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 or for more information about grinding nibs.

Have Pen, Will Write

Cliff "Jake" Jacobs

Scribo Ergo Sum

* Italian pens are the best!