Pocket Size Review 39: Sailor 1911 Logo Finial, Aurora Black

I haven’t counted, but I suspect that the majority of my pen collection is pre-owned. I like buying used pens; you can find some interesting items that aren’t on the market anymore, and you may even be able to find a really good price, especially if you’re willing to take a gamble.

I wanted for years to buy a Sailor, but because they tend to be on the pricier side I agonized for a long time over which to choose. I briefly owned an Imperial Black Pro Gear in September of 2018, but the “like new” pen arrived covered in so many scratches and gouges that I returned it right away, not even having inked it up. That’s part of the “game” when buying used pens. Make sure you buy either from individuals whom you trust, or else through platforms that protect buyers, and always read the description carefully.

A few months later I noticed this Sailor 1911 on eBay, and I was immediately struck by it. I’m not usually a fan of the cigar shaped 1911 model, but the logo finial here (a feature of the line in the 1990s, possibly only in North America) changed the silhouette just enough that it really struck me. The listing was sparse for details on the condition of the pen, and didn’t even state the nib tipping size, but I put in a low bid and I won. The pen arrived dirty, but working, with a misaligned H-EF nib. Mark Bacas did a wonderful job of realigning it for me at the Triangle show, and it’s written wonderfully ever since.

The one other thing the listing did make clear, though, was that there was a two line engraving on the cap of the pen, with names and a wedding date and a romantic message. I’ve omitted the engraving from this post to give the former owners of the pen their privacy, but I find that when I use the pen I feel myself as an interloper. I love this pen, if I had to suddenly cut down my collection to only a handful of pens this would definitely be on the list, it is very much “my pen”, but when I look at the engraving I’m reminded that it isn’t. I’ve gone back and forth in the past about having the engraving removed; I probably will some day, but I don’t mind taking my time in doing so because once it’s done it can’t be undone. The fear in removing an engraving, especially a two line engraving, is that you end up with a flat plane on the cap when the engraving used to be, or you turn down the cap to keep it round and suddenly the clip is sticking out in the air because the cap is too slim now, etc. If this were a more common version of the 1911 I could maybe just replace the cap, but it’s the finial logo on this cap that makes this particular model so special in the first place. Other noteworthy features of this model include the old-style Sailor 21k nib, and its length, which matches that of a modern 1911L.

A Japanese H-EF nib writes an incredibly fine line. Normally I prefer colorful inks, but for a nib this fine it’s hard to produce appreciably shading, sheen, etc., so I’ve consistently inked it up instead with Aurora Black. It makes nice dark legible lines, that may not be as exciting as some of the other inks in my ink drawer, but really makes this a useful workhouse of a pen, able to make legible notes in the margins of documents I’m working on. Maybe some day I’ll change the ink in here, but for the time being I’m happy with what I’ve got going.

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