Friday, July 17, 2009

The Laban Mento Terrazzo

Ostensibly, this blog is about fountain pens and the art of the hand written letter. However, I sometimes venture off into other realms of thought and forget to write about writing, so a mini review of my recent pen purchase should, to paraphrase Dylan, "bring it all back home."

The writing instrument pictured above is the Laban Mento Terrazzo marble resin fountain pen. If you are looking for an impressive writing instrument that performs well and doesn't cost too much the Mento Terrazzo may be the pen for you.

In size it's as large as the Montblanc 149 Diplomat. If you are unfamiliar with Montblanc's signature pen let me say this: The Laban Mento Terrazzo is hefty but it's not heavy. (It ain't heavy it's my writing instrument.)

In looks the pen is very retro, and is not as yellow as the photo above would have you believe. The tones are more in the spectrum of blacks, grays and egg shell. What's nice is that the pattern is carried over to the gripping section, which on many of the Laban pens, are black. The clip and the band are made of steel. For its size it is very light in weight so it is not fatiguing to write with for extended periods.

The nib is two toned stainless steel and lays down a line that is on the thinner side of medium. (More like a European medium than an American medium.) At first the pen seemed very dry to me; the ink flow was rather stingy. By slightly increasing the space between the nib and the feed I was able to increase the ink flow. Because the nib is stainless steel and not 14k gold, the pen is very affordable. Over at iSellPens ( you can purchase this pen for $69.00. Some dealers are asking anywhere from $89.00 to $125.00 for this pen. Even at $125.00 dollars this still makes for an excellent purchase Have Pen, Will Write

Cliff Jake Jacobs
Scribo Ergo Sum

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Daniel D. Tompkins: Freemason & Patriot

Daniel D. Tompkins
Freemason and Patriot
1774 - 1825

Daniel D. Tompkins was born in Scarsdale, New York on June 21, 1774. He attended Columbia University which was known, at that time, as Columbia College, and was admitted to the bar in New York State in 1797.

Tompkins had a stellar career not only in New York State politics but also on the national stage. In 1804 he was elected to Congress but he resigned before being seated in order to become an Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. He served in that capacity from 1804 - 1807 when he resigned in order to preside as the newly elected Governor of New York, a position he held for ten years. But as fate would have it Tompkins was once again in the distinct position of resigning from a prestigious job to serve in a higher office, that of Vice President of the United States.

Before resigning from the Governorship to assume his seat as Vice President of the U.S., he wrote a letter to the New York State legislature recommending that a date be set aside for the abolition of slavery within the borders of New York. His voice was heard and the New York State Assembly chose the date of July 4, 1827 as the official date to end slavery in New York, thirty six years prior to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Immediately thereafter he began his service as Vice President of the United States under the Presidency of James Monroe from 1817 to 1825

Tompkins' Masonic career began in 1800 when he was made a Mason in Hiram Lodge No.72 located in Westchester County in New York. He was only a Mason for four months when he was elected Deputy Grand Secretary in 1801.

While serving as Vice President of the United States, Daniel Tompkins was twice elected Grand Master of the State of New York and served in that capacity from 1819 to 1822. During his first run for the position of Grand Master his only opponent was Dewitt Clinton who would later succeed Tompkins not only as Grand Master of Masons but also as the Governor of New York. While serving as Governor, Tompkins found time to host the visiting Marquise de Lafayette and entertained this esteemed Brother Mason at his residence on Staten Island.

Tompkins received his Scottish Rite Degrees in 1808 and received the 33rd Degree on August 5, 1813 at the hands of a provisional Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Once the Supreme Council, NMJ was officially formed, he assumed the title of Sovereign Grand Commander and was the first to hold that position. He served as Sovereign Grand Commander until his death in 1825.

It was during his tenure as Governor of New York that Tompkins' life began to take a tragic turn. When the New York State Legislature refused to approve funds to finance the War of 1812, as other States had done, Tompkins took out loans using his personal property as collateral to help finance the war effort. When the war ended, neither the State nor the Federal Government saw fit to repay Tompkins for his generosity so that he could free himself of the debt that he incurred on behalf of his country. In 1824 after years of litigation both the Federal Government and the State admitted that they owed Tompkins ninety thousand dollars, which was a considerable sum of money in those days.

But it was far too late, Daniel Tompkins' financial woes caused him much grief and he began a slow and long descent into the bottle where his life was consumed by alcoholism. He died three months after retiring as Vice President of the United States and his body lies in a vault of the Churchyard of St. Mark's on the Bowery located on Second Avenue and 11th Street in Manhattan. Also in the Churchyard is a bronze bust and a plaque commemorating the life of Daniel D. Tompkins. Until recently, Daniel D. Tompkins' final resting place was neglected.

On Monday November 9, 2009 the United States Daughters of 1812, New York Chapter, will conduct a ceremony to honor Daniel D. Tompkins. The Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Ill. John William McNaughton, 33° will be present and will speak about Tompkins' Masonic service. The Deputy for the State of New York the Ill. Peter J. Samiec, 33° will also be in attendance. Representing the USD 1812 will be Ms. Emily Malloy, Chairman of the Tompkins Commemoration Committee and Ms. Anne Farley,President, NYC Chapter, USD 1812. The event will be held from 9:00am to 12:00pm; a reception will follow.

A special thanks to Brother Isaac Moore Devine for bringing Daniel Tompkins to my attention and thanks to John Mauk Hilliard for leading me to the Daughters of 1812. I also would like to thank the Supreme Council, NMJ, our Sovereign Grand Commander and the Deputy for the State of New York for contributing financially to this project.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of America this coming weekend, let us not forget Daniel D. Tompkins: a man, a Mason and a patriot who served his country admirably and whose legacy shall not be forgotten.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why......I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
- Robert Kennedy

Have Pen, Will Write

Clifford Jacobs
Dieu et mon Droit

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The concept of TIME has been on my mind a great deal recently. Time is so ephemeral and fleeting yet poets and artists have tried to give form, shape and substance to this idea for ages.

I suppose that our sense of time comes from the rising and the setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons. These two phenomenon are the most obvious manifestations of time. Does time exist in deep space where there is an absence of a rising and setting sun? There's no winter, spring, summer or fall in space just a constant night. But here, on Earth, we view time as a forward linear progression as we traverse the road between birth and death. We have this sense of forward momentum as we age over the years. In our youth time seems to be endless; as we get older we seem to be "running out of time." We even want to borrow it, "Can I have five minutes of your time?" I've asked that question on many ocassions yet my time never increases no matter how much of it I seem to borrow.

As Freemasons we view a twenty four inch gauge as being indicative of the twenty four hours of the day whereby we are told to apportion eight hours for God and humanity, eight for our vocation and eight for refreshment and sleep. Most Masons that I know operate as though they
have a forty eight inch gauge because they give so much to their community,
their family and to the Great Architect of the Universe.
Many indigenous cultures do not share a Western notion of time. For them time is an all pervasive soup that is a constant and it can not be divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks or years.
The division of time into sub divisions is simply an arbitrary construct on which we collectively agree so that we can fashion some form of order out of chaos and randomness: we give form to that which is, essentially, formless.

And the songs, ahhhhh! The songs of the poets. There's TIME by Pink Floyd, Cyndi Lauper's TIME AFTER TIME, The Rolling Stones' TIME IS ON MY SIDE, The Chamber Brothers' THE TIME HAS COME TODAY and the Zombies' TIME OF THE SEASON. And lest I forget, Jim Croce's TIME IN A BOTTLE. Now there's a notion, what could or would we do with time if we could bottle time? Could we add it to our years and prolong our life? Probably not. Perhaps we would just hold the bottle up to the light and merely look at it, but then wouldn't that be a waste of time?

I remember the Astronomer Carl Sagan pointing out that, the total time that human beings have been on the planet Earth is equivalent to the hands of a clock that read 11:59pm; a clock that has been running for a full twenty four hours. Human existence is represented by that one minute before midnight: the Pyramids, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, Revolutionary War, World Wars I & II, Vietnam, Space flight have all taken place in that single minute before midnight. It is said that: No one can have a better past only a better future yet, what is past is prologue.

Over the past two weeks Time has called from labor Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Karl Malden and Natasha Mahelona. Perhaps it is because of their passing that I'm reminded of the transitory nature of time.

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say."
- Pink Floyd

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