If you've shopped around on eBay for pens then you've probably run across engeika, who carries a mouth-watering inventory of exquisite pens. Quite a few aren't available in the US, and he offers many with starting bids of $0.99. However, winning takes perseverance as everyone wants a high-end pen for half price. So bidding is fierce, and I've had a few disappointments.
One pen I saw that intrigued me was this red Platinum European Ingrid Bergman Affection fountain pen with a fine nib. Engeika's listing states it is similar to the Montblanc limited edition Ingrid Bergman pen, which is nice design but not of interest to me. So I was hesitant to bid, but decided to go for it--and I won!
Engeika charges $13 shipping, and there's a good reason: all items are sent air mail from Japan. I won this pen on June 10 around 7:30 pm, and sent payment right away. The pen was shipped on June 12, and I received an email from engeika with a tracking number. The pen mades its way around Tokyo on the 13th, arrived at JFK airport on the 14th, went through sorting, and was delivered to me on June 15th in the afternoon mail. The Air Mail and tracking fee wa definitely worth it.
If you've looked for Iroshizuku ink on eBay then you've probably seen engeika's sales items. With the price increase (pat myself on the back here for a post in December on how this might work out, l0l), and the ink now available at other venues besides JetPens.com, engeika's eBay store looks like a good place to bid on this ink. Even with the shipping, you might end up with a cheaper bottle. And as this is coming from Japan, there might also be some special edition colors available. Keep checking!
After all that, how does this Platinum pen actually write? First, the Platinum Affection comes with a converter and two ink cartridges (long and short). I decided to ink up with my Platinum Reserve Black Magic Blue and try it out. The pen fits nicely in my hand, there is just a touch of ink creep on the nib, and the nib did start off feeling scratchy. But as I've used it, the ink creep is gone, the nib is quiet and pliant, and the pen still feels great in my hand.
I love the color, which is red with some orange in it. It's a slim pen, not a cigar at all but elegant and delicate. The nipped waist gives is a slightly hourglass look, Ingrid Bergman wearing the the 1947 New Look fashion. The nib is what got me, however: it's a plain steel nib with no decoration, and I love it for its simplicity and sleekness. So in terms of looks it's an A+, and in terms of writing I'd give it a solid A. A very nice auction win for all of $25.53, and I'm very happy with it.
Engeika offers many middle- and up-scale pens, all of excellent quality, for auction. Quite a few are not available in the US market (I've had my eye on that Pilot Grance in Yamabouki for ages, but didn't win this last time). I've read some complaints over at the Fountain Pen Network, but on the whole people there seem to have a high regard for this sell. Do go check out this store on eBay, you might just find--and win--a great pen.
UPDATE: engeika seems to be a Rhodia notepad fan as well.