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  1. Normally, I go in for urushi pens these days but when I saw this one in person, and more importantly, wrote with it I had to have it. This is an all ebonite King of Pen in a unique pattern they call Blue Wave. The included card says that it is coated three times with urushi but it still smells of ebonite so who knows. A press release also said the grip section was PMMA, which is extremely unlikely to be the case. Anyway, this is a King of Pen and as such has the large 21k nib, the giant feed, and the small converter. As I've said before it really is a perfect pen. This one, however, is more perfect. The naginata-togi nib is sublime. This is a limited edition pen and only 400 were made. These nibs are said to be some of the last produced by Sailor's resident nibmeister, Yukio Nagahara, before he leaves Sailor in early 2020. I don't know about that but nib is insane. Horizontal line width depends on the writing angle but the smoothness and ink flow are superior, even for a KOP. KOP packaging, pretty standard from what I've seen, for an upper end KOP that is. IMG_3781 by Ja Ja, on Flickr IMG_3782 by Ja Ja, on Flickr Just look at this beauty! Trust me, in person it's even better. Clearly a well made luxury pen. IMG_3767 by Ja Ja, on Flickr IMG_3771 by Ja Ja, on Flickr That nib! Seriously amazing. IMG_3773 by Ja Ja, on Flickr IMG_3772 by Ja Ja, on Flickr IMG_3769 by Ja Ja, on Flickr Gold plated Sailor logo finial. My urushi KOP models are rounded at the ends in the familiar cigar shape. This one is squared off some at the ends. The cap is interchangeable with my other KOP pens so dimensions are very similar. IMG_3775 by Ja Ja, on Flickr The inside of the cap is beautifully machined and has various liners for doing things. IMG_3774 by Ja Ja, on Flickr The LE number is indicated on the rear of the cap. IMG_3776 by Ja Ja, on Flickr IMG_3778 by Ja Ja, on Flickr A joy to write with. blue wave by Ja Ja, on Flickr If you run across one I highly suggest you pick one up. Dromgooles in Houston probably still has some more.
  2. For me, receiving this pen is the end of a 3 + month saga with Engeika. I wont go into all the details here, but this is the 3rd pen I've received from them in this saga, but the first time I received the pen I actually ordered. The first 2 pens they sent me had very significant nib problems. Severely misaligned tines and a nib that was so scratchy that I couldn't even get ink to come out. Both of these were new out of the box Sailors. My experience with those 2 pens was so bad I'd nearly sworn off Sailor unless I was to buy from nibs.com at full retail. This pen makes me completely reconsider that. A 1911 Sailor L w / Naginata-Togi nib in medium fine. Black with all rhodium trim. I've wanted this pen for some time. My first nice pen was a Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Sapporo, white and rhodium with a MF nib. Then I bought a 1911 M in burgundy and rhodium with a Naginata-Togi nib in MF. That pen has been my favorite writing nib as long as I've had it, but the pen body was just a tad too small to be comfortable for all my writing needs..... but the nib is perfect... just perfect. Now this 1911 L shows up and blows me away. The packaging this pen came in makes me question whether the other pens I received from this vendor were really new from the factory. This pen was completely sealed in plastic and neither end was open. I opened it via a flap that was sealed with a tacky substance. Anyhow, once I took it out and inspected it, I wrote a couple of quick words on my Rhoda pad with the dry nib...and I could tell immediately it was aligned perfectly and polished to just the right smoothness. The nib on the 1911 L is also larger than the one on the 1911 M. I flushed it, dried it and let it air dry some more, then inked it with Iroshizuku Horsetail and started writing. Really just an amazing writing experience. This nib is amazing, truly. So smooth, so fluid, with just enough feedback to give me great control over the nib.. Not too wet, not too dry, just right for me. Really a fine job by the factory of turning out a perfectly adjusted nib. It's actually better than the one I have that was tuned by John Mottishaw. I think at least part of the improvement in feel is due to the larger nib. It seems to give some additional cushion and spring vs. the smaller one. This nib writes just a hair thicker than my other Naginata-Togi. It's not bad, just a small difference. What makes it even better is the size of the barrel and gripping section. It's the exact same length capped as my 149's, but it seems just slightly narrower in circumference. I'll have to look at the specs. It is definitely lighter. Whatever the differences, it sits in my hand just perfectly. I've always known this was a great nib, one that I loved. I just had no idea it could get better. At between $205 and $230 from a variety of Japanese vendors, this is a pen you owe it to yourself to try if you are looking for another great pen in this price range. The Naginata-Togi nib can give some differences in line width, but I use it at a constant angle and it just adds a touch of flair and elegance to my cursive writing and does equally as well with my printing, which I use at work for list making. It's a really great pen at about $215, but it's even worth it to pay retail and have John tune it.... that way you're guaranteed to get a great writing pen. Check it out if you can. It may be your grail pen too.
  3. Cross Townsend (18K rolled Gold Finish) Introduction This pen was purchased from a purveyor of fine pens based in Rhode Island (RI), USA. I went to college in Providence, RI, but did not realise at the time that the famous A.T. Cross company was founded in Providence (1846), and had its global headquarters just 10 miles away in Lincoln, RI. After solely collecting Japanese pens for years, I decided to explore the offerings from the pen makers in other countries. Hence, last year I started to put together a collection of flagship pens that was representative of the major brands in the market. From various sources (including my parents who used fountain pens in school), I learnt that Cross made a quality pen. Hence I decided to purchase a NOS Cross Townsend in the classic 18K rolled gold finish for my collection. Why did I choose this finish? I do not shy away from gold trim on my pens - in fact, as a traditionalist at heart I will choose gold trim over silver trim if possible, because gold is the traditional colour for pen clips and trim rings. Old-style pen clip with the cursive "Cross" script. New-style pen clip with the block "Cross" letters. Pen construction and first impressions The pen is made of brass with an 18K rolled-gold finish, a very durable and thick gold-plating finish. It is unlikely that this pen will see brassing during my lifetime if I treat it with care. The pen cap initially came with a clip sporting the cursive "Cross" script. Because there was a significant scratch on the top of the cap, I exchanged the pen cap, and the new cap came with a clip sporting the block "Cross" letters. More importantly to me, both caps did not indicate the country of manufacture of this pen. It appears that Cross pens were originally made in the USA and Ireland, and later on in China. To the best of my knowledge, the country of manufacture used to be clearly marked below the gold hallmark on American- and Irish-made pens; however, Cross removed the country of manufacture when they started manufacturing in China. Although I have no prejudice against Chinese-made pens (as long as the pen is well-made), I was a bit disappointed to find no indications of the country of manufacture on this pen because it was specifically advertised as being made in the USA. The pen has a slip cap that fits tightly over the nib section. Although this works well for preventing dry-out when the pen is not used for a period of time, I wonder if the plastic clutch ring inside the cap is robust enough to withstand a lifetime of use, given the not-inconsiderable force needed to uncap or cap the pen. Because Cross offers a "full perpetual lifetime warranty guarantee" on all their writing instruments, however, I figure I should be covered if I happen to break the cap while using the pen. The pen comes with user-replaceable nib sections which simply unscrew from the barrel. Some users have complained that the nib section unscrews too easily from the barrel, and I concur. There are two disadvantages of such a tight slip fit between the nib section and the cap: first, the cap tends to create a partial vacuum during the action of uncapping, drawing ink from the pen onto the nib and into the inner cap (ditto for capping - the force required for capping can cause ink to spurt from the nib into the inner cap); and second, the tight fit of the cap can cause an inattentive user to inadvertently unscrew the nib section from the barrel instead of uncapping the pen. In actual use, however, I find that the pen construction is adequately robust. Although the pen diameter is a little too narrow, I find the length to be just right. I prefer using this pen unposted because posting the cap causes the pen to be top-heavy. The pen uses a cartridge/converter filling system. Nothing special, just that I had to purchase the (green) push-in converter separately. For the cost of this pen, Cross should consider including a converter in the package. To be fair, the reseller provided a lifetime supply (to me) of proprietary Cross cartridges with the pen (~twelve boxes of blue and black, six cartridges per colour). Nib section with a Cross cartridge inserted. Writing Experience (BB nib) The reason why I use fountain pens is because I love the feeling of a nib gliding across the page with minimal pressure, leaving behind a luscious line of liquid ink. The BB nib that came with this pen was adequate - even a little springy - but did not meet the minimal pressure requirement that I impose for all my fountain pens. Don't get me wrong - there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the nib or how it was adjusted before leaving the factory. I also like my nibs to write well at a variety of angles to paper - from near-horizontal to near-vertical. This BB nib did not satisfy, so I placed the pen on the Classifieds where it sat for a couple of weeks, not attracting a single message. Writing Experience (Naginata-Togi M nib) Fast forward a couple of weeks to the San Francisco Pen Show last week. I originally got Mike Masuyama just to work on grinding my Pelikan M1000 M nib to a cursive italic, but then I had a brain wave. I asked him if he could grind Naginata-Togi nibs, and he replied in the affirmative. So I took out my Cross Townsend with the BB nib and asked him to make it into a Naginata-Togi M nib. Mike Masuyama used to work for Sailor where he learnt all the tricks of nib adjustments from the Nagahara father-and-son duo, so I was confident that his nib wizardry would make me fall in love with my Cross Townsend again. Mike Masuyama and his charming wife. Mike knocked out the nib from my Cross Townsend nib section before proceeding to expertly grind it. He said that the nib and feed were made by Pilot, which was a surprise to me. The results of the nib grinding? Here are some before and after photographs. You be the judge. Before: After: Before: After: Before: After: Before: After: More importantly, how does it write? This Naginata-Togi nib writes well with zero pressure at a variety of angles, even upside down. I have been using this nib for the past week to write Tang Dynasty poems and the pen has performed admirably. For all its idiosyncrasies, I am confident that this pen will stay in my rotation as I struggle to achieve the calligraphic strokes that Mike demonstrated so effortlessly. Mike's calligraphy with a Sailor Naginata-Togi Broad nib inked with Sailor Blue ink (top) and a Sailor Crosspoint nib inked with Sailor Blue-Black (bottom).
  4. A few months ago I acquired a Sailor 911 with a MF Naginata-togi nib. I was so impressed by the writing quality that I decided to purchase a second example. I've very recently taken delivery of a Sailor Demonstrator, again with a MF Naginata-tog nibi. To my astonishment, its line width is probably a full size greater than the first example of MF that I purchased. That's both on the cross stroke and downstroke. Too wide for me, in fact. I'm flummoxed. Has anyone else experienced such variability?

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