Pen Doctor: Side by Side: The Parker

Pen Doctor: Side by Side: The Parker

Side by Side: The Parker “51” and the Hero 100

If you‘re an enthusiastic fan of the Parker “51”, you might wish that this greatest of all pens were still in production. You’ve probably looked at Parker’s new 51 SE and its hefty price tag. You’ve probably also read the reviews and comments, from which you’d have learned that the 51 SE looks like a “51” externally but is so different internally that it’s a “51” in name only. This means you’re right back where you started, wishing Parker still made the “51”.

Well, Parker doesn’t make the “51” anymore, but you can stop wishing. The Shanghai Hero Pen Company, which grew out of the ashes when the Communist government nationalized foreign holdings in China, is making pens in the original Parker factory in Shanghai, and one of the company’s best-selling models is the Hero 100. The Hero 100, which looks much like a Parker “51” Mark III, is as close as you’re going to get to a “51” without seeing PARKER “51” on the barrel.

Externals

When you take a real look at the 100, you see a pen with a very attractive brushed cap that looks like stainless steel. The metal color is less brown than most stainless, though, and it is remarkably attractive. Barrel colors are burgundy, turquoise, and black, and there is also a Flighter version (pictured in this article). Plastics are solid, not at all cheap or cheesy, and the overall fit and finish of the pen is as good as that of the original “51”. Surprised? So was I; I had been expecting to see a cheaper, lightweight, less finished appearance like that of the Hero 329 and 330, steel-nibbed pens that are designed to sell for much less than the 100’s sticker tariff. Here’s the 100 shown posted, with a 330 for comparison:

The clip, instead of the classic Parker ring-mounted version, is a Sheaffer-style spring-loaded clip, and it is very sturdy. Other small differences show up in the metal jewels on the cap and at the end of the barrel; there are 61-style tassies at both ends of this pen, but with turned metal jewels instead of celluloid. But this is not a 61; it has the diameter and heft of a “51”, and it lacks the heat-embedded arrow that Parker added to the 61’s hood as part of its 1950s style makeover.

Internals

For all practical purposes, the Hero 100 is a “51”. It has an aerometric filler, and its internals is so much like the guts of a “51” that the feed and the 14K nib are interchangeable with their Parker counterparts. The hood is longer, like that on a Parker 61, but that is to allow Hero’s slightly revised design to fit.

The catch comes when you start comparing parts beyond the nib and feed. Here‘s where it gets really interesting because the 100 is actually finished better than a Mark III “51”! Like most “51” Mark I pens, the 100 has a sac guard that is sturdy brushed stainless, while the Mark III’s sac guard is made of thinner material with a bright finish. That particular “51” feature made its appearance with the advent of the Mark II, and while it is admittedly less costly than its predecessor, it also looks and feels decidedly cheaper. Here are pictures of the two pens’ fillers:

Take a look into the barrel of a 100 Flighter, and you will see a solid plastic barrel, trimmed down and sheathed in the same way as a Sheaffer Snorkel Masterpiece. Look inside a Parker Flighter’s barrel, and you’ll see an empty metal shell. This is a small point, but the Hero’s barrel, with plastic reinforcing its shell and with a solid tassie, is less likely to suffer the dings so common to the barrels of Parker “51” Flighters.

Speaking of metal barrels, both Parker and Hero use metal threads in their Flighters’ barrels. But on the Parker, those metal threads mate with the plastic threads of the connector that holds the filler to the front end; on the Hero, the connector threads are metal. (There’s a plastic connector inside; what you see is a connecting ferrule like that on a Parker 61.) This, like the sheathed plastic barrel, is a small point; but it is one that suggests, overall, a more durable pen. learn more about pens nibs by clicking here

If I wanted to find something to pick at, I could point out that the tassie jewels on my pen aren’t both polished smooth; they both show machining marks, with one being very slightly rougher than the other. Golly gee whiz, what a terrible disappointment…

But How Does It Write?

It’s a “51”, remember? That should tell you all you need to know. When I filled my Flighter for the first time, I found it very slightly toothy, and the flow was dry, as I’d expect from a “51” OOTB (Out of the Box). A few minutes adjusting the nib for a nice wet flow and smoothing it, and this pen writes as well as any of my “51”s. Hero is noted for fine nibs that tend toward extra fine, but the nib on my sample, while still extra-fine, is closer to a true fine than I had expected. The dealer who sold me the pen says that the whole lot he currently has in stock is this way.

In Conclusion

If you know me, you know that I am firmly entrenched in the “vintage” camp. I don’t buy modern pens, and while I admire many of them I really don’t have any desire to own them. That has all changed. The Hero 100 is the modern pen I had been waiting to fall in love with. I’d almost say it’s a vintage “51” in modern dress. And that’s something!

Sources

The Hero 100 is selling in the USA for $55.00, and at that price, it’s one of the best bargains since Pepsi gave you 12 full ounces for only a nickel. You can get it from either of these dealers: Norman Haase, His Nibs.com
Ray Adams, Wood ‘N Dreams

I have no business affiliation with either of these gentlemen, but I am a satisfied customer of both.

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Parker 100 — an Evolution and a Revolution in Design

Parker 100 — an Evolution and a Revolution in Design

When I first saw the new Parker 100 last year I had mixed feelings. The Parker “51” has been one of my favorite writing instruments for many years and this new visitor appeared to have an attitude… ‘move over cousin “51” you’re a has-been and I’m the new kid on the block!’

Well, once in my hands for review I can say the Parker 100 is a modern complement to the “51” yet this pen has qualities and design to make it stand quite separate and apart from anything ever produced by Parker. The design is borrowed from legend and brought to the 21st century with modern materials and technology. Slightly larger than the “51” or “61” I find it is still quite light and just as manageable as its smaller cousin. The 100 weighs in at 1.25 oz, slightly twice the weight of the “51” and only .25 oz more than the smaller Sonnet. So given the slightly larger profile, the lightweight makes this an almost identical feel in the hand. Learn more parker pens at http://pentrace.net/pen-doctor-side-by-side-the-parker/

The Parker 100 is 5 5/8” (142mm) closed and almost 6” (150mm) with a cap posted. The barrel is 0.498” (12.66mm) diameter, noticeably larger than my “51”s yet has a very light and comfortable fit. The satin-brushed caps and striking new style clip gives an appearance fit for the new generation. The clip is tight and gives a firm grip, and notably a smooth and solid fit when it is posted.

The trim is 23K gold or silver-plated gold trim with a high polish finish that contrasts nicely with the matte finish of the brushed caps. The metal end jewels are a bright high polish finish but are recessed so they would do not appear to be exposed to scratching or abrasion. I really like the appearance of the hooded nib and find a very slight flex, maybe not a part of the intentional design, but nevertheless we are very conscious of this performance and are able to coax a slight line variation.

The ballpoint, pencil, and rollerball are almost identical in size and they feel in the hand. Each weigh-in at 1.25 oz. The pencil is a twist-action clutch repeater, the lead is gravity fed and stored under the eraser. The ballpoint also accepts the new gel refills.

All gold trim Parker 100 fountain pens have 18K gold nibs. All silver trim fountain pens have 18K gold rhodium-plated nibs. Parker 100 caps are finished in a shimmered gold or shimmered graphite effect, and the barrels are lacquered in a choice of five modern colors. The barrel colors are Smoke Bronze, Diamond Blue, Honey White, Opal Silver, and Cobalt Black.

The filling system is either an ink cartridge or ink bottle with the Deluxe piston fill converter. Fountain pen nibs are available in XF F M and B. Parker 100 fountain pens are beautifully gift-boxed, and include a black velvet pen pouch.

So where does this model slot in the Parker family line up? I would say right with the vintage or modern “51” SE and the Sonnet.

Pen in hand image courtesy of Pentracer Joseph Camosy

Parker 100 pens are available from Fountain Pen Hospital www.fountainpenhospital.com.

© 2004 Len Provisor.

Ink review: water-resistance of blue, blue/black and black inks

Ink review: water-resistance of blue, blue/black and black inks

Last weekend I assembled some inks, a dip pen, and a large bowl of water. My goal was to test the water resistance of the blue, black, and blue/black inks I own at this moment. I certainly admit that this experiment has little relevance. After all, I don’t make a habit of soaking my journals in a fishbowl. And I use a multitude of ink colors, so if I did soak it, the result would probably be interesting, but definitely unreadable. But performing the experiment was fun, and if the results are useful to someone, that’s a nice bonus.

With a regular dip pen (Hiro Leonardt No. 41) I wrote a sentence on standard 60 grams office paper, for each ink to be tested. After the ink dried for an hour, I soaked the paper for 10 minutes. I let the paper dry completely and put the results under the scanner (in that order).

Results for blue inks

I tested the following blue inks:

  • Quink royal blue
  • Sheaffer Skrip blue
  • Penman Sapphire
  • Hema blue

Hema blue is a no-name blue ink, from the Hema store (Netherlands), that is only available in cartridges. I don’t know who manufactures this ink, but the color reminds me of Pelikan Blue. My PaperMate fountain pen with a fine nib was filled with this ink, so I used this pen for the “Hema”.  The other inks were applied with the dip pen.

None of the blue inks were very water-resistant acralic color. In fact, all of them washed away almost completely. The Skrip blue totally disappeared from the page. The other three left a very light blue shade. None of them were readable anymore.

Results for blue/black inks

I tested the following blue/black inks:

  • Sheaffer Skrip blue/black
  • Montblanc blue/black
  • Quink blue/black
  • Lamy blue/black

Most of the samples were still readable after a 10 minutes soaking. However, Quink blue/black lost a lot of its color. Only a blueish residue was left on the paper. Surprisingly the Montblanc blue/black performed excellently. I have heard terrible things about Montblanc inks, so I fully expected that it would fail this test. But it was the only ink that kept a really dark color. Skrip black lost its blue, leaving a grey line behind. But the result was still very readable, and the ink did not leave a hue on the paper. The Lamy blue/black was really disappointing. It only left a very light blue line behind, making the writing hardly readable anymore.

Results for black inks

Finally, I put the black inks out:

  • Cross black
  • Penman Ebony
  • Quink black

While the writing samples were still readable, all inks washed away somewhat. What surprised me was that the blue/black inks performed much better than the blacks. Of the blacks, Quink finished as of last. After soaking, only a blue line remained. The Penman and Cross did not give in to each other. Each one remained dark but also spread a bit.

Conclusions

Most blue/black and black inks that I tested had a reasonable water resistance at least. Overall, the blue/black inks performed better than the blacks (I had expected it the other way around). The winner is Montblanc blue/black, followed by Skrip blue/black. The real losers are the blue inks. None of them had any water resistance at all.

Of course, water resistance is only one, relatively unimportant, quality of fountain pen inks. Most important for me are the flow characteristics and the color. Since most of my writing consists of notes taking, ink permanence is not a real issue. Using a spot of ink that tends to fade over the years might even be an advantage for letter writing. After all, I write snails, not my memories.

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A Little more information on Urushi

A Little more information on Urushi

What is urushi?

Urushi (pronounced “oo-roo-shee”) is one of the most durable natural lacquers known to man. Urushi lacquered ornaments including bracelets have been discovered in Japan dating from the Jomon period 9,000 years ago. In the west, these objects are also referred to as “japaned” objects. Hardened urushi is water and acid-proof, and also protects the object from heat, salt, mold and mildews, and all types of weathering. It has been used on wood, pottery, bone, baskets, fabric, and metal. Recently it has been successfully applied to the barrels and caps of fountain pens made of ebonite (black hard rubber).

Urushi is not only a durable varnish but is also one of the strongest adhesives while it is wet, which makes it perfect for decorating with gold powder (maki-e) gold foil (chicken), or mother of pearl inlays (raden). It is so strong an adhesive that in the distant past urushi was used by hunters and warriors to fix arrowheads to their arrow shafts!

This strength combined with the natural beauty of urushi lacquerware is the reason it has been so popular for thousands of years.

When we hear of urushi lacquerware, we think of shiny objects such as boxes and bowls covered with gold or colored maki-e decorations. However, the idea of decorating on top of urushi is a relatively new idea. Until the 18th century, urushi lacquerware was quite plain with no decoration. Red or black urushi was used on a wide variety of objects from household necessities such as rice bowls, sake cups and combs to hunting tools. Swords, shields, and entire body armor had coatings of urushi!

Beautiful maki-e “yatate” brush and ink holders produced by Mr. Wakashima of Wakashima Taigado

Where does urushi come from?

Urushi lacquer is made from the sap of the urushi tree (Rhus vernicifera). The urushi tree has been considered such a valuable commodity that it was planted all over Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). However, the areas today where urushi sap is actually produced are very limited.

From June through November the urushi is tapped by slashing the bark of the tree with horizontal cuts to let the thick white sap (arami) ooze from the trunk. This sap begins to solidify as soon as it comes in contact with the air. It is then collected and filtered through absorbent cotton with a centrifugal separator to remove bark and other impurities. The result is raw urushi (nama-urushi) which can be further refined, or used as-is for the base coats in lacquerware. The amount of sap collected from each tree is only around 250 milliliters per year, which makes it a rather precious substance.

The raw urushi is heated at a low temperature and stirred to disperse its ingredients and break down its particles. It gradually turns dark brown in color, and reaches a smooth consistency. It is now ready to be used for the middle and final coats.

What makes urushi so strong?

While most paints dry by the evaporation of some solvent, urushi dries or hardens by absorbing moisture from the air.

The urushi sap contains an oily substance called urushiol. When exposed to warmth and humidity, an enzyme is activated and extracts oxygen from the water and supplies it to the urushiol. The urushiol solidifies, forming a hard film. Even after it has hardened, the urushi retains some water content, making it look perpetually wet and shiny.

Urushiol is the exact same substance found in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac which causes rash and itchiness, so it is not advisable to handle liquid urushi with your bare hands unless you are one of the lucky few who are immune to it. Apparently, Asians and Native Americans are less likely to be sensitive to urushiol.

Urushi lacquerware is often black or red. The black color is produced by adding iron powder, which produces a chemical reaction with the urushiol, turning the urushi to a deep black color. Other colors are produced by adding pigments. Mercuric sulfide produces vermillion, and ferric oxide is used to make red.

How is urushi lacquerware produced?

Raw urushi is used for base coats, and refined urushi is used for top coats and decoration. The process of producing typical wooden urushi lacquerware has over 20 steps, and more than a hundred individual processes, still done by hand. Even a small object like a bowl can take over 6 months to make.

These steps include:

  • seasoning the wood
  • carving and sanding it to form the object
  • reinforcing fragile parts with linen cloth (for Wajima nuri)
  • applying several base coats of raw lacquer
    with drying and polishing between each coat
  • applying several coats of refeined black or red lacquer
    with more drying and polishing between each coat.

Finally, decoration such as maki-e can be applied to the still-wet adhesive urushi, or it can remain in its subtly beautiful undecorated state.

Wajima Nuri

Lacquerware produced in the small port city of Wajima in Ishikawa prefecture has gained worldwide recognition for its beauty and durability. Urushi lacquerware has been produced here since the 16th century, and even now over half of the population of Wajima is involved in its urushi trade. Of all the urushi producing areas in Japan, only the town of Wajima has been officially designated by the government as an “Intangible Cultural Asset” of Japan.

Wajima is famous for its own urushi technique called “Wajima Nuri.” Wajima nuri is different from other types of lacquerware in several ways (including the obvious fact that it is produced in Wajima). One distinction is the use of linen cloth to reinforce fragile parts such as the rim of bowls. The fabric is coated in urushi and then carefully applied to the wood, and smoothed out. After the fabric and urushi has hardened, the whole surface is sanded and coated again and again, so the fabric is no longer distinguishable from the rest of the object. Other distinctions include the type of wood (keyaki), and the application base coatings of a special laquer paste made of urushi, and a type of soil called “ji no ko” (powder of the earth).

Urushi lacquered fountain pens produced in Wajima do not require the fabric reinforcement or the application of “Ji no ko” so they are described as “Wajima urushi nuri” instead of the official designation of “Wajima nuri.”

There is also an urushi lacquerware art museum in Wajima, Wajima Shikki-Kaikan filled with lacquer art and items related to the lacquer culture in Japan and Asia established for the promotion and development of urushi lacquer. Seven species of urushi trees can be seen in the museum garden. This is the only museum in Japan devoted to urushi lacquerwork.

Caring for your urushi pen

Uurushi is a very tough substance, but it does have a natural enemy. It does not like ultraviolet rays. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will eventually cause it to become dull and lose its durability. In Japan, the most valuable pieces of urushi lacquerware are stored in silk bags or wooden boxes when not in use. So take a little precaution, and don’t leave your urushi pens lying around for long periods in direct sunlight. And pass the word onto your children and grandchildren, because with a little care, an urushi pen should outlast the original owner by many generations!

The Parker Duofold Monoplane

The Parker Duofold Monoplane

May 1927, Charles Lindberg achieves the first solo flight across the Atlantic, igniting the world’s fascination with flying machines and the endless possibilities of the future. World records for speed and distance were being broken on a regular basis. Amelia Earhart followed one year later in June 1928 to become the first woman aviatrix to fly across the Atlantic.

Rewind to 1921, when the Parker Pen Company introduced their new oversize Duofold fountain pen, with a patented bright red design with black ends which “Rivaled the beauty of the Scarlet Tanager”. The Duofold pen was hugely successful, and when unbreakable Permanite was added in 1926, demand grew so rapidly that the war for market share exploded.

The primary combatants were Sheaffer, with their oversize Lifetime flat top. Waterman stubbornly maintained hard rubber, making it available only in black, red, or red/black mottled and ripple patterns. Wahl Eversharp’s oversize Personal Point in 1929 eventually led to the Doric in 1930.

Fountain pens were big business, and serious advertising campaigns were launched to keep brand names in front of the worldwide market. What better way to keep the public’s attention than to ride the excitement of those modern flying machines?

Kenneth Parker purchased this plane in 1928 for $ 18,230. Extra specialist equipment included a turn and bank indicator, so the pilot could determine changing direction in the dark and extra-large landing lights in case of a roaming cow on the local pasture landing strip. Unique to this plane was the ability to fold the wings flush against the fuselage. Practical for storage, but invaluable when an unexpected landing forced the plane into a field too small for take-off. The local farmer would then use his tractor, horse, or mule to tow the plane down narrow country roads to a more suitable field for departure. How incredibly forward-looking and clever!

November 1928 in Chicago and Amelia Earhart christens the giant Fairchild FC2W2 monoplane “The Duofold”. This was one of the most modern and powerful aircraft in its day. Coincidently, this was the same model aircraft used by Richard Byrd to fly over the Antarctic the following year; and he carried a Waterman pen. Waterman advertised this achievement in their national advertising. The Fairchild plane also flew around the world in a record-breaking twenty-three days. Imagine the newspaper headlines, the excitement, and the crowds at local airports whenever The Duofold flew into town. This was one of the most famous airplanes in the world…and everyone dreamed of a chance of a thrilling ride.

This aircraft had an enclosed cabin for four passengers and one pilot. Construction was metal sheeting upfront around the engine and pilot cabin, metal tubing, and wood framing, covered with sheet canvas. The giant 410 hp Wasp engine was capable of propelling this plane to 140 mph and climbing to an altitude of 19,500 feet. I saw this very plane recently, and it was a humbling experience. Difficult to believe that it was state-of-the-art in its day.

Immediately after the christening, The Duofold took off on a Grand Tour of America, visiting dealers in most major cities. Within a few months, as many as 2,300 guests were taken aloft for the thrill of their lives. Often flying over cities, Duofold’s were dropped to demonstrate the properties of the unbreakable Permanente. Dealers would display the pen to amazed crowds, who could not buy them fast enough.

This same promotional stunt was repeated in England, with a smaller similarly decorated DeHavilland “Puss Moth” taking the place of the Duofold plane. English crowds considered this stunt a typical example of American excess and were not overly impressed.

As further aeronautical world records were achieved in speed and long-distance travel, the giant red and black Parker Duofold monoplane was shared in the limelight at these events.

Many years later this aircraft was sold to an airline, flying a shuttle route from Key West in Florida to Havana, Cuba. Eventually, it is believed, the Duofold found a final resting place in the deep blue waters somewhere off Cuba, where it is now most likely part of the beautiful coral reef.

The Williamson Pen Company

The Williamson Pen Company

Fig 1

The town of Settimo Torinese (Fig.1,2, and 3), situated a few miles east of Turin, on the northern shore of the river Po, became the undisputed capital of Italian pen production in the years spanning from the end of WWI to the beginning of the 1970s… In this small industrial town at the peak of its expansion in the 1950s, over 160 pen manufacturers were engaged in manufacturing high quality and very well-made fountain pens of reasonable cost.

Fig 2

This article aims to show the history of one of the less-known Italian pen companies which evolved from simple beginnings to become one of the very best Italian pen manufacturers.

Fig 3

The Williamson pen company

The origin of this pen company stems from some very unique circumstances. Williamson was an American manufacturer of steel nibs that was already active in the early 1800s. Their output was of the highest quality, rivaling the best English steel nib producers and their products were adopted as standard issues by U.S. government offices. During the first years of the last century, the Williamson Co. established a factory in Janesville (Wisconsin, USA), not far from the Parker plant, and began production of reliable and well-made hard-rubber fountain pens. It was at this time of considerable success and expansion for the Williamson Pen Company that a Turin businessman named Riccardo Amisani began importing their pens into Italy. lean more about Williamson at https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/zion-williamson-injury-timeline-return-date-updates/1dgq49j3gi34k1g8c6bp2n5hke

Fig 4

Italy, just before the First World War (Fig. 4) was a relatively new Country, having finally gained its independence in 1861. The North of the Country was thriving, with many new industrial activities launched in an industrial revolution that, while late if compared with the development of industry in Great Britain, nevertheless brought a new level of prosperity and produced the rapid growth of a relatively affluent middle class. The Williamson pens sold very well in Italy and the Williamson name became a respected and admired marque among foreign pen manufacturers.

Boosted by this success, Mr. Amisani started building spare parts for Williamson pens in a small workshop located in Settimo Torinese. Unfortunately, Williamson pens fared a lot worse in their home market and, under pressure from formidable competitors such as Parker, Waterman’s, and Wahl, just to name a few, the company eventually folded in the late 20s.

Fig 5

At this point, Mr. Amisani made a bold decision: he would continue to produce Williamson pens in his shop in Settimo Torinese. Under Mr. Amisani’s management, the company continued to grow and produced some truly excellent pens. In our opinion, the best of the Williamson pen production occurred during the ’30s (Fig.5). During this decade, the Penne Williamson-Torino company (as it was now officially designated) borrowed heavily from the designs of two American pen makers, namely Parker and Eversharp.

Fig 6

One of their first designs was a gorgeous, oversize pen which was clearly inspired by the Parker Vacumatic (Fig 6, 7, and 8).

Fig 7
Fig 8

Like the Vacumatic, the Williamson pen was machined from a rod of laminated celluloid and sported shiny black “jewels” at both ends. Unlike its American counterpart, however, the ink filling mechanism of the Williamson was of a simple and proven design: a classic button-filler, closely resembling the one used in the Parker Duofold. Williamson nibs were numbered and for its flagship models, the company installed a No. 6 nib (Fig. 9).  learn more about pens by clicking here

Interestingly, the company adopted a Christmas-tree-type feed, once again showing the influence of the Duofold pen. These pens are graced by three metallic rings around the cap, just above the lip and they employ a beautiful and interesting variant on the Parker “arrow” clip: instead of depicting an arrow, the clip, resembling in its overall shape the one used by Parker, is embellished with a long, flowing quill. The overall impression is that the slender Parker-type clip is made even more beautiful by the rendered feather motif. Fig. 10 shows a detail of this beautiful pen clip.

Another high-quality pen produced by Williamson in the ’30s and ’40s was a marbled celluloid 12-faceted pen that has a passing resemblance to the Wahl Eversharp Doric (Fig.11 and 12). The Italian pen, however, is considerably larger and of wider girth than even the oversize variant of the Doric. This Williamson pen was a lever-filler and sported the same high-quality gold nibs as its button-fill counterpart. The cap ended in a shallow cone and was enriched by three thin gold bands. The clip was of simple design, understated to the point of being almost plain-looking, the quality of the workmanship is superb. For this pen, Williamson used an array of incredibly beautiful patterns, some of them in translucent celluloid; the marbled celluloid was impeccably polished to a high gloss and their patterns and colors are quite beautiful. This celluloid have resisted discoloration and staining very well through the years.

Fig 10
Fig 11

These pens have become treasured collectibles and are actively sought after by lovers of classic Italian fountain pens.

Fig 12

After the revolution caused by the introduction of the Parker 51 (post-WW2, in Europe), Italian pen manufacturers rushed to produce look-alike, hooded nib fountain pens. Out of several attempts, one turned out to be particularly inspired: the Aurora 88, designed by Marcello Nizzoli, became a commercial success and an instant classic. The pen sold in the millions, both in Italy and abroad, and, in the early 1950s, it was the pen of the writing elite. Williamson’s swan song was a slim and graceful pen clearly inspired by the Aurora 88. The Parker Vacumatic influence, however, could still be found in the material used by Williamson for this pen of the “Atomic Age”: the Williamson hooded-nib pen was machined out of laminated celluloid: one last link between fountain pen designs that had characterized two distant eras and two very different ways of interpreting the very concept of a modern writing instrument.

All this was soon to be changed by the arrival of Mr Laszlo Birò’s invention, fresh from Argentina and soon to be made ubiquitous by Baron Marcel Bich, relegating for many years the classic fountain pen to the role of an almost forgotten anachronism. That spelled the end of “Penne Williamson – Torino”, together with many other smaller manufacturers whose names have often been forgotten

Still, if you are lucky enough to own one of Mr Amisani’s creations, you hold a piece of pen history and a pen that is unique in having its roots in 19th century America and its blossoms in the Italy of the 1930s.

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J Herbin Ink Chart Part II

J Herbin Ink Chart Part II

Herbin Inks

This is Part II of a chart of Herbin colors from cartridges, produced by Michael Richter. The images were scanned in at a resolution of 300dpi and have been reproduced here as faithfully as possible to the original. The chart has been broken into several separate images to facilitate downloading, please be patient, images of this size take time to load. you can learn more about Inks at http://pentrace.net/ink-review-water-resistance-of-blue-blue-black-and-black-inks/

It is very difficult to reproduce accurate colors on the web; unless you have calibrated your monitor you will only see a representation of the actual color.

Color

Name

Bleu Pervenche

Bleu Azur

Vert Réséda

Lierre Sauvage

Vert Pré

Vert Olive

Ambre de Birmanie

Café des Iles

Cacao du Brésil

Gris Nuage

Perle des Encres

2004 Washington, D.C. Fountain Pen SUPERSHOW

2004 Washington, D.C. Fountain Pen SUPERSHOW

Bob Johnson has consistently managed to produce the biggest and the best pen show in the world with dealers and collectors gathering from around the world. Many attendees are repeat regulars who have attended for many years and their presence is a statement to those who have yet to come. The show is a nice blend of vintage pens and new production pens with major retailers and manufacturers exhibiting and often unveiling new year Limited Edition models. DC is a convenient East Coast location, it’s easy to travel with direct flights from Europe, South America, and Asia. If you have ever said to yourself “I wish I could make the DC Pen Show”, try for next year.

Hotel and airfare rates are a bargain in August, this could be easier than you think. The earliest sell-out of hotel rooms and exhibit tables occurred this year, with a waiting list up to the last day for any cancellations…and there were none. The DC Pen Show is one that is well worth the travel…and with new faces every year it seems to generate more anticipation with each show. When new faces, dealers, and products need to be offered to the public…it’s the D.C. Pen Show that seems to be the pen show of choice.

The Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Vienna, VA, right across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. was a magnet this week with some early arrivals settling in on Tuesday. They come early, those who simply can’t wait for the trading action and those who take the opportunity for sightseeing. It was not the usually hot and steamy August, rather it was mild and pleasant so the days were very comfortable. The Sheraton Premiere is a great pen show hotel with huge rooms for pre-show trading, easy access to anything one needs and most importantly everyone on the hotel staff was terrific.

Thursday, up at 3 am, a limo at 4, airport by 4:45, I waltz through security in 3 minutes then a power nap for 2 hours. I arrived early at DC, not so much for the pen action, rather I was consulting with a few first-time exhibitors and came to assist them with show preparations. We spent many months of very detailed planning to cover every day, coordinating many suppliers, every event from arrival to departure and after, now it was almost “Showtime!” By afternoon I saw the early trading room was really one half of the ballroom and quite full with about 50 tables, some traders were already set up in the hallways. It was all I could do to dive into the melee, the poking with searching eyes on open pen cases.

I spot a Hawaiian shirt and a red cap, sure enough, my old friend Will Thorpe. Subtle in the crowd but big as life to those that know him and Will was happy as Antonios Banderas on a Paso pony to be there. Most dealers today are vintage traders with the new pen dealers setting up on Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the day and evening was pretty busy tending to business so my pen hunting had to wait for the next day. That afternoon and evening I helped Nakaya organize their products and work show orientation with their translators. It really did not work, it was a special honor and I enjoyed every minute as every package was carefully unwrapped and explained. At one point I sat on the floor with the Wajima artists showing me how to paint bamboo leaves on an ebonite tile with urushi paint. Not too bad I think, I happily received polite applause for my effort and was very pleased.

The Nakaya Fountain Pen Company team arrived earlier on Tuesday. Nakaya had such a success at the recent Chicago Pen Show that Mr. Nakata decided shortly after he must attend DC. Tuesday was for touring DC and the Museums, Wednesday and Thurs for training with the hired translators and getting to know the hotel. Mr. Nakata’s first wish was to meet Nakaya customers and be sure they were happy, making nib adjustments if needed. I arrived Thursday to assist them with a myriad of these details from hiring the team of translators who blended beautifully with the Nakaya team. If you were there you would not even know who they were. Mr. Ed Sumoto, Brian Yang, and Tom Logan were brilliant as to how quickly they were able to learn about Nakaya products and the pen business. We were very happy they were able to assist and they are now permanent Nakaya fans.

Mr. Watanabe, Master Nib Maker was kept busy from Friday, custom shaping nibs for the hands of new and old customers. Mr. Matsubara sat at his lathe shaping ebonite caps and barrels. Using his own lathe shipped from Japan he made it appear very easy cutting and shaping ebonite rods as ribbon shavings fell into piles on the side. You can see in the photo album his trusty leather belt-driven lathe that has served him for almost 50 years. The ebonite rod is placed in the wooden mandrel with a hardwood collar which is simply hit with his hand to lock in and remove. Simple tools such as this have produced museum-quality Japanese products for centuries. Watching this made it appear as if I was stepping back into early Edo history. Visitors were invited to autograph the side of Mr. Matsubara’s cabinet, which gave him great pleasure, this is like a badge of honor he will proudly display in his shop.

Maki-e artists from the city of Wajima who decorate Nakaya pens attended also, demonstrating their skill at brush painting and maki-e-gold decoration. Visitors were invited to paint and also sprinkle the gold dust. I hand-painted one ebonite tile for practice, drawing bamboo leaves and Mr. Daiku added my personal kanji. The Wajima artists were Mr. Daiku who was accompanied by his wife Yoshiko and Mr. Kimio Wakashima. Ms Arisa Sato is assistant to Mr. Watanabe and Ms Nahomi Kusakabe is Nakaya Vice President. Mr. Shinichi Yoshida is in charge of Nakaya Design and Development. A very enthusiastic young man, Shinichi tells me “my goal is to make Nakaya products the very best possible.” Many new products are in development right now and I can say they will be outstanding, soon to be unveiled. Nakaya’s display was four tables displaying magnificent works of maki-e products such as small incense holders, leather and wood pen rests, Yatate pen carriers, and desk weights. I could not resist the tamenuri business card holder which perfectly matches my first tamenuri pen.

It almost seemed as if Japanese arts were the sub-theme of the show. I happen to appreciate maki-e and Japanese arts so I am very keen on the designs and materials. Take a look at who has produced Japanese arts designs or maki-e on their pens. Certainly, Sailor, Pilot and Nakaya, Krone with the Sun Tzu Art of War, Visconti today and as early as the Shunga series several years ago, Pelikan, Parker Asian market LE’s, Andy Lambrou’s Classic Pens on Duofold’s, Loiminchay, and DaniTrio pens are outstanding and reasonable. Fahrney’s Pens even commissioned Sailor for a 75th Anniversary pen called Cherry Blossom. David Ushkow specializes in Japanese and maki-e pens, his table is literally a small museum. It is always a wonderful experience talking to David, I make it a point to learn from him at every show. Walking a large pen show such as DC is an outstanding opportunity to see the mother lode of variety, and they’re sure is something for everyone.

Bernard Lyn from DaniTrio came to his first DC Pen Show. Bernard recently published his outstanding new book Maki-e, art for the soul explaining the arts, the artists, the tools, techniques, and history. Bernard brought some of his own maki-e collection, a beautiful display of very unusual designs, very unlike what I was expecting. His new DaniTrio eyedropper pens are stunning. I was drawn to the black maki-e. This is a raised design of satin black galloping horses on satin black barrels. The only other pen I ever saw like this was a Nakaya black dragon on satin black ebonite. Some day…someday that will be in my pocket. These handsome full-size eyedroppers with traditional Japanese ink shut-off design may be one of the next trends among pen manufacturers.

Honored Guest Geoffrey S. Parker was invited to attend. Geoffrey exhibited the Parker Pen Co. aircraft models along with a great laptop slide show of vintage Parker family archive images. He displayed the entire fleet including the WWII Spitfire GEO S. PARKER and the P51B Mustang “PARKER 51”. Aviation and Parker aircraft have long been a long-time hobby to both of us, so we were very happy to bring this to DC. The display was set up in the lobby so there was a nice crowd of visitors. It’s amazing how many people were drawn to the display, I met an A300 Airbus pilot, several WWII vets and I was soon in the thick of “war stories”. Geoffrey happily autographed many posters of the P51B Mustang as gifts and really impressed everyone with his knowledge and anecdotes of Parker’s family history and aircraft. Geoff has actually traveled in some of the Parker DC3s many years ago with his family so he had some great stories to relate, such as traveling from Janesville to Florida with his pet parrot cackling and whistling like crazy all the way.

Honored Guests of the show Juan Carlos Pallarols, his wife Milta, and son Adrian attended from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a sterling silver lover…I can say they are a sensation, to say the least. This name may not be familiar to many in the pen collecting community, however in the craft of silverwork the Pallarols comes from the oldest continuous family operation of silversmiths in the world, originating in Barcelona, Spain 250 years ago. Only a few things have changed from founder Vicente’s times. Presently, Juan Carlos uses some tools kept for more than 250 years, some were actually used at this show. Juan Carlos is teaching his son, Adrián, who works by his side. This way of working as a silversmith makes Pallarols workshop one of the most famous around the world. Pallarols is now producing custom order sterling pens for DuPont and at this show, several pen manufacturers expressed interest in collaboration with Pallarols.

Honored Guest Yukio Nagahara came from Japan representing Sailor pens and adjusted nibs for customers. Trained by his famous father, they are legends in Japan and now worldwide as creators and Master Nib Designers. In Japan, there is one word for the Master, it is “Kamisama” and everyone knows there is only one person honored with that name and it is Nagahara. Dick Egolf and Michael Masuyama of Luxury Brands USA are the U.S. distributors for Sailor and showcased their entire line of representation. Mary Burke is associated as Director of New Market Development in the U.S. for Conway Stewart pens.

INK !! This was ink heaven and rivers of color were flowing. The lobby had about 6 tables with every imaginable color from Private Reserve, Herbin, Diamine, Noodler, and every other pen maker brand. Every bottle was open and capless ( so they don’t walk away ! ) Clairfontaine test pads of papers were donated by Karen Doherty, VP of Exaclair, the U.S. distributor of Herbin inks, Clairfontaine, QuoVadis, and other high-quality stationery products. Dip pens were donated by Pandemonium. Visitors used Q-Tips to create their own ink samplers, and amazingly I did not see a single overturned bottle. I wondered who had all those caps and how they were going to figure out which belong to which !!

Friday morning dealers were streaming into the showroom by 8 am, the tables are first-come-first-serve and wall tables were preferred. By 9 am the room was full of dealers and plenty of early buyers some with pretty serious looks on their faces. This was a time to move quickly and try to get to those treasures before your good buddy. I really had a great pleasure, in particular, watching the Nakaya and Pallarols exhibits. From their first nervous anticipation of the crowds, seeing their eagerness to explain and show their products, then finally settling into the comfortable routine of knowing they were simply talking the same language to friends about their mutual love of pens and pen products.

The Friday evening Welcome Reception. Promptly at 7 pm, I was happy to introduce the honored guests of the show, Nakaya, Geoffrey S. Parker, the Pallarols, and Nagahara. This event was sponsored by Stylus magazine and Pentrace. Representing Stylus magazine were Publisher Gary George, Jon Messer, Associate Publisher, and Nancy Olson, Editorial Director. Yours truly representing Donal Higgins and Pentrace. People filled the lobby reception area mingling and meeting the Honored Guests which made them very happy. I guess I was not surprised, as honored as the crowd was to meet the special guests, the moment the pizza was brought out, there was an instant vacuum as the line formed and 360 pieces of assorted pepperoni and cheese slices disappeared in 14 minutes. Momentarily the room was a little quieter as the food was consumed, washed down with wine, beer, and soft drinks. Lips “smack” and not to waste a moment…back to the sport of pens, the crescendo builds again and it was either back into the trading room or everyone split off into groups and adventured out to local dinners. Dominos just loves it when the pen show comes to town.

Saturday morning, bright and early everyone finds assigned tables. I find a temporary glitch…my table next to Nakaya and Andy Lambrou is occupied by the table with huge coffee pots. Ok, at least I won’t have far to go for my morning java jolt. Andy is not smiling, he’s so serious, and I’m laughing trying to figure out how to keep it close by. In about 2 minutes the coffee was moved, I insisted “not too far” and we were set up in business. Good crowd, actually a terrific crowd with 800 people streaming into the show in the first 3 hours. Bob tells me this is a new record !! And, they were not all tire kickers, I heard great reports from many who had their best show ever simply on Saturday visitors. The crowd was thick all day, I hardly had time to leave my table and roam the aisles. Watching Nakaya I saw lines forming behind the chairs for visitors, not only to look and test the pens but also watching the Wajima artists. Mr. Nakata was constantly on the move from one end to the other meeting and greeting customers and new friends. Nakata had a very good idea with a large card printed on the table with common phrases in English and Japanese, so customers could either speak pen-show Japanese or just point to the right words for nib and pen adjustments.

In the main lobby leading to the showroom, the exhibitors were the Pen Show theme pen manufacturer Delta with Jerry Greenberg who was passing out his free Delta Maori Indigenous Peoples ink bottles to the first 200 visitors each day. The David Oscarson display is a compact glass-enclosed chest of stunning sterling silver and enamel. Jim Newman of Newman’s Pens, entirely made of crushed pearls are also unique to themselves, no one produces anything like this. Co-sponsors Glen and Susan Bowen from Pen World were handing out complimentary copies of Pen World and InSync magazines. They also sponsored an Ink Survey awarding prizes of inks and subscriptions. Jon Messer and Nancy Olson from Stylus magazine had loads of free International Watch and Stylus magazines. Stylophiles magazine was also represented by Bill Riepl, with his new bride Mary Burke stationed at Luxury Brands exhibit as Sailor’s new Director of Market Development in the U.S. Patrick Chu from Loiminchay was showing the new Olympiad Collection and you just have to see Jade in person to really be impressed. White and green jade under lights will glow as if full of life, incredibly beautiful and incredibly expensive. Rob Rosenberg displayed new Conklin pens, including a new model in all satin gold-filled cap and barrel with gems stones. I saw the first prototype, as yet unnamed. Bert and Alice Heiserman from Pen Haven with Louis Wolfy, huge display with one of the largest vintage selections of the show. Bert is expanding his new pen shop again and he just remodeled it a year ago. Fahrney’s Pens with Chris Sullivan is always the primary attraction in DC, as well as Bertram’s Inkwell, the best-known name in the DC area.

Adrian Pallarols with his mother Milta and his father Juan Carlos who was working on a beautiful sterling pen barrel, using his 200-year-old tools. Chuck Swisher had a huge display with his staff, and he was proudly displaying his newest lineup of Conway Stewart pens. Famous for his Southern smile, Chuck looked calm but was non-stop all weekend. New pen dealers surrounded the room, Maryann and Steve Zucker were there with Kim Sosin to display Signum pens. Maryann was so busy I hardly saw her and Steve together, so here’s an image of Steve and Kim. Richard and Barbara Binder were swamped. The lines formed as soon as they were set up and I rarely saw anything but the top of his head. Norman Haase and his wife were a popular table, Gary and Myrna Lehrer had their minty restored vintage pens, literally a traveling museum, and a walking history book. Ross McKinney and the Triangle Pen Club were a huge help to Bob Johnson and everyone came by to say hello.

Sam Fiorella of course had the biggest of everything you need for writing with a special edition run of Diamine inks, tons of Clairfontaine and Rhodia papers and journals, books, and everything pen-papers-inks you can think of. Sam announced the new book on Parker “51” by David Shepherd will be released at the London Pen Show in October and also at the Ohio Pen Show in November. She is taking pre-publication orders now let her know if want to reserve a copy. I’m sure this book will sell out quickly. My friend Miroslav Tischler, author of the book on Penkala pens was there, coming from Zagreb, Croatia. The country of Croatia will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Penkala in 2006 so Miro’s new Penkala book edition will be printed along with a special Penkala replica I have designed for the event.

What would a pen show be without Joel Hamilton and Sherrell Tyree? The gems from New Mexico are good friends and we were happy to see them. Terry Mawhorter, promoter of the Ohio and Raleigh Pen Shows was there. Of all things, he showed me a Raleigh Pen Co ink blotter, so guess what one of the show giveaways will be for Raleigh 2005? Legendary master craftsman pen repair person Rick Horne sat with another pen legend, 84-year-old Abe Schwartz. Abe flew B17s in the thick of things in ’44, participating in the single largest sortie of B-17s and P51 Mustangs in history. Besides pens, talk to Rick Horne about restoring vintage cars, his other long-time passion. From Israel Zilibi Moshe attended, fortunately, able to arrange his schedule as DC is a prime event he loves to attend. Vintage pens are pretty hard to find in Israel so he was here on a serious mission to find a few nice pens.

Susan Wirth, the only person with convenient standing height writing tables displayed hundreds of pens, every one inked and ready for testing in every imaginable nib size. No one is more patient and determined to get a customer the right pen and Susan is a walking encyclopedia of pen knowledge. Do you like desk pen bases? Paul Sameth always displays his collection at the show, and they are outstanding. The photos show only a small part, and these beauties are the ones for sale. Desk bases are getting harder to find, especially the nice ones with cast metal figures such as elephants, golfers, and horses. Lately, the only sources I find are on eBay and they go very quickly, but I still find some beauties there. I’ve suggested to pen makers for years to produce them again, and just maybe we will see some really nice new-vintage designs soon.

A very beautiful new line of pens is Taccia International. Owner Shu-Jen Lin attended with her young son and daughter. They were very near my table so I was able to study and appreciate the beautiful materials. Brilliant colors, gold nibs, a great crushed ice pattern that was quickly sold, and some Japanese lacquer design pens.

Tamara Stoneburner from the Washington Calligraphy Guild was demonstrating her calligraphy style on Saturday. If you ever have a chance, just sit and watch a calligrapher. It is almost a Zen experience. I find I hold my breath and concentrate with her as she forms every stroke. Watching the creation is a beautiful experience. I especially liked her gold calligraphy on dark blue papers. Mr. Nakata was so impressed he gave me some special Japanese paper scrolls after the show to have her create appropriate quotations.

So another great DC show has come and gone. Every moment was a wonderful experience. Every table had either a new friend or an old friend, a new story to tell, some history to learn, and always new knowledge that was shared. Of 200 exhibitors I could not mention everyone, hopefully, we’ll have more reports from others to fill in some blanks and share some stories. I look forward to next year and am quite amazed by show host Bob Johnson, his sister Barbara and his family that manage to present such a wonderful show. I just spoke with Bob on Thursday after the show. The show takes almost a year to prepare and it even takes a few days after to wrap it all up.

Hope to see you next year at DC, in the meantime, happy trails spread the word on the pleasures of pen and ink and write someone a nice long letter.

Some submitted photos were provided by courtesy of Jim Mamoulides of PenHero, Jay Pulli, and Elaine of Pentrace.

Recommended Reading

Introduction

Introduction

There is a wealth of information published on the internet on Pelikan fountain pens. In order to facilitate easy access to this information, I have compiled a list of links to all of the information that I have been able to find. I would like to thank the individuals and companies who have generously provided this information for the benefit of the fountain pen collecting community. I welcome any comments about this list, more information about Pelikan pens, or links to sites that I have overlooked.

General

Reviews

Pink and Purple Inks Part II

Pink and Purple Inks Part II

Note: The scans are in the same order from left to right as the reviews are from top to bottom

Pink and Purple Inks Part II

Pelikan Rosé (Rose Colored): Very unique interesting bright and light rosé-orange color, actually pretty similar to the color of rosé wine, but a little bit more intense. Might be mistaken for a strange bright red color and still too light/pale for writing, but great for underlining. (cartridge only)

Pink Inks:

Pelikan Pink: Light pink color with lesser intensity. Similar to Lamy Pink, has not had as many magenta tones as Waterman, Herbin, Rotring, and Jansen pinks. (cartridge only)

Herbin Rose Cyclamen: Light-medium pink color with good intensity, but slightly less intense and lighter than Waterman Pink. (bottled ink and cartridge)

Rotring Pink: Medium intense pink color, very similar to Waterman Pink with better intensity; slightly darker, but not as intense as Jansen Magenta. (bottled ink and cartridge)

Waltraud Bethge Papier Cool Colors Lavendel (Lavender): Nice blueish violet color similar to Herbin Violet but a little bit darker and with more/good intensity. Not as dark as Waterman Violet. (bottled ink only) learn more about Inks at http://pentrace.net/ink-review-water-resistance-of-blue-blue-black-and-black-inks/

Herbin Violet Pensée: Paler medium violet color similar to Sheaffer Lavender, but a little bit bluer and slightly darker. (bottled ink and cartridge)

Rotring Violett (Violet): Lighter medium violet towards the magenta tones, similar to Pelikan Lilac, but more blue and less intensity. Color is inbetween Pelikan Lilac and Sheaffer Lavender. (bottled ink and cartridge)

Pelikan Flieder (Lilac): Medium violet similar to Pelikan Violet, but lighter, less intense, and definitely more magenta tones. More intense than Rotring Violet. cartridge only)