Well, here it is -- another month to Rant and Rave. To voice my opinions to those willing to take time out of their busy lives to read my scribbles. I don't have a specific rant this month, other than I'm overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived -- but wait, you say, I set my own schedule! Yes, that's true, but I seem never to turn off and do frequently wake up with keyboard imprints on my face. I'll let that be my tirade this month, but I am driven -- by the new dishwasher, the upcoming art camp for my daughter, the maid my wife would like, the yard work that never seems to get done, etc. etc. Probably lots of the same things that make most of us return to work each day. Oh, did I leave out the next pens I need to get? Sorry for that. And what -- you've never heard the dishwasher story? Much too long for this space, so ask me at a pen show sometime. It's quite comical, but has nothing to do with pens.
I've been to two pen shows so far this year and still profess that it's a wonderful experience and a very big part of the hobby. By the end of last year, overall show attendance was down a bit, but based on the shows I've been to so far this year, I feel that attendance is rising quickly. Not only that, but we're seeing lots of new faces at the shows, which is always good for the hobby. Thanks to Chartpak, we're continuing our Pens for Kids giveaway at the shows we attend. For more than a year, we've been giving Pelikano or Pelikano Jr. fountain pens to kids who come to the show with their parents. The smiles are worth a million bucks when we give that possible new collector his or her first fountain pen. Okay, I'm rambling a bit, but that's just how I am.
And now I just thought of something that really annoys me. It's those airport security folks that don't know what a twist-off pen cap is. They always want to yank off the caps of the pens they decide to check, as if they were all Bics. I want to smack them sometimes. Plus they seldom listen when you say it twists off; they're still trying to pull it off. I sometimes wish I still had one of those cap-gun pens that fires a cap when you pull the cap off, just to wake them up. That would probably be a sure way not to make my flight, though.
To rave about, first the two Pen Shows I've been to this year -- the LA show and the Great Southeastern Pen Show in Atlanta. Both were great shows and shouldn't be missed if you're anywhere close. The upcoming Chicago Pen Show is also sure to be a success with the sponsorship of Sailor Pen Company and Conway Stewart as well as the whole group of other dealers and individuals that contribute to making it a great show. Again, I will say that if you're within a day's drive the Chicago Pen Show is one that you shouldn't miss. The other shows coming up this year we'll cover as they approach.
My recent pen acquisitions haven't included much on the vintage side lately ( maybe at Chicago ), but I have acquired a few new pens that I feel are just terrific. Not all for the same reasons, but my modern-pen collection is pretty eclectic and very unfocused. All of these pens have been reviewed in Stylophiles in the past, so I'll just be giving my views based on daily use.
First is the Aurora Afrika. This honey / caramel-colored pen swirled with ribbons of black is, simply put, a wonderful pen. It's a midsize piston filler with gold plated trim that on the cap band reminds me of Black Hills Gold. The nib is 18kt and mine is a medium, which writes a very consistent, smooth line without a bit of hesitation or skipping. It's relatively firm, which makes the pen very much a writer's pen and suits me well because most of my writing is quick notes or messages. I added this pen to my collection just on the color and Aurora name. It's a beauty and it stands up to that daily-use standard in that you don't need to carry a backup just in case.
Next up is the Visconti Van Gogh. I have the green colored one with a broad nib and, like the Afrika, it lays down a smooth, consistent line time after time. The nib is fairly firm and you'll see that pattern develop here. This pen is a cartridge/converter filler and it comes with a very nice converter, which includes an easy-to-grip-and-turn metal turning knob. Also, the clip's tension can easily be adjusted simply by turning a small screw. But the neatest feature of this pen is the cam mechanism that's used to cap the pen, and this is my main reason for adding this pen to my collection. The cap isn't threaded to screw on, nor is it a slip-on or click-on cap. It uses a cam-type system in that you cap the pen and give a bit of a twist and you're done. Very handy in my opinion, and I'd like to see this system used on more upcoming pens. Some folks have said that their Van Goghs have not stayed capped, but I haven't had a single unintentional uncapping incident. I do give it a firm twist when capping, and it feels very secure. For the collector who enjoys unique features, this one is a must-have.
The new Conway Stewart Churchill in red woodgrain ebonite is the first pen of this year that I feel is absolutely a must-have. This pen is, simply put, gorgeous and very well executed. It's a large pen -- larger than a Pelikan 800 in both length and girth -- well appointed with gold trim, and Conway Stewart went the extra mile and made the section out of matching red woodgrain ebonite also. I bought the lever-filler model, which I feel adds to the classic design of the pen, but if you prefer a cartridge/converter filler you can get one also.
The 18kt gold nib on mine lays down again a very smooth and consistent line. Like the others, it is firm and I told you this pattern would develop. Not that I don't like some flex and line variation in fountain pen nibs, but when I pick a pen that I intend to use on a daily basis I much prefer consistency. Yes, I have some great stub nibs and flexible nibs, but I use them more for writing greeting cards or letters, not day-to-day phone notes and to-do lists. As stated previously, this is a must-have pen.
Last up is a pen whose design is not new; in fact, its design has been around for a while in different renditions. This pen has one of the most unusual designs for a fountain pen there is. It's the Namiki Vanishing Point, which as most of you know is a retractable fountain pen, but this one is the new mandarin yellow color. Be it as it may, this pen is sweet, handy, and a very consistent writing instrument. I have several other VPs in the old and older styles, yet was never overly impressed with the "new style VP" that came out a couple years ago. But this one, in this mandarin yellow, besides being an eye-catcher -- well, I simply couldn't get it out of my mind until I had one. Anyone who has even a small modern pen collection should have one of these, if not this bright yellow then one then one of the other colors. What could be better for the fountain pen enthusiast than to have a handy fountain pen that operates like a click-top ballpoint? One other feature that I like about these new style VPs is that they now come with Namiki's piston style converter rather than the press bar type on the older style VPs. You can get a piston converter for your old-style VP from Namiki if you want to switch.
So. Not a whole lot of Ranting and Raving this month,
but at least some rambling. Bill and I will be at the Chicago Pen Show
the first of May and look forward to meeting all those who can make the
show. We have some nice giveaways for those who come by our table at the
show, so be sure to stop by and say hi. Till next time, remember: Penlovers