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

Do you have any tips on what to do with inks you never use?

There are a few things you can do with ink you don’t use:

1) Give it away/sell it to someone who does want it (especially new people just getting into the hobby)
2) Throw it away (that’s a shame though!)
3) Keep it, perhaps you’ll come back to it later and like it
4) Use it for experimentation like ink mixing/diluting

Do you have any tips on how to convert my fellow college classmates (and a few professors) to fountain pen geekery? At one point, I tried giving out Preppies to my interested friends but they inevitably ended up treating it like a “special pen” to be saved for “special occasions.” Now, I understand this is a limitation of the Preppy sans converter and ink bottle. But I really can’t think of a cheaper or easier way to get people into fountain pens! Any advice? 

For ‘converting’ your friends to fountain pens (pun!), there’s really not a lot you can do other than educate them. A Preppy is a great place to start, and you’re starting them out right with that! But obviously it doesn’t do any good if they don’t use it! Show them how to ink it up, how to write with it, and how to clean it, and point them to my videos (especially the Fountain Pen 101 videos) so they can educate themselves. If they take an interest in it, then great! If not though, there’s nothing you can really do to force it upon them. The thing about fountain pens is that they have a lot of cool benefits to offer, but only if someone’s interested to learn them. I’ve made efforts to ‘convert’ all my friends and family members, and some of them just don’t ‘get it’, others have taken it and run with it. 

It is difficult to look at one fountain pen nib size (the overall nib size) and compare it to another fountain pen nib size (the overall nib size) on your website or anyway else on the Internet. I was wondering is there a way to determine the overall nib size on a pen by looking at the pen on the Internet? I know the nibs used to be number based upon nib size.

There are some very loose standards, but most companies today don’t designate any kind of size. The only tool I really have is that we measure the length of the nib as it protrudes from the pen, and put it under the detailed measurements on each product page. You need to use the comparison tool on our website to see more than one pen at once, but at least it’s there:

I wonder if you know why the J. Herbin boxes state that the inks must never be mixed. Will they blow-up, curdle, turn weird colors, make the writer extremely eloquent, profane?

J. Herbin is just covering their butts with the warning, I can’t think of any practical reason why you can’t mix them, and I know plenty of people that do. I guess the reason they put it there is because they don’t want someone mixing their inks with another ink with different properties and coming back and complaining to them…..but in a practical sense there’s nothing going on with their inks that prevents you from being able to mix them. Just realize if you do, you’re going ‘rogue’ and they won’t stand behind any of the results you get by mixing the inks, but if you’re okay with that then go ahead and mix to your heart’s content :) 

I ordered a Noodler’s  Ahab along with some silicone grease and a package of Noodler’s Ahab Piston O-rings because my intention is to turn the Ahab into an eye dropper.  Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong rings, but I will just add them to my fountain pen maintenance kit.  Which o-rings do I need to order…the Preppy o-rings?

You actually don’t need to order any additional o-rings to make the Ahab an eyedropper, it already has an o-ring on the pen threads. A little silicone grease on the threads and you’re all set! If you do ever need to replace that o-ring though, the Preppy o-rings will be what you want:

I am interested in acquiring at least one Noodler’s Konrad fountain, but want to get one from thee ebonite series if such a things exists.   However, I don’t know if there is going to be such a beast.  Can you tell me if the Konrad will be coming out in ebonite and if so what will it’s expected price and release date?

There was a very limited batch of ebonite Konrads that were made, and those are long gone now. I have heard that Nathan is going to make more, though I don’t have an ETA yet. I don’t think it will be too long, maybe a few weeks? It’s hard to tell with Nathan, he’s not really an ‘exact date’ kind of guy. All I know is that when we do get an official word on when they’ll be coming, we’ll list them on our site ahead of time, and you’ll be able to sign up for an email notification. It’s still too early for that point though. I’d recommend signing up for our newsletter if you haven’t already, because we’ll have the info in there as we find out more. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! 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!