Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.This week I’m talking about why modern flex nibs just don’t compare to vintage ones, the future of cursive writing in schools where it isn’t being taught, and how you should approach going to your first fountain pen show!

New/Upcoming Products – (1:20)

Pens/Writing – (6:53)

1) Garrett O. Facebook – (6:58)
Modern flexible nibs are always compared (poorly) to vintage flexible nibs. The vintage nibs are really the only way to get good, consistent flex, from what I can tell. Why is this? What changed? Did we forget how to make them? Since flex is such a highly sought after feature, why don’t modern pen companies just make them the same way they used to?

  • they’re definitely not the same as they used to be
  • writing back then was much more scripty (Spencerian, Copperplate, etc) in the early 1900’s
  • flex is highly sought after in the FP world today, but not at all “highly” in the grand scheme of the writing that’s done today
  • flex nib making the way it was done way back in the day required very specialized skills and specialized equipment, which isn’t around today
  • no doubt, the technology is there today to make really flexible nibs, but it would be too cost-prohibilitve for a company to invest in it (they’d never pay it back)
  • it seems like it’d be such a no-brainer to make really flexible nibs today, but it does not appear to be the case (otherwise someone would be doing it!)
  • the way to get them today is to get custom-ground nibs by an experienced nib tuner, which will cost you $100+ probably for a true flex (plus the cost of the pen)
  • one of the best modern flex nibs I’ve used today is the Omas 14k extra-flexible
2) Trent V.-Facebook – (19:32)
I am currently a junior in high school in the DC suburbs. The new curriculum for all students does not require students to learn cursive anymore however I was taught in a different state. My cursive is very good I think, and other cursive people think so as well. However, my teachers and my friends can not read cursive so I usually have to write in print or my teachers get mad at me. What should I do?

  • this breaks my heart!
  • schools cutting out teaching cursive is surely a difficult task for those of us who still want to write in cursive
  • Cursive Logic: interesting kickstarter that makes it easier to learn cursive, I heard they’re campaigning to get this taught in school
  • I’m really torn about this…clearly you need people to read what you write, but if you stop writing cursive, will it die??
Ink – (27:17)
3) Ted Lee- YouTube – (27:20)
I have a few bottles of ink that I haven’t used in ten years or more – such as a bottle of Private Reserve 2003 DC Super Show Blue. Is it still safe to use? What would you do to test it?  Thanks!

  • it all depends, ink can certainly last that long
  • was it previously used? how was it stored?
  • if it was opened before and partially used, the chance of it not being good anymore increases due to contamination and exposure to “the elements”
  • storing it well sealed and in a cool place that’s out of direct sunlight is key
  • open it up, does it smell moldy/funky? it shouldn’t
  • do you see anything weird going on, is it sludgy or chunky?
  • take a toothpick or popsicle stick and swirl it around in the ink, see if there’s anything weird going on like sludge or flakes/chunks sticking to the stick
  • if everything checks out, maybe try it in a glass pen, dip pen, or a cheaper pen that’s easy to clean, see how that goes
  • use your discretion about what pens you’re comfortable putting it in
4) Bart Grossman-YouTube – (32:05)
I really appreciate the ink reviews and knowing the drying time is quite helpful but I wonder why nobody seems to use a blotter these days. I have a couple of very nice vintage rocker blotters and I know you sell J. Herbin desk blotters. Is there any reason not to use one? Do they effect ink sheen, shading etc.?

  • some people use them, but not many at all, I’d say
  • it’s just not as common today, it was a staple desk piece back in the day
  • they are handy, though they can affect shading/sheen because it’s soaking up excess ink
  • it’s probably not affecting it enough to avoid using it, though
  • they’re certainly handy and I would recommend using them, I do have a video on the J. Herbin blotter
‏5) @La_Lynne – Twitter – (35:40)
Ink bottles – some aesthetically very pleasing, but are some more practical than others? Which ones best?

  • this is really going to depend on personal taste, and you’ll see brands all over the map on this
  • ideally, you want both!
  • Pilot Iroshizuku, Pelikan Edelstein, Visconti, Caran d’Ache all have beautiful and very functional bottles
  • Ones that are less beautiful but very functional are Noodler’s (especially temporary plastic), Private Reserve, Sheaffer, LamyRohrer and Klingner
  • Ones that are beautiful but not very functional are J. Herbin 1670, J. Herbin 30ml, Faber-Castell
  • the #1 reason why ink bottles wouldn’t be functional is because the neck of the bottle isn’t wide enough to fit some pens, next it would be that they’re too shallow to fill before too long
  • it’s a challenge to design bottles that are functional and beautiful
  • the bottles themselves are a significant expense for ink makers
  • this is why you see a huge price gap with those that have large, beautiful, heavy bottles and those with very bare-bones bottles
6) Chris W. -Facebook – (44:09)
We all know you love blue inks, what are your top 10 blue inks?

Paper – (47:55)
7) Alexander L.- Facebook – (47:57)
How does the Maruman Mnemosyne paper compare to the Rhodia Premium Paper?

  • great question! they are somewhat similar, though Maruman is more like the regular Rhodia paper
  • I find Rhodia Premium to be more ink resistant, slicker, and thicker
  • Rhodia Premium is very off-white, almost yellow in color
  • Maruman has a lot of different line/format options, Rhodia Premium is just blank or lined, and only in top-staplebound tablet form
  • Rhodia Premium is really more of a note-taking or correspondence paper
  • Maruman Mnemosyne is more as a traditional notebook/sketchbook
Business – (49:47)
8) Jay K. -Facebook – (49:49)
Going to my first pen show this weekend (Dallas). What should I expect to see, and are there any rookie mistakes to avoid?

  • oh boy! that is exciting!
  • I’ve never been to Dallas, so I don’t have specific guidance for you on that particular show (though I hear it’s good, even though it’s fairly small)
  • check out their website, see who will be there that you may want to see
  • see if there’s any kind of meetup group from FPN or anything
  • check out any classes they might have, account for those in your schedule/budget
  • go with a plan, if you want to get something specific, go on the hunt for that first (especially if it’s vintage/rare) and get that, then browse
  • if just checking it out, take a lap around the whole show, don’t stick around too long at any one place, but make a note of the interesting tables to come back to
  • have a budget in mind, it’s going to be impossible not to want to spend more than you intend!
  • wear good walking shoes, you’ll be on your feet a lot and you don’t want to get tired out
  • bring some pens! you may meet up with some interesting people and want to ‘talk pens’
  • Go in, take a lap, go to the restroom/sit down and take a break, go back in and start buying stuff/talk to people you want to talk to
  • it will always be busiest the morning of the first day, so it’s good to scope out the scene then
  • you’ll have more time to talk to vendors once the morning rush is over
  • have fun! take pics
Troubleshooting – (57:27)
9) Lauren M. -Facebook – (57:32)
Last week you showed how to disassemble a Lamy Z24 converter. Can you also dissemble the Z26 converter?

  • same principle! I should have mentioned that in the Z24 vid!
10) Prachi L. -Facebook – (1:00:54)
My TWSBI 580 <EF> writes exceptionally dry. Do you have any suggestions for improving the writing? Thanks!

  • clean it out, even if it’s new, that’s always a good practice when a pen isn’t flowing well
  • check your ink, some inks are dry writing and may not be a great pairing (inks with particulate in it like pigmented inks, shimmering inks, etc), especially if left in it for a week or more
  • Sometimes the tines are tight on these, a simple pressing of the tines on the paper can spread them out and make it flow much better
  • if none of this is helping, you may want to reach out to TWSBI at twsbiinc@gmail.com to see if they can troubleshoot it


QOTW: What do you see as the future of cursive writing and can/should anything be done to try to save it? – (1:04:18)




Be sure to leave me any comments or questions below, and check out any of the previous 95 episodes of Goulet Q&A here. 1,400 questions or so have already been answered, so it’s worth checking out!


Write On,
Brian Goulet