Fountain Pen purchased in Mexico

My faithful readers (yup, both of them) may have noticed that last week I didn’t end with a “coming next week” teaser. That was because I hoped I would be inspired during my trip to Oaxaca, Mexico for this week’s topic and I was not disappointed.

One day as we were wandering the streets of Oaxaca I noticed some pens in a shop window. I went into El Aguila Librería y Papelería (The Eagle Bookstore and Stationery), an old-fashioned stationery store with everything behind wood and glass cabinets. Through broken Spanish and charades, I was able to communicate that I was interested in a fountain pen that I could refill myself without a cartridge (cartucho). They showed me a lovely pen that only cost 200 pesos ($13.70 Canadian dollars in today’s exchange rate) that fills with a syringe action. The shop assistant filled it with some blue Parker ink so that I could try it out. Parker still seems to be a big name in Mexico because they made a big deal about showing me a Parker pen too.

There is no brand name on this pen but the nib says 18KGP which indicates that it is 18K gold plated, although it doesn’t really have a gold colour. The other letters on the nib may be BAXR but I can’t find anything on the internet about it so it is a bit of a mystery where this pen was made. The ball on the end of the nib makes it much smoother to write with than my flex nib Noodler’s pen. The slim design has a nice balanced feel for my hand. I probably would have chosen a different colour but it only came in black. My one other complaint is that the cap is very stiff to pull off.

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This post almost didn’t happen because my luggage was held up in Calgary but fortunately did finally arrive yesterday with the contents, including my pen, safe and sound.

If this pen were a person it would be an mysterious Spanish woman with perfectly coiffed hair who can wear high heels on cobble stone streets without wobbling a bit.

UPDATE:  I have continued to try to figure out the brand of my fountain pen and think I have discovered the answer. It seems to be a Baoer, a Chinese brand of fountain pens. There isn’t much information about the company except that the pens are inexpensive and work well.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex Nib Pen

I have been using Noodler’s Standard Creaper Flex Nib pen for several years now. It is my first (and only) fountain pen and has a nicely tapered body which is a more comfortable size for my hand than the Ahab. I don’t make the most of the flex nib (#2) but it doesn’t cause any problems for me when I write. It can take a moment to get the flow going when you first start to write and makes a slight scritchy sound as it moves over the paper. I love the way the ink reservoir fills with a twisting mechanism. It works well but I always seem to end up with ink on my hands. This may be more a problem with my technique than the pen.

My pen was a gift from my daughter and she choose the panther pink for me but there are many other colours to choose from. At the same time, she thoughtfully gave me a bottle of blue-black Noodler’s ink with it. This is a very dark ink. Personally I would describe it more as black-blue. The blue tones mainly show up when I am trying to wash it off my fingers after filling the pen.

Like all Noodler’s products, both the pen and the ink are good value for what you get and don’t come over packaged.

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If this pen was a person it would be fun and unpretentious with a colourful style gleaned mainly from vintage stores and craft sales. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Coming next week: wood paper.

Rhodia and Habana paper samples

Back in November, I was lucky enough to get a variety of Rhodia and Habana paper samples from Laurie at Quo Vadis. Experimenting with them was part of the inspiration to stop just being a lurker in the paper and pen world to actually starting my own blog.  

First the Rhodia paper:

Four of the samples were 80g paper, one with a grid, two lined and then the one with a distinctive dot pattern. The dot pattern would be great for anyone who loves the look of a blank page but appreciates the subtle guide that the dots provide. I have also seen it used by zentangle designers and I imagine it would be great for working out ideas for other types of patterns like quilt designs. Of the two 80g lined samples, the difference between the regular Rhodia and the Rhodia Ice is slight. The regular Rhodia has very light blue lines (like the blue dots and graph paper) with the lines on the Rhodia Ice being closer to grey.

The Rhodia “R” Premium really is in a class of its own. All the Rhodia papers are smooth but the 90g premium sample has an almost satiny feel and a lovely creamy colour.

If the Rhodia graph paper were a person, it would be a meticulous engineer wearing a button-down shirt with jeans while the Rhodia dot person would choose the obscure novelty tee shirt (sweatshop free of course) to complete their look. Any of the Rhodia lined papers would be no-nonsense note takers with an appreciation for quality. There would be something about the Rhodia Premium paper person that would give you the sense that they don’t buy their clothes on sale. These papers are for those who know how to get the job done well without obnoxiously calling attention to themselves.

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The 85g Habana paper looks and feels very deluxe with an understated ivory colour. The lines are a soft gray and if you look very closely are actually made up of tiny dots . The lines are fairly close together (5 mm) so if you have a large scrawl you will have trouble containing yourself to just one line and would probably be better off using the Rhodia “R” Premium. This lovely high quality paper is very smooth. If the Habana paper was a person it would be an elegant and sophisticated international traveler with discerning taste wearing a string of pearls and smelling faintly of Chanel No. 5.

Because I am most likely to use lined paper myself, I did my tests on the lined samples. All of them were a delight to write on with only the Sharpie showing through to the back (Sharpies bleed through all paper in my experience). The gel pen experiment should be ignored because I ran out of ink (the pen’s problem not the paper). Because all of these papers are so smooth, it takes a long time for fountain pen ink, in this case Noodler’s blue black, to dry so smudging is a problem. However, there is no bleeding or feathering and the pen just glides over the page.

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An important factor with all Quo Vadis papers is that they make a real effort to source their paper from certified forests and to treat their employees well. I have no problem if that adds to the cost of their products.

These were great papers to test!

Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Fountain Pen

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I borrowed my daughter’s Noodler’s Ahab flex nib fountain pen to try out. This popular pen was first introduced about 5 years ago and features a steel flexible #6 nib. The ink reservoir is filled using a slide piston mechanism which works like a syringe. It is made of a celluloid derivative (an early form of plastic) which gave it an unpleasant smell when it was new but has since disappeared. Her model has a distinctive striated look (this one is called “Apache Tortoise”) that adds to the retro look as does the fairly fat body with a nicely shaped curved clip.

I can’t say my handwriting style makes the most of the flexible nib. You really have to press quite hard to get the thicker lines that the flexible nib promises. You may appreciate it more if you were using the pen for calligraphy or sketching. Other than that, it writes smoothly and is excellent value for the price.

If this pen was a person it would be a cool hipster dude with tortoise rim glasses and skinny jeans rolled with a cuff last overheard recommending beard oil to his friend. And with a name like Ahad he would have to have a navy peacoat.

Coming next week:  Rhodia and Habana paper samples.