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’ve been waiting for the coming of the TWSBI 700 Vac.  I just saw a video on an Ink Filling Tool to fill the 700 fully.  Will you be selling these also? What is the best nib size for this pen?

The VAC 700 is set to arrive the beginning of March, so it’ll be a little bit of a wait still. As far as the filling tool, it’s basically like the TWSBI inkwell that’s out right now for the 540, except it’s made to fit the VAC 700. It’s still in prototype stage though, so there’s no estimated arrival date for them. The VAC 700 has been in prototyping stage for 2 years, so I wouldn’t get too excited about the VAC 700 filler just yet, it’ll likely be the end of the year before it’s ready, maybe longer! 

The best nib choice is purely going to be a matter of preference. I like the medium in mine, but I like a little broader nib that some people do. I have a comparison of all the TWSBI nibs in our Nib Nook: 

As far as the VAC 700 goes, it is going to be a different (slightly larger) nib than what’s in the 540. I haven’t seen or tested one for myself yet, but I know they will all be Bock. 

I am torn between an Edison Nouveau Fine Nib, a Pelikan’s Tradition M215 Fine Nib, and a Pilot Custom 74 Fine.  This is what I am looking for:  a nib that writes the first time it touches paper, that is smooth with enough feedback to tell me I want I am doing, and not a dry writer. Any advice?

My honest opinion? I think you would be happy with any of these three pens, but for different reasons. Here’s a rundown of the key points of each pen: 

Edison Nouveau:
– Obviously, I love this pen. We helped design it!
– It has a great reputation, it’s American made
– Brian Gray does great work on the pen itself and with tuning the nibs
– The overall craftsmanship and appearance/uniqueness of this pen beats the others
– This one is turned from cast resin instead of injection molded, so the depth of the material is more appealing to the eye (except the matte black, which is rather ‘flat’ looking, on purpose)
– You can swap the nibs rather easily, and individual nib units are available
– Takes standard international cartridges, if that matters to you
– Easiest of the 3 to clean
– Is convertible to eyedropper to hold the most ink
– Available in EF-B
– Brian Gray does offer custom grinding such as italics and obliques (costs extra)
– Excellent customer service from Edison, far more responsive and personal than Pilot and Pelikan 

Pelikan M215:
– Well known pen with a good reputation
– Much shorter and thinner than the other two, if that matters
– Nibs swap easily like the EN, individual nib units are available but only by special order, and in gold plating
– It has an ink window, so you can monitor your ink level
– It is a piston filler, so holds more ink than the EN (if using the cartridge) 

Pilot Custom 74:
– The only pen with a gold nib, which has a little bit of ‘spring’ to it
– Nib sizes run smaller than the German Pelikan and Edison nibs, so a M in Pilot is about equal to F in the others
– Demonstrator pen, so you can monitor your ink level
– Takes Pilot cartridges, if that matters
– Con–70 converter in this pen holds about twice as much as other cartridge/converter pens 

The things that are important to you (as mentioned in a part of the email I left out of this post):
-Writes the first time it touches paper- all three will do this for you
-Smooth with some feedback- this is exactly what Edisons are known for…the Pelikan is a little smoother but harder to ‘control’ (just by a bit), Pilot is great like the Edisons
-Not a dry writer- none of these write dry, but they do write a little differently from each other. I recommend checking out our Nib Nook to see how they compare to each other with the different nib sizes: 

Personally, I enjoy writing a lot with my Pilot Custom 74 with a medium nib, it is a pleasure. Edison pens have earned their great reputation and Brian Gray stands behind his work. His pens are the most exceptional looking and write very well. The Pelikan is nice, but my least favorite of the three. These are just my thoughts, and entirely subjective!

I was wondering what inks you would recommend that have a nice dark red hue.  

There are a lot of great dark reds. Some of my favorites are Diamine Red Dragon, Diamine Oxblood, Diamine Syrah, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite, and Noodler’s Red Black. You can see them and all of our other red inks here:

I’m planning on purchasing a pen from you in the next few months, but want to do my homework before I’m ready to buy. I’m looking for a pen that has a thick grip and  one that has a large reservoir for ink so that I don’t have to refill it every few days. I’ll be doing a lot of daily writing with this pen, so want it to be one that is very comfortable to hold. I tend to grip the pen too tight, if that helps you give me a more precise recommendation. 

I think you’d really like a TWSBI 540 or VAC 700. They’re great pens for the money, and they are both large and hold a lot of ink. We’re currently out of all of them right now, but you can sign up to be notified when they are back in stock on the individual product page by clicking the ’email me when back in stock’ underneath the ‘add to cart’ button. 



My question today is can I use a Waterman long cartridge in my new Monteverde Black Tie pen?  It looks like it would fit.  I am worried that somehow the short Monteverde cartridge could somehow come loose in the pen since there is nothing but friction holding it in place.

Well, I don’t carry Monteverde so I can’t be 100% certain, but I believe all of their pens use standard international cartridges. There are a LOT of pen brands that use this size of cartridge, and all of them work just fine with the cartridge friction fitting in the pen like with the Monteverde. The Waterman cartridges are a little longer, but the diameter of the opening is actually a tiny bit larger than the standard international, so I suspect they will actually fit looser and have a greater chance of leaking than using the cartridges that are intended for the Monteverdes.

I see the Clairefontaine 8.5″ x 11″ is much more expensive than the other wire bound notebooks. I was just wondering why in the world this particular size of Clairefontaine wire bound notebooks is so much more expensive than the others. Is it the demand in America for this size? 

The reason this notebook is more is because it’s 3-hole punched, micro perforated, and has almost double the number of sheets of the other notebooks. Here’s a comparison:

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!