I [heart] you: Pelikan M205 and Levenger Shiraz Ink

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

Pelikan M205
Rhodium trim, Steel nib

This pen purchase resulted from a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast where both Brad and Myke sang the praises of their Pelikans. That same day, someone on Twitter mentioned a sale on the Pelikan M205 at Fountain Pen Hospital, so I called it a sign and ordered one. What can I say, my arm was twisted. By fate.

Right around the same time, I was ordering some refills from Levenger, and decided to add a bottle of their Shiraz ink to the order. Both orders arrived on the same day so the obvious choice was to fill one with the other.

Hoo boy, do I love this pair.

Just like peanut butter and chocolate (or chocolate and peanut butter), the Pelikan M205 and the Shiraz ink are two things that work perfectly together. I’m always looking for reasons to use this particular combination, even though I’m someone who leans heavily towards “traditional” ink colors— black, blue-black, blue, brown, and dusty green. The Shiraz looks exactly as I hoped it would— not pink, not red, not purple, but SHIRAZ. It’s not waterproof, for those who care. I love the way it pops on a page without being obnoxious. Simply gorgeous, with a bit of shading. This is an ink that’s kicked me out of my “conservative” rut.

Levenger Shiraz

M205 vs. Lamy 2000
An understated pair for size comparison: Lamy 2000 vs. Pelikan M205

The M205 is one of my smaller (5″ capped; 4-7/8″ uncapped; 6″ posted) and lighter (a mere 14 grams overall) pens, but is an absolute joy to hold and use. It’s a piston filler which makes filling and cleaning fast and easy. The medium steel nib (the only option on this sale pen) is smooth and juicy, but without any flex. This is a very classic looking pen— devoid of any real bling— but who needs bling when you perform this well?! It’s understated and unassuming— a real classic.

Pelikan M205 medium steel nib

Pelikan clip/beak
Pelikan clip/pelican beak

The “pelican’s beak” clip is iconic and suitably springy. The caps band simply states “PELIKAN” and “GERMANY.” I have the black body version, but there are others available— red, taupe, white. Since I’m prone to making sure the pen and ink color complement each other, black is probably the best choice for me, anyway. Everything goes with black. Well…yeah…and also with white. And taupe.

Pelikan M205 ink window

The smoke-colored ink window lets me know when my beloved Shiraz is “down a quart.” I enjoy watching the ink slosh around as the level changes.

This is, admittedly, an entry level Pelikan pen, and there are many prettier and more expensive models available, but for everyday use, the M205 suits me just fine, and it’s been a great way for me to dip my toe in the shallow end of the Pelikan pool.

Pelikan logo

I’m irrationally smitten by the Pelikan logo on the cap— a mama pelican with her chick. Such a sweet pair looking at each other with affection— exactly the way I look at my M205 filled with the Shiraz ink.

Pelikan M205

True love forever.

Shiraz heart

 

 

Embrace the Darkness: Pilot Iroshizuku take-sumi

Many thanks to the fine folks at JetPens for sending along this bottle of Iroshizuku ink. I was not otherwise compensated, and this review reflects my experiences and observations with the ink in my pen and on my paper. Your results and opinions may, of course, differ.

When a bottle of Iroshizuku take-sami (Bamboo Charcoal) showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of JetPens, I immediately knew which pen I’d fill. I recently outfitted my Matte Black Pilot Vanishing Point with a black-plated 18K nib/converter unit, so I all I needed to complete the stealthy trifecta was a superb black ink, and here it was.

Iroshizuku take-sumi

In my previous job of 14 years, I was required to write in black ink (ballpoint, but still) all day, every day. So you’d think that I’d run screaming for the hills now that I’m free of that SOP-dictated requirement. Funny thing is, I still like and use black ink, and am always on the lookout for a particularly good one.

Iroshizuku writing sample

I already have a few Iroshizuku inks (kon-peki and fuyu-gaki…both luscious colors) so I was pretty sure take-sumi would get high marks for good behavior. And it does. In this Vanishing Point with its fine nib (Japanese fine, so it’s like a western EF), take-sumi goes on wet, but dries quickly— easily within ten seconds, even on Rhodia paper. It’s smooth and consistent— a very solid black. Solid in performance AND in looks. It’s not a grey black, not a watered down black. Is it the blackest black ever? Probably not, though I haven’t jumped too far into the black ink pool. I’d consider it to be an excellent black— surely the best I own. (How many times can I say “black”? A lot, apparently.)

Smudge test

I don’t regularly expose my hand-written pages to liquid so waterproofness isn’t something I really care about, but in the name of science, I “spritzed” my page.

Spritzed Rhodia page

So, yeah, don’t do that.

"Get to work!"

I don’t have a big collection of inks (though the pull to acquire more is strong), and I’m admittedly drawn to colors that look like the a glass of fine wine or the sea or a freshly sliced persimmon, especially when I’m writing letters and have time to appreciate an ink’s shading and depth and freshness. But there are plenty of times when I just need need to get stuff done, and black ink has always been just the thing for flipping on the “get to work” switch in my brain.

Pilot Vanishing Point Black Matte

It’s easy to love ink colors that pop off the page, but loving a black ink takes a little more work. Packaged in that gorgeously iconic Iroshizuku bottle, take-sumi impresses with its lovely darkness. It’s like the night sky. Usually you take it for granted, but every now and then you look up and think “wow.”

Back of the bottle

I’m smitten.

Uncaged: The Pilot Metropolitan Animal Prints (White Tiger, Violet Leopard)

Pilot Metropolitan Leopard and Tiger

I had every intention of passing on the new Pilot Metropolitan Animal Print editions. After all, I already own one of the black, silver, and gold models, and that seems like plenty. But then I watched Brian Goulet’s Ink Nouveau video and once he hit the White Tiger and Violet Leopard versions, my resolve dissolved. I hopped on over to the Goulet Pens site and placed my order asap. Good thing, too, because by the next day, both of those models were sold out. (At the time of this posting, they’re back in stock.) Seems I wasn’t alone in my new-found enthusiasm for two of the new colors.

Violet Leopard & White Tiger, posted

Squeeze converter
Included squeeze converter (or upgrade to a CON-50 converter which is available separately)

Both pens arrived in short order and were very WELL protected. (If you haven’t ever ordered from the Goulets, you need to do so, just to experience the awesomeness of their packaging. And the complimentary Tootsie pop.  And the bookmark and sticker. And the hand-written note. Their packages are a great example of customer service done right.) I filled the White Tiger pen with Waterman Serenity Blue, via the included squeeze converter, and have been using this pen as part of my current rotation ever since.

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger

The White Tiger pen is a wonderful pearly white—a color that I wish I could find on more pens. (Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.) I’m not sure that the look really comes through in my photos, but, trust me, it’s pretty. The purple, too, is hard to capture with my camera, and looks a little more navy in my pictures than it really is. The color is actually a very dark purple— a blackish purple that looks really rich, really beautiful. It’s definitely darker than it looks on the Goulet Pens site, and that’s fine by me. I have very few white pens and no other purple pens, so these are great additions to my fountain pen collection, just for the colors alone.

Leopard and Tiger patterns

As for the “animal print” bands that accent the pens, I like the White Tiger a little better than the Violet Leopard pattern. Really, each pen would look fine without this accent— maybe even classier?

Nibbage

As I mentioned, I’m already a happy owner of a few Metropolitans so I knew that I was getting a solid, good-looking pen with a smooth, fairly stiff, medium nib—medium being the only nib option. Because it’s a Pilot, the medium nib runs finer than a European nib, so I’d peg it closer to a fine, especially on my favorite Rhodia paper. With a brass body and cap, the Metropolitan has a substantial feel which belies its $15 price tag. The cap snaps on with a satisfyingly solid click, and posts easily and securely. I find the pen equally well-balanced whether I’m using it posted or unposted. I’m impressed every time I pick one up. And I’m always thinking, “Fifteen bucks?! Really?!”

Metropolitan Leopard & Tiger

The Pilot Metropolitan is the perfect pen to toss into a backpack or purse, or to tuck into a pocket. This isn’t a pen that you need to baby because it’s fragile or so pricey that you’re afraid to take it out and about. The Metropolitan is a pen to use throughout your day—wherever that day takes you.

As Tony the (orange) Tiger would say- “THEY’RE GREAAAAAAT!”

Leopard & Tiger Metropolitanss

Which got me thinking— what about an ORANGE Metropolitan with little black tiger stripes?! C’MON Pilot, DO IT!!

Mildred’s Pen: Sheaffer Lady Balance (Marine Green Striated)

Sheafffer Lady Balance

This Sheaffer Balance is another vintage pen that I picked up from Dan Smith, my go-to vintage pen supplier of late. As I’ve said, I’m a total novice when it comes to vintage pens, but I liked the look of the marine green striated celluloid and I trust Dan, so I happily plunked down a little bit of money for this Lady Balance.  I don’t have many green pens, so that might be what caught my eye initially, but what really tugged at me was the engraved name on the barrel— MILDRED F THAYER.

Mildred F Thayer

Though we all know that vintage pens once belonged to someone else, I apparently have a soft spot for pens where the original owner is named. Especially if the name is as “vintage” as the pen. I mean, how many babies named “Mildred” do you run into these days?

Striated Celluloid & Clip

The pen arrived in very good condition (to my eye), and the green striated celluloid looks as good in person as it does in Dan’s photos. It’s a petite thing— measuring 4.75″ capped and 5.78″ posted—and weighs a mere 12.2 g, thus the “Lady” designation.  Dan noted in his description that there’s a small amount of wear on each side of the ball at the end of the clip, but to the naked eye that’s not visible. For being 70-ish years old, it’s in great shape, with a crisp SHEAFFER imprint and an easy-to-read engraving of Mildred’s name.

Sheaffer imprint

The Sheaffer’s Feather Touch nib is very fine and was initially on a little on the dry side, just as Dan noted in his post. As I’ve been using it, though, it seems to be getting just a bit wetter, while still putting down an extra-fine line. Despite its fineness, the nib is quite smooth, with just a hint of feedback— very  pleasant. Dan was able to coax some flex from the nib, but I haven’t been able to do that as yet— which I’m sure is more a reflection of me and my light touch than the nib.

Feather Touch Nib

The blind-cap reveals a narrow piston which I’ve used to vacuum fill the pen with Montblanc’s Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green— a very dusty/vintage looking green that I initially wasn’t all that crazy about. But as I hoped, it’s a perfect match for the pen. I mean, c’mon— seaweed colored ink in a marine green pen. And over time, I’ve come to love the ink as much as the pen. It’s a muted, antiquey green— not a screaming green— which matches my personality and the way I use my pens.

Blind cap & piston

So those are the pen’s details, but back to Mildred. Where did she live? What did she do? Who gave her this pen? I googled her name and found a 12-year old Mildred F Thayer in the 1940 census who lived in Petersburg, Virginia with her father (William), mother (Janie), one sister, and three brothers. Is this MY Mildred? I’ll never know. And I’ll never know if she used the pen to do school work or office work; if she used it to write grocery lists, letters, journal entries, or poems. If only the pen could talk. If only it could tell Mildred’s story.

Sheaffer Balance

But since that’s not possible, I’ll use Mildred’s pen to tell mine.

Ink With a Twist: Levenger’s Facets Fountain Pen

Levenger’s Facets fountain pen caught my eye a while back, but I didn’t make my move until a sale popped up. I love that— getting a deal on a pen that’s been on my radar.

Levenger Facets FP (Oxblood)

As my fountain pen collection grows, I find myself dismissing pens that don’t offer something a little different. (Don’t hold me to that— I’ll randomly throw that rule out the window when I feel like it.) This pen brings a number of interesting features to the table— the rich/warm color, the shimmering depths of the resin, and, of course, the gently spiraling facets of the cap and body. All of these add up to a pen that’s as great to look at as it is to use.

Facets Fountain Pen

Levenger calls the color of the pen “oxblood,” but to me it looks more like burgundy wine— or very interesting grape juice (which, I guess, is what wine IS). There’s a swirly marbleized effect that gives the pen’s resin more depth and interest than I can capture in my photos. It’s one of those fun-to-stare-at-while-twirling pens because the light, bouncing off of those facets, brings out a gorgeous range of purples and deep pinks. It’s like like looking into a purpley hologram. Mesmerizing.

Facets Fountain Pen

I’ve filled this cartridge/converter pen with Noodler’s Black Swan In English Roses a color I WOULD call “oxblood”—that satisfies my “ink should match pen” need. It doesn’t hurt that I’m fascinated with the name of that ink.

Inked with Black Swan In English Roses

Levenger’s Facets fountain pen is only available with a medium stainless steel nib, but it’s a very smooth and juicy writer. To my eye, it leans just a hair to the fine side, so it works well for me as an everyday writer. I have yet to have an issue with a Levenger nib and this pen just continues that streak of excellent nibbage. The pen wrote right out of the box and hasn’t sputtered or hesitated since. I can get a line from the pen even when I apply very little pressure. It’s just superb.

Facets Fountain Pen

The threaded cap posts solidly, and I’m finding that the pen feels well-balanced both posted and unposted. The body is lightweight (22.7 g/0.8 oz) but still feels, and looks, substantial. The pen measures 5-9/16″ when capped, 6-3/8″ posted, and 5-7/8″ unposted, and has enough room in the barrel to store a spare cartridge. With its chrome trim and clip, this is one sharp pen.

Levenger Facets Pen

There is one piece of bad news— it appears that the Oxblood version is no longer available from Levenger. There IS, though, a Midnight Blue version that’s still available. And I think you’ll probably be able to find the Oxblood version if you do a little hunting around online.

So if you’re looking for a pen with sparkling good looks, a wonderful nib, and just enough of a twist to keep things interesting, Levenger’s Facets fountain pen delivers. I think it’s a beauty.

Notes: Though this may sound like a commercial, I was not compensated in any way for this review. I’m just a very satisfied Levenger customer.

Flawed and Wonderful: Parker Vacumatic in Azure Blue

Parker Vacumatic Azure Blue

When I was at the DC Pen Show, I found myself completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the stunning array of vintage pens. I shied away from exploring them because I felt like I needed to know [much] more to be able to recognize an acceptable pen at a good price. Sarj Minhas has a staggering vintage collection (so nice that it paralyzed me, both physically and verbally). I was especially blown away by his “Ripley” Vacumatic— simply stunning— with a hefty price tag that I’m sure is well worth it. So, while in DC, I stuck to moderns and remain very pleased with those purchases.

Vacumatic striations

But gosh darn, those Vacumatics speak to me. And wouldn’t you know it— one popped up for sale on Dan Smith’s site. I slobbered over it, then had a bit of a twitter conversation with Dan before deciding to go for it. During this exchange, Dan asked me, “What is it about the Vacumatics that you like?” I quickly answered, “The stripey bits.” It really is that simple— I love the look of the striations (aka stripey bits). And at $65, I knew this would be a good “starter” Vacumatic.

Vacumatic with Duofold nib

Going in, I was well aware that there are a few things wrong with the pen— and they’re undoubtedly big things if you’re a collector. The nib is a Parker Duofold, which is the wrong nib for this pen. The barrel is badly ambered so that it’s not at all translucent. I’m not able to judge the ink level by looking at the barrel— it just stops writing. And I may or may not be having some filling issues (TBD; working with Anderson Pens on this…pretty sure it’s just me being impatient when filling).

Vacumatic imprint

Despite all of this, I love this pen. LOVE. It puts down a perfectly wet, smooth, medium line— pure fun to write with. The barrel imprint is crisp and completely readable. The cap and clip are in great shape. Amazing, really, for a pen that was made in 1945. And those striations. Yeah, they’re what really got me.

Vacumatic barrel

Myke Hurley recently said, on Episode 75 of “The Pen Addict” podcast, that he overheard someone at the London Pen Show describe a Vacumatic as looking like the lit windows in a skyscraper at night. I SO agree with this description. (I was driving at the time I heard this, but nodded and laughed a little because I’d been thinking the exact same thing.)

Blind cap & vac

The filling system is very easy to use, but as I said, requires a bit of patience in that, according to Brian Anderson, one needs to pause at the bottom of the plunger’s downstroke, as well as at the top, for a second or two. I’m not sure that I’ve been doing that so my fills may have been a little short. Next time, I’ll take my time.

Uncapped Vacumatic

Like so many pen lovers, I’ve been on the elusive hunt for the “perfect pen,” as if such a thing exists. Does perfect mean that it has to be expensive or super smoooooooth or drop-dead gorgeous, or does it just have to fit our hand or our tastes or our writing style? Heck if I know. I’m pretty sure, though, that “perfect” is a moving target. And maybe (undoubtedly) “perfect” is overrated.

Parker Vacumatic clip

Our jobs/partners/kids/pets/churches/schools/movies/books/art are all imperfect— well-marbled with flaws along with the good stuff. And yet we love it all. We love our messy, sticky lives. This pen is the same— flawed, and yet still wonderful.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

++++++++++++++++
Notes:

  • My Parker Vacumatic is currently inked with Pilot’s Iroshizuku tsuki-yo.
  • The Sassafras pen case prototype by Nock Co. provided the colorful backdrop for a number of these photos, and is where I’ve been storing this Vacumatic.  I’ve been carrying the Sassafras case with me EVERYWHERE and it looks as fresh as it did on day one.  Check out Nock Co.’s project on Kickstarter.
  • That Ripley Vacumatic? Unforgettable.

Branching Out: Conklin Mark Twain “Halloween” Crescent Filler

Conklin Mark Twain

Before attending the DC Pen Show, I did a lot of reading about the best ways to navigate such a large show. One rule I heard over and over was to walk around the entire show before making a purchase. That made sense to me. By doing so you can eye ALL of the offerings and shop around for the best deal. So that was my plan.

I stopped at Pendleton Brown’s booth VERY early in the show and walked away with this pen. No browsing. No comparing. I just swooped in and purchased.  So there goes THAT rule!

Conklin Crescent Filler

Apparently I have a thing for orange swirly pens (see “Tiger Stripey” and “Persimmon Swirl” as evidence)- especially ones with a cool filling system. The Conklin Crescent Filler was a pen I wanted to try in person before buying because it looked as though the pen’s Crescent Filler mechanism could get in one’s way. I’m happy to report that this is not the case. The resin ring sits in the “web” between my thumb and forefinger and is not even remotely a nuisance.

Pendleton Brown
Pendleton having a blast!

Even in the very early hours of the show, nibmeister Pendleton Brown was grinding nibs at a furious pace. People walked by his table, and literally tossed their pens at him, asking for “smoothing” or a re-grind, then wandered off. How he kept track of what he was doing is beyond me. But despite all of the nib work in front of him, he graciously took the time to explain how to fill this Crescent Filler. It’s all very simple- just twist the resin ring until it loosens, align the slit in the resin ring with the crescent, insert the nib into the ink bottle, and depress the crescent. This compresses the “bladder” inside the pen so when the crescent is released, ink is drawn into the pen. After a few compressions, the pen is filled. No cartridge, no converter. Just fill and go.

Crescent Filler

This style of Conklin pen is reportedly an exact replica of the original Crescent Filler used by Mark Twain…thus his signature on the cap band. Twain was a fan because “…it carries its own filler in its stomach,” and also because the crescent kept the uncapped pen from rolling off of his desk.

Mark Twain
“Mark Twain”

The spring-loaded clip is sturdy and quite springy. Pressing down on the end of the clip easily rocks the clip so that it can be clipped to a pocket or bag. The cap screws on and can be easily posted but I find that I usually don’t. (In fact, I hadn’t even tried to post it until I sat down to write this review.) The resin pen feels equally well-balanced posted or unposted.

Springy clip

So I was intrigued by the color of the pen and the filling system, but what sealed the deal was the SUPER SWEET 1.1 mm stub nib. It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m normally an EF or F nib person (small writing), but once I wrote with this crazy smooth stub, I had to buy it with this nib- even though Pendleton would have swapped it for something finer. Nope, I said. This is the nib I want. (Who AM I?)

1.1 mm stub

One drawback of this filling system is that there really isn’t any way to monitor the ink level. So I just use it until it runs dry. No biggie.

The stub nib means that this isn’t an everyday writer for me (though I DO doodle with it almost every day), but who cares? It’s so gorgeously smooth that there was no I was going to pass up this stub.

P1020639

So even though I stepped a bit outside of my comfort zone when I chose this pen, it feels so good.

P1020648

I thought that I might find focus at the DC Pen Show, but instead I found myself wanting to branch out a little bit. And you know what? Branching out is fun. And oh so smooooooth.

The ink used in this review is Monteverde Black, and the paper is from a Rhodia dotPad No. 16. Purchased for $99, this pen turned out to be a very good deal, despite my lack of “shopping around.” 

By Chance: Bexley BX802 Cappuccino Fountain Pen

August has been a bit of a whirlwind. First a conference, then a bit of vacation that included the DC Fountain Pen Supershow. (What a blast that was!) My posting/life/work routine was blown out of the water, but I’m back now and looking forward to writing about the show and the handful of pens that I picked up.

Let’s start with the LAST pen I picked up at the show- a Bexley BX802 Cappuccino (F nib).

P1020537

I was making my final laps around the two ballrooms, and was about to call it a day, when I heard the salesman at the Toys From The Attic booth tell a customer, “That pen is a steal at $50.” Hmmmm, what pen? I edged my way into the conversation and saw that they were talking about the Bexley BX802. The funny thing is, I had “Bexley” jotted down on my pen show list; not necessarily as something to buy, but as something to at least check out. And to this point I hadn’t really looked any any/many. (I will tell you, a pen show is a big giant blur of expensive/affordable/gaudy/elegant pens and inks and nibs and parts and paper and vendors and swarming, excited customers. Super fun, but also a bit overwhelming…in a good way. It doesn’t take long before you forget what you saw where.)

I circled through the show a few more times mulling over the Bexley the whole time. A quick online search confirmed that the price was indeed a good one, and so I made my move, encouraged by my new pen friend, Tracy, who said that she’d heard good things about the vendor. I had my choice of a fine, medium, or broad nib, and choose the fine (shocker, I know). What nagged at me a little bit, as I walked away with my purchase, was that I hadn’t WRITTEN with the pen. What if the nib was a dud?

Bexlet BX802 fine nib
Oh, the suspense! How will you write??

It was another 48 hours before I’d know the answer. As soon as we unpacked the car, I grabbed my new bottle of Iroshizuku tsukushi (“Horsetail”) and inked up the Bexley. A few scribbles later, a big exhale of relief. This pen is an excellent writer. The fine nib performs exactly as I’d hoped- smooth and wet and fine enough for everyday writing- a wonderful combination of nib attributes.

Bexley cap & band

To be honest, the look of the pen didn’t immediately grab me, but once it dawned on me that the acrylic looks JUST LIKE A CARAMEL SUNDAE (my favorite!), I was hooked. The caramelly swirls are somewhat translucent so it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the converter and ink inside- kind of cool.

Translucent swirls
See the translucent swirls?

The clip is firmly springy, and the chase pattern on the cap’s band adds a bit of interest. I don’t normally go for gold-tone accents, but in this case, they look just right. It’s a look that’s grown on me.

Posted pen

The pen’s dimensions fit my hand nicely. Capped it measures 5-1/4″, while uncapped/unposted it measures 5″, a length that’s perfectly usable for me. With the cap posted, the pen measures 6″ give or take a hair. The cap posts securely and doesn’t throw off the pen’s balance at all so I’m equally happy using it posted as I am unposted. By my unscientific measurements, this Bexley weighs around 20 grams so it’s a lightweight– but NOT in the performance department.

P1020544

In the dizzying environment of the DC Fountain Pen Supershow, I’m glad I happened upon the chance conversation that led me to this pen. Getting this “Made In the USA” Bexley with its deliciously swirly looks and excellent nib, all at a super price, was the icing on the DC Pen Show cake. Or should I say, the cherry on the caramel sundae?

P1020520

In any case, YUM.

Lighten Up: Three Lamys

Lamy Trio

Remember how when we were kids, the summer was long and our task list was short? We awoke to wide open days, and warm months that seemed to go on and on. Now it’s just the opposite. Even though it’s summer, there’s so much to do, and the days and months zip by. One minute it’s Memorial Day, then suddenly it’s Labor Day. What happened to those lazy hazy days??

Even though summer might not be as magical and carefree as it used to be, it’s still pretty awesome. Grilled food, shorts & t-shirts, patio time, and maybe even a vacation. (Like the DC Pen Show?! Yup!)

Since summer is a time to eat lighter and dress lighter, I figure it might also be a good time to lighten up on the daily pen carry. Especially since I’ll be hitting the road soon. Here’s what I’m taking along– a trio of Lamys.

My three Lamys

Lamys are a bit rough-and-tumble, as ready for the road as the office. Light weight, sturdy, and easy to maintain, these are pens that won’t weigh you down and can take a bump or two. They’re as ready for an adventure as you are.

I’ve loaded the white Safari with Iroshizuku kon-peki, a refreshing combination. The azure blue ink reminds me of the ocean, while the body of the Safari conjures up images of my pale, pale legs at the beach. Yup. Pure white. Just like the pen.

White Safari
White Safari, F nib

The orange Safari is filled with Iroshizuku fuyu-gaki, a pleasant well-balanced orange that’s bright and fun, but not blinding. This pen and ink combination is a real mood-booster, and I find myself looking for excuses to use it.

Orange Safari
Orange Safari, F nib

And because there’s always work to be done, even in the summer, I’m keeping my matte black AL-Star, filled with Monteverde Black, close at hand. This pen is cool and stealthy. Monteverde Black has recently become a favorite and is as deep and dark as my post-vacation mood. Which is pretty dark.

Matte Black AL-Star
Matte Black Al-Star, EF nib

Three Lamy nibs

Summer’s here. I’m packing lighter. I’m packing Lamys.

Lamys on vacation

ROAD TRIP!!!

Okay: Lamy AL-Star Pearl

Lamy AL-Star Pearl
Lamy AL-Star Pearl, new for 2013

I had a Saturn sedan in this exact color (and the Goulets have TWO Pontiac Azteks in the same color). It’s not really what I would call “pearl.” Pearl, to me, is just a touch off-white with a distinctive shimmer or sheen, and this isn’t that. I don’t mind the color (obviously, since I bought the pen), but it isn’t “pearly” like nice teeth or the gate(s) leading to heaven. What it is is Saturn gold, or Aztek gold, don’t you think?

Lamy AL-Star Pearl
Posing

No worries, though. Despite the naming issue, I like this pen just fine– quite a lot actually. Coupled with the black EF nib (an option when you order from The Goulet Pen Company) and Montblanc’s Toffee Brown ink, it’s really grown on me, and I’ve been using it daily since it arrived. (For my “home” lists. For my “work” lists and notes the Lamy 2000 remains my soulmate.)

That Lamy grip
That Lamy Grip. Love it or hate it. Take it or leave it.

The contoured grip area makes the Lamy AL-Star, Safari, and Vista a no-go for some because it tends to dictate how you hold your pen. This doesn’t really bother me, so I’ve built up quite the Lamy collection without even really meaning to. (Hmmmm….mind control?) And while this 2013 color isn’t what a lot of folks were hoping for, it’s good for those looking for a “neutral” pen- one that doesn’t clash with the color of your ink.

Lamy branding

Iconic clip

The aluminum body of the AL-Star sports the same branding, iconic clip, and porthole ink window as always. Why mess with design features that are immediately recognizable and function well.

Pearl? No. Exciting? No. But I’m okay with that.

Lamy at work