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’d like your help/opinion about a pen. I have a Lamy CP-1 that I love but i’d like to buy I fountain pen for everyday since this one has a great sentimental value and I don’t want to ruin it on my everyday life (it already fell on the floor once :S). I’ve been looking at the Safari and Al-Star but i’m afraid the grip is too thick. I’d like to ear from you for a nice everyday pen. If it can help, i can tell you a few things I have and like, but don’t focus only on this. I’m opened to any opinion you’ll give me. I already have a z24 converter and I do like pens that offer some variety of nibs to change. I have a preference for sober colors but some transparent and more flashy colors sometimes are nice (depending on the model).

There are a lot of different options for you. The only pens that will fit your Z24 converter will be the Lamy Safari, Al-Star, Vista, Joy, Nexx, and ABC. Of all these, you’d probably like the Al-Star the most, but you say you’re concerned about the grip being too big. It’s true that it’s bigger than the CP1, but then just about all pens are bigger than the CP1! The CP1 has about the smallest grip of any fountain pen I know. One tool we have that might help you is our Pen Plaza, it allows you to view all the pens we carry (and some we don’t) side by side. This is especially helpful when trying to compare the grip sections of pens.

Two other pens you may want to look at are the Lamy Logo and Pur…they’re not quite as nice as the CP1, but they have a similar feel to them, being a thin metal pen with interchangeable nibs.

When do you expect to get more twsbi micartas with a broad nib in?

They’re actually in the process of redesigning the inner cap of the Micarta, so it might be a little while. Probably a couple of months, but I don’t have an exact eta. You can expect that we’re going to slowly run out of all our Micartas until then. 

What black inks and blue-blacks ink bottles can i use without having it bleed or show through the other side of the page in Moleskine journals? What brands and types are good?

Noodler’s Black and Heart of Darkness usually work well, from Moleskine people that I talk to. There are a couple of good threads on the Fountain Pen Network that have some recommendations from folks with more Moleskine experience than myself. Check out these links:

I’ve enjoyed using the Lamy AL-Star I bought from Goulet last year, and I’ve been considering adding another Lamy to my collection (I also have a Vista that has been a regular in my rotation). After reading reviews on the site, I’m trying to get a clearer sense of the comparative feel between the Logo and the AL-Star. While I’ve tended to think the angled grip section on the Vista/Safari/AL-Star design is a bit awkward, I’ve always found it easy to write and sketch with. How have you found the round Logo design to compare?

The best way to see a visual comparison of the Logo and Al-Star side-by-side is with our Pen Plaza:

The grip on them is quite different. The Logo, while round, is still a smaller grip than the Al-Star is even with the triangle factored in. I personally have very big hands and find both of these pens to be a little small for my own taste, but if you like the Al-Star, I say stick with that. The Logo is thinner overall, but doesn’t feel quite as solid as an overall pen. Just my two cents! I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. 

Do you still have any stock of the fine replacement nibs for the TWSBI 540?

No, but the new TWSBI 580 that’s coming out in March will fit the 540 pen body. We should be getting whole 580 pens as well as nib units in the next few weeks. 

I’m actually very interested in the Metal Falcon. I own a TWSBI Diamond 540 with a medium nib and would rather something a little thinner for most of my writing. With that information, would you recommend a fine nib in the Falcon?

Here’s a comparison of the two pens, with a writing sample that I did myself in the Nib Nook:

I would definitely recommend the Falcon fine nib for you.  

Got a question for you, and something I wanted to share. I’m sure I’m not your only customer who raves about Diamine and Pilot Iroshizuku inks. In my short (time-wise) experience, I’ve found these are some of the best-behaving, best-performing, least-troublesome, most worry-free, greatest gosh-darned inks you can find. J. Herbin is right up there, too.

As you know, some pens take those so-called “short international” cartridges, which I gather were originally developed by Montblanc, right? Others take “proprietary” cartridges (Pilot, e.g.), and of course, other pens (our favorites, right?) fill directly from an ink bottle with a “converter” or a built-in piston or bulb mechanism (Pelikan, TWSBI, e.g.). I’m always delighted to see one of my favorite “bottle” inks become available in those “short international” cartridges–for my pens that DON’T have an available converter (Kawecos, e.g.), but WILL accept cartridges.

Unfortunately, despite Goulet’s HUGE selection, you don’t carry the “shorties” available for some J. Herbin and Diamine colors. :( From a competitor of yours who shall remain nameless (but their initials are Jetpens dot com), I’ve bought several J. Herbin colors (Perle Noire, Bleu Nuit, Rouge Caroubier, Bleu Myosotis) and Diamine (Imperial Blue, Majestic Blue, and something called Jet Black, which I’ve never even seen in a *bottle*).

Just count mine as another wish that Goulet Pens carried these. Incidentally, I *have* begun filling empty cartridges from big bottles with my Goulet Ink Syringe :) A standard short cartridge seems to hold 0.6 ml. What a tiny amount, eh? I remember seeing you mention *reservoir* capacities on different pens (converter and built-in)–and the trick for getting a “super-fill” on a Vac 700–in one of your terrific videos.

Diamine and Pilot make great inks, and if you like them, you’ll probably enjoy De Atramentis as well. They have a lot of the same qualities.

When it comes to cartridges, you’re right that we don’t have a lot of them. Many ink makers don’t offer cartridges at all (Noodler’s, Pilot Iroshizuku, De Atramentis, Caran d’Ache, to name a few). J. Herbin does offer most of their colors in cartridge form (I think they stopped 10 of them, or so), and Diamine offers them for most, if not all of their colors. We don’t stock any of them, though. We used to carry Herbin cartridges a couple of years ago, but they really didn’t sell well for us, and we were finding that a bunch of them were drying up and half-empty (that’s how they were coming to us). We never carried Diamine ones, but we have so little interest in cartridges from our customers that’s it’s not worth all of the trouble for us to stock 100+ colors and try to keep them ‘fresh’.

Diamine Jet Black is available in a bottle, too. So yeah, I understand that you like cartridges, but I really don’t think we’re going to carry them anytime soon. The combination of the lack of general interest in our carrying them, the huge amount of investment and space to stock them, the potential for us to accidentally mix up shipping a bottle or cartridges of the same color…it’s just not something that would be ideal for us to dive into. 

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!