This is a departure; for October I’ve decided to ink up all of my fountain pens (except one, which we’ll come to below) and use a different one each day… within reason. I’m going to allow myself a certain degree of flexibility with that part of it. Now, some of my fountain pen friends will be thinking I’m crazy, so I want to make it clear from the start that my fountain pen collection numbers precisely eight, plus one which, as you will recall, we will be touching upon later.

Three of the pens have been inked up and in daily use for a while. One of these is my blue Waterman Hémisphère filled with Lamy Crystal Benitoite, an ink which I’m determined to use up and also, interestingly, the ink that behaves best on the paper in my Aquarius journal. I always have a pen inked with a red shade, and for a fair while Graf von Faber-Castell Electric Pink has been hitting the spot for me, paired with the Waterman Hémisphère Rose Cuivre. This ink is about to run out so I’m going to clean it and refill with a shade to salute the Autumn. The third pen recently has been the Cross Century II filled with Lamy Crystal Peridot ink which bleeds like crazy in the Aquarius journal, but works well on better papers. Again, I’ve a yen to finish up this ink so I’m keen to be using it, in fact I recently put this in the Waterman Allure as well so that works as a kind of spanning device between the already-inked and the to-be-inked sectors of my collection.

But you really want to know about that mysterious ninth pen, don’t you? I’m sorry if you’ve been holding out in the hope it meant there was a new addition to my collection, alas it is only the pen I can’t ink because I’ve broken it. For some reason it makes me hum “The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside my mind”.

The only issue with this beauty – the Cross Apogee in the Frosty Steel finish – is that I snapped the integrated ink channel off the feed (the black plastic bit with fins in my photo) during a cleaning session after I got frustrated by the tendency for this pen to dry up mid-sentence. I have promised myself that I will order a replacement nib unit before I buy any new pens and I think getting this back to good working order would be a splendid way to celebrate finishing the first draft of my novel. Cross themselves offer an excellent lifetime guarantee on parts for their pens, but I think it would be pushing it to claim on that when I know that I broke the part through rough handling. For now, the pen is living in pieces inside a little zip-lok bag, awaiting its resurrection. It is very auspicious that I should be thinking of this now, because (for those with any interest in the spurious details of astrology) Pluto has just started moving forwards again after a retrograde period and, amongst other things, it is the planet of destruction and resurrection.

For today, though, I will be cracking open my bottled inks and getting those resting pens back in use.

Pretty maids all in a row

I’m pretty sure my lineup is going to consist of:-

  • Cross Century II – Lamy Crystal Peridot
  • Waterman Hémisphère Rose Cuivre – Graf von Faber-Castell Burned Orange or Hazelnut Brown cartridges
  • Waterman Hémisphère Blue – Lamy Crystal Benitoite
  • Waterman Allure – Lamy Crystal Benitoite
  • Vintage Parker 51 Black – Diamine Majestic Purple
  • Vintage Parker 51 Burgundy – Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue
  • Lamy Studio Aquamarine Special Edition – Waterman Inspired Blue (just the best pairing ever)
  • Lamy LX Rose Gold – Diamine Wild Strawberry

It’s going to be a messy morning inking up pens; I’ve managed to get Lamy Crystal Ruby ink over my fingers just taking the photos! My plan for this afternoon is to get back to transcribing a pile of pages that I removed from old journals before I moved home, a job which I’ve been thoroughly intending to complete for the past year. Seems like a plan for a dingy day.

7 thoughts on “Ink ’em all up

    1. Hi, good question! Most of my pens are cartridge/converter types which means I can either use a cartridge (some use their own unique design) or a converter which has a screw piston. You push (or sometimes screw) the converter into place in the pen just as if it was a cartridge, dip the nib of the pen into the ink, wind the piston down to expel air out of the body of the converter, then wind the piston back up again which pulls the ink up into the converter. You often have to repeat this two or three times to get a good fill. The vintage Parker pens have what they called a Vacumatic filling system, essentially a fixed assembly consisting of a metal sleeve holding a rubber sac – the sleeve has a metal lever which you depress to expel air out of the sac and when you release it, the sac draws in the ink. There are other types of filling mechanism, but I favour a cartridge/converter pen myself.

    2. If you could see my fingers at the moment, you’d be all the more committed to cartridges! The real benefit of using bottled inks is that you can fill any pen with any colour/brand of your choice. With cartridges you are ‘limited’ to the selection that works with your pen. Of course, a lot of pens take the Standard International cartridges which are available in a lot of colours from a variety of manufacturers, but others – Cross, Lamy, modern Parkers for example – have a proprietory design which means you can only use their own brand of cartridges so you are limited to the colours they choose to put in cartridges. One of the reasons I like Waterman pens is that they have a good basic selection of coloured inks in cartridge form, but you can also use Standard International cartridges from other brands like Diamine and Graf von Faber-Castell. Also, a pack of cartridges is cheaper and quicker to work through than a bottle of ink so you can treat yourself more often.

  1. If it is any consolation, I also have a Cross Apogee that I could never get along with. I bought the glossy black version with an 18k medium nib. The feed is not broken but it suffers from ink starvation and can’t seem to write for a page of A4 with drying up. I never got to the cause of this and instead retired the pen, so it has not seen much use. I got on much better with the Cross Townsend or even the Bailey Light.

    1. I must admit I’m in quandary over whether to invest in trying to get the Apogee working, or to put that money towards a different pen. I just feel guilty about having the broken pen, though, and I do adore the finish and the style of the pen. Well, I’ll enjoy pondering the pros and cons whatever happens!

    2. Since you like the pen, it must make sense to get a replacement feed, if that is all it needs. A plastic feed should not cost much. But in my case there are ink flow problems even with an unbroken feed.

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