Fun Find #2: Monteverde Invincia Deluxe Nighthawk Ballpoint

Monteverde Nighthawks
A pair of Monteverde Invincia Deluxe Nighthawks: Ballpoint [top] and Fountain Pen [bottom]

I picked up the Monteverde Invincia Deluxe Nighthawk fountain pen (a collaboration between Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens and Monteverde) as soon as it was released, just about a year ago. In my review of that pen, I noted how it pushed a number of my “this will make me buy a pen” buttons, like:

  • Stealthy looks
  • Matte finish
  • Carbon fiber

Unfortunately, the Nighthawk line has been discontinued by Monteverde because of some production difficulties (i.e., In some pens, tiny bubbles trapped in the carbon fiber were visible under the matte coating). My fountain pen appears to be free of this problem, and I’m particularly happy to own one since production has ceased. (There are some available from Goulet Pens and Anderson Pens, but these are the end of the line.)

Monteverde Nighthawks

So what does this have to do with a BALLPOINT Nighthawk? Well, I was poking around on the Anderson Pens site one evening and noticed that not only do they have some of the remaining fountain pens, but they also offer a Nighthawk ballpoint. Because I already own the fountain pen, it just made sense to pick up one of the ballpoints, because that pen, too, is wonderfully stealthy, and I assume, in limited supply.

Disassembled Nighthawk

The Nighthawk ballpoint takes my favorite Parker-style refill— the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000— which lays down a lusciously rich jet black line that’s smooth and thick. The blue refill is just as nice as the black one, assuming that you’re okay with lines that are on the broad side.

Nighthawk innards
All-metal innards

The ballpoint weighs 44 grams, so it’s no lightweight. I use it throughout my work day jotting my to-do lists in a Field Notes notebook so I don’t experience hand fatigue from writing with such a heavy pen. Longer writing sessions could, I suppose, get a little tiring, given the heft of the Nighthawk. The pens “innards” are sturdy metal (brass?) which explains why the pen feels so solid and substantial.

Monteverde Nighthawk ballpoint

The refill is deployed by twisting the upper or lower half of the pen’s carbon fiber body. This mechanism works silently and smoothly.

A subtle difference
VERY subtle Monteverde logo on the ballpoint end cap vs.  the plain fountain pen cap

In looks, the ballpoint is a “fraternal twin” to my fountain pen version, which means that there are a few differences aside from the fact that one’s a fountain pen and the other is a ballpoint. There were two slightly different versions of the Nighthawk fountain pen. I have the original version with a bigger carbon fiber weave and very minimal branding. The ballpoint more closely resembles version 2.0 of the fountain pen with a tighter carbon fiber weave, and just a touch more branding. My ballpoint features a very subtle rendering of the Monteverde logo on the clip end of the pen. This small detail was not included on the original version of the fountain pen to keep the pen super-stealthy.

Fraternal twins

A little bit of research revealed that there is an actual bird called the Nighthawk. It’s not black, but is well-camouflaged and stealthy. It’s considered a common bird but is declining in numbers.

The Nighthawk— the bird AND the pens— once they’re gone, they’re gone.

That seems like a real shame.

Setting Sail With the Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

The fine folks at Pen Chalet sent along a Monteverde Regatta fountain pen for review purposes. I was not, and will not be, otherwise compensated. This review reflects my own experiences, observations, and opinions.

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

________

Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

We happen to live fairly close to the Erie Canal so in the summer Lock 20 is a favorite hang-out. If our timing is right, we can see everything from small motorboats to celebrity-worthy yachts to large and small sailboats. No matter the size, sailboats always fascinate me— all those ropes and masts and sails look like a recipe for a supremely tangled mess. Which is why I’m the landlubber and they’re the sailors.

Monteverde Regatta fountain pen

Despite my lack of boating experience (unless eating “Chips Ahoy!” cookies counts), I can appreciate the decidedly nautical looks of Monteverde’s Regatta fountain pen. With alternating bands of carbon fiber and yellow resin, the Regatta sports a look that calls to mind the colorful signal flags used during sailing competitions.

Regatta's carbon fiber bands

The Regatta checks a number of boxes on my “what I love in a pen” list. Box #1— carbon fiber. Though difficult to capture with my camera, the two carbon fiber bands (one on the cap and one on the body) are smooth and glossy— almost holographic in looks. Really sharp. Really classy.

The carbon fiber bands are bordered by knurled accent rings, which checks Box #2— knurling. Usually you’ll see knurling in the grip area of a pen, but using the knurled rings between the carbon fiber and resin bands is a cool looking detail.

Regatta black steel nib and magnetic cap

What else do I love in a pen? A magnetic cap, and the Regatta has an excellent one. The base of the cap is lined with a strong magnet that makes capping, uncapping, and posting an easy and satisfying experience. CLICK! Capped. CLICK! Posted. This is not a wimpy magnet. Your ears will tell you that. Box #3— magnetic cap. Check.

Monteverde Regatta

At 50 grams (32 g body, 18 g cap), this is a heavy pen. (Don’t drop it overboard!) Posted, I find the weight shifts a little bit too much to the back of the pen. I do sometimes write with it this way, but I don’t recommend it for long sessions. Typically, I use the pen unposted and find it well-balanced and easy to use for letter and journal writing. There’s still a nice heft, but nothing that’s too hard to handle. There is a bit of a step down from the body to the section that could interfere if you tend to grip your pens on the high side. For me, it’s not an issue, and I find the tapered grip to be comfortable.

Unposted Monteverde Regatta

Unposted, the pen is comparable in length to a Retro 1951 Tornado rollerball, so if you’re used to writing with one of those, you’ll know that writing with an unposted Regatta won’t be a problem.

Black steel nib

The black steel nib (medium, in this case) completes the look. This one is smooth and wet. Every now and then, at the beginning of a writing session I’ll experience a hint of a hard start, but once it gets going, it’s excellent. Monteverde nibs are quite easy to swap which means that you can have one pen and multiple nibs for different writing experiences. I happen to have a 1.1 mm black stub on hand that I’ll swap in in the future. I love when a nib swap isn’t a federal case, and that’s true for this pen.

Dismantled Regatta

The Regatta is a cartridge/converter pen, with the converter included. I’ve loaded it with Iroshizuku take-sumi for this review because Pilot’s black is a perfect match for the carbon fiber, knurled accents, and stealthy nib.

The Regatta is also available in red/black and black/black color schemes, and also as rollerball and ballpoint pens, so I have no doubt that there’s a Regatta that’ll float your boat. <groan>

Monteverde Regatta

Personally, I love this particular color combination. One meaning of a yellow and black signal flag is “I want to communicate with you.” What a perfect message for this pen.

________

The Monteverde Regatta fountain pen is available from Pen Chalet for $100. Shipping is free on orders over $50. Use the code PENCUP for 10% off any purchase. Thank you to Pen Chalet for providing this pen for review.

Feeling lucky? Pen Chalet “Pen Cash” giveaway is back! Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards redeemable for any item on penchalet.com including fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inks, refills and more. The first place winner will receive a $50 “Pen Cash” Card, second place winner a $25 gift card. Both gift cards are redeemable at www.penchalet.com and can be used to buy something for yourself or you may give them away as gifts. Click HERE to enter!

Lifesaver: Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen

Those who know me in real life know that this has already been a peculiar year with a bunch of unfortunate occurrences. We’ve had health issues with two of our three Silky Terriers (one was very serious, but all is well now) and lost one of our dear kitties to renal failure. My mother slipped in the house and fractured her wrist. My nieces were in a car accident that totaled their car, but, thankfully, not their bodies or spirits. My glasses broke. My car was sideswiped (hit-and-run) while parked causing $6000 in damages. I’m about ready to kick 2014 to the curb and it’s barely gotten started.

It’s easy to start taking all of this crap personally, which is stupid, I know. And it’s easy to start feeling down and anxious.

The grey, crazy cold winter weather isn’t helping.

I’m not going to suggest that a pen cures all ills, but I have found one that perks up my spirits a bit— The Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen. I’ve started receiving a periodic email from the Yafa Outlet and sometimes browse through their offerings, EVEN THOUGH I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to make a bunch of pen purchases this year. Well, the Wild Stripe quickly caught my eye, and I resisted for awhile, but in the end, I caved. The stripes are just too cool. And the price was right— $57.50 (50% off of the $115 MSRP).

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

The pen is made via their new Laminata process, which Monteverde describes better than I can:

Specially formulated, liquid acrylic resins are poured layer-upon-layer. Each layer is cured before the next layer is added. Monteverde’s exclusive Laminata™ technique takes far more time, but produces much better results compared to the previous “Cut & Glue” method.

After all of the acrylic layers have cured, the Laminata™ acrylic slab is hand-cut, hand-lathed, and hand-drilled. The pens are beautifully designed, and engineered for their beauty and functionality. The pens are then hand-polished to an heirloom quality luster.

What I didn’t initially realize is that the colored stripes are translucent. So when you hold the pen up to a light, or shine a flashlight into the cap, the colors glow. Not that I routinely walk around with this pen and a flashlight…or do I?!

Illuminated stripes

The nib isn’t earth shattering in looks or pedigree. It’s small (#5?) and says only, “Iridium Point” with some generic scrolling. That being said, it’s a smooth writer with just a touch of feedback. I’ve never had an issue with skipping or hard starts. I have noticed that while writing a letter or the rough draft of a blog post, the pen will sometimes write very wet, then less wet (never dry), then wetter again. I’m not sure why it does that but since it never runs to the dry side, I’m not bothered by this quirk.

The feed is clear, and this amuses me almost as much as the translucent rings. I get a kick out of seeing the feed turn the color of my ink— in this case, J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir.

Monteverde Artista Crystal wild Stripe

The threaded cap posts, but takes a bit of oomph to do so. In fact, at first I thought it didn’t post, but the pictures on the Yafa Outlet site clearly show the cap posted, so I gave it another go. The unposted pen measures 4.5 inches while the posted pen measures a more comfortable 6 inches.

When I posted a photo on Twitter, John Martinez (@iamthefollows) replied “Pretty! Lifesaver pen?” I had to agree that his description fits this pen perfectly. The colored rings absolutely look like a roll of Lifesaver candies.

And while a pen can’t be an actual lifesaver, it CAN be a mood saver. This pen has been that for me. Amidst all of the crap that life’s tossed my way lately, I’m having a blast writing letters and journaling with this cheery striped pen with the clear feed. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s not perfect.

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

Just like life.

Little time, little pen: Monteverde’s Poquito

Monteverde Poquito pair
My pair of Poquitos

We’re cranking through chores (will the dusting never end?!!) and food prep for Thanksgiving, so time is at a premium, but I can’t let myself break my chain of weekly posts. It makes sense, then, to write about a little pen when I only have a little time.

Poquitos
One is a bit worn, the other’s still in tip-top shape and is in reserve.

I’ve owned the red/black version for quite awhile (thus the dings), and amazingly won a door prize at the DC Pen Show which turned out to be the metallic purple version. I’m especially glad to have two of these adorably teeny pens because it seems inevitable that I’ll eventually lose one. The Poquito is THAT tiny.

How tiny? Well, I could list the dimensions, but it’s easier to just show you. Here’s the Monteverde Poquito along with an Uniball 207 and my VW car key—

Size comparison
Itty bitty pen

For all of its smallness, the Poquito is a very handy pocket pen. Need to jot a quick note? You’re covered. The 0.7 mm D1 refill is quite nice— smooth and fairly solid. If you click on the photo below, you can see some white in the line, but it’s not very noticeable on the actual page. And let’s face it, you’re probably using this for notes and in quick bursts, not for extended writing. It’s pocketability is key.

Poquito D1 refill
The diminutive D1 refill

The stylus is a good one and has been coming in especially handy lately. Why? Well, because of the cold weather, I’m constantly slathering my hands with lotion, and lotion + iPhone/iPad screen is a messy combination. Using the stylus on the Poquito keeps my screens clean and smudge-free. I’ve also been cooking more lately (Thanksgiving!) and trying to answer texts and emails with messy hands is a pain. Again, the Poquito stylus to the rescue!

Poquito stylii

The stylus responds quite well with just a bit of pressure. In all honesty, it’s one of my favorites, and certainly the most portable. The writing tip deploys with a little twist of the pen body. It’s all very convenient.

Writing tips

As you can see from the above photo, the Poquito spends its days in my pocket (yes, that’s pocket lint), ready for action. It’s unobtrusive and a great EDC tool.

The Monteverde Poquito— a little pen that I like a lot.

P1030146

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!!!

Worth the Wait: Bamboo Style Pen by Ken Cavers

Bamboo Style in Cumberland Ebonite
Ken’s Bamboo Style Pen in Cumberland Ebonite

Back in the winter, I was browsing through the pens on Ken Cavers’ site and grew more and more intrigued by his Bamboo style pens. The shape is just so cool and unlike any other pen I own. And the materials? Wow. But I held off for a bit, having just come off of the Christmas spending season.

THIS entry, though, did me in. We were traveling home from a Valentine’s dinner with friends, I checked my phone, read Ken’s post, and emailed him immediately. From the car. I needed a Bamboo pen, STAT. In Cumberland Ebonite, please.

While Ken’s a talented pen-maker, he’s also a doctor, up to his eyeballs in busy-ness. And his pens have become very popular, so Ken let me know that there’d be a bit of a wait. No problem. It just felt good to be on the list.

Bamboo style

My pen arrived in late May, and was well worth the wait. I own one of Ken’s Tiger Stripey pens, so I knew what to expect…gorgeous materials expertly crafted into a stunning pen. And that’s exactly what I received.

Cumberland Ebonite

The Cumberland Ebonite smells a touch odd (a little “eggy”), but more than makes up for that in looks. There’s a bit of a wood-grain pattern that suits the bamboo shape perfectly. The black-cherry color is rich and warm and interestingly subtle.

Bamboo nibbage

I ordered a fine nib (no surprise there), and loaded the included converter with my new favorite black ink, Monteverde’s Black. The nib lays down a line that is nicely wet and smooth; so smooth that words flow effortlessly from my head, through the pen, and onto the page.

Bamboo vs. TWSBI Micarta
Bamboo Style vs. TWSBI Micarta

At a capped length of 6″, uncapped length of 5.5″, and a diameter of approximately 5/8″, this is a good-sized pen. The section is nicely contoured, measures about 3/8″ in diameter, and is very comfortable to hold. Despite its size, the pen isn’t heavy, yet feels substantial. The ebonite is warm to the touch and glassy-smooth. I like everything about the look and feel of Ken’s handiwork.

Bamboo vs. Kaweco Sport
Bamboo vs. Kaweco Sport

So this is my second pen from Ken, but my first Bamboo style as well as my first ebonite pen. Something tells me I’ll be going back for more.

I mean, check out this pocket pen. Oh, my.

Dr. Ken, I’ll kill time in your waiting room any day.

Resistance Is Futile: Monteverde Invincia Deluxe Nighthawk (F nib)

Monteverde Nighthawk

I’m making plans to attend my first pen show in August- the DC Pen SUPERSHOW. (EXCITED!) Because of those plans, I’m trying to resist buying pens prior to that show so that I have a nice little pen “allowance” in my pocket come August. The key words there are “trying to.” The clinker? The Goulet Pen Company announced the release of a fountain pen that pushes a bunch of my particular pen buttons. Those buttons being:

  • Stealth
  • Matte
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Special packaging
  • Monteverde

SO, I was a goner, despite my plan/pledge/vow. My Monteverde Invincia Deluxe Nighthawk (F nib) arrived last week, and it hits all the right notes. I loaded the included converter with Monteverde Black ink (with ITF), and doodled away. Very smooth. Very stealthy. Very, very cool.

Nighthawk uncapped

This pen is a collaboration between Brian Goulet/Goulet Pens and Monteverde Pens, the details of which are found in this article and video. Brian explains the details better than I can, but I can tell you that I love the outcome of their work. I own a handful of Monteverde pens, and have never been disappointed in their looks or performance. They’re solid, reliable, good-looking pens, and this one may be the best of the bunch. Because it pushes all of those buttons that I listed above.

This may well be the stealthiest pen that I own. With the matte carbon fiber body and all-black trim, the pen is so subdued looking that it’s impossible to ignore. So it’s stealthy, yet stands out in a crowd. Which is a very cool trick.

Nighthawk nibbage

The black fine nib writes wonderfully. Coupled with the Monteverde ink, which I’m trying for the first time, the writing experience is a true pleasure. Effortless and nicely liquid. Wet, but not too wet. Just right, really. Had they outfitted the pen with a matte black nib, rather than the shiny one, that would’ve bumped the awesomeness up one more notch. But I’m not complaining.

Special packaging
Looks a little like a pen wake, doesn’t it?

Though this isn’t a limited edition pen, the first 150 customers were promised special packaging, which is another reason that I made my purchase quickly. Rather than the usual green Monteverde box, this one came packaged in a black and red box that coordinates very well with the pen. Normally I don’t really care about packaging, but the carbon fiber-esque look of the box reeled me in like a pen-loving trophy fish. If there were such a thing as pen-loving trophy fish.

No logo

Normally Monteverde pens sport their mountainous logo (in white) on the end of the pen, but that’s been dropped from the Nighthawk. The pen is branded with slightly raised black lettering on the center band, which completes the totally blacked out look. The stealthiness of the Nighthawk is certainly in the details.

Blacked out branding

At 40 grams, which is about 2.5x the weight of a Lamy Safari, the capped pen is heavy, but in a very well-balanced way. I find the cap difficult to post, but that’s not an issue for me because I wouldn’t post it anyway, due to the weight of the cap (10 grams). The uncapped body measures 136 mm (5.35 inches) and is comfortable in hand. I’m really impressed with the whole package…the weight, looks, feel, packaging, and performance.

Who can resist the charms of the Nighthawk? Not I. Nope, not I.

Handwritten review

Fall: The Monteverde Prima (Brown Swirl) & Field Notes Traveling Salesman Limited Edition

Whoooeee…that’s a mouthful. But off we go…


Monteverde Prima, Brown Swirl, F nib

In order to get my day off to a peaceful/calm start, I’ve recently started an early morning ritual. Right after breakfast, I pick up one of our Silky Terriers (usually 10-year old Boo) and together we take look out into the woods behind our house. Sometimes we see birds and bunnies, maybe even a deer. But what struck me this morning were the colors. And how much those November colors remind me of the colors in the Monteverde Prima. (This sounds contrived…I know it does…but I honestly DO think like this.)

Here we are in late fall. The leaves are mostly gone, but there are still glimpses of gold and a little green and a lot of brown, in all kinds of muted shades and tones. With the sun low in the sky, the woods shimmered with the early light. Exactly like the Monteverde Prima.


Swirly goodness

With its chocolatey browns and shimmery golds, the Brown Swirl Prima is a perfect companion to the Fall Field Notes Limited Edition offering…the Traveling Salesman notebooks.


Made for each other

I’m a BIG list maker. Big. Really big. And my action/waiting/maybe lists for work and home used to be physically big…like 8.5″ x 11″ big. And at that size they freaked me out a bit. Everything just looked so LARGE and overwhelming. Around the time that I noticed a direct correlation between the size of my working lists and my level of anxiety, I fortuitously subscribed to the Field Notes Color series. Then I moved my lists from big sheets of paper into Field Notes notebooks. And I calmed down. Coincidence? I don’t think so.


Fountain pen friendly ledger paper

Since subscribing, I maintain master lists in Evernote (so they’re synced and always with me), but my daily working lists are religiously hand-written in Field Notes notebooks…one for home and one for work. The Traveling Salesman Limited Edition notebooks are this year’s fall offering, and they’re perfect for the season. The cover is a rich “Hot Fudge” brown with “Fool’s Gold” metallic embossing, while the ledger style pages are a soft green…all colors that I see in both my woods and this pen.


Like the fall forest

The nib is fine and smooth…a little finer than some of the other fine nibbed pens that I own. It’s a touch on the drier side, but that may be the ink. Once this cartridge is gone, I’ll pop in the converter (which threads into the pen…nice!), and load it with a Montblanc black or brown. The Prima hasn’t given me a speck of trouble…no hard starts and no skipping. I’m once again impressed by Monteverde.


Well-behaved nib

I see autumn and my woods in this pen and this notebook. And when I’m in the thick of a crazy work day, that’s exactly what I need.

—–

For more details on the Monteverde Prima line, check out Brian Goulet’s excellent video review at Ink Nouveau.

Both Worlds: Monteverde Invincia Stylus (F nib) in Matte Chrome


The Matte Chrome Monteverde Invincia Stylus


My handwritten thoughts

I’m a bouncer. All day long I hop between digital devices and applications (Clear, Evernote, Day One, Twitter, email) and my favorite paper products (Field Notes, Frictionless Capture Cards, Rhodia dotPads, and plain old scrap paper).


iPad and dotPad


Analog capture hub

I keep “on the fly” notes in both places…in the Clear app on my iPhone, and on paper, depending on where I am when the mood or need strikes. I love the feel of pen on paper as much as I enjoy fiddling around with iPad and iPhone apps. Evernote is, ultimately, the place where I bring all all of my lists and tasks and brainstorming together. Everything syncs and I feel calm. Calmish. I feel calmish.


Monteverde Invincia Stylus. Shiny!

So. Yeah. Like so many of us, I’m a fan of digital AND analog tools. Apps and paper. Pens and styluses (stylii?). Which is where the Monteverde Invincia Stylus comes in. Sweet fountain pen on one end, high quality stylus on the other. I can write a letter with the pen, then poke around on my iPad with the stylus. One tool for both worlds. Happy Mary.

As I mentioned in my handwritten review, the stylus works very well on my iDevices. I’ve found using a few other styluses to be frustrating. Usually they’re too mushy and I end up having to tap the screen repeatedly to get a response. At that point, I go back to using my finger. But the response from the Monteverde stylus has been great, probably because it has a “fingerlike” firmness. I’m really impressed with how well it functions. This is not a “novelty” stylus.


Stylus and matte black clip


Stellar nib

The nib is a bit oversized, which I enjoy. The dark nib and black matte accents look great against the matte chrome finish of the body. In the right light, this thing SHINES. And it writes great. No scratchiness. No drag. Filled with Private Reserve’s DC Supershow Blue, I’m finding this pen to be one that I make excuses to use. Just an all around fun package.

Bottom line? iLove.

Pen Stalking: Chicago

Last Monday night, we took the train from Utica to Chicago for a few days of vacation. I was excited. The train! Vacation! Chicago! We traveled overnight and though sleeping was a little tricky, I loved the ride and the fact that we were practically delivered door to door.


Stupidly did not figure out the REAL footrests until 8:30 am. Oh, well!

This was vacation with a very short agenda, which is just how I like it. We knew that we were going to a White Sox-Yankees game, and that we had reserved tickets for the Field Museum, but other than that, it was all free form. Perfect.

That’s a little bit of a lie…I knew I wanted to visit Century Pens, a pen store that I had tracked down online. So Day One, off we went and found the store after a short walk.


Century Pens. We found it!

The guys in the store were great and let us poke around to our hearts’ content. I fogged up a display case or two while we were there. I held a Pilot Prera (wow…very light fountain pen!) and oogled the Krones, a line of pens that was entirely new to me. We saw the Winston Churchill pen up close and personal, thanks to the genuinely enthusiastic salesmen. Despite their enthusiasm, THAT $5900 pen stayed put, while I browsed around for something more affordable, preferably without lions. There was not a single Retro 51 in the house, because, they said, no rep ever calls on them. Darn! I was anxious to see the Invader model in person. If they had had a Monteverde Color Fusion Invincia Stealth fountain pen in stock, I would’ve swooped down on that, but it was not to be. Instead, I picked up a slightly used Stypen…a small retractable fountain pen…that caught my eye.
One store, one pen. This vacation was off to a great start.


Capped Stypen


Deployed Stypen

By then, I was so hungry that I could’ve eaten a skyscraper, so we took a break.

Yes, I was THAT hungry.

Next up…Dick Blick! I’ve seen their website, but never an actual store. I explored the place from top to bottom but in the end made just a few small purchases, but I’m very happy with them.
1) Rhodia No. 16 Dot Pad. WOW. I didn’t really get to try it out until I was home, but this paper is THE BEST for fountain pens. And i love the dots. They provide just enough structure without getting in the way. Great stuff.
2) Pilot G2 0.38 mm (black). I tested a few Stabilos and LePens, but couldn’t quite get into them, and instead opted for the super crisp line of the 0.38 mm G2. Though G2s are easy to come by locally, that tip size isn’t. Super cheap, but very nice.
3) Pilot G2 0.38 mm (red). See #2, just in red.
Nothing exotic purchased there, but these were solid finds, nonetheless.


Rhodia No. 16 Dot Pad…yum!


Not fancy, but oh so crisp.

On Thursday, our last day, we trekked WAY up N. Michigan Ave. in search of the Montblanc Boutique. Once there, I hesitated at the threshold. It’s a fancy place and there I was in my shorts and Life Is Good t-shirt. Awkward! But the salesman, Brian Morrow, couldn’t have been nicer. I asked if they had a Limited Edition Alfred Hitchcock fountain pen, which they did. He sat us down, donned a glove, and got out the $3000 beauty. I was hesitant to touch it because I’d forgotten to pack my pen-handling glove (silly me), but no worries…he handed it to me to examine. VERY cool. Heavy in details…twisting design on barrel, dagger clip, etc. But a tad pricey. Just a tad. (I’d also forgotten to pack my bag o’ money.)

After we finished with the Hitchcock, and it was returned to its vault, Brian brought out the Limited Edition Jonathan Swift fountain pen that had JUST arrived at the store. I’d heard about the Swift pen on an FPGeeks podcast where the design was much debated, but to be honest, I liked this one better than the Hitchcock. The “trifoil” cap, the ladder-like clip, and the inlaid rope design make for a very good-looking pen (in my opinion). I may have drooled just a little bit. This one runs $900+ so while it was fun to hold, we resisted Brian’s charms, and walked out with just one bottle of Montblanc Mystery Black ink. Ah, the restraint.

And with that, our Chicago vacation came to a close. I loved the city’s architecture, museums, and parks. I loved the super friendly people. And, of course, I loved the pens. (If only I’d packed that bag of money!)

Oh, Chicago, you made me smile.