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)

 

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)

4 Comments

Review: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (0.4mm Cursive Italic)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The 146 (and its bigger sibling the 149) are the classic black cigar-shaped pen. The shape is boring to some, but timeless and classy to many others. Personally, I find the shape a bit boring, and while many buy the pen for the “prestige” that comes with such a recognizable brand, I found that unappealing. As I’ll discuss in later sections, I loved the innards of the pen, but I much prefer using pens that aren’t as obviously branded, especially at work. All in all though, the “look” of the 146 is inoffensive to me, if I didn’t have a self-imposed 15 pen limit, I’d likely still own one.

Pam:  The 146 is a classic pen with a very classic shape. Typically, I would find the Montblanc 146 with gold trim to be another snoozer or write it off as “another typical pen.”  I don’t usually like the cigar shape in a pen, like the Platinum 3776 or the Sailor 1911.  That said, Montblanc created a very well proportioned cigar shape pen.  It looks streamlined rather than chunky and sleek rather than boring.  Maybe it’s the more dramatic taper at the end of the body and cap or it’s the custom ruthenium trim or I enjoyed writing with this pen so much that a “another typical pen” has much more appeal now.

Franz: The LeGrand 146 is such a nice, simple-looking pen. I love the timeless shape of the 146 and that may be the reason why a lot of pens have copied its appearance. The pointed ends are different from the usual pens I own.

So here’s a bit of historical information about this pen. In mid-1948, Montblanc came out with the Masterpiece/Meisterstück 140 Series and the three models introduced were the 142, 144, and the 146. All three were introduced as a piston-filler and until now, the 146 is offered as a piston-filler pen. Over time, the 144 changed to a cartridge/converter filler pen. The Meisterstück 140 Series was a refresh of the Meisterstück 130 Series introduced in the mid 1930’s.

According to Montblanc’s numbering system adopted in the 1930’s, 146 meant that 1 (part of the Meisterstück/Masterpiece line), 4 (piston filler system but it was a 3 in the 130 Series), and 6 (denotes the nib size).

*Please note that this historical information was taken from Mr. Andreas Lambrou’s “Fountain Pens of the World” book. If I have misquoted, or given incorrect information, please let me know. Thanks!

In The Hand: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
In The Hand: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine

The Business End

Katherine: I love well-adjusted Montblanc nibs. I’ve used Franz’s (pictured in this review) and love the delightful CI that Dan Smith put on it. But I also, for a few months, owned my own 146 — an early 90s French specimen with an uncommon 18k nib. That was one of the most delightfully smooth (but not glassy) nibs I had ever used. Given my current experiences with MB nibs, I would never hesitate to recommend one to a friend, even out of the box.

Pam:  Montblanc nibs are juicy with some springy-ness to them, based on my time with them at the Montblanc store (which may be longer than I care to admit). I really enjoyed the Montblanc B and BB nibs as they created a stub-like line for me.  Therefore, what other “improvement” could you make to a well done nib from Montblanc?  Well, someone had the genius idea to send the pen to Dan Smith for a 0.4mm CI grind.  I (not so) jokingly told Franz that the 0.4mm  is the perfect CI width and I may be forever ruined for all other CI grinds.  CI grinds tend to run a bit dry, but this nib is well tuned and provides a consistent, well saturated, beautifully crisp line.  Again, ruined… I am, ruined (or forever spoiled.)

Franz: Springy nib… check! Cursive Italic… check! Juicy ink flow… check! Smooth sweet spot… check! Running out of checkboxes here! What can I say? It’s a beautifully tuned nib! Kudos to Dan Smith on this one. As for straight from the factory experience, I have used another 146 nib which was a stock medium and it was a smooth well tuned nib as well. So far, I’ve been pleased with the quality of Montblanc’s nibs.

 

The 0.4mm cursive italic nib by Mr. Dan “NibSmith” Smith
Franz’s writing sample of the Montblanc 146 on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Katherine: The 146 is very comfortable for me — it has a good weight and is comfortable in hand, even when writing for extended periods of time. I prefer it unposted — when posted I find it a bit too top-heavy and my hand gets tired faster.

Pam:  I have enjoyed the 146 both posted and unposted in the traditional tripod grip, preferably posted for me.  The 146 can be a bit top heavy in my “iron grip.”  Given the CI grind, I primarily used this pen in the tripod grip and had no issues with the width of the pen.  The girth of the pen at the section is within the usual limits and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time.

Franz: I may have been waxing poetic about this pen but admittedly, the LeGrand 146 size is just a smidge small for my bear paw. Please don’t get me wrong for when the cap is posted, I wrote with it comfortably and I absolutely had no complaints. I loved journaling with it for about 10 minutes but when I unposted the cap, my grip adjusted towards the nib and the pen felt small and unpleasant. I actually felt my hand cramping after writing for five minutes. Please refer to the pen in hand photos above to see how awkwardly small the unposted 146 is in my hand.

So yeah, mixed results on this one for me and just like Pam, I prefer the 146 posted.

EDC-ness

Katherine: This is weird to say since I EDC my Nakayas… but I didn’t like carrying around my 146. While the clip was good, it uncapped decently and was great to write with, I just wasn’t comfortable using a pen that everyone around me identified as “Katherine is using an expensive pen”. Funnily enough, Nakaya and Danitrio are much less recognizable to the layman than my 146 was.

Pam:  This pen is a be a great EDC pen as it is a sturdy, well made pen with a secure clip and threaded cap.  I didn’t carry this pen around daily as it’s not my pen to damage or lose, but also because would be distracting in my interactions with my colleagues and patients.  I am not that comfortable in letting the world know/assume the “cost” of my beloved pen hobby.  (Or maybe that’s the SF bay area hipster in me.) Montblanc is such an iconic brand that people will notice this pen very readily.  Granted, it’s also a beautiful, classy pen with a very unique ruthenium trim.

Franz: I used the 146 at work and out and about on a weekend and I had no qualms of being able to use this pen as an Everyday Carry pen. The cap unscrews after about 1 and 1/4 turn. Pretty fast deployment there and on the flip-side, the pen never uncapped itself in my pocket. The ink capacity of this piston-filled pen allows one to just keep on writing for a period of time. The subtle ink window above the section threads definitely helped me figure out if I’d need to refill the pen or not. I didn’t really care about the “perceived prestige” that the white star on the cap instills or what other people would think because well, I just don’t. Haha! =) As long as it’s a functional pen with a look that appeals to me, I’ll keep on using it.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: Overall, I really love writing with 146s — they’re comfortable, balanced and have great nibs. But I found that I was uncomfortable with the obvious and easily recognizable branding. The moment my boss said, “Oh! You’re using a Montblanc!” the idea of keeping a Montblanc around for normal use went out the window.

Pam:  After spending time with the 146, I can see why this pen is such a popular flagship pen.  It’s a great size pen that suits many hands, has a classic (albeit “boring”) aesthetic from a historical and iconic brand that backs up it’s name with great nibs and performance.  This pen has taught me and made me question a lot about my own pen preferences in terms of shape, nibs and writing style.

I would recommend this pen to anyone looking for a solid performing pen and isn’t wary of being seen with such a recognizable (and expensive) pen.  Not all settings are optimized for that.  It would be a “must have pen” if it was not so cost prohibitive to have, therefore, it would make a great grail pen to fill the “quintessential classic” slot in any collection.  So if you are like me and this a grail pen, I recommend the 146 as a “must try for yourself” pen.

Franz: The LeGrand 146 design is almost 70 years old and as I said in the beginning of this review, it is timeless. This is a nice pen to have in one’s collection quite frankly. If you are able to, please try to write with a 146 and see if it is a good pen for your hand. The nibs are great and it just writes. I really like it when the cap is posted as I detailed above. The only “con” I would say about this pen is that it’s quite pricey when brand new. However, a thorough search in the secondary market may provide one with a reasonable and more affordable price for the pen.

Just a little background on this specific pen. I saw this exact 146 in early 2015 on Dan Smith’s Instagram feed, @TheNibsmith (@fpgeeks back then). He said that he just finished grinding the 0.4mm cursive italic on it and wished he owned the pen. I dug up info from Dan and the original owner of this pen to find out how he got a ruthenium trim. I planned to send a pen to that person who did the custom ruthenium trim but I never got around to doing it. Fast forward to April 2016, I found this pen offered for sale and I pretty much jumped on it. Needless to say, I love this specific 146 not only for its writing capabilities but its history as well.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

16 Comments

Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (14k Medium Cursive Italic, Italian Ice)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

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.

 

In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (posted) — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz
In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (unposted) — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz

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.

f-c-m66-17

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.

EDC-ness

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!

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pelikan M200, Parker 75, *Franklin-Christoph Model 66*, Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pelikan M200, Parker 75, *Franklin-Christoph Model 66*, Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pelikan M200, Parker 75, *Franklin-Christoph Model 66*, Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

1 Comment

Comparison: Pilot Vanishing Point vs Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo

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This is our first time comparing two pens. As such we’d extra appreciate your feedback! Was this helpful? Did we cover the points of comparison you care about? Let us know!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The two pens look pretty similar — the VP is a little wider, the Decimo is a little more sleek. I suspect, for more people, any aesthetic preferences will come from preferences in the different finishes. The VP is available in solids, wood, raden and a whole bunch of special editions. The Decimo is available in pastels. (I didn’t realize it when I painted mine, but there isn’t even a black Decimo anymore — mine is likely from the 80s. Oops.)

Pam:  I was originally quite biased towards the VP because I enjoyed the added weight and width.   However, the Decimo is actually more comfortable with it’s slimmer clip for longer writing sessions. The VP  comes in more colors which include the drool-worthy Radens (hint hint boyfriend of mine…) and my beloved dark grey. The VP is also known as Capless in other territories.  Typically, the VP/Capless is sold with a gold nib, however, there is a “special alloy” (steel) nib available for about half the price.  I can only find the special alloy nib from retailers in Japan.  Unfortunately, the special alloy nib is only available in a handful of Capless models (black, dark blue, yellow, deep red, and silver).

Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point has always been a pen that’s admired for its retractable nib and quick one hand deployment. Even though I’ve known about the Vanishing Point since I started using fountain pens in 2012, it was only this year that I learned about the Pilot Vanishing Decimo line. The Vanishing Point pens are inked up either by sticking a cartridge onto the nib unit, or by filling ink with its supplied converter. When bought new, both will have a Con-50 piston converter but you may also use a Con-20 squeeze converter which slightly provides more ink capacity.

The Vanishing Point reviewed and pictured above is the Twilight Limited Edition for 2015 which I was lucky enough to obtain on the day it was released. Katherine’s VP Decimo is a standard black model that she glitterfied and is now an Artist’s Proof 1 of 1 pen. Of course, there are a number of colors, materials, and finishes that are available for both pen models. We will try our best to focus on the size differences of these two models.

In the Hand: Pilot Vanishing Point— from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz
In the Hand: Pilot Vanishing Point — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz

In the Hand: Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz
In the Hand: Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz

The Business End

Katherine: Nib units for the two are interchangable, but the VP is available from Japan in certain finishes with a stainless steel nib. Decimos and most VPs sold in the US have gold nibs.

Pam:  For my VP, I switched with a friend my fine gold nib for the fine special alloy nib since the steel kept a more consistent and finer line with my “iron grip” hand.  I found the original gold F nib scratchy for the line width that it produces.  The special alloy F nib was the perfect pilot nib that we all know an love.  It laid down a consistent line that was just wide enough to show off the beautiful color of Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, the one true ink pairing (OTIP), for my VP.  Currently, I have a gold EF nib in the Decimo.  Yes, the EF nib can be considered scratchy given the size of the nib but due to the feedback, however, I may be writing with less pressure allowing for a more consistent line.  The EF nib performs wonderfully on Tomoe River paper where as I found the F nibs to shine on Midori paper.

Franz: As Katherine mentioned, both Vanishing Points utilize the same nib units and generally gives you the same paper-to-nib experience. The VP Twilight currently has a broad (B) nib and its line width is very close to a western broad nib as well, which I like! The VP Decimo has a fine (F) nib which writes smoothly and lays down a thin line that’s like a western extra-fine (EF). I loved both writing experiences even if they were different line widths.

Vanishing Point - broad nib
Vanishing Point – broad nib

Decimo - fine nib
Decimo – fine nib

Pilot VP nib unit
Pilot VP nib unit

Write It Up

Katherine: I can write with either pen for 20 minutes with relative comfort. However, and perhaps out of habit, I do prefer the Decimo. It’s a noticeably slimmer and lighter pen, which I overall prefer. That being said, the VP is perfectly usable and I suspect with time (I borrowed Franz’s VP for a week) I would get used to it and no longer notice the difference.

Pam:  I really miss the weight and width of the VP, but I must admit the size of the Decimo is more comfortable for longer writing session for me.  The Decimo also has a slimmer clip profile so it’s less likely to interfere with anyone’s grip.  I would recommend the VP for average to large hand individuals and the Decimo for those with the petite hand persuasion. All in all, both pens are wonderful pens and suitable for all hands.

Franz: I wrote with both pens for fifteen minutes each. I first wrote with the VP Decimo and it felt a bit too thin and I felt my hand cramp a little bit. I switched to the Vanishing Point and the thicker width felt much better and allowed me to write in my journal more comfortably. Pam is spot on that for larger hands, the Vanishing Point is the way to go.

EDC-ness

Katherine: The two are functionally the same to me as EDC pens. I find both very convenient.

Pam:  The click mechanism is just too darn convenient and pen is so well constructed to withstand consistent daily use that it’s practically an EDC must for me.  The VP was in my white coat pocket everyday, up to the day I lost the pen at work.  (Have you ever had such a busy day, you literally have a gap in your memory of that day/afternoon/couple hours?  I literally don’t remember which area of the hospital I was in when I used last used the VP. ARGH!!!)   The VP is, I mean, was, my most used pen in my entire collection.  The Decimo is equally sturdy, but the weight of the VP was reassuring in my pocket.

I don’t have this problem with either model pen, especially since I use F or EF nibs, however, the ink capacity of the VP is pretty small.  Given that it’s a cartridge converter, the ink capacity is typically less than 1 ml.  If you use a wider nib or use the pen for novel writing, it may require multiple fillings in a day.

Franz: For my daily carry purposes, both pens win! Both VP’s easily clips on to my jacket, or shirt pocket and lets me quickly deploy and write with just one hand. All day long it pretty much went like this: Grab VP from pocket, click, scribble-scribble, click, clip back VP in pocket, and repeat.

As for the ink capacity of the Con-50, a full converter lasted about two days for me. Having been spoiled by my piston-filled pens, refilling every two days was something I had to get used to. Not a deal breaker though.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: After spending a couple months with a Decimo of my own (and dousing it in glitter) and a week with Franz’s VP… to me the big difference is in the finish you prefer. Everything held equal I prefer the slimness of the Decimo as an EDC or for taking quick notes (and I tend to slightly prefer slightly wider pens for long, lazy journal sessions). But the VP is by no means unusable or uncomfortable for me. If I lost my Decimo tomorrow (I hope not!) I would replace it with whichever I saw first at a price and finish I liked first.

Pam:  I loved the VP enough to buy another variant of the pen, after the appropriate mourning period had passed, of course.  The only caution I would give is to make sure that the VP works well with your grip.  If the VP agrees with you, it will be a GREAT pen and won’t let you down.

Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point pen is a great pen to have in one’s pen case. My first VP was the Matte Black one that I bought at the 2012 SF Pen Show. This was about a month after I got into fountain pens and I used it at work for almost a year, and I loved it. I have come to appreciate this pen for its versatility, different finishes, and nib sizes. I’m proud to say that I have a couple VP’s in my collection.

Both the VP, and the VP Decimo are fantastic pens for the money. You really just need to hold and write with one to see if it feels right. For some, the clip gets in the way of having a good grip (it does not for me), and because most are lacquered on metal, it can be too heavy for some (not to me). The only drawback as to why I do not use my VP’s on a daily basis anymore is the ink capacity of the supplied converter. But I am always happy when I ink one up for journaling, or doodling purposes.

 

 

Pen Comparisons

pilot-vp-comparisons-1
Closed pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Posted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Unposted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Comparisons (click to enlarge)

6 Comments

Review: Pelikan M200, B Architect

pelikan-m200-cafe-creme-8

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: Woohoo! I love the size of the Pelikan M200/400s — and this one is no exception! I love the shades of brown paired with the gold. However, I actually think it looks richer in photos than it does in person. When I started looking at more expensive pens, the Cafe Creme was high on my list. However, I saw it in person at Aesthetic Bay in Singapore and found that it didn’t live up to my hopes and dreams, so I never purchased one. That being said, it’s all relative — I just happen to prefer the uneven striations of vintage 400s.

Pam: The Pelikan M200 in review is actually Franz’s pen with a custom architect grind from Dan Smith.  I really enjoy the warm tones of the pen as it is a standout from my usual black and grey pens.  The cream and brown is simple but rich in color.  The brown has a good red undertone that compliments the yellow gold well. My favorite part of the pen is the ink window! A trademark of Pelikan is their twist on the classic fountain pen with great materials and color designs.  A great example of that for me is the Pelikan M400 White Tortoise.  The Café Crème is no exception.

Franz: Aww yeah, a Pelikan pen finally for review! People who know me are aware of my fascination/obsession with this pen brand. Anyway, moving on with the review, the Pelikan M200 model is considered an entry-level model into the world of Pelikan pens. It is very lightweight and a compact size. Pelikan pens are noted for its reliable piston-filling mechanism and this M200 definitely one of them. There’s just something about filling a pen from a bottle with a piston. Yes, fountain pens with a converter is filled with the same action but it has a different overall feel. But maybe it’s just me.

The Café Crème is a beautiful finish and for a guy addicted to coffee, it seemed like a perfect pen to get. Being an M200, it is fitted with gold-plated clip, cap ring, and steel nib. As what Pam has said, the gold trim fits the finish very nicely.

 

In the Hand: Pelikan M200 (posted) — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz
In the Hand: Pelikan M200 (unposted) — from left to right: Katherine, Pam, and Franz

 

The Business End

Katherine: M200 nibs in general? Fantastic steel nibs — smooth, wet while still having a hint of springiness, avoiding the designation of “nail” in my book. But this grind? Not my cup of tea. I can write with it, but I don’t enjoy it. I tend to write in cursive and it makes my letters look weirdly… tall. But, to be fair, I’m not a big fan of broad stubs or CIs either — so ymmv. 🙂 If I were to purchase a M200 I’d steer clear of a Broad (too broad) and consider a CI grind to add some flair.

Pam: The architect grind is wonderful for me.  It pretty much becomes a “stub” for me since I typically hold the pen at a 90 degree angle.  I love using the architect grind in my journal entries when I want my writing to be short and chubby looking, or as other would say “blocky.”  Nib is not too wet so shading comes through with certain inks and it’s smooth on Tomoe River paper and Midori paper.  Cheap printer paper absorbs way too much of the ink which leads to feathering and non-crisp letters.  Feedback is minimal and as usual, Dan Smith did a wonderful job.  From my experience with Pelikans, the modern nibs tend to be quite wide and wet.  I had an EF that wrote more like a M. I haven’t met a Pelikan nib that was scratchy or too dry.  Granted, I am not Franz.  He is our Pelikan expert amongst this triad.

Franz: Pelikan expert? Me? For real? Nope, not at all! I am merely a fan of their pens. A Pelikan pen addict if you will.

As I’ve mentioned above, the M200 is sold with stainless steel nibs and generally, they are smooth and juicy. There is also a little bit of bounce to it but not something that one would use for flex writing. For this specific pen, I asked Dan Smith to do something fun with the broad nib and he recommended to do an architect grind. I agreed since I’ve never had an architect/hebrew grind on any of my nibs before.

This grind is actually very cool as it sort of is a reverse italic. Instead of the usual thin cross-strokes, and thick down-strokes of an italic, it was the other way around. I primarily write in cursive, and sometimes print/block letters at work. I find the architect nib more suitable to write in print letters which made it look better. I didn’t really like how my cursive writing looked with it. I think it’s a matter of taste. I still recommend everyone to try an architect nib because you never know if you’ll love it or just like it.

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Franz’s writing sample of the Pelikan M200 broad architect nib on a Rhodia Weekly Planner
Franz’s writing sample of the Pelikan M200 broad architect nib on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

 

Write It Up 

Katherine: The pen itself is very comfortable for me, and I prefer it uncapped. I love this size of pen and find it very comfortable for long writing and drawing sessions. I love this size so much that I own three Pelikans in this size, two vintage 400s and one 400NN. However, as previously mentioned, the grind on this pen drives me up the wall — so this isn’t my top pick for journaling. A stock nib or, perhaps, a CI on something less broad would be very compelling though!

Pam:  The M200 is light and effortless to write with.  As a “pocket size” pen of the Pelikan line, it’s a great size for me.  It’s about the length of the Franklin-Christoph Model 45 and Franklin-Christoph Model Pocket 20.  I can see this pen being too narrow for someone with average or larger size hands.I had no issues journaling with this pen and the “chubby” writing always gives me a bit of amusement.

Franz: I wrote with this pen posted for fifteen minutes of journaling and I found it to be okay. As usual, I grip the pen above the section threads by the ink window and I got a bit more girth to hold and the length was pretty okay. Even with the cap, I found this pen to be a bit too light for me though. I did write with the pen unposted for the last five minutes and that was not comfy for me at all.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: I enjoyed using this pen as an EDC — it has a clip, uncaps easily and is a good size for either my notebook’s loops or just sandwiching in my notebook as I run around.

Pam:  The pen is very light and with a screw on cap, it’s a great EDC pen in a “controlled setting.”  Maybe it’s the fact that I recently lost a fountain pen at work, but I can see myself losing this pen within my white coat or not realizing that I don’t have it in my pocket because it’s so light.  Pelikans aren’t super robust pens and dropping a Pelikan can damage the binde/body.  I would recommend keeping your birdies clipped in a jacket or shirt pocket rather than pant pockets (no keys!) or tucked safely into a pen case.

Franz: The Pelikan M200’s size is actually a great pen for everyday use. At work, I found it to be a good pen to bring with me and in my shirt pocket. The pen uncaps with one full twist and is quite convenient for quick notes, or signatures. A quick comment about this nib, having a broad architect nib on it was borderline too thick for the copy paper used at the office. But if it were a medium nib with a round, architect, or cursive italic grind, it would’ve been just right.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: Even if this particular pen isn’t the one for me, I love the M200 line. The size is perfect, they hold a ton of ink and the nibs are solid. However, if you’re willing to do a little hunting, for the money, I much prefer vintage 400/NN Pelikans. They’re cheaper (easily $100-$150) and often have more interesting nibs (I have both a semi flex fine and a semi flex OB). But, for those less patient with eBay and forum trawling, the M200s are solid pens that look great!

Pam:  The greatest compliment I can give a pen is to purchase one.  In this particularly case, as the Café Crème hits so many sweet spots for me with the architect grind, beautiful brown and cream material (did I mention the ink window?) , and well sized for my pixie hands, I currently have this pen on “layaway” from Franz.  In exchange for permanently borrowing the Café Crème, I will “chip in” to Franz’s next pen fund…

Franz: The Pelikan M200 is principally a great pen to have and to write with. Pelikan has issued the M200 in their Classic line with different standard, or special edition finishes since it was introduced in 1985. So if the Café Crème is not your cup of coffee (tea), there are a number of choices available. As I said in the beginning of this review, the M200 is an entry-level pen for the brand and I recommend this to anyone interested in getting a Pelikan pen.

In my opinion, it’s a great size for users with small to medium sized hands. For people with larger sized, or bear paws similar to me, I’d say to try it out first. It may turn out to be a good fit or you might want to go to a larger size like the M600, M800, or even the M1000. Because I am a self-proclaimed Pelikan pen addict, I hope that my review of this pen comes off fair and as unbiased as possible.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Pelikan M200*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Pelikan M200*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Pelikan M200*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Pelikan pens from left to right: M200 Café Crème, M400 Tortoiseshell-White, M620 San Francisco, M805 Vibrant Blue, and M1005 Demonstrator

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

1 Comment

Review: Pilot Prera

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: When I first discovered the Prera (thanks, Internet) I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending twice as much as a Metro on a pen with the same nib. So instead I borrowed Pam’s. I found that the Prera is a small, light pen that’s a solid performer… I figured I’d buy one used at some point, since I now actively try to avoid buying pens just because they’re “cheap”. But, when I saw the limited edition Oeste Kingfisher (pictured above), I had to have it. After almost a month of hunting on Rakuten then three weeks of waiting, I have it! I think it’s a unique looking pen without being “weird” or flashy. It’s clean and classic, but not easily mistaken for any other pen.

Pam:  The Pilot Prera comes in a variety of colors ranging from neon green to a deep brown. There are even demonstrator versions that have a splash of color on the cap and the end of the pen body. All the colors come with a complimentary silver/chrome trim. I bought the white one and still regret not buying a grey one as well.  Katherine’s limited edition Prera is

The Pilot Prera is a great pocket pen.  It’s about the length of the Pelikan M200, or a Franklin-Christoph model 45, or a Sailor Progear Slim. Like all the other pens that I adore, it’s the simple, minimalist, and dare I say, cute aesthetics that had me interested in this pen when I first got interested in fountain pens.

Franz: I was fortunate enough to handle and write with both Pam’s and Katherine’s Pilot Prera. Aside from the color and nib, they are pretty much the same. The Prera is a nice little pen that could be regarded as a beginner-intermediate pen in terms of price and performance. It does come with its proprietary converter and a cartridge. I’m just not sure if it’s a good idea to fill it as an eye-dropper due to the metal ring on the bottom of the barrel. It would be cool though.

 

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

Hands-On

Katherine: It’s a light and small pen — a great size for me to clip into notebooks or put in a pocket. Thankfully, despite it’s size, it’s solidly built — I don’t worry about breaking the pen as I throw it into a purse or backpack. Additionally it’s lot’s of fun to use since the cap has a very satisfying SNAP to it. The first time Pam suggested I try her Prera’s snap cap I thought she was crazy, but she’s right — it’s a very satisfying snap (that goes with a very satisfying pen!). I tend to use this pen unposted because I’m lazy, but can use it perfectly well posted.

Pam:  If I was a more talented writer, I would wax poetry to the “perfection” that is the Prera for my pixie-esque hands.  (Now maybe a good time to warn you of the possibility to excessive alliteration for the remainder of the post.)

I can comfortably use the pen posted or unposted, although I prefer to use it posted.  I really enjoy the added, and still balanced, weight of the cap.  The cap posts securely as you can feel the cap “suction” the end of the barrel. Unposted, the pen is so light that I wouldn’t even really notice the pen.  One of my favorite parts of the using the Prera is actually capping the pen.  It’s a REALLY satisfying click and very smooth.

Franz: As I said above, I got to play with both pens and the weight and dimensions are the same. The Prera may be in the featherweight class of pens but the feel was quite nice. Holding the pen unposted was a bit uncomfortable but once the pen’s cap is posted, it’s a nice size pen to handle.

The white inner cap somewhat distracts my view of the demonstrator but I think you just accept it for what it is. 

This has already been repeated but I’m gonna say it anyway. Capping the Prera was a pretty cool thing to do. I like it as much as capping the Lamy 2000.

 

The Business End

Katherine: It’s a smooth writer that’s a touch dry. I have one with a Medium nib and while I would have preferred a Fine, the Medium is very usable and still much narrower medium than many German nibs. I’m very happy with it, and it’s the kind of nib that doesn’t make me think about it a lot, perhaps almost boring, but great for a daily driver.

Pam:  If I could wax poetry to the “perfect” Prera’s specs and hand feel, I would compose and sing songs about the nib.  The nib is engraved with “Super Quality” and I would believe it.  The nib writes true to size for a Japanese fine.  It writes wonderfully, smoothly and maybe a little dry, which is great for cheap paper.

Franz: Writing with both nibs gave me almost the same smooth with a little bit of feedback experience. This is not a generalization, but my Pilot nib experience so far has been quite satisfying as they very well out of the box. And I’ve owned a couple Pilot 78G pens, Metropolitans, Vanishing Points, a Plumix, and a Stargazer.

As a preference, the medium nib was more to my liking because of the wider line and wetter ink flow.

 

Katherine's medium nib on her Oeste Prera
Katherine’s medium nib on her Oeste Prera
Pam's fine nib on her Prera
Pam’s fine nib on her Prera
 

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Katherine: The Prera is a tiny bit narrower and smaller than my “perfect” pen for long writing experiences. (Maybe I should just remember to cap it…). But I have no issues or discomfort at all after using this pen to draw or journal for an extended period. A very versatile size!

Pam: I prefer the Prera over the Metropolitan for one simple, albeit, major reason: no step! The “iron fist” grip that I typically use on all my F and EF pens falls right around the section and right at the step (where the barrel and section meet) of the Metropolitan, which can lead to discomfort.  The Prera eliminates that issue altogether!  It’s a subtle and smooth transition from section to body on the Prera, making it one of the most comfortable pens for me to use for prolonged periods of time.

Franz: I wrote with this pen posted and it was comfortable initially. After about ten minutes, my hand got a bit fatigued. I think this was due to the thin diameter of the section/barrel combined with its very lightweight. It probably wouldn’t be my journal pen in the near future but it was good to try it out.

 

EDC-ness:

Katherine: This pen is a great EDC! Not too expensive that I’d be very sad if I lost it, but still a fun pen that makes me enjoy writing. I’ve used this pen for a couple weeks with my A5-sized work notebook, and it secures the Hobonichi-style cover loops well, and is always ready to go quickly. My one caveat with this pen as an EDC instrument is that it seems to leak into the cap more than other pens do when I fly with it. Not generally an issue, but worth noting. (Interestingly the other pen that leads my “leaks on flights” category is the Metro, which probably has a very similar, if not the same feed)

Pam: It’s a white pen that is consistently in my white coat.  The clip isn’t the strongest, but enough to be clipped in my Hobonichi Weeks PVC cover on cover pen loop.  It’s also a good size for the Midori leather pen loop.  I had tried to clip the pen with my hobonichi, but with all the jostling in my backpack, I had to dig for the pen by the time I got home.

Franz: Yes. The Pilot Prera is actually a nice pen to use on the daily. The snap cap, clip, and nib makes it a winner for me. I used the Prera at work for two days (once with Pam’s and the other with Katherine’s) and I found that it was a pen I reached for in my shirt pocket for the majority of both days. It may not be my go-to journal pen but it’s actually a very nice quick notes and signature work pen.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: The Prera is a solid pen, and I enjoy owning and using mine. However, it’s not a pen that brings me great joy to own or the pen I pull out when I just want to “play” with pens and ink. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a solid pen for daily use or a beginner with a larger budget.

Pam:  I love the Pilot Prera but I can’t really say why.  It’s a mysterious alchemy that the pen just possesses and it just “ticks all the boxes” from size, slip cap, portability, aesthetics and great writing experience.

The Pilot Prera is often overlooked as a great “beginner pen.”  Maybe this is due to a higher price point, approximately $25-35, in comparison to the Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari and more recently the TWSBI Eco.  However, for me, the Pilot Prera is more comfortable than the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari due to the smooth section and a better length for me than the TWSBI Eco.

Lastly, the nib on the Pilot Prera is worth every penny.  It’s a true Japanese fine nib and writes wonderfully.  Even better, the nibs for the Pilot Penmanship, Plumix,  Kakuno and Metropolitan are all interchangeable with the Pilot Prera.  This isn’t just a great beginner pen, it’s a pen feels like an upgrade to other beginner pens.

Franz: Using the two pens finally made me appreciate the Pilot Prera for what it had to offer. I’ve been aware of the Prera for a couple years now but never really paid attention. I would encourage a person with a small to medium hand size to get the Prera. It is quite an inexpensive pen for beginners or intermediate users. As for people with large hands, try it out first and see if it’s comfortable.

Between the two pens, I liked Katherine’s more (sorry Pam). Mainly because the nib in it was a medium and it won me over. Secondly, Katherine’s was the Oeste Kingfisher Blue and well, it’s blue! ‘Coz #ilovebluepens!

 Thanks for reading our thoughts on the Pilot Prera and our blog!

Pilot Prera-12
Closed pens from left to right: Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M215, Parker 75, Pilot Prera Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari
Pilot Prera-13
Posted pens from left to right: Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M215, Parker 75, Pilot Prera Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari
Pilot Prera-14
Unposted pens from left to right: Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M215, Parker 75, Pilot Prera Pelikan M800, and Lamy Safari
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5 Comments

Review: Pilot Stargazer (M)

Pilot Stargazer-9

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: It’s a cute and small pen with a beautiful finish. I’m surprised at how heavy it is, given its size.

Pam:  Cute, small and elegant.  The blue finish on the metal barrel pen has alot of depth in the light.  It’s a really good weight for such a small pen.  The width of the pen is very reminiscent of the Pilot Prera, another favorite of mine.  The finish, weight and extra wide silver band with simple black writing lends a “grown-up” feel to the pen.  It is easily a pen that can be used in an office setting.  It’s particularly handy for use due to the slip cap for fast and easy deployment.  Posting the cap is easy and secure.

Franz: The Pilot Stargazer was a pen that I wanted to get when Mr. Dan Smith reviewed it a couple years back. The sapphire blue finish truly won me over especially each time I hold it in my hands. It may be a small pen but it looks quite appealing and refined.

 

The Stargazer's pearly sapphire blue finish
The Stargazer’s pearly sapphire blue finish
In the Hand: Tactile Turn Gist (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
In the Hand: Pilot Stargazer (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Pilot Stargazer (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Pilot Stargazer (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The pen I’m reviewing has a medium nib — and I’m very surprised by how wide and wet the nib is. It’s very smooth, but I’m generally not a fan of pens this wide. The overall experience of writing with the pen reminds me a lot of bigger, German nibbed pens. (I don’t have a Metro on hand, but I’m pretty sure this is much wider than the Metro’s Medium nib)

Pam:  Needless to say, the medium nib is WAY too broad for me.  It’s practically a broad because the gold nib is really soft for me.  The nib is a wet writer but very very smooth.  Whew.  But it sure is pretty and shiny.  I wonder how the EF nib is…

Franz: Ha! I chose that medium nib because there wasn’t a broad nib option. I do have to disclose that the line width is probably thicker now because I wrote with this pen on a daily basis for almost a year. Over time, the nib spread a little bit more than when I bought it.

 

Pilot Stargazer-6

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Katherine: Twenty minutes later — this pen is great if I feel like printing, but my cursive is far too small for this pen. For printing though, it’s a solid feeling pen (I could imagine it hurting if I threw it at someone) but I prefer slightly lighter pens when I’m holding a pen at this size. Not bad, but not my favorite.

Pam:  I would have to write LARGE with this pen so that my handwriting doesn’t become a blobby mess.  The nib and the pen would have been perfect for a long writing session, however, the aesthetics of my handwriting was bothering me.  I can’t keep keep writing that large!  The cartridge/converter has a decent ink capacity, but, I have to write so large.  And the nib is so wet… I can’t imagine using this pen at work on the crappy office paper.

Franz: I used the Stargazer with its cap posted during the full twenty minutes. And even though the weight, and size was quite comfortable, I felt my hand cramp up a little bit. I think that was the first time I wrote with this pen for an extended period of time.

 

EDC-ness:

Katherine: As previously mentioned, I find this pen a little heavy… which turns into it feeling “slippery” as an EDC. A little too small for how heavy it is. But, when it comes down to use, the slip cap is very convenient. But, the wetness made it hard for me to use as an EDC (my little letter-shaped puddles) didn’t dry in time to close my notebook! The long and the short of it is this wouldn’t be my preferred EDC pen. But it wouldn’t be terrible.

Pam:  With the slip cap, elegant design and an extra fine nib, it would be a great addition to any jacket, lab coat or writing arsenal.  It’s quick to deploy and you would definitely notice the pen in your pocket.  Given my recent lost of my beloved Vanishing Point, I can really appreciate that aspect.

Franz: When I bought this pen, I intended to use it for work daily. With the pull cap design, and nice nib, it worked well for me. Unlike Pam, writing on copy paper wasn’t too bad. There was definitely showthrough and some spots that bled into the back, but it was acceptable.

When I went on vacation for 9 days, I always had the Stargazer clipped onto either my shirt pocket, or jeans pocket. I think this is a good Every Day Carry pen at work or when you’re just out and about.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: As mentioned, it’s a surprisingly heavy and solid feeling pen for how small it is. That being said, I find it a little too heavy for the size — I prefer the feel of the Prera, which is a much lighter pen. This is a pen I wouldn’t purchase for myself or for a friend, unless they were specifically looking for a pocket-friendly pen. It’s a refined looking pen, but it’s a little too heavy and a little too wet.

Pam: This is a pen that I felt was a suitable gift for my friend’s 30th birthday to introduce her to fountain pens.  It’s a beautiful, elegant and worth pen for anyone looking for an “upgrade” to the Prera, or as a first gold nib pen if you enjoy the added weight due to the brass body.

Franz: As Pam said, the Pilot Stargazer is a beautiful pen to give as a gift,  even if it’s just for yourself. I love the look of this pen and the feel in my hands.

There are two things that may be a negative about this pen. The girth is just a little too thin for me which is probably what caused my hand to cramp. Next, the price of this pen is in the higher range and on par with a few larger pens like the Pilot Vanishing Point, the Pilot Custom 74, and the Lamy 2000. With that said, I do not regret getting this pen.

If you like small pens and a slip cap design, check this pen out.

 A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.

            – Neil Gaiman, Stardust

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Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Stargazer, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
2 Comments

Review: TWSBI Eco in Clear Demonstrator (Extra Fine)

TWSBI Eco-1

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Franz: If I am not mistaken, the TWSBI Eco fountain pen has been in the works since 2013. Fast forward to late 2015, I held an Eco with the black cap and piston turning knob. The pen looked cool and reminded me of the TWSBI mini I had. Actually, the Eco’s nib size is the same as the mini. I really like the design of this pen but for some reason, I never got myself to purchase one.

Pam’s Eco in the clear version is very nice as well. As seen in the photos, it is a piston-filler pen and the capacity is very nice. I really love seeing ink sloshing in the pen as I use it. I’m sure that this is not the first time this was said about certain demonstrator pens but I wish that the plastic liner in the cap was transparent.

Pam:  I have had a TWSBI before.  The TWSBI Diamond mini with a fine nib was lackluster to me so I gave it to a colleague who would appreciate it better than I could.  Nonetheless, I was really curious when I saw the TWSBI Eco.  I was very excited when TWSBI released the clear “demonstrator” version of the Eco.  It was well worth the wait for this version than the colored versions in my opinion.  Given the reasonable price for the look and a decent nib, which I was able to test out at a SF pen posse meet up, I took another leap of faith and bought the pen from Goulet Pens.

The plastic feels better than the plastic from the TWSBI Diamond mini and from what I have heard, less prone to the “defects” of the previous TWSBI models.  Unlike other models, the Eco is a piston filler with a friction fit nib.  So the nib units from the 580 or diamond mini are not compatible with the Eco

The length is longer than my preferred length, especially posted, but the plastic is light enough that it’s not crazy bothersome.  When capping the pen, the plastic-y sound is pretty satisfying and it’s very smooth with each turn.   My only complaint for the Eco is that there is only a rubber ring to secure the cap when posting to the back of the pen.  It is a cheap but effective way to secure the cap when posting, but it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing and also results in the cap not posting very deeply, leading to a slight imbalance.

Katherine: I love the way this pen looks! I know this isn’t technically a demonstrator, but everyone seems to use the term to mean “pen you can see the insides of”, so I’ll keep doing that. I love demonstrators, and this is a clean looking demonstrator without breaking the bank. My one nit is that the translucent white liner inside the cap is visible — but it is a pen after all, gotta be functional!

 

TWSBI Eco Posted 2
In the Hand: TWSBI Eco (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
TWSBI Eco Unposted
In the Hand: TWSBI Eco (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Franz: From prior TWSBI pens I have owned, their nibs have never been a disappointment for me. This is the first time I’ve written with an extra fine from their lineup and this was no exception. It wrote smoothly and the feedback felt nice. I used the Eco for two weeks and I have not had any negative issues with the nib as it just wrote as it should.

Pam:  I wasn’t impressed by my experience with other TWSBI nibs, as they were not the Japanese EF or F that I was looking for.  Maybe my taste in nibs are changing, but I find the EF nib on this TWSBI to be a wonderful nib right out the box.  It’s more of a Japanese F which works out just fine with me.  Inking it up with Franz’s stash of Bungbox Sapphire, the pen provides just enough wetness and line width to enjoy the color and sheen of the ink.  I found the nib smooth and really enjoyable to use.  I even considered using this nib and feed unit in a custom pen because the pen itself is too long, but I find myself wanting to use the nib more and more.

The nib and ink combination does wonderfully in my Hobonichi and great on Midori paper, however, it feathers on cheap paper.

Katherine: This is a very solid nib on a cheap pen. If I bought the Eco as my first pen (instead I got a Metro), I’m not sure I would have ever ventured out to other pens. It’s a very comfortable, smooth and wet nib on an affordable pen. I’d compare it to my Metro’s Fine in terms of line width — pretty fine, but not the Extra Fine I’d expect from a Japanese pen (which makes sense, since this pen isn’t Japanese…).

TWSBI Eco-3
a close up of the extra fine nib and section
Pam's writing sample of the TWSBI Eco, EF nib
Pam’s writing sample of the TWSBI Eco, EF nib (on a Hobonichi)

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Franz: I wrote very comfortably with the Eco posted for the first ten minutes, and unposted the next ten minutes. Because of the pleasant nib, and the abundant length of the pen, I did not experience any hand cramps or fatigue. This is a great pen to use for my journal time. If I were to choose, I’d write with the pen unposted because the balance seems better.

Pam:  Unsurprisingly, I find the length of the Eco to be too long for me, especially posted.  The balance isn’t perfect in my tiny hands, however, maybe if the cap posted deeper?  Unposted, the pen is an okay length, but still not ideal.  Not to mention, I prefer posting my pens, especially at work, given how easy it is for me to forget anything that isn’t already attached to me.  (Just ask my keys, wallet, thermos, other non-fountain pens, etc.)

Overall, the writing experience is comfortable as the plastic is light.   In my iron grip, the width of the pen is great.  Again, the nib is the best part of the pen and the piston filler filled with ink is beautiful to behold when you are not using the pen.

Katherine: The Eco is a little large for me posted, so I wrote with it unposted. Overall, a comfortable and solid pen. It puts down a fine, wet line that makes it quite comfortable to use, even with more “interesting” inks that sheen. I would have no qualms about this being a pen in my regular journaling or letter writing rotation. An added perk is that it’s fun to watch the ink slosh around and settle as I think about what to write next.

EDC-ness

Franz: At work, this pen came in handy as the extra fine nib was actually nice to write on the copy paper we use. Unlike the two ladies, unscrewing the cap did not bother me at all. This may be due to my daily use of a Pelikan M805 at work for the past three years. When a pen uncaps in less than one and a half turn, I am actually pretty happy with it. I actually can see myself use this pen on a daily basis.

Pam:  The Eco has been clipped to the pen loop of my Hobonichi specifically for both quick deployment as well as the longer journaling/planning sessions.  The cap is on securely enough that I don’t worry about the pen and planner getting tossed around in my backpack.  The plastic isn’t the best material to get scratched up, especially if you enjoy watching the ink slosh around without distracting scratches or scuffs.  No scratches on this puppy yet, but I wouldn’t chance it by throwing this pen into the same pocket as my house keys.

It is inconvenient for me to use the pen at work due to having to screw the cap on and off.  And given that the nib and ink has been feathering, it’s less than ideal for work. This is a great beginner fountain pen and planner companion.

Katherine: I like the Eco at work because it has an easy to see ink capacity (big plus so I don’t run out of ink partway through a meeting before… it’s happened before), it’s cheap (I’ve never lost a pen, but there could be a first!) and it’s comfortable to write with. The one downside is that the cap takes more turns than I’d like to unscrew. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be pretty stop-and-go with my note taking at work, so being able to quickly uncap and cap a pen is a big plus for me.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Franz: The TWSBI Eco is a nice pen with great, great value. I do recommend this pen for anyone who likes the pen size, and is looking for a large ink capacity. The Eco just writes and there’s really no frills to it. Okay, maybe aside from watching the ink sloshing in the pen. hehehe…

Would I recommend this as a first fountain pen for newbies? I would probably recommend it to be a second or third pen to own. When I started, I got a cartridge/converter as a first fountain pen and I appreciated the fact that I can just insert the supplied cartridge and write. It took me a couple weeks to buy my first ink bottle (Waterman’s Serenity Blue) and filled up my converter with it.

Anyway, I am quite impressed by the TWSBI Eco and I’ll probably purchase one. I just need to decide between the clear or the black version of this pen. Thanks Pam!

Pam: Katherine has a self imposed 15 pen limit where as the Eco convinced me to have a “beginner pen” collection.  It’s also my excuse to keep the TWSBI Eco.  (There goes those rationalizations again…)  This will be, of course, in addition to my “completed” grail pen collection.

I enjoyed the Metropolitan and the Safari, but in terms of performance and aesthetics the Eco is my favorite of the three.  A $29 piston filler with such good steel nib beats the Lamy Vista by miles. The comfort and EDC-ness of the Eco has the Metopolitan beat hands down.  TWSBI really did hit it out of the park with the Eco.  I have finally been converted to a TWSBI fan!

Maybe this nib should go into a custom pen body after all… it’s just too much fun!

Katherine: As previously mentioned, if the Eco was my first fountain pen I may have not ventured further into the world of fountain pens. But, it wasn’t, so instead I’m here blogging… Back to the Eco — it’s a very solid and nice pen for the money. The writing experience doesn’t have a lot of character, but it’s a great workhorse pen. For this review, I borrowed Pam’s Eco, but I’m seriously considering purchasing my own. In the end though, it’s not a pen with a lot of character so I’m not willing to “cut” another pen for it.

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Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

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Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

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Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

12 Comments

Review: Tactile Turn Gist (Polycarbonate, Titanium nib)

Tactile Turn Gist-3

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Pam:  When Will Hodges launched his Kickstarter for the Tactile Turn Gist in late 2015, I was an eager backer. The pen was inspired by the Lamy 2000 as we can see with the polycarbonate material and the shape.  One of the things I love about Will’s products is that the product is imbued with his own design sensibility and signature style.  Additionally, the Gist can be customized based on different materials for the finial, body, the section and the nib.  All in all, that’s hundreds of possibilities!!  My Gist was the full polycarbonate body with an extra fine (EF) titanium nib.  I bought an extra titanium section for a different writing feel when the mood strikes.  Swapping out nibs is a snap between the sections, just unscrew the entire nib/feed unit from section one and screw it into section two.  The converter that came with this pen fits snugly and well.  No issues as of yet.   (I don’t recognize the converter, does anyone else know who manufacturers it?)

It’s hard not to compare the Lamy 2000 and the Gist.  The best way for me to enjoy this pen is to NOT compare it to the Lamy 2000 because the 2000 is so iconic, beloved, and well known that it would be an unfair comparison.  The entire pen has a great feel in hand.  The length of the Gist is closest to a Pelikan M400 which is the perfect length for me, even when capped. My favorite feature of this pen is the texture that Will machined into the polycarbonate material. (His entire line of pens has the same signature design!  I swoon!)  The clip is tight and well made with no sharp edges.  It adds a welcomed weight to the light material.

Franz: Pam alerted me to the Tactile Turn Gist’s Kickstarter campaign that started on October 2015. As Pam had mentioned, there were a lot of choices for this pen but I went with the polycarbonate with a Damascus steel section and finial. Fast forward to May 2016 when I first held the pen and admired it’s ribbed texture. The pen does come with a converter and takes standard international cartridges. The supplied converter is a little shorter and more transparent than the usual standard international converters I’ve seen.

In hand, I really love how the Damascus steel contrasts against the all black polycarbonate. Because of the steel section, the pen feels like there’s a good balance posted, or unposted. It has an overall stealthy feel to it and seems very solid.

Katherine: This pen looks cool, but I prefer the finish on the Lamy 2000. Also, it takes a solid two turns to uncap, which isn’t my favorite design.

 

In the Hand: Tactile Turn Gist (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
In the Hand: Tactile Turn Gist (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
In the Hand: Tactile Turn Gist (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Tactile Turn Gist (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

(Nib design, feel, issues)

Pam:  The EF titanium nib is a lot like a medium (M) steel nib as it lays down a wet, saturated line.  I actually found the line to be too broad for me and had my Gist sent to Dan Smith of the Nibsmith to turn it into a needlepoint. When the pen was returned to me, I filled it with Sailor Miruai and started writing.  The titanium nib is a great “trainer” nib for me because it only requires a feather light touch to lay down a well saturated line, even as a needlepoint.  I think I can even see sheen in Miruai, or perhaps my eyes deceive me.  As an EF grade, the titanium nib is far too broad with my writing pressure, but as a needlepoint, it’s a really fun nib that provides line variation similar to that of the Plantinum soft fine nib.

Franz: I ordered the Gist with a medium (M) Bock titanium nib because I liked how the grey titanium nib looks with the Damascus steel section. The #6 size of the nib fits the overall size of the pen.

As for the writing experience, I knew how soft the material can be as this was my second titanium nib. There is a feedback to the nib that only titanium nibs seem to have. It isn’t unpleasant though. Since I do write with a light pressure, the spring of the nib was quite nice. The ink flow was quite wet and it just wrote without any hiccups.

Katherine: The titanium nib was a lot of fun — very smooth with an interesting touch of feedback. I’ve heard that’s because titanium absorbs vibrations differently, and I totally believe it. It’s a wide nib, a smidge wider than the Lamy 2000’s EF. Additionally though, it’s a very soft nib — with some pressure it’s very capable of showing line variation. The nib is a little too wet for small lettering with line variation, but for writing bigger, it’s very fun.

Medium titanium nib with the Damascus steel section
Medium titanium nib with the Damascus steel section

Franz's writing sample of the Tactile Turn Gist
Franz’s writing sample of the Tactile Turn Gist on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Pam:  I really enjoy handling the pen it self as it is a great length for me and very light weight.  It’s really comfortable as the threads are not too sharp and the width is slightly wider than most.  The width is likely between a Pilot G2 and a Dr. Grip ball point pen.  It’s the nib that makes it  harder to journal for a prolonged period of time, especially since I have such a heavy hand.  As an EF, I can’t journal as the line is too broad and everything looks messy.  As a needlepoint, the titanium is a great compliment to the grind allowing for a well defined and saturated line, which may be difficult to achieve on other needlepoint nibs.  If anything, there is enough ink when I push the nib for some line variation, I have to wait a couple of minutes before I can close my notebook due to the ink still being wet.

I have to practice with this pen to get the pressure just “write,” so if I am okay for a relatively long writing session, I use this nib with a “warm up” session before the actual journaling session.  It’s a whole new level of mindfulness!  (And an answer to Katherine and Franz’s prayers for my excessive writing pressure.  Those poor nibs!)

Franz: I wrote with the Gist’s cap posted for the first ten minutes on my journal and I was very happy with it. The balance is perfect and my hands did not cramp up. Even if my fingers landed on the pen’s acme threads, it was not bothersome and did not make any indents at all. For the next ten minutes, I unposted the cap and just wrote with it. My grip slipped down to the middle of the section to make sure it fits my hand. It was okay for me. My hand did not cramp up but it was longing for the posted length.

On a side note, Pam’s writing pressure still shocks me every time I watch her write. So I am thankful that she’s gaining a level of awareness… haha!

Katherine: After writing out a journal entry — this isn’t my favorite nib for journaling. It has an interesting sort of feedback, while still feeling super smooth… It’s a bit reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard, which isn’t a feeling I love when journaling.

Tactile Turn Gist-5

 

EDC-ness

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

Pam:  This pen takes longer to uncap than most given that it takes almost 2.5 turns to unscrew so it’s harder to bust out for quick notes.  And with the cheap copy paper that I have at work, the wet nib is a no go.  The clip is a bit too tight to easily slip in and out of my white coat given how thin the polyester is on my coat.  This is likely a pen that I would feel comfortable being thrown into my bag/backpack as it’s a great pen to accompany my Hobonichi.  The pen tolerates drops really well, as I can attest to from experience.  -.-;;

Franz: At work, the Gist pen performed well for me in terms of writing on copy paper with its medium nib, and in comfort since I can write with it both posted or unposted. However, there are two areas that drew me back a little for my work use. First, as both ladies have mentioned, to deploy the pen you need to unscrew it two and a half times so repetitive quick notes and signatures for me takes a lot of time. (Yes. I do sign my name a lot in one day). Second, the tight clip made it hard for me to clip it in my dress shirt pocket. Actually, the pocket of one of my dress shirts got ruined because I tried to clip the pen a little too fast. No blame to place on the pen of course! It was my fault for sure.

Now the Gist is a perfect daily carry when I am out and about on my days off. After writing, I can quickly clip and secure the pen in my jeans pocket and go on with my day. I’ve been doing that ever since I got this pen.

Katherine: The cap takes two and a half turns to unscrew — which makes it cumbersome for stop-and-go note taking. Additionally the nib is wider than I prefer and we enough that I have to worry about my notes drying before I close up my notebook and run to my next meeting. The upside is that it’s light and solid, so it’s easy to throw into a pocket and the clip feels very reliable.

Tactile Turn Gist-10
Close up of the clip, the ribbed texture, and the Damascus steel finial

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Pam:  I really enjoy the pen body as a whole. Will has done a great job as usual.  I am on the fence, however, about the titanium nib.  It is a really interesting material, is very springy, which provides for some great line variation but I think I will only be needing ONE titanium nib in my collection.  I plan on getting a Franklin Christoph #6 nib at the SF International Pen Show in August to accompany this pen, for those times that I am too lazy to warm up with the titanium nib.  (And after I try out the Masuyama needlepoint grind…)

The Tactile Turn pens by Will are the only pens I have actually kept of all the pens I have backed on Kickstarter.  (I also backed a previous pen project by Will, the Mover, on Kickstarter.)  Will did something wonderful and unique by putting his own spin and design on such an iconic pen.  The pen is well constructed, easy to use and easily customized to suit your tastes.  My only regret was not buying a metal + polycarbonate version of the pen earlier.  Franz’s  Damascus steel finial and section + polycarbonate body is soooooo well balanced.  Insert wistful sigh here.

Franz: So for the past three months, the Tactile Turn Gist has been inked up and in my pen rotation. It is a very simple and utilitarian kind of pen. I thank Will Hodges of Tactile Turn for creating and designing this pen. It may be an homage to the Lamy 2000 but at the same time it stands on its own.

For my large hands, this medium pen is very nice to write with. It is probably the combination of the ribbed texture, light-weight material, stealthy looks, and lovely nib. When you get a chance, try this pen out for yourself. You may like it enough to buy one.. or two!

Katherine: This pen is surprisingly light (at least the all Polycarbonate version is) — but I found myself thinking of it as a cheaper-feeling Lamy 2000.

I wanted to like this pen much more than I did. A lot of it comes down to the nib — I think if I had this ground to a finer nib, I may really enjoy it. As it stands though, the nib is too wet and too wide for everyday use and while flexy,

 

Tactile Turn Gist-2

Tactile Turn Gist-1

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Tactile Turn Gist-4

Tactile Turn Gist-11

 

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Edison Beaumont, Tactile Turn Gist, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

 

 

 

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