Japanese pens are known for extremely fine nibs and rightfully so. For those who write very small or need the perfect pen for margin notes, nothing beats the delicate markings produced by an extra-fine nib. But what about writers who prefer a little chunkiness in line width? Are we closed out of Japanese pen offerings? Dick Egolf of Luxury Brands USA was very generous and sent a couple of Platinum models to see whether a wide nib lover could fall in love with a Platinum wide nib.
Not that first impressions are always sufficient but why not give these pens the best opportunity to show what they can do right from the start. So out came the bottle of Diamine Sepia for the #3776 Music Nib. Sepia can shade, even outline under best circumstances, making it an interesting prospect for a wide nib. The Century Chartres Blue B Nib arrived with a cartridge of Platinum Pigment Blue so that was an easy choice to test the new “Slip & Seal” cap and redesigned nib and feed.
The nibs on both pens are 14K, high quality, and perfect right out of the box. Other than a rinse to remove any residual manufacturing debris, they went straight to work.
First to hit paper was the #3776 Music Nib and it was so much fun I couldn’t bring myself to ink the Century for several days. Initial impression: smoooooth. Next impression: super light-weight. Then the big nib and good flow seduced me. Using Diamine Sepia, I’d found the Golden Retriever of pendom, a big, yellow-orange, tail-wagging, slightly sloppy kisser. If you aren’t a dog person, that might sound gross but believe me the #3776 isn’t mushy like a Labrador Retriever. It is more refined in design and more controlled in performance as is the Golden over the Lab. (No slight to Labs intended.) I don’t know yet if I’ve met my match but I certainly have made a friend for life.
The Century Chartres Blue with the B nib is an excellent all-purpose pen at least for my needs. It has a very smooth flow but is more crisp than the music nib. It starts with no hesitation even after weeks of disuse and with pigment ink at that! If my rotation was winnowed down to just a single pen, the Century would be keen competition to my favorite of the last two years, the Levenger Kyoto True Writer Masuyama stub.
How do the nibs compare? The broad nib has more definition than my Western equivalents though certainly not as much as a stub. The music nib is chunkier and deposits more ink than the broad nib. The music nib vertical line ratio is two or three to one depending on the angle at which the pen is held. This nib is particularly well-suited to pale colors with its luscious swath of ink. Both are as quiet as any pen I own matching the Namiki Falcon SB for soft voice. Neither skates though both are absent feedback or drag. Not that I mind wrestling the occasional pen but my daily writers should be tame and obedient to earn such frequent use. Both the broad and the music nibs qualify for my daily rotation and handily at that.
My experience with Platinum pens was very limited until now but I must say this company has figured out how to make ink flow in good proportion to the nib size. This is an attention to detail one might expect at the price point but one that is not often so well executed.
Note that thread placement on both models encourages a gentle grip but it might be awkwardly placed for some writers who don’t like to snuggle up close to the nib. Both pens enjoy good balance so writing is effortless. The Century body (139.5mm × 15.4mm maximum diameter) is slightly larger and longer than the #3776 (136.5mm x 14.5mm). Not significant but a point of comparison for those who already own one of these models.
So can writers who prefer chunky nibs find mates in Japanese pens? At least in the Platinum line, it’s possible. The broad nib is more narrow than a Western broad but not all Western nibs are created equal anyway. Many flow too freely for my taste but the Platinum nails that aspect well with its pigment ink. I might have to invest in bottles of Brun Sepia and Carbon Black just to test it further.
For those who like even wider nibs, the music will do. The volume of ink, though right for the nib, might be a little slow to dry or feather on low quality paper but on the good stuff, it is delightful. Some inks may offer better control as could the angle of the nib to the paper. Black would produce a very bold line suitable for sketching. The more narrow horizontal line could be used in contrast to make line work even more expressive. Expect to spend a little time getting acquainted. Pages of doodles should make the two of you an able team or a fun duo, whichever describes you and your new friend best.