Reflecting on Gifts Received

I was at my desk preparing the usual check-in post last night when I decided to dump over half of what I was currently using. Why? Because while at the desk I opened the drawer where about half my pens are kept. Seeing a certain few pens there brought a memory to mind which, apropos of the season, was centered around gifts given and received. This led me to choose a set of pens based on my good fortune to own them.

Inked Right Now

  • Schon DSGN Pocket 6 with Sailor Studio 460

  • Lamy Vista with Lamy Blue Black

  • Pilot Decimo with Diamine Wild Strawberry

  • Karas Fountain K with Montegrappa Black

  • Pelikan Steno with Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine

The Decimo was already in use and there’s little for me to say about it that I haven’t already covered. One of the best products I’ve ever used of any kind. I’m perpetually glad I chose to get one, and then another.

The Pelikan has been here for about a week and a half. It caught my eye on eBay during some random browsing. I stuck it on the watchlist and was able to catch the final minutes of the auction to make a bid. I didn’t have much expectation other than satisfying curiosity about a pen I’d never seen before.

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It has a school pen vibe to me. Solid, basic construction made to put up with frequent daily use and indelicate handling. I find pens like this are fun to have but they don’t tend to offer anything special performance-wise.

What is the Pelikan Steno? As the name indicates, it’s a pen made for use in stenography/shorthand. I would refer you to this page from Dominic at for pictures and specifications.

The visible portion of the nib is short and sleek. The breather hole looks like the slot you’d find in a door to some secret place requiring a password for entry.

Turning to the side we see a thin feed and an interesting cut to the section that runs under the bottom of the feed.

Underneath, hollows in the nib and the section meet to form a tunnel of sorts. I presume this is for drawing ink into a converter if you filled from a bottle rather than use a cartridge. This is a curious nib design, but it is where the Steno presents its gift to the user.

Yes, that’s flexibility and line variation. Some shorthand systems utilize lines of different weight to denote different sounds. To make those lines one needs a pen that can quickly flex from thin to thick and back again. The Steno does just that. Refer to the writing sample at the top of the page and you will see the variance in the two strokes that make up an X. If you apply minimal pressure with this nib, you’ll get a thin line. Any more pressure naturally applied from your writing style will open the tines for a wider line. You could try to flex write more of the time but it would need to be patient and slow. The ink flow quickly runs short as you approach the limits of the line width, leaving you with a railroad. This is not a century old wet noodle or a modern Scribo, but it was never meant to be. I have no need to write shorthand but the performance this nib allows makes regular writing more interesting and enjoyable.

Something else in the Steno’s favor is the similarity of its form to the Parker 45. Quickest way to a man’s heart and all that.

Are you sure you're not related?Are you sure you're not related?

The Pelikan Steno is a nice unexpected bonus and I’m grateful that it fell into my lap.

Speaking of things I didn’t expect….

A Schon DSGN Pocket 6 and a Karas Fountain K. These were what triggered the memory I mentioned at the outset. Both were given to me as birthday gifts. The Karas was from my brother in 2017 and the Schon was from my cousin in 2020. I didn’t anticipate either one and I’m lucky to have them.

Neither my brother nor cousin are fountain pen people but they both appreciate good tools and the craftsmanship that goes into them. Both pens are machined aluminum with anodized finish. The Karas is more substantial and solid feeling than the Schon, which all but disappears in your pocket.

Both feature modular contoured brass grip sections. I love how they sit in my hand and the patina they develop over time. Both pens allow simple nib swaps. Jowo #6 for the Schon, which overlaps with Edison, Franklin-Christoph, and others in my collection. The Karas takes a Bock 060, same as Kaweco Sports and Student I have. I even swapped a TWSBI stub into a collar & feed that originally held a Bock titanium nib and that’s been a great combination with the Karas.

I’m grateful for these pens allowing the freedom to change the writing experience easily while maintaining everything else about their clean, cool feel and style. More substantially, I’m grateful that other people chose them for me to celebrate a happy occasion.

Four down, one to go….

Lamy Vista, my longest tenured fountain pen. This pen is still to be the subject of a more detailed post about its history with me. I’ve had plans to get that work done by different dates and it simply hasn’t materialized. Rather than trying to plan it any further I’ll just let it come along of its own accord when the time is right.

This pen has been through a lot, written many words in many places, and never put a foot wrong over the years. I chose to ink it up yesterday because I found a Lamy blue black cartridge in my desk and couldn’t recall the last time I used that color. Why not use it right now? That bit of happenstance sparked thoughts of everything the Vista has given me and how fortunate I was to get this pen at the time I did. The Vista turned out to be a significant gift to myself considering the many choices it influenced and informed afterward. Without it, I might very well not be here writing to you today.

8 December 2023