Pens as presents

On episode 23 of the Pen Addict podcast Brad and Myke talked about giving pens as gifts. I tweeted about it at the time:

Well, not only did my wife get me a fountain pen for our 11th wedding anniversary this week, I also got her one. And d’you know what? It was a disaster.

She got me a Waterman Perspective fountain pen in silver with a steel nib, and I got her a Faber Castell Ambition in brushed steel. 11 years is the steel anniversary, see? Now it all makes sense!

My wife has never really understood my love of pens. I thought that it was just because she didn’t have one of her own and that if I bought her a nice one, she’d grow to appreciate it. WRONG! If I’m honest about it, I suppose I just want her to learn to appreciate one of my hobbies, just as she did with me and the horses, but I don’t think I will ever understand how anyone can be interested in such beasts!

It’s not that great an idea for someone who doesn’t know about pens to buy one for someone who does. I have a list. And of course, I’d love to be surprised by a gift that isn’t on that list, but not if it’s something that doesn’t suit my taste. The Waterman Perspective is just such a pen. So both pens are being returned and a lesson has been learned.

And I shall listen to my wife when she exclaims about my latest shiny new pen: ‘it’s just a pen!’. There’s a message in that exclamation!

Five Pens

I’ve been writing for pretty much most of the afternoon today and having a blast with my fountain pens. I’ve come up with the perfect reason to use them: learning my lines! It’s helping me a great deal to learn my lines for an upcoming performance, and giving me a sound reason to use my pens!

Writing afternoon

I’ve been using:

  • Pilot Décimo, F
  • TWSBI Diamond 580 EF
  • Kaweco AL Sport, EF
  • Kaweco Ice Sport, BB
  • Kaweco Classic Sport, 1.5

By far my favourite pen is still the TWSBI with the Décimo a close second. The TWSBI is favourite because of the nib and the ink it puts down, but the Décimo is favourite because it’s just so darned comfortable.

The Kaweco AL Sport with the EF nib is not as wet as the Décimo or TWSBI, which is not to say that I don’t like it. It’s weird, but they’ve become like children in the sense that you I love them all in different ways! And now I’m carrying five fountain pens to work every day. Madness. But I haven’t enjoyed anything this much ever since I had to quit BMX freestyle.

I’m Fine!

Capless fine nib

I just got a replacement nib unit for my Pilot Capless Decimo. It came with a medium nib and I just wasn’t using it. Bear in mind that I’m a n00b where fountain pens are concerned and the only way of figuring out what I like in my rural island location is to buy stuff to try.

I got the Decimo new from Japan on eBay and for a very good price, so I didn’t mind quite so much forking out for a replacement nib unit from Cult Pens. Not saying I didn’t mind completely. It certainly wasn’t chump change.

But OMG, as the kids say, what a difference!

Now I’m going to have to figure out use cases for the Capless and TWSBI 580 because it seems that I love them both equally. But one’s retractable and one’s got a screw-off cap, so I’m guessing that the Capless will be my shirt-pocket daily carry and the TWSBI will be used for longer-form, i.e. letter writing. I used to write a lot of letters back in my army days, but haven’t done it for years. It’s nice to be back doing that again and my pen friend is overjoyed to be receiving such personal, hand-written ramblings!

Retro51 Tornado

Some hand-written text from my Retro51 Tornado

I’m not loving the Retro51 Tornado. Let’s say I’m liking it. I wrote a Moleskine Postal Note yesterday and the Signo DX 0.38mm was a better fit for that particular paper. I’m not so fond of the tapered barrel of the Retro51 either. It’s a good pen for Post Office business and I do quite a lot of that, so it will definitely get used.

Post Office Pens

I don’t suppose there will be too many people writing the insider scoop on Post Office Ltd’s pen supplies on their blogs. I’m here to fill that gap! ‘Finally,’ I hear you all cry. Yes, I’m a whistle-blower and I’m proud! Not quite on the same scale as Russell Crowe in that tobacco movie, but still, it’s a risky business!

I’m subpostmaster in a rural Post Office. I’ve been doing that for just over five years and I’m here to share the pen news I’ve encountered in those five years.

Our masters at Post Office Ltd supply us with pens to use in Post Offices across the land. When I started in 2008, we had the POSP15.

POSP15

All of the pens have black ink labelled as ‘security ink,’ in other words, it doesn’t fade. This is particularly important for motor vehicle licences, or tax discs are they’re more commonly known. The interesting thing about the POSP15 is that it has a red cap on the end. The urban myth about this is that it stops people from stealing them, because they think the pens have red ink in them. It didn’t work on my Post Office, that’s all I can tell you. These pens wrote well once you got them going, but all too often I’d pick one up and get nothing until I scribbled on a scrap bit of paper to get the ink flowing. It was annoying enough that, when I was cranky, I’d throw them straight in the bin after one failure. Well, I wasn’t paying for them and they got one chance only if I was in that kind of mood.

For some reason, these pens were discontinued and replaced by the truly awful SP15B 091445.

SP15B

These felt cheap and nasty, probably because that’s precisely what they were. The refill moves around inside the pen, and when you lift the pen off the paper, the nib stays on the paper. Yes, really! It was really annoying. I gave these pens about a week before I switched to a Stabilo Write-4-all, which worked really well for tax discs. I’d see cars around the village with 11-month-old tax discs that I’d issued and they looked like I’d written them up that day. So the SP15Bs went out onto the customer side for customers to steal at their leisure. Which they did.

Turns out the ink in the SP15Bs fades! Ha! So much for their ‘security ink’! Last week we got our replacements: the Truline 20SPEN1. What a super name, eh?

20SPEN1

These pens are chunkier and feel like a return to the POSP15. They have a cap that has a nice ‘click’ when posted and they write quite smoothly. But now I’m out the closet as a pen addict, I shall not be using the cheap, Chinese 20SPEN1s. Next time I order from Cult Pens, I plan on adding a few pens, including the Sakura Pigma Micron, which I’m sure will make a perfect pen for writing tax discs. We issue quite a lot of them, so I might as well make the experience as good as it can be, right?!