Posts Tagged ‘bleubug’

nakaya piccolo cigar

The Nakaya Piccolo Cigar is a triumph of understated design. It draws on the Japanese aesthetic – simple, clean, minimal. Its lines are sleek and elegant. It is a zen koan brought to life.

Nakaya calls this model the “Cigar” because it is sans clip; their model with clip is called “Writer”.

The black lacquer finish on this one gleams subtly, an inky pool that laps up light.

The Piccolo is Nakaya’s shortest size.

Uncapped, it’s just right for my hand. I try not to post the cap when using it so as not to scratch the barrel finish, though urushi wears pretty well.

The nib is, as all Nakaya nibs are, reliable from the get-go and doesn’t skip nor railroad.

The 14-k gold medium stock nib is firm with a hint of spring. It is perfect for note-taking and daily use.

This pen was rehomed from bleubug two years ago. I’d put it away for safekeeping, but lately I’ve been thinking, Life is short. Let’s use the good china – and the fountain pens.

So I took it out of hibernation and let it rock.

Nakaya Piccolo Cigar, black Wajima urushi nuri finish. It poses at the Senate of the Philippines (Senate seal in the background).

“Wajima” is the area in Japan where world-renowned lacquerware – urushi – has been produced since the 16th century. Nuri means “coating”. Nakaya Fountain Pen Company artists work with a Wajima-based company for the urushi finishes for their pens. The lacquer work is a painstaking, labor-intensive process. It takes a couple of months of expert craftsmanship to build up the urushi finish by hand on the ebonite base of a Nakaya fountain pen.

The Piccolo Cigar rests on a Pocket Moleskine on my lap. Since the pen does not have a clip, it has a tendency to roll on flat surfaces. One of these days I might get a roll stopper for it like this one. I’d like a horse or a cat.

More than a functional object, it is a work of art. It is a marvel of Japanese engineering and design. With my Nakaya, I feel I can take over the world. Or, at the very least, stylishly make notes on how to get it done.

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frankenpen; or, a pen reborn

Oh joy of joys! A frankenpen for my very own from frankenpen creator Tom Overfield!

The term “frankenpen” is used by fountain pen collectors to refer to a pen that incorporates parts from other pens – say, a cap or a barrel. The prefix “franken-” comes from the fictional monster cobbled together by Dr. Frankenstein.

Tom, an IT expert and a FP user and collector, makes entire pens from vintage Sheaffer parts. Like works of art, his creations have titles or names. This is “Thinenstein”. It has other siblings, all Sheaffer Snorkels – the first one he made was called “Frankensnork”, followed by “Son of Frankensnork” and “Bride of Frankensnork”, and all in the collections of Filipino penfriends.

Thinenstein is made from Thin Model (TM) parts and has a Touchdown fill system and a Triumph nib. The parts are of different colors – the cap burgundy, the barrel blue, the end cap green, the section dark amber.

“Sheaffer TMs were made for only a few years,” wrote Tom in an accompanying note. A Penspotters article says that the TM pens were introduced in 1950 and were fitted with the Touchdown system until the switch to the Snorkel filling system in 1952. For the bodies of their pens, Sheaffer used Radite (celluloid) until 1948, then brought in a new synthetic cast resin called “Fortical”.


Thinenstein’s section is a translucent or “visulated” dark amber plastic, which could not be used later on with the Snorkel “because of the need to house the Snorkel tube.”


The 14k two-tone gold Triumph nib is a marvel of design and engineering. It is a firm and sturdy nail, without the slightest hint of flex, making it more than robust enough for daily use.  Slightly upturned at the tip like a Turkish slipper, it lays ink in a consistent line.


It is is steady, reliable writer, one that can be counted on to perform day in and day out.

Its appeal also lies in its origin. Made from rare, old, and unusual but discarded parts joined to create an object of function that is at the same time an original work of art, Thinenstein is a perfect road warrior, combining the charm of vintage things, the attraction of beauty and exclusivity, and the practicality of performance.

Thank you very much, Tom, for this token of friendship that I will always treasure!

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