Posts Tagged ‘sheaffer’

sheaffer targa matte black

Knowing that I collect fountain pens, and that my favorites ones are vintage and those that belonged to other people, my stepfather sent me one of his.

It’s a classic matte black Sheaffer Targa, circa ’80s, with the distinctive  inlaid nib design executed in 14 karat gold.

The tassies at both ends are plain black. The weight and heft are just right, and the pen remains well-balanced even when posted. This is the regular-size version, not the slim, and is comfortable to hold and write with for extended periods.

According to this source, this pen could be a “Sheaffer Targa version 4, 1003 Matte Black second edition.”

The small photo above shows the parts: barrel; nib, section, and Skrip cartridge; and cap with clip.

The elegance of its design and the quality of materials used make this a timeless pen, one for all seasons.

But its superpower lies in its nib.

Writing sample of Sheaffer Targa matte black on Kokuyo notebook, J. Herbin Lie de The ink.

On creamy Kokuyo paper, the nib glided here and there like skating on glass. There were no skips, starts, nor hiccups at any point of the writing process. If there is such a thing as a nib that “disappears” into the writing experience, becoming an extension of your hand to convey your innermost thoughts onto paper, this is it – the Sheaffer Targa inlaid nib.

 All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed for sharpness and color.

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daily art: essay-a-day

Inspired by Summer Pierre’s one-page story writing exercise, I started an essay-a-day daily art project, a diary-slash-creative non-fiction effort.

Summer’s method of using keyword flashcards to choose a topic is interesting but I’m too lazy to make flashcards. I suppose instead of flashcards that I’d have to carry around, I could flip through a book and point to a word.

For now I rely on serendipitous random happenstance of whatever floats to the surface of my mind when faced with a blank sheet of paper, though I do have a theme going on now; all the pieces start with “In [add name of city].”

Here’s my second entry in a pocket plain Moleskine.

Materials: vintage Sheaffer Agio fountain pen inked with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Derwent Coloursoft pencils.

I follow Summer’s rules of writing whatever comes first to mind and no editing. The length of the piece is constrained by the size of the page, although I’ve done a two-page piece.

I posted the picture above on Instagram and Twitter, and tweeted a link to Summer’s article. That got a retweet and a favorite from Summer herself! (Follow her on Twitter @summerpierre).

I asked if she didn’t mind that I adopted her idea.

Her reply? “@jennyortuoste of course not! I am THRILLED you took to it!”

Art is global and knows no boundaries. 

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sheaffer targa 1005

Meet my colleague Noy’s heirloom pen. It was given to him by his father over the holidays, when Noy asked if there was a fountain pen around he could use as a sign pen at work. His father gave him this one. Noy took it to me one morning to check out.

I was impressed by how pristine it was. There was no ink discernible on the nib or within the barrel or cap. Before inking, I flushed the nib and fill system. The water remained undiscolored. Then I realized – IT WAS UNUSED. Mint condition, save for a few rust spots on the barrel.

After some research at Penspotters, I identified the pen as a Sheaffer Targa 1005, circa 1985. I knew Rick Conner’s site would have the answer.

The clip has a white dot; both top and bottom tassies are black enamel. The cap and barrel are gold electroplate, perhaps 23k.

The nib is the typical upturned-tip associated with the Sheaffer Targa. It’s a 14k fine, but I keep comparing the Western nibs to the Japanese so to my mind this is a Japanese medium .

It uses an aerometric fill, very convenient and easy to use – just dip and squeeze until no bubbles appear.

It had feed issues and would not go even after being inked with black Parker Quink. I inserted a business card several times between nib and feed, a trick taught me by Leigh which has helped me save many a pen here and abroad, and it got going.

This handsome pen is a buttery-smooth wet writer, perfect for Noy to sign any peace treaties, declarations of independence, and attendance forms that may cross his desk.

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caution: pens at work

Because we fountain-pen enthusiasts can’t get enough of pen pron, here are more images of pens at the racetrack. These were taken at various times last year, some with a Nikon D-60, others with a Nokia cellphone camera, hence the disparity in image quality. Still, they will at least give a look at the context in which I usually play with my pens – when I’m commentating the Santa Ana Park races every other weekend.

The pink pen is a Sheaffer Agio from TAO, who saw it at a shop or flea market somewhere around this time last year. It’s got an F nib, and is perfect fit for me all around (thanks again, TAO!). It’s a reliable daily warrior. The blue is a Pilot Vanishing Point with a Binderized crisp italic nib from Leigh. A fascinating pen, it will have its own blog post later on. The same goes for the two urushi Nakaya Piccolos – the black from TAO, the reddish-black from Leigh.

The older models of the Pilot VP were called “capless” since this model doesn’t have a cap; the nib retracts in and out like some ballpoint pens.

A closer look shows where the nib emerges from. Since it is a crisp italic, it takes some getting used to, with the sharp edges snagging on paper. But with care and practice, wonderful calligraphic effects can be coaxed from the nib.

The black Nakaya and the Sheaffer Agio on a racing program.

The sharp, gold nibs of the Nakayas: the black on top has a medium nib, the kuro-tamenuri below carries a stock flexible fine.

A writing sample by Ik. The Vista she refers to is the Microsoft OS, not the Lamy!

My workhorses are the Lamys – a Raspberry AL-Star (top) and a Vista.

A close-up of the Lamy Raspberry AL-Star’s F nib.

From the top: Aluminum AL-Star, Pink Safari, Vista, and Raspberry. The latter is showing up orange in this image; its true color is reddish.

Pens and writing samples.

Holding the pens up in front of the TV monitor displaying the races. Behind the TV are a broadcast camera and Kino-flo lights. On the left side of the picture is a Starbucks “Philippines” tumbler, most likely drained of coffee by the time this picture was taken.

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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”.

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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.”

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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.

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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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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!

taste more:

an unusual sheaffer

In the beginning was the box.

And the box was good.

Lo, inside the box was yet another box.

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And within the second box reposed a thing of surpassing beauty.

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Verily, verily, I say unto thee, mine eyes have not beheld such in this lifetime, yet perhaps in the ages to come, shall another come forth to amaze and astound.

Of exceedingly rare and wondrous beauty it is, its outer skin of silver like the burnished wings of a dove, likewise patterned intricately in gilt, its point of gold.

Yea, unless mine eyes deceive me or my knowledge be false, its sharp nib is of the type named Triumph by its makers, created of the finest fourteen-karat gold, encircled by a band of azure, its section of ebony black, marked with mysterious symbols that none but the enlightened or adept may comprehend.

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And it came to pass that it was delivered into mine hands by a man enamoured of horse racing, Jowell Tan, as an heirloom of his house, to cherish and uphold as a singular specimen of its kind. Unto him I give thanks and unceasing gratitude, and so wilt my descendants unto the tenth generation.

Yet its true name is unknown. Unless one shall step forth and say “It is called thus,” or another, “Nay, this is the name and provenance of it,” I shall call it after the style proposed by mine wise and venerable teacher, the Rabbi Butch, who bestowed upon it the name ”the fishscale Sheaffer”.

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Though the mountains fall, and seas rise, and heavens crumble, my tongue shall declare to all its fairness; for it hath no blemish, from the tip of its cap to the tassie at the bottom.

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Not only shall its comeliness be praised, but its usefulness withal, for it writeth exceedingly fine, and taketh ink without leaks, and performeth as well as it looketh.

And therefore hath the Rabbi Butch proclaimed its condition “mint”.

Yea, verily it shall be my mainstay and my delight, and assist me in my tasks as a scribe. And success and impressive penmanship will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in joy and continued employment forever.

taste more:

well-balanced sheaffers

Back from the talyer (AKA Luis Store, 375 Escolta, Manila) are two Sheaffer Balance fountain pens from Leigh. Various Internet sources say that these particular models – the Jet Black Lady (or Junior) and the Golden-Brown Striated - were released in 1936-1939.

Upon the nib of the Jet Black pen are engraved the words “Sheaffer’s 3 Made in USA”; it is a very fine nib, perhaps an extra-fine. The Golden Brown Striated Balance bears a Sheaffer’s Lifetime nib with its own serial number; I’d say it’s a fine nib.

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The nibs of both pens are in good condition;; I just brought them to Terrie and Rose Pua of Luis Store for sac replacement as these pens are lever-fills and the rubber sacs had expired over time.

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Manufacturer’s information on the barrels

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Not all pens bore the trademark white dot

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“Visulator” windows are close to the nibs; threads are for the caps, which screw on

At seventy years old, these beautiful pens still function, and are a marvel of classic and timeless design with their tapered caps and tails. As links to the past, they evoke images of ladies in bob haircuts or marcelled hair and gowns with low-cut backs, lounging in Art Deco settings, smoking cigarettes in holders, or penning love letters to their swains.

Women, perhaps, like my own maternal grandmother (Beatriz Ledesma Lacson), shown here in a photograph from the 1930s. I can just see her with one of these pens in hand, dashing off acceptance notes to amigas for a supper or carnival ball invitation or inking dedications on the back of photos like this.

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This is why I collect – and use – fountain pens. Would you keep a Bic for seventy years? Could you still use it? Would you want to?

taste more:

ink in the blood

It was the first-ever, as far as we knew, meeting of fountain pen collectors in the Philippines – at least, of this batch of friends belonging to the online communities Fountain Pen Network and PhilMUG. For years, several of them had contact only by email or on online forums discussing their particular mania. On July 5, Saturday, in a peaceful home in UP Campus, they gathered with their pens and ink to meet and share.

Fountain pens are virtually unknown now in the Philippines – ask any person below the age of twenty and you’ll get a glazed stare – but before ballpoints came into being, in the 1940s to mid-1950s, FPs ruled.

I belong to this peculiar tribe for whom the process is as important as the end result. It is easier to write with a ballpoint, but nothing compares to the feel of a pointed steel or gold fountain pen nib sliding over the paper, laying down ink almost like a brush. The words seem painted on, elevating the mundane activity of scribbling notes into an art.

Older collectors remember using FPs in their youth, mostly Parkers and Sheaffers; for them, it’s often a matter of nostalgia and reliving the past. Younger enthusiasts are drawn to vintage artifacts redolent of a history they never experienced; for them, old is new and for that reason, desirable. Using FPs in this age of gel pens sets one apart. How many people do you know still use FPs everyday?

One of them is University of the Philippines professor Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr., PhD. Host of this penmeet, he is a multi-awarded writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, and screenplays. He has won, at last count, 16 Palanca literary awards. Perhaps a hundred or more pens reside in his pen cases and “junk box” (a red felt-lined wooden chest).

“Welcome to the first Philippine Fountain Pen Collector’s meeting!” Seated: Beng Dalisay, Carlos Abad Santos. Standing: George, Robert, Butch Dalisay, Leigh Reyes, Eliza, Pep, Jay, Chito, Butch, and Iñigo.

Another enthusiast is Leigh Reyes, creative director of  a prominent advertising agency. Her collection is unrivaled, containing premier brands Nakaya, Oldwin, Visconti, and Omas, to mention just a few.

I had met Leigh several times before, to acquire ink and vintage pens from her stash. The last time I saw Butch was in 1985, when I was a student of his English 5 class at UP Diliman. (He was one of my three favorite professors – the others were Dr. Michael Tan, anthropologist and columnist; and the late Rene O. Villanueva, also a Palanca-award winning writer and literary icon.) I received my invitation to this gathering from Butch. It seems he had Googled “fountain pen Philippines” or something similar and was led to this blog.

It was my first time to meet the others. After the initial frost had thawed, they welcomed me with genuine warmth into their circle, pressing pens into my hand to try, passing bottles of ink for my inspection.

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Pep says something to Caloy that makes him smile: Leigh examines a pen’s nib; others “test-drive” the pens lying around.

Beng Dalisay (Butch’s wife) is not an FP collector, but remembers using them as a young student. “We used Parkers and Sheaffers,” she recalls. An accomplished artist, she prefers watercolors as her medium. Beng also restores and maintains artworks in museums and private collections. “We will soon be working on the Botong Francisco mural in Manila City Hall,” she says. A collector too – of tins and bottles – she knows the fierce and often uncontrollable craving that can overcome a  true enthusiast, and nods indulgently as we debate stiff versus flexible nibs, bulletproof against water-based inks.

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Leigh answers a question while Butch roots through his mahiwagang junk box.

There is a particular etiquette in this culture that we instinctively practice, or it could be a result of years of “good manners and right conduct” teaching about respect for another’s property. It is this – that pens are passed to another person almost reverently,as if they were religious objects. If the pen is heavy, like Jay’s silver and tan herringbone patterned Faber-Castell, two hands are used to present it to another. Infinite care is taken when removing the cap – it could be the kind that screws on, and fie on the one who tugs! Pens removed from a case are, after careful use, returned to their proper slot or passed back to the owner. They are not left lying around unless by the owner himself. Ink bottles, too, are painstakingly opened; ink has a tendency to pool in the cap, and no one wants to spill a difficult-to-obtain twenty-dollar bottle of French-made J. Herbin.

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Iñigo watches Leigh write in her flowing calligraphy; Caloy surveys a feast of fountain pens.

At some point during the festivities, several of us pull out our Moleskines. Caloy asks Leigh to customize his with her elegant lettering. Elai and I clamor, “Mine too!” Leigh good-naturedly picks up a fountain pen loaded with light brown ink, and writes quickly, without hesitation. Our names, embellished with swirls and flourishes, float from the italic nib and lie like butterflies on the creamy yellow paper.

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Leigh’s pens, notebook, and inks; Butch smiles as he uncovers more pens.

“Jenny.” I hear Butch’s voice and snap to attention. “Sir?” My response is reflexive; he will have my respect as my professor no matter how many years have elapsed since we were in a classroom. He hands me a pen. “For you, since you were my former student.” It is a black vintage Sheaffer Balance dating back to the 1940s, he says. I melt. My hands close around the pen and I stammer my thanks.

Butch does not realize, I think, how special the gift is, how his sudden impulse has profoundly stirred me. Not only because he is famous, and it will be a treasured souvenir from a literary lion; but because he was my teacher, the gift is significant as a reminder of a shared past and a mentoring that deeply influenced my writing.

One blue-book exercise he gave us was to describe a peso coin. “Be more specific and imaginative when you describe something! Look carefully at both sides and write down all you can discern.” His instructions forced me to use not just my eyes but also the vision of the mind to explore objects and concepts, employing uncommon words to provide the reader a fresh experience. “Resist cliches!” he said, so since then I have avoided them like the plague.

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Part of Leigh’s carefully-selected collection includes fountain pens by Nakaya, Sailor, Platinum, Pelikan, Oldwin, Danitrio, Stipula, Visconti, Omas, and the ubiquitous Parker and Sheaffer. She also owns ink in a vast array of colors, with brands like Caran d’Ache, J. Herbin, Private Reserve, Noodler’s, and Diamine.

George talks about his other passion – collecting and restoring vintage typewriters. I lean forward to listen; anything that makes alphabet marks on paper is interesting. George speaks: “Royal, Blickensderfer, Underwood,” and Butch nods sagely.

I look around and see that everyone has ink marks – on their hands, forehead, temples. Leigh rubs my chin. “Ink?” I ask, and she smiles. Caloy has a streak of green on the right temple; George, on the forehead. Butch’s fingers are a riot of color, as are Jay’s and Iñigo’s. We are true FP fanatics, I think, the stains worn as an emblem of pride. No one tries very hard to remove the marks.

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Front: Leigh, Butch, Jenny; Back: Iñigo, Jay, Eliza, George, Caloy.

One by one the penfriends depart. Chito is first to go. Butch from Baguio follows, saying, “I have a long drive. See you again soon.” “When is our next meeting?” George asks, almost plaintively. “Next month?” Butch says, “How about in six months, or when we have something new to show?”

I ride to Katipunan with Caloy. A well-traveled intellectual who is a PhD Economics candidate at UP, he offers to share shipping costs from PenGallery if I order. We have just met; but the ink in his veins calls to mine and thus we are no longer strangers.

We all look forward to the next meeting, the next sharing of custom-ground nibs and the latest colors of ink that are “not black!” as Leigh says. Anyone who is enamoured of the same is welcome to join. May the tribe increase!

taste more:

sailor “21″ and sheaffer

Meet the newest inhabitants of my pencase – a Sailor “21″ long-short filled with Private Reserve Black Cherry, and a black lever-fill Sheaffer inked with Private Reserve Naples Blue.

Their nibs (below) are interesting: the Sailor’s is 21k gold, while the Sheaffer has a heart-shaped hole. Both are fine nibs – as in F – though the Sheaffer might be an XF. There is some degree of nib creep, though I don’t know if that’s from the ink or from some peculiarity of the nibs.

Sailor_blacksheaffer_nibs

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