ATELEIA Brass Pen and Leather Goods by Chris Williams on Kickstarter

I have been so excited over the past several months for this to happen.  My friend and fellow Phoenix, AZ resident, Chris Williams, has officially launched his first Kickstarter campaign.

You may recall my review of his sleek and minimalist brass pen from awhile back which garnered a great amount of feedback, and he is happy to finally offer this beauty to the world!

Shot of first run of brass pens in his Dudek Modern Goods Groove - Photo provided by Chris Williams - Photographed by Adolfo Solorio

Shot of first run of brass pens in his Dudek Modern Goods Groove - Photo provided by Chris Williams - Photographed by Adolfo Solorio

In addition to his brass pen, Chris has also been working on a selection of fantastic leather products which he will also be offering via the campaign.

Please head over and check out his campaign!  Best of luck, Chris!

Airfoil Click: An Aviation Inspired Pen by Grant Takara

I must first tip my hat to Mr. Grant Takara for being so kind as to send me a prototype to review of his newest creation, the Airfoil Click Pen.  He also kindly provided me a prototype of his last pen a few months ago, The Airfoil, which I found so clever and creative, but when I saw the Airfoil Click I knew he was onto something fantastic.

If you don't recall the original Airfoil campaign, take a minute to look over some of Grant's history with his first venture into the pen design world.  The design is very unique, but his outside of the box approach to conventional pen design is what made me enjoy his last project most.

Grant was also kind enough to reach out a few months ago while still in some of the finishing design phases so I could take a peek and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this thing.

When he offered to send me a prototype I asked if he wouldn't mind sending me an "all silver" version: silver aluminum barrel, silver clip, silver inner sleeve, silver screws, and silver knock.  Just from seeing the design I knew this would be my preference as to try and soak in as much aviation inspired goodness as I could handle and, let's just say, Grant has impressed me with this pen.  It literally takes my mind to where he intends it to go, or like I'm looking at a vintage polished aluminum aircraft.  

With all of this fantastic aviation imagery in my hand, the only thing it may be missing is a pinup girl painted on its side!

If you are familiar with the original Airfoil, you will quickly recognize that while the Airfoil Click takes some reference from the original design, it really is a completely new pen which has been revamped and streamlined beautifully.

The first major change is the "fins" or "struts" on the sides.  In the original pen they were much more pronounced, had sharper edges, and were bolted to the tip and tail with hex screws.  I would wager that if there was an element of the last pen that people may not have enjoyed so much, it would have been those.  They made me think of the inner frame of a zeppelin or supports inside an airplane, but for a lot of people holding them in your hand to write may not have appeared most comfortable.

In the new pen, Grant has refined these to be sleek, stylish, and comfortable, but still keep their purpose in the design and help to maintain that Aviation feel that make his products unique.  Rather than being their own separate pieces, they have been machined out of the solid metal barrel.  This provides a more fluid feel to the overall pen design, but also allows him to cut down on extra parts and assembly which is a total win:win in my opinion.

Airfoil Click Pen Review

Some other aviation styled features are the nose cone front section which could be like the tip of a fighter plane or rocket and the recess where the knock sits is concave like the afterburner of a jet.  Even the clip has some holes drilled through it to maintain some of the "structural" look of an airplane and is reference (like the holes in the "fins") to how plane manufacturers do this to cut down on weight, but maintain integrity of the aircraft.  These subtle details are definitely some of the things that I appreciate most about this pen because so much thought went into the experience of the pen, not simply function.

The tip has three rings machined into it which provide ample grip.  Grant sent me the pen with a Schmidt Safety Ceramic rollerball refill, but I ended up swapping in a 0.5mm Pilot Juice in blue/black as it is my preference.  

The knock being used will be familiar to many as it is the same Schmidt knock used on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Tactile Turn Mover and Shaker which is smooth, durable, and all metal.  I can see why this knock is so popular in the Kickstarter scene as it is discreet yet somewhat industrial feeling and is a part that pens can be easily machined to fit.  I can't even imagine how much it would cost to develop your own knock... why reinvent the wheel when this one is popular and works great?

In size, the Airfoil Click is smaller in diameter than its predecessor by quite a bit and comes in at around 1/2".  This makes for a very comfortable size for everyday writing and is easily pocketable.

The clip is adorned with the word "AIRFOIL" in a very aviation themed Art Deco-esque font reminiscent the lovely machines and vehicles being dreamed up during the late 1920's and 1930's.  

I 100% provide a stamp of approval on this pen and I absolutely love just how unique a piece it is.  Often times "theme" based designs can tend to overdo it a bit, but Grant really nailed it down between the lines of subtlety and exaggeration.  Kudos, Mr. Takara.  Is it odd that I can't wait to see what you come up with next?...

In addition to receiving this prototype I will also be backing the project.  If this seems up your alley (or someone you know...) give his Kickstarter campaign a good look over.

Thanks again, Grant!



Liking Pens: Hobby or Obsession?

At some point in the life of a pen fanatic they may have to ask themselves: "Have I taken this too far?"  or "Is this healthy?"  I suppose this depends on what level of "addict" you are (or are in denial about), but could be a real issue.

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: I really, really like pens.  A lot.

Some people like cars, knives, baseball cards, watches, sports teams (or some combination of all), but pens are my deal.  I know I am completely stating the obvious by saying this, but sometimes figuring where you're at is important from time to time.  

Being a pen blogger I find myself spending a lot of time looking at pens, buying pens, trying new pens, listening to podcasts about pens and, in general, just thinking about pens.  From a "normal" outsider perspective, I'm sure I am completely insane or at least it would appear so.

My enjoyment around pens is difficult to pin down or to find the "why".  One thing I do know is that I enjoy the experience of writing, seeing my handwriting on paper, enjoying the design and feel of the pen that someone has created, and even seeing the ink dry (in fountain pens mainly) as it transitions from its wet color to its dry color.  Did you ever think you'd hear someone say they enjoy the sight of ink drying?  For goodness sakes, I am crazy...  

A trend I seem to see with myself is that when I find a brand or type of pen that really fascinates me I tend to become a bit obsessed.  I research their history, look up all of the different models, read what others have to say about them, look at photos, and often end up buying several models to try.  "But, Mike," you may say, "that doesn't seem so bad."  As it is all in education, right?  Hopefully!

The problem that has progressed over time with this is that I end up with a lot of pens I've bought and then I end up parting with some although usually not at the rate of purchase... this means I have a lot of pens.

In some recent correspondence with Thomas Hall of the new blog Penucopia (which he could have rightly named, "come here if you want me to help you spend your money..."), I talked about this journey I've been on.  I didn't go too deep into feelings and such, but talked about how at some point pens become somewhat of a commodity.  There isn't really the hunt for which pen is going to be the right one or a selection between 5 similar models.  Its a bit more free spirited than that.  What usually ends up happening is I will eventually buy one of each (which I try to find for good deals as to have a decent resale value if needed), try them all out, and see what ultimately sticks.

The problem with this philosophy is whether I really get the time to spend with pens to tell whether I am giving it a fair shot for the long haul.  One thing I do know is that I seem to like what I like and if I don't find myself reaching for a pen often then there is a good chance it won't be with me into retirement.

Lets take rOtring for example; I love rOtring pens, particularly the knurled 600 series.  In the recent past I bet we could even credit some fluctuations in the vintage rOtring pricing market due to this obsession.  (sorry everyone!)  Do I use rOtring pens everyday?  Nope.  There have even been months that have gone by without having a rOtring inked up.  Does this mean I am ready to jump ship on my rOtring collection?  Not entirely, but it does make me think about whether I need ALL of them.  This is a very utilitarian vs collector/hoarder battle that ultimately is waged inside our minds...  I'm finding that I would be willing to part with pens like my Newton rollerball, some 600 pens I don't think will get much use, or even my Lava collection simply to clean up house so-to-speak.  But, the vintage rOtring pens are still as fascinating to me as they were when I was itching to get my hands on my first although I'm at a point where the attachment to some models isn't quite there.  Ultimately, the brand is here to stay, but I may thin out the herd eventually.

My current obsession is the vintage steel Japanese pens produced by Pilot in the 1970's and into the very early 80's.  I literally can't get enough of these things not necessarily in quantity, although I am on a rOtring-esque path towards figuring them out.  I am fascinated by them just as I was with rOtring which means there will be a lot of posts about them in the coming future I'd imagine.

So, back to the original question: liking pens: hobby or obsession?  I guess this is a very personal thing.  Is the interest an inside, privately held one or is there a dedicated china cabinet in the living room displaying all of our pen boxes and paraphernalia? 

Honestly, I'm not really certain what this post is entirely about.  I'm not certain there is an underlying moral that I am trying to get across, but more so to maybe get a glimpse inside the head of a pen fanatic.

I would like to open this up for discussion and get thoughts if people are willing to share.  How do you see yourself? 

(pics taken from my Instagram feed of some "collections")

 

The Clicky Post Yard Sale - Part II

Hello Readers,

If you recall a few weeks back I held a little "yard sale" of a few pens and I believe they've gotten to all of their respective owners.  

In looking through my collection again I found a few more that I thought I might be willing to part with to those that may be interested.  

Each pen listed is a pen that I purchased myself and was not provided complimentary by any retailer/manufacturer.

Kaweco AC Sport Fountain Pen - Black - BB Nib - (Near Mint) $85

Kaweco ART Sport Ballpoint - Amber Finish - (Near Mint/New) SOLD

Kaweco AL Sport Ballpoint - Raw - (Light Scratches Common to Finish) - $45 

Kaweco Allrounder Fountain Pen - Blue - M Nib - (Near Mint) - SOLD

Kaweco Special Fountain Pen - Black - B Nib (Near Mint) -$75

Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen - White - F Nib - (Near Mint) - SOLD

rOtring 600 Silver Rollerball - (Overall Very Good; shows signs of normal wear) SOLD

rOtring Lava Rollerball - (Near Mint/New) - $195

For domestic/US purchases, USPS Priority shipping would be $5 and for International First Class, $10.  This will likely not cover the full cost, but I like round numbers.  Please let me know which you will need.

If interested in any of these pens or if you have questions, please shoot me a message through the Contact page and we'll work out a PayPal arrangement.  These are first come, first serve!

These have been priced very reasonably and I am not open to price negotiating or haggling, please.... : )

Thanks!

- Mike

Titanium Maxmadco Bolt Action Retractable Pen

Before all of the hype of the Kickstarter scene and the readily available metal pens of today, there was a machinist named Jim Madrid who developed a brand called Maxmadco and created the Maxmadco bolt action retractable pen.  

Was Jim the "first" to do machined pens like this?  Likely not, but he has been doing it for some time now and his brand has clout.  This pen is one I've had my eye on for years and am so excited to finally have my hands on one and to share my thoughts.

With most machined pens the first thing you think of is how rugged and tough they are.  While this is true for most as that is what they are going for, upon seeing the Maxmadco I can't help but think how elegant it looks.  Honestly, it is a work of art.  Super sleek, almost futuristic in design that has a very clean, but commanding presence.

I'm not really sure what took me so long to purchase a Maxmadco, but when I saw that Jim had manufactured a limited run of the pen out of titanium (possibly not to be made again), I figured now was as good a time as any.  It upped the price a bit, but I still took the plunge and am glad I did.  

Traditionally, the Maxmadco bolt action pen has been made from either stainless steel or aluminum.  The stainless version comes in at around 1.75 ounces in weight and the aluminum at 0.75 ounces.  The titanium version comes in between at 1.0 ounces and is about a perfect weight.  Jim has also released a bronze version as well which I'm sure is fantastic.

The Maxmadco next to some titanium counterparts

The pen is smaller than one might expect, or at least the diameter is a bit slimmer than a lot of the machined pens around.  Most are made in the 1/2" or slightly larger, while the Maxmadco comes in at 3/8".  

The main barrel and grip section of the pen are a perfect cylinder without taper which one might think may be a bit uncomfortable or bland, but with the reduced diameter it is perfect.  The tip of the pen is machined to a nice cone which makes for some interesting geometry as well as provides a nice writing experience.

The end of the pen has a sharp and pronounced chamfer (looks fantastic) and carries the Maxmadco logo engraved deeply into the metal.  Seriously, this pen is so slick.

The clip is made of steel and surprised me at how strong and sturdy it is despite how thin the metal is.  It has flex, but I don't fear that it will bend out or wear over time.  Its look, shape and design mesh so well with the fit and finish of the pen.  

The clip is affixed to the pen with two stainless steel torx screws.  These screws are domed which minimizes distraction from the overall design and sleekness of the pen.

The biggest question: how does the bolt action feel?  Fantastic.  To extend and retract the tip of the pen is so smooth and is almost effortless.  There is a springiness to the bolt action that seems to catch at a certain point to take over for you.  You have to use your thumb to simply get it past the edge of the flange and the spring finishes the job.  This makes for a really great experience and ease of use.

The pen takes a "Parker style" refill which allows for quite a few options: Quink, Parker Gel, Fisher Space, Schmidt EasyFlow, etc.  Jim has started including the Itoya gel in a 0.7mm needle which is actually quite good.  This was my first experience with this brand of refill and I was pretty impressed.  I will likely keep a fine, blue Fisher refill or a Schimdt EasyFlow 9000 in there as they are my go-to Parker styles.

 I really can't say enough about the Maxmadco.  I had built up its greatness in my mind prior to buying and can honestly say that I have not been let down in the least.  The machining is fantastic, the design is exquisite, the feel is great, and it also supports a small business which I'm all about.  

In the machined pen world the Maxmadco is up there in price a ways, but not outlandishly so and I feel it is worth it.  If you're in the market for a new machined pen I'd put some heavy consideration on this one.