Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cross Century II Fountain Pen: Quick Look

The Cross Century II is the last of our newly offered Cross brand of pens at Gouletpens.com for this summer, and this Quick Look video should give you a pretty solid overview of the model. Cross pens in general are for the working professional, the brand name is recognized by many in the corporate world. Even beyond the status, these are nice writing pens that legit fountain pen users will enjoy.

There are 6 finishes available in the Century II:

Classic Black (steel nib), $120

Lustrous Chrome (steel nib), $95

Medalist (steel nib), $120

Royal Blue (steel nib), $110

10k Gold (18k nib), $310

Sterling Silver (18k nib), $320

The Century II is on the thin side, identical in the grip to the Cross Botanica. The pen is metal except for the grip which is plastic and fluted in texture, which gives it an interesting feel that will be a matter of personal preference whether you like or not.

It weighs around 22g give or take a couple of grams depending on the finish, with about 8g in the cap. This makes the pen pretty light when unposed, and when you post it the pen feels slightly backlighted due to the lighter plastic grip near the nib and metal cap. Honestly though, it's not that significant, I didn't find it to be troublesome. 

Nib options are both stainless steel and 18k gold, depending on the finish you're buying. Both nibs are offered in fine and medium, and they actually write fairly similarly to each other. The Cross Townsend that I reviewed previously had a much wetter 18k nib, but these 18k nibs on the Century II are slightly smaller than the Townsend's, similar in size and writing width to the steel nibs on the Century II. Both nibs are fairly generous with ink flow, and will write consistent to most other wet European nibs like you'd see from Parker, Waterman, and Lamy. I didn't feel a lot of spring in the 18k nibs, they're fairly stiff, and all of the nibs are quite smooth with just a touch of feedback. 

The cap is a snap cap, push to post. There's a bit of a stopping point you hit when capping the pen, it needs just a little extra "oomph" to get it on all the way. It's not hard to do, just something a tad unexpected. After doing it once or twice I got used to it right away

The Century II takes Cross proprietary cartridges or a Cross screw-in converter. Cross does not normally include a converter with any of their pens, but we just felt that a pen in this price range should have one, so we're including it at no charge at our store.

The prices vary a bit for these pens due to the difference in cost of the steel and gold nibs, and the variety of finishes. You'll pay $95-120 for finishes with stainless steel nibs and $310-320 for 18k nibs.  You can find all of these available at GouletPens.com, along with additional pictures, technical specs, and product reviews. 

Thanks for checking out the Cross Century II, I'd love to hear your feedback and questions in the comments below! 

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Anatomy of a Fountain Pen

There are a lot of parts and pieces to a fountain pen, and sometimes it's confusing which parts are called what, especially if you're newer to the hobby. Depending on who you're talking to, there are different names for different parts, and it can be tough to try to troubleshoot when you're calling parts different things to someone else! We've noticed this when trying to help our customers over phone or email, so we put together this infographic to show some of the most commonly talked-about pen parts.

This pen is the Platinum 3776 (in Chartres Blue), which is a cartridge/converter pen that is a fairly representative of what you'd expect to see on most cartridge/converter pens. There are many parts that can have multiple names, and depending on the manufacturer/model of pen you're handling, there might be different terms that are typically used. We've chosen the most common terms that we've used and heard others in the fountain pen community use. Hopefully this can help you out!

The Cap:
Cap: the part of a pen that covers the nib and attaches to the pen body.
Clip: the metal doohickey usually attached to the cap that holds your pen in your shirt pocket and also keeps it from rolling off your desk and landing nib first on the ground (why does it ALWAYS fall nib down??)
Finial: the top of the cap, sometimes decorated with the maker's logo.
Insert: the plastic liner on the inside of some pen caps that help seal the nib and keep it wet when capped.
Centerband: the metal decorative ring that is usually placed near the bottom of the pen cap for decorative purposes, or perhaps to provide reinforcement to the cap threads.
Lip: the open end of the cap, where the threads of the body fit to close the pen.

The Barrel:
Barrel: the long part of the main body of the pen which houses the ink reservoir.
Threads: thin grooves cut into a pen to hold parts together, especially pen caps to the pen body.
Step: the part of the barrel where the threads 'step up' to the body, which can matter when holding the pen.
Body: the length of a pen barrel that typically houses the ink reservoir.
Trim Ring: ornamental accents that serve an aesthetic purpose.

The Nib:
Nib: the metal tip of a fountain pen that actually touches the paper.
Tipping Material: a small bit of hard-wearing metal (usually some sort of iridium alloy) that is welded to the end of a nib and ground to a specific intended size.
Slit: the very thin cut running from the breather hole to the tip of the nib that carries the ink from the feed to the tip.
Tines: the two front parts of the nib that taper to the tip.
Shoulder: the widest part of a nib, where it starts to taper towards the tip.
Breather Hole: a hole in the nib, at the end of the nib slit, that allows air to assist in the ink flow, also called a vent hole.
Imprint: the engraving or impression left on the face of the nib that shows the brand, model, or nib size.
Body: the part of the nib that is typically imprinted.
Base: the bottom end, or reverse end of the tip, where the nib fits into the section of a pen.

The Feed:
Feed: the piece of plastic or ebonite (usually black) that hugs the back of the nib and acts as a vehicle for ink delivery from the reservoir to the nib.
Wings: the widest part of the feed that matches up to the nib shoulder. Sometimes nibs will slide on and grab onto the feed wings.
Fins: the small, thin pieces on the feed that allow ink to saturate into the air channels. These act as an ink regulator for consistent flow when writing speed varies.
Ink Channel: a very thin slit in the feed that hugs against the back of the nib and provides a route for the ink to travel through the feed. This is what helps to provide the necessary capillary action required for ink flow.
Post: the back end of a feed that goes into the ink reservoir and feeds ink into the channel.

The Section:
Section: the part of the pen where the nib fits in and attaches to the pen barrel.
Grip: the front of the section where you hold where the nib fits in, sometimes called just a 'section'.
Trim Ring: ornamental accents that serve an aesthetic purpose.
Threads: thin grooves cut into a pen to hold parts together.

The Converter:
Converter: a small filling mechanism (usually a screw-piston type) that fits onto a pen that also accepts a cartridge. This allows you to use any brand's bottled ink instead of relying on limited proprietary ink cartidges.
Mouth: the opening that fits onto the feed post to hold the converter in place.
Ink Reservoir: a cavity inside a pen that holds ink.
Seal: the 'working' part of the converter piston that creates a vacuum in order to draw ink into the reservoir.
Rod: the threaded portion of the piston mechanism that causes the seal to move up and down when the knob is turned.
Shroud: the metal covering that holds the piston mechanism onto the back of the ink reservoir.
Knob: the part of the converter that you turn to move the piston seal up and down (and thus fill the converter).

Be sure to check out more fountain pen terminology in our Glossary of Fountain Pen Terms, and ask for any clarification in the comments below! Be sure to share/link/Pin this graphic to your heart's content, we created this to help educate the fountain pen community. Enjoy!

Write On,
Team Goulet

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Matchup #58: Faber-Castell Ambition Fountain Pen - Aqua Op Art with Diamine Soft Mint

Humans have been trying to predict the future for eons with crystal balls, tarot cards, and Doppler radar. There is a definite upside to the future predictions - weather forecasts help keep our heads dry and fridges stocked. How many times have future predictions been proven wrong?  Even the best laid plans- or plants - can sometimes throw us for a loop.

In Virgina, Hydrangeas start blossoming in May and continue to flower until September. The Hydrangea Macrophylla is the first to sprout but depending on the pH of the soil, its flowers can blossom in a variety of colors. Starting with creamy white, they can go from pink to blue to an eventual green if the conditions are right. While some gardeners enjoy knowing the exact color concept of their garden, others rejoice in the unpredictability of this chameleon plant.

Jenni was inspired by the Faber-Castell Ambition- Aqua Op Art in medium and Diamine Soft Mint to draw a rare green Hydrangea. How will you celebrate the unpredictable this week?

The Faber-Castell Ambition Fountain Pen - Aqua Op Art is available at Gouletpens.com for $100. Diamine Soft Mint is available in 80ml bottles for $14.95 or 2ml ink samples for $.99 (on sale right now through the end of July 2015).

Write on,

The Goulet Pen Company Team

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