Platinum Century with SF and UEF nibs

I have always wondered how similar are the Pilot Falcon and Platinum Century soft fine (SF) nibs. This curiosity was left on the back burner for several years because many fountain pen enthusiasts commented on how Platinum’s SF nib does not flex as much compared to Falcon. Curiosity kills a cat. More than a year ago I purchased a Platinum Century with SF nib on Amazon on a whim and it is a road with no return.

Both Platinum Century SF and Pilot Namiki Falcon have 14K gold nibs and they do shape slightly different. Falcon, as its name indicates, resembles a falcon’s beak, while Platinum Century has a rather normal looking nib, sweetened by a heart-shaped breather hole. The Platinum SF works right out of the box and seems to be easier to use compared to Falcon. This perception can be skewed since I have more exposure to flex nib now than five years ago, but it is amazing how easy it is to achieve line variation with Platinum SF than Pilot SF, probably because the Platinum nib is stiffer. In my opinion, the Platinum SF nib is more beginner friendly, since users can easily control a hard nib than a soft one. The hardness of the nib also discourages one to press down further. It is significantly easier to write normally, without flexing, with a Platinum Century than a Faclon. When I used Falcon for the first time, it took me awhile to print or write cursive normally without flexing; in fact, I adjusted how I hold the pen and slow down significantly to get a hang of the pen. In contrast, I can write with a Platinum SF nib at a normal speed without skipping and with a finer line.  In this light, Platinum SF nib is a bit more versatile if your end goal is to be able to print normally and add a bit of flourish from time to time.

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Platinum Century on the left and Pilot Falcon on the right. Century is definitely bit chubbier in comparison but still comfortable to hold
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Side-by-side comparison of Platinum Century and Pilot Falcon (Paper: Brownie planner)

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Nib choices with the Platinum Century series also make the pen a salient choice. The body shape may remain the same, but one can choose from UEF (ultra extra fine) to Music. It also comes in a variety of standard as well as limited edition colors (Have you seen the newest release?) Because I had such a great experience with Platinum Century (and because I am such a sucker for colors), I picked up another Century with a UEF nib while going home in 2016. With the exchange rate at the time, the pen cost roughly $84 USD and it came with a cartridge, a converter, as well as a complimentary One over One Studio ippitsu-sen (short correspondent paper; Sola has written a post about this uniquely Japanese stationery here) made with bank paper. UEF is favored by many artists and illustrators for its crisp and delicate line. In addition, the UEF nib allows one to write legibly in a small space. One note of caution, finer the nib, scratchier it may feel on paper because the point of contact between the nib and paper is minuscule. The nib also picks up paper fiber easier given how sharp it is, so when using a UEF nib (or a finer size for that matter), use smoother paper to be on the safe side.

When I first picked up the UEF, I was afraid that I have fallen into the pitfall of “the finest nib quest” but my doubt was quickly dispelled. Compare to other Japanese F or EF nib, UEF feels significantly firmer. Since it is a harder nib, when writing quickly, you can hear the sound of nib gliding over the paper surface.  A notable concern for a fine nib is that it is prone to clogging, especially when one uses a metallic ink (J. Herbin 1670 series, for example). Though I have not yet inked the UEF with any shimmering ink since Platinum’s nib can be easily removed in the same fashion as a Lamy (with a piece of tape), deep cleaning would be a non-issue.

From the pictures below, one can observe the similarities among Platinum Century UEF, Preppy .2, and Pilot Kaküno EF. I would recommend a Preppy .2 if UEF has been on the wanted list, but you are unsure whether you would love it. The downside of Preppy is its flawed body material; the plastic seemed very brittle that cracks start to show even though the pen has never been dropped. Kaküno is far more superior in terms of material, but the nib can be dry because Pilot does not have the famed slip and seal mechanism. UEF has the most feedback among the three and pair with paper such as Midori or Tomoe, is a heavenly experience.

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What is the finest nib of all?

While I have picked up standard black for SEF, I opted for Chartres blue for the UEF. As its name suggested the material is translucent and when one holds it to the light, it evokes images of the stained glass from Chartres Cathedral.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Platinum Century, and you can definitely call it “love at first write.” For the combination of price, nib options, and performance, it can easily fit the criteria of a grail pen for enthusiasts with a budget in mind.

What is your recommendation for the next-step pen?

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Perhaps I should add more to the color spectrum? 🙂
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In the Mood for Purple

Purple is my favorite color for as long as I can remember.  In this context, receiving a batch of purple ink to test out is almost a gift from above.  Since this friend is interested in finding a particular shade of purple, having swabs as reference would be helpful.  All ink names are written with Rohrer and Klingner glass dip pen, which explains overinked spots.  Images below is to give you a sense on the hues of these ink, in case you are interested in taking advantage of Goulet Pens‘ ink sample sales.  If you think you have seen doubles from the images below, you are not alone.  There are definitely shades that are very similar.

Two ink swabbed below has been reviewed in more details:  De Atramentis Magenta Violet and Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu

If you want to know more about a certain ink from this swab list, let me know!

 

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Pilot Parallel

I have no clue why it takes me this long to try out Pilot Parallel, perhaps because I have lots of dipping pen nibs.  These pens have plenty of potentials and in my opinion, great for anyone who is learning calligraphy.

The set comes with two mixable color cartridges (black and red), a converter for cleaning, nib cleaning sheet, and the pen.

I purchased two nib sizes I do not have:  3.8mm and 6.0mm.  For a nib that is consisted of two small pieces of sheet metal, it writes very smoothly.  To my surprise, they are also very wet writers so they do have higher ink consumption, especially with larger nib size.  The nib actually looks a bit like poster nib for dipping pen.  The difference is that the slots on Parallel nib is narrower and shorter.

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3.8mm nib

One very cool feature of Pilot Parallel is the gradation effect you can create, simply by letting two nibs “kiss.”  One ink color from one pen will transfer to another.  Just make sure the ink you are going to mix have similar properties.  For example, it might not be a good idea to mix water-based ink with a shellac, since the two have different chemical properties.  However, Parallel is extremely easy to clean, since the set comes with a cleaning sheet that you can insert between the two metal sheets.

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Seal with a “kiss”!

.. and this is what you can create.

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Gradation effect

Another great feature of Parallel is that if you turn the nib to its side, where the “Pilot” or nib size imprint is facing you, you can write normally.

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The writing on the left is using nib on its side, and the stroke on the right reflects the actual nib size.  According to Pilot, the nib width is about .5mm (looks like writing of a fine nib).  Pretty handy if you are using Parallel for craft and calligraphy.

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Parallel is capable of writing a variety of type face, such as italic and gothic.  For some reason I immediately associated the nib with Gothic font, so I ventured out and started learning something new.

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my Gothic practice 

Granted the plastic for the pen body feels thin, but the versatility of the pen outweighs the overall appearance.  If learning calligraphy is one of your goals in the new year, Parallel is definitely a good choice.

Where can I buy?

Still unsure whether these pens are good for you?  Check out a video tutorial done by Goulet Pens.

Beginner Fountain Pens: Part I

The choice for a beginner fountain pen is particularly difficult because a pen can leave a lasting impression.  By beginner, I mean either someone who has not used a fountain pen before or someone who is eager to try out a new nib. If I have shared my impression on the pen previously in this blog, click on the title of the pen to see a full post.  Here are some of the fountain pens I have tried and gifted, and hopefully it will be helpful!

1.  Platinum Preppy
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Price range:  $2.95-$3.95
Do not be fool by its unassuming appearance, Preppy is one of the easiest fountain pens for anyone who has never used one before.  In fact, I have somehow converted some friends to fountain pen with it.  It writes as smooth as a medium nib, but it delivers a fine and precise line.  It is not selective on ink, even with Noodler’s Bay State Blue.  It can be taken apart easily (without plyers and drills), so it makes cleaning an easy task.  Here is another reason why I recommend this pen, it can either be used with a cartridge (for those who do not want ink-stained fingers), or it can be converted into an eye-dropped pen. Here is one known issue for this pen is that it cracks easily, even without using brutal force or dropping it. Because the nib unit can be easily taken out, if you fall head over heels for this pen, try out its more durable sister, Platinum Plaisir.

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2.  Pilot Petit1 IMG_1840
Price range:  $3.75-$3.85
Looking for a “toss-around” fountain pen?  Pilot Petit1 might be a good choice.  Though it is compact, it has almost a full-size nib.  Unlike the scratchiness presents in some fine nib fountain pens, Petit1 writes quite smoothly, even for a heavy-handed writer.  It is a reliable fountain pen and can fit in any purse and bag.  In fact, it is my usual pen of choice while traveling.  One downside about Petit1 is that its compact size might cause discomfort to those with larger hands.  The color range for Petit1 is also diverse for those who want to try colors besides standard blue and black.

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3.  Plumix
IMG_1841 Price range:  $7.25-$9.16 Plumix encapsulates an idea that “fountain pen is for calligraphy.”  It has an italic nib so it is capable of calligraphy, but one can also write normally with it.  Because of the broader nib, a new fountain pen user can have a greater contact ratio between paper and nib, hence can ease the transition from a gel pen to a fountain pen.  The good news is that Plumix’s nib can be swapped with a Pilot Prera’s, which can add more variety to those who just start a fountain pen collection.  It is also available in major stationery vendors or general good stores (I got mine at Target), so it is accessible to most of us.

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Granted that people often associate fountain pen with status symbol, a pen will not be useful if it is not accessible to most of us.  The above three pens are economical in price, so any of them can be a great stocking stuffer.  They are also suitable to start a child from using one.  Compare to ballpoint pen, fountain pen has more traction while writing on paper, hence provides more control to the writer, especially a young one.  By having that extra control could help with letter formation and steadiness.

Have you spread words on fountain pens to anyone around you recently?

Follow up on R&K Verdigris and a little paper experiment

As I mentioned here, R&K Verdigris is a great color, but it also gives me a bit of a headache.  It feathers very easily, while most people have no problem with it.  Recently, Zeynep of Write to Me Often felt a bit frustrated with her newly acquired Falcon with Verdigris combination, so I decided to conduct a “scientific” experiment with the same ink/ pen combination (probably the most scientific I can ever be).Here is the result:

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On normal 20-lbs printer paper.  Feathering and bleedthrough are entirely expected
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Rhodia multicolor paper.  Each letter has fuzzy outline, and some bleedthrough on the back of the paper
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On Miquelrius grid-rule notebook.  Overall, the paper holds up well.  Feathering and bleedthrough only appear at the flexed part
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Some feathering and bleedthrough on Rhodia No. 19 pad
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Prominent bleedthrough with feathering on different parts of the lettering on Tsubame notebook
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No bleedthrough and feathering on Apica notebook
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Verdigris on Rhodia dotPad.  No obvious sign of feathering

 

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Verdigris on Clairefontaine.  Match made in heaven

 

This post does not mean to put down any of the paper used above.  The “fun” in fountain pen is to find the right ink/pen/paper combination.  Some paper, though heavy in weight, still feather when in contact with fountain pen ink because of their coating.  Sometime, it could be minor irregularities with different batches.  Some fountain pen users theorize that even climate will affect the way paper interact with the ink.  When using a wet or flex pen like Falcon, it is particularly rewarding to see ink pools on the surface of the paper without any feathering and bleedthrough.  It is evident that many variables come into play when one uses fountain pen, but this discovery process itself is fun and fulfilling.  Have you make any new discovery with ink and paper recently?

Pilot Putimo Whilte Line

Apologies to those readers who prefer handwritten review, this one will be a typed one.  Several months ago, I received this cute correction tape from Azizah of Gourmet Pens.  I have not used correction tape for awhile because I had tendency to tear the tape while writing on top of it.  As expected, I was a bit dubious about this compact and adorable correction tape.
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Pilot Putimo can easily fit in anyone’s pencil case, since it is only about 5cm (about 2 inches) long.  To use the tape, simply twist off the cap.  It is fashioned as a cellphone trinket (remember those?); one can easily attach it to any pencil pouches or bag for easy retrieval.

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To my surprise, the tape is very easy to dispense, tear, and hold well to my Hulk styled writing.  A lot of correction tape I have used in the past tear very easily, once I started to write on it.  Putimo holds together very well.

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I wish I can tell you where to get a Putimo, but to my dismay this item has been discontinued.  I will cherish every last bit of the tape and start looking for its replacement!