Posts Tagged ‘thomas overfield’

cheer up pens

Pen friends show each other love with – pens. Leigh and TAO cheered me up with these pink beauties, both unavailable in Manila.

Rotring is a brand familiar to many Filipinos. Countless engineering students buy their drafting pens and related products. This German brand also makes reliable school and workhorse fountain pens commonly used in Europe.

The Rotring Altro (from TAO) was released in the 1980s and came in pink, yellow, burgundy, and other colors. Its ribbed barrel is non-slip and sturdy hard plastic, able to withstand flinging into a rucksack after a day at school. This one has a  medium nib, but writes like a Parker fine, and glides smoothly over paper. The nib is steel, and rigid as a concrete nail.

It can take a small cartridge and have room for a spare. A long Waterman cartridge would fit, for those who want more ink than a short cart can store.

The cap bears “Rotring Altro” and “W. Germany” markings. The clip is metal wire, like a bent paper clip with a tube of plastic on the tip. The pen looks coral in these images because of the low light conditions, but the actual color is Barbie pink.

Herlitz is another German brand. Founded in 1904 and based in Berlin, it manufactures paper and school and office supplies, among them a line of fountain pens. The my*pen line comes in cheerful two-color combinations – fuschia and orange, light and dark blue, light and dark green, and this pink and white baby.

Another friend, Clem, calls her white Lamy Safari her “Stormtrooper” pen. This one (from Leigh), on the other hand, reminds me of Hello Kitty Darth Vader. Like most, if not all, affordable modern pens, the nib is steel without a hint of flex. The pink inset is soft rubber and makes gripping it easy. This one has an M-nib, but lays a  juicier and wetter line than the Rotring Altro, much like the M-nibs of other brands.

The rest of the barrel is ridged hard plastic. The cap has an unusual design that reminds me of, well, Hello Kitty Darth Vader’s helmet.

The Rotring Altro and Herlitz my*pen are dependable road warriors that will complement any pen fancier’s lineup for daily use.

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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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