A neat Aurora 88P!

2 10 2009

Notice anything different about this little Aurora 88P?

Aurora 88P

Aurora 88P #2

I’ve owned this one for a while now, and really enjoy it (the vintage Aurora 88 models are absolutely top-notch pens), but I really got tired of it showing fingerprints all the time. So, one night while watching TV, I decided to give it a satin finish. Out came the abrasives, and a few hours later I had a nifty satin-y finish that feels GREAT in the hand, looks really elegant (the satin & chrome combo really looks good, in my opinion), and is almost impervious to fingerprints! Since the 88P is an all-celluloid model (there were a handful of different versions of the 88 – read my friend Andrea’s outstanding profile of this iconic pen here), it took the satin finish very nicely and very evenly, too. The best part about it is that it’s totally reversible with a little bit of polishing (I didn’t remove much material at all, so it should be able to be polished back out to a glossy finish without disturbing the imprints on the section).

At any rate, it doesn’t take much to do this, so if you’ve got a pen that you want to experiment with, grab some soft abrasives (I use these in 1000, 2000, and 4000 grit) and start with the finest grade and work backwards until you get the finish you’re looking for! Experiment with wet and dry sanding, and see what happens! You might be surprised the way your pen responds to a satin finish!

(*Disclaimer: You’re doing this at your own risk…if you choose to do this to an Omas Arco Paragon and you don’t like how it turns out, I can’t take responsibility for that. In fact, if you DO decide to give this treatment to an Arco Paragon, please email me your address because I’m gonna find you and kick you for even thinking of it. You’ve been warned…) 🙂

Open topic: What do YOU want to see in the future on Brassing?

1 10 2009

Whoa…two posts in one day? Better pace myself or I’ll burn out early! 🙂

I’ve had this conversation with a couple of you offline and in person, but I haven’t done much with this as an “open forum” kind of question. The way I see it, I have a bunch of different directions that I could pursue with this blog, and I guess I’m looking for some input from those of you who read it fairly frequently.

What topics have your attention right now that I might be able to write about?

I’m not quite out of ideas yet, and I’ve got a few of my own, but in addition to some of the stuff you’ve seen from me since this blog got started a couple of years ago (reviews, a hack or two, bang for the buck lists, etc.), what types of things are you most interested in reading about?

Leave your suggestions in the comment queue below, and let’s see where this goes!


Spell with Flickr!

1 10 2009

Spelling with photos is always lots of fun, but it can be time-consuming to do it if you’re shooting on your own. Locating the right words, cropping them appropriately, and arranging them all takes some time. But, if you want to shortcut it, take a look at this neat little web app from Eric Kastner. No, it’s not your original work, but it’s a whole lot quicker letting Flickr handle it!

Spell with Flickr

letter B R A letter S letter S i23 letter N letter G

letter A D Educational Brick Letter D letter S

letter C H a53 R Art letter C t38 E R

Vintage Italian: Tibet Extra

29 09 2009
(Some of you may have already seen this, as I’ve posted it elsewhere; I’d forgotten that my original intent was to put it up here!)

I really love blue pens. Many of the “keepers” in my current collection are blue pens (Cedar Blue “51”, Conklin Duragraph, Pilot VP, blue-striped M805, Levenger True Writer, etc.). So, when this strange lapis blue pen called a “Tibet-Extra” came up for sale back in February/March 2009, I was keenly interested. Sadly, I missed out on it because my message was too late. I was heartbroken about it, and since I wasn’t sure who picked it up, I was pretty sure that I’d never see it again. I saved the pictures on my hard drive so I could still have something to reference if I ever ran across another one, but I was pretty sure that this one was long gone.

Never say never…

About a month or so ago, I saw a post in the Fountain Pen Network’s Marketplace that advertised an old flat top that I had originally restored and re-ground and sold, along with a bunch of other pens for sale. Curiousity got the better of me, and I clicked it. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, actually) to see that same Tibet-Extra on sale again! Needless to say, I wasted no time in laying claim to it. It arrived a few days later, and it’s time to do the review.

First Impressions
This is a gorgeous blue & white lapis blue pen. For its age (which I’d estimate at about 70-75 years), it’s in remarkably good shape. The nickel-plated clip and capbands are in reasonably good shape and they’re nice and tight, and the celluloid body is in great shape with only minor wear marks. The color is also very nice, and it hasn’t discolored much at all. The hard rubber section (?) is still a deep rich black. All in all, it’s beautiful.

The Tibet-Extra is a very traditional Italian shape, complete with lots of classic Italian design elements that you’ll still find in many modern Italians today. See the pictures for a handful of close-ups of these.

Triple capbands and very thin caplip
Black celluloid discs on top & bottom
Button filler
Compared to an Italian of similar vintage, the Black Star. Note the similarity of the disc on the cap, and the thin caplip.

The shape is really very nice, and extremely comfortable. It’s not quite a torpedo-shaped pen per se, but has some swell around the middle (strangely, it seems to have taken the shape of its new owner!). It feels great in the hand, and although I’m more comfortable using it posted, it’s not horrible to write with un-posted. It’s about 5″ tall capped and 6″ posted. It’s also nice and lightweight in the hand; it weighs somewhere in the 20-ish gram range when full of ink.

The original nib on this pen was a steel ABT #4 with some flex to it. As the pen needed a little work when I got it, though, I opted to switch it out since I already had it apart. I took out the nib for a variety of reasons, but mainly it was because as a lefty, I can’t use flex nibs as easily as a right-hander. It was more comfortable to put in something more rigid. Right now, it’s sporting a two-tone 14K Sheaffer’s Lifetime nib from an old Balance that was a basketcase when I got it. If I can determine who manufactured this pen (I’m guessing it might have been Columbus, but I wouldn’t swear to it), I might look for a period-correct nib, but for now this Sheaffer’s Balance nib is working out just fine. It’s very firm, quite smooth, and flows quite generously. Thick, saturated inks work pretty well in this one. Might be a good pen for Noodler’s HoD.

Note the profiles of the section, and how closely they match up with each other.
*Update: Not too long ago, I swapped the Lifetime nib out in favor of a better-fitting 14K Eversharp Skyline (rigid M).  Haven’t had the chance to take some new pictures of it, though!

Filling System
Button filler, which I have restored with a general cleaning, new pressbar, and a new sac. When I got it, the pressbar had pretty much fallen apart, so I replaced it and fitted it with a new sac. Works great!

Cost and Value
No idea what this one is worth, but I’d imagine I’d have a hard time replacing it for the $100 I paid for it. I’ve done a fair bit of looking on the web in some of the various nooks & crannies where you might find vintage Italian information, and nothing has turned up. The original seller also noted that this was the only Tibet he’d ever seen, and I know he’s been collecting for many years longer than I. I doubt I could replace it for double my investment, if one could be found.

Vintage Italian pens are great ways to have a lot of fun in this hobby. They had some great designs, interesting takes on the design elements that they borrowed from other manufacturers, and many of the vintage Italians that show up on the open market today make terrific writers even though they don’t say Omas, Visconti, Ancora, Aurora, or any of the other big names. Many of these pens bring up more questions than they provide answers (as regarding origins, anyway), and that’s part of the big fun for me.

Handwritten: Waterman’s Commando review

25 09 2009

Decided I’d handwrite this one. These old Waterman’s models from the 40’s are, in my opinion, highly under-rated. Granted, they don’t always look perfect (Waterman’s had some issues with the materials they used during the 40’s before more stable plastics were available), but their nibs often make great writers!

(Click the individual scans for full(er) resolution so you can read them; otherwise, clean your glasses and enjoy!)

Getting re-aquainted with the blog…

16 09 2009

Ah…it feels good to be back. It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start posting a little more regularly than what you’ve seen from me in the past few months. There’s lots of cool new pen topics and interesting stuff to talk about, too. Despite the troubled economy, pen companies are still doing cool things, and there are always a few more vintage pens that don’t get the love they deserve.

In the coming months, I’m hoping to be able to stick to about two posts per month. Here’s a few ideas I’m working on: tips on smoothing scratchy nibs, a few new-ish pen reviews, some notebook short-takes, perhaps a hack or two, some history lessons, and maybe some additions to the budget writers series, too.

Want this pen?

9 09 2009

Edison Glenmont

Here’s your chance to get it!