Safari colour for 2012 – apple green

I’m calling it “apple green” because, officially, it just seems to be called “green”, which is boring. Actually, no real apple looks like that. It is more like an apple sweet. So, Haribo Apple Green Safari.

The new one is, funnily enough, the green one – I include the others for comparison. The blue there is last year’s Aquamarine, which I rather liked. I’m not entirely sure about this. For the moment it doesn’t seem a very distinctive sort of green. Perhaps it will grow on me.

Bought from The Writing Desk with a free convertor included – it came in a nicer box than usual too, not the usual card sleeve but a proper sliding one with a parallelogrammatical cross-section.

Two broad nibs – Platinum #3776 music, Lamy 2000 B

Platinum #3776 with music nib

One of the few types of nib that I don’t – or didn’t – own and might actually want to use is a music nib. I can’t even read music, let alone write it, but to summarise, a music nib is a type of stub designed to have a particularly regular flow and be usable at odd angles to the paper. Given that these are three qualities I that I am very fond of in nibs, I thought that it was worth buying myself one for my birthday, or at least excusable.

There are a few different companies that make music nibs – looking around at reviews I judged that the Platinum #3776 received the best marks for nib quality, which was after all why I was buying it, so I ordered one from Andy’s Pens.

It is a medium-sized cartridge/convertor pen, traditionally decorated – black with gold trim, pleasant-looking but not particularly unusual when capped. The nib, though, is different enough to surprise even a casual onlooker, mostly because it has three tines. Or two slits. Or in fact both. I have no idea whether this actually makes any real difference over one, well-tuned slit (two tines etc) but it’s certainly good when used at all sorts of angles to the page. I tend to hold pens at a very high angle, and often, italic-ish ones will complain about this and refuse to respond properly unless aligned very carefully with the paper – I’ve had none of this sort of insubordination from the Platinum. It’s also extremely smooth, the ink flow is regular and it’s not too wet. I should try it with some of my “dryer” inks, like the iron galls.

It’s certainly a noticeable stub – there is a writing sample at the end of the above photoset. I’d say that it was around 1.25mm on the downstroke, and, oh, 0.4mm on the side? Something like that anyway; I don’t have the tools to measure this exactly. My main problem in using it is that, while I’ve improved my handwriting recently, I haven’t trained myself with italics, and the broader nibs can be hard to write with in the first place if you’re used to finer pens (which I am). This means that everything I write looks clumsy and irregular. Oh well.

Lamy 2000, broad nib

Seeing as I’m writing about one pen with a broad nib, why not another one? I went through a phase of wanting every type of Lamy 2000 around – now I come to think about it, pretty much exactly a year previous to my buying the Platinum, perhaps it’s some sort of reaction to winter that I have – and one of the models I ended up with was the 2000 with a broad nib.

When I first tried this pen I was stunned, and really quite upset, by how vast the line was. It doesn’t look like a particularly huge nib to the eye but it really is – the line is about as broad as the Platinum on the downstroke but almost the same size horizontally, too. I wondered whether it had been given some sort of freak triple-broad nib by mistake, and considered sending it back as I would obviously be unable to use it for anything at all.

I kept using it though, and found that:

  • It is extremely smooth and responsive, and the nib has pleasant flex (this is generally true of Lamy 2000s);
  • The 2000 design is very nice in the hand for long periods of writing, though this is a matter of preference and there are people who disagree with me;
  • The amount of ink that comes out of the broad nib lubricates it against the paper making it even smoother;
  • Lamy 2000s hold a lot of ink, which is useful when they also put down a lot of ink;
  • Colourful, shading ink always looks nicer coming out of a broad nib – you can see the variations and even lighter colours are readable. This is as opposed to fine nibs, where you really have to use dark colours or black, or you’ll just find it hard to read what you wrote later on.

These things combined make it a terrific pen for writing, as long as you’re not limited by space or amount of paper. When I wrote my NaNoWriMo last year I used this pen at least 75% of the time; you don’t get as many words per page but it encourages you to keep going longer.

It is also good for the sort of scribbles and notes where you’re not limited by space and you’re mostly writing to sort out ideas in your own head. Particularly on A4 – I like using this pen with black ink on an A4 Rhodia pad. Not such a great pen for jotting things in a pocket notebook.

I can’t remember where I got it, now, but I think it was from The Writing Desk.

Back to basics – still use my first Safari

with F nib and Noodler's Black, on a squared Moleskine cahier

Even given all of the pens and inks that I own, which is quite a large quantity of both, when I am working (as opposed to messing about swapping pens) the one that I most often find myself picking up is the one pictured – a Safari with an F nib, filled with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. I’m fairly sure this was the first Safari that I bought; you can tell it’s an old one since they discontinued models with the black clip a little while ago.

Some people dislike Safaris, but apart from not liking the angled grip (which is fair enough) I can’t quite see the reasons.

  • Safaris are cheap. Well, not cheap-cheap but they’re not very expensive.
  • They’re also quite easily available, though if you want different nibs (see below) you’ll likely have to order over the net.
  • They’re light, yet surprisingly durable. This one is several years old and doesn’t have a single crack, and not even many scratches. Plastic construction doesn’t mean fragility – after all, look at Parker 51s, they have plastic bodies and are regularly in working order after 50+ years. This plus the price mean that they’re good for carrying in almost any circumstance – hiking, warzones etc.
  • They’re large enough to feel good in the hand and not get lost, but not so large that they’re silly.
  • They have slip caps, but the caps actually come off less in my bag than most screw cap pens I own. And if you’re working, and you pick up and put down your pen quite a lot, a slip cap is much more convenient and less annoying than a screw cap.
  • You can swap out the nibs with great ease, and new nibs are cheap, and there are many types – not only EF to B, but also italics from 1.1 to 1.9mm, and you can even get such things as broad and medium obliques. They’re also generally good quality – Lamy use the same nibs for Safaris and also some higher-end pens – although I’ve never been hugely impressed by the EFs.
  • They come in a variety of bright and pleasant colours, but aren’t over-ornamented. This makes it easy to have a selection with different nibs and inks and quickly tell which is which.

If it weren’t for the Safari, I probably wouldn’t have revived my interest in fountain pens at all, which does make me well-disposed to them in general, but if it weren’t for the simple “pick-up-and-write” usability of them I’d just be nostalgic and not a continuing user.

Rohrer & Klingner Salix

R&K ink bottles - 1 Since I first discovered that there were inks apart from black Quink, blue Quink and red biro, I have been fond of blue black inks, despite the problem of them rarely actually being blue or black. For instance, Waterman Blue Black, which is one of the most used, dries to be a distinct turquoise, which is sort of vaguely blueish I suppose but has no connection to the name at all. (Quink Blue Black is apparently identical to it nowadays, incidentally, due to companies being consolidated – I certainly can’t see any difference.)

I first tried Rohrer & Klingner inks when I saw that they had an purple iron-gall ink called Scabiosa, which is rather an unpleasant name for a nice ink that behaves much like J Herbin Poussière de Lune but with more shading and permanence. I don’t hear an awful lot about R&K inks on the net, but the three that I’ve tried so far seem to be good performers – all fairly dry so you do need a fairly wet pen.

R&K Salix vs some other inks - 1 Anyway, Salix. As you can see from the pictures in this post I tested it first with a Lamy 2000 with a broad nib, which was loaded with Lamy Blue Black when the Salix arrived. It behaves very much like Lamy BB – I’ve read that it is “drier” but I can’t see that myself. It flows well and consistently.

As an iron gall ink, just like Lamy BB, it doesn’t feather or bleed even on this relatively cheap paper, and shades significantly. Drying time is good and fast, there is no smearing and it is extremely waterproof. (Soaking the paper in water and swooshing it around a bit just resulted in the paper tearing rather than the ink.)

R&K Salix vs some other inks - 2 The major difference between it and the Lamy BB is that it’s noticeably more blue, though not really blue in comparison to blue inks. (Lamy BB simply is not blue when it dries, I’m sorry. At least it’s not turquoise.) I prefer either dark or muted blues, myself, so that’s fine for me, but if you’re looking for an iron gall Waterman Blue this is not it. It’s quite similar to Pelikan Blue Black in colour; it reminded me a bit of J Herbin Bleu Nuit, a little greyer.

I then tried it with a glass dip pen, and the results were much less distinct. The dip pen tends to produce a quite thick line of ink, and when thick layers of iron gall ink dry, they go a dark black regardless of what other colours are present, so the comparison is not that useful, but I made it anyway. I also threw in some Pelikan BB and some Diamine Registrar’s Ink too.

So far I’m fond of this ink – respectable colour but with enough shading to stop it being boring, more vibrant on the page than the Lamy BB (which does get a bit dull to look at after a while) and with all the handy qualities of other iron gall inks, waterproofness, no feathering etc. I think I’ll keep it in the 2000 B for a while, or at least until I get some my next bottle of ink.