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Regalia Writing Labs And The Trilogy Nib


zaddick
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Have you ever discovered something special? Something unique and delightful, though thoroughly unnecessary to your everyday life? Something that gives you the kind of joy you associate with fond childhood memories?

 

I hope so. It does not happen very often, but when it does it is a little touch of magic and wonder.

 

It is easy to get lulled into the everyday routine of life. There is comfort in a routine and the stability is reassuring in many ways. Then, when you are not really looking for it this happens to you

 

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For those not familiar, that is a screen shot from the 1970s movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (based on the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) where an extremely limited number of Golden Tickets grant the barer access to an unknown world of mystery and delights. I received this golden ticket at the San Francisco pen show a few weeks ago.

 

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My ticket to a world of new adventures came from and exciting and innovative fellow named Ralph Reyes. He looks like this at pen shows...

 

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Wait, no that is Willy Wonka, the genius behind innovative and imaginative candy in the movie. Ralph looks like this

 

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Sorry, that is a terrible photo I stole from the interwebs.

 

Ralph is the young genius driving innovative nib design under the banner of Regalia Writing Labs. He is fearless at tinkering and sharing his experiments. He uses unusual materials based on what is available to him at the time and appears, at least to me, to be unafraid of the potential for failure. Check out his website here: https://www.regaliawritinglabs.com/

 

Ralph is fairly new on the pen scene but is already making a big impression in the pen community, especially among those of us that love to use up lots of ink by writing large with big nibs. I made a b-line for his table upon my arrival at the SF Pen show and went straight for whatever was for sale. Right now Ralph is only selling his works through pen shows and his production is limited to only a few nibs per show. Besides crazy wide nibs with inventive and cheeky names like Hammerhead and Ragnarok, he is also stretching what can be done to create flexible steel nibs.

 

Ralph carries with him a series of tester nibs in various states of fit and finish. They are all great writers, but some of his more recent creations are also elegant in their design with overfeeds. He had I think maybe 2 or 3 nibs left by Saturday morning and I selected the double layered nib he calls the Sequel. On his table he also had a number of stacked and flexible nibs for testing and to illustrate his direction for future offerings. I was most drawn to the Trilogy nib which is a triple stacked nib.

 

The stacked nibs are similar in nature to the now hard to find Nagahara nibs made by Sailor for many years. In some ways Ralph is the spiritual successor of the great Nagahara, but I think he goes beyond and in more extreme directions. There does not seem to be a lot of cant and shouldnt in his vocabulary. His enthusiasm is infectious (in a good way) and he seems genuinely excited about so many possibilities for the future. He is a craftsman unencumbered by having to meet deadlines and production quotas. This gives him a freedom, when coupled with his enthusiasm and creativity, which affords the creation of some bold designs.

 

I somehow used a combination of enthusiasm for his work, begging, and sad puppy dog eyes to get to take home his Trilogy demo nib. Ralph was kind enough to offer me the nib if I came back at the end of the day so he could show it off during the show. I was not going to pass up the chance.

 

The Trilogy came home with me while the Sequel went home with Ralph for final finishing. I put the Trilogy into a custom pen prototype by Nivardo Sanchez who is a talented nib tuner and now pen turner at Peyton Street pens. I wanted a simple pen with a large cap and his Nikko green ripple ebonite pen did the trick. Why did I need a large cap? Well, as you can see from the photos, the nibs are stacked on top of each other and this could create fit problems with a small cap. No reason to take a risk on the nib getting damaged!

 

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As you can see, this pen is very similar to the King Eagle nib from Nagahara. With three sets of nibs you get an elongated surface that gets longer the lower the writing angle.

 

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The nib is built using #6 Jowo steel nibs. The one I have was then gold plated after construction. I like the use of Jowo nibs as it means I have far more pen choices or could easily have a new custom pen made in the future. Id be exited for larger nibs or gold nibs, but I suspect until Ralph gets his process nailed down gold would be a bit expensive for experimentation.

 

Ralph also uses custom ebonite feeds to help with flow. The standard plastic feeds would not be able to keep up. I am glad to see ebonite as it gives the possibility of heat setting the feed if necessary in the future.

 

At first I had trouble with the Trilogy nib. I was using a cartridge and it was not drawing ink for very long. After contacting Ralph, he suggested a converter or eyedroppering the pen. I tried the converter, but it was not much better than the cartridge. Perhaps it was the Montblanc ink, but I decided to just eyedropper the pen. Once I did that, look out. Ink was flowing like a river. You need good quality paper with a lubricated ink or it will go through the page. I have not experimented with other inks, but a dryer ink like Pelikan 4001 may tame the flow a little. It is manageable as it sits today as the ink dries quickly, but a little less flow would be preferred.

 

One nice aspect of the nib I really appreciate is the ability to smoothly write on the reverse side. Most of the Nagahara nibs I have had have been pretty scratchy in reverse writing which can be fixed, but is a little disappointing out of the box.

 

Lastly, Ill touch on price. These nibs are not cheap, especially of you consider they are steel nibs. But they are artisanal and unique and, most importantly, functional. For lovers of unusual nibs they are a good value. Ralph put a lot of time and effort into these nibs and I, for one, was happy to support his efforts.

 

Ill close by saying I am looking forward to Ralphs new creations. It warms my heart to see his passion harnessed and shared in a way that brings joy to others in the fountain pen community. If you had not heard of him before, well now you know and the secret is out. Ralph joins a long line of pen craftsmen/women who are driving this hobby forward with the spirit of innovation. He offers something unique and is worth checking out. If you get the chance to meet him you are in for a treat. If you can get a nib you love, youll have a treasure to brighten your days your own golden ticket to adventure.

Edited by zaddick

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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That's a very nice looking nib and pen... May I ask what is the price?.. And I do understand that they are artisanal, but "not cheap" for some is "stratospheric expensive" for others. I find that in this particular hobby, the value of things is definitely what one is willing to pay for it.

 

 

 

C.

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The Trilogy is listed on his website for $325. I guess that's my "not cheap" but it is certainly less than what I have seen charged for a small or large size Sailor King Eagle.

 

As you note Cyber6, value is relative once we discount for raw material scrap value (a truly sobering measure of worth). I found value to exceed cost for me.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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The ebonite pen was a unique piece, but is priced competitively with other makers in the US. The asking piece was $200 but I paid less without a nib. It was not a necessity but an opportunity to support another maker just starting out.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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I second your admiration for Ralph, but my interest is in his XF flex nib. This monster goes from 0.3 - 2.4 mm, with good snap. Takes a bit of pressure to flex it, but that is not a big issue.

 

The test of a nib is in the use. Of my flex nibs (mainly vintage but some modern), the Regalia Crossflex is among the most used. Partly, that's because it performs well - Bravo Ralph. Of equal importance, it is just a humble Jowo with an attitude. Vintage nibs can be rare and irreplaceable artifacts that might bend, lose temper, shed tipping, or crack at any time. That can inhibit one's enthusiasm. In contrast, if I send money and beg, Ralph can make me another Crossflex. Fearless flex.

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Here is an example of Ralph's flex work by another member: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/337281-two-modern-flex-champs/?hl=regalia

 

Here is a review by another member putting a stacked nib into a new pen. Seems like great minds think alike: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/338694-ralph-reyes-meet-jim-hinze/?hl=%2Bralph+%2Breyes

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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I've chatted with Ralph else where and on that channel he's very chatty and open, including just how much work he puts into his nibs and how much of a perfectionist he is. I know a number of us struggle to see how he can make a profit on his nibs, where as he sees it as perfecting his art and craft.

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The ebonite pen was a unique piece, but is priced competitively with other makers in the US. The asking piece was $200 but I paid less without a nib. It was not a necessity but an opportunity to support another maker just starting out.

 

Note that many of the Peyton Street Pens prototype pens are less expensive than that. I have a deep purple one with a Nivardo Sanchez cursive italic nib,and I love it.

 

I kept passing the Regalia Writing Labs table at the show but was too shy to ask questions. Thanks, Zaddick, for this engaging introduction to Ralph's project!

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Here's the thing:

 

I spent a fair amount of time with Ralph at the show. It started on Thursday night down in the bar, where we first met, and continued throughout the weekend, spending time at his table on a number of occasions. I think he is talented and inquisitive and a whole lot of fun. He has more ideas than time to realize them. I think it is great that he gets prototypes or teeny limited runs of nibs out into peoples hands.

 

But...

 

I think it is a disservice problematic to do writeups and reviews of things that very, very few people - at this point - have any reasonable way of accesssing. Leigh has also done this, with a number of awe-inspiring posts about his work. The fact is that there are just a few people who are part of an "in crowd" who - at this point - get to have his nibs. Whats-his-name, Penthusiast, showed a whole flock on reddit. 99.999999% of the pen users out there have 0 Regalia nibs. So it's a great way to show off and be special and all, but personally, I look for the day when Ralph somehow sets up shop or licenses one of his techs and tricks to a place that can make a reasonable amount of these nibs so that more people have the opportunity to use them. I find nibs like the one in this review to be of limited interest when compared to his various strategies on flexible steel nibs (can't keep up with the latest name/version - Crossflex, in general).

 

So, yeah, cool nib. Glad you have it. Everyone else doesn't and that isn't going to change anytime soon. End of story.

Edited by JonSzanto

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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It's an interesting and valid point. Interesting question though, is can you not say the same for the high end Montblanc, Nakaya, Danitrio, Sailor pens, etc. Very few are made and the vast majority on here will only ever see or hear of them here, not even on the usual vblog/Youtube candidates.

 

I know Ralph is looking to concentrate on the short term on his flex nibs, but even then they will really only be available from some US pen shows unless you are very unlucky online.

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Interesting question though, is can you not say the same for the high end Montblanc, Nakaya, Danitrio, Sailor pens, etc.

 

Indeed, you can. It's all in the presentation. I think Zaddick approached it pretty well, considering the enthusiasm. I can't overlook the fact, however, that if you spend a fair amount of time on a number of pen forums and discussion platforms you tend to see a small circle of folks able to access items that the vast majority can't. I guess that is just how it goes, but when I'm given that kind of opportunity, I weigh carefully how I'll share that.

 

What has happened with Ralph, due to Instagram (etc) exposure is that there is an insane level of interest in what he is doing and virtually no product stream. Enormous anticipation and fulfillment for only a precious few. Being precious carries it's own issues.

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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I find it uplifting to learn about the work of a committed and ingenious artist or artisan, even if I have no expectation of being able to afford or procure the product, just as I enjoy reading or hearing about travel to places where I will never go.

 

For example, every time I see one of those videos on how the rarest of maki-e pens are created, I feel grateful that such an art form continues to exist and that there are enough patrons to make its survival less tenuous.

 

Thank you, Jon, for helping me remember that the same story I find comforting could make another reader feel left out.

Edited by ENewton
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Thank you, Jon, for helping me remember that the same story I find comforting could make another reader feel left out.

 

Actually, thank you for putting it this way. I went back and made a small change, from disservice to problematic. I don't want to come off as ragging on Zaddick, only to give a different perspective. There are many issues at play in much of this - access, entitlement, social media overexposure, income inequality - but as is often the case, I may very well be overthinking.

 

Ralph is a joy. We hit it off immediately and I'll do everything to support his work. I didn't feel a need to badger him and walk home with one of his nibs.

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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Zaddick, thank you for sharing an infectious passion for nibs that lay down copious amounts of ink. It’s terrific to hear about a skilled new enthusiastic craftsman taking on an exciting challenge. If someone of your expertise is fascinated by these new experiments, the rest of us have much to look forward to.

Well-reported post!

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I'm looking into building these nibs myself - are they bonded using hot silver brazing and a torch, or are they done with simple lead-free solder? I've had good luck bonding nibs with regular old electronics solder, but am curious if the tougher stuff is used. I can get silver solder to flow with propane but most people use MAP gas which might be deleterious to the nib.

 

it looks like he just bonds the outside corners. Can anyone confirm where the spots of solder are?

 

I've got a boatload of old jinhao #6 nibs, a willingness to destroy them, and a well equipped shop to do it in.

 

Not a ton of spare time since I work full time and school full time, but If I can get these sorted, I expect to be able to get them done with jinhao nibs and sell them. It'd be fun to set up a side business selling them through a vendor.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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One of my favorite shots from SFPS2018: Ralph's hands with his handiwork:

Wt0WAlU.jpg

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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As one who lives on the Eastern side of the Atlantic, without the funds to pop over to a pen show, on the off chance that I may be able to pick up such a nib, I find the vicarious pleasure of ogling their functional beauty, here and on Ralph's site, sufficient enjoyment.

 

I rejoice in the good fortune of those of you who have the opportunity care for and use these rare delights.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Indeed, you can. It's all in the presentation. I think Zaddick approached it pretty well, considering the enthusiasm. I can't overlook the fact, however, that if you spend a fair amount of time on a number of pen forums and discussion platforms you tend to see a small circle of folks able to access items that the vast majority can't. I guess that is just how it goes, but when I'm given that kind of opportunity, I weigh carefully how I'll share that.

 

What has happened with Ralph, due to Instagram (etc) exposure is that there is an insane level of interest in what he is doing and virtually no product stream. Enormous anticipation and fulfillment for only a precious few. Being precious carries it's own issues.

You know, it's really not so hard. I just call up my deep state rep and have him order through Ralph's Moscow branch.

 

All levity aside, there is no in group. I got my nib by accident. Ralph made a run of specially soft Crossflex nibs for Additive Pens (at a higher price). I happened to order an Additive pen with the Xflex, and then decided against the pen. I just left the nib order in place, despite deep misgivings about hacked steel nibs. A few months later, an envelope arrived. I'd forgotten all about it and didn't really know who Ralph was. I do know now.

 

Point is, we should do all we can to encourage creative folks (like Reyes, Grasty, Carasco). Otherwise, they will be lost in the mass of professionally marketed consumer goods that dominate these pages. Encouragement includes reviewing the products - and isn't it marvelous that they are in such demand?

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I'm looking into building these nibs myself - are they bonded using hot silver brazing and a torch, or are they done with simple lead-free solder? I've had good luck bonding nibs with regular old electronics solder, but am curious if the tougher stuff is used. I can get silver solder to flow with propane but most people use MAP gas which might be deleterious to the nib.

 

He actually skims out and grinds the nibs top and bottom to fit very neatly together before (I believe) being bonding. I think, from group chat type discussions with him it is easy to break a nib by taking it too far. Also on the flex nibs he not only is very specific and careful on the cuts, again he finds just pushing a little too far can cause breakage. Also the feeds he was manually tuning (not sure if he asked and got advice on this), though some are now made specifically for him to order.

 

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