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:

Why is the piston filler pen so revered in comparison to other types of filling mechanisms? Being fairly new to the pen community, I find it curious. I think the converter makes cleaning a pen so much easier. What a convenience compared to the piston! I know that the “connoisseurs” have a different take on this. Why is the measure of quality so different when comparing CC vs. piston pens?

Basically, it’s just because of ink capacity. When a piston pen is using the whole body of the pen to hold the ink, it can usually hold 3-4 times the volume of your typical converter. That’s basically the main benefit. Also, it’s a little more convenient to fill, because you don’t have to unscrew the body of the pen to get to a converter to fill it, you just dunk the pen in the ink, unscrew the back of the pen, and you’re good. Of course, the cartridge/converter has a lot of benefits over the piston, ease of cleaning is a huge one. But another one is that if your converter stops working right, you just get a new one for a few dollars. If a piston pen stops working right, you usually have to send it in for repairs to the manufacturer.

Brian, Any news on the TWSBI Mini??? I tried their facebook page but couldn’t find a release date – maybe just missed it…

It’s going to be at least a month before it’s available, we don’t have a specific date yet.

I received my Ocean Blue ink (thank you for your usual prompt delivery) and I was anxious to use it. However, I was surprised to see the warning sticker on the plastic around the box that said to wipe the nib to prevent staining and that you shouldn’t leave the ink in the Pen reservoir (or something like that, I don’t have the actual sticker in front of me). What do these mean? I was unaware that the ink could stain the nib or that the ink shouldn’t be left in the pen…What gives? Should I be afraid to use it?

You don’t need to worry about that sticker. They originally started putting it on the 1670 Rouge Hematite because the ink is heavily pigmented, that’s how it gets it’s famous ‘sheen’. Bleu Ocean doesn’t have that sheen, and doesn’t have any pigment in it all, so there’s no need to worry. Frankly, I think they went overkill putting that sticker on there and it really isn’t necessary. I found that using Bleu Ocean was no different than using any of my other fountain pen inks. Hopefully this eases your concern.

What is the difference between the steel and rhodium nibs on the Edison Beaumont FP? Do they write differently?

The steel nibs are stainless steel, so they’ll be a little stiffer than the other ones. The Rhodium are actually 18k gold that are plated in rhodium, the plating gives it a sliver color instead of the yellow gold color. Aside from being $125 more for the rhodium-plated 18k nib, it writes a little wetter and ‘softer’ than the steel nibs, because gold is a softer material than steel. Personally, I think the steel nibs are great and it’s hard for me to justify the $125 up charge to go with the 18k nib. But, for those that truly love the feel of a gold nib, it’s worth it. If you’re unsure, then get the steel. You can see writing samples of the nibs in our Nib Nook, the ’18k’ nib is the same as the 18k rhodium-plated nib, the only difference is the color of the nib.

How come ink saturation changes from ink fill to ink fill in the same pen with the same ink? For example: I have an Edison Collier that I have filled with Iroshizuku tsuki-yo. I write with it and it’s a nice dark blue as advertised. Then the pen runs out. I flush my pen with water until it runs clear before refilling it with the same ink. No longer is it the deep blue that it was, but a lighter, dustier blue. Any thoughts?

The most likely suspect would be water in the pen left over from cleaning. When you ink it back up, the water left in the pen dilutes the ink when you refill, and it looks washed out. Make sure when you clean your pen that you’re then wrapping a paper towel or napkin around the nib to draw any residual water out before you ink it up again, to ensure the truest ink color.

Regarding the MonteVerde Mini Ink Cartridge Converter (MV31072): Do you have any personal experience in using these in Kaweco Sport pens? I’ve heard good and bad things about doing this, as to whether or not they fit.

When it comes to using Monteverde mini converters in Kaweco pens, it’s really hit or miss. I don’t know what the variant is…the Kawecos or the Monteverde min converters…but sometimes they fit, and sometimes they don’t. They’re two different brands, so they don’t do any assurance to see if they mate up to each other, so it’s a bit of a gamble every time. 

I’m afraid if someone hands me a pen to sign something and I already have a fountain pen in my hand they’ll think, “Well, la-dee-da, aren’t you special?” You ever have people look at you funny when you use a fountain pen, like their pen just isn’t good enough?

Do I get weird looks about my pens? Um, yeah. Actually, I basically just try to avoid telling people what I do anymore because it always goes into a 15-minute ordeal of me having to convince them that “yes, I really do run an online fountain pen retail business”. But pretty much I just work all the time, so I rarely interact with people who aren’t using fountain pens! :) 

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!