Dromgoole's Houston

Dromgoole’s November 2014 Visit

Early in November I found myself on a trip to Texas on family matters. While my trip was unexpected due to a passing I made the best of it. I was in need of a break and did what any pen fanatic in a new town would do. I Googled “Pen Stores” of course. I saw on the list that under an hour away was Dromgoole’s of Houston. Dromgoole’s has been open since 1961 and a supporter of Fountain Pen Day since it’s inception in 2012. I emailed Larry to make sure he would be there the following day when I planned to visit. I emailed instead of calling because the store had already closed for the day. He promptly emailed back to say he would be there open to close. The next afternoon I set the navigation and off I went. An easy drive on the edge of Houston’s city scape. As soon as I saw the Dromgoole’s sign I felt the itch. Not knowing what was inside this store I had never been in I got that feeling you get as a kid when your going to an amusement park and you finally see a glimpse of the roller coaster. I parked and grabbed my camera, I knew I was taking pictures right away, and in I went.

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I was immediately greeted by Larry Dromgoole at the front counter. His hand extended as soon as we made eye contact and after a brief introduction we talked about Fountain Pen Day, of course, and what else was going on in the pen world. The store had customers and he was busy helping them so he kind of sent me off to look around. Well there was certainly a lot to be looked around at! Once I was able to take a moment and really start to absorb the depth of brand selection I started to feel as if I was at a pen show. When you first walk in on the right is a section of glass showcases dedicated to Mont Blanc. The selection was not just a few but many many Mont Blancs. From the new 90 years edition & 90 years special edition classique to the writers editions. Daniel Defoe, Starwalker, Heritage, Meisterstuck were all there for the taking if your wallet can handle it.

MB1 MB2 MB3

This was just the start of my tour as around the corner was a 7” tall glass David Oscarson case that was just a buffer before the wall of Visconti. If it was Visconti it was there. Both the newest  Homo Sapiens, Crystal & Florentine Hills, as well as the original in bronze or steel. Divina’s, Rembrandt’s & Operas oh my. It was amazing to see so many packed into a few display cases. Even a Jacques de Molay was there next to an Istos Aracnis & Salvator Dali. For me the beauty was in one of my all time favorites that he had one piece of as well, a Divina Desert Springs LE.

visconti1Visconti3Visconti2visconti4

The next case was filled with Aurora, Omas and Montegrappa. A full selection of the limited editions in those brands were available. The 360 and Arte Italiana with the stunning Arco Celluloid was just a tease. The new LE Auroras were really nice but actually a little smaller then I had thought they would be. The Oceania and Optima Demonstrator were my favorites. There was also a nice Krone display as well.

Omas krone

Keep going past that and there is a wall of ink. You could spend a long time looking through the massive selection. There were a few of the hard to find inks as well. It was fun looking behind to see if anything was lurking that the last ink obsessive collector might have missed. Mont Blonc, Noodlers, Private reserve, Visconti, Lamy, Diamine, Omas, Waterman etc. That was a good 1/2 hour of my time there.

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Next to the wall of ink was a case dedicated to William Henry. He had knives and pens from the collection. While I was not familiar with them Larry was happy to educate me. I was impressed with the workmanship put into the pens he came out with. Every aspect of the well balanced pens were perfect. It was not inked so I did not write with it but the custom 18k nib looked all business. If you get a chance to see one in person make sure you do.

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There were 2 or 3 cases after that which held the Pilot and Taccia brands. The Taccia case had a Tanto LE that was larger than I expected in person. As well the Pilot Custom 823 Amber was in a gift set. Theres a pen I am destine to own one day. It is a bold and big pen that really has such an aura of elegance about it that most demonstrators just don’t have. The new Vanishing points were all in attendance as well as many more affordable Pilots too.

pilot823 taccia

The center of the store has a large walk-around case that was filled with a huge Pelikan section as well as Platinum. Pelikan was in full force with everything in the line represented. If you ask for it he probably has it. M200’s, M400’s, M600’s M800’s M1000’s as well as limited editions and the rhodium trim versions. Of course he had the newest M101n Red Tortoise and that’s one that caught my eye immediately. We can save that pen for a little later. The Pelikan station was overwhelming and hard to take in all at once. You could spend an hour there alone with no problem. The Platinum section was well stocked also and finding a 3 tine music nib was easy. That was when I decided I needed to try a few pens. So I started with a Platinum music nib as I had never written with one before. Larry was more than happy to get one inked up and in my hand to try. Thats when he said you have to try them to decide and get a feel for the pen.

pelikan 2 pelikan1 Platnium

That was something that made his store so nice and inviting, having someone want you to try a pen and handle it. While I did have access to pretty much everything in my line of site I was very adamant to ask before touching or handling anything. Larry was extremely gracious as he never said no. He walked me over to the Mont Blanc section as well to unlock the cases and hand pen after pen to try.

Before I finish up my story theres a little more to it. Larry got his hands on a very good sized collection of Danitrio! This is where my heart fluttered. I stared at the case that was in-between the Pelikan’s and Platinum’s and was in awe. There was about as close to a full representation of the line as you could have. Including a full sized Sho-Genkai with full Maki-e work and the killer #8 nib. Of course it was pulled out of the case and placed in my hand. As he placed it in my hand he informed me that the pen was $20,000. I don’t think I took a breath while holding it but I did manage to uncap it and peek at that glorious nib.  Have no fear there are many Danitrio’s that are in the price range we are use to seeing. It is very rare to see this in a retail store in the US I can assure you.

dani2 Dani1

Of course there was a huge selection of paper, notebooks, cards, journals etc in the back part of the store. Everything you could want was there from all the premium brands. Up front was a great selection of leather goods too. The store was stocked with a full days worth of shopping and a staff to guide you with whatever you needed help with. They also have a high tech setup for greeting cards and invitations. While I don’t know much about it I noticed that there was someone at the table the entire time I was there. Not the same customer but many. I asked if that was normal and Larry smiled and said yes the invitation business is always busy there.

They also have a gentleman, Stephen Pustilnik “The Pen Doctor”, who comes in on certain Saturdays to do nib grinding and adjustments. Theres no permanent schedule as he actually is a Doctor. Events are common as well. I know Krone was there in November as well as Delta and William Henry.

My visit was not quite complete yet. Larry went to the back somewhere and came out with a wooden pen box. Placing it on the counter he said these are my favorites. He opened the box to show me his own personal collection of pens. I was flattered he wanted to share them with me. Not only to view but to hold if I wanted. While the Mont Blanc Oscar Wilde caught my eye it was the Mont Blanc Hemingway that stopped me in my tracks. Of course I asked first if I could hold it and was told of course I could. Wow was that awesome to pick up and uncap to view in all its glory. Theres something about seeing just what another collector and lover of fountain pens decides are the grails to keep. Especially when your looking at the collection of someone who has seen them all at one point or another. It was the highlight of my visit, which was 3 hours by the way. I don’t know how time went by so fast but it really felt like less than an hour.

larry_collection larry2

I left with the beautiful Pelikan M101n Red Tortoise w/Broad nib, a couple of Rhoda Ice Pads, a bottle of MB Love You scented ink & MB Honore de Blazac ink. Score!

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It was a wonderful trip to a fantastic store with an owner who is carrying on the family business with pride and passion. This is a store you must visit if your in the area and if you live within an hour you are blessed more than you know.

Dromgoole’s

2515 Rice Boulevard • Houston, Texas 77005

713.526.4651

dromgooles@sbcglobal.net

Danitrio HD-3 Screen Temaki Flowers

 – A guest review by On Fountain Pens
This is my first guest post and I decided to write it on the Fountain Pen Day website as a celebration of Fountain Pen Day 2014! I received a beautiful pen as a gift last year but never got down to reviewing it until now. Of course, we have to save great things for great occasions, eh? Which pen have you saved specially for use on Fountain Pen Day?
Today you will read about the Danitrio HD-3 Screen Temaki Flowers fountain pen. Now that’s a mouthful to speak off all at once, so I’ll just refer to it as the “Danitrio Flowers” for the rest of the post.
A beautiful Danitrio Flowers fountain pen lying in a mess of oriental silk
Picture 1
Just look at this beauty! I have never ever owned such a wonderful-looking fountain pen! In fact, I would never have had a chance to own this pen because of the steep price, and getting it as a gift is so exciting for me. I had first heard of the Danitrio brand from a Singaporean fountain pen friend who lives in Australia when he came over to visit. I’ll have to say that I was very impressed with the pens that he’d showed to me (of which I can’t remember the names — I’m never good with names). Later on, my affinity with Danitrio increased as I was invited to be the master of ceremonies of the Southeast Asia Danitrio Maki-e event in Singapore last year. I was totally wowed with their range of pens! All so beautiful, I wish I could have all of them!
Picture 2
Anyway, I digress, and let’s get back to the Danitrio Flowers. This pen uses the Screen Temaki technique, which is a kind of silk screen printing method, to form the design onto the pen body. Although also a very delicate method, it is different from the Maki-e technique. Don’t be confused between the two terms!
On the cap there is a little signature in Japanese kanji of the artist’s name: 秀生 (Hideo). I don’t know Japanese, but the Chinese language have the same characters, and while the meaning could be different, my Chinese interpretation of this name is very positive. On that note, I suppose the naming of the pen “HD” is very likely an indication of the artist’s name, Hideo. Just look at the very fine strokes on the pen cap!
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The nib is an 18K gold nib and there is a big silver “T” on it, with the engraving “TRIO” down the vertical stem of the T. I felt this design a nice modern-looking contrast to the rest of the pen, and there are fine swirls along the “V” shape of the nib to make it not too boring. This nib is fine-sized and semi-flexible.
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Dismantling the pen was not difficult: just unscrew the cap, unscrew the barrel, unscrew the converter. Yes, everything works just by unscrewing! The cap has a nice golden clip on it and actually screws on pretty firmly even though I did not screw it on with too much force. It takes a tiny bit more strength to unscrew the cap than you might have remembered screwing it close: just enough for you to be conscious of it, but not so much that it becomes difficult to unscrew. It comes off fully in 1.5 revolutions: not too annoying, but not quick either. Not an issue — such a beautiful pen is meant to be savoured slowly!
The threads, be it between cap-barrel or section-barrel, do not feel very smooth. You can actually hear a little rustling sound while unscrewing which is indicative of the friction, but it is not gritty. And yes, you read right in my previous paragraph — the converter fits in via threads as well, instead of being friction fit! That is able to to keep you reassured that your ink is very unlikely to leak out. The converter that comes with it is normal-looking, but from the shape of it, I do believe an international cartridge would be able to fit in as well.
Writing sample:
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Overall, I think this is a really nice pen to have, but I haven’t written enough with it to judge whether it is a really good writer or not. I just thought that the price was a little steep, but even if I had to pay for this pen myself, I’m not sure if I would be able to resist it!
Happy Fountain Pen Day, everyone!
Guest post written by: Maybelline Tan
She is a left-handed fountain pen addict from Singapore, and she feels most at home reviewing fountain pens at her website, On Fountain Pens. You can also find her lurking around Twitter @onfountainpens 

NOCK Hightower Pen/Journal Case

This Weeks review is the Hightower Pen/Journal case from Nock Co.
It’s a FANTASTIC case that is user friendly, durable and just plain works. It’s simple yet made to last and hold up with day to day use. I could not remember for sure when filming about the material used so a quote from their site “The exterior is a heavy nylon with DWR coating and the liner is a smooth pack cloth.” Check out www.NockCo.com for details and updates. The site will go live in June to start ordering these. They have many other models and colors as well. The kickstarter link has quite a bit of detail so be sure to check it out.

 

Nock HighTower Front FrontNock HighTower Side

Side

Nock HighTower Top

Top

Nock HighTower Open

Open without journal

Nock HighTower Open full

Open with pens & journal

Nock HighTower closeup

Closeup of journal side

Nakaya Naka-ai Shu

This weeks review is of the beautiful Nakaya Naka-ai Shu Unpolished (Shu-nurippanashi) Writer. This Nayaka was purchased through Classic Fountain Pens or Nibs.com as most know them as.  One of the great things about getting pen from them, besides being the only US retailer for Nakaya, is that John Mottishaw checks every one out the door with his touch. He also will customize your nib anyway you can think of. This time around I went with a Fine/Soft nib and added flex. This nib is a fine that has some give to it. So you get a some line variation when pushed a little. I went a step further and had John add “flex” to it as well. He does this by thinning out the sides. I asked for the ink flow to be set at an 8/10 as I like a wet writer. Also, being a “Writer” it means it has a clip. “Cigar” signifies no clip. It comes with a standard gold clip but I changed that to a Matte gold clip to go with the unpolished look of the finish. There are so many options when ordering that the menu can seem endless even after you have decided what Nakaya you want.

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On the site there is a long list of pens and they are marked what is in stock and what will have to be ordered. Since it takes anywhere from 3-9 months to order one you have to have patience. I was lucky that the one I was looking for was actually in stock, though they had just recently arrived. Bottom line is if you see what you want in stock hesitation is your worst enemy.  Ill also say that if you have questions do not hesitate to call as they are very nice and know about the pens they sell. If they are unsure of something they have no problem telling you to hold on while they find out the correct answer. I ordered my pen on the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving with my list of requests and what I wanted done to the pen. John did what he does best and got it out the door that day!

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The pens shape is the Naka-ai and is an exclusive design to Classic Pens. In my eyes I see it as a combination of the Neo Standard and Piccolo. The pen being constructed of ebonite hard rubber and then coated with urushi lacquer. The pen is hand made from start to finish. Even the threads are hand cut.

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The finish on the pen is called Shu Unpolished (Shu-nurippanashi). It does not go through the final phase of polishing which is what give it the unique look and slightly different feel. It has a more “organic” feel about it. When they add the final finish to the pens it leaves a super high gloss that almost leaves the pen looking wet all the time. The red color of this pen has been described by others as looking like an old red brick. I would agree with that and say its just about the perfect statement to describe the color.

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The nib is 14k and again is a soft/fine with added flex. John is an amazing “artist” when it comes to nib modification and set-up. The nib was setup to my specifications which include, righty or lefty, pressure used when writing, angle of writing, how dry or wet it will write on a scale of 1-10. From there you decide the nib you want and then if you want it customized from a stub, italic, cursive italic, oblique, added flex, elastic, architect, Spencerian… etc. How good is the nib I got? It is amazing how good it is. A fine, soft & flexible nib that will write well even when flipped over. When flipped over it writes in what I would say is super extra fine.  It uses a Platinum brand converter and a plastic feed. The converter can be taken apart with ease to clean it and re-lube when needed. The feed really feeds well and is able to keep up with the ink flow needed for a flex nib.

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Inked up it still just weighs 26.5 grams. But don’t think for one minute it will feel light and cheap. The subtle texture of this pen and wonderful warmth of the ebonite body will immerse your senses. It will also lighten your checkbook.

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FPD 2013 Contest Winners!

So here they are the winners of the Fountian Pen Day 2013 contest!

We had so many GREAT entires this year and hope everyone had a great Fountain pen Day this year!

Winners please contact us with your shipping Info@FountainPenDay.org

The winners are:

 1st: Elizabeth Porter from Alberta, Canada

1st Place: £50 to The Pen Company and a Traveler’s Notebooks style leather cover made by our own Cary Yeager!

Elizabeth - Lethbridge - AB, CAN

Elizabeth – Lethbridge – AB, CAN

2nd: Bonnie Jean Woolger from Decateur, GA

2nd Place: $20 to the Zeller Writing Company and a Traveler’s Notebooks style leather cover made by our own Cary Yeager!

Bonnie - Decatur, GA, USA

Bonnie – Decatur, GA, USA

3rd: Summer Stark from Topeka, KS

3rd Place: $10 to the Zeller Writing Company and a Traveler’s Notebooks style leather cover made by our own Cary Yeager!

Summer - Topeka, KS, USA

Summer – Topeka, KS, USA

4th: Robert Flores from Boulder, CO

4th Place: $10 to the Zeller Writing Company and a Traveler’s Notebooks style leather cover made by our own Cary Yeager!

Robert - Boulder, CO, USA

Robert – Boulder, CO, USA