This and that

Ink Capacities …

… for various fountain pens and converters.

I gathered numerous fountain pens (own ones and those from friends) and measured their ink capacities. I also took a couple of converters – proprietary ones such as for Lamy or Sailor as well as standard international ones (SI). This list cannot be representative since it does not contain any eyedroper pen …

The measurements were performed quite simply: Wothnthe respective pen or converter, I sucked up water from a little container and spilled it into a little bottle with a scale (the little blue thingy in the title picture filled with blue substitute). I spilled out as much as possible (by turning the twisting turning knob of the pens and converters quite often), but of course, a little bit of ink was always left in the feed. Anyway the measurements give you quite precise impression of how much ink can be hold by each fountain pen. Therefore, the measurements are sort of the minimum one can expect (I would guess anyway that the feed can hold max. 0,1ml, depending on its size – but this s only a guess, nothing more).

It is not a surprise that the converters have quite low ink capacities (around 0,6-0,8ml), but it is actually a surprise that the big and girthy pens do not hold enormous ink amounts, either. Eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 149ers or the Pelikan M1000 – as these two are the flag ship pens of the respective pen brands. In turn, some of the smallest and thinnest pens hold quite much ink, eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 14 from the sixties asn well as the MB 24. Both hold 1,6ml and 1.5ml, respectively. Also the rather small Pelikan M200/400 hold 1.3ml/1.4 ink which is comparable with the significantly bigger pens M600 and M800 from the same brand (both 1,3ml).

Very low ink capacities are shown in the Heritage Rouge-et-Noir-Series by Montblanc. I had two of them for measurement and both hold not more than 0,6ml of ink … even a Montblanc converter or an unbranded one (standard international which fits into old Montblanc Noblesses or Slim Lines or even into modern Graf von Faber-Castell converter-pens) hold substantially more ink (0,8-0,9ml). That is a bit dissapointing. Similarly behaving the converters from Sailor and Platinum (0,6ml). The Kaweco converter holds least ink of all the converters checked here, but this one has to fit into a very small Kaweco Sport – a very small pen … What do we learn from this? Size doesn’t matter …

Diagram:

inc_cap_diag

 

Table:

Pen ink capacity [ml]
Kaweco Converter (for KW Sport) 0,5
Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral 0,6
Montblanc Heritage R&N Tropic Brown 0,6
Platinum President Converter 0,6
Sailor 1911 Large Converter 0,6
Lamy Converter (Al-Star, Lx, Safari) 0,8
Cleo Skribent Ebonite 0,8
Montblanc 3-44 G 0,8
Pelikan Converter (threads) 0,8
No Name Converter (“SI”) 0,8
MB Converter (looks “SI”, for Slim Line and Noblesse) 0,8
MB Converter black-gold (threads and spiral) 0,9
Graf von Faber-Castell Converter (for all FvF-C) 0,9
Visconti HS Lava (oversized, Bronce) 0,9
Visconti Wall Street Converter 1,0
Lamy 2000 Macrolon 1,1
Montblanc 32 1,1
Lamy 2000 Metal 1,2
Pelikan Souverän M1000 Black 1,2
Montblanc Meisterstück 149G 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Ultra Black 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Daniel Defoe 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Agatha Christie 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE William Faulkner 1,3
Pleikan M800 Tortoise Shell 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M600 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M200 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 149P 1,4
Montblanc Donation Pen Johannes Brahms 1,4
Montblanc Writers Edition Alexandra Dumas 1,4
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Burgundy 1,4
Pelikan Souverän M400 1,4
Pelikan M1000 Demonstrator 1,5
Noodler Flex Pen 1,5
Montblanc 24 1,5
Montblanc Meisterstück 14 1,6
This and that

Oblique Nibs

Below you find a synopsis of several oblique nibs over the last say 30 years. Of course this is not the complete picture – since I have no access to fountain pens from all possible companies and eras.

Anyway, what is an oblique nib? Well, see the picture below and this question will be answered …

In my opinion, oblique nibs offer with no effort, giving “character” to your handwriting. OK, it cannot outcompete extraordinary handwriting with a flex nib, but this is anyway art. I talk about everyday handwriting when taking notes or writing a letter (and not a birthday-card).

But there is a difficulty inherited to these kind of nibs. The fountain pens equipped with oblique nibs are not easy to hold. They need a certain contact angle on the paper. Holding it wrong leads to skipping. But the reward is a somewhat nicer looking handwriting – for those who like it, of course …

Again only in my opinion, Montblanc produces the nicest oblique nibs, because they show the strongest line variation between the two strokes. And of course, the biggest effect is seen if the nib has a wide width (such as OB or OBBB rather than OM).

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation. Oblique nibs with “flex” also exist.

Unfortunately, Pelikan does not longer produces oblique nibs (unless you order the “Wünsch-Dir-Was-Feder” in which case the customer has to visit the Company in Hannover (Germany). In most shops the Pelikan obliques are sold out and in ebay they are offered to substantial higher price compared to the standard nibs (F, M and B). Montblanc does produce mostly F and M by default, but one can send the pen to the headquarter (in Hamburg) and ask for the non-standard obliques within six weeks after the purchase and will get a replacement for free. Lamy and Graf von Faber-Castell provide and sell still obliques by default, although it might be that the shops might not have them in stock.

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation.

Nib_structure
Top right: sketch of a regular nib and an oblique nib cut – view from top. Center: sketch of sideview of nibs. Right: sketch of the resulting lines when using an oblique nib. Bottom: images of diverse oblique nibs from different producers and from different years.
writing sample
Writing samples from various fountain pens (and one italic nib by Pelikan on the bottom).
Fountain Pen Review

Cleo Skribent Ebonite (Brown)

Here, I want to introduce a kind of special fountain pen to you. This one seems not to be very common (although I found out that several color variations are sold out in most shops, eg. the green and the blue variant). I purchased the brown version form Ludwig Blankenhorn (mypens.de).

Ok, what is so special? The material of the barrel, the section, the endcap and the cap is from ebonite. As I understood it, barrel and section are cut from one piece. But may be I am wrong here, and actually at least the pen shown here seem to be of two-three pieces (see images below)

The Material is very light and so is the entire pen. But the ebonite feels a bit more warm than  for example the “precious resin” of the pens with the star or the resin of Pelikan pens etc.

The company Cleo Schreibgeräte GmbH (Cleo wirting instruments) was founded in 1945 right after WWII in Bad Wilsnack (Prignitz/Brandenburg). So we are dealing with a german pen. The company delivered the whole eastern block with writing instruments until the end of the nineties of the last century. In the seventies almost 1million pens were produced every year. The company became privatized and delivered parts for other german pen producers. Since the end of the nineties they also procuce the Skribent-Series (eg. Classic or Ebonite which is shown here). The paragraph is taken and translated from a wikipedia entry.

Size and Look

Well it is a sort of normal sized pen compared to other common pens, such as the Lamy Safari or the MB 146. In detail, the Cleo is a bit longer than the MB-pens, but the biggest difference is the slimmer (and by the way very nice) concave shaped section.

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Size comparison: from the left to right: Cleo Skribent Ebonite, Cleo Skribent Tertius (same size as the Classic), Lamy Safrai, Montblanc 146, Montblanc 149.

Very stylish are actually three design elements: (a) the ring (silver colored trim) at the end of the section (b) the facetted barrel (11 faces), which are also represented by the cap. The cap has an oval cross section, by the way, the barrel is round. (C) I have to mention the very beuatiful clip. To my opinion one of the most pretty clips in the fountain pen world. Its functionality is also given: it is springy enough.

Also quite lovely is the transition from the section to the barrel: the threads look not only like usual thraeds but like very nice turnery. This impresion is supported by only two existing threads (rather than 5 or more other fountain pens feature).

The Material is of ebonite, as mentioned above and as it is the namegiving feature, of course. Well, the coloring reminds after wood. The surface is not matte but also not entirely shiny – something in between. The material offers not the same depth as some resins do, for example in the stripes of a Pelikan Souverän (see picture below).

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To the left a Pelikan Tortuoise Shell. The Stripes show sort of a depth and shininess reminding after mother of pearl or something. The Cleo Skribent Ebonite (right hand side) is lacking this feature entirely.

Anyway, in the sunlight the brown color unfolds its warmness. So, there is no doubt, that this guy looks good 🙂

All trims are in silver color and rhodium coated. The ring on the cap says: “made in Germany   CLEO” The finnial of the cap shows the Cleo-logo, which looks to me as a mixture of a modern style and a style form the twenties of the last century as well (but that’s just me).

The pen has no ink window!

Filling mechanism

The pen has a sort of piston filling mechanism. A bit inconvenient is the need to remove the endcap. It looks a bit like the mechanism known from some Delta pens.

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Filling mechanism: under the endcap is the twisting turning knob of the piston located. By the way, the yellowish spot on the endcap is just a reflection – the endcap is of merely ebonite and shows no inlay or something

After removing the endcap you find the twisting turning knob. From this point, the filling mechanism works like in any other piston-filled pen.

When holding the en in hand and shaking it (strongly), the I feel a sort of wobbling. So I assume, there is built in a converter or at least something separately. No big deal. However, the official webpage claims a piston filling mechanism.

Nib

The nib is a 14 k gold nib coated with Rhodium. It shows the Ceo-logo, the comapny name, the imprint of the nib grade (here a B nib) and a sort of  ornamental “band”. The latter and the logo are in golden color. Looks very sober to me.

bb_Pelikan_Cleo
Three images of the Cleo Skribent Ebonite broad nib (to the left) and a Pelikan M800-nib (italic broad, each to the right).

For me the shape of the nib, its size as well as the feed shows strong similarities to the same items in a Pelikan M800. The nib shoulder of the Cleo is a bit more rounded whereas the nib of the Pelikan is a bit more flat.

But how does the nib perform? Well, it is a very, very smooth nib. I would say, already a bit too smooth, since it skips or has hard starts on very smooth paper such as the Rhodia ivory (90g/sqm). Quicker strokes (or backward strokes) are prone to skip. On a slightly rougher paper (e.g. the white paper from Rhodia with 80g/sqm) the nib behaves much “better” in this respect.

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Writing experience with the Cleo Skribent Ebonite.

What I really love is the grinding of the broad nib which is slightly stubbish (see image above). This gives the handwriting a bit more character. I like such things. What you not should expect ist flex by any means. The nib is quite stiff and allows not much line variation under pressure. The stiffness is comparable to other modern nibs from various brands (MB 146 or Pelikan M800). Other available nib grades are F and M (no obliques or italics).

Overall

Well, for a couple of hundred bucks you could expect something serious! And I must say, you get something serious. The nib is well tuned, not too wet. It is slightly stubbish – don’t expect this on a medium nib from this company! Technically, I have no complains, the only thing I would have liked better is the filling mechanism. The endcap which needs to be removeed is just inconvenient. Designwise I have no complain neither, but this is in the eye of the beholder. Take in mind, the section is on the slimmer side of the spectrum.