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:

I currently own the Pilot Metropolitan with a 1.1mm italic nib from the Pilot Plumix. I absolutely love writing with the italic nib, but it tends to skip a lot and does not write nearly as smoothly as the original M nib that came with the Metro. Is this typical of italic nibs, or would I find this to be less of a problem in nicer pens (the next pen I expect to get is a TWSBI 580 or Mini)? Are TWSBIs italic nibs good, or do you have any other suggestions for a good italic-nibbed pen for under $60?

I’m sorry the Plumix nib is skipping in your Metropolitan, one thing you may want to try is pressing down on the nib to ‘flex the tines’ a bit, to try to open them up. Don’t overdo it, it’s hard to bend back, but if you flex it out a bit it can open up that flow and help it write better. Skipping isn’t unheard of with inexpensive italic nibs, it’s less common with more expensive ones. Keep in mind, the Plumix is only a $9 whole pen, so that nib doesn’t get all that much attention at the factory when they make it, not like a nib on an $800 Pelikan, y’know what I mean? Still, you don’t have to spend THAT much to get a pretty good writing experience with an italic.
These are all the italics we currently have. A quick rundown: TWSBI’s are good, but rare to find right now since they’re in the process of switching over their nib manufacturers. Lamy italics are pretty good, and fit on all the Lamy pens except the Lamy 2000. Monteverde italics are good, I can definitely recommend those. And actually, the Pilot Parallel and Pelikan Scripts, though they both look pretty funny, write pretty well for the price (usually better than the Plumix, I find).  

Brian, have you ever considered getting display boxes for the pens? Even simple ones that can hold 20 or so pens?

I have looked into display boxes before, but have found little interest in them from our customers, in all honesty. The problem I run into is that anything that’s “good” is very expensive, and by the time I have it shipped to me and sell it with more shipping cost, it gets really expensive. The one case company I know about that actually makes really good stuff is Venlo, but boy are they expensive. $550 for a 20-pen case, wow! Nice cases though…and with real wood construction like that I understand why they’re that expensive. I was an avid woodworker before retailing fountain pens, so I know the time involved in making these types of cases. There are less expensive ones that come from China/Taiwan like these, and I could probably sell them at a fairly reasonable price. Still though, when I’ve talk to customers about it before, interest was minimal, most of our pen folks want to spend their money on inks and pens, not fancy cases, I’ve found!

I have another question about the Lamy 2000 pens offered on your site. After reading a few reviews concerning the quality of the 2000s I have seen that in select cases some have reported scratchiness in the pens that is inconsistent with what one would typically expect with an instrument of the 2000’s caliber. Usually the complaints are resolved after them sending the pens in for repair/smoothing. To limit the possibility of this happening to a pen I might order I was curious if an in-house test or trial of the pen could be performed by you all to make sure the quality/performance was consistent with your experience in dealing with these pens. I understand the holiday season is upon us but something like this would really give me confidence in purchasing an instrument like this from your store.

The Lamy 2000 is a great pen, but it does have a reputation for having a scratchy nib. We’re aware of this, and we actually inspect every Lamy 2000 as it comes in to our shop before we list it for sale, just to make sure’ it’s good :) There aren’t a huge number of problems, but when there are, it’s usually a very simple nib tine alignment issue that we can resolve in a matter of minutes. If you’d like though, we can always test the pen further (ink it up) for you when you buy it, just let us know to do so in your order comments when you place your order. It may hold us up from shipping for a day or so to do that, but we’re happy to do it at no charge. 

I’m looking for a ‘bulletproof’ green & the only one I’m aware of that is permanent is Noodler’s Hunter Green. The thing is, some of the comments say that this ink feathers badly and suffers bleed-through, even on Clairefontaine paper! I use mostly the Leuchtturm Master notebooks and Clairefontaine, and may also purchase some Rhodia. I’d be very interested in whether you feel that this ink feathers and bleeds through. With me ordering from the UK, I’d be making a bulk purchase, to save on shipping costs. Also, following your review of 54th Massachusetts, I’m thinking of replacing my BB Kingfisher with 54th. In your experience, does this ink feather, or bleed through on the above paper? The pens I use are TWSBI Minis, 540s (EF in each) and Pilot Capless (fine nibs).

Yup, there are not a lot of permanent greens, that’s for sure. Here’s everything we have, a whopping 4 colors. All Noodler’s. Hunter and Polar Green act pretty much the same in terms of feathering (but Polar Green is lubricated, so may be worse in a wet pen), and Bad Green Gator is even worse than they are (but is more permanent, that’s the tradeoff). If you want truly “bulletproof”, meaning tamper-resistant, then these three inks are your only choice, and feathering is a foregone conclusion. The only other green that’s at least water resistant is Noodler’s Zhivago, and if water resistance is all you need, that ink may be worth a look. You may have better luck than others with these inks on different papers, but you’re pretty much going to have some tough luck looking for a no-compromise permanent green ink, for whatever reason they just don’t exist (that I know). I would recommend you try some samples of each before making a bulk purchase. 54th is a great ink, and I do think it will perform better than your BBK. It may feather a little bit on your Leuchtturm, but probably not much if at all, especially in those fine nibs. If your BBK is working well with this pen/ink combo, then certainly 54th will, too. 

I notice a “chat” window appears on the website. Is this a chat facility with a member of the Goulet team, or just with other people browsing the web site?

The ‘chat’ that pops up is one of us that you can talk to (usually Alex), it’s never just a random person. It only appears when we’re actually there and available to talk, which is why you’ll notice it’s not there all the time. 

I have some Old Crown Mill paper and I’m not sure what it is or of it is even either of the two variants you carry. I’m needing to buy some paper and envelopes and wonder if you could relay the difference between the laid and cotton with fountain pens of course – response to inks, feather, bleed, feel, etc. In fact, it would be great choice for a video if you are short on topics to do soon (need it before Xmas). Anyway any info you can provide to help me choose between the two would be great. My everyday paper is CF 90# smooth.

We started carrying it about a year ago and I intended to do a review of the two different papers….well, I don’t know where the last year has gone! Here’s what I did as a quick review of the Pure Cotton. The Laid is very different, slicker paper (more heavily sized), but with horizontal raised lines, about 2mm apart. The Pure Cotton is a little more absorbent so it makes your line appear a little thicker, and it takes some of the shading away, like any absorbent paper would do. It feels great in the hand though. It’s going to feel really different than the CF paper will, both papers will, actually. You basically just want to decide if you want slicker paper (like CF) with physical bumps going across the page (Laid), or a more uniform texture that has more tooth/resistance/absorbency to it (Cotton).

I was just reading on Ink Nouveau about the Caran d’Ache inks being discontinued, and it reminded me of your post a couple months ago about how Noodler’s Army Green changed. I haven’t seen the “new” color in person, but I have a bottle that I’m assuming is the old version, because it’s most definitely olive. I’m a very heavy green ink user, this is one of my favorite colors, and I wasn’t happy at all when I read that it got changed. Have you heard anything since then about whether it will ever be changed back, that you could maybe give everyone an update in the next Mailbox Monday and/or FPN?

Nathan has said that he’s going to change the formula back to the original Army Green. The reason I haven’t made a big public statement about it yet is because I haven’t seen the new color come in yet, we’re still working through the ‘old’ stock (of the new color, that is). I can definitely look to clarify this in my next Mailbox Monday, and I’ll likely make a new video when I see the new color coming in. 

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!