Saturday, 28 July 2012

Field’s Ink Green Rainbow Range (resurrected)

In the long summer evenings of northern climes the air sometimes smells of words that are half-forgotten. This smell is warm and faintly fragrant and is underlined by a subtle breeze. The old floorboards creak in sing-song. The leaves are fat and heavy and tormenting the ripe branches. The words linger in the dusk and they don’t know if they want to be recalled or left in half-oblivion. If only they could be captured in ink we could see them and remember. But the bottle is empty.

It is a Field’s Rainbow Range of Coloured Inks bottle that takes Palimpsest’s fancy this evening - a substantial glass bottle with an arrow-shaped paper label - green chequered border, a rainbow, a devilish ink-blot boy revelling in the ink droplets dripping from the quill. It was produced sometime in the 1920s by Caribonum Ltd, a carbon paper, typewriter ribbons and ink manufacturer, which set up business in Leyton, London, in 1908. A paper strip around the bottle neck informs of the ink’s colour: 334D Green.

And so in this late summer evening when the old words are floating in the breeze, the old dried ink is stirred and slowly dissolves and receives the steel pen, after many years and is resurrected. It touches the paper, it dries. It is a watered, fossilized green. But an instant before it dries the eye can catch a glimpse of its old forgotten brilliance. Of the time when it shone and the world was open to possibilities.

More Field's inks in 1001 ink bottles. And Inklinks' ink section.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen review

The Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen is a pocket fountain pen produced by the renowned German pen manufacturer whose history goes back to 1833. It is obviously aimed to budget-minded fountain pen enthusiasts who want an economy pen with a famous name. At $23.50 (July 2012 price) this Kaweco is indeed relatively cheap (though not as cheap as the Preppy or the Pilot Plumix). Its a smooth operator and its design is a curious combination of luxury-imitation features and economy materials.

Capped the Kaweco Sport presents an oversize faceted cap posted on a thin(ner) barrel. The Kaweco golden metal logo crowns the cap, while “Kaweco Sport” is written in golden script on one of its eight facets. The capped Kaweco is a mere 10.5cm (much shorter than the Pilot Plumix) but unscrew the cap and post it and you have a 13cm long fountain pen. What was an oversize cap now becomes the glimmering faceted body of the pen - which at 13cm makes the Kaweco measure exactly the same as an unposted Lamy Safari.

The body of the Kaweco Classic Sport is a simple affair with a slightly domed top with “Made in Germany” printed on. It is and it feels plastic and because it is so lightweight it feels like cheap plastic. The rough ribbed surface around the domed top does not help discard this feeling of cheapness either. The golden metal logo and decorative surface of the nib look like luxury-imitation afterthoughts.

The nib is gold-plated stainless steel with an iridium tip. The one tested was Medium. The Kaweco takes standard short ink cartridges and it came supplied with one blue ink cartridge. Now the writing produced by that ink cartridge was just satisfactory. Ink flow was just alright, the nib felt rough and test-driving the Kaweco on Clairefontaine paper was a trial. On lower-quality, more-absorbent paper the pen performed much better but the ink was an unpleasant watered down blue.

When the cartridge was replaced with another from Palimpsest's stash, ink flow improved dramatically and writing was smooth both on higher and lower quality paper. Kaweco Sport can be a reliable portable fountain pen though Palimpsest is not too keen on the design and the cheap plastic feel of it. Perhaps an italic nib would make me change my mind. However, come autumn I will add said writing instrument to my son’s school pen arsenal. See how he feels about the curious Kaweco. 

Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen was kindly sent to Palimpsest by Jet Pens.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Law Stationer Tools

A photo Palimpsest came across on Flickr ties in magnificently with the blog's running Dickens' ink and quills theme, Bleak House in particular, the law stationer's tools and supplies more specifically. The photo depicts Mr Alan Brignull's collection of law stationery, in fact his grandfather's tools: a seal cracker, four branded sticks of wax (of which the S.O. branded one Palimpsest wishes was part of her HMSO collection), four quill pens, a pen holder and bone handled erasing knife. All these are sitting on a sheet of real vellum. 

Have a look at Alan's photostream on Flickr for more details. Photo reproduced here with permission.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Stephens' Ink Radiant Blue

Pen and ink sage @Toaster_Pastry was lucky to get hold of a bottle of Stephens' Radiant Washable Blue ink and was kind to send Palimpsest this writing sample:

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bleak House Ink and Quill Spotting

In the dark alleys of Bleak House’s plot ink abounds. Dickens’ labyrinth Chancery Court case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce which permeates the plot of Bleak House is itself laid out in interminable ink markings. Legal proceedings, love letters, communications, missives, wills and testaments, all in ink - ink stored in stoneware pots, in ink wells, at the tip of goose quills. Clerks are dipping their quills in ink as does the scheming lawyer Tulkinghorn, Caddy Jellyby is covered in it, and it is Nemo’s skilful way with quill and ink that sets the wheels of revelation in motion. 

The BBC 2005 Bleak House adaptation does not do justice to Dickens' novel, but the ink geek can indulge in some ink and quill spotting:

Mr Tulkinghorn’s quill


"Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr Tulkinghorn. …  He has some manuscript near him, but is not referring to it.With the round top of an inkstand and two broken bits of sealing-wax, he is silently and slowly working out whatever train of indecision is in his mind. 

Now, tbe inkstand top is in the middle: now, the red bit of sealing-wax, now the black bit. That’s not it. Mr Tulkinghorn must gather them all up, and begin again."

Caddy Jellyby’s quill. 

"But what principally struck us was a jaded and unhealthy-looking, though by no means plain girl, at the writing-table, who sat biting the feather of her pen, and staring at us. I suppose nobody ever was in such a state of ink. ... She would not sit down, but stood by the fire, dipping her inky middle finger in the egg-cup, which contained vinegar, and smearing it over the ink stains on her face, frowning the whole time and looking very gloomy."

Nemo's ink

"It is a small room, nearly black with soot, and grease, and dirt. In the rusty skeleton of a grate, pinched at the middle as if Poverty had gripped it, a red coke fire burns low. In the corner by the chimney, stand a deal table and a broken desk: a wilderness marked with a rain of ink. "

 Nemo's handwriting

"Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Snagsby.”
“Yes, sir.” Mr Snagsby turns up the gas, and coughs behind his hand, modestly anticipating profit. Mr Snagsby, as a timid man, is accustomed to cough with a variety of expressions, and so to save words.
“You copied some affidavits in that cause for me lately.”
“Yes, sir, we did.”
“There was one of them,” says Mr Tulkinghorn, carelessly feeling — tight, unopenable Oyster of the old school! — in the wrong coat-pocket, “the handwriting of which is peculiar, and I rather like.

 Mr Snagsby's ink

Mr Snagsby has dealt in all sorts of blank forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of parchments; in paper - foolscap, brief, draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in stamps; in office-quills, pens, ink, India rubber, pounce, pins, pencils, sealing-wax, and wafers.

What is the paper label on the ink stoneware? Is it Stephens' Ink? Henry "Inky" Stephens started producing his blue-black "writing fluid" already in 1834 so the ink was presumably in circulation by the time Dickens' wrote his novel (1852-3). So congrats for historical accuracy to whoever was in charge of props in the BBC production.

Stephens Blue Black Writing Fluid