What’s What 1/28-2/3 2024

Still swatching, choosing nib grinds (almost), and sharp memories.

Inked Right Now

  • Pilot Decimo with Pilot Light Blue

  • Pilot Custom 845 with Iroshizuku Yama-Guri

  • Parker Sonnet with Colorverse Supernova

Gone from last time: the Newton Prospector and Pilot Tank. I wanted a Decimo back online for work. The light blue is a cartridge offering from Pilot, though it doesn’t strike me as being a well-known or widely used color. It’s like Herbin Bleu Azur, but more saturated and not as pale. I typically use a fine nib in the Decimo but to make the most of this ink I chose a medium nib.

New & Exciting

I still working on the ink swatch book, one brand at a time. Today I did all my Diamine inks.

Now the sheen of Monboddo's Hat can really come through.Now the sheen of Monboddo's Hat can really come through.

The wrong end was the right end. The wrong end was the right end.

Last time I swatched I used a Kakimori brass nib to fill in the bottle and cap areas. It worked fine but I wanted a result that looked more uniform, like ink simply filled the space rather than it being drawn there. When I was getting the dip nib ready for writing the ink names, I saw my old glass dip pen. I think it’s from Herbin. I barely use it these days because there are better and more varied options for dip nibs. I took it out of the box and looked at the end opposite the nib. Smooth rounded glass. Would that be any good for spreading the ink on the swatch pages? Yes, as it turns out. I like the swatch appearance much more using the blunt non-writing end of the glass pen than any other option I had tried. And cleanup doesn’t get any easier. A brief dip in water and wipe it off with a rag. It seems an obvious thing now but I’d never tried using the glass pen that way. Sometimes reexamining what you already have is as important and seeking something new.

Thinking About

I’m closer to picking a grind for the Sailor music nib. I’m intrigued by reversible grinds. Several nibmeisters seem to offer these grinds where one side is an architect. I already have an architect nib I like, and a naginata-style, so the idea of another grind in that neighborhood is not as appealing. My ideal would be a medium round point that reverses to something stub-ish, though I tend to think those grinds are not compatible in such a way.

Finally, in the what’s old is new again” department.

Spyderco Carbon Fiber Civilian and Carbon Fiber Delica.Spyderco Carbon Fiber Civilian and Carbon Fiber Delica.

Before pens, knives were my main hobby. I’ve gone through many more of them than I’ve had pens. I keep a small stable of knives because, like pens, they are invaluable everyday tools. My go to knife brand was always Spyderco. The first modern one hand opening knife I bought was a Spyderco Endura back in 1997 or so, and they’ve had my business ever since.

As tends to be the case, what you’re exposed to during the initial few years of collecting something can form the largest and longest lasting impressions. So it was with Spyderco’s older carbon fiber handled knives. The glossy finish gave a 3D depth to their appearance that doesn’t exist on their later CF handles. The only thing that came close were the Nishijin glass fiber scales. The nostalgia for those old carbon fiber handles never left me, even after the knives were long gone.

The smaller of the two knives shown above is the carbon fiber version of Spyderco’s Delica model. C11CFP on your scorecards. I can’t think of a good reason why I sold it, other than I didn’t fully appreciate what it was at the time and something else caught my eye. I later came to realize it was my favorite version of the Delica model and wished I hadn’t let it go.

The CF Delica is not the easiest knife to come by these days. It was made for one year in 2003. Total production run in was said to be 1500 pieces, 600 of which were the plain edge right-handed variety. Collectors seek them out and tend to hang on to them. I kept a long running eBay search on them, but for reasons of cost, condition, or being picky about shipping location, I never connected with one.

Over the last month or so there was one CF Delica that kept getting listed and not selling. It wasn’t cheap but I felt the price was commensurate with the knife’s rarity and condition. Week after week the knife went up for bid and no one took it. At a certain point, I thought to myself that if I’m trying to avoid buying more pens I can substitute one hobby for another and get this Delica. It would scratch an itch I’ve had for a long time. 17 years, if memory serves.

In the end, I took the plunge and the Delica is on its way to me. Will it be everything I remember? That’s an interesting question because for as strong and as fond as the memories feel to me, how sure can we be of something we had a long time ago that was one of many? Add to that none of us are the same person we were 17 years ago. Still, I’m confident it will put a smile on my face and find its fair share of time in my pocket.


29 January 2024