Katherine: I didn’t have a pen and ink pairing for June — I had 30! I kept up with the #30inks30days challenge on Instagram and had quite a lot of fun.I repurposed the (empty) June page from my 2017 Hobonichi to track my progress. I own more ink samples than I’d care to admit, and I had a lot of fun trying new ones and revisiting old favorites. I also own more pens than I can use regularly, and this gave me a chance to get some of them inked up and writing!
Pam: As luck would have it, ’tis the season to reveal an ink in my stash that I have been hoarding. It has patiently waited for a pen-mate. Thankfully, my minty dreams have come true with the Vanness edition of the Franklin Christoph Model 45 which is the perfect color match to Papier de Plume’s Lake Michigan Summer. The minty color sings of happy summer days as well as the soothing waters of a lake shore in both ink and pen.
I have typically avoided minty inks due to the a possible brightness that detracts from the readability of an ink. I don’t have any problem with this ink. It’s dark and well saturated to make reading a breeze. The comfort of the model 45 rivals that of my Pilot Prera which is practically a daily carry at work. Not only is the ink and pen pairing a dream come true for me; I can’t imagine a better color than the minty Vanness edition Model 45.
Franz: Hellooo BLUE-tiful! I have had this M800 Blue o’ blue for a while now and figured to ink it up just for practicing and improving my novice italic calligraphy skills. The Blue o’ blue (Blue over blue) was a Special Edition pen by Pelikan in 2010 and I was fortunate to have gotten this pen early in my collecting days. The translucency of this material never ceases to amaze me. #ilovebluepens
I also inked up the M800 Blue o’ blue to match with the Maruzen Athena Eternal Blue ink that I have been growing to like. The Eternal Blue ink has shading that mimics the Blue o’ blue’s material. The double broad italic nib is a fitting nib for this ink because it helps bring out the shading even more.
Katherine: I’m another year older and (supposedly) another year wiser this year… so I’ve chosen to celebrate with a Platinum 3776 Yamanaka, paired with Edelstein Olivine. I’ve loved the texture on the Yamanaka for a while, and was finally lucky enough to pick one up last month. It sat uninked for a couple weeks while I wanted to find it a wonderful partner (pretty uncommon for me, I usually ink things up immediately!). Franz brought over a bottle of Olivine and it seemed like a perfect match. The deep green reminds me of plants, and the textured transparent body of a terrarium — a perfect pairing for the middle of spring.
Here’s to another year of friendship, adventure and pens. (And maybe a few more plants)
Pam: I had struggled to find the perfect ink color for Pelikan’s Ocean Swirl. The teals were either too blue or too green. I originally attempted Organic Studio’s Walden but found the flow of the Ink to be too wet for an already broad EF.
My last attempt with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku was a serendipitous hit. The Pelikan nib is wet enough that the ink color shines though and the line width is within the expected range of an EF. Also, like all well behaved inks, it is much faster drying with little concern for smearing in my Midori’s travelers notebook.
I am glad to return to my first inky loves in the last couple of months. Can’t wait to try more of the “oldies but goodies.” Are there any new ink brands that are comparable to the staples like Pilot and Sailor?
Franz: This month, I finally inked up my Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV Vanness Exclusive pen. The mint color of this pen really just appeals to me even if I know that it’s a small pen for my hand. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve used the pen in conjunction with my Starbucks Philippines Weekly Planner and so far it’s a nice complement to it. I’m “trying” to be a bit more organized in scheduling tasks and events and by using this combo, it’s been enjoyable for me.
Since this is a Vanness Exclusive pen, I figured to ink with one of Lisa Vanness’ favorite colors, turquoise. The Sheaffer Skrip Peacock Blue is a nice vintage ink to complement this pen. I know for a fact that there are inks out there that would match the color of the pen however, this is a more personal ink to me for various personal reasons. Let’s just say that this ink is a homage to a couple people. One of those people used to say, “An italic gives you traction…”. And come on, who doesn’t like turquoise ink? Hmm? Hmm? ;-P
In this review, we are once again joined by our friend, Roz. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this pen Roz!
For this post, we are reviewing a color prototype finish of Franklin-Christoph’s Pocket 20 model. This pen was acquired at the 2016 San Francisco Pen Show and seems to be one of the first pens they made with the EPW (Emerald, Purple, White) acrylic created by Mr. Jonathon Brooks. These EPW and other Brooks acrylics are seemingly used by Franklin-Christoph to produce different models in a small batch fashion and is usually only sold at pen shows when available.
As mentioned before, we primarily produce reviews to reflect our different hand sized perspectives. We thank you for your continued readership!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: The Pocket 20 is so cute! And this material is gorgeous. Overall, I prefer the look of its longer sibling, the Model 20, but the P20, especially in a nifty material like this is quite nice too. My one gripe, as with the Model 20 is that the engraved lines are a little weird to me — I’d prefer this pen if it didn’t have those and was just a smooth cylinder. But, the busier material on this pen does a good job of hiding them.
Pam: The material on this pen is outstanding. It has a lot of color, depth and patterning. I believe that the material is from the now famed Jonathon Brooks. His “blanks” are breathtaking. The shape doesn’t take away from the material and really let you see it in all it’s glory. I really enjoy the Pocket 20 for its unique shape and portability.
Franz: That Pocket 20 is small! It definitely is a “pocket” pen. I honestly love F-C’s bevel designs on their cap and barrel and the Pocket 20’s silhouette shows them very well. The carved rings leading to the beveled edges are just so cool.
As for the pen’s EPW acrylic finish? What else can I say that the ladies haven’t mentioned yet? A fabulous shimmery nebula? I have to admit, I frequently caught myself admiring the beautiful finish and at times distracted me from my writing time. Hehehe… =)
Roz: I have to say, as someone who shies away from the shiny and glittery, the Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 does a pretty good job balancing a subtle glimmer while still having distinct flecks of shine in its pen. It’s more a galaxy sparkle versus a disco ball.
The Business End
Katherine: I love the F-C Masuyama FCIs. And this one was no different. A wonderful balance between smoothness and line variation — this is the nib that first got me thinking about line variation and how much fun it could be. Everyone should try this nib at least once.
Pam: I am really partial to cursive italics for their crisp line variation. The fine cursive italic is a well tuned nib with the right amount of ink on paper. I agree with Katherine that this nib is worth trying for yourself, particularly with a gold nib. I am a firm believer in steel nibs (particularly in my newly dubbed “tiger grip”) however, this is an example in which having a “springier” material is beneficial to the line created and the writing experience.
Franz: I must mention that recessed nib/section designs float my boat. The Pocket 20 and its bigger brother, Model 20 Marietta, have the same design and fits a #6 nib size. This fine cursive italic was tuned perfectly with beautiful line variation. I definitely enjoyed writing with it.
Roz: The nib on the Pocket 20 took me a while to get used to. Even though I find it maybe too scratchy for me to write comfortably, the lines are very sharp and crisp.
Write It Up
Katherine: I find the Model 20 quite comfortable, and the Pocket 20 is no different. It’s shorter, but because the Model 20 is so light, the Pocket 20 feels very similar. The big upside is I can imagine eyedropper filling a P20, but not a Model 20 (I’d just NEVER write it dry) — and eyedroppering could give it a little more heft, if that’s what you’re looking for. Personally though, I enjoy the way it feels like a light extension of my hand.
Pam: I prefer both the look and the feel of the Pocket 20 compared to the original model 20. Due to the slip cap, I find the pen to be really comfortable. Even more comfortable than the pocket 66 due to the lack of a step and threads. I think the only other F-C pen that I find comparably comfortable is the model 45. So if you like the model 45, the Pocket 20 is a winner.
Franz: I wrote with the Pocket 20 posted for about 15 minutes and I love that it posts deeply and provides a balanced weight. It weighs almost next to nothing and I did not feel fatigued at all. There’s pretty much no step between the section and the barrel and I gripped the pen comfortably. Unposted mode for the bear paw? It’s a short pen for comfort and I’ll just take another half a second to post the cap for longer writing sessions.
Roz: Super light! The Pocket 20 was so light I almost lost track of how long I would be writing. I did need some adjustment time getting used to the engraved rings near the start of the pen’s grip, but it wasn’t any deal breaker – just something my thumb had to get used to.
Katherine: No clip! This pen loves running away… but it does do great tucked into my zip hobonichi case or dropped into a pocket. The slip cap is super convenient for notes on the go — but I did notice that there were a few instances where I didn’t cap the pen tightly enough and almost put an inky disaster into my pocket. After a couple scares, I got much better at capping it tightly — but it’s still something I worry about.
Pam: It’s difficult to justify adding a clip to the pen because the material and lines of the pen already is a complete package visually. However, on a utilitarian point of view, a clip would greatly enhance the EDC-ness of the pen. I kept losing the pen to the bottom of my white coat pocket and always feared getting ink all over the section and nib from all the jostling. Definitely kept the pen in a case after half a shift.
Franz: In my workplace, the Pocket 20 is a decent Every Day Carry pen. No twisting of the cap needed so it was quick to open and sign my name, or take a phone number down. The fine cursive italic wrote nicely on the copier paper we use and gave line variation to differentiate from my co-workers’ gel pen writing. As for carry-ability, just like Pam I found the pen always lying down in the bottom of my pocket and had to fish it out often because of the lack of a clip. Franklin-Christoph does provide the option of purchasing the pen with or without a clip so no biggie.
Filling system options? Unfortunately, the short length of the pen does not allow a converter to fit so you are limited to either inserting a short international cartridge, or eyedropper filled for more ink options as long as you apply silicon grease on the appropriate areas. Although, you can do what I did and empty out a cartridge and syringe fill it with any of your favorite fountain pen inks. =)
Roz: I’m not confident enough to carry a pen with no clip in anything but my lovely Nock case, but I really enjoyed using this pen throughout the work day. I spend a lot of time stuck on a keyboard, so it’s nice to take a break from typing position and pick up a light pen and go to town!
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: If this was my only pen, would I use it and love doing so? Yeah. Do I own one? Nope. Where’s the disconnect? Welllll — It’s a perfectly solid and reasonable pen, but the aesthetic doesn’t stand out to me. It’s a pen that gets the job done and I enjoy writing with (I do own two FC+MM FCIs) but given all the pen choices out there (even just from Franklin-Christoph!) I like other pens more.
Pam: I really miss the beautiful utilitarian-ness of the Pocket 20. Honestly, the slip cap and clip (should there be one), makes this pen a great pen for quick and easy deployment. It’s not as great for “rough” play like a Kaweco Sport due to the lack of threads to cap the pen, but it’s the perfect pen for my specific use case at work. If you are in the market for a beautiful pen that is really convenient to use for quick note taking without rough and tumbles throughout the day, this pen is for you. Bonus, there are enough materials this pen is made in to match any person or setting.
Franz: The Pocket 20 is a neat pen to have and if pocket pens are your jam, you gotta have one of these. For my pen habit, this wouldn’t be a pen I’d always have in my pocket due to the smaller size however, I would keep it inked up and kept in my daily bag for portability and emergency use.
Roz: I admit I started off unsure about the look, the nib, and the grip of the Pocket 20. However, at the end of my time with the Franklin-Christoph, I must say this pen really grew on me. It was a pleasant pen to write with and I enjoyed having a chance to really try the Pocket 20 out!
Katherine: The grey frosty cap reminds me of dirty snow, and the dusty purple ink of cold winter nights… just kidding. I just really like this pairing, and the pen is new to me, so I’m really excited and using it a lot. I first saw this pen over a year and a half ago (on May 12th, 2016 — I don’t remember many dates, but I remember important ones!), in the pen case of a friend (who shall remain nameless), and I fell in love. I tried other pens in the meantime, a black FC 45 IPO (which we reviewed) and a Wonderpens Model 20 in the same “bronze” material… but it wasn’t quite the same. To me the combination of this smokey material and compact form factor (with a sprinkle of nostalgia) is magical. Don’t judge. Anyway, friend decided to buy some fancy urushi pen or something, and offered me this pen… and now it’s MINE.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Wow, I’m dramatic tonight. Time to go to bed… Waiting wasn’t really that bitter. Just lots of scoping FC tables at shows and on IG.)
Pam: This has been one of the worst winters at work within recent memory for me. Between medication shortages and the flu vaccine being practically ineffective (twice I have gotten the flu… twice!), it has been an incredibly busy season at the hospital. Thus, my homage to this season is the Pilot Prera (in white) paired with Pelikan Turquoise. The Pilot Prera is a workhorse pen for me given that the F nib works wonderfully on office paper. Pelikan Turquoise a wonderfully vibrant ink that pops off the page of my rather dull reports at work. As people say, it’s the little things in life. Stay warm, healthy and safe this season everyone. (Please be patient with your local pharmacies and pharmacists as we troubleshoot the ridiculously long list of medication shortages.)
Franz: The first month of the new year is represented by a vintage Pelikan! Actually, this is my oldest Pelikan pen and it’s a Pelikan 400 in black-striped finish. This was actually one of the last pens I received in 2017 so it’s more of a recent acquisition. Upon my review, this 400 was manufactured around the year 1953 due to the lack of engraving on the cap band and the nib imprint without the Pelikan logo. The black stripes are between green translucent strips that let you see your ink level very subtly and I find it very captivating. It took me almost a year to find this pen at a reasonable price and be in decent condition. And having an oblique medium nib allows me to use it at work and for my journaling as well.
When I received the pen in December 2017, it took me three days to decide what to ink it up with… three days! I’m sure you fountain pen folk will understand. Anyway, I decided to ink it up with Pilot Blue Black which is very familiar to me and usable at work. Since Pilot Blue Black is water resistant, if not waterproof, it’s what I use at my workplace for documents to alternate with Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium.
It’s almost the end of January and I find myself placing this Pelikan 400 in my pocket on a daily basis and have just reinked it a couple days ago. Even if it’s smaller than what I prefer in pens, I just post the cap and write away. I do alternate it during the day with my Pelikan M805 with a medium cursive italic nib though, but that’s for another pairing post. =)
What favorite pen and ink combo have you been writing with for the month of January?
Katherine: I really like the material of this pen. It’s so pretty! The design of the pen isn’t my favorite though, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not bad. It’s probably worth noting that I’m not a big fan of what I think of as FC’s “chunkier” designs, or the indented rings they like putting on pens. I love their models with clean lines — the 45, the p66, 66 and (a little bit less) the 20, but the 31 just isn’t as clean. But, personal preference.
Pam: I was blown away by the size and material of this pen. The material of the pen is stunning with alot of iridescence and depth. I really like the shape of the pen, but the size of the pen is a bit much for me. I have mixed feelings about the indentations on the body and the placement of the nib. It adds texture to the body and interest in the eye, but also breaks up the lines of the pen shape. The nib is semi-hooded which baffles me a little bit. I didn’t notice this before on other FC pens and I can’t decide if I like it or not. Overall, I think the model 31 is a great add to the line up for those with larger hands or prefer larger pens.
Franz: “Holy swirly purple pen Batman!” Yep, that was my reaction when I saw this at the LA pen show in February 2017. This was the first Model 31 I ever saw and it was (at that time) the only prototype in the purpurae material. When I saw this pen, I knew I had to have it. Anyway, going back to the pen model, this is a fairly large pen size in the Franklin-Christoph line up. Their model 19 is still the largest of the group but I think the model 31 is just a level below that.
Now for the details that my co-bloggers have mentioned, I love the indented rings on the barrel as it’s quite distinctive. While I’m at a pen show hovering at a Franklin-Christoph table, I can immediately identify a model 31 from their display because of these rings. The nib is recessed just like their model 20 and provides a smooth transition from the section to the nib which I’m liking very much.
The Business End
Katherine: Like all FC nibs, this one was a comfortable and unproblematic writer. Franz had a steel medium in it and it was smooth, wet without being soggy, and an all around undramatic but very reliable writer. No complaints!
Pam: Like all FC nibs that I have tried, it wrote well. Smooth, saturated lines without getting too heavy. The black anodized nib is amazing. I particularly like how the logo stands out on such a sleek nib.
Franz: Surprisingly, I asked for a stock medium nib when I got this pen and Mr. Jim Rouse actually chose the Shadow (black) finish of the nib to match the pen. As with all Franklin-Christoph pens bought at a pen show, the nib is tuned by Jim to your writing preferences. So this medium nib is one of the smoothest, and perfect flow writers I have.
Thanks very much ROUSE! 🙂
Write It Up
Katherine: This pen was a wee bit top heavy when posted (the cap doesn’t post super deeply, so the pen ends up kinda long), but when unposted, is very comfortable. The threads are on the section, so I don’t even have to worry about gripping them when I hold my pen further forward. I could write for pages with this pen.
Pam: I preferred writing with this pen unposted. In my pixie handed fist grip I found it to be top heavy when posted. I had no issues writing with this pen as I found it relatively light (for it’s size) and well balanced. The width of the pen is quite comfortable for either the fisty grip or the tripod grip. For a larger pen, it is quite comfortable in petite hands.
Franz: As seen from the “In the Hand” photos above, the Model 31 is perfect for my hand with both the cap posted, or unposted. The elongated section is great because my grip comfortably lands right before the threads start when unposted. If I post the cap, it does get a bit long but it’s not unwieldy at all. The light cap doesn’t make it top heavy for me especially when I move my grip a little further back. #BearPaw
I wrote with the 31 unposted, and posted equally within twenty minutes and it was a very pleasant journaling session.
Katherine: This made a solid EDC carry. It feels solidly made, uncaps fairly quickly and has a reliable clip. I wouldn’t hesitate to keep this pen in my pocket, or even throw it in my jacket pocket with my keys (don’t worry Franz, I didn’t!).
Pam: Like all FC pens,I have no qualms using this pen as an EDC. It’s well built and should there be a clip, a great add on to any shirt pocket!
Franz: I have used the Model 31 at my workplace quite a few times already and it works nicely as an Every Day Carry type of pen. The medium nib writes nicely on the cheap copier paper and the cap twists off very quickly for fast writing requirements. The only issue of this specific pen is that it’s clip-less and at times I worried that It might roll away when I set it down. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.
Let me just add that when I bought this pen, Jim said that I can request to have a clip installed if I wanted to. So far I like it as it is but if I change my mind, I’m sure Franklin-Christoph will take care of it because their great customer service is legendary.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: All in all, I think (like most of FC’s pens) this is a very solid, well made pen. However, the aesthetics just don’t jive with me. I love the material, but ultimately found the pen a little too chunky and a little too busy for my tastes. But, if the look appeals to you (and now that I’m looking at their website… perhaps that yellow and black?) it’d be an easy buy for me.
Pam: Franklin-Christoph has a pen to suit every taste, hand size and aesthetic. The model 31 is a bit big for me and the material is not exactly my cup of tea. Although this pen doesn’t particularly scream “buy me,” I have been a fan of FC for a while. The pocket 20, model 45 and model p66 are totally up my alley. FC materials are also always amazing, so you really can’t lose! The model 31 is a great add for any collection really. You should really check out their table at your nearest pen show.
Franz: Dude… it only took me a couple years but I think I can finally say that I found a Franklin-Christoph pen that fits my hand very nicely.
If that last statement isn’t enough, let me just establish that I am very smitten by the Model 31. Before the 31 came out, I was leaning more towards their Model 03 and/or Model 02 but couldn’t decide which one I liked better. But I am thankful that I met this pen at the LA pen show and it has not been un-inked since I got it. I’m afraid that I might inadvertently start a Model 31 prototype collection if I’m not careful. (Channeling @murberdraws from Instagram)
As contrasted by the experiences of the two ladies above, I would recommend the Model 31 for people with medium to larger hands. If you think the model 03 is kinda small, and the model 19 is too big, try out a model 31. You never know.
“Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”
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!
Katherine: This pen looks SO cool. Franz has the Italian Ice version (a special edition-ish material F-C makes some pens in) with a 14k gold Medium Masuyama CI. To me there are two elements to this pen — the Italian ice material and the shape. Realistically, both are pretty darned cool looking to me. I love the rounded shape of the 66 and the flat side means I don’t have to worry about it rolling away. I also love the Italian Ice material, the purple hues are subtle but give the material complexity. I think this is an unpopular opinion — but I like the Italian Ice more then I like the Antique Glass. Yep, I said it.
Pam: Franklin-Christoph knows how to tease! This material is pretty unique as its mysteries are revealed with some sunlight. The clear to purple tint is like a wonderful little insider secret to those fortunate enough to have seen the pen in the sun. The Original Ice, Italian Ice or Antique glass material greatly compliments the shape and aesthetics of the model 66. The Original and Italian Ice reminds me of a frosty glass and icicles for the upcoming winter season, respectively. The Antique Glass reminds me of the glass apothecary/pharmacy bottles of yore, filled with ingredients and medicines. All three materials would really show off the beauty of sloshing ink if filled as an eye dropper. The Model 66 is almost seamless when capped and post-able when it’s not, aka, practically perfect! The flat surface lends unique design and provides the added bonus of an un-rolling feature. I really appreciate the subtlety that F-C employs in branding their pens. The etching is light and unobtrusive to the eye or touch, but in the right angle, easily found. Honestly, with materials and design like this pen, F-C doesn’t need much overt advertisement.
Franz: The Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis has been a pen that I’ve always been intrigued with ever since I held them at pen shows. They use the Model 66 to allow their customers to test their available multiple nib choices. I got this Italian Ice Model 66 at the 2016 LA Pen Show and it fills my large hands very well. Under even indoor lighting, the pen really just looks like a clear material (as pictured above). But if the pen is under diffused semi-directional daylight, it has a very interesting purple tint to it. It is quite difficult to photograph the correct color of the tint and unfortunately my photos below are more blueish than what you see in person.
The F-C Model 66 may be inked up using a standard international ink cartridge, or converter. But if you detach the converter, it can also be used as an eyedropper filled pen. Just make sure to use a little bit of 100% silicone grease on the section-barrel threads, and the threads of the nib unit to prevent any leakage.
The Business End
Katherine: The Model 66 takes #6 nibs — so it’s interchangeable with many nibs from F-C. This particular nib was a surprisingly fine, but still crisp medium CI by Mike Masuyama. It’s smooth, has a little bit of spring and was overall a delight to use. I think this particular nib is finer than most Medium CIs, since I have a hard time writing with most MCIs, but had no problems with this one. The only thing worth noting is that while I do enjoy the slight spring of the 14k nib more than the steel, it’s not worth the price difference to me. All my F-Cs have and have had (a couple have been rehomed) steel nibs.
Pam: The medium cursive italic nib was wonderfully crisp and provided a well defined, crisp line. It’s a joy to write with and really shines with the Franklin-Christoph Tenebris Purpuratum, a dark and well saturated black/purple ink. This is one of the most pleasant CI nibs I have written with. This is just a great lesson that you should have your nib tuned by Jim Rouse whenever you have the chance.
Franz: I asked Jim of Franklin-Christoph for a 14k medium cursive italic nib because their 14k is a little bit springier than the 18k. As Katherine mentioned, this medium CI is finer than the usual ones they have. Because I have a very light touch, I enjoyed the line width and variation this nib laid down. As long as I have it aligned to the sweet spot, it’s a smooth writer.
Write It Up
Katherine: Can I skip writing and just ogle this pen? No. Dang it. The Model 66 is comfortable for me — but a touch long. I personally think it looks a little ridiculous in my hand. And, if I post the pen… it feels like I’m writing with a a slightly too-long pen with a weight at the end. This pen is usable, but when writing, I prefer shorter pens. (The p66 is PERFECT for me. But that’s for another review…)
Pam: Tiny hands handle pens alike! I, too, found the Model 66 to be slightly too long, even unposted. The length was more tolerable in the traditional tripod grip. When the pen was posted, it felt unbalanced and top heavy, especially with my “iron fist” grip; it felt like the cap would fall off in this particular grip. This is a great pen for those with hands/paws of the normal to larger persuasion or for those with smaller hands who don’t mind the added length. For the tripod grip with the CI nib, I actually prefer the length of the FC model 45 or shorter pocket models. However, the girth of the model 66 was pretty comfortable in any grip/fist formation.
Franz: I wrote with this pen unposted as I found its length very well balanced and posting the cap seemed unnecessary. The cap when posted seems wobbly at first and if I try to secure it, I have visions that the cap lip might crack. Don’t worry, I think it’s durable enough and it’s probably just me.
Anyway, I wrote in my journal for a good 20 minutes and my hand was quite comfortable using it. I grip the pen on the barrel right above where it meets the section. I found this very enjoyable and my thoughts just flowed as I journalled and also wrote the lyrics of a Bossa nova song.
Katherine: Franklin-Christoph calls this a desk pen, and a desk pen it should be. It’s a fairly long clip-less pen with a cap that can roll away (even if the body doesn’t)… Not my favorite combination on strange meeting tables.
Pam: I enjoy the pen for the specific setting of sitting-at-my-desk-with-a-hot-cup-of-tea/coffee-to-journal/memory keep. Due to the lack of a clip and somewhat wobbly cap, I wouldn’t feel comfortable throwing this into my white coat. Knowing me, I would scratch up the material if I accidentally threw it in with my keys or crack the beautiful material from throwing it around too much or lose the cap…
Franz: Yes. The Model 66 is a desk pen for sure but I still gave it a go and used it at work while not at my desk. I placed the pen in my jacket’s inner pocket to make it discrete. The length definitely made the pen stick out the pocket but it also allowed me to quickly grab it when I needed it. The cap unscrews with just half a turn and is quick to deploy. Half a turn! hehe..
The downside of using this clipless pen as an EDC pen is it’s more prone to roll away and fall if you set it down. And in that one day of using it at work, it almost fell once (yipes!). Also, because of it’s length, the pen sticks out of my shirt pocket unsecured which makes it prone to falling out while I’m moving around. As long as I transport the pen in a case to my office desk and use it there, it’s a great pen to use at work.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: Ultimately, this pen isn’t for me. I love the way it looks, but found the length a tad unwieldy both for long writing sessions and as a work pen. I much prefer the size of the Pocket 66, which is very similar, but much shorter. The nib on this pen, as with every F-C nib I’ve tried, is superb. In the end… would I like to own this pen? Yes! It’s gorgeous. Would I use it? Probably not (so… I don’t own it).
Pam: The Model 66 was probably the first design from Franklin-Christoph that caught my attention. The Original Ice was the first material by Franklin-Christoph that had me stalking their website like a hyena on the Serengeti. Of course F-C has been teasing great material for the last 2 years and the Italian Ice is not exception. All in all, this is a great pen that is not only functional, but absolutely beautiful and unique in both design and material.
As this pen and the Ice materials by F-C remind me of the winter season, I find myself wanting to add the pocket 66 to my wishlist for Santa (aka boyfriend) rather than the full model 66. The pocket 66 is more my size. (Actually, almost all of the Franklin-Christoph’s pocket models are more my size…) One of the largest draws for me is also the material, in which I prefer the Original Ice. Hint hint “Santa…”
Franz: As seen in the pen comparison photos, the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis is quite a long pen with substantial girth as well. If you like larger pens, this may be for you. For small, and medium hands, try it out first for you might feel the same way as my colleagues do and opt for the pocket sized one. As for the Italian Ice finish I love it and I’m happy I got it.
I will most probably end up designating this pen for work and leave it on my desk each day. This way I’ll always have a fountain pen at work. Thanks for reading our review of this pen!
Whoa. It’s been a couple days now, and I’m already excited for 2017 — August 25 to 27! Mark your calendars!
To recap, I was loosely looking for an Omas, vintage flex, cool materials, but if I had money left in budget, I said I’d get a Pilot Custom 823 with an FA nib. What did I actually buy? A Franklin-Christoph p66 with a Masuyama Needlepoint in a cool translucent swirly orange and cream color (cool material, check!), and a second generation Wahl Eversharp Doric in striated black with an adjustable semi-flex medium stub (vintage flex, check! same shape as the Omas pens I like… check?)
Here’s my entire haul. Yep, that’s it. Just three things. I’m very proud of coming out of the show UNDER budget.
Now the long version…
I woke up on Friday at 5:45am to pick up a friend at 6:15, despite flying in from Hawaii the night before. I thought I’d be super sleepy (~8 hours of sleep in the two nights before) but I wasn’t. I guess pen show excitement does that! I ran a little bit late (got distracted posting about the new Noodler’s ink to Reddit) but made it to the show in good time.
We arrived at around 7am, before most of the dealers had set up. It was a nice time to walk around before everyone was set up since that was a lot less overwhelming. I met Troy from Brute Force Design and admired his pens (I love the look of all-copper pens, but unfortunately they’re just too heavy for me!) while we both kept an eye on the Franklin-Christoph booth and talked about pen turning (my lathe is showing up in the mail today…).
Scott (of FC) showed up sometime between 8 and 9am with the hand carry suitcase full of prototypes and I pounced. I picked out a lovely “prototype” in a unique orange-and-cream swirl material. FC never gave it a name since they only made 1-3 pens with it. This is my first time buying a pen from FC at a show — and getting the nib tuned with Jim was fantastic! I had opted for the Masuyama needlepoint and he asked if I preferred fineness or smoothness. I went for fineness, and the nib isn’t scratchy at all but has an enjoyable amount of feedback that I can best describe by calling it “pencil-like”.
After this, I made my rounds taking a look at each booth, handling pens, and testing out inks. I had my eye on flex pens and Omas pens and Wahl Eversharp Dorics — I really like the 12-faceted shape. I found my second pen also on Friday morning with Cliff Harrington, who was very, very friendly, helpful, knowledable, and had a great selection of Dorics. But, it was only Friday morning — so I thanked Cliff and swore I’d think about it a little longer. By Saturday afternoon I was legitimately stressed that someone else might buy “my pen”, so I went back and bought it. It’s a second generation Doric in a striated black material with a #9 adjustable nib. It goes from a smooth medium stub to a a wet BB-BBB. I’m very happy with the pen and Cliff was great to work with!
In addition to my pens and ink (I picked up a bottle of Kingdom Note’s pink jellyfish ink from Sunny at Straits Pens) I had a lot of fun meeting some great people and looking at interesting pens. Cliff had Waterman’s World’s Smallest Pen which was neat to see and handle in person. John Corwin had some crazy flex nibs, including a smaller-sized Doric with an adjustable full flex nib (out of my budget). The ink testing station had over 600 inks — and after trying every Akkerman ink there, I decided not to get a bottle (upsides to getting to try before you buy!). I met many folks who were fairly new to pens and many more who had years of pen knowledge to share with me. So many pens, so little time! 🙂
Pens aside, Pam and I hosted a Planner meet up on Saturday afternoon. We spent Saturday morning putting together grab bags of washi tape samples, stickers and cute sticky notes for grab bags — but despite making two dozen, we ran out! It was a fun-filled hour and a half of oggling each other’s planners, sharing supplies and, most importantly, making friends. After the session I have some ideas for a planner experiment I’m going to kick off in a couple days when September 1 rolls around! (Starting with a new month is just easier… I think)
All in all, I had a great time and I managed to stay under budget*! I’m very excited for next year and am full of ideas for new workshops and maybe even being a vendor!
Did you find the pen of your dreams at the SF Show?
* Sidenote: Staying under budget was hard — but I’m really trying to limit the number of pens I own. So this doesn’t at all reflect on a lack of amazing pens at the show, but instead my IRON self-control. Yep. (Real reason? My pen carrier only has 15 slots, so I can’t own more than that without buying another form of pen-transport… and I’m too cheap to shell out $60+ on a nice leather carrier)
Pamela: The Model 45 is a sexy panther of a pen. The lines of the pen are soft, curvy and sleek. The shape and the size reminds me a lot of the Pilot Prera, which is one of my favorite pens to use.
Katherine: It’s a clean, sleek pen. It’s not too flashy, but it looks like someone put some thought into designing it. I know a lot of people wanted to wait and see what others colors came out post-IPO, but of the prototypes I saw, the only one I liked more than the black was the Bronze. So, I got the black. (And at $110, it’s a pretty good deal!) One nit (which is hopefully uncommon) is that my pen showed up with a pretty scuffed nib. There’s an obvious scuff between the slit and the logo, and about half the gold-coloring on the nib is gone. I’m guessing this is a remnant of the nib being hand-ground, but it was a little disappointing anyway. Thankfully, it doesn’t affect writing quality at all — just gives me pen a little more “character”.
Franz: The Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV may be a simple looking pen but it has some elegance and the term aerodynamics come to mind. There are a number of different color acrylic prototypes of this pen floating around from the past few pen shows, but similar to Katherine, the black features the shape well.
The Business End
Pamela: It’s a Mike Masuyama nib. Need I say more?
The nib alone is well worth the price of the pen. Not only are cursive italic nibs typically only available after a custom grind from a nibmeister, this is a cursive italic grind completed by one of the best nibmeisters available. The CI nib is smooth and crisp. I have read that CI is usually less forgiving when it comes to finding and maintain a “sweet spot” but I don’t find that to be case with this particular nib.
Katherine: As Pam mentioned, it’s a crisp and smooth nib. But, magically, its very forgiving and I’ve never caught paper with it. It does run a little drier than I’d prefer — but that makes it great on cheap paper.
Franz: The Model 45 sports a No. 5 size nib which for me seems small, but it works out in the design and for the pen’s small size. Similar to the ladies above, I found the fine cursive italic nib quite smooth and seemed to have a wider sweet spot than I expected. The supplied blue ink cartridge may have been the issue but I found that the flow was too dry for my liking. I think that if I used a better flowing ink, I would have been happier with it.
Write It Up (20-minute writing experience)
Pamela: Posted, the pen is well balanced and rests perfectly in my pixie size hands. The girth of the pen is just wide enough for the traditional tripod grip to be comfortable for a relatively long writing session. I am not used to the traditional grip so my hand tends to cramp up with any pen with a stub or CI nib. I experience fatigue with this pen, but taking a quick break to shake it off is easy enough.
Due to the nature of the grip (the traditional tripod grip) and the nib, my writing speed is decreased to ensure that the CI nib really shines through with it’s crisp, clean lines and edges.
The results from the pen is well worth the extra time and effort.
Franz: I had to write with this pen posted the whole time and it was fairly comfortable. Journaling with it’s cursive italic nib was very nice and pleasing but after an A5 size page of writing, the pen’s size made my hand tired. The longer I wrote with it, my hand seemed to squeeze on the pen tighter.
Katherine: For longer writing sessions, I tend to prefer this pen posted. It stays comfortable in the hand and I like to think the cursive italic helps me keep my hand writing even and (marginally) nice looking. Additionally, putting the threads on the end of pen is an awesome touch — even if I move my grip around (my lazy hand cramps sometimes) I don’t worry about holding threads.
Pamela: I don’t use the model 45 at work since I have other pens that are better suited for the quick deployment like the Pilot VP. I also don’t feel comfortable carrying this in my white coat without a clip or using it on the patient units without a roll stop. On the flip side, it’s a great opportunity to get creative and customize this pen.
I reserve the Model 45 for the reflective/contemplative writing sessions. Using this pen is almost meditative for me as I slow my pace and be more intentional with my writing. Watching this pen in action brings me a sense of joy and ease as I practice a little slice of mindfulness.
Katherine: The 45 uncaps quickly, which is nice for jotting down quick notes. And the dry nib makes taking notes on mediocre work paper a possibility. Perhaps because of the dryness of the pen, it doesn’t seem to spit into its cap as I drop it and throw it in my backpack or pocket. The only downside is the lack of a cap or rollstop — so if I’m not careful with where I put it, the 45 can easily roll away.
Franz: I brought this pen to work for one day and it was actually very good for writing quick notes. Just like Katherine, I appreciated the quick uncapping capability. However, being a clipless pen made it difficult to store in my jacket pocket, or even in my shirt pocket. I found that I was having to “fish” it out of the pocket each time I needed it. So, it just stayed on my desk and only used it when I got to sit down.
Pamela: I was initially apprehensive about the Model 45 given how small it is that it would feel too insubstantial and well, plastic-y. I am pleasantly surprised that the material is sturdy and has great acoustics. Yes, acoustics. The sound of the cap separating and meeting the body of the pen is satisfying and even enjoyable for me. (It’s really the little things in life right?) It takes less than a full turn for me to get the cap off the pen for fast and easy deployment when needed.
Posted, the pen is the perfect length for comfort and is well balanced. Despite the small size of the pen, it’s really comfortable for me to hold in the traditional tripod position for the optimal use of the wonderful CI nib. Writing a couple sentences with it is easy, breezy and beautiful.
I can’t think of a better way to express my appreciation for a pen than with a purchase! The review is was a very convenient rationale. I know, the sacrifices we have to make…
Just be aware that between both our pens, our fine CI nibs were on the dry side out of the box. My writing pressure is significantly heavier than Katherine so a small tweak was all it took for me.
Katherine: I tried Dan’s (hello Dan! Do you have a website?) 45 before purchasing my own — I was wow’d by how comfortable it was to hold, posted or unposted, and by how smooth the F CI nib is. So I got my own, and it hasn’t disappointed. I tend to use it unposted (I’m that lazy), but it’s equally comfortable either way for me.
Overall, I think this pen is great value for $110 (we’ll see what the post-IPO price looks like!). It’s a small pen (it easily fits in my skinny jeans’ pockets) that is comfortable to write with even for long durations. It’s a solidly built writer with an interesting nib that transitions well from my workday to my before-bedtime journaling.
Franz: I feel that the Model 45 is a very good pen for people with small to average sized hands. With my larger hands, I can say that the 45 is not for me. I was only able to use the pen posted unlike Pam and Katherine. This is coming from a person who owns and enjoys writing with a Franklin-Christoph Model 66. But that’s probably reserved for another review.
Since pens are a very personal and tactile experience, I do recommend everyone interested to try out and hold this pen to see if it’s right for them.
Large hands notwithstanding, I do like the pen’s appearance, build quality, and nib variety. I also feel that it’s a very good value for the money. Thanks for letting me use your pen Katherine!