Monday, February 13, 2012

Fountain Pens And Letteras!

My 1930's Waterman's Ideal 301V Fountain Pen:

The Olivetti Lettera 33:


  1. nice writing tools! Typewriter Alley (Ryan) has a 33 that I've long admired.

  2. Very nice pens. Your writing is also very nice. I have a pair of Waterman 302s and use them quite frequently. One is a medium and the other a fine nib. My favorite is a Waterman 100 year pen with a nice flex nib. The 302's state flex, but are nothing like the old 100 year pen from the 1920s.

  3. Matt, that pen was a bargain! It looks edible, like it was carved out of caramel or peanut brittle. I understand what you mean by just using black ink, although I did read that the Director General of MI6 during WWII liked using green ink. That's good enough reason for me. Noodler's Eel Green is a very pleasant shade. And Waterman's Havana Brown is fantastic.
    Congrats on a very nice pen.

  4. I've been looking forward to this typecast/pencast! Good job. Good luck with all the senior year stuff, including the prom. (I didn't even go to mine.)

  5. Beautiful pen. And you already know I envy you the Lettera 33. Goes without saying.

    I feel like I have to say a few words in defense of non-black ink. To begin with, I think the main reason people only used black back in the day was because there weren't any other options--kind of like early cars. Now, especially with the advent of on-line specialty shops, there are lots more options.

    To me, one of the fun things about using fountain pens is the ability to use ink colors you couldn't get any other way. For the most part, I don't use anything wild--that's one reason I like the Goulet Pen Company's ink samples: I can pick up a little sample of something funky without committing to a big bottle of something I wouldn't use on a steady day-to-day basis.

    But my favorite inks are those that are just a bubble off the typical ballpoint/roller/gel pen colors: my favorite of all time is Noodler's Air Corp Blue Black, which is a very, very dark almost-black, with a bit of beautifully shading turquoisey-teal lurking in the midst of it. It doesn't look like anything anyone else in the office uses. Noodler's Zhivago is another recent crush: sort of the same idea, in most pens it's just about black, but with a lovely olive-greeny cast to it. And there are quite a number of pretty browns and greens, too: nice conservative colors, but different from the everyday office supply store inks.

    A classic black is a great match to that pen. But don't knock eventually picking up a few cheaper pens to play around with other colors someday. As I said, it's one way fountain pens stand out from all the other pens out there. It's good fun.

  6. Little Flower Petals, I was just waiting for you to comment on this! I'm not bashing other colors, and I agree about those colors being basically the only ones available back then. I actually am NOT getting a Lamy Safari, as I have just picked up a BETTER pen for me to carry around with me daily, which is a 1950's Sheaffer's 305 Cartridge Pen in mint green! I got it off eBay for $15.00, and I can't wait to get it! And I have heard that Noodler's Ink isn't good for fountain pens, as well. But, with this Waterman, I'm just going to stick with really high quality inks, and mostly blue and black. But I might try other colors down the road. It's just that I really prefer black for everyday writing!

    1. There are a few Noodler's naysayers out there, and they can be awfully loud. Frankly, I think most of the Noodler's bashing is scaremongering, and mostly by people who don't understand how some of the inks work. Noodler's Black, for example, is absolutely waterproof (which used to be an impossibility with fountain pen inks, and therefore the word sets off alarm bells for some). But it's only waterproof when it binds to cellulose, like paper. It doesn't stick to plastic or metal or fingers. And if anything, I've found it easier to rinse out of pens than your average inks. There are some Noodler's colors that can be problematic (Baystate Blue can stain like the dickens, and it really, really doesn't play well with other inks, so any residue of past inks can react with it if you load it in a pen), but many are wonderful, and really don't require any more than an occasional (every coupla months) flushing of your pen, which should be done anyhow.

      I also can't help thinking the old ink formulas have not been passed down. For example, people talk about having letters and journals written in Parker Quink or Waterman Blue-Black back in the day, all of which are still legible, but considering how badly both have faded in my recent journals, I doubt they're really the same ink anymore. So there is that to consider, if you have any concerns about the longevity of your writing. I'm admittedly far more paranoid about this than is strictly rational. I've had bad luck, and it's made me gun-shy.

  7. Actually, the Noodler's naysayer that told me about it was none other than the revered Speculator! He said that over time, it actually could cause erosion, and when asking about inks, he told me to stay away from it. So that's how I heard about Noodler's. But, either way, I HIGHLY recommend picking up a bottle of Aurora ink. They only make two colors, black and blue, and it writes VERY smoothly. Then again, it could be that I'm also using a Waterman!

  8. Journalism. There is so much to be said, told, explained, revealed, and exposed. And there are so few saying anything that really matters. I think your choice is marvelous.

    And I absolutely love the pencast. I used to use my father's Sheaffer all the time. A beautiful dark blue.

  9. Ahh, Noodler's Bay State Blue. I bought a bottle, filled my Pelikan M800 with it...and THEN I read some reviews on this ink. I began to panic when I read that this particular ink had very tiny, microscopic metal filings in it which, over time, could cause nib corrosion. In my haste to empty this ink from my Precious M800, I managed to get a tiny speck of it on the pair of chinos that I was wearing. That little stain never washed out. I flushed out the pen and got quite a bit of ink on my fingers. It took about three weeks to completely wash off from my hands. I looked like a book-keeper from 1924.
    But...Bay State Blue was the most fantastic shade of blue ink that I have ever seen. Nothing comes close. In fact, I'll probably get myself another bottle and reserve it for one pen only.

  10. The vast majority of Noodler's inks are pH neutral and fairly mild. I have a hard time believing they'd cause "erosion," any more than any other brand of ink, and I know of no verifiable first person accounts of any such damage directly attributable to Noodler's. Even folks like Richard Binder (one of the best-known fountain pen repairers and restorers out there) mostly just advises caution due to their high saturation (high dye content), and for that reason alone I wouldn't put them in an older, lever fill pen that could be hard to clean out. But modern cartridge/converter pens? Absolutely. I've been using various blacks and blues in my first good fountain pen (a Waterman Phileas) for close to a decade now with no issues. There are *some* inks (not the standard line) which are potentially problematic. For example, Baystate Blue is a very unique formula and another story. I hadn't heard that it had metal content...I thought that was just iron gall inks? But it's definitely alkaline, among other things. I love the color (there is absolutely nothing out there like it), but I use it in a cheap little disposable pen Platinum Preppy.

    In any case, I didn't mean this to become some sort of war. Kinda feel like I was baited and took the bait. :\ My only point: IMO, colors are fun, and there are a lot more options for fountain pens than there are for pens in general. I always have at least one pen filled with black ink, but I also like exploring. If you don't, that's fine. If you samples can be a neat option.

  11. I absolutely agree, LFP! It's just that I love the vintage high-quality fountain pens, and in a pen like this, I will only use the highest quality inks! I didn't see it as a war, but more sort of a friendly debate. Also, I've recently bought myself a pen that I can take everywhere with me, and a very nice one. What is it, you might ask? Well, all I'm saying is that it is from the 1950's, and it is a common and robust model. Also, it takes cartridges! But, I really just am against using Noodler's in any type of vintage/rare/expensive pen. But modern pens I guess, such as a Lamy Safari or something like that, would probably be perfect candidates for it. Although, I'm not a huge fan of the Safari! I'm mainly just going to stick with Aurora and Mont Blanc, though.

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  13. In your post you say you are italian. Were you born in Italy? Where?
    I'm from Ivrea, the Olivetti headquarter.