Tale of a Vandal Pen Collector: I’ll Take the Moon with a Wabbit

Over the years, there have been several entry level maki-e fountain pens that caught my attention. By the time I got around to seeking them out, these pens were inevitably discontinued. If they could be found, the pens often cost far more than their initial offerings.

Pens once available at a reasonable cost sometimes grow more expensive when they go out of production. Although, also true enough, sometimes these discontinued pens become deeply discounted. Often these discounted pens, however, no longer sport their original gold nibs but steel ones in their place. One can’t predict which way the prices will go.

And so, mindful of potential future regret—hmmmm, is that even possible?—I purchased a Platinum Kanazawa-Haku “The Moon and a Rabbit” fountain pen at a very good price. We do know how silly regret can be, especially when it comes to pens.

Platinum Kanazawa-Haku Rabbit/Moon 18K nib
Platinum Kanazawa-Haku The Moon and a Rabbit, 18K F nib

Kanazawa-Haku is a special art—it requires beating gold into into very thin sheets, then applying thin gold leaf to objects ranging from pottery to watches to clothing to buddhist alters. In Japan 99% of the craft is done in Kanazawa, and dates back to the 16th century.

Platinum released five versions of their Kanazawa-Haku fountain pens in 2012. (Platinum catalog #PTL-15000H.) The five pens are:

  • Moon and Rabbit
  • Red Mt. Fuji
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Goldfish
  • Cherry Blossom

The Kanazawa-Haku’s thin gold leaf pieces are applied by hand.

What makes the Kanazawa-Haku pens or any silk screened maki-e an entry level or at the “low-end” of the maki-e range?  The designs are machine produced with some hand-finishing applied. Perhaps just a single layer of lacquer is applied over the finished product. The pens are usually made of resin.

The Kanazawa-Haku pens are not the only entry level Platinum maki-e offerings, as there are  other silk screen printed pens in the catalog.  In fact there are many kinds of maki-e pens in the Platinum catalog.

The Danitrio Fellowship is an example of hand applied maki-e on an ebonite pen:

Danitrio Fellowship Fountain Pen
Danitrio Fellowship Fountain Pen

Differences between these two pens, other than the pen material and type of maki-e used? The crispness of the rabbit is not as crisp in detail as in the Fellowship leaves, as one example. There is real sparkling raden in the Fellowship maki-e. The Rabbit on the Platinum gives a hint of raden, a trick of the eye (or my eye) because the pen has none. The Rabbit and the purple flowers are flat in comparison to the Danitrio. My Danitrio has no metal furniture to detract from the artwork. The Platinum maki-e must compete with the clip, and various metal rings.

It’s not at all fair to compare these pens, is it? I do so only because people often ask about low-end vs higher-end maki-e. The pens are obviously different, yet I find great delight to be had in either type of maki-e fountain pen. “Delight” is “worth it.”

On its own merits the Platinum pen provides consistent writing pleasure, with a bonus of a lovely Rabbit running through the grass and flowers in the moon light.

Close-up of Rabbit
Close-up of Rabbit
Close-up of purple flowers.
Close-up of purple flowers. While I love the story of the rabbit on the moon, it was also this touch of purple that drew me to this pen.

The raised gold leaf on “The Moon and a Rabbit” gives a tactile aspect to the pen.  There’s also a hint of purple with three tiny flowers, and the simple, white rabbit which sparkles in a gold leaf outline. The pen’s gold leaf is not fragile, and touching the raised gold design doesn’t cause it to flake or ruin.

Having tried these rather spear shaped Platinum nibs before, I knew the nib alone would be worth the purchase. The Kanazawa-Haku pens come fitted with either a fine or a medium nib. The nibs are 18K, and pleasantly soft.

Platinum Kanazawa-Haku 18K F nib
Platinum Kanazawa-Haku 18K F nib, at work inked with Sailor Sei-Boku

IMHO, these spear shaped nibs have more in common with each other, across brands (Platinum, Pilot, Sailor), then they do within their own brands. That is, this nib is nothing like the one on a #3776 pen, but more like a spear shaped Sailor, Pilot, or even a generic spear shaped steel nib. I’ve found these nibs to be smooth writers. Some are soft like the 18K pictured above. Some are hard as nails.

The Moon and a Rabbit fountain pen weights and measurements:

  • weighs 22 grams – capped and inked with Platinum converter
  • weighs 15 grams – uncapped and inked with Platinum converter
  • 137mm closed
  • 124mm nib to barrel end (no cap)
  • 152mm posted
  • 13mm in diameter

To ink the pen, you need to use a Platinum converter or ink cartridge (yes, proprietary!). The converter or the cartridge are the same as those used for the Platinum #3776 and President series of fountain pens. An empty Platinum converter weighs 4 grams, and will hold .6ml of ink. A Platinum ink cartridge weighs 2 grams, and holds 1.1ml of ink.

Platinum does provide an adapter to use international ink cartridges with Platinum pens. I’ve tried the adapter once, and found it unsatisfactory. But I’m not much of a cartridge user. YMMV. Be aware the adapter, once in place, can sometimes be extremely difficult to remove.

My pen has been inked most frequently with Sailor Sei-Boku. Just because.

The Platinum Kanazawa-Haku has given my Pilot MYU 701 quite a run for the “best notetaking pen” title. Both pens have slip caps, write without fail, and have thin profiles.

Platinum Kanazawa-Haku, Pilot MYU701
Platinum Kanazawa-Haku, Pilot MYU701—these two pens get a lot of heavy use!

While I haven’t found the maki-e to be fragile, the lacquer on the resin barrel can scratch. I might have, uh, absently put my Moon/Rabbit pen in a pocket with something well I won’t say what it was, and the pen did come out with a bit of lacquer scratch. My Moon/Rabbit pen gets a lot of use.

Close up of inadvertent scratch. The pen does NOT scratch so easily. I had to try really hard to be stupid. Or maybe not so hard to be stupid?
Close up of inadvertent scratch. The pen does NOT scratch so easily. I had to be rather negligent to do this…

So… not a pocket pen in quite the same way as the sturdy Pilot MYU. However, the Platinum pen is still pretty hardy. I just make sure to carry it in my pen roll, or in a pocket all to its own.

Is this pen a keeper? Certainly.

As I continue to struggle with wrangling in the tiny pen hoard, it’s hard to say if the pen has a permanent place. The Moon and a Rabbit may be a fun pen “for now.”

[Of course, “struggle” = ridiculous pen problem, AKA not a real problem. ‘Tis a beautifully fun ponderation.]

More Photos

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Some Reading

English translations of the Japanese version of the Rabbit on the Moon story

Platinum Kanazawa-Haku Blog Posts
  • Goldfish, Leigh Reyes, 2012 Mar 4
  • Maki-e Pens, Ink Nouveau, 2012 Mar 4 – exquisite photos of the Kanazawa-Haku series by Brian Goulet
  • Cherry Blossoms, East West Everywhere, 2013 Mar 16
  • Cherry Blossoms, Ms Logica, 2013 Apr 15
  • Rabbit/Moon, Pen Shots and Thoughts, Jose Prieto, 2014 Jan 12
  • Anyone have a review of the Autumn Leaves or the Mt. Fuji version? Share your link in the comments!

Danitrio Fellowship Fountain Pen

Pilot MYU 701

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: What Remains

Current storage box with 9 pen slots.

There is no magic number of writing instruments, no magic bullet to relieve the desire to have things you don’t have, no magic pen to make you a better writer. No magic except in the creation of new worlds—lost in writing, pen to paper, or even fingers to keyboard.

For many of us, the search for the perfect nib and pen combination is a rabbit hole easily fallen into, and difficult to climb out of. Some of us enjoy the hunt more than the pens themselves. A few years ago, my thought was simple enough—to have a writing instrument that endured; something un-disposable. The answer seemed simple enough too—an inexpensive Esterbrook SJ. Naturally, complications ensued with additional preferences evolving: something not a lever-filler, something that could last more than four or five pages, and something more comfortable in my hand. Changing pens and focus over time from Esterbrooks to Pelikans to Conklins to Visconti Ragtimes to Wahl-Eversharps, including various squatters among them. Forgive me if I repeat myself from post to post, eh? *sigh*

Pens now gone top to bottom: Pelikan 150, Original Visconti Ragtime, Aurora Mini Optima, large Danitrio Cumlaude, Pelikan 200, vintage Pelikan 400s

Since the pen culling began, 2 pens have survived the last 3 years: a Levenger True Writer and an Edison Huron. The former a gift from my love, and the latter a gift to myself. In 2 years time, 3 additional pens arrived and have survived the downsizings: all Danitrio fountain pens. Two are urushi pens from maki-e artists and one is a out of production Italian celluloid model. Should it be any surprise the last 2 pens making the collection are an Edison of the Hakumin variety, and yet another urushi Danitrio?

To obtain the 4th Danitrio some modest sacrifice has been required. Gifts cannot be sacrificed. Gifts are connections to lovable people. Gifts will always, I hope, survive any crazy plans regarding re-homing pens. When I considered my cigar box goal of 9 pens, I did wonder about declaring my gift pens (the Levenger and a Sheaffer Tuckaway) un-countable. Or possibly counting 2 as 1 pen. The Tucky is so very tiny, you know.

Although an Edison Mina was once sacrified for the Hakumin Mina, no Edison was considered give-upable. Nor any Danitrio, despite my concern about the similarity of the base urushi between the Fellowship pen and the Short Octagon. Apparently it was not this similarity that was the true “problem” (because don’t ever forget these are pens we are talking about, not real problems). The problem was the heki-tamenuri Piccolo with its tiny c/c nature.

Did I love the Nakaya Piccolo more than I wanted this Danitrio pen? No. Nor did I love the PiloTWSBI, and the Pilot Decimo enough to spare them. The Nakaya’s absence is shocking some of you, n’est ces pas? But remember it has a tiny c/c nature that some of you adore, and some of us, well, don’t. Truthfully, I prefer Danitrio’s urushi. Plus the Danitrio allows me to “ED” it and fulfills the desire for “core writing pen” status. Okay, I could have reached 9 pens without adding a 4th Danitrio, but then the Nakaya’s sacrifice would have been in vain, no? Uh, right?

A simple way to find out how easy or painful it is to let a pen go is to write a classified ad with it. Two pens chastised me terribly when I did this:  the Sailor Realo and (shudder) the Sheaffer Balance. The Balance ad never saw the light of day, as I quickly remembered the folly of losing it. The Realo took a good 48 hours before that mistake was rectified. I do not love the Realo so much as I love writing with its delicious, smooth EF nib. While the Decimo has a comely, slim profile as a notetaking pen, the Realo seems a perfect notetaking pen despite its fatter, business-like profile. The cap can be quietly unscrewed in a dark performance hall, and it’s light enough to clip to my shirt when running errands. The PiloTWSBI was fun while it was here. Yet it was never seriously here for the long haul. The Nakaya, well, as I stated, there are other pens I love more.

One of the things I enjoy about the Danitrio and the Edison section of the tiny pen hoard, is knowing that my purchase (however small) impacts individuals involved in the pen making. There’s an artist behind my modest urushi Danitrios: Tatsuya Todo (his signature is Kosetsu). Behind Edison is Brian Gray and his family. Ernest Shin behind Hakumin.

And so the tiny pen hoard shifts again to include (soon) 4 Danitrios, 2 Edisons, 1 Levenger, 1 Sailor, and 2 vintage Sheaffers. That adds up to 10 pens. As close to 9 as I believe I’m going to get. A pen is always inked, so only 9 others need to lay in the cigar box at any one time, right? In fact 2 pens are usually inked (as I write this post, the Cumlaude and the Realo). The new line re-drawn to 10 pens. Yes, 10 feels good. The perfect nib to pen combination? Well, that’s a future post.

Beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life. The Beauty of Life (1880)—William Morris

PW Retrospective:  Past Header Photos

From 2009 top to bottom: Bexley Sherazade, Pelikan M200, Visconti Ragtime LE, Aurora Mini Optima
From early 2010 top to bottom: Eversharp Skyline, Visconti Ragtime ver 2
From mid 2010 left to right:  Edison Huron, J. Herbin ink bottle, Wahl, Wahl ringtop, Visconti Ragtime LE, Visconti Caravel, Sailor ink bottle. All sitting on G. Lalo Verge de France stationery.
From 2011 top to bottom: Sailor ink bottle, Nakaya Piccolo, Edison Mina, Platinum Preppy all sitting on Rhodia No. 18 notepad.
From mid 2012 top to bottom: Hakumin Edison Mina, Sheaffer Streamlined Balance, Edison Huron

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: State of the Hoard

Current state of the collection

Earlier this year I drew the line at the number of pens to keep at nine. Curiosity about Platinum nibs eeked me over the line. Plus there was the second Danitrio Cumlaude that came my way. I’ve contemplated a lot about retreating to last year’s goal of twelve pens. I’m at eleven plus one Edison/Hakumin Urushi Kobo that’s been in the making since April. I’m feeling a little like the old woman living in the shoe. I know, I know, quite laughable, isn’t it? Look at all my cool pens!

I’ve learned my collection comfort level, however. Nine pens or less means all pens get used without neglect. Nine pens or more means pens get neglected and sit without use and that causes me discomfort. Weird, huh? Of course that’s my truth and I don’t expect it to be yours. The number could be five, yet that would deplete some of the fun and diversity of the collection.

Two pens in the collection are very similar:  the Danitrio Fellowship and the Danitrio Short Octagon. The base urushi is the same: tame-murasaki. Both bear the same artist signature. Of course one has gorgeous maki-e. I’ve thought about letting the Short Octagon go. I use it more often, though, than the Fellowship pen because I worry a bit over ruining the maki-e. Then again, both are urushi pens so why give one up?

The cigar box holds nine pens. How to take the eleven plus one-not-yet-here back down to nine? Each pen has its merits and it is not easy to decide. Brutally putting emotion aside, cartridge converter pens that do not convert well to eyedropper mode become the criteria.

The collective wisdom in the fountain pen community is that metal sections will corrode with prolonged exposure to ink. Four pens have metal sections: the two Platinum, the Nakaya and one of the Cumlaudes.  I seriously considered modifying these pens to accommodate eyedropper mode. The idea is to shield the metal sections by painting them with nail polish and using a cut off converter for the inside of the section. (See the FPN thread where this method is discussed.) I tested the idea on one pen, using silicon grease instead of nail polish. (I figured I could commit to nail polish later.) Although the conversion worked quite well, it seemed a lot of work to make a pen into something it is not meant to be.

And so, the two sweet Platinums and the original style Danitrio Cumlaude make the cut for pens needing new homes. The Nakaya of course was never on the chopping block. One metal section urushi fountain pen is easy to live with, eh? The Levenger True Writer has not yet received eyedropper conversion. Sometime, though, I’ll give it a go to see how it fares. All remaining pens are used predominately as an eyedropper. They can still be used with a converter if need be.

Nine pens remains the line for the collection.

Eyedropper Conversions of Modern Fountain Pens

Today there are a number of Japanese pens made specifically as eyedropper style pens. These pens have a valve to assist regulating the flow of ink to the feed. There are vintage eyedropper pens, too. I dunno nuttin’ about such things. My eyedropper pens all started life as cartridge/converter pens.

Edison Huron

Logic holds that any fountain pen with a single piece barrel that does not leak can be converted to eyedropper mode. The “how to” is essentially the same for any pen, whether a Preppy, an Edison or a Danitrio.

Collective wisdom holds that pens with metal sections or metal in the barrel should not be converted and you do so at your own risk. It’s your pen, after all.

Converting a fountain pen to be filled with ink directly into the barrel:  it’s easy. You need a little pure silicone grease for the threads. (It’s important that your silicone grease not have petroleum additives.) If you are queasy about the grease, then you can use an o-ring. If you use o-rings, keep a supply on hand because they can break over time or from over-tightening.

Issues with converting? Platinum Preppies aside, I’ve not had any issues with any converted pen in my hoard, past or present. Eyedropper filling is the method I use more frequently than not. If I don’t want to use this method, it is easy enough to insert the converter back in and fill the pen from that.

As simple as the filling method is, eyedropper conversion’s probably not for the casual pen user. My own nib points run fine. I fill only two or three pens at a time, don’t change inks often, write for hours at a time most days of the week, write my pens dry (no “leave it 1/3 filled” for moi), and know my pens very well. You cannot see how much ink is left in the barrel unless you have an ink-view window in your pen. (No ink-view windows here.)

Just because I don’t have issues, doesn’t mean you won’t. Issues some people report:  ink flow being too wet or two dry, leaking, burping of ink when ink is low, burping of ink when pen is warmed by hand, burping of ink in humidity, dripping ink into the pen cap, filling process messy. Did I mention “burping ink?” You can decide this for yourself. Read up on FPN. All you gotta do is search for eyedropper burp, eh?

One thing to be aware of: ink will likely stain the inside of your pen barrel. If your pen’s material is translucent you may not want to convert it. I did not convert a beautiful Bexley because of I didn’t want to stain the beautiful acrylic which had a lot of nice transparency.

Some of the more inexpensive ebonite pens I’ve read about seem to be prone to burping. And so I’ve avoided those pens and cannot say from first hand experience how such pens fare.

I’m keeping an eye on a recent conversion: a resin Pilot Falcon. I’m watching for inconsistencies in ink flow, too much or too little. The feed on this pen is an unusual design and is made to provide optimal ink flow for flexing or with fast writing. The nib, by the way, on this pen is a Soft Fine. So far so good with this conversion, but it still needs to bang around with me awhile to know for sure. The resin Falcon holds 3ml of ink as an eyedropper, as compared to the .7 or .8ml of a converter or the .9ml of a cartridge.

I like converting pens to eyedroppers. There are no pistons to worry about failing, levers breaking, or fancy pumps breaking down. My one concession seems to be a barrel brush for occasional cleaning.

Things do not change; we change.
from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: Dueling Cumlaudes

beautiful pens, side by side

The small version of the Danitrio Cumlaude rarely comes up for sale, much less one with an 18K gold nib. Recently one did and I snagged it.

On arrival, I was surprised to find the new-used acquisition was an original  Cumlaude—unlike the “close-out” version in my collection. There are major differences between the two pens, although mostly below the surface.

The original Cumlaude has the following features:

  • an 18K nib with a Danitrio logo
  • a metal section
  • the section is more defined in its tapering
  • a screw-in type converter
  • the cap band has an imprint: “Trio Cumlaude”
  • a weight of 4grams more

The “close-out” Cumlaude boasts none of those things. I’m referring to it as a “close-out” Cumlaude because its my understanding these types were the last of the Danitrio Cumlaude stock. The “close-out” has:

  • a steel, gold-plated nib
  • no metal internals
  • no cap band imprint

That pen makes an ideal eyedropper-style filling pen!

The metal section of the “new,” original Cumlaude posed an initial disappointment for me as I had intended to fill the pen “eyedropper mode” like I do with my other Cumlaude. In fact, I had thought to sell my “close-out” version in favor of keeping the one with the 18K nib. For the moment, I’m keeping both and opting to celebrate the differences between the two pens. This poses a high-flalutoon pen problem for moi as a second Cumlaude is one more pen than I have room for in my pen storage cigar box.

The celluloid in both pens is the same luscious brown-marble. The 18K nib has a bit of softness to it. The smaller Cumlaude, like its larger brother, was made in both brown and grey/blue marble celluloid.

Related posts:

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Tale of a Vandal Pen Repairer

Danitiro Cumlaude just for show

The pen:  Danitrio Cumlaude (small version)

The problem: Pen would be “hard starting” first use of the day.

The solution: Silicone rubber sealant. Yes. There. I said it.

When a fountain pen is freshly inked and ready to go, there’s nothing to think about except the task at hand:  the business of writing. At some, uh, point, I realized the Cumlaude needed a little extra help to get started once the pen had sat over night. Noooo…. I do not want to have to think about you, little pen! This is how a much loved pen begins to sit idly by, falling into disuse.

The nib did not dry out during writing sessions. The nib dried out overnight.

The nib and feed were clean.  Converter had a nice fit. No gap between nib and feed. Nib tines appeared to be aligned properly. J. Herbin, Noodler’s, Sailor… no matter the ink, the problem recurred each morning. A little moisture to the nib got pen writing again. Family members, however, began to complain about the ink on my tongue.

Perhaps baby bottom was the problem. Baby bottom so-called because under a loupe, the nib looks rounded just like baby’s butt. It may write very smooth yet the ink flow is impeded.  A simple fix some folks say, yet I’ve only ruined a nib or two in the past trying to address that issue.

As luck would have it a renown nib grinder, Pendleton Brown, attended my local pen meet. I asked him if a stub might correct my hard-starting nib. He said it might. He warned a re-grind was not a guaranteed fix if there were other problems with the pen.

Not so incidentally, I was surprised to find that Pendleton was willing to take a fine nib and turn it into a fine stub. I’ve read repeatedly that to get a fine stub you want to start with a medium point nib. There is logic in that, of course, as the nib grinder has more material to, uh, work through. Pendleton examined the nib first and said it was a good candidate for such a re-grind.

While I have had great stubs ordering over the internet from the likes of Mottishaw and Kinney, it was extremely pleasing to work with Pendleton in person. He was able to evaluate how I wrote with my pen and to tailor the nib to my exact liking. Also and perhaps obviously, in-person nib grinds illuminate the nature of the nibmeister’s work. Pendleton said he has spent a lot of time side by side learning from Richard Binder.

Returning home with my lovely new “Butter Line Elegant Stub” the pen wrote beautifully for the remainder of the day. Until… left capped overnight once again. I was temporarily resigned to the Cumlaude’s eccentricities and an inky tongue.

And then I read this post on FPN about the Cumlaude’s inner cap. Indeed, looking inside my cap there was no inner cap. Blowing air into the cap, there was no resistance. Looking closer—finally looking closer, shall we say? why did it take me so long to look?—on the outside where the clip extended out of the cap, I could see a significant gap. Hmmmmmm. I took some earthquake putty to the outside of the cap, around the clip and plugged the hole. Sure enough, the hard starting behavior…evaporated.

While effective, earthquake putty was ugly on my beautiful pen. I dared not plug the hole from the inside with said putty. In my hot, humid climate zone the putty can get messy over time. Who among us thinks risking a putty nib is worth it? Not moi, for sure. Reading up, I found people tried various methods for fixing a cap getting too much air. The recommended repair, of course, is a new inner cap where once there was or should have been one.

Momentarily I considered a bit of duct tape which we all know can fix almost everything. (Could it be that duct tape fixed Spiderman the Musical?)

I remembered reading that some folks used aquarium sealant to convert Lamy Vistas into eyedropper pens. The Lamy Vista has holes, or air vents, at the bottom of the pen barrel. The sealant is used to cover those holes.

First I contacted my delightful Danitrio pen pusher, ‘splained the problem and asked him what he thought about the aquarium sealant approach. Offering to find me a spare inner cap, he then said he did not see any issue with such a solution. (If you have a differing opinion please kindly detail it in the comments! There was no spare available, by the way.)

And so using a clean skewer and a dab (as miniscule as possible!) of 100% clear silicone rubber, I closed the hole from the inside of the cap. Before inking the Cumlaude back up, I let the cap sit a couple of days allowing the seal to set.

To moi way of thinking, using aquarium sealant to plug a hole  is a kind of fix. It is not a repair. Should you use this to fix loose threads, broken seals or cracked sections? Of course not. Read about the proper repairs for those things here. Save yourself some money in the long run and buy a copy of Marshall and Oldfield’s’ Pen Repair. Unless your pen is under warranty then don’t be silly, let the warranty repair begin!

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The Danitrio Cumlaude falls in the category of “they don’t make this beautiful pen anymore.” It will be near impossible find a spare inner cap for the smaller version of the Cumlaude. If you have the more frequently seen larger version Cumlaude you might very well be able to come by a spare inner cap. Another solution would be to have a inner cap made by someone who knows how.

Verdict? No more hard-starting pen.

I’m very glad for the stub, too.

Tale of a Vandal Pen User: State of the Hoard

Please know this: whether the pen you use is modern or vintage, a Pilot, Noodler’s or Montblanc, the fountain pen you love and use is the better pen.

In less than two short months, five pens found new homes and two pens were acquired. A radical shift has taken place in the pen stable. One Ragtime remains: the Visconti Caravel.

Danitrio Fellowship Fountain Pen

An unexpected opportunity arose to acquire a Danitrio Fellowship Pen. The Fellowship pen has been beautifully photographed and chronicled elsewhere (see links at bottom of post). Suffice to say back in 2009 when the pen was in development I did not think I could ever afford one. What did this pen cost me? Three Ragtimes and a tiny Omas.

Having fallen for urushi fountain pens, I contemplated a maki-e pen. Being consistently drawn to maki-e by the artist Kosetsu (Tatsuya Todo), the decision to say “yes” to a Fellowship pen was easy. I’m honored to have one because it also reflects my feelings about some of the great people met through FPN.

Danitrio fountain pens top to bottom: Tame-murasaki Short Octagon, Fellowship

My first urushi pen, a chocolate-y tame-murasaki Short Octagon Danitrio, is the same size, shape and urushi base as the Fellowship pen. The same artist signature flags both pens. The plain urushi pen has been a great friend yet I’m ambivalent about having two pens the same shape. However all thoughts of re-homing any more pens have been halted for the time being.

The other pen I added to my tiny collection was the small version of the Danitrio Cumlaude in brown marble. The pen came used and a little beaten up yet it satisfied the yearning for brown marble in a big way.

As the collection grows smaller, it becomes more intellectually easy and more emotionally difficult to re-home pens. Easy because I have a very good sense of what pens I like to use. Difficult because I love them all.

Of the Visconti Ragtimes, I kept the one most difficult to acquire and with the loveliest celluloid: the Caravel. The tiny Omas Extra Jr, in my coveted brown marble no less, had been usurped as my favorite pocket pen by the far sturdier Nakaya Piccolo (yet another pen in my favorite brown palette). The beautiful Visconti Pontevecchio remained too heavy for my liking. Alas, the last of my customized Deb Kinney stubs went with the re-homed Viscontis.

Top to bottom: eye dropper, Caravel, Pelikan, Edison, Bexley, Levenger, Wahl-Oxford, Nakaya, Danitrio (x 3), J. Herbin Glass Dip pen

The fountain pen count has been as high as 35. Currently the count is at 10 pens. There’s one more pen, a new Edison Mina, coming in February. Eleven pens remains well below the line drawn in 2009 at 20 pens. (If you care to, read my post Collecting Pens on the Small Side.) I’ve re-drawn my arbitrary line to be no more than 12 pens for the collection. That’s the maximum number my current pen storage box will hold.

Danitrio Fellowship Pen Reading List

  • Making of the Danitrio Fellowship Pen
  • Flickr Photos (type in “Danitrio Fellowship” in Flickr’s search box for many gorgeous views)
  • FPN Review by Doug C
  • Only 60 made: FPN discussion
  • Pen World, August 2009, “A Fellowship of Pen Friends”
  • Penna Magazine, November 2010, “Danitrio FPN Haiku”

Some resources about Japanese Pens in general

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Tale of a Vandal Pen User: On Ink Capacity

Danitrio Eyedropper

Meditating upon the remaining pens in my little hoard, to my surprise there were only two piston filling pens remaining. Today the pen collection contains seven c/c fountain pens. Four of those c/c pens are eyedropper converted pens. “Converted” sounds so complicated, doesn’t it? All conversion takes is a little silicon grease applied to the section threads. Despite this “conversion” the pen can still be used with a cartridge or a converter when desired.

At one time the collection contained only piston-filling pens. I thought piston-filling pens provided the best ink capacity. Yet because I require lightweight pens and pens of a certain diameter, larger piston and eyedropper pens with great ink capacity are outside my writing comfort range.

The Edison Huron, as has been previously noted, opened my collection up to the idea of filling the barrel directly with ink, aka western-style eyedropper filling. Filling the barrel with ink is a very simple procedure—not as messy as some would have you believe especially if you are paying attention to what you are doing—and this style of pen does not have any parts that twist, turn, squeeze or rot. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone kindly reading Peaceable Writer that I find elegance in such simplicity.

There has been no science in my exploration of ink capacity. I have merely discovered, “Oh, that converter needs refilling two or three times or so in a day.” Or, “For God’s sake, that converter lasted hardly an hour of writing.” “Gee, that Pelikan lasted two days before refilling.” Or, “Wow, the Huron lasted four days before needing to be fed again.” Or, “the Short Octagon with its EEF nib seems to go on forever.”

Generally I keep two pens inked at a time. One for out and about note-taking and one for writing sessions. During the latter, I’m not paying too much attention to the pen and the ink. Some day I want to count how many pages or words a pen-fill writes. I am too busy (or perhaps too forgetful when in the writing zone) to track. Yet my curiosity would like me to count.  I have only a general sense of how long pens write before they need refilling.

What little I know about ink capacity is that a pen’s feed, nib-point size and how wet or dry the nib writes effects how much ink is used during a writing session. (With one exception, all my nibs are in fine-point arena.) The physical size of the nib and feed also effect how much ink is taken up. The large Bexley nib’s feed will likely hold more ink than the Levenger True Writer’s feed. The medium wet stub of the Nakaya Piccolo with its tiny Platinum converter will write out faster than I’d like for a writing session.

4ml capacity syringe; earthquake putty at bottom

Over the holiday, having a bit of time, I performed the following experiment on the pen collection. Loading up each pen with ink and making sure the feed was saturated (see Brian Goulet’s video for a good tip, btw), I then expelled the ink into a measuring tube. The tube was a syringe with some earthquake putty stuck at the bottom to prevent leaking. [I tried measuring how much ink a pen took in, which would be more accurate (it would include the saturated feed), but I could not find a satisfying measuring container in the house. Impatience lead me to the expelling-ink route with the tiny syringe.]

For the eyedropper pens, I filled each one with the measuring syringe. I was surprised to discover that the four converted pens virtually held the same amount of ink! I expected that some pens might hold more ink than others.

Below are the results of my non-empirical holiday ink capacity experiment. Remember the amounts do not take in to account the feed or ink that remains in the section, or may cling elsewhere in a converter or pen. The converter and piston numbers reflect expelled amount of ink. The western-style eyedroppers reflect barrel-filled amount of ink.

Converter pens (used for editing and note-taking)

  • Bexley Submariner – .6ml
  • Levenger True Writer – .6ml
  • Nakaya Piccolo – .6ml
  • Danitrio Cumlaude (small) – .3ml

As the Danitrio Short Octagon, Fellowship and Edison Huron use the same basic converter as the Submariner and True Writer, I would draw similar conclusions to the amount of expelled ink for those pens.

Piston Pens (used for writing sessions)

  • 1950’s Pelikan 400 – 2ml
  • Visconti Caravel – 1ml
  • Wahl-Oxford – unknown (under ink-scrutiny)

Western-style Eyedropper Pens (used for writing sessions) – all of these filled at slightly more than 3ml. No one of these converted fountain pens proved itself mightier than the others as far as ink capacity.

  • Danitrio Cumlaude (small)
  • Danitrio Fellowship Pen
  • Danitrio Short Octagon
  • Edison Huron
  • Edison Mina (both extended & standard)
  • Platinum Preppy (used only for highlighting)
Top to bottom: Syringe, Edison Huron, Platinum Preppy, Pelikan 400, Visconti Caravel

Once I saw that the Danitrio, the Edison and the Preppy all held the same basic amount of ink, my curiosity got the best of me. I used water to measure the Nakaya and Bexley barrels. I have different reasons for not converting these two pens to eyedropper filling. The Nakaya has brass parts inside the section that I do not wish to corrode over time. The Bexley’s acrylic has some translucency that I do not want to stain. The Nakaya Piccolo held more than 3ml of ink. The Bexley Submariner held 2 1/2ml.

What I now understand is that, internal barrel size being much the same, the Danitrio Short Octagon’s longer inking power over the Edison Huron is attributable to the Danitrio’s EEF nib. The Huron’s nib is F.** Both pens, by the way, are wet writers.

It would seem with larger pens out of comfortable writing reach, such as a Danitrio Densho with a capacity of 5ml or more of ink++, my pen collection may not ever exceed 3 1/2mls of ink+* capacity for any one pen. While that capacity seems to be working for me, my little holiday experiment may change the way I look at pens in ways I don’t yet know.

Updated 2013 Jun 26:

  • ** The Huron’s nib has been re-ground by Michael Masuyama. It’s now a sweet .2mm EF nib.
  • ++ Privileged to use a Densho on loan recently, the ink capacity measured 3ml not 5ml.
  • +* My 2013 Custom Edison pen holds nearly 5ml of ink.

Updated 11/02/2011: A post on FPN about fountain pen ink capacities contains some fascinating information about vintage pens such as Sheaffer.

Updated 03/17/2011: On his Crónicas Estilográficas blog, Bruno has done a great evaluation of capacity for Sailor, Pilot and Platinum converters. Also reference his FPN post here.