An 18111 Commission

Mid last year, I reached out to Yoshi Nakama of 18111 Pens about commissioning a custom pen. As the DC Pen Show was only a few weeks away, we agreed to discuss it at the show. At the time, I hoped to get a pen themed to my Exalted Bloodlines series.

I eagerly sought him out at the show. However, when I showed him the ideas I had in mind, he warned me it may not be doable.

The designs I showed Mr. Nakama at the DC Pen Show.
Left to right: My design idea for the rollstopper, the blood drop I wanted scattered around the pen, and the moon and star I wanted on the top of the cap.

The proposed roll stopper design, the blood drop I wanted scattered across the pen, and the moon and star I wanted on the top of the cap all have “sharp corners.” Apparently, 3D printing and laser engraving can’t produce sharp corners at that size.

However, I hoped we could reach a compromise with a modified design that I liked and could be executed. I agreed to modify the design before sending Mr. Nakama the files. He warned me that his waiting list was about 3 months long. Granted, considering the year+ waiting lists many pen makers have right now, 3 months is hardly an issue.

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Ink Dupes #7: Bungubox and Robert Oster

A little side note before I jump into the comparison. I believe that Australian Syrah has recently (since I bought my bottle) been renamed to Australian Shiraz. If I’m wrong, please let me know and I’ll adjust this post accordingly. 

The Inks

Bungubox Piano Mahogany
Price: ~$39 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $.78
Availability: Readily available
Robert Oster Australian Syrah
Price: ~$17 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $.34
Availability: Readily available
Comparison swatches and chromatography strips for Bungubox Piano Mahogany and Robert Oster Australian Syrah

If you have any suggestions for future comparisons, let me know in the comments. And check out my other Ink Dupes posts.

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Identifying and Dating a Vintage Esterbrook

While volunteering at the 2019 Baltimore Pen Show, I was gifted a lovely red, lever-fill, vintage Esterbrook pen. Admittedly, I know next-to-nothing about vintage Esterbrooks. I also have a penchant for finding out as much about my vintage pens as possible.

That said, it should be no surprise that I set out to identify and date (as accurately as possible) my new Esterbrook as soon as I was able.

Because I had fun doing so, and I found the information interesting, I figured I’d share it with you in the hopes that my research would prove useful to others.

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2019 BWIPS Volunteering

As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first time as pen show volunteer staff. It’s an experience I look forward to repeating many times in the future.

When Corinne, the show organizer, put out a call to the DC Pen Crew for volunteers, I eagerly signed up. My reasoning, beyond wanting to help out, was that if I was volunteering, I wouldn’t be spending money.

That theory worked out well. When I received the schedule, I was happy to see myself listed for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. That shift schedule worked so well that I’m hoping for the same next year.

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2019 Baltimore Pen Show

Alright, my third pen show of the year. Allow me to start of by saying that the Baltimore Washington International Pen Show (BWIPS) is my favorite pen show. I’ll do my best to describe and rate it (since I haven’t done so previously) in an unbiased manner, but I don’t know if I’ll be wholly successful.

To start, this was a show with several firsts for me. It was the first time I’d attended a full pen show, the first time I’d stayed at the show hotel, the first time I’d attended a pen show workshop, and the first time I’d volunteered as part of the show staff.

I’ll cover my volunteering experience in another post. For now, suffice to say it was great. I’m eager to volunteer again next year.

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Ink Dupes #6: Sailor and Robert Oster

Finally I get to compare inks that aren’t completely identical. These two are close enough, though, that if the new Sailor Jentle prices are too steep for you, Jade is a good alternative. They’re almost indistinguishable in normal writing.

For those who aren’t aware, I’ve heard that the 50ml Sailor Jentle bottles are going away to be replaced with significantly more expensive (price per ml) 30ml bottles. If you’ve heard otherwise, please let me know.

The Inks

Sailor Jentle Waka Uguisu
Price: ~$18 USD / ~$15 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml / 30ml
Price Per Ml: $.36 / $.75
Availability: Readily available
Robert Oster Jade
Price: ~$17 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $.34
Availability: Readily available
Comparison swatches and chromatography strips for Robert Oster Jade and Sailor Jentle Waka Uguisu

If you have any suggestions for future comparisons, let me know in the comments. And check out my other Ink Dupes posts.

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2019 LA Pen Show

The Los Angeles Pen Show was the fourth show location I’ve attended (DC, Baltimore, Philly, and now LA). There were a decent number of tables, but the layout was appalling.

We arrived around 10:30, assuming that would allow us to avoid the opening crush of people we’d heard a lot about.

The exterior line at the LA Pen Show
The half of the line outside…
The interior line at the LA Pen Show
… and the half of the line inside.

Unfortunately, we arrived to find a line that wound down the corridor, out the door, and about half way down the building. Surprisingly, the line moved fairly quickly, but getting into the show was less than half the battle.

An unconsidered side-effect of arriving after the show had started was a lack of street parking. There wasn’t much to start with, but it was all taken by the time we arrived. Parking at the hotel ended up costing us around $20 for the little time we were there. I don’t want to know what people who stayed the whole day paid.

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2019 Philadelphia Pen Show

As I sat down to write my post about the LA Pen Show, I realized I’d never written a post about the Philly show. Therefore, even though it’s over a month late, allow me to share with you my experiences at the Philly show.

We drove up from the DC area with a friend of ours, and, thankfully, there was no real traffic. Upon arriving, I realized how fortunate I am to have the DC and Baltimore shows.

My immediate thought was that the show is overpriced for its size. We paid $13 online (it’s $15 at the door), a single-day price higher than DC, Baltimore, and LA. It’s also smaller than those other three shows.

I will say that the aisles were roomy, on par with Baltimore and far surpassing DC and LA. The selection was fairly evenly dispersed between vintage, new, expensive, and affordable. There was a decent selection of inks. And, for the overall size of the show, a decent number of nibmeisters.

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Ink Dupes #5: Bungubox and Bungubox

I just so happened to purchase samples of both of these at the same time, so they got swabbed right next to each other. I couldn’t miss the similarity. So if you missed out on Kabayaki, you can grab a bottle of Nostalgia. Unfortunately, I can’t find a review of Kabayaki, so you’ll have to do without.

The Inks

Bungubox Kabayaki of the Hamanako Eel
Price: ~$43 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $0.86
Availability: Discontinued?
Bungubox Nostalgia

Price: ~$43 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $0.86
Availability: Readily available
Comparative ink swabs, writing samples, and chromatography strips for Bungubox Kabayaki of the Hamanako Eel and Nostalgia.

If you have any suggestions for future comparisons, let me know in the comments. And check out my other Ink Dupes posts.

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Ink Dupes #4: Diamine and Montblanc

This is my second Diamine vs Montblanc, and I have to say Montblanc is seriously disappointing. For the price, I would expect SIGNIFICANTLY different colors. These two are so similar I can’t help but wonder if UNICEF blue is just rebottled Aqua Blue.

The Inks

Diamine Aqua Blue
Price: ~$15 USD
Bottle Size: 80ml
Price Per Ml: $0.19
Availability: Readily available
Montblanc UNICEF Blue
Price: ~$40 USD
Bottle Size: 50ml
Price Per Ml: $0.80
Availability: Discontinued
Comparative ink swabs, writing samples, and chromatography strips for Diamine Aqua Blue and Montblanc UNICEF Blue.

If you have any suggestions for future comparisons, let me know in the comments. And check out my other Ink Dupes posts.

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