Upcoming Giveaway: My Unused Moleskines

After getting into fountain pens as a hobby, I discovered that the vast majority of my stock of Moleskine notebooks, which worked fine with Pilot G2 pens, don’t work very well with fountain pens and my preferred inks.

As a result, I’m be giving away all of my unopened (still in the shrinkwrap) Moleskine notebooks.

The list:

Set of two ruled Volant notebooks, pocket size, light and dark green (gone to Rebecca)
Set of two ruled Volant notebooks, large size, light and dark green (gone to a neighbor)
Set of two ruled Volant notebooks, large size, light and dark blue (gone to Jonas)
Set of three squared Cahier journals, large size, red (gone to Sarah)
Set of three squared Cahier journals, large size, blue (gone to Hellenek)
Large hardcover squared notebook, black (gone to Titivillus)
Large hardcover ruled notebook, red (gone to Mrs. Bill)

I’ve not yet decided on what my Moleskine replacement will be, but I’m leaning towards something that uses Rhodia/Clairefontaine paper.

Update: All of the Moleskines are spoken for. Enjoy!

Review: Hero 616 Fountain Pens

Before I was lucky enough to acquire both a Parker 21 and a Parker 51 Special off eBay, I did a Buy-It-Now on a 10-pack of cheap Parker clones, the Hero 616.

Made by the Shanghai Hero Pen Factory Company (a well-respected manufacturer of fountain pens in China), these are a pretty straight knockoff of the Parker 51.

The important question – do they work? I filled one of each color (the pack comes with three black, four green, and three red) with a different color of ink and did some scribbling.

Hero 616 Writing Samples

All three pens filled okay after I ended up pulling off the cheap stamped-metal sac guard and squeezing the sacs by hand, to pull ink into the pen a few drops at a time. It almost appears as if the breather tube in the sacs is too long, rather than too short.

Once filled, the pens flow and write just fine. I think the lightness of the Gruene Eel sample is due to my not being able to get much ink into the pen – I was using a tiny sample bottle from Pear Tree Pens and could not get the end of the pen properly submerged.

The pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink flows and writes like a dream, with a wet bold line that looks great. The Aircorp Blue-Black, my favorite ink, also works great but does not leave as bold a line. I’m looking forward to trying out Baystate Blue in one of these pens once I get a full bottle of it – all I have left right now is about half a pen-fill worth in a sample bottle.

I would call the nibs a “Fine” or an “Extra Fine” – they’re just a tiny bit smaller than the “Fine” nib on my Parker 51, and a little “rougher”, although I wouldn’t call them “scratchy”.

Construction materials are much better than what you would really expect for a pen that cost $1.50/each shipped, but they’re not presentation quality.

Hero 616 Dissasembled

The barrel and hood are lightweight plastic. The cap is cheap chrome-plated metal (certainly not stainless steel), and the clip is stamped and still has semi-sharp edges. The “clutch ring” on these pens is transparent plastic and is part of the section, with metal washers on either side of a part that lets you see if you’re about to run out of ink.

The sacs are transparent rubbery material, with a sac guard and filler bar made of sharp-edged stamped metal. I found it easier to pull the sac guard straight off (it’s just a friction fit) and squeeze the sac by hand to fill the pens with ink.

Despite the cheap construction and materials, I really like these pens. My wife opened up the package before I got home and filled one with her Noodler’s Saguaro Wine ink without a problem, and the three that I’ve filled so far haven’t had any issues or leaks.

For $15 shipped per pack of 10 pens, the Hero 616s are an awesome deal. They’re perfect for when you want to carry a fountain pen but don’t want to have to worry about breaking or losing one, or for giving to a friend as their first fountain pen before they move onto something nicer. I plan on using them to test various inks, and will keep a few of them on my desk at work so I don’t have to carry my Parker 21 or 51 back and forth to the office.

However, when buying from eBay, beware of certain sellers. According to this thread on the Fountain Pen Network, some people are selling fake Hero 616s as the real thing! Who would have thought that it would be profitable to sell knockoffs of a knockoff?

Review: Pelikan Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

First, I’d like to thank Tom at Goldspot Luxury Gifts (@goldspotpens on Twitter) for this pen, which I received in a recent giveaway.

This is a Pelikan Pelikano Junior fountain pen, red, right-handed, with a medium-point nib. Primarily meant for younger students, I’ve found it to be one of the most comfortable and easiest-writing pens I’ve got.

Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

The paper in the picture is an A5 pad of Whitelines paper; the blue-green blob was soak-through from a previous sheet and was not due to this pen.

The grip is rubberized for comfort, and the translucent body lets you see through to a stick-on name label (three of which come with the pen). This is good for classroom scenarios, as it prevents someone else from accidentally picking up your pen if theirs is the same color.

Construction is rock-solid – I wouldn’t worry about this pen knocking around in the bottom of a backpack, or maybe even a pocket that’s not subject to too much abuse.

As for writing, it’s great. The very-slightly-flexible nib lays down a nice fat, smooth line with no problems of skipping. I’d been looking for a FP equivalent to a Pilot G2 1.0mm “Bold point” gel rollerball pen, and I think this may be it once I run out of the Pelikan blue ink cartridge and refill it with a good dark black. Goldspot was nice enough to send along a few small sampler cartridges of Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue and Midnight Black; I’m looking forward to testing those once the blue cartridge runs out.

If I’d discovered these pens before I found out about Lamy Safaris, I might have a collection of Pelikano Juniors instead of Safaris right now.

This pen is by no means a Parker 51 – but it’s intended for an entirely different audience. It’s a great starter pen, but can also do a great job as a daily writer. Due to its cheap price (around $10-12), you don’t have to worry too much about losing or breaking one.

Pick up a Pelikano Junior – you might be surprised.

Review: Whitelines paper and Pear Tree Pens ink sampler

Last week, I ordered a couple pads of Whitelines paper from Amazon, and a four-bottle ink sampler from Pear Tree Pens. For those wanting to try out a new color of ink before committing to an entire bottle, the ink sampler is a great deal – four tiny bottles with the colors/brands of your choice, each with enough ink for a couple of pen or converter fills.

I ordered Noodler’s Baystate Blue, Squetegue, Zhivago, and Gruene Eel Cactus. The sampler arrived today, so I tried it out on the A5-sized pad of Whitelines paper using various pens.

Whitelines Paper and an Ink Sampler

I was unable to test the Gruene Cactus ink due to running out of fillable pens; don’t want to dump and waste a pen full of ink just to flush and fill with another color. I have two more Lamy Safaris, but no converters for them or syringes to fill empty cartridges with.

The Whitelines paper is great (I’m thinking of getting some of the hardback A5-size notebooks to replace my Moleskines) but from looking at their website I was expecting the gray to be a little more distinct and darker. It looks pretty much just like the picture; the white lines aren’t as distinct as I would like.

Noodler’s Zhivago: From pictures on the Internet I had expected more of a greenish tint, but this came out green-gray-black, with more gray/black than green. It has a very vintage look.

Noodler’s Aircorp Blue-Black: I included this because I have it in two pens and it’s currently my favorite ink. It goes down almost black, but it feathers/bleeds BLUE. The only ink I’ve seen where I think show-through on paper is pretty.

Noodler’s Baystate Blue: Controversial with some due to its older formula that may or may not cause premature feed failures in Lamy pens, I filled up my Parker 51 Special with it. This is an insane, almost electric flourescent blue – even after drying. Yes, it really IS “that blue”.

Noodler’s Squetegue: Both my wife and I had been looking forward to this color, but were a bit dissapointed. Samples on the Internet showed it to be more of a blue/teal color, but the sample that I have is a lot more green than blue. Has good vintage-looking shading effects, and may enter my rotation of regular-use inks.

I’m happy with my purchases. Pear Tree Pens offers a great deal with their ink sampler for $4.99, plus around five bucks shipping. The Whitelines A4 and A5 pads are $3-4 for “80 sheets” (40 actual pages).

Found a stash of Parker 51s in Houston

Went with Amy to go looking around at the Antique Center of Texas here in Houston today, and ran across two dealers with nice displays of Parker 51s.

One guy had a nice old store display along with bottles of 51 Ink and 3-4 51s in various condition. The other display had a huge number of pens, with at least six or seven 51s (both vacumatic and aerometric).

Unfortunately, all the decent 51s were priced from $85-99. That’s about $50 more than what I’ve seen as the current eBay rate, otherwise I would have come home with one.

New Fountain Pen Inks

I found out that Dromgoole’s here in Houston is a Noodler’s Ink distributor, so Amy went down there today this morning while I was at work. She picked me up a bottle of Aircorp Blue-Black and Eel Turquoise, and a bottle of Eel Rattler Red for herself, along with a couple of bottle-fill converters for my Lamy fountain pens.

So far, I’m *really* impressed. The Aircorp Blue-Black is going to be my new primary ink (anybody want a bag of ~30 Lamy blue ink cartridges?) for most stuff. It works fine in my Moleskine notebooks (no more skipping!). I’m looking forward to trying it out in the Parker Super 21 and Hero 616 (Parker 51 clones) I bought on eBay.

I’m still on the lookout for a grey, blue, or blue-green aerometric Parker 51 to use as my daily writer, but I’ve not had any luck on eBay yet.