Posts filed under Sailor

Sailor Specialty Nibs Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Ever since I discovered the Sailor Specialty Nibs page at Classic Fountain Pens, I spent hours looking at each nib and its characteristics, fascinated by the different shapes and styles. The prices always threw me for a loop, though, so I just looked and coveted.

I finally found a pretty good price on a Sailor Pro Gear with a Cross Point nib on Engeika. It took several weeks to arrive, but the wait was worth it.

I loved the lush broad lines it made–so glorious with sheening and shading inks. But I couldn't write with the nib upside down. You're supposed to be able to write fine lines with it, but mine just cuts into the paper.

I discovered why, after taking macro shots of the nib: the tines are misaligned. This doesn't affect the broad strokes, but it definitely makes the nib unusable for fine lines. I'm going to have to send the nib in for work.

In the meantime, a person on Fountain Pen Geeks offered a Sailor 1911 with a Cross Concord nib for a steal. I knew the Concord, with its beak-like nib, could write fine on one side and do the luscious lines on the other, so I bought the pen.

So, now I have two Sailor Specialty Nibs.

The two nibs are similar in what they can do: write fine strokes with the nib in one position and broad strokes in the other. The Cross Point nib in the normal position writes broad strokes.

Cross Point Nib

Cross Point Nib

The Cross Concord is the opposite. Personally, I prefer the Cross Concord because I can pick it up and immediately use it like a normal fountain pen. If I want the broad strokes I turn it upside down. With the Cross Point, you have to hold the pen with the nib upside down if you want to write fine strokes.

Cross Concord Nib

Cross Concord Nib

Because my Cross Point's tines are misaligned, I can't compare the two pens' fine strokes. But I can compare the broad ones. They are similar in width (if not exactly the same). You can vary the width of the line of both nibs depending on the angle you hold the pen. If you wish, you can even mimic brush strokes with the nibs.

The Sailor Specialty Nibs are clearly designed for Japanese calligraphy, not western writing. But, I've found they work great for writing Hebrew. I'm no calligrapher, but I love the nice thick lines I can make for Hebrew lettering.

Yes, there are Hebrew/Arabic nib grinds for this purpose, but they aren't all that versatile if you write primarily in cursive. With the Sailor nibs, I can write Hebrew letters with the broad side and turn the nib over and write cursive English.

These nibs are also great for drawing. I'm no artist, but I could see how people who like to sketch with ink would love these pens. You can paint with the broad side and sketch details with the fine.

The nibs themselves are works of art. The double-layer nibs, the scroll work, the beautiful 21K gold, all combine to make for an exquisite nib. You can get the specialty nibs with an extra bar on top that increases the ink flow, but I think it ruins the aesthetic of the nib. So far, I've had no need for increased ink flow.

The one negative about these nibs is that they are limited to Sailor pens. It's not that I have anything against Sailors, it's just that their converters are tiny. They just don't hold much ink (0.5ml). Even the Sailor Realo (a piston fill pen) doesn't hold much more (0.9ml). When you're doing broad, juicy strokes, you can blow through a small converter of ink very quickly.

Another limitation of Sailor pens is the lack of choices in pen color. Finding a Sailor with a specialty nib in any color other than black is difficult, and you have to be willing to pay a premium. If you want one of the fancier Sailors with a specialty nib expect to pay close to $1,000.

I purchased my boring black Pro Gear from Engeika for $390. The Sailor 1911 with a Cross Concord would normally be $535, but I got it for around $300 as well.

Pros

  • These specialty nibs really are special. No other manufacturer makes anything like them.
  • They are extremely versatile. You can write fine and broad and in between and use them for sketching.
  • These nibs are great for certain types of calligraphy and even for Hebrew (which I know is very important to most people).
  • Sailor specialty nibs make great ink testers because they show off the ink in both fine and super broad strokes.

Cons

  • The nibs are only available on Sailor pens which have small ink capacity.
  • Sailor pens with specialty nibs are quite expensive.
  • You don't have much choice in colors unless you're willing to pay almost $1,000.
  • Sailor recently suspended orders on these nibs so quantities are currently limited.
Posted on February 12, 2016 and filed under Pen Reviews, Sailor, Nibs.

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe Review

I don’t normally buy blingy pens, but when I do, it’s the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe.

I first saw this pen at the 2013 Atlanta Pen Show. Mike Masuyama, who rarely sells pens, had this one sitting on his table. I picked it up, becasue, well, it’s gorgeous, and loved the feel of it. It was my first pen show, and there weren’t many Sailor’s available to purchase, so I asked Mike the price.

“$400.”

I put the pen right back down. Not today, but not forgotten.

I didn’t even know what the name of this particular Sailor pen was, but the design was distinctive and stuck with me. It was shiny, yes, but in a sublte way. And it had a nice heft to it, unlike the Pro Gear Slim (aka Sapporo), which was the extent of my Sailor experience up to that point.

Fast forward to May of this year. I was scrolling through the Fountain Pen Network Classifieds (bad idea for your wallet!) and ran across a Sailor pen I had seen before. And it had a name: The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe. It looked to be in great shape, the price was fair ($350), and I had it on the way nearly as quickly as I found it. I wasn’t passing it up for the second time.

The standout feature of the Regency Stripe is the rhodium stripe and barley corn pattern that adorns the barrel. It is as stunning to look at as it is to hold. There is some weight to it as I mentioned earlier, but it’s not too much. It gives it that “just right” feel when writing with it.

Mine came with a broad nib, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I never have an issue getting the pen I want and worrying about the nib later. The broad was ok as-is, but I shipped it off to my friend Dan Smith at The Nibsmith to give it a little cursive italic love to fit my writing style better. Dan delivered a sharp, juicy nib that is a pleasure to write with.

Would I have purchased this pen without the opportunity to have held it in Atlanta several years ago? I think the odds are very low that I would have. That’s a lot of money to shell out sight unseen. This is why pen shows are great. You learn more than you buy, and that is valuable when it comes to making purchasing decisions in the future. This was a decision I was very happy with, and I’m not the only one.

Posted on October 5, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Fountain Pens, Sailor.

Sailor Pen and Message Cigar Ink Review

(This is a guest post by Felix Jen. Felix is a fountain pen and ink enthusiast. You can find him at his blog, Inks and Pens, or at his Instagram.)

Sailor, the Japanese pen and ink manufacturer, has gotten themselves quite a reputation with their hard-to-find store-exclusive inks such as Bungbox Sapphire and Pen-and-Message inks. Sailor's Pen and Message Cigar is a brown ink with a great depth of color and a very subtle color change.

When I was first sent a sample of this ink, I didn't really know what to think about it. It seemed like a murky green in the vial that looked a bit unappealing, but once I filled a pen up with it, my opinion totally changed. The ink lays does lay down as a shade of dark green and quickly changes to a brown color as it dries. I was completely shocked as there aren't many inks that change colors so quickly.

The ink is a deep brown with some definite green undertones as well as a light blue tint. This is actually one of the nicer browns with a great deal of depth to it, unlike some inks in the color range.

A paper chromatography test of this ink confirms the presence of green and blue. The chromatography is actually all over the place, with yellow, orange, blue, green, and brown!

This review was written in a Pilot Parallel 1.5mm on HP 32lb Premium Choice Laser.

On paper, the ink behaves wonderfully. There is not a bit of feathering or bleed-through, even on the extremely wet parts of the page. There is a little bit of show-through but nothing too major. With thinner papers like Tomoe River, you can clearly see what is written on the reverse side. The ink cleans out easily from converters and does not stain, unlike some Noodler's inks.

Shading is not this ink's strong point. The ink barely has any shading, from a light brown to a darker blackish color. The dry time is a bit long, averaging at around 20 seconds on this paper and 19 seconds on Rhodia. When using finer nibs, the dry time is significantly reduced, to around 13 seconds with an Medium.

This ink's water test is also an enigma. The test was done with drops of water placed on the page for about 20 seconds then wiped away with a tissue. Strangely, much of the brown in the ink washes away but leaves a water-resistant blue-gray portion. The lines can still clearly be seen and there is barely any smearing of the brown.

Sailor Pen and Message Cigar is truly a one-of-a-kind ink with a beautiful color and outstanding behavior. You can find this ink directly from Pen and Message for 2160¥ in a 50mL bottle. They are out of stock at the time of this writing, but will be accepting "preorders" in August 2015.

Posted on August 27, 2015 and filed under Guest Post, Ink Reviews, Sailor.

Sailor Professional Gear Transparent Orange Review

Sailor Pro Gear Transparent Orange.jpg

Being the fan of Japanese pens that I am it’s no surprise how much I enjoy the Sailor brand of pens. I’ve owned or tested most of their main line products, and there is no better fit for me personally than the barrel size, shape, and weight of the Pro Gear.

The Sailor Pro Gear Slim is smaller, lighter, and narrower, as is the 1911 Standard. The 1911 Large is similar in feel and weight, but the rounded end caps aren’t as aesthetically pleasing to me. The only one I haven’t compared side by side to the Pro Gear (King of Pens excluded) are any of the Realo models, which are similar in size to its Professional Gear and 1911 conterparts but use a piston filling system.

All of this is to say that everything about the Pro Gear fits what I am looking for in a pen to a tee.

The Transparent Orange model has been on my shopping list since I became interested in fountain pens several years ago. It’s loud and scary and breaks every traditional fountain pen mold. And I love it for that. The pink and green models are just as vibrant and I would be happy to own any or all of them and flaunt them whenever I could.

Goldspot Pens kindly loaned me this pen with a medium 21k gold nib for review. I inked it up with one of my favorite inks - Sailor Jentle Blue Black - and it wrote perfectly right out of the box. Japanese medium nibs are a sweet spot in my opinion. Fine enough to maintain nice line control, and wide enough to show off the ink on the page. And just look at that nib - it’s beautiful!

Being the fan of demonstrator pens that I am, I’m used to seeing converters and other internal mechanics inside pen barrels. With this Pro Gear, I have to say seeing the converter inside isn’t the greatest visual. Would I prefer a piston mechanism instead? Sure, but this is a small con in what is a pen full of pros. When I’m writing with it I don’t notice it at all.

All in all, borrowing this pen from Goldspot has only confirmed that I want to add one to my collection. It looks great, writes wonderfully, and is an excellent example of a Japanese brand having fun with a traditional writing instrument.

My thanks to Goldspot Pens for loaning me this pen for the purposes of this review.

Posted on July 27, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Sailor.