Tag Archives: fountain pens

A Vintage Find: Shaeffer Balance Fountain Pen

Can you find love on the internet? Sure. I mean, that’s how I met my husband. But you can also head on over to Ebay and find a vintage fountain pen!

I’ve loved the idea of fountain pens for quite some time, though I only started actually buying them a few years ago. It’s a dangerous hobby, as it’s addictive and can be quite expensive. There are plenty of cheap fountain pens out there (like the Jinaho X450), but I find myself gravitating toward the more expensive ones (like the Pilot Custom 823, which I definitely don’t own yet).

Though I haven’t yet felt I could justify spending $300 for a pen, I was quite interested in trying a gold nib. The cheapest way to do this was to go vintage, and that’s when I found this beauty.

I’m no photographer, and this really doesn’t show how gorgeous this pen is.

This vintage Shaeffer Balance had everything I was looking for: a gold nib in medium flex, a vacuum system (something I hadn’t tried yet but wanted to), and fully restored internals.

That last part was really important! Many older pens are lever fill, which means they have an internal rubber sac that degrades over time. The vacuum systems have rubber diaphragms that can also break down. I’ll admit that I considered restoring a pen myself, not only to save money but also to make sure I got exactly what I wanted. I need another hobby like a hole in the head, and in the end it was easier to spend a little extra cash instead of doing all the research and work.

The next challenge with this particular pen was finding the right ink. Someone in the online fountain pen group I joined pointed out that anything permanent, corrosive, glittery, or difficult to clean shouldn’t be used in a vintage, vacuum-fill pen. That filling system also meant this wouldn’t be the sort of pen I’d want to constantly swap colors in.

After a lot of late-night shopping and indecision, I settled on Monteverde Olivine. I already knew I liked Monteverde inks from previous experience, and the price was too good to pass up. I knew I wanted this ink to match the pen (I told my daughter I was looking for ink the color of an old couch, and I meant that in the most loving way possible), and since I like a smooth writing experience I wouldn’t mind that it’s lubricated.

Okay. After all that, you probably just ant to know about the pen itself, right? Honestly, it’s amazing. The Shaeffer Balance feels wonderful in my hand, with just the right Goldilocks size and weight to avoid fatigue during a long writing session. The gold nib is mostly smooth with just a touch of feedback. It writes beautifully, and since the pen is close to one hundred years old I can forgive it for a few hard starts here and there. The vac-fill holds a lot of ink and is pretty easy to fill.

If you really want to know how I feel about this pen, I’ll tell you this: I told my husband recently that if I had to sell all my fountain pens and could only keep one, the Shaeffer Balance would be it.

What’s your favorite pen? Have you had any luck buying vintage? I’d love to know!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Fountain Pen Review: Conklin Duragraph ‘Water’

I’m running behind on my pen reviews, so it’s time to catch up!

This Conklin Duragraph is from their Elements series, and I just couldn’t resist the mix of clear and colored resin for the ‘Water’ finish. I ordered it in a medium nib. I have it inked up here with Tobacco Sunburst by Diamine.

What I Love: I’ve had this pen since March (told you I was behind!), so I’ve had some time to really get to know it. This thing is just rock solid. It’s always a ready starter, with no need to encourage the ink to get flowing. I noticed as I was taking the pictures that there’s a bit of ink splattered on the inside of the cap. I can only conclude that this is from dropping it a few times, because it’s never leaked on me. The enclosed converter holds plenty of ink, and the nib is quite smooth. The pen is a great weight, and I feel like I could write with it all day without issue.

What I Don’t Love: This nib is really stiff, so it doesn’t always give me quite the feel I’m looking for when I’m writing. As I’ve noted, though, it’s still very smooth. The nib is black while the trim is rose gold, which I think looks a little silly.

Overall, I think this is a pretty great pen. I liked it enough that I my very next pen was a Conklin as well, but that’s a different review!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Pen Review: Baoer 801 Slim

This pen came in the June 2018 iPen subscription box and I really only have one thing to say:  I’m in love!

Baoer 801 Slim

This pen is lightweight but is balanced beautifully.  Everything on it exudes quality, from the way the lid attaches to the top to the way it comes apart.  The nib is technically a medium, but it’s very much a fine (my favorite).  It writes so smoothly and easily that I have occasionally forgotten I’m not writing with a ballpoint.  As soon as I got this pen, I went through three converters full of ink.

Baoer sample

You want to hear the kicker?  This pen is less than $7!  It feels and writes like it’s much more expensive.  It’s definitely one of my favorites.  I recommend the Baoer to anyone who likes writing with a nice fountain pen but doesn’t want to invest a lot of money.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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A Fountain of Inspiration

When I was in middle school, I dreamed of writing an amazing fantasy novel.  It had everything:  teenagers on the verge of discovering something new, dragons, and even a secret society complete with hooded robes. But when I sat down in front of the computer to write it, I never even got through the first chapter.

Twenty years later, I finally know what the problem was.  I was typing it instead of writing it.

Don’t get me wrong.  Typing is the most efficient way of doing things.  As a freelance writer, I type anywhere from 5-10,000 words per day.  I could never do that by hand.

But the inspiration for all those keyboard clicks comes from writing by hand.  When I need a new plot or character details and I sit down with a notebook, I tap into something that is completely inaccessible when I’m on the computer.  I’ve read articles before about how the process of writing by hand works well because your brain has time to keep up with your fingers.  Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s some sort of magic voodoo that can only be cast by the spilling of ink.  I don’t know, but it works.

Of course, this all means that I am a total sucker for a good pen and a nice notebook.  Since I’m ridiculously cheap and living on an artist’s budget anyway, I settle for decent pens.  The truly nice ones are only the ones that are given to me for birthday or Christmas presents.  I like a pen that feels good in the hand and flows well, so that’s pretty much either ball point or gel.

All of that changed when I got my first iPen subscription box.  Each box includes a fountain pen (and a lot of other cool stuff, too).  While I was crazy excited to get this box, the fountain pen was the part I was seriously doubting.  Who writes with a fountain pen?  It can’t flow as nicely as a gel pen or a smoothly as a ball point, and the results are going to be impossible to read since I’m not a calligrapher.

I’m still not a calligrapher, but I was so wrong about the fountain pen.  The Wing Sung Demonstrator that came in my box doesn’t look like much, but it writes like a dream!  I had other typey-typey work I should have been doing, but instead I messed around with learning how to fill this pen so I could use it for some character creation.

The Demonstrator came with a very fine nib (that’s the pointy part where the ink comes out) and it is so amazing!  The ink flows freely and evenly, without any big splotches to make it look like some historical document.  The case of the pen is just plastic, but it’s molded nicely at the grip.  I had never filled a fountain pen before, so it took a few minutes and I got a little ink on my hands, but I’m in love.

 

*This post was in no way sponsored or endorsed by the iPenStore.

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Filed under On Writing