Monday, November 28, 2011

Day Twenty-five: Noodlers Ahab Flex with Noodlers Beaver

For day twenty-five, I chose my new Noodlers Ahab Flex pen which arrived the day before Thanksgiving and filled it with Noodlers Beaver ink. Before I discuss this pen, I have to give a special mention to Goulet Pens, who went above and beyond in shipping out this order. They released the new Ahab pens on the 21st, at noon, and I ordered two along with a few inks and some blotting paper, then added what I hope was a polite note that if it were possible, I hoped to get these before the end of November.

Considering Thanksgiving was just a few days away, I knew this might not happen. Well, the package arrived before noon on the 23rd. It took less than forty-eight hours to get from Virginia to Massachusetts - and, as near as I can calculate, at least forty-five of those hours were spent in the hands of the US Postal Service. In the middle of a new product release, they somehow noticed my note - or, if they didn't, the result is even more impressive - packed up my order, and got it out the door in less than three hours. It arrived in perfect shape, having been packed so well it could have shrugged off anything short of a nuclear fireball. Absolutely great work, Brian, Rachel, and crew! Thank you!

The new Ahab pen from Noodlers, fitted with an unusual type of flex nib, is a very interesting pen in several respects. First, the clip is designed to resemble the outline of a whale's back as seen from the air - the type of whales hunted by whalers in the days when ships like the Pequod spent years at sea accumulating their valuable cargo. The filling system is designed on the principle of the bailing pumps used on these ships.

This is a nice, big pen which holds a huge quantity of ink by modern standards. Despite my preference for fillers that don't require me to remove the barrel of the pen, I found this filling system fun to use. The nib was smooth and wet, and the pen wrote well. For the price, this is the single most amazing modern pen I've ever seen. I've read complaints that every one of these pens was not perfectly adjusted when it arrived.

That may be true, but they are designed to be easy to adjust, they include a sheet that explains how the pen works, and mine worked well right out of the box. All this for twenty dollars. Sure, if I'd had to pay two hundred dollars for the pen, and then found out I had to fiddle with it for a minute or two, I'd be annoyed. But, wait! I do have to fiddle with two and three and four and even five hundred dollar pens to get them to work perfectly.

The Ahab sells for twenty dollars. Considering the price, the incredible design, and the basic quality of this pen, users ought to be groveling in gratitude that they got such a bargain. From most manufacturers, this would be at least a two hundred dollar pen. I enjoyed using this pen, and I recommend every serious writer to go out and buy a handful of these, in whatever colours you like. They're absurdly inexpensive, they work well and if you get one that gives you a bit of trouble, they aren't difficult to fix, because they're designed to be easy to work on. For writing tools that are made today, this is the best value you're ever going to see.

When I look back on what I posted a few days ago, in my review of the TWSBI Diamond 530, I have to laugh. I'd heard of the Ahab, of course, but I had no idea what it was like. I hadn't even seen a picture. It has a large nib, and approximately the same "geometry" of nib to paper as the Merlin Perfect. It does not, quite, have the quality that the Perfect does. It doesn't actually come alive in your hand. But it comes closer than any other pen I've tried, and I am sure if I had the right skills, I could either modify the nib it comes with, or come up with a similar nib that I'd worked on, in order to give it that quality. Sadly, I am not a nibwright. But I'd love to see what someone who really knows nibs could do with one of these pens.

Noodlers Beaver is another very nice brown ink. It is slightly darker than Golden Brown, and has a more reddish hue, but it is a beautiful brown, and another ink that suggests an old-fashioned manuscript. The bottle came in the order with my Ahab, and already this ink is on my list of inks that I don't want to run out of. It is perfect for writing manuscripts, although, like many browns, it would only work for markup in very specific circumstances.

Battling a very nasty cold, I somehow managed to write 2,233 words in all, for a total so far of 51,659 words. In other words, I made my goal five days early, and everything else from here on in is gravy! If only I could have felt well enough to enjoy my success. Still, the story is going well and picking up a few new twists as it moves along. My alternate World War Two scenario is certainly a more difficult war, not just for poor George, but for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks (and also a congrats as I assume you finished your Nano novel!). I am fairly new to using fountain pens and I have just started to test the waters with different inks and pens. My collection is fairly small at the moment (two vintage Sheaffers and an Esterbrook Double Jewel), and I really enjoyed reading your take on the different fountain pens and inks you used during NaNoWriMo. I have officially spent the morning drooling over ink colors and fountain pens which means now, of course, I really want to get to writing some more so I can justify buying more fountain pens and ink! Thanks so much for sharing!