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:

Just to check — aren’t many of Noodler’s inks lightfast?

Not all of the Noodler’s inks are lightfast. We have a spreadsheet we put together (with Noodler’s stamp of approval) that explains what properties each of the inks we carry have, as well as what each of those properties means, and you can see which are lightfast here.

Even still though, these are just UV resistant, not anything intended to be hung on a wall as artwork for 50 years or anything like that. Dye-based inks are inherently weak to UV light, so you’ll need to stick with art materials (like high-grade acrylics) approved by the ASTM for fine art if you’re intending to display your work.

Just saw the new Edison Beaumont, which looks nice – I’m currently using a Lamy Safari (both F and EF) as my primary daily writers, and have used the Pen Plaza and Nib Nook tools to do a bit of comparison. Do you think that I would notice much of a difference in writing smoothness with the Edison?

The Edison will almost certainly be smoother….Lamy steel nibs are usually pretty smooth but their quality control (though good for nibs that are only $12.50) is not quite as good as Edison’s. Brian Gray inspects every nib for each of his pens, so there is rarely one that isn’t smooth. So I guess my answer would be that Lamy nibs can sometimes be as smooth as Edison, but if I had to put my money on one brand, it would be Edison as coming out ahead every time.

For the Platinum Preppy refillable marker, if I wanted to use fountain pen ink with the converter for the pen, would I need to use a syringe to fill the converter?

That’s actually a really good question…the Preppy marker will fill with a converter, as it’s not actually filling through the nib/tip of the pen, but in the area surrounding the plastic piece that holds it in place. The only drawback to filling a marker with a converter would be that the whole end of the pen would be saturated with ink and be a little bit of a mess to wipe up when filling from a bottle….so filling the converter (or cartridge, for that matter) directly with a syringe would be a ‘cleaner’ way to fill it. It’s really a matter of preference.

I have a Pelikan M1005 Demonstrator on the way, and I would like your advice as to what ink I should order for this pen specifically since it is clear. I want to try to avoid staining the inside of the barrel. This pen will not be a daily writer, maybe a once a week writer. It’s primary job will be sitting on my desk looking pretty. I’d like to stay with Edelstein ink, but i defer to you – ink color does not matter. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! My current bottled ink is as follows: Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire, Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine, Mont Blanc Blue (regular long bottle), Parker Quink Black.
I’d like another color just for the 1005, that won’t stain (or minimize).

Well, if you ask Pelikan (or any large pen company) they’ll tell you only to use their inks in their pens, so if you want to be super-safe about it, then stick with any Edelstein or Pelikan 4001 inks. If you want to branch out from there, you can go with any inks made by pen companies, so Lamy, Waterman, Parker, Omas, Montegrappa, Mont-Blanc, etc. They all tend to make inks that are on the ‘safe’ side, in terms of their properties. Not to say you couldn’t use just about any fountain pen ink in your pen with success, you likely can. The only thing I might suggest if you want to avoid any potential complications, is to stay away from permanent inks, so that means no waterproof, iron gall, or pigmented inks. But if you’re happy with your Pelikan inks, then use them and you’ll be good :)

Hi Brian I got a Parker sonnet fountain pen a couple of months back and I wrote with it for a little. then I stopped writing with it for a couple of weeks. The ink dried up inside the pen, so I refilled it, but now it doesn’t write :( please help

If the ink dried up, then the pen needs to be cleaned out. I have a video on pen maintenance that should help you out. Once it’s clean, you should be able to refill it with ink and be on your way :)

Hey Brian! This is my first time emailing you. I wanted your expert opinion on carrying fountain pens in pants pockets because I feel like I’ve been getting a lot of varying opinions on the subject. I currently carry my Pilot Vanishing point in my front pocket, nib up, and in your Aston single pen pouch case. I feel pretty safe with this and can’t imagine how anything would happen but I’m also worried as well. People have told me they have broken pens by doing this and had leaks. One of my main concerns is that I’m using noodlers ink which I hear has a tendency to nib creep (and it has on all of my pens) and maybe get some dried ink caked on the trap door and somehow have it be open to leak on my pants.

This is my first real fountain pen so I’m not sure. But I’ve been carrying gel pens in the same manner for years and never had an issue once. And those pens are just made of plastic. One important thing of note is that I only carry the pen in the pocket with a pocket notebook. If I’m wearing cargo pants I sometimes toss it in the cargo pocket. Not sure if this is okay. Thanks for your help and time!

I’m happy to help! I don’t know if I’m an expert on carrying pens in pants pockets, but I’ll give you my best advice :) You’re carrying it in a case (I use a lot of these Aston slips myself!) and that’s definitely the right thing to do. The biggest ‘danger’ to pens in pockets is other stuff in the pockets, like keys and change that can scratch and damage a pen. You’re okay in the case though. You never had a problem with a gel pen in your pocket and that’s good to hear, but fountain pens are a little different than them. Gel ink is thicker and isn’t as prone to temperature/pressure changes as the much more liquid fountain pen ink. There are pretty much two causes of leaks in pens when in your pocket:

1) movement, the pen gets jostled and thrown around, especially in a cargo pocket like you mentioned because basically ever step you take flings the pen back and forth, which can force some of the ink out. It’s going to vary with the specific pen and ink combo how much this will happen (if at all), but just know the risk is there. I think with a VP in an Aston slip pointing nib up in your pocket your risk is pretty low, it tends to be more of a problem with eyedropper-converted pens that have large volumes of ink (2ml or more).

2) heat/pressure. I think the Aston case helps fight this, but the concept is that a pen with liquid ink in it touching right up against your warm leg (or chest, if it’s in your shirt pocket) heats up, and if there’s any air inside the ink chamber, then this air *can* heat up and increase the pressure inside the pen…and there’s only one way to relieve that pressure, through the nib. If the nib is pointing up it’s not a problem because the air inside the pen is already up at the nib, but if the pen is in any other position where the air bubble would be blocked by ink, well then that ink is going out the nib! This is sort of the same thing that happens on airplanes, it’s all about pressure differential. I wouldn’t be quite as worried about this with your situation, but I suppose the potential is there if you’re sitting down and the pen is in a more horizontal position.

I don’t hear about widespread leaking problems with people carrying their pens in their pockets, so I think your risk is pretty low, but when you’re dealing with liquid ink the potential for a leak is something you shouldn’t rule out as a possibility in certain situations. I personally haven’t had a problem carrying pens in my pocket (even with Noodler’s ink), but I suppose the potential is there if just the right circumstance occurs with the pen/ink/temperature/movement situation occurs.

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!