Posts Tagged ‘fountain pen review’

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About Pen Reviews And Reviewers

03/16/2017

Pen reviews and reviewers is a hot topic at Fountain Pen Network. There are a daunting 111 posts so far, but since I write pen reviews from time to time, it seemed worthwhile to get a fresh perspective on what folks want to know about prospective pen purchases. Whoa, did I get an earful along with confirmation you can’t please everyone or even anyone some times. How can a post about using a pen be anything other than subjective? But some folks want specs down to the millimeter, objective comparisons to other pens and more.

For the record, I have never been paid for a review. (Wish I had!) Some pens have been given to me, but most were purchased with my own funds. Most of the inks and paper mentioned have been purchases or gifts from pen friends. (Lucky me!) There have been exceptions, but that is always noted.

Since the writing experience is what intrigues me most, my posts are slanted in that direction. However, the aesthetics of a pen are well-described by images whether mine or those of a manufacturer, retailer or another reviewer. Look to those for accuracy. I do.

One caveat. Even machine-made nibs can vary. Where I have been able to write with more than one pen from a single model, the nibs are different. They aren’t identical in terms of flow and smoothness. To be sure, ink and paper play a part in the way a pen writes. But apples to apples, nibs are different. My fab nib may be a stinker for you or vice versa. So be prepared.

I do expect a fountain pen to perform reasonably well out of the box. If a nib needs tuning or the flow needs adjustment just to be useful, the manufacturer has failed. Quality control may be a lost art, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to foist on consumers worthless products. Reviewing them is unrewarding, but on occasion necessary.

So there you have it. The FPN thread continues to gather comments though it has shifted to candy bars for some of them. Heh. Really!

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Sunday Reads: Pens, Paper And Stuff For Lefties

03/12/2017

Recently, Rodney sent a letter affixed with sealing wax, a delightful surprise. Admittedly and not for the first time, I almost succumbed to yet another hobby. Then I ran across GeekTells post about his descent into the cauldron. Is resistance futile?

A Comparison of Two Namiki Falcon Nibs

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Pilot Kaküno Review

04/23/2016

Recently, a Pilot Kaküno found its way into a small Amazon order. For $10 and change, it was a steal of a deal. The soft blue and white are a refreshing combination for the summer ahead, but looks aren’t everything. So what else does it have going for it?

Key points:

  • clean, simple design
  • very light weight
  • no clip
  • octagonal shape keeps it from rolling on a flat surface but it has a tiny stop molded into the cap as well
  • medium-sized section is comfortable in hand
  • long enough to use without posting
  • slip cap posts securely without overbalancing
  • despite three holes in the cap and two in the barrel, ink does not dry out in the nib
  • smiley face on the nib is cheerful and a nice touch
  • comes in a variety of colors
  • workhorse nib is stainless steel and solid
  • can pop the cap off one-handed which is very convenient
  • comes with a single cartridge so purchasing a converter is essential

After a thorough search of the blue inks on hand, Diamine Mediterranean Blue emerged as the best choice to fit the summer-at-the-beach look of the pen. Some other inks that would be lovely with it are Iroshizuku syo-ro, Platinum Mixable Aqua Blue and Diamine Soft Mint. Contrarian? Diamine Peach Haze, Vermilion or Wild Strawberry would be unexpected colors for this model. Montblanc Pink Ink would be very eye-catching, too.

Unlike some entry level fountain pens, the Kaküno wrote perfectly from the get-go. It did get a water rinse before the first fill, but that’s just good practice with any new pen. The flow is perfect for the medium nib and produced some nice shading. No skipping or false starts. It isn’t butter smooth, but with a light touch it is neither scratchy nor squeaky. For an all-purpose carry anywhere pen, it writes quite well.

If you buy two, you can swap the caps for additional variety. I think a black cap on a white barrel would look very cool. But the pink and white model reminds me of cotton candy. There are many choices, but at the price point, it’s hard to go wrong.

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You Should Get A Second Opinion

12/11/2015

Yesterday, Gourmet Pens posted a review of the Conklin Duragraph 1.1mm stub. I was surprised that the review, while not negative, was not as favorable as mine.  The points made are valid and worth considering if the Duragraph interests you. Two reviews, two perspectives.

My pen reviews tend to be slanted toward the nib, pen performance and comfort because they are more important features to me than appearance or the aesthetics of the box. Build quality ranks just below comfort because I will compromise that to an extent for the sake of a brilliant nib. My reviews will reflect my preferences which is a good reason to read more than one review.

If you can’t find reviews of the pen in question, try one of the message boards where opinions abound. Lots of other things, too, but we won’t go into that here.

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Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pens

09/26/2015

Nemosine Pens may be a new name to you, but it has been around for a few years. Unlike its competitors, the company has staked out the under 1.1 mm italic nib as a unique part of its offering. For as little as $14.99, is it a bargain or a waste of pocket change?

The box states

  • precision nib made in GERMANY
  • pen body made in TAIWAN
  • inspected and packaged in USA

So the pens are of mixed heritage. The box also announces a “3 YEAR PERFECTION WARRANTY.” Apparently they really like putting info in ALL CAPS including the company name, NEMOSINE. The packaging amounts to a simple white, cardboard box that contains the pen, instruction sheet, and some cartridges to get things started. Given the price point, this is an economical presentation that suits the product.

The two Singularity pens I purchased arrived in perfect condition. The company has misnamed the magenta since it is most certainly purple. The aqua is more accurately named and a very attractive color at that. Both have silver-colored furnishings and stainless nibs. Neither has any obvious flaws though they haven’t been in rotation long enough to know whether they will endure the test of time.

The size is very comfortable for me and the design is quite pleasing in the transparent, demonstrator style. There are other colors available. The Singularity feels sturdy, but lightweight. The cap screws on solidly which makes this model a likely prospect for a carry pen. In addition to the visual treat of seeing the inner workings, the level of ink is always on display. This feature makes a demo a very easy travel mate. Grab and go, you know?

Sometimes small things can make a big difference. The convenient piston converter contains a tiny plastic ball that breaks the surface tension and keeps the ink flowing into the feed. This is a plus and something all converters ought to include.

If you really want to load it to the max, this model can be converted to an eyedropper-filler with a smear of silicone grease. Get the sort used on fountain pens for best results.

Isn’t that an attractive nib? It really elevates the pen’s appearance over anything else in its class.

The Singularity comes in extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, 0.6 and 0.8 calligraphy tips. The 0.6mm nib is quite sharp making it an italic. It does not glide, but it can add character to letter forms. A lubricating ink will improve its performance. The sweet spot is on the small side, but in line with the nib size. This could make the 0.6 a challenge for someone who rotates a pen. It isn’t an insurmountable problem, but something to consider. However, the nib size is very well suited to grid paper and performed admirably with Noodler’s Purple Martin in a Midori #002 Traveler’s Notebook.

The 0.8mm is smoother and is not quite as sharp so it is closer to a stub. The sweet spot is larger, but so is the line. It’s an all-purpose size for me, but then I do like wide nibs. For someone who wants to explore stubs, especially with little investment, this is a good entry pen.

The two pens are twins in one regard. They are chatty with the 0.6 out-squeaking its sibling. Paper and ink can influence this trait so an ink that aids flow will reduce the chatter at least on a very smooth paper. I used to live with a Society Finch who thought a squeaky, chattering fountain pen was signalling an invasion. He would harass the offender until it went silent. I am not so sensitive and find the sounds to be inoffensive.

The weakest aspect of both pens is the flow, but I have found that to be true with other entry-level italics including the Lamy and the TWSBI Eco 1.1mm nibs. The Singularity flow is sufficient to keep up with the nib’s width and rate at which it puts down ink and neither pen has failed to write. However, at times the line isn’t as filled in as it should be or the outlines as consistent as one might like. Writing at the right pace for the flow will achieve best results.

For a brand comparison, the Nemosine nibs are more narrow and have more consistent flow than the Lamy 1.1mm. The Lamy broad nib is smoother and wetter than the Nemosine, but it isn’t crisp like an italic. Lamy pen has a unique style while the Singularity has a more traditional design.

For another comparison, I like the look of the Singularity better than the TWSBI Eco and the 0.8 stub is at least as good if not better than the Eco 1.1. Flow is more inconsistent with the Eco than the 0.8 stub, but ink can play a significant part and some brands and colors will be more helpful than others. Paper is a factor, too, and slightly absorbent paper pulled just enough ink from the Singularity nib to produce relatively clear, clean lines. Isn’t that a neat trick!

At the price point, there isn’t much to lose. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the Singularity and will get plenty of use from these low-end gems. As proof, the aqua demo with Diamine Marine earned its second fill in only a matter of days. From the standpoint of eye-appeal, it’s a happy-looking pen and is sure to follow me everywhere. Next thing you know, it will be begging for a matching journal and myriad accessories. My inexpensive pen could become a rather expensive hobby. At least I will have an abundance of color to show for it and that is always good for an inkophile.

xFountainPens offers the lowest prices I could find on the Nemosine Singularity and carries replacement nibs as well.

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TWSBI Eco Review

07/23/2015

If you haven’t ordered a TWSBI Eco, this review might make your decision easier. Dan Smith does a great job of presenting the pen’s attributes along with his impressions. Would I be giving something away if I said the Lamy Safari finally has a true competitor?

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Noodler’s Konrad Dixie #10 Methuselah Ebonite Fountain Pen

11/01/2014

When it comes to bang-for-the-buck fountain pens, Noodler’s has a lot to offer. My new Konrad Ebonite Dixie #10 is no exception.

It is a piston filler made of ebonite and biodegradable plastics. The pen is medium sized, but does not need posting for comfortable balance. That’s a big plus for me since it keeps the weight down and the number of hours I can use it up.

The stainless steel fine-medium nib writes smoothly and with good flow. It has a little give but isn’t flexible or even soft though it is a very comfortable writer. I did rinse it well with lukewarm water prior to its first fill to remove any remnants from the manufacturing process. Note that the pen needed not one bit of tweaking to perform perfectly. That might not hold true for every Noodler’s pen, but none of the half dozen I own has worked any less well.

With little effort the nib can be swapped for another Noodler’s like one from the Art Nib Pack. Some modern nibs will fit and even a variety of vintage nibs. There are extensive instructions included both for nib swapping and long term maintenance.

Unlike some pens the inkvue window is large enough to see easily when it is time for a refill. For a quirky twist, my pen is filled with Noodler’s General of the Armies, the green ink that turns blue. The window shows one color while the nib puts down another. It’s good to have a bit of fun while writing.

Some users have objected to the odor of Noodler’s pens. It isn’t present with all models and the pen I received has no scent. Yea!

The style of the Dixie #10 Methuselah reminds me of a wood paneled library so it’s a bit retro and a good contrast to my mostly black arsenal. This is one Noodler’s pen that is going to get a lot of use.

Thank you, Carol and Luxury Brands USA, for sending the Noodler’s pen, nibs and ink. The sturdy pen and all-purpose ink have become my travel companions as well as fixtures on my desk. They haven’t bumped aside the Platinums, but it is the pen that goes with me everywhere while the Plats live the soft life at home. Variety is so sweet or is it spicy? Not that it matters since either way is fine with me.

More: Review of Noodler’s General of the Armies.

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