Danitrio Hakkaku Ancient Flower Midori-Dame Fountain Pen Review

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-4

Danitrio is perhaps the biggest name in Maki-e pens outside of the main three Japanese makers (Pilot/Namiki, Platinum/Nakaya and Sailor).

Danitrio Maki-e pens are not an entirely Japanese product. The company is based in California and the pens, as far as I know, are manufactured and painted in Japan but use Bock nibs from Germany…so it’s a multinational effort to put one these pens together.

I have been eyeing a Danitrio for a while as they offer very good value for money. While they are by no means cheap, they are considerably less expensive than most comparable Japanese pens.

One of the great things about Danitrio is that they offer their pens in a large number of shapes and finishes.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-5

Despite having similar dimensions to a Montblanc 149, the Hakkaku is one of Danitrio’s smallest models measuring 13.5cm long and 1.5cm wide.

The ebonite body has a faceted flat top design. The dark Midori-dame finish softens the look of the facets. A lighter color would do a better job of accentuating this pen’s shape.

The clip is sprinkled with gold flakes and painted in the same midori-dame finish as the body. Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-43I am not a big fan of flowers but I kept coming back to this ancient flower design.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-13

It is very well balanced and looks great against the green background.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-11

This pen (I am told) uses a Togidashi Maki-e technique.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-10

The finish quality of the Hakkaku is comparable to Nakaya. It’s not perfect like a Namiki pen; it has more of hand made look and feel to it. The threading is smoother than on my Nakayas and unlike my Nakaya Naka-ai Negoro the design always lines up when I put the cap on.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-12

The section is signed with the artist’s signature.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-9

The #6 size nib is solid 18kt gold and produced by Bock in Germany.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-6

The fireball design looks great. The nib has a fine point and is considered one of their “soft” nibs. The nib is soft and if you apply some pressure you can get some line variation but for me with a light hand I don’t notice much.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-7

The fine point is smooth and writes with a medium line width (typical Bock). If you want a true fine you are better off with an extra fine nib.  The nib doesn’t have as much character as those made by Pilot or Platinum but it’s a good performer and if you like a smooth soft nib this one is very nice.

The Hakkaku takes standard international cartridges and comes with a Bock converter.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-15

The feed is plastic (and out of alignment, the dealer has since remedied the problem).

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-8

This pen has a retail price of $1,900 and I was able to get it for a bit less than half that.  By comparison, a plain urushi lacquer Namiki Yukari Royale runs $1,500 and a Maki-e versions range from about $4,000-$10,000.  I am not saying this pen is the same quality as a Namiki (it isn’t) but it is a more affordable way to get your hands on a good quality Maki-e pen.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-76

At the end of the day I am really happy with this pen.  It looks and writes great and it was reasonable enough that I don’t worry about using it everyday.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Old Style Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -2

Pilot’s most famous fountain pen is without question the Vanishing Point (aka the Capless).  This is the best selling and simply the best retractible nib fountain pen ever produced.

Many models have been introduced since the Vanishing Point’s inception in the early 1960s and the one I am reviewing today is a “Namiki” branded model with a faceted black plastic body and white metal trim. This body style was introduced in the 1970s stayed in production until the late 1990s. This particular Vanishing Point was made in 1997 right before the introduction of the current metal bodied Pilot Vanishing Point in 1998.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3
Old style “Namiki” branded faceted Vanishing Point (nib extended)

This older model (which I will refer to from now on as the “faceted VP”) is much more attractive with its elegantly integrated clip and slimmer faceted body. The current Vanishing Point has a much less harmonious design with bloated clumsy look to it.

Current style Pilot Vanishing Pont with nib extended
Current style Pilot Vanishing Point (nib extended)

 

The faceted VP is lighter and slimmer, weighing in at 18.5 grams and measuring just 11mm wide (clip not included).  The current model weighs in at 31 grams.  To my hand the faceted VP is much more comfortable to use.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -5
Top: faceted VP with Pendleton Brown Butter Line Stub Bottom: current model with Richard Binder Italifine

The nib on this faceted VP is 14kt gold instead of 18kt gold on the current production model. The nib started life with a medium point and was ground into a butter line stub by Pendleton Brown.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -8

This particular grind offers a great combination of usability and writing flair. I have done a number of custom grinds on medium nibs and this one my favorite so far. The nib is so smooth with just a hint of feedback…it’s luxurious.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -6
Top: faceted VP Bottom: current model VP

Downsides?

The converter. These faceted VPs use a squeeze sac converter. It doesn’t hold enough ink so I always use cartridges with the metal cartridge cap.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -4
Top: squeeze sac converter in nib unit Bottom: piston converter in nib unit

The current model by comparison uses the Pilot Con-50 which is nicer to use and holds a slightly more reasonable amount of ink.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3

This is an awesome pen.  You can find them used ranging from about $80 to $150.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -1

Loadout for Three Weeks In South America

South America Load Out

In a few days I am heading out for a three week trip to South America.  I am still keeping it relatively light by bringing just one fountain pen, a Chocolate Brown Pilot Vanishing Point with an “ItaliFine” nib by Richard Binder.  The ItaliFine gives you two points on one nib, a regular fine and a 0.9mm italic.  I am also bringing Hermes’ new Ebony (brown) ink cartridges.  The color is exclusive to Hermes; made for use with their (Pilot-produced) Nautilus fountain pen, and luckily these cartridges are compatible with the Vanishing Point.  I am carrying the Vanishing Point in a black leather Kingsley pen pouch.

My primary notebook is going to be a #12 FantasticPaper Color notebook from Germany (review to come).  I have my pack list and travel checklist in a blue floral Word. Notebook and I am carrying my travel documents in a Midori Traverler’s Notebook.  I have a Karas Kustoms Render K with a Pilot G2 refill in TN pen loop.

Finally, the three non-pen-related items are a Vostok Amphibian automatic watch, a 35mm Olympus XA2 camera and a Rimowa Topas Sport Trunk.

 

I am planning to continue posting about once a week.  I have some interesting reviews coming up so please stay tuned.

Danitrio Hakkaku
Danitrio Hakkaku
Hard Rubber Ohashido
Hard Rubber Ohashido
Old style faceted Namiki VP with a Pendleton Brown Butter Line Stub nib
Old style faceted Namiki VP with a Pendleton Brown Butter Line Stub nib

Bomo Art Diary Planner Review

Bomo Art Diary -1

Bomo Art makes some of my favorite leather bound journals and when I had the opportunity to visit their shop earlier this year in Budapest I decided to try one of their diaries/planners.

Bomo Art Budapest
Bomo Art’s store front in Budapest

I struggle to use a diary consistently.  Every year I tell myself I am going to use one to stay organized and if I am lucky, I keep it up for a few months but eventually it falls by the wayside.  With this in mind I went for an A5 size half leather bound version with a weekly format.

Bomo Art Planner Diary -3

They come in six sizes with a full or half leather binding.  There are three layouts, I chose the vertical weekly layout.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -4

You also get to chose from eight leather options, I chose dark brown, and there are numerous papers for the cover of half leather binding dairy.  I chose an antique map paper.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -2

My dairy cost about $15 USD which is a pretty reasonable price for a book of this quality.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -7

The diaries are made by hand in Budapest with the diary contents by Diarpell of Italy.

Bomo Art Diary -8

The paper is thin but holds up very well to fountain pen ink.  With such a thin page you do get some ghosting but nothing that would prevent me from writing on both sides.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -5

The paper is ultra smooth with almost no feedback.

Only moderate ghosting and minimal bleed with the huge 2.4mm Parallel pen
Only moderate ghosting and minimal bleed with the huge 2.4mm Parallel pen

This diary layout was designed in 2000 and as such, it still has an address/phone number section.  Apart from the address book this diary has no extras.  There are no blank pages for notes nor pockets for loose papers.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -9

The stitched binding is pretty nice.  The signatures are not as small as you might find on some Japanese notebooks but the binding lays pretty flat so I have no complaints.

Bomo Art Planner Diary -10

At the end of the day the Bomo Art is not a feature-rich diary but it’s beautiful looks and high-quality feel make up for it’s simplicity.

In writing this I realize I have yet to review any of their wonderful journals.  It’s now on my to-be-reviewed list so stay tuned… they are beautiful.

BomoArt Leather journal
Bomo Art Leather Journal

OMAS Extra Lucens and Lucens Fountain Pen Review

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens

The Lucens and Extra Lucens were the best quality and best looking Italian pens of the 1930s and 1940s.

Italian pens during this period were largely inspired (and in many cases copies) of American pens. The Lucens and Extra Lucens were offered with visulated barrels much like the Parker Vacumatic and Waterman Ink View. The Extra Lucens also featured an arrow nib and an arrow clip not unlike the one found on the Parker Vacumatic.

In the late 1930s Wahl Eversharp came out with the Doric, a faceted pen very similar to the Extra Lucens; there is some debate about which pen was introduced first.

Omas Extra Lucens -2

 

The bodies were made of celluloid and all of them had a degree of transparency to them.  The pens in my photos that appear black (because they are filled with ink) have black striped barrels and were originally clear but have turned into to a red color.  There were a number of beautiful celluloids that these pens were produced in.  The rarest and most valuable color was a grey pearl (if you Google “OMAS Extra Lucens Limited Edition” you can see a reproduction of this pen, though the original was not brown).

Both the Lucens and Extra Lucens use a stantuffo tuffante, or plunger filling system. This system is considered to be the same as the one used by the American brand Dunn, which had a patent on this system in 1920. OMAS patented their version in 1936 and for this reason we see “Brev.73725 – 1936” on the barrels of these pens.

Omas Extra Lucens -4

The plunger filler eliminated the use of sacs which made for a (supposedly) more durable filling system with a larger ink capacity.

Omas Extra Lucens -9

Personally, I do not like this system and I am not surprised that it was abandoned in favor of the piston filler. Filling the pen requires pulling out the plunger which draws up ink into the pen and then quickly pushing the plunger back down allowing the air to escape through a breather tube inside the barrel…if you push the plunger down too slowly all of the ink you just drew into the pen will be expelled. The filling system is relatively durable such that I feel comfortable using these pens every day. The weak points being a cork seal and breather tube.

The Lucens and Extra Lucens came in three sizes, the largest of the three measures about 14cm long capped and the midsize measures about 13cm (unfortunately I don’t have a small one to measure). The larger model is more or less the same size as the current all celluloid OMAS Paragon. The midsize is very similar in feel to a Pelikan M400 though slightly longer.

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (small), OMAS Lucens (small)
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (midsize), OMAS Lucens (midsize)

The nibs of the Lucens and Extra Lucens are quite different. The Lucens “Extra” nib with heart shape breather hole was the standard nib used on all of the OMAS Extra pens, while the Extra Lucens had a special arrow nib with a pentagon shape breather hole.

OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib

The Extra nib has longer tines than the Extra Lucens nibs creating more flexibility. The Extra Lucens nibs are soft and springing but not flexible (based on the small handful I have sampled).

Two Extra Lucens nibs
Two Extra Lucens nibs

During the war the Lucens and Extra Lucens pens had white metal trim and “permanio” nibs which were made of a steel alloy. These nibs, unlike Montblanc and Aurora’s wartime nibs, were not very resistant and many of them corroded.

The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens
The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens

The Extra Lucens was also offered with a bi-tone reversible arrow nib. The reverse side was stiff for carbon copies while right-side up the nib was soft like a regular OMAS nib.

Omas Extra Lucens -10
Writing sample with the Lucens

These pens are very nice reliable writers that I enjoy using. I almost always have one inked up. Like most vintage Italian pens, these are relatively rare and expensive. The large size Extra Lucens are the most desirable but for me as writers I prefer to use the smaller models.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink Review

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -2

Shimmering inks have become very popular in the last year and it’s largely thanks to Stormy Grey.  Stormy Grey is part of J. Herbin’s “1670” line of fountain pen inks.  1670 inks are highly saturated and the original formulation of Rouge Hematite (the first ink in the line) was infamous for clogging pens.  All four inks in the 1670 line now come with this warning label:

J. Herbin 1670 warning

I only use these inks in my cheaper pens and ones that are easy to disassemble and clean.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -1

Stormy Grey contains flecks of gold that tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle and in order to draw them up the bottle must be shaken, otherwise you are left with a much more plain dark grey ink.

Gold flecks settled at the bottom of the bottle
Gold flecks settled at the bottom of the bottle

Stormy Grey is a very wet ink (perhaps to compensate for the gold flecks?) and this translates to bleeding and feathering on more absorbent papers.  The ink worked well on Rhodia but for more porous papers, a thin nib or dry pen is going to be a better match.

I have been using this ink for several weeks now and it performed trouble free in a number of pens until I put some in my TWSBI 580 with a 1.5mm stub nib.  In the TWSBI I got spotty performance; sometimes it would write just fine and other times it would choke and skip.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -4

Apart from some gold flecks left behind, Stormy Grey cleaned out of the pens I tested nicely; this was a nice surprise for a highly saturated ink.

Objectively, Stormy Grey is not a good ink but it is attractive and interesting.  I can only recommend this ink as a curiosity; it is not a serious every day ink and but putting this stuff in your pen you are risking a clog.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen Review

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-1

The Namiki Custom Impressions line of pens was produced in the late 90s and while it predates the very popular Pilot Custom 74, it is essentially the same pen with a “celluloid” body and no markings on the cap band.  These pens are cellulose acetate and not the cellulose nitrate normally associated with the word “celluloid”. The difference is that the cellulose acetate feels and can often look like a more typical plastic without the depth and oily feel of real celluloid.

The Custom Impressions came in five colors: Sapphire, Medley, Ambertone, Ruby and Emerald. I have Sapphire, Medley and Ambertone. It has been suggested (and from what I can tell rightly so) that Aurora used the same green plastic as the Emerald in their Optima. I have photographed them with a couple of Optimas…I am not certain that the Ruby is the same as Aurora’s Burgundy but they are close.

My Namiki Custom Impressions with two Aurora Optimas
Left to right: Custom Impressions in Ambertone, Medley, Sapphire, Aurora Optimas in green and Burgundy

I particularly like the Sapphire and Medley colors; these to me are the most unique and beautiful.

These pens came with a con-70 converter and a 14kt gold #5 nib.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-7

There is another variation of the Custom Impressions that very closely resembles the shape of the Custom 845, but again in “celluloid” and with a #10 instead of #15 nib. This model seems to be much more scarce and considerably more expensive than the pens I am showing here.

Like the Pilot Custom 74, the Namiki Custom Impressions make excellent workhorses. The nibs are butter smooth and wonderful writers.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-6

To my knowledge these pens were only produced in fine, medium and broad nib grades.

Medium nib on top, fine on bottom
Medium nib on top, fine on bottom

I also find the nibs on the Impressions to be softer than the ones on the Custom 74. It seems to me, based on a small sample of Pilot/Namiki pens, that the pens from the 90s and early 00s have softer nibs than the ones produced more recently.

I have a decent amount of experience writing with Pilot/Namiki nibs from size #5 to size #20 and while I find all of these nib sizes to be very comfortable, the #10 seems to hit the sweet spot, with the #5 feeling a bit small and the #15 and #20 feeling a bit big. If you have big hands, which I do not, you may not like the #5 nib on these pens.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-2

The Custom Impressions are full size pens measuring just over 13.5cm long, capped and weigh approximately 22.5 grams empty (with the con-70 installed).  These pens post very well and I find them comfortable to use posted and unposted.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-8

Prices for the Custom Impressions range a bit as they do not come up for sale all that often. If you can get one for around $150-$200 (depending on condition) I think that is a fair price but keep in mind if you prefer the look of a simple black body, a Custom 74 can be had for around $90 new.

PooPooPaper Elephant Poo Notebook Review

Poo Poo Paper Notebook

I questioned posting a review of this notebook for a number of reasons. First, I knew it would be challenging to write a review without any dreadful jokes; second, while the product is technically charitable and green it’s borderline distasteful and third, it’s actually quite disgusting.  I didn’t think I would be grossed out by this notebook but I was and if you think you might be too there no harm in skipping this post.  Bearing all of this in mind let’s get on with the review.

Poo Poo Paper Notebook

PooPooPaper (FKA: The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company) is a company that turns animal poo into paper.  They started with elephant poo and expanded the line the include dung from cows, pandas, donkey, moose and horse.  Their web shop actually lets you shop products by poop type.

Poo Poo Paper Notebook

Their products are green because they are recycled and a portion of the proceeds goes to support animal conservation efforts.  The notebook came with a very long pamphlet all about their product (and yes, it’s full of poop jokes).

Poo Poo Paper Notebook

The paper itself is quite strange.  The front feels like a paper bag and the back feels like (and sort of looks like) a paper towel in texture.

The texture up close (backside on the left and front side on the right)
The texture up close (backside on the left and front side on the right)

The paper is a cream color but it’s not uniformly so; you can see different sorts of fibers that stand out on the page and are a bit distracting to look at.   It is also lumpy in spots; I found dead bugs and gross unidentifiable material in the paper (I chose to exclude the pictures from the post).

Poo Poo Paper Notebook
You can see lots of bleeding and a distracting line of…something through the word “Parallel”

It’s a very absorbent but fountain pen ink tends to bleed and feather.  It’s not a nice paper to write on.  It’s rough and probably not safe to use with fountain pens.

Poo Poo Paper Notebook
The Pilot Parallel and the Geha are the only ones that bled all the way through

The notebook measures 8″ x 7.75″ and contains 20 blank pages for $16.99.  The notebook itself is nicely put together but the paper is terrible to write on and to look at.  This notebook is disgusting in my opinion and if you want to help conserve wildlife there are much nicer ways to go about it.

Pilot Blue Black Fountain Pen Ink Review

Pilot Blue Black Fountain Pen ink

Pilot’s Iroshizuku line of inks has become incredibly popular in the last couple of years thanks to its agreeable performance and excellent color palette.  Despite Iroshizuku’s success Pilot still produces it’s original more affordable ink line that is simply branded as “Pilot” (or “Namiki …or “Pilot/Namiki”).

It is my understanding that these inks have a ph of over 7 making them basic and as such I would caution against putting them in a pen where ink makes direct contact with celluloid.

This line comes in bottle and cartridge formats.  The cartridges only fit Pilot and Namiki pens.  There are seven colors produced in the cartridge format.  In bottle format I have only seen three colors: blue, black, and blue black.

Pilot Blue Black Fountain Pen Ink

Pilot Blue Black is a bit pale for my tastes but the upshot is some nice subtle shading.  The ink provides some good lubrication, making it a great choice for dryer writing pens.  I had no issues with bleeding or feathering.  I also saw no nib creep (as is common for lubricating inks).  I found that this ink was easy to clean out unlike Pilot Blue which has a tendency to stain.

Packs of 12 cartridges go for $7 and 60ml bottles go for $12.  The affordable price makes Pilot Blue Black a great workhorse ink that would be appropriate for the office and general correspondence.

 

Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Platinum-Plated Facet LeGrand Fountain Pen Review

Montblanc Le Grand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-2

If you read this blog regularly you will know that this pen is not my typical cup of tea but as I was traversing the Warsaw airport I couldn’t help but see sale signs on a large Montblanc display.  The only pen that caught my eye was the Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Platinum-Plated Facet 146 (or LeGrand as they now call it).  I was curious to know how much it was and after seeing the price I decided to go for it.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-5

This pen is the typical Meisterstück design but in a faceted platinum plated stainless steel body instead of the usual “precious” resin.  It really is quite a stunning pen to behold and has much more of a presence than its resin sister.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-6

The facets create a tiled pattern.  You will notice that the face of the tiles are a mirrored platinum finish while the edges are brushed; this is a particularly nice touch and a testament to the craftsmanship put into this pen.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-9

This 146 came with a medium nib which was too fat for my tastes but Montblanc has a free nib exchange program than can be utilized within six months of purchase.  At the Montblanc boutique in Berlin I was able to try their tester set and found that the OB nib offered the most line variation and the next morning I picked up my pen with the OB installed.  That is exceptional service.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-4

The 146 is a full size pen fitted with an 18kt gold nib, a piston filling mechanism and a striped ink view window.  The standard resin 146 has a 14kt gold nib and when compared with the 18kt version I could not tell the difference.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-8

The nib is noticeably soft and is a very nice to use.  The ink flow is on the drier side but the smooth nib conceals this quite well.  I have found that lubricating inks work best with this pen.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-7

As is obvious in all of my pictures, this pen is a fingerprint magnet.  If you cannot handle finger prints and patina this 146 is a not a good choice.

Montblanc LeGrand Platinum Facet Fountain Pen-3

This pen retails for around $1,300 and even at over 50% off I don’t feel as though the price was a home run.  It’s very well made and nice to look at but to me it is not as special as say a hand turned Japanese pen or a pen made of beautiful Italian celluloid (all of which can be hand for a similar price).  If you want a flashy pen with the Montblanc brand cachet then this could make sense but otherwise at anywhere near retail I say forget it.