack used for hanging papers or posters to a wall.  Put a piece of sticky tack/blu-tack into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up and then press the cap jewel into the sticky tack/blu-tack and turn the cap.
  • Here is what “The Complete Guide To Repair & Restoration” by Frank Dubiel aka “Da Book” says about Parker caps:
    • “The Parker jewel must come off for clip removal.  In theory the jewel is pressed firmly against a rubber surface which is supposed to grip the jewel as the cap is turned.  The jewel may be in too tight.  Heat will help.  An ultrasonic cleaning may help.  Using super glue or contact cement to glue the jewel to a rubber pad and twisting it loose once dry will usually work at the risk of damage to the jewel.”