Archive for the ‘Fountain Pens’ Category

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What’s Your Opinion Of Pen Brands

09/02/2014

You already know pens are not created equal. Those of us who write about them can only comment on the brands with which we have experience and that can be a limited pool given the number of pen manufacturers. If your favorite brand never gets mentioned at Inkophile, it is because I have never used a pen from that line so it would be helpful to hear your opinions to see what my collection might be missing.

Contemporary pens get frequent posts because readers can purchase the same model easily. Vintage pens get less attention because they are more difficult to acquire and have unknown backgrounds. Some have been well maintained or fine tuned by a nibmeister. Others have been abused if not mauled. Even a NOS (new old stock) pen may have been stored in inclement conditions causing stress to plastic bits and rubber sacs. But if there is consistency amongst multiple pens, remarks are in order.

With the exceptions of some obscure manufacturers with discontinued models, this is my list of pen brands.

Contemporary:

  • Platinum – Very good build quality. Nibs are consistently excellent in the #3776 line. The music nib is tops in my book both for shape and flow.
  • Pilot – Very good build quality. Nibs are good and offered in a substantial variety of sizes and shapes. I do not recommend the Custom 742FA due to significant flow issues. The resin Pilot (Namiki) Falcon is a mainstay in my rotation, but it does need use to achieve a reasonable degree of softness. Quite worth the effort in my opinion.
  • Sailor – Excellent build quality. Feels very solid. Nibs are very firm and come in few choices. A bit overpriced, but I’ve never owned a bad one.
  • Pelikan – Excellent build quality. Very smooth nibs. The piston filler is easy to maintain. This is my favorite European pen.
  • Waterman – Good build quality. Limited nib choices but solidly built.
  • Rotring – Very sturdy.
  • Sheaffer – Good build quality with limited nib choices.
  • Levenger True Writer – Disappointing build quality. Half my collection shows damage with only ordinary use. Some nibs are very good. Others not so much.
  • Lamy – Very sturdy. Some of the nibs are outstanding.
  • Kaweco – Good build quality. I can only comment on the medium nib which is smooth and flows well.
  • Retro 1951 – Good build quality. Very rigid nib that flows well.
  • Noodler’s – Build quality in line with price. Nibs are good to very good. The flex improves with use.
  • Jinhao – Disappointing build quality. Nib is decent.
  • Baoer – Good build quality especially at the price. Nib and flow are acceptable. This is the best of the Chinese pens I’ve tested.
  • Hero – Decent build quality. The nibs I have are fairly good but the ink flow is erratic requiring adjustment to be useful.

Vintage:

  • Waterman – Endures the test of time admirably. The pre-WWII flex nibs are the best available.
  • Pilot – Some very attractive pens. Elite short/long pens are risky as the plastic sections even NOS can develop fractures. The fine nibs can be scratchy.
  • Sheaffer – My experience is with the Touchdown model. Excellent build and nibs.
  • Parker – Vacumatic and ’51’ models are outstanding. Nibs are very good.
  • Pelikan – Have owned a dozen of the M200 to M400 models as well as a few others. Excellent build. Well-cared for nibs can be superb.
  • Reform – Average build quality. Can’t comment on the nibs since mine have been modified.
  • Montblanc – Disappointing build quality. Mine fell apart. The nib is fabulous – smooth and loaded with iridium.
  • Esterbrook – Some have held up well while others have not. The 9000 series nibs are good with the finer ones being scratchy.
  • Wahl-Eversharp – Good build except the levers which can become loose defying repair. The stub nibs are especially sweet.

These are general observations and individual pens may perform better or worse. I’ve used too many brands to remember them all, but these are the ones in my current collection as well as a few I have sold or given away.

Vintage pens are a chancy lot so no recommendations. However, the Parker ’51’ carries less risk due to its workhorse construction. I’ve owned a number of them and only one had a stinky nib that was in all likelihood greatly abused by a former owner. Pelikan piston-fillers can need a tune-up so look for ones have been repaired recently or are functioning well at purchase. That makes Waterman, Parker and Pelikan my top three vintage brands. If you want a truly wonderful experience, buy from someone who specializes in the pen you want. That doesn’t exclude eBay where guys like Rob Morrison sell fantastic pens at auction. Just look for a depth of knowledge and rave reviews. You’ll pay more but won’t have a pricey repair just to get enjoyment out of your new/old pen.

Contemporary pens are easier to recommend – or not. The Japanese pens are consistent winners as are the Pelikan and Waterman. I only have experience with one new Sheaffer, so am a little reluctant to give it a wholehearted recommendation though I found nothing wanting in the one Sheaffer sent for review. If you can work with the grip, the Lamy is good though the calligraphy nibs can be flow challenged. Noodler’s can be good, but the flex nibs need time to reach full potential.

So that’s my list. Consider it opinion to be tossed out if it doesn’t mirror your experiences.

Now what is your favorite brand of pen and how would you evaluate its build and nib?

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Various Links From Pelikan To Marlen To Hobonichi

08/24/2014

Pens dominated this week, but there were a few other things worth mentioning…

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My Short List Of Favorite Fountain Pens

08/12/2014

Few new pens have landed on the Inkophile desk in recent years resulting in a scarcity of pen reviews. So a bit of pen praise will have to suffice.

Much as I enjoy a wide variety of fountain pens, certain ones stand out. The frequency with which they find slots in my rotation is the proof, but the ease with which I use them is just as telling. For stock nibs, Platinum is the clear winner especially the Century broad nib and the #3776 Music nib models.

My Platinum pens came from Dick Egolf of Luxury Brands a year and a half ago. Best gift ever!

The Century has never found its perfect ink companion. The #3776 has never met an ink it didn’t make look good. Funny how some pens struggle to find the perfect mate while others will mate with any ink perfectly.

The Pelikans took many years to collect and came from auctions and private parties. The M250 has a fine italic nib that might or might not have been modified. The M215 was ground to an italic as was the nib on the blue M200. The gray M200 has an oblique broad nib that was not original to the pen. The M400 has a stock fine nib that is amazingly smooth.

The Pelikans are a bit more finicky though work well with Waterman, Diamine and J. Herbin. Not that any brand won’t do, but I like less saturated inks in the Pels, especially those with ink windows.

Efforts to enable aside, both pen manufacturers make well-constructed pens of very different styles. The nibs from Platinum are more narrow than those from Pelikan, but that is typical of Japanese and western pens.

So that’s the core of my rotation. Other pens come and go especially the Namiki (Pilot) Falcons, a couple of custom Lamy Safaris and an assortment of single pens. I’m not a brand snob though I would gladly become one with enough of the right pens. Or at least I would like to try.

Just for fun, drool over these Pelikan and Platinum maki-e fountain pens. Are they not gorgeous?

 

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A Few Links Plus A Giveaway

08/10/2014

Pens, inks and other treats…

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It’s Links Day!

08/03/2014

Not that you really need more to read on the web, but…

Scary good or scary bad?

Chinese Crested – Powderpuff Variety
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Links – All Sorts

07/27/2014

For your Sunday distraction…

This tree produces 40 different types of fruit each year!

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Paper, Pen, Ink And My Summer Goal

07/07/2014

On my way to my summer handwriting goal, J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen in the Platinum #3776 music nib filled a page of the lovely Clairefontaine notebook. A television in the background provided some of the material. Other words contain letters that need practice. Exercise using a fantastic fountain pen is such sweet fun.

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