Pen & Ink Pairing: June ’17

Katherine: This month my pairing is a Platinum 3776 in the red “Bourgogne” color, with Sailor Okuyama. I picked up the 3776 (I previously rated it one of my top pens) because of the C nib. C stands for “coarse” and is Platinum’s BB nib. It’s quite broad, but, out of the box, not a gusher — which I like. Additionally it writes smoothly when upside down, so I can use it at work too! Overall I’m really enjoying the sheen of Okuyama, laid down by a nib that gets the sheen going, but isn’t gratuitous.

 

Franz: A co-worker of mine once said that Purple is the color of royalty, and madness. I totally agree! So for the month of June, my royal pen and ink pairing is the Franklin-Christoph Model 31 Omnis in Purpurae finish, and the Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst special edition ink. The deep purple and black swirls of the “Purpurae” madly matches the dark purple of the Amethyst ink. The acrylic has chatoyance that just can’t be captured on camera that well especially on the lighter swirls of the pen.

A quick aside, I got the Model 31 at the 2017 LA Pen Show and it was (at that time) the initial color prototype. Scott Franklin of Franklin-Christoph commented that this was the first purple 31 out there. I initially called the color “Purple Soul” but Franklin-Christoph recently introduced it as a regular part of their Model 31 line up as “Purpurae”. The Amethyst ink was Pelikan’s 2015 special edition Ink of the Year and has become my top favorite purple ink due to it being a darker color, and its sheen when ink pools in the writing.

Will this pen and ink pairing become an OTP (One True Pairing) for me? We shall see!

 

Pam:  Summer is in full swing but I still miss the rainy season so this pen is a reflection of having the best of both worlds.  My choice for the June pairing is Sailor Pro Gear Blue Lagoon with Akkerman Hofvijver Gris (#29) ink.  This is probably one of my favorite OTP/pen and ink pairings since I started collecting pen.

The Sailor progear has a really unique and whimsical color pairing with the neon green and soft blue.  The gentle blue with such a vibrant hue reminds me of the “Unicorn Barf” colorway with the blue and bright pink.  I have been trying to get the term “Unicorn Snot” for this blue and green combination to stick…but alas.  The Sailor nib is perfectly wet enough to show off the wonderful gray ink, as usual.

Akkerman #29 is my first ink from Akkerman and I couldn’t be happier with this ink.  It’s practically my “gateway” gray, getting me more interested and more inclined to try out more gray inks.  I had thought that gray inks would be only dilute and dull blacks.  I am so glad to be have been mistaken! Originally obtained via ink sample from Vanness Pens, I quickly tried to obtain a full bottle of this wonderful gray.  The gray reminds me alot of pencil graphite and I really enjoy the shading available in this ink.  Not to mention, the bottle of Akkerman ink is always a treat in itself!

 

Writing Samples (click to enlarge)

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Review: Edison Beaumont (0.9mm cursive italic nib)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The Edison Beaumont comes in a variety of materials, but at it’s heart, it’s a slim pen with a very distinct flat-top cap. Overall, it strikes me as an updated version of very vintage styling (I guess flat-tops just do that for me), which I don’t mind, but I don’t love.

Pam: The Beaumont is relatively slim in width but a good length (may be too lengthy) for the pen.  The material reminded me of ebonite ripples which is an acquired taste that I am currently lacking.  Generally speaking, the pen’s proportions didn’t appeal to me.  I find the cap to be too chunky for such a slim pen.  That being said, it’s a well made pen and would work well for those in a business setting or going for a more classic and formal look.  The ripple material brings some interest, but not overly loud.  Not to mention, there are options for different materials.

Franz: This is an Edison Beaumont in Briar Swirl ebonite which I purchased very early at the start of my pen collecting. The Beaumont definitely has a vintage shape to it and reminds me of something like a vintage Parker Duofold Streamline pen. I really love how the black cap-top and barrel finial frames the creamy amber swirls of the ebonite.

In November 2012, it was the first ever celebration of Fountain Pen Day. This awesome day is celebrated annually on the first Friday of November. So for Fountain Pen Day, Edison Pen Co. was offering free nib grinds along with a purchase. I got this Beaumont from their “Current Inventory” and asked to get my first ever cursive italic grind. Working with Brian, and Andrea Gray was seamless and I got my pen within a couple days.

In the Hand: Edison Beaumont (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Edison Beaumont (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The Beaumont I’ve been using has a MCI, ground by Brian Gray of Edison Pen Co. It’s a very comfortable nib with dramatic line variation, as one would expect of an MCI. It’s decently smooth, without being buttery or too wet, which I like. Overall, I really like the nib!

Pam:  The nib is my favorite part of the pen! I had no issues with the nib, it flowed well and provides just the right amount of feedbacky-ness. The cursive italic is well done and provides a great writing experience.  Bravo!

Franz: The 0.9mm cursive italic is such a dream to write with. This was the first custom ground nib I had and it’s got perfect flow for my light pressure, with crisp line variation. And that light bulb nib logo of Edison on the Jowo nib is just so cool too!

 

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is a taaaad bit on the slim side, but ultimately still comfortable for me to write with for long periods of time, but I’m surprised that Franz can! The pen is light and comfortable, and the nib is complaint-free.

Pam:  The pen is very comfortable and light to use.  I didn’t have an issue with the slimness of the pen in both hand grips- tripod or “iron grip”.  In my weird “iron grip,” I did find the pen to be slightly top heavy or unbalanced when posted.  Hence why I felt that the initial design of this pen is just too lengthy for me, particularly since most of my usual grip is closer towards the nib end.

Franz: The Edison Beaumont is one of the smaller pen models in their offering. As shown on the “In The Hand” photos above, the Beaumont is a bit small in my hands especially when unposted. I do prefer writing with the cap posted and my grip is above the barrel threads for a thicker grip. The concave grip section is quite small for me and causes my hand to cramp up.

For about 15 minutes, I wrote with the cap posted and it was a comfortable journaling session with a nice balance.

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Dot pad

 

EDC-ness (Every Day Carry)

Katherine: There’s something about the way the cap and the cap threads are designed that’s a little… strange. I found that if I cap the pen and twist, sometimes it doesn’t catch — it gets caught on a lip or something, and I have to wiggle to get the threads started. This is kind of annoying for me, since usually, if I want to cap a pen… I want to cap it. Other than that, it’s a small, light pen that seems durable and clips securely to pockets. I ran some errands with it clipped in my poncho pocket, and it held on securely! (Edit: Since writing this, Franz has informed me that the weird threading was a design flaw with the initial Beaumont, but it has since been fixed! Hurray!)

Pam: It’s a great pen for EDC and the clip did just fine in my white coat pocket.  The cap took a little more than 1 full rotation so it wasn’t too bothersome for me to carry around and use for quick jots.

Franz: I’ve used the Beaumont at work for a good amount of time and because of the cursive italic grind, it became a pen specifically for signatures. The 0.9mm line was a nice width for the copier paper used in my office. The length of the pen was perfect for my dress shirt pocket and it clips easily onto my shirt.

This Beaumont is filled via cartridge/converter and using this daily at work makes me need to re-ink it after 2-3 days. Not a very big deal but it is something I have to keep on checking daily. That’s due to being spoiled by my piston-filled pens. The pen can be eye-dropper filled as well but I’ve never done that (yet).

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: All in all, the Beaumont is a nice pen. It’s comfortable, solidly made and writes well. However, it’s on the slimmer/smaller side and it feels a touch overpriced. I think I’m conflating flat-tops in my head, but I’d flip and the Conklin Duragraph in terms of price points… and all would be what I expect.

Pam:  The pen is great for those who enjoy a modern take to the vintage aesthetic and can appreciate the workmanship that is guaranteed by the Edison pen company.  Again, I see this pen doing great in a business or formal setting, or for those who have more vintage fountain pens than modern ones.  This one would be a great addition to your collection.

It wouldn’t be my first pen to recommend to someone due to the price point but it’s not a fair comparison in terms of price point with giants like Lamy or Pilot to the personal service and workmanship of Brian Gray.  Amongst the “custom” pen makers, this is a pretty good price point.  Alternatively, I would also consider a Franklin-Christoph if you are looking for an American company with great service and a bit more modern/unique design aesthetic.

Franz: As I was starting my pen collecting, the Edison Beaumont was my most-expensive pen. This pen we reviewed in the Briar Swirl ebonite finish was part of their Signature Line and as of June 2017, they are currently priced at $250. There are Production Line Edison Beaumont pens that can be purchased currently for $149 and I think that is such a great value. If you want to have a more unique pen with all different materials Brian has, paying the $100 premium is worth it as well.

Even though the Beaumont is smaller than what I prefer, I still enjoy writing with it especially with the custom ground 0.9mm CI nib. If size is the only category to consider, my large hands prefer the Edison Glenmont, and the Pelikan M805 which are included in the pen comparisons section below.

I recommend this Edison Beaumont for more smaller, or medium size hands and as I said above, the Edison Pen Co.’s Production Line Beaumont provides bang for your buck.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Kaweco Sport, Edison Glenmont, Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Model 03, *Edison Beaumont*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Kaweco Sport, Edison Glenmont, Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Model 03, *Edison Beaumont*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Kaweco Sport, Edison Glenmont, Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Model 03, *Edison Beaumont*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

 

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Pen Maker Review: Romulus Pens (John Albert) Custom Pens

Pen Maker Extraordinaire: John Albert

This is a review of working with custom pen maker John Albert, of Romulus Pens. Since he doesn’t have pre-defined ‘models’, we thought it would make more sense to review more general aspects of his pens instead of diving deep on a specific pen. (Also check out his Instagram here)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: To me, this is where John shines. He went to art school and it shows. His pens are classically inspired, but, if you choose, he’ll work with you to incorporate personal and modern touches (sometimes with gentle steering to save you from clashing asks or bad design choices). But, he’s also willing to experiment and try new things. My second pen from him, a purple “nonagon” was at least partially caused by my grousing about being unable to find a Nakaya Decapod Mini and my love for facets — and what a beautiful experiment that has turned out to be! Experiment or not, he takes an immense amount of pride in his work and everything is always immaculately finished — metal bands are tight and smooth, everything is buffed and threads are never tight.

 

Pam:  John has the eye of an artist and the patience of a saint.  I haven’t had any experience in designing a pen with all the options available.  Particularly since John will work with alot of different materials including hard woods, acrylic (and many more) and with the number of design elements in a pen from the cap, barrel, finials, and clip the possibilities are endless.  I started telling John what I wanted in a pen with only one material in mind as the working inspiration.  With my initially obscenely long emails of wants, wishes and “I don’t know what to do with this aspect of the pen” and alot of John’s patience and help as a vacillated between all the different possibilities, the “Sherlock” (my name for the pen, not his) was born.

John is great to work with and really does have some great input to fine tune your design to a particular feel or look.

 

The Business End

John typically uses Jowo nib units, but can work with other nibs if supplied by the customer. He doesn’t do any grinds or adjustments.

Katherine: While I like Jowo nibs, I don’t love the idea of having a bunch of Jowo-holders. As a result, the first pen I commissioned from John (the grey and yellow one) fits Pelikan m400/600 nibs. I chose to go with an eyedropper, not a piston filler, and it’s written fantastically with little leaking! More recently, John has been building pens around all sorts of nib units, including ones that are entirely friction fit. I don’t own one of these pens (so far) but am excited to do so once I find an appropriate nib.

A Pelikan M600 nib on Katherine’s first Romulus Pen

Pam:  I was fine with a Jowo nib for my first pen, particularly with the awesome black/rhodium finish.  John was able to get me 2 nib units for my pen, one with a 0.4 cursive italic and one in EF, to suit whatever writing mood I might be in.  I really enjoy both nibs and they write as expected.  John is branching out to other nib units and I look forward to having all kinds of custom pens that hold some pretty amazing nibs.  One day John! One day!

A two tone black oxide #6 steel nib for Pam’s first pen from Romulus Pens

Final Grip-ping Impressions

A Pen Maker’s Goal: A customer to own enough pens to have Wolverine claws with… ;-P

Katherine: I love all three of the Romulus pens I have — a grey celluloid with yellow accents, the first/prototype “nonagon”, in clear acrylic, and the second “nonagon” in a grape stripe resin. All three are immaculately finished, well balanced and well designed. I look forward to working with John on many more custom pens, I already have quite a few ideas queued up…

Pam:  John has great workmanship and the “Sherlock” is flawless.  The pen is so well polished that the barrel and the finials are seamless to the touch.   I joke with John that we can either have a custom pen subscription for me where I just send him money in regular increments until enough money accumulates for me to get another pen by him, or establish a punch card system with the number of ideas I have and get excited about.  I don’t keep the ideas to myself mind you, John gets the blitzes of communication when inspiration strikes and he takes it all in stride with great feedback.  Did I mention he’s a saint?  He also makes all my pen dreams come true.

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Review: Aurora 88 (Fine Flex Nib)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I prefer the aesthetic of the square-ended Optima. I thought this was a pretty boring (or perhaps classic?) looking pen, but in a quite unique shade of grey-purple-ish blue.

Pamela:  The Aurora Flex 88 has a beautiful blue gray material that is somewhat complimented by the yellow gold hardware.  I am curious if a rhodium trim would be a better compliment since the material has a pretty cool tone to it.  Shapewise, the pen is a simple cigar shape that does little to convey how special this pen is given all the hype to the “modern flex” pen.  The clip is a unique fluid design that doesn’t appeal to me, but does have a clean aesthetic to it.  My favorite part of the pen is the ink window.  Always a plus for me.

Franz: The Aurora 88 is a visually pleasing pen with a design that makes it timeless. Now this may mean boring for some people …cough… Katherine… cough… ;-P, but the rounded ends look elegant to me. The elongated and tapered barrel makes it a comfortable pen in my hand either posted or unposted.

Going back to the pen being timeless, the Aurora 88 design has been in existence since 1947. Albeit, the original 88 design was a bit thinner, had a slip cap, and a hooded nib. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of a vintage Aurora 88 but an image search for “vintage Aurora 88” will display adequate photos of it. In the 1980’s however, the Aurora 88’s design was altered into what it is right now which is a thicker pen, twist cap, a full size nib, and incorporated with their hidden reservoir system.

Note: This pen history information was taken from Andreas Lambrou’s “Fountain Pens of the World” book.

In the Hand: Aurora 88 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Aurora 88 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: I was excited to try Aurora’s much talked about flex nib… but ultimately, I was disappointed. It’s a perfectly usable, and even enjoyable and interesting to use… but, to me, it didn’t live up to the hype. My Pilot 742 FA is significantly softer and offers me much more line variation, while being a fraction of the price. But, if you like the look of the pen, and like soft nibs, this is great — just not what I’d call “flex”.

Pamela: The is a unique shape which provides it the structure needed for this modern flex.  Since this pen was on loan from a friend at the SF Pen Posse, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing the limits of this pen.  That said, the “flex” is more of a middle ground; it is not as soft as a vintage flex, but softer than the Platinum soft fine nib.

Franz: I really like the shape of Aurora’s nibs especially this fine flex one. The tines are quite longer and cool looking. As for the flex nib and echoing my colleagues above, I feel that it really isn’t a match towards vintage flex nibs. There definitely is line variation but not what you would expect when it is called a flexible nib. I did experience some railroading but as long as I took it slow, it didn’t reoccur anymore.

Overall, Aurora’s nibs are great and I’ve had pleasant experiences with them from writing with other people’s pens. I personally own a factory italic nib that writes quite juicy and sharp. Without any pressure on this fine flex nib, it wrote very smoothly with a fine line.

Write It Up

Katherine: The Aurora 88 is comfortable and enjoyable to write with for long periods. It’s quite light, which I find comfortable and usable for long durations.

Pamela:  The 88 is has a very light material, almost too light for me.  However, the girth of the pen is very comfortable to use as it cruises over the pages.  For this particular nib, I held the pen in a tripod grip.  (Yes, even in the tripod, I still grip the pen too tight…).  The length of the pen is pretty comfortable both posted and unposted.  The material is light enough that posting the pen doesn’t add too much weight or unbalance the pen.

Franz: I enjoyed my journal time with the Aurora 88. I wrote comfortably with the cap posted for about ten minutes, and then unposted for another ten. I do prefer the cap posted on the pen for the extra length but I did not experience any fatigue even when the pen was unposted. Now that’s a rare thing and it’s one of the biggest selling points of the 88 for me.

Katherine’s comparison of modern flex nibs (on Tomoe River)

 

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Dot Pad

EDC-ness (Every Day Carry)

Katherine: This was a loan from a friend in the San Francisco Pen Posse — so no EDC-ing for me. But, it has all the makings of being a great EDC pen: A solid and strong clip for pockets (though probably not thick denim), and it uncaps quickly, but not too quickly (one and a quarter turns).

Pamela: Since this pen is on loan, I didn’t trial this pen on the road at work. Instead, the pen is a good size for a daily carry with a strong clip for suit pockets.  I wouldn’t recommend throwing this pen into a pair of jeans as the material will probably get pretty scratched up.  With the relatively unsubstantial weight, it may also be forgotten in a deep pocket somewhere.

Franz: I used the Aurora 88 at my workplace for a good two days and it was a splendid pen for my work setting. The quick deploy of one and a quarter turns made it convenient for me, as well as the fine width of the nib. As I signed my name, I applied a little bit of pressure and the slight flex gave my signature a bit of flair that I enjoyed very much.

The Aurora 88 has a piston-filler system that carries a good amount of ink and is perfect for an everyday use pen. You can see the ink level quite clearly via the ink window. When you’re running out of ink, fully extend the piston towards the section to activate the hidden reservoir to be able to write a little bit longer. That is a pretty neat feature.

The Aurora 88’s ink window is quite clear.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I have no complaints about this pen, other than the marketing and expectations set by the “flex” label. I’d call this “soft”. That aside, it’s a smooth, comfortable nib that is capable of some line variation (more than a Platinum 3776 SF, but less than a Pilot 742), in a solid and classic body. But, as with many pens in the $500+ category… whether or not it’s worth that price tag is a pretty subjective mater. To me, it’s not, but there aren’t many options for nibs like this, and if you don’t like black Pilots, this is the most line variation I’ve seen from a modern pen.

Pamela:  I am torn in my final recommendation for this pen.  On one hand, the pen and nib is a modern feat in trying to emulate the infamous vintage flex.  On the other hand, there are still vintage flex nibs and pens out there for a substantially smaller price tag.  I applaud Aurora for adding more flex and softness to the modern nib options and for those individuals who have the funds and the willingness to support such an endeavor, I would highly recommend this pen to them.  For those who lack the funds but still want to try a flex pen, I would recommend taking the time to research vintage pens and flex nibs, and finding a good deal via the Pen Addict slack, reddit or your local pen show.

Franz: It’s interesting how the two ladies above and myself have about the same sentiments on the Aurora 88. The pen itself is very nice to write with and my larger hand was not even a bit uncomfortable/fatigued. If you like the shape of this pen like I do, you may currently acquire one below the $500 price point with the round nibs (Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, and Broad). Now if you want the Fine Flex nib option, you’ll be paying a premium since the flex nib is only available in their limited edition releases. I mean, that’s quite a chunk of money knowing that you can obtain a decent vintage flexible nib for a lot less money. But then of course, the limited edition colors are quite nice as well. The blue finish of this Aurora 88 is very enticing to a blue pen lover like me.

As for my final thoughts on the Aurora 88, I like it. A LOT. This is definitely on my list of pens to one day own and add to my growing Italian pen collection.

Thank you Michael for lending us your Aurora 88 Flex pen. You’ve been very generous my friend. See you at the Pen Posse meetups soon!

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Edison Beaumont, Platinum 3776, Visconti Homosapiens, *Aurora 88*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Edison Beaumont, Platinum 3776, Visconti Homosapiens, *Aurora 88*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Edison Beaumont, Platinum 3776, Visconti Homosapiens, *Aurora 88*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

 

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Review: Wahl-Eversharp Decoband (Amalfi Blue, Superflex Nib)

We want to thank Mr. Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for lending us this Wahl-Eversharp fountain pen for review. Detlef’s pen store is located in Carmel, California and he also travels to a lot of pen shows.  When we return this pen, the HOTP crew may just decide to take a road trip and visit the pen store.

The opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily or otherwise) for this review. 

We have also asked Claire (@writteninrice) to be our guest once again and review this pen with us. Thanks Claire!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This is a pretty cool looking pen, and the huge nib looks very cool. I really liked details on this pen — the complex blue material, the red ebonite feed and the classy use of gold and black trim. But, even at first glance, this is a huge pen! It stands out and is hard to miss.

Claire: This is a pen with gravitas that hearkens back to pens of a bygone era.  The Wahl Eversharp Decoband is a large pen that’s an attention grabber. The nib on this pen is just lovely and I love the  red ebonite feed. In fact, I couldn’t help but post a nib shot of this pen on Instagram the second I got it in my hands.  I am not typically a fan of pens with gold hardware but for this pen, it works.

Pam: The Decoband is an acquired taste for me.  It is undeniable that the blue material is beautiful and deep, that the red ebonite feed is awesome, and that nib is gorgeous.  I am just not a fan of the shape and the overall aesthetic.  Despite my reservations about the pen, it’s a beautiful pen that is very reminiscent of the fountain pen’s golden days.

Franz: Is this pen big enough or what?  The Decoband is massively impressive and is probably the biggest pen that I’ve held in terms of length, girth, and weight. This is a revival of Wahl-Eversharp’s Gold Seal design in 1929. The proportion of the pen is very similar to the vintage one except for its larger scale. The Decoband fits quite perfectly in my bear paw…err… large hand and is quite comfortable for me to use.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic is such a stunning material and as Katherine pointed out, the black finials on the cap and the bottom of the barrel makes it a classic looking pen. The packaging is also impressive as the box big and shiny. They also supply the pen with Wahl-Eversharp’s ink bottle which is a nice touch.

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The nib is huge and it writes quite nicely. It’s very smooth without being glassy, and has a nice softness to it. However, I didn’t think it was comparable to many of the “full” flex vintage nibs I’ve tried. The Decoband nib is smooth and wet, but line variation is not its strong suit. Perhaps a finer point would produce more line variation, but out of the box, this is more of a wet and medium writer.

Claire:  As I mentioned earlier, the super flex nib on this pen is eye catching. I love the frosted detail noting the brand and specifics.  In hand, the nib is a little on the squishy side. After primarily writing with hard nibs this was a bit disconcerting. Though, it didn’t take too long to  get used to the experience and really start to enjoy the way this pen puts ink to paper. The super flex nib boasts arguably the best modern flex on the market. While it doesn’t have the snap back that I experienced with vintage flex nibs, it does provide an amazing amount of flex.

Pam:  My favorite part of the pen is the nib and the red ebonite feed.  It’s an absolute beauty.  The nib is one of the smoothest and softest nibs I have tried.  The line variation is not as great as a vintage flex, but arguably this nib is the best “modern flex” nib out there.  I did find the nib to be quite wet, so I don’t see this my ideal for daily writing (don’t forget my writing pressure), but it would definitely give those who want your autograph a special flourish!

Franz: The Decoband is available in two nib options. First is the semi-flex extra fine nib, and second is the Superflex nib which is what was loaned to us. I typically do not write with flexible nibs and the only “flex” pen I own is a vintage Parker Televisor. The Superflex nib’s variation was remarkable to me. It definitely has a wet flow that even without pressure, the line is a medium width and when pressure is applied, it lays down a nice wide line.  The Decoband’s feed is made of ebonite coated with red urushi lacquer and assists the generous ink flow of the nib.

In addition, I was able to try out the semi-flex extra fine nib from a friend at the 2017 LA Pen Show and I think that the semi-flex is more of an everyday writing nib for me. So you have two great nib choices for the Decoband.

Superflex nib

Ebonite feed with red urushi lacquer

Write It Up

Katherine: At first I thought this pen would be okay — but a couple minutes into writing with it I noticed my hand was more tired than normal, and starting to get a bit of cramping. Additionally, if I tried to use it posted… well, I wouldn’t. I’d probably poke myself in the eye. All in all, a pen I’d rather look at than use, which is unfortunate, but such are small hands.

Claire: This is a hefty pen that is more apt for larger hands than mine. I found that my hand started cramping up after just a few minutes of writing. Overall, the pen felt well balanced and of an appropriate heft for its size.  Unfortunately, this pen is just too wide for me to use comfortably for long writing sessions.

Pam:  This pen was meant for bear paws as I found the pen to only be comfortable for a couple of minutes before my hand would notably tire.  I don’t recommend using the pen posted for those with small hands as the pen is quite large and heavy.  The pen is heftier than most on the market, likely due to the material used. The width is not a problem for me, but the pen is quite top heavy, given the length of the pen, particularly posted.

Franz: As I’ve said above, the pen fits my hand nicely and I was happy to write with it in my journal. In case you didn’t know, the pen’s internal mechanism is made of solid brass parts and the weight of the pen uncapped is about 40 grams. Compared to the Pelikan M805 that I use every day is about 20 grams uncapped. It is a heavy pen that after journaling for about ten minutes, my hand felt very fatigued. While this pen impresses me a lot, I would only use it to write quick notes, a short letter, or a nice signature. I wrote with this pen unposted because it is too long for me when the cap is posted.

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Dot grid pad

EDC-ness 

Katherine: I sat down with this pen and wrote a few pages with it, but didn’t EDC it since it’s on loan from Bittner Pens (thank you again!) and didn’t want to risk any damage. However, based on the handful of pages I wrote with it, I wouldn’t consider it a candidate for EDC for a couple reasons: 1. it’s just too big, 2. nib is a little too wet, I’d have to wait for all my notes to dry before being able to close my notebook!

Claire: This is not a pen that springs to mind in association with the letters EDC. This would be a great pen for an office job that required occasional notes. I did not get a chance to carry this pen around to test it out for longer than playing with it for an evening at Katherine’s place.

Pam:  Thank you Bittner Pens for your generous loan of the Decoband.  That said, it lived in the original box unless we were testing it out.  I would recommend this as a great EDC for a fancy desk to hold and carry.  This pen is a bit large for the usual jacket or shirt pocket and given the weight, may not stay in the pocket for long if you were to bend over.  Not to mention, this pen is best suited (in my opinion) for your autograph; what better pen to do that with than this beauty?

Franz: Because this Decoband is on loan, we only dipped the nib in ink and did not fill it. I was not able to use this pen in my office but I imagine that it would be a pen I’d keep on my desk and write with it only when seated. The Decoband is too big to fit securely in my shirt pocket although it would be okay for a jacket pocket.

The pen has a pneumatic filling system which is why there are solid brass parts inside. To fill the pen, unscrew and pull out the black knob, extend the metal sleeve, submerge the nib in the ink bottle, cover the hole on the knob, push the knob/metal sleeve down to the barrel, and uncover the hole. This action compresses the sac inside and when you let go of the hole, the pressure will draw ink in the pen. According to Wahl-Eversharp, the Decoband holds an ink capacity of 2.1ml. Now that’s appropriate for the amount of ink that it lays down from its superflex nib.

The pneumatic filling system

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I’m pretty biased with this pen. It’s clearly not meant for people with smaller hands, which makes me a big meh on it. But, if I had a large handed friend I really liked and needed to get a pen for, this would be a contender. It’s a beautiful, classic looking pen with a nib full of character. However, at a price point of $800+, there’s no way I can justify a pen that’s so large my hand cramps for myself.

Claire:  I love the blue material on this pen.  Even though this pen is far too big for my hand it seems to be well balanced and well made pen.  This pen has a the aesthetic of a vintage pen but also is quite large, which to me is an interesting combination.  The superflex nib is the only modern pen that I’ve written with that is maybe a flexible as vintage flexible nibs straight out of the box. Overall, I think this is a lovely pen for a person with larger hands than myself.

Pam: The nib/feed of this pen is great for everyone. The pen itself however is much better suited for bear paw individuals (Hint, hint Franz!) and for those who really enjoy the vintage aesthetic.  It’s a steep price so it’s not great for most wallets.  However, I can say for this pen in particular, you pay for what you get.  It’s a large, statement-esque, hefty pen, that has all the trappings of the fountain pen’s glory days.  It’s obvious that Wahl Eversharp did not skimp on the Decoband.  That said, it’s not an “every day carry” pen, it’s a “special occasion” pen.  But for us fountain pen lovers, every day with a fountain pen is a special occasion!

Franz: I really like the Decoband because of its large dimensions and the awesome nib it is issued with. As a friend from the Pen Posse said, this is a “whale” of a pen for large handed people but as I say in most of our reviews, try it out for yourself when you can.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic version of the Decoband is a special edition color and will be limited in production. This is similar to the now sold out Lapis Blue. So if you want the Amalfi Blue, better contact Detlef of Bittner Pens, or Syd of Wahl-Eversharp right away. Hmmm….

Thank you Detlef for giving us the opportunity to review this awesome pen.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Posted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Unposted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Oversize Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Posted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

1 Comment

Pen & Ink Pairing: May ’17

Katherine: My pairing for the month is, once again just based on usage — a Ban-ei Kamakura-bori vintage urushi pen + Diamine Eclipse. I bought this pen while I was in Japan last month, but it only arrived a couple weeks ago since Eurobox had to complete the restoration. I paired it with Diamine Eclipse because the pen holds a whopping 3ml of ink — and I really like Eclipse and haven’t used in a while. I predict I’ll be using it for weeks to come. I really like Eclipse since it’s a dark, dark purple ink that’s very work friendly, but has some hidden character. The pen, on the other hand is full of fantastic detail… but doesn’t really match the Eclipse. Oh well. 😛

 

Pam: The skies are clearing up and the hotter spring nights are great for seeing the stars. So my ink and pen pairing for May is the Sailor Pro Gear Slim in the Galaxy finish with Private Reserve Electric DC Blue.

The dark blue ink has an incredible red sheen that reminds me of the night sky and the depths of space.  The sheen shows up even with the EF nib on the Pro Gear Slim, granted, the nib has a great balance of fine line and wetness. In my not so discerning opinion, the sheen rivals that of the famous Robert Oster inks like Fire and Ice.

Some people have reservations about Private Reserve or Noodlers inks potentially causing damage to a pen.  I can only attest for the Electric DC Blue, but I have not had any issue with this ink in my beloved Galaxy.

 

Franz: My pairing for May is a personal (read as emotional) one and please be advised that this will have a different feel from my usual write-up. I inked up my Teal Parker 45 with Sheaffer Skrip Peacock Blue ink. I believe the pen matches this turquoise ink quite nicely. It’s also a great vintage ink for a nice vintage-y pen.

I chose to ink the Parker 45 as a homage to the Queen of ink, Susan Wirth. She recently passed away unexpectedly this month. I acquired this pen from Susie’s table at the 2016 LA Pen Show and it has an italic nib. If I’m not mistaken, the Parker 45 is one of her favorite pens as well. She’s also a great advocate of writing with Italic nibs.

Susie was the first person who taught me about writing with an italic nib. I can still hear her distinct voice in my head as she says, “An italic gives you traction in your writing. Without it, it’s like a car that goes all over the road.”. I met Susie at the 2012 SF Pen Show and I immediately learned a lot from her. At the time, I did not know that she went to every US pen show and that she had been attending shows since mid-1980’s. But as I continued to attend the LA and SF Pen Shows annually, I’ve learned how much of a big part of the community she is.  At the 2016 LA pen show, I brought my mom along and when she met Susie, she got the Susan Wirth Experience. This resulted with my Mom buying her first flexible nib fountain pen. So just like me, my Mom learned a lot from Susie at her first pen show.

Susie is already missed in the pen community but I know that she will live on in our hearts and in our writing. Thank you for everything Susie!

Susie’s familiar shawl with a powerful message
2 Comments

Review: Sailor Professional Gear (Medium Fine nib)

Update 05/15/2017 : We are adding the information that the Turquoise Sailor Pro Gear pictured above was a 2016 limited edition pen release via the Japanese shop, Wancher. Pam purchased this online via the global marketplace, Rakuten. And the Kingfisher finish that Claire is holding below is another Japanese limited edition Sailor Pro Gear. These limited edition finishes are currently unavailable via US retailers. We apologize for not establishing this bit of information. Our main focus for our pen reviews is to show how different pen sizes feel on different hand sizes and we hope that we continue reflecting this point.

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I love the look of the Pro Gears — the clean lines and squared-off cap just look really classic, but aren’t boring. The one pictured above is Pam’s, and I think the translucent material is gorgeous, and the gold trim, while louder, really makes the green look more rich. I own a Pro Gear in the Keio Atman “Kingfisher” limited edition colors… That’s another upside, no matter what kinds of colors you liked, there’s a Pro Gear out there for you! (It might just not be cheap…)

Pam:  In a previous review, I made terrible analogies comparing my love for the Sailor Pro Gear’s smaller sister, the Progear Slim to the ardent love that Darcy had for Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice fame.  Just like last time, my love for a Sailor is of literary proportions.  I was originally attracted to the Progear Slims as they are only slightly smaller than the Progear, but at a significantly lower price.  That being said, you don’t always get to choose what limited edition you love and must have so my collection expanded to the Progears as well.  Let’s just say I felt remiss for missing out on such a wonderful pen for so long.  The relationship status I I have with my wallet on the other hand is “complicated.”

Claire: Hang with me here, I can wax poetic about the Sailor Pro Gear all day long. This is by far my favorite pen available on the market.  I currently own three Pro Gears and one Realo. I love the way this pen looks, the flat finials pull the pen together in the best possible way. The size and weight is perfect for my hand. If I had to choose one pen to write with for the rest of my life, a Pro Gear would be that pen. I love how many colors are available, especially if you’re willing to do the leg work on Japanese exclusives.

Franz: A turquoise-y disposition! (Yep… that will now be a term and a hashtag, thank you very much!) For the past six months I have come to appreciate Sailor pens more and that’s due to both Katherine and Pam. Largely, Pam is to blame though for she has set out to collect some special/limited edition Pro Gear Slim and Classic pens available. And what’s not to like? It’s a pen that Sailor designed almost 15 years ago so the aesthetic works.

The Professional Gear has been on my “list” of pens to own for the longest time. Just like the three ladies above, the flat ends definitely appeal to my taste. The gold trim blends well with the color of the pen and gives it a warm feel.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear (Kingfisher version) — Claire

The Business End

Katherine: The MF is fun to write with — fine enough for daily use but just wide enough to see the character of one’s ink. My Pro Gear (which I’ve written with more) has a H-F nib, which is extremely fine, but also wet. It’s a magical combination of wet and fine, which leaves me with saturated but very fine lines. Additionally, despite being labeled a “hard” fine, it has some bounce to it. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can get line variation out of mine. And, at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I also love the feedback on this nib. It’s a nice pencil-y feeling that isn’t too smooth, it’s got character!

Pam: I have had some variability in my experience with the Sailor 21k MF nibs.  I have seen some that are more on the fine and harder end of the spectrum while some are broader and slightly wetter.  Given that the MF nib is broader than the F or EF, the nib is wonderfully smooth and really shows off the ink qualities like shading or sheen really well.  Surprisingly, I didn’t consider grinding the MF down, probably because I paired this turquoise demonstrator Progear with Robert Oster’s Fire and Ice; be still my heart, the sheen!

Claire: The 21k hard fine Sailor nib is my favorite. I love how hard the nib is; though it isn’t too hard. It’s hard to quantify what makes this a Goldilocks nib in my opinion. I love the pencil like feedback that these 21k nibs give so consistently. All three of my fine nibs have given me the same lovely out of the box performance.  The only qualm I have with this pen is the converter isn’t the best. Sailor converters don’t hold very much ink and are notorious for having issues. Typically when I get a new Sailor converter I open it up and put silicone grease on the threads and piston.  That so far has saved me from running into any of the issues I’ve heard others to have.

Franz: In my experience, Sailor nibs are well tuned out of the box. And this H-MF is no exception at all. I enjoyed writing with this nib for hours. (I have held it hostage from Pam for a while now) And like Katherine, I found the feedback to be pleasant like writing with a pencil.

Sailor Pro Gear 21-karat H-MF (Hard, Medium-Fine) nib

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen surprised me with how small it is for the not “slim” version. And it’s a wonderful size for my small hands. Both this and the Pro Gear Slim are comfortable for me to use for extended periods of time, but I do prefer this to its smaller sibling (Which is unfortunate for my wallet. And there are slightly fewer limited/store editions available in the Pro Gear). This pen isn’t too narrow, it’s well balanced and the nibs are a delight to write with — I regularly toy with the idea of collecting on in each nib size, but haven’t quite convinced myself not to stick to my pen limit.

Pam:  As all pen addicts know, the smallest differences can make all the differences turning a good pen to a great pen.  Fortunately, going between the Progear Slim and the Progear isn’t such a large difference that it’s an issue.  In my hand, the Progear is a bit longer, equally well balanced and slightly girthier than the Slim.  The extra girth is great for longer writing sessions in my opinion.  Even in more petite hands, the Progear is comfortable and well balanced, capped or uncapped.  Honestly, if the Slim is comfortable for you, the Progear would be equally comfortable.  If the Slim is slightly uncomfortable for you, the Progear will be just right.  All I can say is, beware of picking up a Progear, you won’t want to put it down.

Claire: I can write with a Pro Gear all day long without running into any hand fatigue. Many times when I’m taking notes for school I’m switching between Pro Gears so I can have a variation in ink color. The way the section tapers fits my hand perfectly. The section on the Pro Gear is really what makes the pen.  The more I write, the more I want to find more to write.  I really can’t write enough about how much I enjoy writing with this pen.

Franz: The Pro Gear is slightly bigger in girth and length compared to the Pro Gear Slim. Because it is larger, it’s more comfortable to journal with. And I wrote blissfully for a good ten minutes. I even got to finish a letter for a friend with it. But once I unposted the cap, it became a bit tiresome even after only five minutes of writing. So definitely for my large paws, I gotta have it posted for longer writing sessions.

EDC-ness

Katherine: This is a great EDC pen — not terribly expensive, not too small, not too big, fantastic nib, durable plastic body, what’s not to like? The clip is solid too! Plus, because the converter is mediocre… even if everything goes wrong, you’ll never get lots of ink on your clothes! (Honestly, because the F I have is so fine, I get plenty of writing out of one converter, so capacity isn’t an issue for me EDC-ing this pen, as long as I remember to check my ink level regularly)

Pam:  I have at least one Progear or Progear Slim in my rotation at all times.  The nibs can’t be beat and the finer nibs (EF in 14k or F in 21k) performs admirably on cheap office paper for work.  The clips are secure without being overly tight and the pens do tolerate being in white coat pocket easily and well.  Additionally, depending on what colorway you choose, the pen can be subtle, professional and classic looking or bold, loud and modern.  For those in the office setting, this pen can be like a tie, the pop of color or a small, subtle way to show off some personality.

Claire: If I had a job where a fountain pen would be useful in day to day work, this would be the pen I would bring with me every single day. The Pro Gear is often the first pen I reach for when taking notes for class. When I graduate and move to a desk job, you can bet this will be one of the pens I carry with me on a day to day basis.  At home, this is almost always the first and only pen I reach for for my evening journaling.

Franz: I once again echo the three ladies above and agree that the Pro Gear is a nice pen to use on a daily basis for my workplace. The pen was clipped securely onto my dress shirt and was always ready to write. You do need to rotate the cap twice to deploy the pen but I just accepted this since it gives me happiness to use the pen. With signing my name multiple times at work, I didn’t feel the need to post the cap and the medium-fine nib was perfect for the copy paper used in the office.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I really like this pen. It comes in so many colors and I’ve been very tempted to collect quite a few. But, alas, my pen limit has prevented me from doing that and instead I only own one Pro Gear, but it’s a solid pen and I love writing with it. It’s a very comfortable pen and a very solid one. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of purchasing — and it’s fun (and frustrating…) to hunt down crazy colors and limited editions to find the perfect one (or ten).

Pam:  My love for Sailor Progear or Progear Slim has been effusive to say the least.  However, once you pick up one of these pens, you will understand.  The pen is well made, the nib is beautifully crafted, the shape is elegant and the color ways can be unique.  (Speaking of nibs, Sailor makes some amazing specialty nibs like the zoom nib.) Like the Lamy 2000, everyone should at least try this pen, and I would surmise that it’s pretty inevitable that you will own one.  Additionally, if it’s a limited edition Progear, I am sure one of us would be happy to “insure” the purchase…

Claire: The size of this pen is perfect, it’s just long enough to fit perfectly in my hand. The balance is exactly what I look for in a pen. The tapered section allows the pen to be comfortable to write with without adding additional weight to the pen. I only have one gripe with this pen: the converter. While I haven’t run into any of the glaring issues I’ve heard of with this converter, I really wish it could hold more ink.

Franz: Sailor has done right with the Professional Gear design. Proportions are great and the build quality is awesome. And just in case you still aren’t sure what my thoughts are, this pen is awesome. It is perfect for me posted, and “okay” unposted. I seem to have always hesitated to buy this pen due to its size in my hand. But after spending some time with Pam’s Pro Gear, I may just get one myself when I find a finish that attracts me.

In closing, every serious pen user should pick up and write with a Sailor Professional Gear. You never know, this pen may just appeal to you and change your mind as it did mine.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Sailor Professional Gear*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

9 Comments

Pen & Ink Pairing: April ’17

Katherine: It’s still March as I write this — I’m picking a little early since I’ll be out of town for a lot of April. But, even though it’s March, I have no doubt I’ll keep this pen inked through April. 🙂 My pairing for the month is my new Newton Pens Prospector and Montblanc Tolstoy. I chose BSea’s Galaxy Trek resin, which reminds me of the deep ocean. It’s a dark, almost black, blue in many areas with swirls of lighter blue and even white and an occasional brown. I had to pair it with a blue ink, and I chose Tolstoy. There could be lots of reasons for this pairing… blue and blue, reminders of my childhood (swimming off islands in the Philippines and wondering what lurked in the dark waters… and my numerous failed attempts at reading War and peace as a 13 year old), but really it’s just because that’s the blue ink I had on hand when I ripped open the Prospector’s box a few days ago. I only had the presence of mind to record an unboxing video because my boyfriend, Shamiq, suggested it. Then I grabbed the bottle of ink on my desk, filled the pen and proceeded to oooh and aaah over the pen and the shiro nib. And, because I can see into the future, I’m sure I’ll still be ooohing and aaahing over this pen in a couple weeks.

 

Pam:  Spring is in the air!  The air is still crisp and a breeze is still about.  We still get the occasional rain this season, which just makes me want to curl up with a *mug* of coffee and a good book.  In lieu of that possibility, I chose Pelikan M200 Cafè Créme to be paired with Robert Oster Caffè Crema!  This particular pen has a wonderful architect nib done by Dan Smith of the Nib Smith fame. It shows off the subtle shades of this pen quite well and keeping a crisp line.

I considered this combination for more of an autumn month, but my love for coffee, Robert Oster inks and Pelikan flocks is year round.

 

Franz: April’s pairing for me is the Pelikan M800 Grand Place Special Edition release, and the newly released Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz which is their Ink of the Year for 2017.

Now I’ve got quite a few.. ahem.. a lot of inked up pens especially after March’s 6 Pen Challenge so this month’s pairing is a true winner at the moment. The ink is definitely a very nice brown which matches the creamy swirls of the pen. The nib of the M800 is a juicy fine cursive italic nib ground by Dan Smith (The NibSmith), and that generous flow creates spots in my writing wherein the ink pools to an almost black. So far, I’ve got only bought the ne bottle of this ink to test it out but I think a second bottle will be in my inventory sooner than later.

While writing with the M800 Grand Place, I catch myself sometimes just pausing admiring the chatoyant swirls of the pen. It’s almost hypnotic.

 

Writing Samples (click to enlarge)

 

Thanks for your time, and keep enjoying your pens. And please tell us what new ink pairings you’ve discovered recently.

2 Comments

Review: Montblanc Diplomat 149 (Medium Cursive Italic)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The 149, like its little brother the 146, is a very classic style. As I mentioned in our review of the 146, I find the design inoffensive but a little boring.

Pamela: I am not a huge fan of cigar shaped pens.  Despite my appreciation of the 146 proportion and finish, I found the 149 to be “too much.”  It’s a BIG pen! It’s has a great classic, vintage feel, just not my cup of tea.

Franz: Oversize pen alert! Here’s a big one. The Montblanc Diplomat 149 is a simple black pen and is quite pleasant to hold. The resin is smooth, and scratch resistant. Its iconic torpedo shape speaks to me. I’ve been aware of this pen ever since I started using fountain pens but I’ve only seen and held one in person two years into the hobby. I had to have it!

Carrying over from our review of the Montblanc 146, the Montblanc Diplomat 149 is part of the Meisterstück line (Masterpiece) and was first introduced in 1952. It is a piston-filled pen which contains a large ink capacity. The number of the pen meant that: 1 – Meisterstück Line, 4 – Piston-filler system, and 9 – nib size.

In the Hand: Montblanc 149 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Montblanc 149 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The nib on Franz’s specimen, like the other Montblanc nibs I’ve tried, is fantastic. It gets the job done smoothly and flawlessly. The pen is smooth without being glassy, with just enough character not to be boring. I suppose having a grind by Masuyama-san doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

Pamela:  Montblanc and Masuyama?  Yes please!  The nib is a joy to write with and as always, smooth.

Franz: The medium 14K nib of this 149 was a very smooth and juicy when I bought it in January 2015. This was the third Montblanc nib I have written with and so far Montblanc is 3 for 3 in terms of nib quality. I loved the nib’s springiness which gives the writing some character. At the 2015 LA Pen Show, I had Mr. Masuyama turn this nib into a cursive italic and it has been one of my favorite nibs ever since.

Franz’s writing sample on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

Write It Up

Katherine: While the nib on this pen poses no problems… the size of the pen does. This pen is quite the monster for me. It’s a little too long and a little too girthy to be comfortable. Small hands, huge pen… just ain’t a fit. 146, please!

Pamela:  The pen is really unbalanced for me due to my grip and the length of the pen.  I felt that my hand fatigued more easily using the larger 149.  This pen gave me hand muscle quite the work out.

Franz: During my journaling, the 149 was comfortable for me for the first ten minutes. As I wrote longer with it, my hand felt a bit fatigued. The grip section is about 13 millimeters and it’s one of my wider pens. Lengthwise, I prefer to write with the cap posted but it’s not as secure as I want it to. There was a moment when the cap came loose.

EDC-ness

(Daily use at work/home, at least a day or two)

Katherine: Honestly, I didn’t even try. I borrowed Franz’s pen for a week, but found that it never left my desk. It’s just barely comfortable for me to use, but certainly isn’t a size that I’m comfortable putting in my pocket. Not to mention, it doesn’t fit any of my pen cases. Womp.

Pamela:  The pen is not a shy one.  It’s also far too large for me to carry around without being stopped for brandishing a weapon.  This pen stayed in my backpack as I transported it around, however, it was bit too heavy and large to be an EDC for me.

Franz: I’ve used the 149 in rotation at work for quite a while now, and it’s great for quick notes and perfect for signatures. I appreciate the quick uncapping with just one rotation of the cap, as well as the medium cursive italic nib that writes well on the office copy paper.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: This feels like a pretty short review for me. Take everything I loved about the 146… and resize it to be too big for my hands. Sadness. The 146 is a perfect size and weight for me, versus the 149 feels like I’m out to club someone. Maybe some baby seal stationary. (That’s gotta exist, right?)

Pamela:  I agree with Katherine that my review of the 149 is shorter than usual.  The 149 is a great pen for those who love GREAT (big) pens, enjoys the quality of Montblanc nibs and has the “paws” proportional enough to use larger pens comfortably.

Franz: Talk about iconic! Yep, the Montblanc 149 is one of the most recognizable fountain pens. As evidenced from both ladies above, this pen isn’t for everyone. But one should at least write with it for a period of time and decide for themselves. The 149 fits right at home in my bear paw. Even though it can get tiring for my journaling/letter writing, I love it for quick notes during meetings, and perfect for signatures.

There are quite a few oversize pens comparable to the Montblanc 149. Photos were taken below for comparison. I honestly prefer the size of a Pelikan M805 as it’s almost the same length uncapped, but a little bit thinner and allows me to grip the pen better.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Montblanc 149*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan M200

Oversize Pen Comparisons

Oversize closed pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823
Oversize posted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823
Oversize unposted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Pelikan M805, Pelikan M1000, *Montblanc 149*, Montblanc 146, and Pilot Custom 823

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

2 Comments

Review: Kaweco Sport (AL & Skyline)

This is our first post with a guest! Claire, a friend of ours from the SF Pen Posse. She has more “average” sized hands than the extremes that the three of us represent. Also, she makes and sells pen wraps on Etsy. Check them out! (Review to come!)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Pam:  My first Kaweco was a Skyline in the minty green color.  I had no hesitations to the size of the pen, and the color was spot on! The Kaweco has a very unique design going from a cute and sturdy pocket pen to a “regular” length pen with a post of the cap.  Given the portability, durability and assortment of colorways, I can see why the Kaweco is so highly recommended and appreciated by so many in the pen community.

Katherine: I love small pens and faceted pens… so the Kaweco Sport is right down my alley. I also love bright colors… so it’s taken quite a bit of self-control to not collect a rainbow of these. Grumble pen limit grumble. Anyway, I really enjoy the design of this pen — a little quirky, but not too weird. Unique and functional! And if you prefer clips, you can add a clip — they come in both silver and gold.

I own a white Sport (which will soon be doused in urushi) and a Rose Gold AL (pictured below). The Rose Gold was a special edition to Eslite, a chain of bookstores in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. To my knowledge, it’s sold out but may show up used here and there.

Claire: This is a pen I avoided purchasing for a while simply because I thought the facets of the cap make the cylindrical-ness of the barrel stick out in an awkwardly.  That being said, now that I’ve owned one for a few months the overall aesthetic of the pen has grown on me.  This is a sturdy little pen has stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it. I purchased an orange Ice Sport in November and have enjoyed having a decent pen to throw in my pocket.  My mum gave me an AC Sport late last year since I wouldn’t shut up about the pen after seeing it on the Pen Addict’s Instagram #blamebrad.

Franz: Hello Kaweco! =) What else can I really say about the appearance of the Kaweco Sport that the ladies above have not mentioned? It really is a pocket pen with such a distinctive and unique design. Before we reviewed the Sport, I never knew how many different styles this pen has available in the market. The two models we are featuring/reviewing here are the AL Sport (aluminum body), and the Skyline Sport (acrylic body/silver trim). There are 5 more styles that this pen can be purchased as: Classic Sport (acrylic body/gold plated trim), ICE Sport (acrylic transparent body), AC Sport (aluminum body with carbon inlays), AL Stonewashed (aluminum body with weathered effect), and Brass Sport (brass body).

The Sport Series was introduced by Kaweco in the year 1911 as a short, safety pocket pen. In the beginning, the pen was called Safety Pen 616 for Sportsmen.  They eventually changed it to the Sport-Series. Kaweco updated the pen’s filling system into a piston-filler pen in the 1930s, and then to a cartridge-filler in the 1970s as we know how it is filled today. Of course, you can fill the pen like they did in 1911 and choose to eye-dropper the pen as well. Just be careful when you unscrew the pen. Eyedropper-filled isn’t my preferred method for getting ink into my pens though.

Kaweco Sport history source: www.kaweco-pen.com

In The Hand: Kaweco AL Sport (posted) – from left to right: Claire, Pam, Katherine, and Franz
In The Hand: Kaweco AL Sport (unposted) – from left to right: Claire, Pam, Katherine, and Franz

The Business End

Pam:  Disclaimer, the EF of my Kaweco was too broad for my taste.  Given that, it was still a good nib for daily use.  I used the pen on cheap office paper and it performed admirably.  I didn’t find the nib to be too dry, given my choice of paper at work.  The nib writes more true to size on Tomoe River paper, unsurprisingly.  I very much enjoy it when I am in the mood for a “bolder” EF line to show off the ink color in my hobonichi.  This German EF nib does require me to change the size of my handwriting, ever so slightly, to accommodate the “bolder” line, which results ins a “bubblier” handwriting for me.

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the 1.1 stub.  It’s probably my favorite of all the Kaweco nibs that I have tried.  Its a great nib that has the right amount of ink flow so that the line remains relatively crisp and shows off a decent amount of shading in the ink color.  If I had to choose between an EF or the 1.1 stub, I would choose the 1.1 stub.  My ongoing taste change in nib sizes is very likely due to Franz-fluence (Franz’s influence for those who are pun adverse.)

Katherine: I’ve owned a handful of Kaweco Sport nibs and had a decent out of the box experience with all of them. My Fine and BB ran a bit dry, and my 1.1 “Calligraphy” nib wasn’t too wet, but all in all, they’ve all been very usable. However, I think I’ve been lucky — I have seen quite a few reports of Kawecos with baby’s bottom. None of them will win awards for being my (or, I suspect, anyone’s) favorite nib, but they get the job done and write without fuss.

Claire: Out of the box, the nib on my fine Kaweco AC Sport was great.  The extra fine on the Ice Sport required a quick tine alignment; which I don’t mind on a sub $30 pen.  Both nibs have been utilitarian; being a tad on the dry side, better for paper of questionable quality.  I am thoroughly enjoying the 1.1 stub I’m borrowing from Katherine (I might forget to return it the next time I see her).  Typically, fine and extra fine nibs are the way to my heart, so I’m surprised to enjoy the 1.1 so much.

Franz: To echo the sentiments above, Kaweco’s nibs write out of the box. A friend gifted me the black Skyline Sport below and it has a fine nib that just wrote smoothly after I placed the cartridge into the pen. Granted, the nib isn’t as wet as I want it to be but it isn’t scratchy and it wrote nicely. I also got to use Katherine’s 1.1mm nib on her AL Sport and it was also a pleasant experience. Yay for Kaweco! Their business end means business.

1.1mm stub nib on Katherine’s AL Sport
Fine nib on a Skyline Sport

 

Write It Up

Pam:  I prefer to write with the Kaweco Skyline posted given how light it is.  I much prefer the weight of the Kaweco AL over the Sport.  I find the plastic body to be too light and unpleasant to hold for prolonged periods of time.  I find myself gripping the pen harder because it feels so unsubstantial.  (No, the plastic body did not crack under my iron grip.)

The Kaweco AL is comfortable with or without the cab and relatively well balanced for me either way.  The weight is more comfortable and “sits” in my grip well.  The Kaweco AL is wonderful when paired with the 1.1 stub nib aka Katherine’s Kaweco, which I had a really hard time giving back.

Katherine: This pen makes it obvious how much smaller my hands are. I can and do use my Kawecos unposted, both my plastic Sport (which was my only work pen for about six months) and my AL. I prefer the plastic Sport when posted though — it gives the pen a little more heft and makes it more comfortable to hold. But, my tiny hands prefer the Sport AL unposted — it feels more balanced to me. All in all, both are very usable for me, both posted and unposted. I don’t own a Sport in Brass, but I’ve tried one and found that it was usable, but heavy and my hand felt the fatigue (especially if it was posted and top heavy) after a bit of writing — usable, but I wouldn’t buy one.

Claire: For quick notes, I don’t feel the need to post the pen. That changes if I’m going to write more than a few sentences (which is the majority of my writing), then I feel the need to post the it to avoid hand fatigue.  I prefer the weight and balance of the AL Sport over the Ice Sport. Though, after eyedroppering the Ice Sport is a more comfortable weight.  Even posted, this is not a pen I can write for a long time without noticing some discomfort. But as a pocket pen, it isn’t intended for hours upon hours of writing at one time.

Franz: May I just skip this part? Kidding, kidding! Okay, so I took both the AL, and the Skyline Sport on a test drive. I wrote with both of them posted for about 10 minutes each. Please understand that this Sport is a little too short unposted for my bear paw to write more than 5 words so I just kept the cap posted as I wrote on my journal. Because of the narrow 9.4mm section, my hand cramped up and I noticed my hand gripping the pen tighter than usual. The Skyline Sport is a very light pen and I didn’t enjoy writing with it. The AL Sport however, has a nice weight to it and my hand was a little bit more comfortable. The length of the Sport when posted was fairly comfortable for me.

EDC-ness

Pam:  The Kaweco is a great pocket pen, especially the Kaweco Sport, for it’s petite/cute size and lightweightedness.  It’s also a great way for me to lose this pen into my many pockets or not notice it before throwing my pants into the laundry.  I didn’t try to EDC carry Katherine’s AL, but I would be really interested in purchasing one, and I am pretty sure I will be less likely to lose it or toss it with my dirty laundry.

Katherine: The plastic Sport was my EDC for a few months before I jumped off the deep end and started exploring vintage pens. I had a mint green, Fine nib Sport that I stuck in my pocket, threw in my backpack and generally manhandled. It did great. I ended up gifting it to a friend I was living with for a week (Hi Tatsie! Thanks for letting me stay with you in Singapore!) but I eventually picked up another one, used, to be a project pen (hello urushi, meet my faceted friend). I’ve used my Rose Gold AL on and off as an EDC, and it’s held up similarly — durable, very little (if any) leaking into the cap (perhaps because the nibs are dryish to start with?) and easy to write with quickly. However, I’m a little worried about damaging the finish, so I don’t carry it as often (it was a gift from a cousin).

Claire: The Ice Sport lived in my pocket for several months. About a month ago, I accidentally ran it through the washing machine. No ink leaked out of the pen (no stains on my clothing phew!) and the pen was no worse for the wear. Some ink snuck behind the cap insert, but that’s to be expected.  I carried this pen at work quite frequently, though in my line of work a ballpoint or a permanent marker is more suitable. I have since put a different nib on the pen and don’t carry it as lackadaisically.

Franz: Even though I do not use my Skyline Sport for my journaling, or letter-writing needs, it practically lives in my bag ready to be written with. For me, this pen can be used as like a backup when you need to fill out a quick note. In the spirit of the Hand Over That Pen review process, I made it a point to use this pen at my workplace for a day. Let’s just say that it didn’t really impress me as an everyday carry pen. This is mainly because for my larger hands, I need to unscrew and post the cap each time I have to write notes or sign my name. Even though the cap only needs one and a quarter turn to uncap, it was still a bit inconvenient for me. The fine nib performed well as I wrote on the copier paper from our office.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Pam:  I would highly recommend the Kaweco Sport for those who enjoy a small/portable pen and a reliable German nib.  For those who enjoy the durability and heft of the aluminium, the Kaweco is a good, solid upgrade.  The Sport is a great starter pen, but for fans of the Kaweco Sport, the AL is an obvious choice to have to try out.  You won’t regret it.

Katherine: If you like small pens (and I mean small), the Kaweco Sport is fantastic. For the money, I think the plastic Sport is a great pen — durable, neat looking and a solid writer. The AL isn’t a bad pen at all, but at it’s price point, unless you really like the way it looks, it does seem a bit expensive for what it is. Price aside though, I prefer the AL. The pen feels more substantial, nib units are unscrewable (instead of friction fit in the plastic Sport) and the finish can show wear and tear — and I’m a sucker for pens that tell a story.

Claire: The section of this pen is just a little bit narrow for my taste. As such this is never going to be the pen I reach for to take notes in class.  Narrow sections are especially uncomfortable for me thanks to an old fracture in one of my fingers so your mileage may vary. That being said, this is a pen I thoroughly enjoy;  another one may be heading my way as soon as the stainless steel version becomes available.

Franz: I’m gonna go with what Claire said above and echo that the Kaweco Sport is a little too small for my use. If you have big hands, this may not be a pen for a daily user but try one out when you can. It is a cool pen to have in the bag/collection and they’ve got very nice finishes of this pen in the different styles I mentioned in the beginning of this review. I actually want to get the AL Sport Night Edition just because it’s all decked out stealthily with a nice carbon black nib too. But that’s the pen collector in me who wants to have all the stealth pens. Haha!

Cheers!

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Pelikan M200, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, *Kaweco Skyline Sport*, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Pelikan M200, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, *Kaweco Skyline Sport*, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Pelikan M200, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, *Kaweco Skyline Sport*, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
A few Kaweco Sports from left to right: Skyline Sport, ICE Sport, AL Sport, and Classic Sport

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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