Posts Tagged ‘fully booked’

the pelikan demon

Pelikan is a German brand of fine writing instruments established in 1838 by chemist Carl Hornemann, who initially concocted and sold inks and pigments in 1832. Another chemist, Gunther Wagner, took over the company in 1871 and adopted his family’s emblem, the pelican, as the company symbol in 1878.

In 1996, most of the company shares were acquired by a Malaysian holding firm. However, Pelikan pens are still made at the company plant 30 miles east of Hanover, Germany.

Pelikan continues its centuries-long tradition of quality and craftsmanship with the creation of limited edition pieces such as the 205 Traditional series Blue Demonstrator.

The Pelikan 205 Traditional series Blue Demonstrator (center) with a Sailor Pro-Colors Violet (top) and a Pilot Custom 74 Demonstrator (below).

Demonstrators, as their name suggests, allow you to see the mechanisms of the pens, as well as how much ink you have left, ensuring that you won’t run out in the middle of a sentence or a particularly effusive flourish.

Peli 205 blue demon writing sample in a Yeah! notebook with Diamine Cerise ink.

The pelican-beak-shaped clip, fittings, and ornamental rings are chromium-plated, with a built-in converter-style fill system, also called a plunger mechanism. It’s comfortably sized at 4.14 inches long capped, 5.13 inches long posted.

Available nib sizes are EF, F, M, and B. This one’s an F. The nib is hand-crafted and hand-polished stainless steel, strong and robust, yet with a hint of spring that allows a bit of play in line variation.

Pelikan pens are not distributed in Manila. Try buying online.

The pen is filled by dipping in an ink bottle and twisting the plunger mechanism from the bottom. This makes ink stain the section (the area just after the nib), which is why many collectors, such as myself, dislike inking demonstrators. But it looks pretty when filled.

The blue Peli demon rests on a Yeah! notebook, purchased at National Bookstore in Rockwell. A Moleskine knock-off – see elastic along the side – it is inexpensive and well-made, the paper creamy with no feathering and minimal show-through. Yeah!

The blue Peli demon and a Parker Jade Duofold rest on a Green Apple notebook (review to come in a future post) as they survey the shelves at the Boni High Street Fully Booked store.

The Peli’s clip is beak-shaped and has eyes (left). The Parker Duofold’s nib is gold and flexy. More on that next time.

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basic fountain pens 1: beginner’s guide

Wella - a friend from college who turned 27 some weeks ago (*wink*) - asked me to write an introduction to fountain pens as she is thinking of getting into them as well. While I don’t feel qualified to write a definitive and comprehensive beginner’s guide about this interesting and complex topic, I can at least share my personal experiences.

To begin with, as a writer and aesthete of sorts, I’ve always been fascinated by things that make marks on paper - all sorts of writing instruments, typewriters, brushes, seals and rubber stamps – and the things that make the marks – ink, paint, seal paste, and so on.

Over the years, I became more interested in vintage and antique things over modern things because of the historical  and aesthetic aspects. I find a fountain pen with its gleaming, pointed nib more visually appealing than a ballpoint pen, and found my interest concentrating on FPs.

Fountain Pens in the Philippines

However, in the Philippines, where I live, there isn’t much of a fountain pen culture. According to older folks who are now in their mid-50′s and older, usage of FPs was prevalent in schools until they were in high school, when ballpoints became cheaper and more readily available.

A 62-year old friend of mine told me of he and his elementary schoolmates stabbing the nibs of their Parkers and Sheaffers into their desks when they were bored. They eagerly embraced BP use later on as FPs, he said, “leaked, and my mom would get mad when I’d come home with ink stains all over my uniform.” (Apparently he never figured out that if he didn’t have the habit of stabbing his pen nibs into desks, perhaps his pens wouldn’t leak.)

FPs were also de riguer in some Philippine law schools and in some accountancy programs until perhaps fifteen years ago, though there are still a few law schools today, like Far Eastern University, that recommend FPs to their students.

Still, in the mainstream, few Filipinos have even heard of FPs, much less used them. I first learned of FPs as a child through reading and movies; I don’t recall actually seeing an FP being used by anyone in my family.

In college, I finally got myself an inexpensive Parker Jotter from National Bookstore. All I did was go to the pen section, browse, and get something I could afford.

But it wasn’t until a couple of years back that my interest really grew, when the choices of affordable FP brands available in readily accessible malls and chain bookstore expanded. Fully Booked began carrying Inoxcrom pens; they were made of plastic with steel nibs, and had colorful and attractive graphics.

The pink pens are Inoxcrom from the Jordi Labanda line; the red FP is a Pilot 78G and one of the best starter pens ever, available online for about $12. All three have steel nibs.

Enter the power of the Internet. After blogging about the demise of one of my early Inoxcrom Jordi Labandas, I received an email from University of the Philippines professor Dr. Butch Dalisay inviting me to a gathering of FP collectors at his home, the first such meeting ever.

Upon meeting other collectors, I was exposed to more brands, kinds of nibs, modern and vintage pens, and a wide assortment of ink. The more I learned about FPs, the more I wanted to collect, and because of my newfound knowledge, I was able to discover what I really wanted, which are vintage pens, mainly 1930s Sheaffers and Parkers; pens with flexible nibs, whether vintage or modern; and Japanese pens.

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Vintage Sheaffer Balances. All are from the 1930s except the red Tuckaway in the center. I love ’30s pens for their Art Deco design, flexible and responsive nibs, and lovely celluloid barrels.

Fountain Pen Facts

You need to know that:

1. FPs differ from BPs in that they have nibs. The nibs come in a wide variety of types. Referring to the width of the line they lay down, there are the extra-fine (EF or XF), fine (F), medium (M), and broad (B) nibs. Some brands such as Pelikan carry double-broad and triple-broad nibs. The nibs of Japanese brands such as Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum tend to be ”one size smaller” – their M is a Western F, their XF a Western XXF, and so on.

Nibs come in gold, steel, and other metal alloys and are generally pointed in shape and have a ball of iridium on the tip for strength. But there are other shapes. Stubs are nibs with the iridium gone because the shape of the tip is flat across. Italics are pretty much the same but with sharper edges; they are used mainly for calligraphy. Obliques are cut at an angle.

Nibs may also differ as to whether they are flexible, semi-flexible, or firm. Modern nibs are usually very firm – “nails”, in collector parlance – since users most likely will have grown up as members of the BP generation. Some modern nibs are flexible – pens from Nakaya and Danitrio, and Pilot’s Falcon nib come to mind.

Semi-flex nibs give a bit of line variation – examples are the Pelikan M1000 and the Sailor Professional Gear -  but the best results in that regard may be had from true flex nibs. Many vintage pens, especially those from the ’40s and earlier, have flexible nibs because they were often made of 14K gold, and gold nibs tend to be more flexible than steel. In addition, antique pens were designed to flex to accommodate use of the Spencerian and Copperplate styles of handwriting.

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Two of my favorite flexy pens – a Moore vest pen, and a Sheaffer black hard rubber ringtop, meant to be worn by ladies around their neck on a chain. Notice the line variation with the Sheaffer.

2. FPs, unlike BPs, are refillable with ink from a bottle. For green advocates, they are a better choice as they are not disposable. Modern fill systems use a cartridge - a plastic tube pre-filled with ink is snapped inside the pen – or converter - also a plastic tube but with a twister-thingy that allows you to draw ink up through the nib. A converter is better since it is re-used over and over, but a cartridge can also be refilled using a syringe. Vintage pens have a variety of filling systems ranging from lever-fill, button-fill, etc. Stick to c/c (cartridge-converter) pens at the start for less mess.

Collecting Fountain Pens

If you would like to start a collection of fountain pens, you might want to:

1. Ask friends or family for their old fountain pens. Chances are there are pens gathering dust in some drawer or box somewhere, and your relatives and friends will only be too glad to pass them on to you.

2. Check out the fountain pens for sale at office supply stores. In the Philippines, try:

a) National Bookstore for the Parker Jotter, Vector, and other models that might catch your fancy. They also carry Aurora, Waterman, Inoxcrom, Cross, and Rotring. Inoxcrom make the most affordable kinds – plastic cartridge-fill pens suitable for children, or for anyone looking for a sturdy daily road warrior.

b) Luis Pen Store is the only fountain pen store in the country. Established in the late 1940s, it’s still near its original location on Escolta Avenue, Manila, near Sta. Cruz Church. There you’ll find NOS Parkers, Sheaffers, and Pilots from the ’70s, as well as newer models of those brands and Cross and Mont Blanc. They also do FP repair, do engraving, and sell Parker Quink ink.

c) Office Warehouse has cheap and fun Schneiders – the Zippi and other models.

d) Fully Booked carries Inoxcrom.

e) Office supplies stores in Recto, near the university belt, carry NOS (new old stock) Pilot Japanese pens from the ’70s – terrific buys for their reliability and beauty, and the antique factor as well. You might also find Lamy pens.

Try checking fountain pen sellers online for modern pens, and eBay for vintage pens.

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Three 1940s Parker Vacumatics with their pretty striped celluloid barrels; a Parker 51, iconic for its hooded nib; a Parker 45; a (restored) Parker 75 Milleraies, the pen that started my collection; a Parkette; a red Esterbrook; and a gold Wahl set of refillable pencil and fountain pen.

3. Research online about fountain pens and join collectors’ forums. Wiki has this informative article on fountain pens. Check out Fountain Pen Network and join the Fountain Pen Network Philippines Yahoo! groups. For more information and pictures, visit Leigh Reyes’ blog, My Life as a Verb; Thomas Overfield’s Bleubug; and Dr. Butch Dalisay’s Pinoy Penman.

Getting Started

Getting started is easy. Just go to your favorite pen place and get the pen that you like best that you can afford.

I’d suggest you start with something inexpensive  – say, a cartridge-fill Parker Jotter or Vector with a steel nib – to get used to the nib and the way it lays ink on paper, which is different from the way you’d use a BP. FPs need very little pressure to lay a dark line (this is assuming you are using dark ink), whereas for BPs, you have to press hard to achieve  a darker line, making FPs terrific for writing for extended periods. In addition, FPs don’t score the back and succeeding pages of your notebook, unlike BPs.

You also need to find out what width of nib you prefer – F, M, or B? Get an inexpensive one of each kind, or try them out in the store first before buying. Testing an FP is done by “dipping” – dip the nib for a few seconds in ink, and doodle on paper.

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A Lady Sheaffer from the ’70s; various Pilots, including a Pilot E Script pen, a Pilot 77 from Luis Store in Escolta, a teal Pilot from Recto, and a red Pilot 78G from Shanghai; an orange Sailor Professional Gear Colors; and Japanese long-shorts from the ’70s – a Sailor, a Pilot, and a Platinum.

Don’t forget to buy bottled ink! Available in Manila are Parker Quink, Waterman, and Aurora inks (at National Bookstore). Online, look for J. Herbin, Private Reserve, Noodler’s, Diamine, Caran d’Ache, and Pilot, especially their Iroshizuku line.

And as you become more enamoured of using FPs, you’ll also need to look for “fountain-pen friendly paper”. (Fully Booked has a nice assortment of Moleskine, Paper Blanks, Grand Luxe, and Miquelrius. For local brands, Corona and Cattleya are great – smooth paper, won’t snag your nib, no ink feathering.) Happy hunting!

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jostein gaarder: sophie’s world

Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder’s bestselling book on philosophy, Sophie’s World, was published in 1991, yet it is still enjoying reprints and a spot on the Top Ten Bestsellers list at Fully Booked bookstore here in Manila.

Its appeal lies in its explanation of Western philosophical thought in terms young teenagers can understand. The book’s main character, Sophie, is a fourteen year old school girl in Norway. She receives lessons from a mysterious philosopher, Alberto Knox. First he sends them anonymously, then he later reveals himself as the plot unfolds.

Spoiler alert: Sophie and Alberto turn out to be characters imagined by one Albert Knag, who invents them in a book he has written for his daughter Hilde’s birthday.

The philosophical explanations are clear and comprehensible. Proceeding in a linear fashion through time, beginning with the Greeks all the way to Sartre in the modern day, it presents difficult concepts in simplified terms and relates them to each other in terms of influence.

Gaarder adds an underlying plot that has Sophie and Alberto attempting to break free from their creator Knag’s mind, with the help of Hilde. These parts contribute little to the flow and are best skipped. There is no mention of Eastern thought, a regrettable omission.

Still, it is significant as one of the best introductions to Western philosophy.

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sunday is for worship and flowers.

Every Sunday the kids and I attend the second service (Traditional) at Union Church of Manila. After each service (there are three), juice, coffee, and cookies are served in the Fellowship Hall. Second Service usually has the most attendees.

Fellowship Hall

My ministry is with the “First Friends”. I serve as a host in the UCM Sala, where I meet and greet newcomers, offering food and drinks. The Sala’s window looks out onto a garden.

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This is the left side of the Sala, a cozy little corner with a waterfall out the window.

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The entire room is long and very inviting. It’s often used for Bible Study and Small Discipleship Group meetings. It is where our Friday Small Group meets. (Do join us on Fridays at 7pm.)

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After worship, the kids and I have lunch at a mall. Today it was Zaifu at Powerplant, our “home mall”. We had our usual ebi tempura, tamago maki, and dynamite roll.

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When the belly-growling had subsided, off we went to our “mother ship” to browse through the latest books and pens. My latest purchase from this store (just yesterday) was The Lost Ark of the Covenant by Prof. Tudor Parfitt.

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Next stop, the lobby - to gawk at the beautiful flower arrangements of a local ikebana society.

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Orchids, anthuriums, fronds, ferns, and foliage were all creatively displayed in earthen, ceramic, or wooden containers to best show off the beauty of nature.

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The more I look around, the more I see how wondrous are the things that God has made, and how much He loves us by heaping upon us blessing upon blessing.

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latest cheap FP acquisitions

So the kids and I dropped by Fully Booked at the Powerplant Mall today. Guess what I should see inside a glass case but an attractive display of Inoxcrom fountain pens? Among the selections were the latest mini Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, the new Jordi Labanda ballpoints (with the “ball” on the clicker), and two sets of the old (from two years ago) Jordi Labanda FP-and-BP set including one that looked exactly like my old one that died! (see previous post)

Both of the old sets on display were PINK. One set, as I said, in the exact same design and color as my old one (dark rose). The other set was light pink.

Now, I ask you, what are the odds of that happening? That of all the stock of items left over, that they would have the old design. Not only that,but that both remaining sets would be pink!

I think you know there was only one thing I could do, right? the stars in their courses laid down the destiny that these pens and I should meet. Who was I to argue? or to resist?

I also picked up an Inoxcrom kukuxumusu with an adorable pattern of hearts on its barrel. Of course it was pink too. Despite the medium nib (I prefer fine), it’s slim and short enough to suit me, while still having enough room in the barrel for a spare cartridge! Now that is what I call a good pen.

Kukuxumusu

It will go nicely with my teNeues “hearts” notebook that I got for Christmas.

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“Kukuxumusu”, according to ever-helpful Wikipedia, means “the flea’s kiss” in Euskara (Basque).

For Ik, I got this stripey ARdelaP as a reward for being rank #5 in class (up from #7 last grading period). She loves pens almost as much as I do. Congratulations, Ik, first on your academic achievement,and second on being a new “pen”-atic!

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Amazingly, the pens are cheaper here in Manila than in some places online. Each Jordi Labanda set of FP-and-BP went for P685 or US$16.70, that’s for a set of two pens, while online, a Jordi Labanda fountain pen alone goes for US$18! The kukuxumusu, US$6.95 as against US$10 online.

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my first moleskines!

I was elated yesterday when the kids saw that the Moleskine rack at Fully Booked was stocked.Finally, after months of waiting, I got the Ruled and Plain Notebooks that I’d wanted for so long.

By popular demand (meaning Alex and Ik), I opened the Ruled Notebook first. They wrote good wishes for me in the back pages.

I am so0o looking forward to writing kilometric sentences of deathless prose in my beautiful new Moleskine.

Aaaahhh…

It’s a feeling only a fellow enthusiast or collector of anything would understand…how some things are prized for their aesthetic qualities and intangible cachet rather than for their mere functionality.

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moleskine madness

I had seen them at Fully Booked (PowerPlant mall branch) early or middle of 2008 and thought they were lovely but way, way too expensive for a notebook. But I couldn’t get them out of my head; over the months I’d go back to the store, look at the display, and wonder whether I should finally get one or not.

I’m talking about Moleskines, the hip hot notebook that almost every creative person in the know is carrying around. Moleskines are touted as the notebook used by literary and art stars – Hemingway, Chatwin, Picasso.

“Moleskins” – notebooks with a cover of oilcloth-covered cardboard – have been around for over a hundred years and were made in France by a few select stationers until demand for the old-fashioned notebooks died. The last moleskin notebook maker, based in Tours, France, stopped making them in 1986.

In 1998, the Italian company Modo e Modo revived the old tradition and sold them under the trademark “Moleskine”. And that is how they are known to aficionados – writers, artists, other creatives, the intelligentsia, academics, scientists, and wannabes. Writer Neil Gaiman always carries one.

I must profess my profound admiration for the Modo e Modo marketing machine – from 30,000 in sales early on to more than 3 million now, their hype is certainly effective. Consumers feel that with a Moleskine they can channel the creativity of the artists and writers of the past who used similar notebooks. Farfetched idea, but it’s often observed in anthropology – “sympathetic magic”.

Googling the ‘Net, you’ll see a lot of references to Moleskines. They are used as planners by IT people using “GTD” (Getting Things Done) and other time-management methods after applying “moleskine hacks” (modifications). They are also popular as art albums, scrapbooks, for writing stories in, and as

Moleskines are also available at Powerbooks, but at present stocks are depleted everywhere. Wait till the first week of December to satisfy your Moleskine cravings.

They come in pocket and large sizes, with plain, ruled, squared, and watercolor paper (for the sketchbooks). There are also daily and weekly planners, as well as Japanese albums and memo pockets. The default color is black, but they issued a limited edition red planner for 2008, and not too long ago offered Shantung silk-covered variations in blue, red, green, and plum as part of their Van Gogh Museum collection. The colors do evoke the hues in the painter’s works.

They are expensive, but if you are an aesthete, or one who loves paper and pen, then you must have one. Or more.

I’d like to get two pocket notebooks – one plain and one ruled – and fill them in with words and drawings. Most likely my sketches will be of quilt blocks and quilt designs. The words, strung together, will form essays and other random ramblings.

I can’t wait to curl up with a cup of coffee, some paper, a fountain pen, and ink – with these tools I can create my own new world.

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