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


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pen Repair

Under my blog entry for the Recife Mercuri Arabesque, I received a comment from someone who needs to have their Mercuri fountain pen repaired. The person who posted anonymously didn't leave their email address so I'm posting my response here.

The headquarters for Recife in the United States is located in Orleans, Massachusetts. Their contact information is:

c/o PFA
P.O. Box 2314
Orleans, Ma. 02653
Customer Service Telephone: 508.240.3075
FAX: 800.647.1882
Email: pifay@aol.com
CEO/President: Pierre Fay

You can also contact John Mottishaw of Classic Pens at:


Richard Binder at:

In the blog that was posted it was stated that the pen rolled off a desk. Remember that it is a good habit to "post" the cap, which means place the cap of the pen on the back end. If you lay the pen down the clip on the cap prevents the pen from rolling off your table or desk.

Please let me know how you make out with the information provided. I have a fairly complete list of where to send pens for repair depending on the manufacturer. The list is too lengthy to post in its entirety, so if you have a question about where to have a particular writing instrument repaired, please post here on the site or email me at : waznojake2001@yahoo.com. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I can respond to you directly.

Have Pen, Will Write