Friday, 30 November 2012

Platignum 1930s Fountain Pen Review

There must have been a day in history when pen companies decided to phase out flexible nibs. What induced them to dispense with this marvel of writing technology I cannot begin to fathom but a sad day that was, dear Readers, in fountain pen chronicles when the flexible nib was no more. 21st century penthusiasts can only turn to the fountain pens of old to experience a nib that yields to pressure, that springs back, that converses with the letters. Such a nib is fitted in the fine Platignum specimen which has recently found a temporary home at Palimpsest.

Platignum traces its beginnings in 1919 when the English pen company changed “the world of pens with the self-filling gold-plated nib.” This pen was purchased in 1935 and had fallen in a state of disrepair over the years until it was restored to its former glory by pen wizard Henry Simpole. It features a button filler mechanism and a 14CT broad flexible nib. It writes like a dream.

Marbled effect barrel with a black top which unscrews to reveal the button mechanism, gold decorative filigree band on the screw-on cap, and gold clip, this Platignum measures 11.5 cm unposted and 14.5 posted. It’s lightweight, comfortable to hold and the nib glides on the paper. It was inked with Mont Blanc Mystery Black and it went on with the business of writing straight away - no skips, no hiccups - without minding that it hadn't been put to use for decades.

Platignum 1930s fountain pen button filling mechanism

Platignum 1930s fountain pen: 14 CT gold broad flexible nib

Its owner was barely 9 years old when he was given it - a school boy who didn’t yet know that he would be drafted to the German army at the final stages of the war. The pen found its way back to England and it will travel back to Germany to serve its owner once more in times of peace.

And the winner is...

And the winner of the Palimpsest 3 year giveaway is:

Parvum Opus!

Congratulations! You win the Waterman (Paris) Inspired Blue ink and a discount voucher from Inklinks (Etsy). Please contact Palimpsest to claim your prize. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Three Years of Palimpsest

Three years of blogging, dear Readers. Palimpsest celebrates its three years of existence and hopes to continue inking away for many years to come. No anniversary would be complete without a giveaway to say thank you to readers regular and random, to those who linked to the blog and those who tweeted about it. This year the giveaway is a bottle of Waterman Inspired Blue ink and a 10% discount coupon to use against any purchase from my Etsy shop Inklinks - Vintage and Handmade Desk Supplies.

From the posts published this year the top ten most popular ones (Blogger Stats inform) are as follows:

1. TWSBI 540 Diamond fountain pen review

2. Noodler's Ahab fountain pen review

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy pen spotting

4. Platinum Plaisir fountain pen review

5. Stationery Store Series: Brachard Papeterie and Pen Shop, Geneva

6. In praise of Pilot Pluminix

7. Pencil Archaeology

8. Stationery Store Series: Hennig of Düsseldorf, Germany

9. Mont Blanc Turbo Ballpoint Review

10. Waterman Ideal 1909 fountain pen rescued

Readers who care to leave a comment below will be entered in a draw which will take place on Tuesday 27, 5pm UK time. Winner must contact me with their address details. I will post internationally.
Those of you who have participated in previous draws will surely be looking forward to see the Grand Master of Draws in action again (see his previous performances here and here). I wonder what he'll have in store for us this year. 

Thank you and good luck.

Monday, 19 November 2012

How Authors Write

One of Palimpsest's older posts about Marcel Proust's paperoles was unearthed and linked to by Jason Pontin, MIT Technology Review's editor, in his fine piece on How Authors Write.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Geo. W. Hughes Million Pen

In the era when ballpoint pens were unknown and fountain pens were just beginning to make an appearance in the writing technology scene the steel pen reigned supreme and the English town of Birmingham was the world capital of the steel pen trade. Famous pen manufacturers such Joseph Gillott, Hinks and Wells, William Mitchell, Macniven & Cameron (to name only a few) thrived there and alongside them George W. Hughes thrived too. He set up business around 1840 and his knowledge in metallurgy was instrumental in the company’s production of very high quality pens. Among them the “Million Pen”, a pointed flexible nib, Palimpsest was lucky to acquire.

George W. Hughes’ factory is derelict today, a piece of industrial archaeology, a monument to obsolete technologies. The factory in 3-5 Legge Lane was built in 1893 in brick and terracotta by Essex, Nicol and Goodman who were leading terracotta designers. Previously Hughes made his steel pens in St Paul’s Square and it is from that older site that the Million Pen nib box comes from. The company closed down in 1960. 

Hughes’ Million Pen still circulates though and its name is as puzzling as the illustrations on the box: £1,000,000 is printed in red in the middle of the cardboard container and is flanked by a blackbird and white dog licking its paw. On the side of the box there is the company’s trademark against a red background: a winged dog (or wolf) running with a fish in its mouth.

Was Hughes hoping to sell one million pounds worth of steel pens? Was the name an allusion to the pen’s “priceless” quality? And what’s the meaning of the creatures? Box is marked Geo. W. Hughes Million Pen Made in England No. 304 F. At the back a word of “Caution” against imitation pens: “None are genuine but those with his signature, thus-“

The nib performed wonderfully straight out of the box. Great flexibility and ink retention, I’ve tested it with Mont Blanc Mystery Ink, J. Herbin Anniversary Ink, Rohrer and Klingner Sienna, J. Herbin Lie de The  and Waterman Havana Brown. Now if someone could explain the winged wolf bearing fish…

Geo. W. Hughes Million pen nibs are available in Inklinks.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pelikan erasers

To write ~ to remember. To erase ~ to forget. Every writing instrument or writing technique  requires the possibility - and carries the tendency - of correction, erasure, deletion. The scribe turns his stylus around to smooth the wax, erase his writing and re-use the writing surface anew. The ink is scratched out, or eliminated with erasing fluid, the pencil markings are rubbed out, the electronic text is eradicated with the Delete button. 

Inside a bottle of 1950s Pelikan ink a paper fold-out ad contained all the possibilities of deletion in the shape of anthropomorphic erasures: