Alright, so it’s been a little while since the last Mailbox Monday…a lot of life has been happening to me lately! I will keep it going though, don’t worry ;) 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 found your site by chance as I was looking for my first fountain pen. I’ve been reading lots of reviews of the Lamy Safari and the TWSBI 580 Diamond. Which one would you recommend as an intro pen. I just plan on using this on an every day basis, whether it’s meeting notes or general writing / signatures etc.

I can honestly recommend both pens. I have and use both, love them, and recommend both all the time. The Safari is cheaper….both in price and in the way it feels in the hand. it’s a much lighter pen, and something that you’d probably feel more comfortable tossing in a pants pocket or backpack without worrying about it. The TWSBI is a much nicer looking and feeling pen. It holds a lot more ink, is bigger, weighs more, and looks more impressive to most.

Really, it just boils down to personal preference. If you want to go with the Lamy I bet you’d enjoy it, the Safari has a cult following second to none, especially among the intro pen users. But TWSBI is a phenomenal deal…for pens comparable to its filling type, quality, and design, it’s less than half what you’d pay from other companies. I think you’d enjoy either, but I would encourage you to consider the 580 if you think you’re going to be using fountain pens for a while.

I was looking to get either a TWSBI vac 700 or a mini but was wondering which is best? Currently all my fountain pens are cartridge and I have one converter still in the package for one of my lamy pens.

I have video reviews of both pens, if you want to learn more and watch as I handle both. Here’s the Mini and here’s the Vac-700 video. I actually like both pens, for different reasons. A lot of it depends on how big and heavy you like your pens. The Mini is a better pen for the masses…it’s smaller (but still a very good size pen) than the Vac, holds a fair amount of ink (about twice what you Lamy does), and writes well. The Vac is cool, fun to fill, and is big and heavy and feels like good quality because of those. I personally would probably recommend the Mini to you, unless you’ve really read up and know what you’re getting into with the Vac. It’s kind of a special pen that’s a little more quirky than the Mini, especially because you have to unscrew the back cap as you write, like I show here

I can’t quite tell from the video if you have completely replaced your “unpopular” Noodler’s Army Green with the original recipe. If I bought a sample or a bottle today would I be getting the restored (olive-like) Noodler’s Army Green or the middle period blueish version?

All of the Army Green we have now is the original formulation, the olive color. That’s the reason I waited as long as I did to do the video, to make sure the ‘new’ (emerald) stuff was all gone, and that the ‘good’ original stuff was back and here to stay.

I get how the Wish List on works, but is it possible to see or edit the other list of all the items for which I’ve requested to be notified when available? I can’t remember what I’ve already requested and don’t want to add more requests for the same item.

Ah, unfortunately not. There isn’t a master list of email notifications on your individual account. But, if you sign up for the same email notification twice, that’s okay. Our website automatically de-duplicates the emails for each product, so if you sign up for the same notification 12 times, it’ll only send you one email (assuming you sign up with the same email address each time, that is!).

In various images of Diamine inks, some have black caps and some have green. What determines the cap color?

They used to all be the green/black marbled caps, but Diamine started changing them over about a year ago. Since some colors sell faster than others, we were starting to see black caps on some, green/black on others…..kind of confusing to anyone buying them! It got to the point where there where the majority of inks were coming with the new black caps, and that’s when we decided to change our images over to the black caps to try to show what best represented what you’d get if you bought from us. About 95% of the inks we have are black-capped. Other retailers are likely using older images or stock photos, which is why you still see the green caps on some sites. Diamine never even made any official announcement about the change, so there will likely be old images up for a long time to confuse everyone!

Sometimes I think I’m being a bit overly cautious about iron gall inks like the Platinum pigmented colors that say they are really and truly for fountain pens. Have you done a video on the subject or know some online source I can go to for more information? So far, all I’m finding are a few very biased and calcified opinions.

Hmmm….okay. Iron gall is actually different than pigmented, the Platinum inks are not iron gall. Pigmented inks have small particles in them that make them great for writing on paper that doesn’t absorb ink easily, this ink dries on the surface of the paper. I explain a bit about the Platinum inks here. Iron Gall ink is a whole different beast, and the best source to learn about them is here. Traditionally, pure iron gall inks are made for dip pens and are highly corrosive, but there are modern formulations today that are much safer/more diluted than in the past. There are only a handful of iron gall fountain pen inks, Diamine Registrar’s Blue-Black, Rohrer and Klingner Salix and Scabiosa, and Mont-Blanc Midnight Blue (I believe).

Are there any of the older style Caran D’Ache inks in the square bottles left? I’m rather perplexed and annoyed with the new line. The color chart has about as much nuance as a Mack truck. The bottle seems like a nod to Salvador Dali. And, at that price I want it to regrow my hair. I haven’t yet convinced myself to go for the Iroshizuku, though I’m pretty sure I will. I’ll probably get a couple of samples in the next order.

All our old Caran d’Ache inks are gone, and we won’t be getting any more. Other retailers may still have some, and if they do, jump on it. I honestly don’t know what to expect with these new inks, but from the price, it’s going to be hard not to have really high expectations! Time will tell….

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!