2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Lamy Al-Star 2015 Limited Edition

Well, that’s the first part of the festivities over though the Hogmanay shenanigans is still to come.  I enjoy Christmas and New Year but they do break my routine and it’s hard to get back into it.  Here I am, trying to throw off the sloth of the past few days.

I see that Lamy is bringing out a new Limited Edition for 2015, in Copper Orange and black, just the colours of my Laverda Jota motorcycle of nearly 30 years ago.  It was a mighty three cylinder 1000 cc beast that gave vent to a stuttering roar when it was on song.  Fond memories, and how did it become so long ago?

Fancy that, a Limited Edition Lamy Al-Star!  Though it has many admirers, the Al-Star is the kind of cheap pen that you carry in your pocket and don’t grieve too much if you lose it. Lamy Al-Stars and Safaris don’t work for me; they just don’t fit my hand, somehow.  They are good pens for the price but they hardly lend themselves to the bombast of the Limited Edition!

Nib Repair

I had an email from Carlos Garcia of  goldnibs.com which I reproduce in full here as it may be of use to some of you.



Hello i’m Carlos Garcia, head of the company Goldnibs.com (Spain)

Goldnibs specializes in the repair and restoration of nibs both modern and ancient.

Our customers are professionals and collectors around the world.

With the hope that we can start a future professional collaboration, I am waiting for your feedback.

Our services are:


“Standard”: 40€ F (Fine), M (Medium), B (Broad).

 “Special”: 45€ XF (extra-fine), OM (Medium Oblique), OB-(Oblique Broad) and Stub.

“Others”: 60€ In points: Double Broad (2B), Triple Broad (3B) and oblique variants.

“Bespoke”: See you to your specific case.

Regrind to a smaller size: 30€ (starting from an existing point) example M to F, or B to M.

Geometry of the nib: 20-60 € (repair of a nib that dropped or hit with impaired tip). The price depends on the complexity of the repair,it might be from a small alignment of teeth to a deeper setting with fire, hammer and anvil double head.

Cracks and “Hair lines”: Ask, they happen on vintage nibs, frequently on flexible ones; repair complexity depends on the size of the crack, its location and whether it affects the engraving. Would greatly facilitate the work, if you send us a photo with details of the fault repair.

Ink-flow adjustment: 15 to 25€ For when ink-flow stops after a short intesive use, or conversely, to reduce the flow when it leads to ink drops dripping during writing.

Nib smoothing: 15€ (This price is eliminated if the work is combined with other repair)


Hard-rubber cleaning: 65€. Hard-rubber oxidation is eliminated using non-abrasive techniques, includes sac replacement, inner cleaning and writing test.

Tuning: 30€. Includes cleaning of the exterior of the pen, sac replacement, inner cleaning of the nib and feed (and the ink reservoir, if applicable) and a writing test It does not include any repair. If any problem is detected during disassembly we would ask the owner for permission to repair it.

Electrolytic baths. Coating of gold and other precious metals: Ask. Refurbishing of clips, rings, etc with electrolytic baths in gold, rhodium, silver are billed according to surface area and the need for repairs or additional assembly and disassembly.

Welds: Ask. Price depends on material: steel, gold, silver, etc as well as the associated necessary repairs.

Seals: Ask. Seals for piston filling mechanisms.

All our services are performed within a maximum of 10 business days after we receive the nib or pen.

If you send us more than 5 nibs will save 10%

If you send us more than 10 nibs will save 20%

Shipping free for you.

This service is an added value that does not have many professions in Europe and would be happy to deal with you.

Thank you very much and remain at your disposal to answer any questions you have.

Carlos García



Picasso Red Flower


I confess that I am sometimes drawn in by the allure of Chinese pens, but in my defence I maintain that they are much improved – or at least some of them are – and some, it seems to me, are not all that far behind much more expensive European and American pens in terms of quality and presentation.  A case in point is the Picasso Red Flower which I bought recently.

It’s extremely well presented.  It comes in a cardboard outer box decorated with a tiny image of a Picasso painting.  Inside is a hard case containing the pen, a quality inspection card and a well illustrated Picasso booklet.  Every bit as smart as any of the European pens I bought lately.
IMGP9868 IMGP9869
My one complaint about the pen would be that it is enamelled brass construction and therefore quite heavy, though so far I haven’t found that to be a great disadvantage in use because it’s quite well-balanced.  The pen is very pretty, black with splashes of red in a fairish imitation of urushi.  The clip is two-toned with an image that I can’t quite make out – maybe it’s a pen nib above an ink bottle, but maybe not.  Have a look – see what you think.
The push on cap fits very securely with a satisfying click.  The black plastic section has an embossed pattern which gives a good grip.  The nib is 22k gold-plated stainless steel, and is as smooth as any pen I have ever tried.  The ink flow is generous and after several pages of writing it hasn’t skipped yet.  Unscrewing the barrel exposes a twist converter which works well and of course the pen will take international cartridges.
This is a lot of pen for under £20!  I’m not saying that it rocks the foundations of Mont Blanc or Visconti, but it does make one wonder about the prices that they are set at.  Undoubtedly, they are better pens but are they several hundreds of pounds better?


Montblanc Meisterstuck 144


I confess that I bought this pen with the intention of sneering at it.  I’ve had several Montblancs over the years and I haven’t been unduly impressed with them.  At the same time, I have been very aware of the ridiculous hype and the even more ridiculous prices that are charged for Montblanc Meisterstucks.  They are status symbols, something that I despise, but I have to admit that they are something else as well – a very nice pen!
This is the smaller Meisterstuck.  I believe it’s called the 144.  The plastic has kept its shine and the gold plating is nice.  The pen has a pleasing tapered shape and it evokes several vintage pens, to my mind, much more than it does any of the other modern pens.  It has a press-on cap which slips firmly into place without any drama.  It posts well too.  The gold nib is instantly recognisable as a Montblanc by its shape.  The nib is engraved “4810 MB 14 K Montblanc 585”.
Unfortunately the 144 is a cartridge/converter filler, not a piston filler like it’s a bigger brothers.  However, once filled, the pen more than lives up to its reputation as a splendidly smooth writer.  This particular example is not flexible though I believe quite a few are.  Quite small for a modern pen, it nonetheless fits my hand very well and I find it very pleasant to write with.  What more can I say?  That’s all a fountain pen is required to do.  I don’t need it to boost my ego, nor to elevate my standing among my peers, so I can only judge it as a writing instrument and it is a very good one.
All in all, I’m very pleased with it.  I would quite happily pay £100 for a pen like this.  Of course, I know that it costs more than that, but that is what I would regard as a reasonable price for such an excellent pen.

A Late Summit


This Summit pen turned up in nearly unused condition – when I flushed it there was ink in the feed but it showed no other signs of having been used.  It’s a little unusual in that there is no barrel imprint, so I can’t say what model it is. Everything about it suggests that it is a late model, perhaps among the last range that Summit made before the company closed in 1955.  The “over the top” clip is a late feature.
The machined pattern is very crisp and the chrome plating is immaculate.  The box, too, is in very good shape, though there is a little scribbling on the top.
I suppose one might say that this is a fairly basic pen but it’s interesting in that it appears to be quite an uncommon model.  It is also unusual to find one in such good condition.


Blackbird BB2/39


Lately, time has been running away with me, with the result that I’ve done few blog entries.  I was determined to make up for that tonight, despite the fact that I had only a few minutes to spare.  Quick photos done under strip light don’t give the best results.  I know that, and yet I still continue to do it.  These photos don’t do justice to a rare and beautiful pen.
It’s a Blackbird of the BB2 range and I believe that this grey, red, bronze and black marbled pattern is the one that is coded 39.  I’ve seen one occasionally but I’ve never had one in my hands before.  It was issued without a clip and an accommodation clip has been fitted later.
It’s quite unlike any of the other Swan patterns that I have seen.  The individual patches of colour are small and the effect is like the fragmented colouring that you see in some geological samples.  It may be that this is one of the patterns that also appears in Visofils.
As if that wasn’t enough, the small nib is a flexible stub!