Review: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (Brooks EPW, 14k Fine Cursive Italic)

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.

In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz
In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz

 

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.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia Meeting Notebook

 

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.

 

EDC-ness

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!

EPW material close up of the cap and barrel

 

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!

 

Small/Pocket Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300
Posted pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300
Unposted pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805
Posted pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805
Unposted pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Review: Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen (Sky, Broad Cursive Italic Nib)

 

Happy 2018 folks! Thank you for your continued readership and we are looking forward to provide you with more reviews, and other interesting content. And for our first pen review of the year, here’s a blue pen from Sailor.

Also, just in case you’re wondering, the notebook the pen is resting on is a Musubi handmade diary just arrived from Singapore. We may review this notebook after some use. We are not affiliated in any way. They were quite popular at the San Francisco Pen Show in 2017 and they’re friendly people as well.

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: Ahhhhhh. I want a sky. They look so cool. Even the converter showing looks cool!

Pam: I am totally biased given that I own a Sailor Sky in the Progear Slim size.  The blue material is the same, however, there are more metal parts to the King of Pen which adds to the weight and hand feel. (More on that later.)

Franz: “Blue Sky smilin’ at me, nothing but blue Sky… do I see…”. Ever had a pen make you just wanna sing? Well, this King of Pen (KoP) Sky did it for me and I got Sinatra’s voice in my head.

It shouldn’t come as a shock to a lot of people that I just adore the blue finish of the pen and the shape of the Pro Gear is a great aesthetic as well. I’d say that in my hand, the Pro Gear KoP size is in between a Pelikan M800 and Pelikan M1000. A pen of substance if you will.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Being one of Franz’s, this pen sports a wonderful BCI. The nib is quite large, but a joy to write with. Smooth, juicy without being sloppy and capable of crispy line variation.

Pam: Sailor has one of the most beautiful and consistent nibs on the market.  The KOP nib is no exception.  The cursive italic was expertly ground and the slight springiness of the nib allows for a great ink flow.

Franz: Mirroring what Pam said, Sailor nibs are well tuned with a hint of feedback out of the box . I’ve purchased a couple Sailor pens in 2017 and it wrote oh so perfectly for me without any adjustment. I got this pen second hand via a well-known auction site for a great price but when I got it, I found that the tines were a bit misaligned and almost too far apart. I inked it up and found that the flow was too much. So what do you do in this situation? You wait for the next pen show and ask Mr. Mike Masuyama to take care of it! Which is what I did and I also asked Masuyamasan to transform the Broad nib into a crisp cursive italic. Been loving the nib ever since.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia 6.5 x 8.25 Meeting Book

 

Write It Up

Katherine: The KOP Pro Gear is a little bigger than I’d prefer, but still very comfortable and usable. I had no fatigue using it for extended periods, but do prefer the standard sized Pro Gear overall (better for my wallet, I suppose).

Pam: This size reminds me of the Pelikan M800 where it appears to be intimidating to those with pixie hands but is surprisingly comfortable. I find that the girth of the pen to be comfortable to hold for long periods of time.  The weight of the pen doesn’t seem to bother me at all as it’s a well balanced pen when unposted.  It does get long and more unwieldy for me when posted.

Franz: As I mentioned in the beginning, the Pro Gear KoP’s size is between the Pelikan M800 and M1000. These are two pens that I’m very happy to write with so this pen definitely fills my hand well. I wrote with the Sky in both posted and unposted modes at 10 minutes each and found that I’m comfortable either way. I lean more towards writing with cap unposted because it’s just a little bit more balanced that way. The cap band does place a bit more weight when posted but it wasn’t top heavy at all.

EDC-ness

Katherine: Works just fine as an EDC. The clip is strong and it takes 2 cap turns to uncap, which isn’t crazy, but feels extra secure.

Pam:  This would be a pretty good EDC pen.  The only down side is that this beauty maybe a bit too eye catching.

Franz: I use the KoP Sky at my workplace quite regularly and found it very useful as a daily carry pen. The broad cursive italic was just perfect for the copier paper we use as well as on my Rhodia meeting book. The clip like every other Sailor is very secure on my dress shirt pocket and the 2 turns to uncap isn’t too bad at all. It does fill either via cartridge/converter so I found myself refilling the converter after 3-4 days of use.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: As mentioned earlier, I prefer the non-KOP Pro Gear more. But, I do love the way the KOP Pro Gear looks — it’s like a chubbier cuter (but larger) version of the Pro Gear! And a solidly awesome pen to boot. Alas, I can’t justify the price point (I can barely justify the price point on most Pro Gears these days…)

Pam: The Sailor KOP is a fantastic pen for those who enjoy the Sailor Progear but want something with a bit more heft and solid feel in hand.  It could easily become a daily carry pen or “the” pen that is constantly inked.  If there was a KOP in the right color (combination), it would easily make it to my grail pen list. As much as I love the Sailor Progear Slim and Sailor Progear, the KOP is an easy yes for me.  Too bad my wallet says no alot more than I do.

Franz: Four words. Bear paws are happy! The Pro Gear King of Pen is definitely for medium to large sized hands (but Pam who has the smallest hand among the 3 loves it) and I truly prefer this against the Classic size of the Pro Gear pens. In the photos below, the Pro Gear size comparisons dramatically show the big step up in size between the Classic and the King of Pen. Another key difference of a King of Pen is its nib. It is springier than a Classic or Slim size Pro Gear and provides flair to my writing that I appreciate very much.

Because of the price point of the King of Pen, it does dig into your wallet a bit..er..a lot. But it’s all a question of value. I would like to repeat that I won this second hand pen via an auction for a great price and I’m very happy about it. Would I purchase a brand new KoP Sky if this one didn’t come along? **cough** I would **cough**. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Pam’s Pro Gear Slim Sky.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. 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)

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Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 45 (Fine Cursive Italic)

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Hand Over That Pen, please!

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.

In the Hand: F-C Model 45 (posted)
In the Hand: F-C Model 45 (posted)
In the Hand: F-C Model 45 (unposted)
In the Hand: F-C Model 45 (unposted)

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.

Pam writes like a font. 
Pam writes like a font.
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A writing sample in Katherine’s messy handwriting. (Pilot VP fine for comparison)
The 45 hanging out on a coffee table in Katherine's office. Notice the scuffs on the nib.
The 45 hanging out on a coffee table in Katherine’s office. Notice the scuffs on the nib.

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.

In my small hands, this pen is totally usable unposted, but it feels pretty light. (I have eczema, pls ignore. :<)
It’s a better balanced pen when posted.

EDC-ness

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.

Grip-ping Impressions

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!

 

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Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M805, Edison Beaumont, Pelikan M200, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Parker 75, and Lamy Safari

 

Posted cap from left to right: Pelikan M805, Edison Beaumont, Pelikan M200, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Parker 75, and Lamy Safari
Posted cap from left to right: Pelikan M805, Edison Beaumont, Pelikan M200, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Parker 75, and Lamy Safari

 

Unposted from left to right: Pelikan M805, Edison Beaumont, Pelikan M200, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Parker 75, and Lamy Safari
Unposted from left to right: Pelikan M805, Edison Beaumont, Pelikan M200, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Parker 75, and Lamy Safari
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