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! I’ll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I saw that Lamy USA has the Lamy Nexx and I really want one. Are you planning to carry them?

Yes, we are when they come available to us. Lamy USA is selling them right now to test the demand for them, and will open them up to their retailers sometime soon. I don’t have a definite date when yet, but expect that we’ll offer them as soon as they’re available to us.

For those like me who are not so good at visualizing these things, can you relate to me how the new Edison compares to some other standard pens like, perhaps, the TWSBI 540, a Parker “51”, etc.?  Perhaps a picture for comparison or a way to compare pen sizes?

I completely hear where you’re coming from with the sized thing, I’m a visual person too and dimensions don’t give me the best sense of a pen’s relative size! The Encore is pretty close in size to a Pelikan m200, if you’re familiar with that. It’s longer, but the diameter is nearly the same, as well as the weight and balance. The TWSBI is much bigger….I’m not that familiar with the Parker 51 so I’m afraid I’m no help there! I’m going to work on an Encore blog post soon where I show other pens relative to it, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet :)

Can a waterman ‘fountain pen’ converter be used to replace the ink cartridges on a ballpoint pen? Additionally, will fountain pen ink work in a ballpoint pen? 

Fountain pen ink and ballpoints are about like gasoline engines and diesel engines. Yes, they look the same and perform similarly, but they are in fact very different and you can’t interchange them. Back to pens, the exception when it comes to using fountain pen ink in ballpoint pens is when you have ballpoint pens that are specifically designed to use liquid fountain pen ink, but these are very few and far between, and Waterman doesn’t make a pen in this manner (that I know about). Ballpoint pens use cartridges, which are essentially entire pens themselves, the actual pen body is merely a housing for the cartridge. Fountain pens are different altogether, where the pen itself has all of the internal components, and it’s simply the liquid ink that you’re buying to refill it.

Long story short, unless you’re buying a rollerball pen that is designed with internal components specifically made to use liquid fountain pen ink, then you’ll need to stick with ‘regular’ ballpoint cartridges!

I LOVE the Orange Pilot Custom I bought from you guys a week or 2 ago. That is my second pen with a gold nib and I would have never guessed at how much gold nibs increase the quality of writing experience. Which brings me to my question. Can your new pens be ordered with an 18k nib that is offered on I believe all Edison pens? Or can one be bought separate and fit in the pen?

The Custom 74 is an amazing pen! I have a blue one and it’s honestly one of my top go-to pens. I LOVE the way it writes. There’s not always a clear distinction that ‘gold writes better’ or ‘steel isn’t as good as gold’, I’ve certainly used some gold nibs that are scratchier and stiffer than some steel nibs. There is a lot that goes into nib design, and the material of the nib is just one factor (albeit an expensive one!). Honestly, the nib on the Encore is pretty awesome, it writes very wet and flows quite freely. The only thing you’ll find that it lacks compared to some gold nibs is in its flexibility. We talked to Brian Gray about offering a gold nib on the Encore and it is certainly possible, but it will be expensive. He hasn’t given us a firm price on it, but it’s likely going to be around $125 as an upgrade from the pen (that’s $125 additional to the pen!). It’s not cheap, for sure, so it’s hard to justify unless you simply can’t see another way. Honestly, I would suggest getting it with the steel nib first, and  you can always pick up a gold nib down the road if you just don’t find the steel works ideally enough. I think you’d be surprised though.

If you have time could you explain what is the difference between the TWSBI 540 and VAC 700? or may be make a video.

I won’t be able to make a video yet, the Vac 700 isn’t even released yet! I will once it is thought, in the next few weeks. The biggest difference between the two pens will be the filling mechanism, the 540 is a piston filler, and the VAC 700 is a vacuum filler. Here’s how the Vac-700 works:

Have you to specify the value in customs declaration? Because I’d like to buy a gift for a friend of mine and send him directly from your website (I’m serious). It would be very inelegant let him know the price, written on the package. Only if possible, of course. (this is a customer in Italy)

When it comes to customs declarations, I have no ‘creativity’ at my disposal. Even if we were to mark a package as a ‘gift’, the value of the items are still going to be printing on the customs form, which is taped onto the outside of the box. The ‘gift’ designation doesn’t even qualify in this situation either, even though you are sending it to someone else as a gift, it’s still considered merchandise and they will charge the appropriate customs fees on the items. The only things that can be declared as gifts are items that are sent from one individual to another, with no money changing hands. Since we are a business, even if we marked it as a gift they would likely still charge customs fees, and even worse I could get in real serious trouble for falsely marking a package as a gift! I’m afraid the only way to avoid your friend knowing what you paid is to order what you want and have it shipped to you, then you ship it to your friend after you receive it. I wish there was a better way, but there’s no work around here.

I understand that the Kaweco ink doesn’t come in a bottled form. I wanted to find out if you know which other ink would come closest to the Kaweco blue. Is the Sailor gentle Ultramarine a good contender? Are there others that would be a close approximation to the Kaweco Blue?

I’ve never swapped up the inks that are only in cartridge form, such as the Kaweco inks, so there is no easy way to compare them in the Swab Shop. I honestly can’t say that I know 100% which ink will be closest to Kaweco Blue! I’ve never swabbed it for a direct comparison to other inks. I have limited experience with the ink, but I think that some of the best contenders would be Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire, Sailor Jentle Ultramarine (might be a tad more purple, but would probably be close), Private Reserve Cosmic Cobalt, and J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis.

Hopefully these posts are helpful to you! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. I’ll be compiling this coming week’s emails into next week’s Mailbox Monday post!