Shawn Newton of http://newtonpens.com was kind enough to send us a pen to test out along with one of Liz’s (his wife) pen wraps. The pen featured is a Slim Short Townsend made out of a dark tortoise celluloid and is fitted with a Sailor music nib.
Thank you so much Shawn!!!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: I love the design of the Townsend — it’s sleek, but interesting and it posts. I don’t typically post my pens, but I like the option of doing so if I’m worried about losing a cap (hasn’t happened yet, but you never know…). In addition to a design I enjoy, the pen is very well made — there are no seams and no blemishes or scratches on the pen. The threads on this particular pen are a little tight — but I assume they’ll loosen up over time. (I asked Shawn — and he said that the threads will ease up over time and the threads are cut this way because of the material. I’ve tried a handful of other Newton pens and have never noticed this on any of them.)
Franz: The Newton Townsend has a very nice shape. Closed, the diameter from the top of the cap down the barrel slightly becomes thicker until the middle of the pen. And then it tapers nicely down to the end of the barrel. And with this brown tortoise material, it reminded me of that scene when Harry Potter first held his wand at Ollivanders. The pen wrap included was made by his wife, Elizabeth (Liz) Newton, and it was a very colorful 6 pen roll/wrap. It was well-constructed and accommodates long pens.
Pam: Full admission here: I squeal or make noises that are not meant for public ears when excited. I may have squealed when I saw the tortoise acrylic and got subsequently squeakier when I was able to handle the Townsend with the Sailor music nib.
Shawn Newton was first brought to my attention for his unique custom pens and innovative designs, particularly the Shinobi. I can definitely understand why people gravitate towards the Shinobi, but the Townsend deserves some time in the spotlight! When capped, the Townsend has a long elegant shape, practically seamless and has a subtle taper, particularly in this “small size” that makes it a very interesting pen to hold and to visually admire. When posted, the cap remained on pretty securely and I could be confident that the cap would stay on.
I am a great admirer of the tortoise acrylics, particularly since I am very partial to my tortie glasses from a couple years ago. The material itself is beautiful and sturdy with very subtle variations. I had a hard time seeing some of the variation in the material without sunlight or bright lights but when you do see it, it’s mesmerizing. The tortie material provides nuance and visual interest to the pen itself without being distracting. The material tolerated posting and unposting the cap pretty well with no noticeable blemishes on the body or cap.
The Business End
(Nib design, feel, issues)
Katherine: The nib on this particular Townsend is a Sailor Music nib, not a Shawn Newton grind. I find “music nibs” intriguing, but this one doesn’t seem as crazy as some do — this one has a single slit and ends up writing like a fat stub. Fun, but a little too wide for my typical writing. I could see keeping a nib like this around for Christmas cards and ink testing though.
Franz: It was my first time to ever try out Sailor’s music nib. Just like Katherine, I felt that it was basically a stub and it’s something I’m used to writing with. I love the juicy, broad line of this nib and was wonderful on Tomoe River paper. Now I know to get the music nib if I want a stub on a Sailor pen. Of course, the juicy flow of the nib was my issue when I used it on copy paper. My writing spread, and bled on the page. But that is hardly the nib’s fault and I pretty much expected it. Shawn pretty much nailed it when he used the Slim, and Short design to accommodate and fit the fairly small size of this Sailor music nib.
Pam: I really enjoyed playing with the Sailor music nib, if only as a break in my usual F and EF nibs. It was a beautiful nib that laid down a good amount of ink that let the color and qualities of Bungbox Sapphire come through. The ink dried in a relatively reasonable time period on Tomoe River paper. This nib is a FUN nib, but not for journaling or work. It’s such a broad line, that I just wanted to write big and just go wild on the page. I had a hard time keeping my writing neat with this nib when I tried to write my usual (tiny tiny) size. It would be great for calligraphy or cursive, if you have the space to let this nib fly.
Write It Up
(20-minute writing experience)
Katherine: The slim size of the pen is very comfortable for me — I have a Townsend on order with Shawn and now I’m really torn between a normal and a slim. It’s an easy to hold, well balanced pen. Writing with it for twenty minutes was comfortable and fun — though the music nib made it hard for me to journal. (I ended up making lists of all the pens I’d like to own one day. Don’t ask. >_>)
Franz: I wrote with the Townsend for the first ten minutes with the cap posted. My grip was on the pen barrel right before the step down to the section. It was very pleasant to write with and my thoughts flowed on my journal. The next ten minutes, I used it unposted and my fingers gripped the section near the threads. I immediately felt the thinner diameter but I did not find it irksome and I just kept on writing.
Pam: I held the pen via traditional grip due to the music nib and it was wonderfully comfortable. The width of the section reminded me to the width of the Franklin-Christoph Model 45, possibly slightly slimmer. The length of the pen didn’t require me to post the pen and when “flourishing” with this pen, I preferred the pen unposted.
I also tried to hold the pen in my usual “iron grip.” (Maybe for a future pen purchase…) It could be that I am used to shorter pens like the Pilot Prera or the Pelikan M400, but I felt that this pen was a tad too long for me when posted. It could also be the nib which required some adjusting on my grip so it could be used. The pen was more comfortable unposted for me but remained a comfortable weight with or without the cap. The threads when held in this strangle hold didn’t bother me in the slightest.
It’s a really enjoyable pen to write with for a prolonged period of time, no matter which grip I used. It’s also the first pen that I really enjoy using unposted.
(Daily use at work/home, at least a day or two)
Katherine: I only used this at work for a day (versus usually I like to do a couple days at minimum, but I wanted to be able to get this pen back to Shawn in a timely fashion!)… But it was a great day. That being said, the pen in in it’s current form wouldn’t be my pick for an EDC pen. It’s a gorgeous pen that I really enjoyed looking at, but the music nib is impractical for me and, more notably, the threads are a little tight, which makes capping and uncapping slower. Additionally, the lack of a roll stop means I worry it’ll end up on the floor. But, I’d love to own a pen in this shape with a more practical nib and a roll stop. I’m sure I’ll journal with it enough to break in the threading and EDC away!
Franz: I was unable to truly use this pen at my work setting. Mainly because of the nib’s very broad line on cr-opy paper, my writing was illegible. Even though it was clip-less, the pen was long enough for me to store it in my shirt pocket and I did not feel the need to post the cap for quick notes.
Pam: The pen itself was easy to carry around and pretty portable in my pen case. With a clip or even a roll stop (and a normal EF nib), I can easily see this pen clipped to my Hobonichi planner for regular use. The pen is light, sturdy and the cap is secure so I wouldn’t have any qualms bringing it with me as I round in the hospital. The threaded cap does require more time to cap and uncap the pen, but that’s typically not a deal breaker, just a consideration. Given how well constructed this pen, it will handle daily use well. (Bonus on breaking in the threads for an even smoother capping/uncapping.) Additionally, this pen will definitely be unique even among the fountain pen carrying posse I have (enabled) at work.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: A couple weeks before Shawn asked if we’d like to review a pen I put in an order with him for a Townsend — and I’m so glad I did. It’ll be many, many months before it arrives, and I may flip flop between a slim and normal Townsend a dozen times — but I’m pretty sure I can’t go wrong (I seem to have days where I prefer slightly fatter pens…). The Slim fits my hand wonderfully, and the Short size is well balanced for my hand. Additionally, the fit and finish on this pen is wonderful — it’s a cliche saying, but each of Shawn’s pens is truly a work of art. I’m definitely adding a roll stop to mine though — I cringe at the idea of a pen this meticulously made & finished hitting my floors.
Franz: The Townsend is practically the second Newton Pen model that I’ve spent time using and have written with. The shape of the pen is quite impressive and pleasing to look at. I was able to use this pen both posted and unposted so the length is just right for my large paw. The only thing I would really change is the diameter of the pen. According to Shawn’s website, the slim model has a 10.8mm thick section. The Newton pen that I own is a Small Orville and according to his site has a 12.1mm thick section. I found the small diameter a bit more comfortable than the slim.
The Brown Tortoise material, the Sailor music nib, and the Harry Potter-like wand shape of this Townsend pen are three features that made me quite sad and reluctant as I stood in line in a United States Post Office to mail the pen back to Shawn.
Pam: I may very well follow in Katherine’s footsteps in the next year or so and start on my custom fountain pen collection, especially after handling the Townsend. I really appreciate the ability to post a pen so when the Townsend provides both elegant minimalist design with post-ability, it’s a definite win for me. I have a while to consider which shape, material, and nib I want in a pen, but I will definitely include a Shawn Newton pen into my collection in the future. This pen shows great craftsmanship and care as well as an eye for a well thought out design. For those interested in Shawn’s pens, you should definitely check out his website or his Instagram feed to check on his latest works. (I stalk him on Instagram regularly. Hi Shawn!)
He has great designs and pen sizes to fit ALL hands.