Talk:Moleskine Friendly Fountain Pens

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To be purely pragmatic, the real issue here is ink-flow and how wet the pen writes. Depending on the ink and ink-flow, I've had nibs of all sizes and pens of all descriptions bleed through Moleskine paper, which is not particularly FP friendly (or unfriendly-- it's about average in my experience). However, once you find the right combination it can be heavenly. Chris.lott 17:22, 29 Mar 2005 (EST)

For Fountain Pen Newbies: more expensive doesn't always mean better, and vintage (old/used) often outperform modern pens. With some exceptions, the more you pay for a new pen, the more you are paying for the brand name/prestige and the jewelry qualities. Some of my best writers are my cheapest pens-- and I don't get so worried about losing them or having them stolen. Some inexpensive but well-regarded beginner pens:

  • Esterbrooks (lever fillers that hold a respectable amount of ink and an interchangeable nib system-- if you can get one with a 9xxx or 2xxx series nib, all the better, but not necessary.)
  • Pelikans (the best piston fillers-- Mont Blancs are all hype except for some vintage models. I prefer the smaller pens for everyday writing, and everyone should enjoy a piston filler).
  • Parker 51 (the classic workhorse, perhaps the best all-around, every day, pen)
  • Waterman Phileas (the Fine nib is best, though harder to find). Best cheap pen with a classic feel.
  • Many of the modern cheap FPs (Rotring Core, for example) are great writers if you can find the Fine nib version. Many are outlandishly ugly.

Most new pens perform much better if the nib assemblies are cycled with-- and then soaked in-- a cup of water with a drop of 409 cleaner. Rinse, then refill or attach cartridge. The manufacturing process often leaves oils and dust that lead to skips. Check out the Pentrace Message board for the friendliest group of enthusiasts to find out more. Beware: fountain pen procurement and use becomes an addiction. Quickly. Chris.lott 17:37, 29 Mar 2005 (EST)

I agree completely with Chris Lott. It isn't just about the pen or the ink, but about the combination of nib and ink. Even with the same model fountain pen, the nib may be smooth or have some tooth (slight roughness or scratchiness). These nibs damage the pen surface in different ways and in combination with the ink flow of the pen and even the type of ink used, depend on whether or not the ink with bleed through or feather.

Flow problems in new pens can also be fixed by flushing with ordinary washing up liquid. one small drop in a glass of water and flush the pen a few times, dry and fill with ink. Alternatively, a fill of Waterman Florida Blue fixes the problem, then you can change to whatever ink you wish. --Abizer 04:38, 1 Apr 2005 (EST)

On the ink side of things, does anyone have any recommendations for Moleskine-friendly brands? My current daily-carry pen is a fine nibbed Waterman Phileas running Waterman purple ink from a converter. It's a fabulous combo for normal use, but the ink is rather too free-flowing for Moleskine use and tends to feather. I'd hate to think how badly it would blot if I was using Florida Blue. I have two colours of J Herbin to try once my current fill runs low, so I'll post the results here. --Rowlock 04:36, 5 Apr 2005 (EDT)

  • Update: I've now got a Sheaffer Javelin running J Herbin's "Vert Reseda" green and it's a lot less feathery than the Waterman Purple -- lines are crisp and there's no bleed-through. The Sheaffer is quite a wet writer, so presumably the ink is a reliable bet. Will try it in my Phileas when I next refill. --Rowlock 12:32, 27 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Another update: The Phileas also seems to feather much less with Herbin's "Vert Olive" than it did with Waterman Purple -- a shame, as I love the purple for general use. Not quite as clean as the Sheaffer with Reseda, but I think this is a function of my fine nib having more tooth than the Sheaffer's medium point. --Rowlock 06:45, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

I've been writing in my Moleskine with a variety of pen/ink combinations, and haven't had too many problems. None of these combinations have given me any problems:

  • Namiki Vanishing Point w/purple Namiki ink cartridge
  • Pelikan Stockholm filled w/Sheaffer Skrip blue-black
  • Rotring Core w/J. Herbin "Poussierre de Lune" (a sort of grey-mauve color) cartridge
  • Lamy Safari with a Lamy blue-black cartridge

My two most problematic pens have been a Lamy Vista broad point w/Lamy blue-black cartridge, and a Sheaffer Intrigue w/a convertor filled with Sheaffer Skrip blue-black. Both of these are very wet writers, and they leak through a bit to the other side of the page in a Moleskine. Interestingly enough, I don't see any feathering. So maybe if the Herbin inks don't work out for you, you should give Sheaffer or Lamy ink a try.

Ink Suggestions -

In my experience Waterman Purple is a free flowing ink that had a tendency to go through Moleskine paper.

Waterman Florida Blue works fine for me even in a wet writing Parker 51. Waterman Blue Black, seems a little drier and also works well.

Parker Quink is readily available, and works fine, but I prefer more intense and permanent colours. I highly recommend Noodler's inks. They don't bleed or feather, are nicely saturated and safe for fountain pens, and the permanent colours are permanent.

Aurora Blue also works well, even with a Mabie Todd flexible nib that puts ink down like a paintbrush.--Abizer 11:28, 7 Apr 2005 (EDT)

I've been trying to find some Noodler's here in the UK to try in my Moleskine, and so far I have failed. Does anyone know of an English stockist, or am I going to have to order online? --Rowlock 06:45, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

For Noodlers ink in UK/Europe try --Abizer 14:04, 20 Oct 2005 (EDT)

[edit] Private Reserve Ink and Namiki Vanishing Point

I've been using this combination for years now, in various contexts, but I have to say, the capless aspect of the VP is just great for use on the go, and it's damn sexy. VP pens at Fountain Pen Hospital Namiki, which also makes nibs for Cross (or at least used to) tends to cut them about half a size smaller than other nibs, The fine is really rather fine, and the medium is still pretty fine (but more useable).

I've also been incredibly pleased with Private Reserve Ink. The colors are great, it's dark and delightful, and it's noticably smoother than most other inks I've used. I'm a big fan of the "Midnight Blues" colorway, but they've released new colors since I last stocked up on this ink.

[edit] Sketchbook and fountain pens

Hello - I'm new here, so please forgive me if I'm breaching protocol in some way. As a longtime fountain pen user, I was vexed when I discovered Moleskines. I'd used - and loved - the paper in Clairefontaine notebooks, but Moleskines appeal to me more. The paper is a problem, though. No matter what nib, pen, or ink I tried, it would sometimes soak through the paper (and always would be at least visible through the paper, rendering the paper usable only on one side). I tried the sketchbook, and had the problem mentioned in Moleskine Friendly Fountain Pens : the ink sits on the paper without drying. Rather like writing on plastic. However, I found that if I gave it a few seconds more, the ink did in fact dry - even with ink laid down by a broad nib. (Keeping a piece of blotting paper, or an index card, in between freshly written pages when you close it is a really good tip for any extra little bit of wet ink.) Interestingly, the ink dries somewhat unevenly - probably because the paper isn't fountain-pen-friendly in the usual sense. I find that I actually like this: if marking paper with a pen by hand feels/looks more personal than anything electronic, the uneven look of dried ink on Moleskine sketchbook paper is even more so.

Different inks do dry differently, of course. My usual ink is a 2:1 mixture of Waterman blue/black with Waterman black. I love the color, and it dries in a VERY personal way. My Pelikan 400 with an extra-fine nib is loaded with Pelikan blue/black to which I've added a little bit of Pelikan black. This dries much faster and evenly. (Curiously, I now find that I like this less. Perhaps that's related to this: I also use very soft pencil leads - 2B or softer, usually. Of course they smudge, especially since I'm left-handed. I finally gave up trying to find a way to avoid smudges, and have now embraced them. I can still read the text - always. No problem. And the smudges are now part of the marks I've left. I like the way they look, and they actually help to trigger memories of thoughts I had while writing.)

Of course, the Sketchbooks are more expensive per page, but I'm willing to pay the price to use my favorite pens and pencils. -orpheus 15:51, 25 November 2006 (EST)

[edit] My Sailor Pen and Moleskine Friendliness

I wish to say at the outset that I am not a fountain pen collector. I fully appreciate the artistic component of the higher end pens available on today's market, but for me writing is the thing, or at least the ease of writing. It is no small thing for me to spend a $100 on a writing implement. Anything more than that and I've either had a serious lapse in judgement, been drinking heavily, or my allergy medication dosage is is need of adjusting.

For some years now I've been writing with Sarasa 0.7 mm rollerball pens, the kind you can buy at Staples for about ten dollars a dozen. Lose one and it is of no consequence. I write in a small hand, so these suited me quite well as I was able to control the size of my letters and cram many words into my Moleskine notebooks without any loss in readability. Be it camping, on an overseas vacation, at work, or doing research at a university library, I always had three or four of them with me. I have gone through more of them than I can count. They are a great, utilitarian pen and they have never let me down.

So, how is it that I came to spend $205 on a Sailor Professional Gear fountain pen at my local stationery shop? I cannot readily explain it. One possible explanation is the old Sheaffer fountain pen that I acquired quite by accident from a friend. I liked the feel of it. It glided across the page, but more importantly it made me slow down and choose my words with more care than is usual for me. It made writing seem special. As I sat at my desk, notebook open, I had visions of Dostoyevsky or even Hemingway penning their masterpieces in just this way. Writing with a fountain pen tends to be more contemplative, more personal . There is no urge to rush forward and write just for the sake of writing. And writing with a fountain pen is as far from writing on a word processor as eating a well-cooked meal is to eating at Burger King. For me, the fountain pen was love at first write.

But, my old Sheaffer hated my Moleskines. Terms like feathering, bleed-though, wet lines, etc. entered my lexicon. My words became smudges. I had ink blots seep through onto the next page. After ruining more than one page in this way, I went back to using my rollerballs. But, by this point the damage had been done. I wanted a fountain pen that I could use on my Moleskine notebooks. That is what brought me to the stationery store.

I live in southeast Virginia, about an hour's drive from Virginia Beach. For reasons that I do not quite understand there are two very well regarded stationers in this middle-class resort town. One of them is Swishers. It is here that I was first exposed to the mind-numbing variety that exists in the world of fountain pens. I had no idea where to begin. Like a child, I drifted around the display cases, staring at the wondrous variety of writing devices, my mind reeling in the presence of pens costing $400, $1000, even $5000. I at last told the salesgirl my reason for being there -- I wanted a fountain pen that wrote in Moleskines, but that would not max out my credit card. She took my request in stride and led me to pens in the $100-400 range. Thus began a long trial and error experiment. I tried any number of fountain pens on my pocket notebook. After inking at least a dozen nibs and writing the same lines over and over again, I was down to two brands of pens: Sailor and Pelikan. The Pelikans were all very good, as long as I stayed with medium and fine nibs. The broad nibs presented the by now all too familiar problems on Moleskine paper. But it was the Sailor pens that really rose to the occasion. They were all excellent. The nibs seem to be a step above the Pelikans in quality. Their ease of writing, the clean lines, the smooth glide across paper were exactly what I wanted. The Sailor pens seemed to have been made with Moleskine in mind.

I settled on a Sailor Professional Gear, black, medium nibbed fountain pen with rhodium accents. Yes, it cost me $205. Yes, it seems like an extravagance. Do I have a twinge of buyer's remorse? Yes. A little. But I get such a surge of pleasure when I write with this pen. My only complaint, if one wants to call it that, is that I wish the pen were a tad longer, perhaps another centimeter or two. Other than that I am well pleased with this pen.

As I said, I do not collect fountain pens, nor I do I have a broad range of experience with them. I suspect there might be better pens for my needs than my Sailor, but if this is an indication of the quality of fountain pens being made by the Japanese then I would have to say that they are on the top of the game. That is one's man's opnion, of course, so take it for what it's worth.

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