Posts Tagged ‘fountain pen review’


You Should Get A Second Opinion


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.


Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pens


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.


TWSBI Eco Review


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?


Noodler’s Konrad Dixie #10 Methuselah Ebonite Fountain Pen


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.


Sheaffer Taranis Fountain Pen Gets A Test Run


Recently, Sheaffer offered the Taranis fountain pen to review. Saying “no” was not an option. Sheaffer has a good reputation for making fountain pens, but my experience is with vintage models including a 1950’s Sheaffer Sentinel. What would I think of a modern pen?

Sheaffer Taranis

The Taranis is named after the Celtic God of Thunder. Grab the details from Sheaffer, but the main points are that it’s a metal pen with excellent balance and it sports a semi-hooded nib that resembles a Pilot Vanishing Point. The pen comes with a converter plus two cartridges and is solidly packaged for safe shipping.

Sheaffer Tarantis Section and Nib

The logo runs the length of the section so it will be under your finger though I did not find it to be uncomfortable. Stepped sections or sharp threads are far worse and this model has neither of those annoying issues. The section is otherwise smooth with the threads placed very high and not in range of my grip. Balance is good whether posted or not. Build quality is very solid, tank-like, and should make it last forever. The snap cap seats solidly with a minimum of effort and I was able to pop off the cap one-handed which I find very convenient. The Taranis is a good candidate for a carry pen since it will survive better than most pens those knocks and blows that come from excursions into the wild.

The Taranis Sheaffer sent needed cleaning with soapy water to get the flow right. Whether from minute bits of debris or oils from manufacturing, an overnight soak improved performance. This can be true of any new pen so it should not be off-putting,  but rather a reminder to clean new pens before filling. My usual light rinse with cool water did not cleanse the feed sufficiently and my enthusiasm at acquiring a new pen got the better of me.

Sheaffer Taranis written sample on Rhodia paper

The stainless steel nib is a smooth nail that doesn’t have that tendency to skate that some pens possess. The medium wrote a bit dry with Sheaffer Blue-Black, but less so with Diamine Steel Blue. It may turn into a good match for free-flowing inks, of which I have more than a few. The nib width is on the narrow side of medium and I was able to write quite small with it. It tolerates a variety of writing angles, even upside down for a finer line which makes it an all-purpose nib.

And the clincher?

Sheaffer Taranis on Moleskine

That is Moleskine paper! Have you recovered from the shock? Minimal show-through and only a few tiny dots of bleed-through. Impressive!

There is quite a price range amongst retailers so shop around for a good deal. Given the build quality and the sturdy nib, the Sheaffer Taranis could make an attractive way to turn a non-user into a fountain pen enthusiast. After all, Christmas is just around the corner…

More reviews at FP Geeks and Best Fountain Pen. Jim Mamoulides covered the vintage Sheaffer Snorkel at Pen Hero.


Pen, Ink, And Paper Reviews Galore


Pen★Paper★Ink★Letter has gone bonkers over reviews and put up The Massive Review Index (MRI) for pens, paper, and ink of course. It is a work-in-progress, but off to an excellent start. Do save the link for future reference. It could come in might handy with the holidays and the gift giving season rapidly approaching…


A Trio Of Chinese Fountain Pens


It’s easy to find a great pen if you have a big budget but finding a good pen under $35 is a lot more challenging. There are a number of choices but quality varies as does buyer satisfaction. Recent positive comments about Chinese pens, piqued my interest so I finally took the plunge.

The most discussed names were Jinhao and its sister brand Baoer. They offer pens at the right price point to satisfy the most frugal buyer and a number of users were quite happy with them. So I chose two models to test build quality as well as their stock medium and broad nibs. The pens were inexpensive from an eBay seller but the seller posted inaccurate photos. Caveat emptor. To test consistency between pens, I purchased the same model but from a different seller. That third pen came with a custom grind allowing me to test a new source for italic nibs.

These are the pens tested:

  1. Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands with a stock broad nib
  2. Baoer 507 Eight Horses in bronze with a stock medium nib
  3. Baoer 507 Eight Horses in copper with a custom cursive italic nib

Both models accept converters and International cartridges which is convenient. The snap-on caps click confidently so there is no doubt when they are secure.

My initial impressions are included in the pen photos but my opinion has changed over time as reflected in this review.

Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands Broad Nib

Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands

The Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands is an attractive chameleon going from near black to rainbow sparkly depending on lighting conditions. It measures 5-1/2″ capped, 6-1/4″ posted, 5″ unposted, and weighs 37g. The chrome appointments suit it and highlight the clear colors of the barrel.

Jinhao X750

Jinhao X750 barrel

It has a very solid feel and a hard plastic non-slip grip. The length and balance are sufficient to use the pen comfortably without posting.

Jinhao X750 Broad Nib

The large nib has a decorative but shallow imprint. That size at a low angle reduces contact with paper and can interfere with ink flow. The more upright you hold the pen, the better. Even at the perfect angle, some skipping occurred. The slit gets awfully narrow as it approaches the tip which could restrict the flow and the pen skates at times which could be another factor. Gently opening that slit might improve the flow but it is easily overdone. The pen still writes so it isn’t horrible, but as an out-of-box test, it was a disappointment. Given the much better performance from the medium nib, Jinhao does know how to make decent ones. This broad just isn’t up to my standards though an ink with a wet flow does improve performance. Noodler’s Turquoise has been the best to date.

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Medium Nib

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Written Sample

The Baoer 507 Eight Horses model comes in three colors, bronze, copper, and silver. It is 5-3/8″ capped, 6-1/2″ posted, 4-7/8″ unposted, and weighs about 32g. The nib is smaller than the Jinhao but two-toned and more deeply etched. The converter is better constructed than the Jinhao and contains a silicone ball to keep ink flowing. This is a handsome if slightly heavy pen. Fit and finish are as good if not better than any pen I’ve used in the price range.

Baoer 507 Eight Horses

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Calligraphy and Seal

There really are eight horses cavorting over a field and a poem in Chinese characters across the top. It even has an artist’s seal just as you would find on a Chinese painting. The design could have been garish but it isn’t. For an inexpensive pen, it is remarkably attractive.

Both the Jinaho and the Baoer are more visually appealing than many low priced fountain pens but they need to write well, too. The best indicator that the Eight Horses medium nib qualifies for a recommendation is that it has seen regular use in my journal. It’s a bit chatty but not squeaky and has a tiny bit of feedback though not enough to be distracting. Line width is closer to Western standards than Japanese. The flow has been good with both Iroshizuku and Diamine inks though on occasion it will start a bit hard. Warm, dry weather might be a contributing factor so it shouldn’t be marked down for that.

Stock Nibs

The two stock nibs I tested worked well at a 45 degree angle but also did well with a more upright hold suited to writing Asian characters. The broad nib won’t tolerate much rotation but the medium has no such limitations. For most writers that won’t matter. The medium has a more consistent flow than the broad but it also has the converter with the ball which might account for some of the difference. Any shortcomings like inconsistent flow would have benefited from adjustments but could improve with continued use. If you are good at tinkering with nibs, those skills should come in handy.

If you want your pen to work well from the start, buy from The site states that “Every nib that ships from His Nibs is closely examined under high magnification and tuned or adjusted if needed.” The site offers both the X750 Shimmering Sands, aptly renamed Starry Nights, and the Baoer Eight Horses along with a good selection of other models from Jinhao. Buying from Norman is more cost effective than buying an inexpensive pen through eBay that either needs a professional adjustment or is a disappointment that never gets used. You might get a great pen that works perfectly from an eBay seller, so if you are a gambler, go for it. Otherwise, invest in the sure thing.

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Cursive Italic

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Custom Cursive Italic Sample

The custom cursive italic from Goa Yong is a whole different matter. His package was a treat to open with its personal letter, and goodies including a postcard and green tea bag to enjoy with my “10000 Year Pen”.

The modified Eight Horses has an average ink flow and is closer to a straight italic than a stub. The lack of tipping material keeps it from being a cushioned, any-angle-writer, but a lubricating ink makes that less apparent.

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Custom Italic Nib

For someone new to italic nibs, the moderate flow will make writing more controlled so that’s a plus. It also makes small lettering possible which is another advantage. The degree of line variation will give any handwriting an appealing look and can improve legibility. The sharp corners work best on smooth paper so Clairefontaine and Rhodia are ideal. As with many italic nibs, writing more slowly solves most problems. With the right ink, it might even perform well on Moleskine paper. A light hand is best, otherwise it will dig in too much, but that is true for a lot of italic pens. Yong included a bit of special paper with which to smooth the nib. However, it would be all too easy to ruin it, so I have set that aside for now.

De Atramentis Aubergine is pictured on Rhodia, but Stipula Sepia is in the copper Eight Horses today. Neither has produced feathering even on cheap copy paper. Maybe it’s something about the sharp corners that limits the flow and maybe the paper isn’t as awful as it seems. Regardless, it’s a benefit worthy of note.

Baoer 507 Eight Horses Italic Closeup

This pen has wheedled its way into my summer rotation which around here is a form of praise. It’s a pen worth considering if calligraphy nibs are of interest. Yong modifies a number of Chinese pen models so if an Eight Horses doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps another style will.

Matching Inks to Pens

If you like matching inks to pens, the pale bronze Eight Horses is lovely with Iroshizuku ina-ho. Purchasing a bottle is a must for me now. It is also pretty with purple ink as its current mate, Diamine Violet, proves. The copper model looks good with Diamine Golden Brown, Noodler’s Golden Brown, Private Reserve Copper Burst, J. Herbin Cafe des Iles, J. Herbin Terre de Feu, Stipula Sepia, De Atramentis Sepiabraun, and Diamine Dark Brown. Some deep purple inks suit it as do a few reds including Noodler’s Red-Black, Diamine Monaco Red, Sailor Red-Brown, and Parker Penman Ruby. The X750 Shimmering Sands works with most colors though brown might be less than exciting.

Too much information?

Well, this is a three pen review. Besides, each pen was different and just in case I didn’t make it clear, I like all of them. The Eight Horses with its smaller nib and lighter weight edged out the X750 but my fondness for Chinese Brush Painting might have been an influence. Then, again, it might be my frugal nature and delight with a pen that well exceeded my expectations. How often do you get to say that in a review!


Baoer at His Nibs

Jinhao at His Nibs

8 Horses

X750 Shimmering Sands/Starry Night

Italic nibs on eBay and Fountain Pen Singapore (fp-writing)

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