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 am torn between a Platinum 3776 and an Edison Collier, I know you don’t want to exactly tell me which one to get but I want some sort of feed back. Which one do you like best ? I have used an Edison collier but not a 3776 so I don’t know the comparison but I’m pretty sure you do.

That’s a bit like choosing between a Lexus and Mercedes ;) You really can’t go too wrong either way! I personally have several of both pens, and I like them or different reasons. The 3776 has a gold nib, which is hard to ignore. But the Edisons write really well for having steel nibs, so that’s not as big of a difference as you might think. The one thing I really don’t like about the Collier is that it doesn’t post…not a huge deal b/c it’s a big enough pen to be okay without posting, but it’s a dealbreaker for some so I thought I’d mention it. The other plus that the 3776 has is that Platinum designed a special cap seal that they tout keeps the nib wet for over a year. I haven’t tested it that long, but the pen does write really well after not using for a while.

Edisons are beautiful, that depth and vibrance only comes from a cast resin material like you see in Edison’s pens. Plus, it’s made in America, and Brian Gray (the man who makes them) is a stand-up guy, I personally feel good supporting his business. 

I discovered your page and shop only few weeks ago, but I like them a lot. I have been reading a lot of your posts and watching a lot of your videos in the last days and got inspired by your ink reviews and swabs. I decided to make something simmilar and join your Ink Drop today. So now I have the pen(s) (Faber-Castell e-motion, Cerruti 1881 West and hopefully TWSBI and Platinum soon :D), I have the ink samples needed, but I have no idea which paper to use. I would like to write 1 page per ink sample and it should also include a swab test (do not want to have the swabs on separate pieces of paper), so I think that an A5 is enough. But I do not know what gsm, lines or dots or blank, if bound in a notebook or separate pages (as I want to scan it afterwards for my blog). If notebook, perforated pages or or another type suitable for scanning? I am also thinking about using an A4, print some kind of “fill-in form” on it (2 forms per page) and cut it into 2 A5s. I know, that you are using Rhodia papers, but you have also mentioned, that Rhodia is fountain pen unfriendly paper.

I personally settled on Rhodia No. 16 Dotpads for my reviews. I’m not sure if you mistyped or if you have a misunderstanding about my view of Rhodia, it is actually some of the best and most fountain pen friendly paper in the world, and I love it. The reason that I use it for all of my reviews is because it’s some of the most consistent and friendly paper I’ve used. It comes in multiple sizes so you can get whatever suits your fancy. A5 (which is No. 16 in Rhodia) is pretty tight, I personally use A5 because I want to limit my reviews. I personally settled on my review format after trying a lot of different ones, but everyone has a different style.

Using a printed form isn’t such a bad idea, either. Honestly, if you want good copy paper, HP makes a great laser paper called HP 32lb Premium Laser that’s some really good stuff. Not quite Rhodia/Clairefontaine, but dang close and a lot cheaper per sheet. I don’t sell it, but you can find it at any office supple place. 

One of my favorite inks is Noodlers X-feather. I made the mistake of buying a couple of journals that use recycled paper and anti-feather is the only ink that will not bleedthrough or feather. My question is, does Noodlers (or any other ink company) make an ink with similar properties, only in blue? Or any other colors?

Oh yeah, recycled paper is pretty much the worst stuff for fountain pen ink, unfortunately! Noodler’s is the only brand that even markets a non-feathering ink, and only in that color. I did a little poking around and found an FPN thread about mixing X-feather with Lamy Turquoise to get a nice blue-black!

Honestly, I’m not aware of any non-black ink that resists feathering quite as well as X-feather. Noodler’s Upper Ganges Blue is pretty good (it’s a pain to clean from the pen, though). Platinum Pigmented Blue is good too, but that’s a bit of a different breed of ink. Rather than being dye-based, it’s pigment-based, so the ink dries more on the surface of the paper, instead of soaking in. It’s designed mostly for brush pens, but works in fountain pens, too. Just don’t let it dry up in your pen, it’s a pain to clean out if you do!

I’m putting together another order from you, and am considering the Monteverde Prima with stub nib. Unable to find any enlightening reviews of this nib online. Can you tell me, in your opinion, does it tend toward being a soft or crisp stub? Someone reviewed it on your site as “like writing with the tip of a spoon,” and that sounded like the kind of stub I’d be unhappy with. I like pretty crisp edges–my favourite pen, still, is my Speedball C-4 dip pen! Searching for a fountain pen that will give me that kind of crispness.

I did this video of the Prima, and I actually use a 1.1mm stub in my demo! It’s really a stub, not at all a crisp italic. I don’t know exactly what the person leaving the review meant by ‘writing with the tip of a spoon’…I’m guessing that means they think it is very smooth, which it is. These nibs really are not crisp, and in fact, there are very few stub nibs that come from the factory of any pen company that I feel are crisp, it’s usually something that has to be done by a nibmeister. 

Brian, will you be carrying the standard size bottle of Noodler’s Heart of Darkness? They are really all the quantity I need. My Liberty’s Elysium is still 3/4 full and I’ve used that the most!

There currently isn’t a 3-ounce Heart of Darkness, Nathan only makes it in 4.5 ounce. If he decides to make it in 3 ounce, then we’ll carry it. But I don’t think he has plans to. Sorry!

I recently placed an order for a series of items including Brause Calligraphy and Writing Set (code B0137). I recently began jotting ideas down in an “academic journal.” I decided that it would be easier if I titled pages in an ink (red, brown, green, etc) based on topic: book ideas, articles ideas, course idea, reading lists, and so on. Since an idea on one page (titled in red) be different from the next page (in green) I decided that a dip pen would be best. I ordered the Brause dip pen because it seemed like a good “starter pen” and it had an italic nib which would further distinguish the title. The order was speedily shipped and filled before I learned that a Brause dip pen may not write with fountain pen ink. Watching some of the Goulet videos before bedtime- yes, I am that big of a geek- I noticed that you ink your swab cards with a glass dip pen. So, I need some advice. Will the Brause dip pen work or should I return it for a glass dip pen. I understand that the glass pen will not write in italic, but the first requirement for a pen is that it writes.

It’s a little hit-or-miss when you’re using a dip nib set with fountain pen inks. Fountain pens inks are water-based, and are thinner than the shellac-based calligraphy inks that they are made to use. That said, the nib set you’re getting will work with most fountain pen inks, for most of the nibs. I’ve found that the nibs with ink reservoirs will work best. That includes the italic nibs, they come with ink reservoirs on them. I have a video where I play with the set a bit, here. I also use a glass pen there, so you can see how the two compare.

Yes, I do use glass pens for my swabs, but that’s mainly because it’s easy to clean…and it’s because that’s how I started doing the swabs 3 years ago, and it’s too late for me to change it! Glass pens write really wet, and aren’t necessarily the best representation of how the ink will look in a fountain pen.

If you’re only going to be switching between a couple of ink colors, it may be best just to get a couple of inexpensive pens to use and ink up with your red and green inks. The Pilot Metropolitan is my favorite, and is only $15. 

Any plans to get the J. Herbin pre-cut blotter sheets in white and if so will you be offering a package set including the blotter the way you do with the full-size sheets?

Herbin only makes the pre-cut sheets in pink :P Otherwise, we’d carry them in white! They only have white paper in full sheets.

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!