Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pens & Watches

A few years ago STYLUS Magazine published an article about the connection between fountain pens and watches. The article focused on those companies that manufacture both. Market research shows that people who collect fountain pens are also inclined to collect watches and vice versa. Pen companies like Montblanc who have established themselves with a signature icon in one area, writing instruments, seek to establish themselves in yet another, time pieces, for the benefit of their devoted clients.

In this brief article I want to address why it is that men, in particular, are so fond of writing instruments and time pieces. This is not to suggest that women are not interested in pens and watches: they are. But as I'm writing from a male perspective I thought I would share my ruminations on the collecting habits of my species.

It seems that men have a fascination with tools, the more practical and utilitarian the better. Tools of one type or another enable one to complete a task: drill a hole, hang a picture, change a tire, launch a rocket into space.

Men also like luxury items but we don't want to be ostentatious in our use of them. (I know that there are men of a particular generation who are into "bling", I speak not of them.) Here, I speak of males that I would refer to as "gentlemen", men who tend to be professional, urbane and well educated. For men of that group a fine writing instrument and a classic time piece are as essential as a pair of penny loafers, a windbreaker from L.L. Bean, a tuxedo or a hand knotted bow tie. We enjoy these things because they give us a sense of timelessness and allow us to feel that we are part of a long honored tradition.

It is for this reason that I enjoy watches and fountain pens. In a world of expediency and a culture of disposable material acquisition, there are some of us who still seek some semblance of permanency and tradition. (If you really want to "go green" stop writing with disposable ball point pens and write with a fountain pen.) A classic watch or pen is a nice way for men to express their individuality while connecting to a timeless tradition.

Clifford Jake Jacobs
Have Pen, Will Write

Scribo Ergo Sum

Monday, November 24, 2008

Masonic Fountain Pen

Pictured to the left is a fountain pen, decorated with Masonic Symbols, that I recently purchased.

Here's a mini review:

The asking price is $70.00, which I think is a tad too much, $50.00 seems to me to be more reasonable. However, I was amazed at the smoothness of the nib and the consistent ink flow. I have more expensive pens that do not write this well. The smoothness of the nib and the ink flow justifies the asking price. No matter how great a pen looks, if it doesn't write well it's not worth the investment.

The pen has many Masonic symbols engraved on the cap, clip, barrel and nib, most of which can not be seen in the photo. The symbols include the following:

Twenty-four inch Gage
All Seeing Eye
Sprig of Acacia
Skull & Bones
Pentacle surrounded by an Ourobouros
Rough & Smooth Ashlars
Hour Glass
47th Problem of Euclid

The Square and Compasses are engraved on the nib along with the words Master Mason. The Square and Compasses can also be found on the clip with the words Master Mason encircling the cap band.

The pen has a nice heft but is not fatiguing to write with for long periods. Whether you purchase it for yourself or as a gift you will not be disappointed.

The site has other Masonic pens and paraphernalia for sale.

Click here: http://www.masonicsupplyshop.com/products/Masonic-Pen-set.html to explore the site.

Have Pen, Will Write


Clifford Jacobs

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I can't remember which of Kubrick's films I saw first. I think it was Dr. Strangelove but it was probably Spartacus, although at the time that I saw Spartacus I had no idea of what a film director did and I had even less knowledge of Stanley Kubrick. But one afternoon, while at home, I watched Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb on television. It was the funniest nightmare that I'd had ever experienced. When the movie was over I asked myself: "What mad genius is responsible for this vision?" For the first time I became aware of Stanley Kubrick and the role of the director in the making of a movie. I do subscribe to what the French call the Auteur Theory of film, which is to say that a director is responsible for a movie like an author is for a novel. And Kubrick is certainly the master of his own voice and vision.

When I learned that Kubrick's next movie would be 2001: A Space Odyssey, I quickly ordered my tickets through the mail so I could see it the day it opened. Once again Kubrick took me on a journey that I was all too willing to go on. I trusted Kubrick as a director and, intellectually, I followed him wherever he wanted to go. I've seen 2001: A Space Odyssey 27 times in a movie theatre and each viewing brings a new revelation - that's Kubrick for you.

Stanley Kubrick only made a baker's dozen of films, more or less, but each one has become a classic in its own right, although at the time of their release his films were often met with negative criticism. His major films are:

1.Fear and Desire (1953)
2. Killer's Kiss (1954)
3. The Killing (1956)
4. Paths of Glory (1957)
5. Spartacus (1960)
6. Lolita (1962)
7. Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
8. 2001 : A Space Odyssey (1968)
9. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
10. Barry Lyndon (1975)
11. The Shining (1980
12. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
13. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Although Kubrick worked in different genres, one can find common themes in all of his films. One of the important ideas that I've been able to discern is that people, and sometimes machines, are often over programmed to the point of self destruction. HAL, the computer in 2001, is over programmed, as is Alex in A Clockwork Orange, Jack Nicholson is metaphysically over programmed by the haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining, Private Pyle, in Full Metal Jacket, succumbs to the over programming of Marine boot camp and kills himself. And in Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise over programs himself with lustful thoughts about himself and his wife.

Kubrick, in my opinion, uses film to put forth his ethos. When I read Stephen King's The Shining, I was excited to know that it was Kubrick's next project as I really enjoyed the book. When I saw the film I was disappointed because a lot of the book was not brought to the screen; for a moment I felt cheated. Later, while talking with a friend, he said to me, "Cliff you went to see a film of a Stephen King novel watch it again as a Stanley Kubrick film, it's his commentary on the nuclear family." He was so right. Kubrick's Shining has little to do with Stephen King and everything to do with Kubrick (with whom he just happens to share the same monogram.)

Every Kubrick film has a scene that takes place in or just outside a bathroom. From the Zero Gravity toilet in 2001 to the death of Private Pyle at the end of the first act of Full Metal Jacket to the ghosts of the dead that Nicholson confronts in The Shining. I'm not going to point them all out to as it will ruin the fun of discovering them on your own.

Finally, I loved the way Kubrick used music in his films. He used source music almost exclusively with the exception of Full Metal Jacket where an original score was composed. The composer Alex North was asked to compose an original score for 2001, but Kubrick abandoned the idea in favor of Strauss, Ligeti, Khachaturian and others. And of course he worked closely with Wendy Carlos on the scores to A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. For the most part Carlos reworked the classics through her Well Tempered Synthesizer, but she did, occasionally, compose original music.

When Stanley Kubrick died in 1999 I was saddened by his passing. I felt as though I grew up with him or at least his films, and there would never be another Stanley Kubrick film . His movies were very important to me during my formative years. His films made me think about life, love, war, death, happiness and the future of civilization. Heavy subjects for a teen to ponder but I'm all the better because Kubrick caused my eyes to be opened wide.

Clifford Jake Jacobs
Have Pen, Will Write

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

On Tuesday August 26, 2008 at, approximately 3:30pm I received the Thirty Third and last degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. What does that all mean?

The Scottish Rite offers an opportunity for a Freemason to learn more about the Fraternity and in the process learn something about himself. There are three primary degrees in Freemasonry: the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft and the Master Mason. One need not take any degree beyond these three and one will still be considered a full fledged member of the society. Beyond the Master Mason, or Third, Degree a Freemason has the option of taking additional Degrees by joining either or both of two appendant bodies: the York Rite or the Scottish Rite.

The Scottish Rite consists of degrees extending from the 4th to the 32nd. These degrees may be applied for by any Brother that has received the first three degrees. We refer to the Scottish Rite Degrees as additional degrees not higher degrees. Becoming a Scottish Rite Mason does not give the individual more power or authority. It may, however, indicate that you have a zeal for the Fraternity and a desire to increase in knowledge in regards to the Fraternity, life's hidden mysteries and one's self.

The Thirty Third Degree is an invitational degree, one can neither apply for nor ask for it; to do so is to be excluded from ever receiving it. Of course, one must be a member of the Scottish Rite in order to qualify as a possible recipient. The Supreme Council reviews the contributions that the candidate has made to Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Freemasonry in general and the contributions that the individual has made in his private life for the greater good of society. And, of course, one has to be at least 33 years old.

For me the 33rd Degree takes on added significance in that I was born exactly thirty three years after both my mother and father, they having been born in 1921. And I also happen to be the third child born to George and Dorothy Jacobs. The number three, and hence the number thirty three, is laden with significance and the student of numerology will find that there is much to learn about that mystical number.

There isn't much that I can say about the ceremony because it would be a violation of my obligation to do so. But I will say that the opening reception of the candidates into the hall where the degree is conferred is a thing of beauty, and as Keats wrote, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness..."

[From left to right], Ill. Harold Aldrich,33 Grand Minister of State
Ill. Curtis Banks, 33; Ill. Clifford Jacobs,33
Ill. Edward Trosin, 33 PGM of New York State

Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin was the pilot of the Lunar module that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. When the module landed Buzz Aldrin spoke these words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Buzz Aldrin is a 33rd Degree Freemason and a member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. To the left is the Scottish Rite flag that Buzz Aldrin carried to the Moon. So now when I think of the words, "The Eagle has landed" they now take on a new meaning for me. I've never walked on the Moon but I have walked on clouds, and having received the 33rd Degree I too can say that "the Eagle has Landed", right on my shoulders.

(This is a photo of my Dad, George Louis Jacobs, Sr around 1964. This photo reminds me of the photo that Margie took in Providence, Rhode Island in August. My Dad was not a Mason, but he was an active Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America for well over twenty years. He possessed every virtue that all Masons are admonished to inculcate, as such I can say he was "A Mason without an apron."

So Mote it Be!

Deus Meumque Jus

Clifford Jacobs
Have Pen, Will Write

Friday, August 1, 2008


In the cauldron of New York in the late sixties a new form of art was born. Some considered it vandalism others considered it a symbol of urban blight - none dared to call it art save those who gave birth to it. We know this art form as Graffiti, a term that the artists themselves do not use. I call it Urban Street Art or, as my man K.R. ONE refers to it, "A highly stylized derivative of the alphabetical system, the enigmatic bending of what were once known as your ABC's."

Okay, I will concede that, to write on a subway car or the side of a building, without someone's permission, is an act of vandalism. However, graffiti moved from the street into the art gallery a long time ago. I knew this back in the mid eighties when I worked for Sotheby's Auction House in New York. Works by street artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring started showing up in Sotheby's galleries and they were being sold, at that time, for tens of thousands of dollars. The same society, that vilified graffiti artists as vandals and criminals, was very eager to acquire their works on canvas to display in their condos on the upper east side. But this is often the case with art and artists. At Sotheby's we use to say that the profits from the sale of Impressionist paintings paid the rent and all of the salaries; Impressionist paintings being the most expensive in the market place. Yet we know that Van Gogh died virtually penniless after shooting himself in 1890. I also learned at Sotheby's that art appreciation has little to do with how much you like a work of art but how much that art will increase in value in the years to come.

Urban Street Art (U.S.A. dig!) had to be invented given the social climate at the time. There is always a symbiosis among the painter, the poet and the musician in any given generation. When jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman released his album FREE JAZZ in 1961 whose painting graced the cover of the album? None other than Jackson Pollock, aka "Jack the Dripper", after all, you couldn't use a Rembrandt or a Caravaggio for the jacket of an album of free form improvisational music. Meanwhile on the other side of town , Baraka, Coltrane and DeKooning were creating a dithyramb of poetry, music and painting: an ars poetica for a new generation.

[On this page to the left is the cover of the album COLTRANE'S SOUND. To the right cover of Ornette Coleman's FREE JAZZ.]

The arrival of Urban Street Art was a continuation of an evolution that can be traced through the record cover art of the sixties and those glorious posters for concerts at the legendary Fillmore East & West.

[Top left & right we have the work of Abdul Mati Klarwein who designed the album covers for
Miles Davis' BITCHES BREW and for Santana's ABRAXAS. Bottom left is a poster for a concert at the Filmore featuring Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall.]

These urban neo-Miros and neo-Mondrians were troubadours of the transit system. Hell, they couldn't afford to buy and stretch canvases so they used what was available until they "got up and got noticed."

Even the late great Norman Mailer immortalized graffiti in his rare out of print book entitled, THE FAITH of GRAFFITI.

When I was at Sotheby's I worked on a video treatment of a collection of Impressionist paintings. The collection consisted of Lautrec, Monet, Pissaro, Renoir, Cezanne and Cassatt among others. The videotape depicted the beauty of the paintings magnificently with fades and dissolves that both accentuated and complimented the paintings. All that was needed was music. I tried Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Brahms and none of their music worked. When I spoke with a Hungarian film director named Karoly Bardosh, I asked him why was I having such a difficult time finding suitable music. He said I needed to use Impressionist composers whose music was more compatible with Impressionist paintings. He suggested using Claude Debussy, Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel. These are the composers who were doing in music what Monet and Mary Cassatt were doing on canvas. When I told Karoly how well the music complimented the paintings he said if I was looking for poetry in the same vein I should look at the work of Ezra Pound. Again the triumvirate of painting, music and poetry. So along with the arrival of this new Urban Street Art came Hip-Hop (rap) and break dancing. While pundits demeaned street artists in the press, Macy's and Bloomingdales were profiting from the sale of the urban street fashion that these artists inspired; from Harlem to haute couture. Like Punk Rock before, you know you've been co-opted when they start selling t-shirts held together with safety pins on Fifth Avenue, or when Rothko, Twombly and Motherwell, are sharing the stage with Basquiat, Haring and Fab Five Freddy.

Miles Runs the Hendrix Down



It's time to stop treating Urban Street Artists as criminals. By referring to this art as graffiti is to vilify both the art and the artist, while people, who know better, earn huge profits from its sale.

By the way, the creators behind this art movement do not call themselves graffiti artists, they simply refer to themselves as "writers."

I end this blog with a quote that I saw in a museum in Portland, Oregon some years ago:

"Art is the Holy Land wherein initiates seek
to reveal the spirituality of matter. As such
art can be counted as one of the supreme
sources of the triumph of the human spirit."

Have Pen, Will Write


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hermann Hesse & Thomas Mann

I'm currently reading a book entitled "The Hesse/Mann Letters", which is a book of correspondence exchanged between the German authors Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann from 1910 to 1955. In the book's forward it states that Thomas Mann wrote more than twenty thousand letters during his lifetime and Hermann Hesse wrote more than thirty-five thousand letters, not to mention their collective contribution to literature, both fiction and belles lettres. Can you imagine writing twenty thousand letters in your lifetime? A truly amazing feat, even five thousand letters would impress. I've read a great deal of Hermann Hesse's work: Siddharta, Steppenwolf, Demian, Narcissus and Goldmund to name but a few of his novels. I've also read a great deal of Hesse's autobiographical writings during my college years. Hesse's essays provided me with comfort and stability during my twenties especially after I abandoned the existentialists who I love dearly. I've yet to read any of Mann's works (Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice) aside from his correspondence to Hesse in the aforementioned book.

I realize that it is possible to send the equivalent amount of email or text messages in one's lifetime, however it's not simply the quantity of messages but their quality. And who knows, those numerous letters written by Hesse and Mann may have been written with a typewriter a new technology that I'm sure some people rebelled against when it first made its appearance in the early 1800's. I've raised this issue in previous blogs where I suggested that the quality of one's writing may be affected by the medium used to write the words. I always start with a fountain pen and notebook, unless my thoughts are so pregnant that they spring forth from a shortened gestation period.

I see a lot of young people text messaging each other incessantly. This could be a good thing, as it means that there is communication happening however, I'm afraid that the quality of those text messages is not of a literary quality, certainly not on a par with Hesse and Mann.

I truly hope that the art of the hand written letter does not become a thing of the past. It even feels awkward to refer to handwritten letters as an "art" since for centuries it was the de rigueur form of communication.

Renes Descartes wrote "Cogito, ergo sum - I think therefore I am". Another philosopher observed that thinking alone is not proof of existence, even animals are capable of something resembling thought. Said philosopher posed this "Cogito, cogito ergo sum - I think that I think, therefore I am" the idea being that only humans can think about the act of thinking thus proving one's existence. And so, I've added Scribo ergo sum to the canon, I write therefore I am or perhaps Scribo Cogito ergo sum - I write about thinking, therefore I am.

Have Pen, Will Write

Clifford Jake Jacobs

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pen Pillows

About twelve years ago a friend of mine, Holly MacBain, gave me a curious gift. She presented me with a wooden box that had Japanese lettering written on the lid. When I opened the box there were six porcelain chopsticks rests inside. Now I do love to eat with chopsticks but when I'm using them I rarely set them down until I'm done eating. So I tucked the gift in the closet and there they sat for twelve years. Jump to 2008.

I'm sitting at my desk at work writing with a fountain pen, which is de rigueur for me, and I laid my pen down uncapped for a moment. My note pad absorbed some ink from the nib having touched the paper and created a small ink blot. I thought to myself: Wouldn't it be nice to have some sort of pen rest where I could momentarily set my pen aside without getting ink all over and without having to cap the pen. Suddenly I remembered those chopsticks rests. I couldn't wait to get home and dig them out.
Now I will admit that chopsticks rests are not pen holders, however you could put two or three together and they could serve that purpose. But they work quite well as a resting spot while writing. They come in an array of shapes, sizes and color and can be a really cool item to have on your desktop. They are also very inexpensive ranging in price from $1.00 to about $6.00 for a complete set. You can buy them to match the color of the pen that you're using that day. So the next time you find yourself in your local Chinatown keep your eyes open for these unique items.

Scribo Ergo Sum
Clifford "Jake" Jacobs
Have Pen, Will Write

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Le Penne di Italiano sono il Migliore*

I never considered myself to be a "pen collector" but rather a pen user. I like fountain pens; I buy them and I write with them as often as I can. Well, if one purchases enough pens over time you eventually end up with a "collection."

My collection lacked focus. I have American pens, German pens and French pens. And then I discovered the Italians. I believed for a long time that the best fountain pens were being made in Germany by companies like Pelikan, Montblanc and Lamy. And then I discovered Italian writing instruments and I fell in love with their design and craftsmanship.

My love of Italian pens started when I developed an interest in purchasing a quality writing instrument with an italic nib. As a calligrapher I enjoy writing with a chiseled, stub or italic nib on a daily basis. For many years my writing instrument of choice was the Sheaffer No Nonsense Calligraphy Pen that I outfitted with an aerometric converter which gave me the option of filling from a bottle instead of using cartridges. The Sheaffer pens write very well, are very dependable and cost about four or five dollars. But I was ready to graduate to a finer writing instrument especially one with an italic nib. Very few companies make their higher priced pens with calligraphy nibs. It takes a trained hand to write with these specialized nibs and some collectors are not interested in acquiring calligraphic skills, so the demand for higher quality pens with italic nibs is not very high.


My first quality pen with italic nib was an Aurora Ipsilon in blue with 14 karat gold nib. A wonderful pen and a very smooth writer. The pen is somewhat short in length, I prefer a heftier pen, but that's a minor criticism.

I've also purchased a second Ipsilon, an Aurora Talentum and a Talentum Finesse. I'm particularly fond of the Aurora line of writing intsruments. In my humble opinion I believe Aurora is to Italy what Montblanc is to Germany. If I had to choose between a Montblanc and an Aurora, the Aurora would win hands down. Now I know what I just said borders on sacrilege but I really do prefer Aurora over its German counterpart. Only Pelikan can rival Aurora as the writer's pen of choice.


I've also been writing with pens made by Stipula and I'm the happy owner of three Stipula fountain pens: a Duetto, Ventidue (22) and Etruria Gaudi Casa Batllo. All three pens are wonderful to write with. The Ventidue has an internal piston filling system, the others are cartridge/converters.

Not all pen manufacturers make their own nibs, often nib work is contracted to a company that makes nibs. Both Stipula and Aurora make their own nibs in the same factory where their pens are designed and manufactured.


There are other Italian manufacturers of quality writing instruments: Omas, Visconti, Delta, Tibaldi and Montegrappa. I will be looking at some of these pens in future.

The good news is that you can have just about any fountain pen nib ground to your liking. Visit http://www.nibs.com/ or http://www.richardspens.com/ for more information about grinding nibs.

Have Pen, Will Write

Cliff "Jake" Jacobs

Scribo Ergo Sum

* Italian pens are the best!

Friday, May 30, 2008


About a week or two ago the three pens above appeared in one of my dreams. Why? Well I don't really know. They say that you know you have truly mastered a foreign language when you begin dreaming in that language. Perhaps I'm so totaly immersed in the world of pens that they have now become a part of my subconscious. The pen on the top left is a Kristal fountain pen in red made by the KRONE company. The white pen in the middle is a MICHEL PERCHIN Imperial fountain pen in white guilloche and 22 karat gold. On the bottom left is an OMAS Mezzo fountain pen in Mandarin. The OMAS is triangular in shape and the one in my dream was burgundy not orange. I like all three of these pens but why they should show up in my dream is a mystery to me.

In my dreams these pens were being given to me by a friend, not so much as a gift but more as a token of appreciation for a task that I performed. I can't remember who the person was in the dream that gave me the pens, but I do remember that it was a woman.

"Dreams are illustrations...from the book your soul is writing about you."
- Marsha Norman
American Playwright

Scribo, Ergo Sum


Thursday, May 22, 2008

HAVE PEN, WILL WRITE: June Cablecast

For those of you who live in Queens, New York, there will be a re-cablecast of the two part program HAVE PEN, WILL WRITE in June, 2008. The cablecast dates are as follows:

Parts 1 and 2 (One hour cablecast of both shows.)
Thursday June 5th at 5:00PM - 6:00PM Channel 35
Monday June 30th at 8:30PM - 9:30PM Channel 34

Tuesday June 8th at 3:00PM - 3:30pm Channel 35
Wednesday June 18th at 8:00PM - 8:30pm Channel 56

Thursday June 12th at 12:00PM Channel 56
Friday June 27th at 7:00PM Channel 35

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Antoni Gaudi

I once asked a fellow fountain pen collector, "What's your favorite pen?" She replied, "The next one that I'm going to buy." Ah, so true! Just when I think that I've found my Holy Grail of pens, another one catches my eye and the pursuit begins once again.

I recently purchased an Aurora Talentum pen in black with silver trim and 14 karat gold italic nib. I already own an Aurora Talentum Finesse with an italic nib which is an exceptional writing instrument. The Finesse is slimmer than the regular Talentum and I was interested in the larger model with its added girth. It too is a wonderful writer. As a calligrapher I prefer writing with a chiseled nib. And then I espied the Stipula Gaudi Casa Batllo.

Antoni Gaudi was a Catalonian architect born in Spain in 1852. He was a part of the Modernisme or Art Nouveau Movement, and is famous for his unique architectural style which emerged from the well spring of his imagination. His creations are so fantastic that it was once believed that he loaned his name to the term "gaudy." But, in truth Shakespeare used the term in Hamlet and King Henry the VI - "The gaudy blabbing and remorseful day is crept into the bosom of the sea." Here, Shakespeare used the word gaudy to mean festive. And Gaudi's architecture is festive to the extreme. Admittedly, I did not like Gaudi's work when I first saw pictures of it in books. Some years ago I traveled to Spain with Margie and Muggs, two members of the Sisterhood of the Silver Circle, and I had the chance to see Gaudi's creations up close and personal; they moved me. Who was this artist of unbridled imagination?

When I returned stateside, I read a biography of Gaudi which gave me a deeper understanding of the man behind the artist. I learned that the Catholic Church was considering canonizing him as a saint but stopped short of doing so because he might have been a Freemason. As a Freemason myself this made Gaudi more endearing to me.

The Stipula Gaudi Casa Batllo is a limited edition fountain pen. I purchased number 79/193. Which is to say that only 193 pens were manufactured in each of two versions. The first is black with silver and enamel accents the other in a pattern that's known as "cracked ice" with silver clip and band. In length and girth the pen is akin to a Montblanc 146 Le Grande. It takes a cartridge or a converter and is great as an everyday writer. My biggest decision was, what color ink should I fill it with. After hours of pondering, I settled on Private Reserves' Avocado which compliments the blue/green enameling on the cap and barrel.

In purchasing this pen I was most certainly driven by the theme, but I also had a familiarity with the Stipula product line. I own a Stipula Duetto in lemoncello with titanium nib, a wonderful writer that lays down a bold wet line of ink and affords contrast between thick and thin lines which lends character to one's script.

There are currently about six pen manufacturers that have pens with a Gaudi theme: ACME, Ancora, Pelikan, Caran d'Ache, Stipula, Montegrappa and Sailor. Most of the pens were created in 2002 in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Gaudi's birth. As most of the pens are limited editions (LE), there are very few available on the open market.

If you have an interest in these pens I suggest that you act quickly as they will become rare very shortly.

Scribo Ergo Sum.

Cliff Jacobs

Have Pen, Will Write

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HUES OF BLUE: A Tale of Ink

After the fountain pen itself nothing is more important than the ink you fill it with. Without ink a fountain pen is only an objet d'art, but it is not a tool. Ink, without the directing power of a pen, is only an amorphous liquid with no meaning. Pen and ink combined yield something greater than the sum of its parts, the mathematical equation of which is 1+1=3.

It's not my intention to give a detailed history of ink, that can be found on a numerous of Internet sites. Instead I'll share with you my musings on the subject of ink.

No one knows for certain where ink originated, the Ancient Egyptians, Hebrews and Chinese all used some substance that enabled them to write on parchment or papyrus. Early ink was often made from lampblack, soot, ashes, crushed berries and "ink" from cuttlefish and octopi. The Chinese are given credit for having created India ink which combined soot, oil and grease into a substance that would adhere or bind itself to the writing surface. Ostensibly ink is a binding agent which burns itself into the paper. Because early inks were high in acidity, early manuscripts and documents bear holes where the ink has eaten through the parchment. The presence of these holes is one way to discern the authenticity of ancient documents.
Because of the corrosive nature of early inks, the nibs on many antique pens show signs of erosion. For an ink to be balanced it should have a pH level between 6 and 7. Low pH (2, 3) veers towards acidity; very high pH levels (9, 11) are high in ammonia content. In either case, both extremes are bad for pens.

Nathan Tardiff is the founder of Noodler's Ink, absolutely positively one of the best ink brands on the market. All of Noodler's inks have a neutral pH and are safe for fountain pens. In addition they are often designated as being "bulletproof" which means they are impervious to chemicals, bleach and other agents, once the ink has dried on the page. Nathan has a standing offer of $1000.00 for anyone who can remove his ink from a check or any other paper stock. In the past this could only be accomplished with India ink or indelible ink which is not safe for fountain pens. India ink in particular contains shellac and when this ink enters the capillaries of the pen's feeder system the pen will be damaged and in need of serious repair. Never, ever put waterproof, permanent or India ink in a fountain pen - NEVER! Nathan uses the term bulletproof as opposed to waterproof which means they are safe for pens but become permanent when pen is put to page. Noodler's also produces inks that will not freeze in sub Arctic temperatures and inks that contain lubricants to keep a pen's mechanism functioning smoothly. I'm sure there hangs a sign on his laboratory door that reads, "Genius at work."

Among my favorite inks in current use are:

Noodler's Red-Black: A nice combination that's pleasing to the eye; slightly chocolate
(Ottoman Rose is also quite nice.)

Noodler's Legal Blue: A professional business blue that's bulletproof & forger proof
(Available only from Art Brown International Pen Shop.)

Noodler' Heart of Darkness: Darker than a black hole in deep space or in Calcutta

Noodler's X Feather: You could write on a paper towel and it will not feather or bleed

Noodler's Bay State Blue: A blue that's vibrant and electric; brilliant beyond belief

Private Reserve's Naples Blue: My everyday blue, aesthetically pleasing to mind, body & soul

Private Reserve's Avocado: A warm embraceable green

Private Reserve's Quick Drying Ultra Black: Deep, dark and intense

Private Reserve's Purple Mojo: In the words of Austin Powers - Yeah, Baby, Yeah!

There are many manufacturers of ink: Diamine from England, Aurora from Italy, Sailor from Japan and Pelikan from Germany all mix wonderful pigments. The thing to remember is that the combination of pen and ink is very unique. An ink that works wonderfully in one pen may not work as well in another pen of a different make or model; you have to experiment until you find the right match-up. Be sure to rinse out your pens at least once a month to avoid clogging problems. A good rinse is important when switching between inks not only for reasons of color but also for the differences in brands. I suggest that you purchase a nasal aspirator which is great for flushing out the nib and feeder.

Scribo Ergo Sum