Writer’s Bloc Top 10 Fountain Pens

What are the top ten fountain pens? Anyone that writes with a fountain pen could likely come up with a unique list of their own ten favorite pens. Our list of the top ten fountain pens was created by considering several different factors including our own employee favorites. These fountain pens, as well as others that we choose to make available in our shop, are all carefully selected based on their individual strengths. We decided to number the pens in our top 10 list based on their current price – from the most expensive to the least expensive. See if any of your favorites are listed here:

1) Aurora Optima Demonstrator Fountain Pen – Alan says that writing with this pen is like driving a high performance European sports car. The quality and materials are beautiful and it is a joy write with. He especially loves the character of the nib which he describes as solid and somewhat toothy allowing him feel the “road conditions” as he writes.  Alan also loves fountain pens with a clear body so that you can see all of the parts and inner workings of the pen. The hidden ink reservoir feature has bailed him out near the end of meetings when he is running out of ink.

2) Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen – This is another favorite of Alan’s. He is a fan of extra fine nibs and loves the performance of this Japanese fine nib. He likes pens that are not too heavy and for him it has the right balance in his hand and is the perfect writing weight. His favorite Custom 74 colors include Clear and Orange and he says Smoke is a good choice if you like a less clear and more solid looking pen.

3) LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen – Alex says one reason to love the LAMY 2000 is its sleek modern Bauhaus design with its hooded nib and interesting Makrolon body and cap. Superficial reasons aside, this is a great pen to write with!

4) Namiki Falcon Fountain Pen – The Namiki Falcon is outstanding for the reason that it comes equipped with a modern 14K semi-flex nib that gives a soft, flexible feel to your writing experience. It allows for variation of stroke width while you write or draw and really shines when it is paired with ink that has good shading. Alan says that with his Falcon the ink flow is absolutely superb!

5) Pelikan M200/M205 Classic Fountain Pen – This Pelikan fountain pen has a legendary piston filling system and at its price point it is a great first step into the world of piston fill fountain pens. It is consistently a best seller and Pelikan has been in the business of creating high quality fountain pens for many years. This particular pen has a steel nib, but you can upgrade to the Pelikan M400/M405 if you prefer a gold nib. Pelikan offers special limited edition colors of the M200/M205 such as this sophisticated taupe color!

6) Stipula Bon Voyage Fountain Pen – The Bon Voyage fountain pen was specifically created to be eyedropper fill and even comes with an eyedropper for easy filling. When capped it is a compact pocket size and if you happen to be nervous about carrying an eyedropper pen in your pocket you also have the option of using short standard universal ink cartridges. It can easily be converted to a rollerball pen by removing the fountain pen feed (just unscrew it from the barrel) and replacing it with a rollerball feed. This Stipula has some pretty cool features that you can’t find on just any fountain pen!

7) LAMY Safari Fountain Pen – If fountain pens were to have a popularity contest it is pretty likely that this guy would win. I would venture to say that a plethora of writers that regularly use fountain pens have at least one LAMY Safari in their pen case. It’s a favorite everyday writer and its price makes it accessible to students and professionals alike.

8) Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen – This is Cher’s favorite everyday “purse” fountain pen. She loves the special cap that prevents ink from drying out in the nib. The durable anodized aluminum body has a pearlized finish that comes in several fun colors such as sports car red and pale violet. As a left-handed writer she also appreciates that the grip is suitable for lefties and that the fine nib is the ideal size for her – the fine line of ink dries quickly and i
t is not too “pokey or scratchy” for her strange lefty writing position.

9) Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Great pen, great price. Need we say more? Makes a thoughtful inexpensive gift: it’s less than $20.00, the nib size is easy to write with even for beginners, it’s made from durable materials and it comes with a stylish Pilot gift box.

10) Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – The lovable Preppy fountain pen is so inexpensive it is an easy introduction into the world of fountain pens. For a disposable fountain pen it offers amazing quality! It comes in seven colors and Platinum designed it so that it can be refilled or even converted to eyedropper fill.

That’s our top 10 list! What’s yours? What fountain pens would you put on your top 10 list? We’d love to hear about your favorites!

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Pen Mods: How to make a long-lasting refillable highlighter pen

Today’s blog post will teach you how to make your own long-lasting highlighter pen that can be refilled with ink and reused many many times. We will talk about two ways to do this, both methods using pen parts from Platinum Pens.

You may wonder why we are doing this since the Platinum Preppy highlighter pen is designed to be refilled and reused and the felt tip can even be replaced when it wears out. Preppy pens are very economical, but they are not meant to last a life time. Sooner or later, the cap and/or the body of the pen will crack making the pen useful only for parts. In contrast, both the cap and the body of the Platinum Plaisir fountain pen are made of durable anodized aluminum that will not crack. As a bonus, the Plasir has an attractive pearlized finish that comes in seven different colors.

(1) The first pen mod is the easiest, most foolproof way to create your highlighter. You will need both a Platinum Preppy highlighter pen and a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen.

Take both of the pens apart by removing the caps and unscrewing the grip section from the pen barrel.

Take the grip section of the Preppy highlighter, screw it into the barrel of the Plaisir fountain pen, add your ink cartridge and you’re done!

(2) For the second pen mod you will need a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen, a Preppy highlighter replacement tip and something rubbery and soft that gives you a good grip. Preppy replacement tips can be purchased separately in a package of 2 tips. For this demo I used a wide rubber band to give me a good grip, but other things can be used such as that rubbery drawer liner stuff etc.

First remove the pen cap. Using the wide rubber band or rubber drawer liner, get a good grip on the base of the fountain pen nib and carefully pull it out of the grip section along with the skinny plastic piece that it is attached to. A couple of notes about this: the amount of effort it takes to remove the nib seems to vary from pen to pen, and be warned that this may or may not remove some of the color coating that is on top of the Plaisir fountain pen nib.

Firmly insert the highlighter replacement tip into the Plaisir grip section, add your ink cartridge and you’re good to go. Voila! A good looking, durable and refillable highlighter pen. The felt tip can be easily replaced if it wears out using Preppy highlighter replacement tips.

What kind of ink should you use to refill this pen? Highlighting ink that is designed for use in fountain pens would be an excellent choice. A very light color of fountain pen ink would work as well.

What kind of ink refills does it take? You can use the Platinum brand of ink cartridges or you can use a Platinum ink converter if you would like to use bottled ink. Another idea is to rinse out your empty Platinum ink cartridges and use a blunt-tip needle bottle to refill them using bottled ink. This pen is not suitable to be eyedropper filled since the barrel of the pen is metal and may cause a negative reaction when it is in constant contact with ink.

What kind of refillable highlighters do you use? Do you have any highlighter pen mods you’d like to share with us?

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The Platinum Plaisir vs The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

The Platinum Plaisir fountain pen makes a frequent appearance in my rotation of daily writing instruments. Since it uses the exact same cartridge/converter filling system, feed section and nib as the Platinum Preppy fountain pen it gets a lot of comparison to the popular Preppy. So why spend the extra money on the Plaisir? Perhaps some of the following observations will help you make your own choice.

First of all, the body and cap of the Plaisir fountain pen are make of a light-weight yet durable anodized aluminum that lasts much longer than the recycled polycarbonate cap and body of the Preppy. The plastic Preppy pen is a great beginner fountain pen with a bargain price of less than $5.00, but it is not meant to be a forever pen. Once in a while I’ll give a Preppy to one my friends who has never tried using a fountain pen. When I ask them later how they like using it, sometimes I find that they have cracked the cap or the barrel and are no longer using the pen. If they genuinely like the experience of using a fountain pen, often I’ll give them an “upgrade” to a Plaisir and have received many positive comments on their new Plaisir pen.

I find the scratch-resistant pearlized finish on the Plaisir fountain pen very attractive. It’s very smooth and I like the way it feels in my hand. Since there are seven color choices, there is a color to suit almost everyone. One of my personal favorites is the bright sports car red, or others might call it a bright lipstick red. The pearlized colors range from a conservative black to a delicate and feminine pink. The Preppy pen has a clear body and cap with a clear but colorful clip and top on the cap. Both fountain pens have nib colors that match the pen color. The steel nib and feed section are interchangeable between pens and the nib performance is generally the same.

The cap of the Plaisir has a special design that allows you to let your fountain pen sit for a long period of time without any use, then to uncap it and begin to write smoothly without any hesitation.  This cap also reduces ink loss due to evaporation. I find that the cap on the Preppy works fairly well at keeping my ink from drying out, but eventually it cracks allowing the pen to dry out. To make the cap on my Preppy pens last longer I usually put a piece of clear tape around the bottom of the cap when it is brand new. Once the cap cracks, the tape will not help.

One advantage of the Preppy pen is that it can easily be converted into an eye dropper fill pen with some silicone grease and an optional rubber o-ring. The polycarbonate barrel of the Preppy does not react with ink (although it is possible that it could be stained by some inks) and it does not have any holes in it which makes it work well as an eye dropper fill. The metal barrel of the Plaisir may chemically react with ink so it is not suitable to be converted into an eye dropper fill pen.

Both the Plaisir and the Preppy have a cartridge/converter filling system which is typical for fountain pens in this price range. These pens must be filled with Platinum ink cartridges since universal/standard ink cartridges will not fit. It makes a lot more sense to use the converter with the Plaisir since the converter costs more than double the price of the Preppy pen. If you don’t want to spend the money on the converter or you don’t want to be limited to using Platinum ink, you can always refill empty cartridges yourself using bottled ink and something like a blunt-tip needle bottle.

So which pen will you choose? What are your thoughts on Plaisir vs Preppy fountain pens?

Plaisir Pros:

Much more durable than the Preppy
Special cap design prevents ink from drying out
Attractive pearlized finish in a choice of 7 different colors

Plaisir Cons:

More expensive than the Platinum Preppy (currently about $20.00)
Cannot be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Pros:

Bargain price (less than $5.00)
Can be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Cons:

Polycarbonate cap and body can crack over time
Limited pen color options
Converter costs about twice as much as the pen

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What is a Fountain Pen Converter?

(Aurora push-in style piston fountain pen converter)

Those of you that are new to using fountain pens or want to purchase your very first fountain pen may have heard of fountain pen converters but might not know what they are. Do you need one? Should you get one?

Fountain pen converters are designed to be used with fountain pens that are usually filled with ink cartridges. They “convert” these fountain pens from using ink cartridges to using bottled ink instead. The converter has a small reservoir that contains the ink.

The converter can be removed from the fountain pen, so you can still use ink cartridges if you choose. I personally feel that using bottled ink is advantageous because it is cheaper, comes in a wider variety of colors and is easier on the environment (as opposed to throwing away multiple plastic ink cartridges when they become empty). However, ink cartridges are definitely more convenient when you’re on the road.

Push-in style fountain pen converters are pushed on to the nib section of the pen, the same way an ink cartridge would be pushed on to the pen. Screw-in style converters screw on to the nib section of the pen. A previous blog post of ours How to Install a LAMY Converter provides photos and a description of how to attach a push-in style converter to a LAMY Safari fountain pen

(A standard or universal piston converter compared to LAMY and Platinum piston converters)

Many converters are brand-specific, in other words, they are specially made to fit a particular brand or model of fountain pen. Other converters are standard, or universal, and fit the many fountain pens with a standard or universal cartridge filling system. It is often easiest to figure out what kind of converter you need at the time you purchase your fountain pen.

Fountain pen converters have several different types of filling systems including piston, button, and squeeze (aerometric) fill. If you’re having trouble filling your converter with ink you may have to try filling it 2 or 3 times before you get the air bubbles out and get a good fill. How to Fill a Fountain Pen With a Piston Converter provides an example of how to fill a fountain pen using a piston style converter. If you prefer video, LAMY has a video demonstrating how to insert and refill a LAMY fountain pen converter.

Converters, as well as your fountain pen, do need to be cleaned occasionally especially when changing the ink color or brand. Usually cool water is sufficient, but if that doesn’t do the trick try this home-made fountain pen cleaning solution.

Not all fountain pens have ink cartridge filling systems, so not all fountain pens will require a converter. Fountain pens that do not require converters have a piston, aerometric, button or other filling system of their own. What kind of filling system do you like on your fountain pen?

(Pilot Prera fountain pen with a Pilot push-in style piston converter)

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Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

I am a left-handed writer and the first time I used a fountain pen I had no idea left-handed fountain pen nibs even existed. It didn’t occur to me that there would be any problem using just a regular nib and I didn’t notice any problems. Years later, I’m back to using fountain pens regularly and have discovered that there are a few nibs out there specially designed for lefties. Many ask the question: Is it really necessary to have one of these special nibs if you are left-handed?

Left-handed fountain pen nibs are generally more rounded on the tip with the idea of producing a smoother writing experience. This particularly applies to languages such as English that are written from left to right. When left-handed people such as myself write, the pen is often angled in such a way that the pointiest part of the pen, the nib, is being pushed along paper made of fibers that are not impervious to tearing and which offer some resistance. It’s like taking a sharp nail or a pin and pushing it along a piece of paper at a 45 degree angle with the pointy end facing the direction it is being pushed. Likely you’re going to end up piercing that piece of paper with your pin! In contrast, try taking that same pin and pulling it along that same piece of paper with the pointy end facing away from the direction it is being pulled. It feels smoother as you pull it and it is much less likely that you will pierce the paper. That would be more like the experience of a right-handed writer. So as you can see, pen nibs of all kinds have a huge influence on whether or not a lefty has a good or a bad writing experience.

I personally find that a good writing experience for a lefty does not stop at the kind of nib on the pen. It is extremely important to me that whatever ink I’m using dries quickly or else I’ll smear it all over the place. The type of paper I use is also important since this affects the drying time of the ink. In addition, if paper is of very poor quality or tears easily, I may find myself poking holes in the paper with my pen or pencil. Each writer needs to experiment with different combinations of pen, ink and paper before discovering what works best for them.

I own many fountain pens with a variety of nibs, and three of them happen to have left-handed nibs. I personally find that the left-handed fountain pen nibs aren’t necessarily any better or any worse than using a regular fountain pen nib. I’m not sure if you will have the same experience. I must say though, that I can’t go wrong with my left-handed Pelikano Junior fountain pen. I don’t always want to write with such a broad nib, but I appreciate its smoothness when I use it.

(Pelikan Pelikano fountain pen with a left-handed nib compared to a Pelikano with a regular nib. Note the modified grip and the rounded nib on the left-handed pen.)

For the left-handed writer that is new to fountain pens, I would suggest starting out with a nib that is middle-of-the-road, perhaps something like a LAMY Safari with a left-handed, fine or medium nib. You might find extra-fine nibs to be too sharp and “pokey” at first, and broad nibs may lay down so much ink that you are smearing your writing too much. Another pen that I felt was easy to write with from the first time I picked it up is the Platinum Preppy with a fine nib, or for a nicer version of this pen with the same nib, the Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. If you get a chance to purchase a fountain pen with a left-handed nib, it is worth giving it a try. The Pelikan Pelikano and Pelikano Junior are both readily available with left-handed nibs. The Pelikan Pelikanos also have a grip that is modified to fit a left-handed writer. I’ve also heard of some lefties sending in their expensive nibs to be customized by a nibmeister, but I’ve never felt the need to do this myself.

Are you a left-handed writer? What kind of pen or fountain pen do you like to write with? Do you own any fountain pens with left-handed nibs?


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Refillable Felt-Tip Highlighters

Refillable felt-tip highlighters are designed to help reduce the amount of plastic waste in our environment. Just think – if everyone were able to refill their felt-tip highlighters five times, this would eliminate the need to throw away four out of five plastic highlighters as they become dried-up. Obviously this isn’t going to solve all of our problems, but it’s nice to see the selection of refillable felt-tip highlighters is increasing. We’ll talk about three of them in this blog post.

The Platinum Preppy Highlighter Pen can easily be refilled by inserting a new ink cartridge or by using a converter and bottled fountain pen ink. Noodler’s bottled ink comes in regular highlighter and long-lasting highlighter colors such as Year of the Golden Pig and Dragon Catfish pink, green and orange.   When the felt tip on this highlighter starts to break down you can even replace it with a brand new felt tip! The body and cap of this pen are made from recycled polycarbonate. Preppy Highlighters are available in the colors green, orange, pink, yellow and blue.

Tombow Twin highlighters can easily be refilled using the Tombow Coat Highlighter Charger. All you need to do is set the open recharger on a level surface, gently put the pen’s felt tip into the ink, and 10 minutes later your highlighter is fully recharged! If you can’t wait 10 minutes you can use it sooner – after one minute the highlighter is 20% recharged, in five minutes 70% recharged. There is enough ink in the recharger for 10 refills and each highlighter pen can be refilled about 5 times. At first, the Tombow Coat recharger bottle design seems rather curious since the ink full level is near the bottom of the bottle. However, if you happen to accidentally knock the bottle over while a pen is recharging you’ll discover that the ink won’t spill out. I’m thinking someone has done this before… Tombow Coat Highlighter Chargers are available in ten different colors: yellow, red, brown, orange, golden yellow, yellow green, sky blue, blue, purple and pink. I have not tested to see whether or not this ink is compatible with other highlighters (yet).

The STAEDTLER Textsurfer Classic Ink-Jet Safe Highlighter is another good example of a refillable highlighter. It’s clean and easy to recharge by firmly inserting the felt tip into the top of the open refill station. After three or four hours it is completely refilled, but it can be used after spending just a few minutes in the refill station. It’s impossible to overfill the highlighter since it draws out only as much ink as needed to fill it to capacity. The refill station is specially designed not to spill ink if it is tipped over. Be sure to match the Textsurfer Classic Ink-Jet Safe Highlighter to the STAEDTLER refill station with ink-jet safe ink or you’ll lose the ink-jet safe property. STAEDTLER Textsurfer Classic Refill Stations come in yellow, blue, green and pink.

Do you have a favorite refillable felt-tip highlighter? Please tell us about it!

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Platinum President Fountain Pen Review

I’ve been mostly using Pelikan fountain pens with forgiving, rounded, left-handed nibs lately, and decided it was time for a change. Platinum Pens is known for making high-quality nibs, and I felt a good place to start would be their flagship fountain pen, the President, with an attractive 18K gold fine nib.

Platinum Pens is a Japanese pen maker, so their fine nib size is more like an extra fine in a LAMY or Pelikan nib. I normally have medium-size handwriting and I wanted to see how small, but still legible, I could write. This nib is amazing for small handwriting and narrow rule paper! I think it even made my handwriting look better than usual. And to think for years I was stuck in the rut of writing only with medium ballpoint pens because the fine ballpoints tended to poke through the bad quality of paper I used (or wouldn’t write at all) and I had given up finding other pens that I wouldn’t smear.

The President fountain pen took me a little while to get used to since the nib is so much finer than the nibs I’ve been using lately and the grip is smooth, without the “training wheels” of the ergonomic grip that some pens have. However, once I figured out the best way to hold it we became fast friends and I’m not sure if it is my imagination but the pen seemed to write smoother and smoother as I went along.

Even though the fine nib is very fine, the Platinum President fountain pen puts down a lot of ink. I went through ink more quickly than I first I thought I would. I did have to make an adjustment in the paper I used once I switched to a Noodler’s ink that dried slowly. Instead of 90g Clairefontaine paper, the 80g Exacompta Basics paper seemed to absorb the ink a tiny bit and allowed it to dry more quickly so I was able to avoid smearing. It would have been nice if this pen had been designed with a piston filling system so that it could hold more ink than the converter does. Regular Platinum cartridges do seem to hold more ink than their converter, but I tend to like ink in unusual colors.

Another nice thing about the President fountain pen is that it takes a very light touch to write with it. I am sure it will take me years to un-train myself from using the ballpoint pen “death grip”, but it will be worth it! Definitely less writing fatigue. I have small hands and like writing with light-weight pens, so I prefer writing with the cap off of the President. The President I used for this review is a demonstrator, and the material it is made of seems like it would be very durable.

Overall I found the Platinum President fountain pen was a pleasure to use! Members of popular pen forums speak highly of the smoothness of Platinum nibs. Do any of you use Platinum Pens? What has been your experience with Platinum fountain pens?

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Platinum Pen Company

Platinum President Fountain Pen

2009 marks the 90th anniversary of the Platinum Pen Company, one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of fine writing instruments. Platinum Pens is well known especially for the high quality of their fountain pen nibs.

In the 1930’s the Platinum Pen Company began to manufacture maki-e pens including lacquer carving and pearl inlay. Maki-e is an art that has been around for hundreds of years and is created by sprinkling silver or gold powder onto urushi lacquer. These hand-crafted pens are popular among collectors both in Japan and in the West.

Platinum Pens launched the first water-based ballpoint pen in 1948 and began to manufacture fountain pens that used ink cartridges in 1958. In 1978 they introduced the model 3776 fountain pen, named after the height of Mount Fuji, which is 3776 meters tall.

The Platinum Pen Company combines high quality materials with traditional Japanese artistic craftsmanship. Their pens range in style from amazing works of art, to the flagship Platinum President fountain pen which balances the best in fine writing with an every day practicality, to the perky and popular Preppy fountain pens that are affordable for almost anyone.

New to the Writer’s Bloc store is a selection of Platinum Pens from the flagship President Series and the 3776 Series. If you’re craving a high quality extra-fine nib these are definitely worth a try since the size of Japanese-made nibs runs on the fine side. A fine Japanese nib is most often comparable to an extra-fine European-made nib. For those that like a nib that writes as "smooth as silk" with good ink flow and nice variation in stroke width then you may enjoy Platinum’s extraordinary music nib.

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Platinum Preppy Highlighter Pen

Preppy_Highlighters.jpg

I am so happy to finally find the Preppy Highlighter from Platinum Pens!

Liquid ink highlighters have always been my favorite, but I use them up quickly and was tossing multitudes of plastic pens into the trash. I could picture the creation of a small landfill with my name on it, mounded up with dried up highlighter pens… but not any more! Preppy highlighters are refillable with ink cartridges that come with fresh replacement nibs when mine starts to wear out. I can also use a converter to easily refill the pen with whatever ink I choose.

The cartridge that comes with the Preppy Highlighter lasted me about one month, or roughly 275 lines of highlighting text printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. I chose to refill my pen with Noodler’s Firefly Highlighting Ink. After using 3 cartridges full of ink, the tip of the pen had become softer than I prefer so it was time to replace it with a Platinum Preppy Highlighter Replacement Tip.

The ink I have my eye on next is Noodler’s Ink Year of the Golden Pig. This highlighting ink will not fade and comes with a free eyedropper fill Preppy Highlighter Pen to save money and help the environment.

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Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use – Part 1

Platinum_Preppy_main.jpg

Without any personal input from other Lefties, I decided to slowly ease in to the world of fountain pens by first trying out the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen. After all, this pen is very inexpensive so what would I have to lose?

After several weeks of use around the house on random types of paper I only had one ink smearing incident. This is better than what I had hoped for! I found this pen easy to use and it provided a consistent flow of ink in a smooth, fine line. The biggest drawback for me is that the Preppy ink cartridges come in a limited number of colors. This problem can be easily solved by using an ink converter and bottled ink instead of cartridges. Before obtaining these things I first wanted to do a “test drive” to see if it is worth it, which I think it is.

(Just a side note – although Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen ink is not waterproof, it is water resistant. Don’t get any of this ink on your clothing because it is very difficult, if not impossible to get the stain out!)

As a left-handed writer I am quite satisfied with my first fountain pen experience. Consequently, I now have in my possession a fun, new, special edition lime green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen. Another report will follow shortly with the test results.

 

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