Thursday, October 28, 2010


Somehow, I stumbled across Jet Pens -- then Strikethu reviewed a pair of their pens, which put them squarely in the "probably good" category.

I'd set a bit of funding aside and last weekend, ordered a few nifty items. They arrived yesterday (free shipping, at my door in three business days, from California), well packed, and all at least as nice as promised. Jet Pens is good!
[click for larger image]
Left to right, top to bottom to bottom:
Kaweco (warning: music) "Classic Sport," a full-size (when posted) fountain pen that, thanks to clever design, is about half-size when capped. Designed as a pocket pen, even the clip is an (inexpensive) accessory. It feels good in my hand and the nib is very smooth. It is a classic-looking pen, even with the unusual oversize cap (not only does that make the short length work, it offers a little more protection than the usual size). Ink for it at right. Despite the name sounding a bit Japanese to American ears (due to syllabic structure, I think), it's made in Germany. Love those graphics! At $15.00, this is an inexpensive pen, excellent value for the money.
Next, the brown pen is a Noodler's aerometric fill, handmade made of genuine ebonite. I said the Kaweco had a smooth nib? This is a step or two more smooth. A very plain-looking pen at first sight, but don't be fooled! Those timeless, 1920-or-this-year looks are no illusion: this pen is as good as any golden age Parker Duofold or Conklin at a third the price (or less).
To the right, three tiny Pilot "Petit1" pens in jewel-bright colors. The ink is well-behaved, doesn't run at color crossings and the nibs are outstanding, especially for a $4.50 pen. They're so small that you just about have to post the cap in order to write with them. I'll be saving up for the full set of 12. One drawback, the ink cartridge appears to be proprietary; they're available at the source, though, and inexpensive.
Back on the left, another Pilot, a "Plumix" with a music nib. I had thought it might be good for handwriting, as they can be run backwards, unlike most "Italic" calligraphy nibs. Yes and no -- my sloppy Spencerian cursive doesn't work well with the nib angle, but it is very good for printing and genuine Italic writing. (I'm trying to remember the style of printing, rapid and fairly legible, I adopted some years ago, can't bring it to mind. Aargh!) (29 October: Got it! Chancery cursive, which is not all that cursive as we know the term. For very pretty examples, look here.
Finally, underneath it all, a Maruman Mnemosyne "Inspiration" note pad, grid-ruled and about 8.5" by 6". I'm evaluating it to possibly replace my current Moleskines field-type notebook (same size, staple bound) once it is filled with notes. (At a page per day, they last three or four months.) The paper is wonderful! It takes ink well, with no bleed-through or running and feels smooth and neutral. I'm not sure how well the ring-binding will hold up in my purse -- I may need to keep a pencil in there to protect the rings from being crushed. (Gotta like the neckless-people cartoons showing the note pad in use, too).

Monday, October 18, 2010


I think it was an improvement:I've added a shelf over the window seat. It helps define the space and it will serve as a place to store some of my typewriter collection. (Tools used are on the seat, along with a pile of books. Still working on the bookshelves).Brackets are a Victorian repro from Lee Valley, sprayed with black lacquer and a quick swipe of cream enamel (I had to paint them: they are re-used and had rusted a little). Edge detail on the wood (a bit difficult to see in the photos) was done using a very simple tool: a flathead, slotted woodscrew in a bit of scrap 1-by-2. You screw it in to the desired width of the edge bead, then file the head of the screw flatter, creating a sharp edge at the slot. Worked along the edge of the wood, it cuts a groove while smoothing and slightly rounding the corner. I picked the most interesting side of the glued-up board for the bottom. It's just pine, planed flat and smoothed with a scraper. I think this shows the depth of the grain better than sanding.
The finish is just boiled linseed oil and wax. I like the scent, once it's crosslinked enough to not be overpowering.

Will it hold typewriters? It should. The upper screws found a good, solid bite into the window frame. I'll find out gradually.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I don't know how I missed it! A friend posted photos several weeks back of a 1917 IHC "Titan," in as-new condition, and I've just now found them. Have a look. And if you're into the numbers, try these on for size: two cylinders, 9 3/4" bores, 14" strokes. Now that's big iron indeed.