Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Coral Chase

I must admit, I was very lucky to get this pen at 2017 London Writing Equippment Show (LWES). This stuff was hot and all were gone quickly. You may ask, why is that? What is so cool about it that it was sold out? Well, the reason is, that on one specific stand number of Conklin pens including Duragraph, All American and Mark Twain series were on sell for £10.0 ! Yes – £10.0. This is amazing price bearing in mind that these pens are significantly more expensive (this Mark specific Twain is around £160.0). Simply, it was to silly not to buy one. I already have All American Yellowstone, which I use regularly and I was always wondering about Mark Twain series with an iconic Conklin’s ‘crescent’ filling system, which made this company famous in the past.

The model I picked is a beautiful orange Mark Twain Coral Chase.

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London Writing Equippment Show (LWES) 2017

Similarly to the last year, 2017 London’s Writing Equipment Show (LWES) which is called by many as London Pen Show was held in Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury, Coram Street which is minutes’ walk from London Kings Cross station. Because I travel from Cambridge this location is very convenient for me. I like easy to achieve missions – Enter the train, read a book for 40 minutes, leave the train…have a 10 minutes of refreshing walk and suddenly I am at the venue…pish pash posh….

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My impressions on Platinum Classic (‘iron gall’) inks

Hello. It was very busy summer, which unfortunately is nearly finished. Due to amount of day job workflow I had,  I was a little bit quiet on ClumsyPenman site recently. But it does not mean, that I was not working on my reviews. In fact, I was working a lot and I will be posting many hopefully interesting things in next coming weeks. Today is one of them. Platinum Classic Series Inks. I hope you will enjoy it.  Here it is.


Earlier this year Platinum has announced and introduced set of six new inks which really brought my attention. Most of the colours in the new ‘Classic’ line are earthy and natural looking muted shades of green, brown, sepia, burgundy and yellow, which I really like. There is no secret that I love earthy colours. There is something cool about them and they usually look adorable on creamy/ivory toned paper….somehow ‘vintage’.

Another very interesting thing about this series is the fact that according to the Platinum  all of the inks are manufactured by the ‘traditional methods’ and more importantly they are gradually darkening overtime. This obviously screams – ‘Iron Gall’ inks, however Platinum never used this term on their website. I am not entirely sure how Platinum synthesize these inks but in the nut shell ‘iron gall’ inks are obtained from the chemical reaction of tannins extracted from galls (for instance oak) and aqueous solution of  iron (II) sulfate. Because formed Fe(+2) complex is quite unstable in oxygen condition the iron Fe(+2) atoms oxidise quickly to Fe(+3) which manifests by ink darkening. This effect is very similar to rust formation and corrosion we see around very often. To improve flow and other physical and chemical  properties binders such as Arabic gum, stabilisers, anti-mould reagents are often used.

This is an example how oxydation process occurs and how it is affecting the colour (note the video speed is 2x)

In general iron gall inks need to be used with caution, because their acidic pH can make an effect on metal parts of the pen (steel nib, metal section, etc). It was really a problem the past, but nowadays IG inks are significantly less ‘corrosive’, however I do not have any experimental pH data for this particular set so can not say for sure. As a general rule is rather recommended to maintain pen regularly (use and clean). It is also suggested not to use very expensive pens either. For more information about Iron Gall inks I would highly recommend to check website.

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Robert Oster Signature – Ruthenium ink

Thanks to Roy from iZods Ink I was happy to review another Robert Oster’s ink called – Ruthenium. This is quite interesting colour, which is not that grey as you may assume keeping in mind that Ruthenium is a dark-silver metal (at certain conditions it has purplish hint).  The colour itself is rather matte purple grey, which to so me extend is resembling Robert Oster Signature – Barossa Grape ink. Therefore, Ruthenium seems to be slightly less purple and not that intense as Barossa Grape.  Interestingly in Ruthenium , purple tone is  much more pronounced  using wet nibs, whereas with finer nibs (or lighter strokes) ink looks greyish. There is a little bit of blue component. Similar inks are Herbin – Poussiere de Lune and Diamine -Damson.

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Legacy first! – Silvine Originals – a red notebook series

Silvine is a  British brand whose paper products are made in Yorkshire by well established (1837) manufacturer  – Sinclairs. The products line contains various types of notebooks, sketchpads, refill pads, writing paper, envelopes, cash books, etc. Silvine’s red notebooks line called Originals Collection  refers directly to the reinvented iconic British notebooks which had characteristic textured  red covers and were used and loved for decades by schoolchildren, artists, writers, craftsman and  shopkeepers in the UK since 1948.

Silvine Originals Collection contains five different size notebooks. This diverse collection is designed to tailor specifically different task and needs. It starts with handy Pocket notebook which can be easily kept in the shirt pocket and then increasing size gradually ending up at large Project netbook. All of them have common features, but each of them also differ from each other. I’ve already reviewed in depth ‘Pocket’ notebook (click here), so this following review is an extension to the previous one.   

Let’s start!

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 5. ‘…If You Only Knew The Power Of The Dark Star’

Continuing my little journey with pocket notebooks I kindly received for testing from Pocket Notebooks (UK) I got hands finally on Dark Star notebook made by UK based company (in Wales) who creates hand made notebooks.

Dark Star offers few different designs. Pocket notebook I received is called Nomad. They are available as set of three and cost in the UK  £ 8.0.


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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Part 1. Grizzly Bears!

The first two notebooks kindly sent by Stuart from Pocket Notebooks (UK) I would like to discussed today are exclusively made for Pocket Nonebooks by Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork small US based company  (Dixon California) who does handcrafted leather goods and journals. I know from social media for a while now, but I never had an opportunity to try notebooks made by them. Amount of custom materials and designs they do is pretty impressive. They look and feel handcrafted which I really appreciate, especially if these notebooks can be used as an inserts for traveller’s journals, which I am a big fan.

To some extent, two ‘California‘ notebooks I received are very similar to each other but at the same time are also very very different. Stay True, Staome as blank, lined, grid, or dot-gridy Wild edition are filled with creamy TomoeRiver  thin paper (80 pages), whereas California Medallion cover if filled with thicker 28lb (105gsm) HP paper (48 pages). Notebooks I received came blank, but these with HP paper Pocket Notebooks have in blank, lined, grid, or dot-grid.

Let’s brake them down and see how they performed. However, please bear in mind that all my comments about performance are is limited to fountain pens and fountain pen inks only and I am pretty sure overall performance and writing experience will vary depending on what writing tool you use.

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‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Prolog

Just before Easter, I received a small cool looking box full of goodies, kindly sent by Stewart from Pocket Notebooks which is a small British company who makes a great deal about portable good quality notebooks. The mission they have to bring back the power of hand written notes is very important and very close to my heart. The Pocket Notebooks slogan is:  Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that … and I can’t agree more. This is actually why I am here dealing with inks and pens. This is why I returned to use fountain pens, which quickly became my passion three, or four years ago. I was using my tablet, phone and notebook as much, that one day I have realised  that I am missing something very important to me which I used to like a lot – a handwriting.

For heavy testing  purposes (which I did ! )  Stewart sent me a bunch of different notebooks he has in his store, made by different people and companies. Some of them are ‘big’ and ‘very small’ and here ‘small’ not necessarily means bad. Some of these notebooks are really good but also some are not that cool as they meant to be. But that is life, and I really appreciate the fact that I can compare them together side by side.

So, what I got? Well, I got seven notebooks total and I think they cover quite nicely a wide spectrum of different paper types, built and quality, which for me and as end user is one of the most important things. I got three Fieldnote size notebooks: ClaireFontaine Retro Nova, Story Supply  Co and Inky Fingers, then I got two completely different ones from Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork which have interesting size in between Fielnote and Midori passport. The last one is a fairly small but handy pocket notebook from Silvine. I will split this post into parts (likely 4) where I present some tests I did and what I honestly think about them.

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J. Herbin – Vert Olive and other


Just a quick update. My review of J. Herbin – Vert Olive ink is live, so please have a look. Possibly not for everyone, but still this is very interesting ink and colour.

There is quite few different reviews in the pipeline on the write up stage being very close to completion. These are (in no particular order):


  • Taroko notebooks with Tomoe River paper


  • J. Herbin – Lie de The
  • J. Herbin – Larmes de cassis
  • KWZ – Flame Red
  • KWZ – Grey Plum


  • Pelikan M805 (F)
  • Platinium Century 3776 (Soft Fine)

….so, stay tuned folks 🙂

‘…I got the Eye of the Tiger…a fighter…’ – Jinhao Century yellow with black swirls

From time to time I buy inexpensive pens from China. I do this less and less often over last three years, but I still do. Many people think that cheap fountain pens can’t be any good, because they are so cheap. Is it true? Well, as always the true answer lies in-between. Very often they are poor quality and pretty much useless, however some of them are actually pretty good writers and writing experience may be compared to much more expensive fountain pens. There is few quite popular brands from China like Duke, Hero, Kaigelu and Jinhao which specialises in inexpensive pens. I have few in my collection including Kaigelu 316 or Duke Big Shark I reviewed several months ago.  These pens are below £ 25.0, look nice and are not bad writers either. Do they have issues? – yes, but overall they are fairly good value for money and I had them in rotation for quite long time. Nowadays, I use them less, but I still like to write with them.

There is some controversy about pens from China which design is quite often extremely similar to models offered by famous, but more expensive brands. If you look at Jinhao 159 and famous Montblanc 149 , the influence is obvious (even name is not accidental).  Some of them are very close (or way too close) to original designs like Jinhao 599 for instance which  looks very similar to Lamy Safari (except clip). Kaiglu 316 which reminds Parker Duofold Centennial or Hero 616 Jumbo vs. Parker 51 Special are another examples. Obviously, pens from China are much cheaper than original pens, but the overall quality (especially nibs) and materials are often lacking. Many of them like Jinhao are made from metal and are very heavy and feel unbalanced. Often the enamel is chipping off or gold plating is washing off after few months of use.  However, from the second hand, if you you are short on money or you are new to fountain pens and you are not sure if you like to invest more than 100 bucks for a pen, these inexpensive pens may be (and usually are) a good starting point into word of the fountain pens.

I haven’t bought any pen like this for last at least 9 months easily, so when I have seen on Youtube a review (please see) of the  recent Jinhao Century  model,  I decided to give it a go and buy one.  To be more specific the Cenury  line is not that new pen, because it was available in other colors in the past  (see review of Jinhao Century, MkI in blue). However, the yellow with black swirls and white (pearl) with black swirls are two new colours introduced recently .

Because I like the way yellow looks, I purchased it from Amazon for £ 14.80.  To my my surprise it arrived to my door in less than two days ! I thought it will be shipped from China…but obviously this is way to quick. Anyway, can’t complain at all.

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