The Nib & Barrel

Welcome to The Nib & Barrel wherein you can find my current pen collection, my inkventory, what I have currently inked, and a number of articles about pens, ink, and related topics.

Below are some recent articles and pen and ink pairings.

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By my understanding, there was a time when the fountain pen was common, standard, possibly even the de facto writing instrument. That time, if it truly existed, is in the past. Because of this, there is — for me at least — a romantic appeal surrounding the fountain pen. They harken back to a time when life was “simpler” (is life ever simple?): a time when men wore fedoras and suits, were private investigators (or bull whip carrying archeologists), and families smiled at each other while eating a pot roast. For me, there has always been a soupçon of sophistication surrounding the fountain pen, and that was what initially drew me into this hobby.

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There are few occasions in which I will break from my habit of writing a pen dry before cleaning and changing ink: Christmas is one of those occasions. My ink palette, while mostly satisfactory, was not festive; blues and oranges do not, in my mind, signify Christmas. It was time for a change.

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It is a known fact that fountain pens can leak on airplanes. It has been documented and advice has been given (keep the pens nib up during take-off and/or fly with them empty or so full there is no air bubble). I was to put this advice to the test on a recent business trip to Nashville, TN. But which pens do I bring?

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My company is having an off-site meeting next week; in fact I fly out tomorrow. I do not know what kind of notes I will be taking, but surveying my currently inked pens two things were lacking. First, I have been itching to try the custom italic nib I ground on my TWSBI Vac 700, and what better time than an airplane ride. The vacuum mechanism has a gasket that seals the reservoir off from the feed, which makes me feel comfortable bringing it with me on a plane. Second, I want to have a pen with red ink, and I have low confidence that my Konrad won’t leak during take-off. So, my Pilot Prera returns to duty with Noodler’s Park Red.

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The CEO of my company is coming to town. It is because of me that he has begun his own journey into fountain pens. I could hardly do anything but invite him for a pen meet over dinner. To that end, I asked if there were any requests as to which pens I bring. So it was that I filled a few favorite pens and radically increased my currently inked count to ten.

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In the early days of my fountain pen journey I frequently used Levenger’s Raven Black ink. In part it was for the archival quality of the ink, but also because black is a standard ink color, and at the time I didn’t want to be prevented from using my fountain pens due to ink color. Along my journey I determined that I prefer any color of ink except black. But here I am, with a pen full of a black ink, and I’m not rushing to empty and refill my pen.

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Quietly, but assuredly, my currently inked pens reached nine. At the same time my life grew busy in arenas that limited, rather than expanded, my use of my pens. This trend appears to be continuing, despite my best efforts. Thus it was time to retire some pens, for now, and return my inventory of full pens to a more reasonable six.

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Why-Fountain-Pens---Lead-Image.jpg

By my understanding, there was a time when the fountain pen was common, standard, possibly even the de facto writing instrument. That time, if it truly existed, is in the past. Because of this, there is — for me at least — a romantic appeal surrounding the fountain pen. They harken back to a time when life was “simpler” (is life ever simple?): a time when men wore fedoras and suits, were private investigators (or bull whip carrying archeologists), and families smiled at each other while eating a pot roast. For me, there has always been a soupçon of sophistication surrounding the fountain pen, and that was what initially drew me into this hobby.

Continue reading
M805-Stresmann-Capped.jpg

This is a pen that was hard to resist; I tried. Having already been introduced to the Souverän model with my M605 I had a sense of what I was getting into. Still, this is an M805 which is longer, thicker, has a larger nib, and the piston is made of brass instead of plastic. After receiving some advice via an Instagram post I decided to give the M800 series a try. Here are my first impressions of my M805 Stresemann.

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