Brian’s Mailbox #6

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with others, so that’s what this post is for! These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:


I went to the LA Pen show and I saw a bottle of the Akkerman ink.  I was following this ink for a while and as you might know this ink, which was launched from the Akkerman pen store in Netherland in 2010 to celebrate their 100th anniversary in business, has a great bottle.  It looks like Akkerman is selling the ink only through their store in Netherland which looks like has a quite high price of delivery for a single bottle or two. Are you able to get it?

I know exactly what ink you’re talking about, but unfortunately I can’t get any ๐Ÿ™ I remember reading a lot of threads about it on FPN when it first came out, and I believe it was determined that it was Diamine supplying the ink (I’m not sure if it was custom colors or repackaged existing colors). As far as I know, it is only that one retailer that sells it, no one else in the world distributes it. The reason for the expensive shipping is likely because of the weight and fragility of the bottle. Sorry I can’t help you out any more than this!

I’m looking for a converter for my Lamy. Is there any difference between the Lamy Z24 and the LZ24?

There’s no difference at all. The Z24 is the common name for the converter. The LZ24 is the product code, I’m assuming it means ‘Lamy Z24’.

I recently received a bottle of Edelstein Sapphire. I find the ink to be a little bit purplish, and I looked into the whole line on both Pelikan’s web site and yours. What I find odd is that on their website they show color swatches of all the inks, and they label the Sapphire swatch with “sapphire (blue)” and the Topaz swatch with “topaz (purple-blue)”. Yet the topaz is clearly on the greener side of blue than the sapphire is. Can you confirm that it is indeed the sapphire that is the purpler of the two?

Yes, in my opinion Sapphire is more purple than Topaz, that’s one of the common complaints against Sapphire ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s just how it is though, my swabs are quite accurate to the real color.

I have a new aluminum body pen (okay it’s the Kaweco Liliput, which I did not buy from you — sorry!) that I’d like to convert into an eyedropper. Is it true what all the old geezers on Fountain Pen Network say that you can’t convert an aluminum-barreled pen into an eyedropper?

Unfortunately, it is true ๐Ÿ™ Well, partially. Technically you CAN convert an aluminum pen to an eyedropper, it’s just not a good idea because aluminum easily corrodes with many of the chemicals used in fountain pen ink. So though it can be done, it will likely not be good for the pen. This is part of the reason we don’t carry the Liliput ๐Ÿ™

Do you plan to order the new colored Webbies, or perhaps I should say, will you please order them?! I’ve heard if enough vendors request them they’ll import them into the US (eventually). Especially like the Anise, Poppy and Tangerine colors!

According to RhodiaDrive, they are going to be bringing them in to the US! We’ll definitely carry them as soon as they’re available, which will be later this summer. Apparently the pictures of them in the French CF catalog are just prototypes, the journals aren’t even in production yet, which is why it’ll be such a long wait to get them. I don’t know if they’re bringing in all the colors, but hopefully ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll carry whatever they have!

I am getting a friend interested in fountain pens (Buying her a Lamy Vista because I always thought seeing the cartridge and ink were cool, and I think Lamys are very solid starters), and I had a few questions.  I wanted to get her a bottle of purple ink, p; preferably a lilac, and I was thinking Noodler’s Concord Bream, but I read that it is a bleeder.  I then looked at PR Purple Mojo and PR Fast dry Tanzanite, but I am not familiar with any of these inks.  Advice? 

I’m happy to help! I’m a fan of the Vista, I have a few in my own collection. The Z26 is aesthetically pleasing, I agree! It doesn’t hold in the pen quite as well because it doesn’t have those little pegs that fit into the pen like the Z24 does, but it’s not really that big of a deal.
As far as an ink, Concord Bream does tend to bleed, I’m not much of a fan of that ink. What I recommend is that you first take a look at our Swab Shop: http://www.gouletpens.com/Swab_Shop_Purple_s/820.htm 

The Swab Shop include color-adjusted swabs of every single ink we carry that I personally scanned and edited for the closest accuracy possible on a computer screen. It’s not perfect, but it shows you very closely how the color will appear in real life. It can at least help you to gauge what colors are most appealing to you, and which ones are close to others that you have experience with. 

From there, I recommend taking the inks that look appealing to you and getting samples of them: http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Samples_s/851.htm 

There aren’t a whole ton of lilac inks to choose form, most of the purple inks tend to be either darker or more violet/vibrant. Purple Mojo is pretty good, PR Tanzanite is darker and is actually a pretty popular color. The fast-dry version of Tanzanite for whatever reason isn’t as popular, I think because most people are looking for a darker purple when they want purple. But for you, the fast-dry version may be more appealing. Diamine Majestic Purple is nice, as is Diamine Lavender or Violet.

I’m thinking about getting myself a TWSBI 540, and I’m having trouble deciding on whether I want a fine nib or an extra-fine. Since I’ll be using it for schoolwork, having a pen that writes a fine line is important to me; but, I’ve used some pens – like the Pilot 78G – where the fine point is pretty much a needle. The fine on the 78G dramatically reduces the ink flow and is difficult to control, and I don’t want that, but I’m also looking for a true fine – not like the nibs on Cross pens, which are pretty much mediums, in my eyes. I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter. Thanks! It  would be immensely helpful if you could let me know how TWSBI nibs compares to the Pilot78G Fine or Medium, the Cross Affinity Fine, or the Parker 45 Fine. 

I don’t personally have any experience with the 78g, but I have been told that they write with the same line width as the Pilot Prera (which I have used). In general, nibs that come from Japan are thinner writing than ones that come from Europe. Even though TWSBI pens are made in Taiwan, their nibs come from Germany. So you’ll probably find that most of the Japanese nibs (like Pilot ones) write about one size smaller than German nibs like TWSBI’s. If you really like the 78g fine, then you’ll want a TWSBI extra-fine. I have a comparison here for you:

You’ll notice that even the TWSBI EF nib isn’t quite as fine as the Pilot F nib, but that’s as fine as TWSBI gets. I know you aren’t looking for anything that fine, so I think you’d probably be pretty happy with a TWSBI fine. You can actually play around with writing samples of all our pens in our Nib Nook: http://www.gouletpens.com/Articles.asp?ID=268

I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with the Cross or Parkers you mentioned, but I would make a fair wager that those nibs would be pretty similar in writing comparison to the TWSBI nibs of equal size.

Hopefully these posts are helpful to you! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Also, feel free to shoot me an email anytime, your question could end up in the next Mailbox! 

2017-10-11T14:02:52+00:00 February 27th, 2012|Mailbox Monday, Uncategorized|6 Comments
  • ReaverZ

    Cross nibs tend to run wetter not wider then other pens. ย This makes then really smooth pens to write with. ย Japanese pens run thinner and drier then their Western counterparts, my Platinum medium nib puts down about as much ink as my Twsbi EF.ย 

  • Stefan Vorkoetter

    Regarding the Sapphire vs. Topaz inks, it appears that the bottles shown on Pelikan's web-site are mixed up too. The Sapphire looks like the Topaz should, and vice versa. I've corresponded with their customer service rep, and she has told the marketing department.

  • Bornagainscholar

    You make a great point. Wetter can seem wider but in fact that is not the case. I think it is important to point out that the paper one is testing the line on is going to play a big part in the appearance of the line width. Even more so when you are talking about a pen that puts out a lot of ink (like cross pens typically do).

  • I don't have any experience with Cross, so I appreciate your input, ReaverZ. I will say though that the difference in nib sizes between most Japanese pens and most Western pens is real, it's not just a matter of writing wetter or drier. I can physically see a difference in the size of the tip of the nib with Platinum, Sailor and Pilot vs. Lamy, Pelikan, TWSBI, etc.ย 

  • Oh yes, paper is always a factor. When you're trying to compare the width of the line a pen writes, it's important to keep the paper and ink consistent, as both of these can be factors in the width of your written line!

  • I appreciate your letting them know. This is exactly why I do my own swabs ๐Ÿ™‚ย