Posts filed under Fountain Pens

Pelikan Souveran M1000 Fountain Pen Review

YES!

That was the answer I gave Massdrop when they asked if I would be interested in reviewing the Pelikan Souveran M1000 fountain pen for their latest pen drop. The M1000 represents the top of the food chain among Pelikan's main line of pens and I am excited to have this opportunity to give you my thoughts on it.

As a company, Pelikan is one of the most respected in the fountain pen industry. Their history traces back over 170 years, and their quality and care in manufacturing shows in every single product they make. I was a fan of Pelikan well prior to receiving the M1000, with models from the 200, 400, and 800 series already in my collection, and a 600 in route as I type this. So yes, I like Pelikans.

Top to bottom: M405, M800, M1000.

Top to bottom: M405, M800, M1000.

While it has the same general design and lineage as other Pelikans in the flock, the M1000 is a completely different bird from any I have used previously. It is largest pen in the series, checking in at 5.74 inches long when capped and 1.16 ounces strong. Posting this pen is a no-go unless you are Andre the Giant, but I don't post so it works for me. I thought it would be too big honestly, but my recent experiences with the M800 Tortoise had me prepared for what was in store.

The barrel is large - let's get that out of the way right now. Too large? I don't think so because it is light enough to not get in the way. It's not feather-light by any stretch, but the overall feel is something Pelikan clearly considered with this pen in giving it great balance and making for a great writing experience.

The nib is the real star of this pen. I have never seen, much less used, a nib this large. It is a thing beauty. And it is different. So different I had to research what exactly it was I was experiencing as I was writing with the M1000 for the first time.

Gold, as most of you well know, is a soft material. With the size, thinness, and length of the tines in a nib this large, there is going to be some give when writing. It is not marketed as a flex nib pen, but you can't help but notice and feel the springiness when writing.

With my writing style (block print) the Medium nib took some getting used to. I had to use very light pressure and let the pen do all of the work. I got used to it quickly, but I can't help but think this nib is better suited for writers with a more flowing cursive style. My preferred nib is hard and firm, and this is the exact opposite.

This large 18k gold nib is a feature of the design. Many sites that sell it mention the difference in feel when comparing the M1000 to the M800 and below. It is a completely new writing experience that's for sure.

Will it fit your needs? If you have ever had the Pelikan M1000 on your wish list you will be hard pressed to find a better price. Massdrop only has 110 of the pens available, and nearly half are gone as I write this. Two barrel choices are avialable - Solid Black and Green Stripe, both with gold trim - and nibs ranging from EF to B.

Head over to Massdrop to check out all of the details. If you have never used Massdrop before, just sign up with your email address and you will be able to check this drop out, as well as the many other items they have for sale.

My thanks to Massdrop for providing this pen to me at no charge for review purposes.

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pelikan, Pen Reviews.

Visconti Opera Typhoon Blue Fountain Pen Review

I picked up the this Visconti Opera Blue Typhoon at last years Atlanta Pen Show. It wasn't on the shopping list - the Visconti Wall Street was the pen I was hunting for - but I couldn't pass up a good deal, especially on a pen as pretty as this.

When you see pictures of the Opera Typhoon online, the first thing you are likely to notice is what they call the mosquito filler. This is what blew my mind well before purchasing this pen. It is a long, skinny, syringe-like apparatus that slides over the nib and section of the pen to help you fill the pen with ink easier. I love this idea because it eliminates some of the mess involved with filling fountain pens, similar to a snorkel filler. That is, when it works.

I gave the mosquito filler a few tries, but it does a poor job of filling the pen to capacity. It performs much worse than the built-in power filler (Visconti's piston mechanism in this pen) does. That's why you won't even see the mosquito filler pictured in this review. Don't buy the Opera Typhoon for that feature alone.

That small downer aside, there are several great reasons to check this pen out. Fist of all, the blue swirl resin barrel is spectacular. Pictures barely do this pen justice - see this one in person if you can because the color variation and depth of the swirl is amazing. It feels great too. There is some heft to it, allowing you to feel the density of the barrel when writing, but it is well balanced so you don't tire out quickly when writing.

Ink drawn into the rear chamber.

Ink drawn into the rear chamber.

The tubular Chromium nib is something I had never experienced before, both in material and design. I was expecting a wet writer based on all of my research on this pen, but found it to write on the dry side of the spectrum. Normally, that is my wheelhouse, but with larger pens and wider nibs (this one is a European fine nib) I want more ink flow. I shipped it off to Shawn Newton for a quick adjustment and it came back writing perfectly.

The way the tubular nib is designed allows you to write at a more vertical angle if that is your style. I used to write that way with gel and ballpoint pens so it was nice to try it out, but I still prefer a slanted, more traditional fountain pen writing angle, which the Typhoon handles perfectly as well.

As pretty as it is, and as cool as the nib is, I think my favorite feature is the double reservoir found in the pen. In a nutshell, there are two chambers in the barrel that can be sealed off from each other, if needed. For example, if you are traveling and are worried about the ink leaking, just point the nib in the air and unscrew the piston on the back of the pen to draw the ink into the rear reservoir. Screw the piston back down tight and that locks the ink into the rear, keeping ink from sitting in the writing chamber and helping prevent leaks when you least expect it. Reverse the process to release ink back into the bottom chamber and the Typhoon is ready to write immediately.

Ink back into the writing chamber.

Ink back into the writing chamber.

The feature list continues with what Visconti calls a "hook safe lock" that keeps the cap securely screwed onto the barrel. Think block threads with a bit more oomph. Visconti's clip design is one of its calling cards with its sleek, curved design and stamped logo. It clamps down firmly but has some travel built into it which allows you to raise it easily if needed.

Only 1000 pieces of this model were made, and with an MSRP of $695 it is a little panic inducing. That said, I see this pen going for much less in various places online. I paid less than $400 for mine, and Chatterly Luxuries currently has it on sale for $350, so that is the ballpark you should be looking to pay.

Would I recommend this pen to anyone looking for an interesting, unique fountain pen to add to their collection? No, I don't think I would, at least not without doing a ton of homework on it first. I enjoy mine, but don't go into this one blindly, and definitely shop around for the right price.

Posted on March 16, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Visconti.

Bexley Sleeve Filler Fountain Pen Review

Bexley is a brand I was familiar with in name only until my friends at Vanness Pen Shop gifted me this beautiful Bexley Sleeve Filler last year. Not only that, they added a few tweaks just for me that had me grinning from ear to ear.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Bexley has been making pens since 1993 and have an excellent reputation in the market. Their designs harken back to the heyday of fountain pens in the US in the early-to-mid 1900's. My tastes lean towards more modern styles, but seeing a pen like this makes me wonder what else I am missing.

The main feature of this pen is, of course, the filling mechanism. The rear of the pen - aka the sleeve - unscrews to reveal the filler bar and ink sac. You dip the nib into an ink bottle, give the filler bar a couple of presses to intake the ink, twist the sleeve back down, and you are ready to write. It's a very simple system that is implemented well and works perfectly. I was actually surprised at how much ink I was able to drawn in with only one or two presses.

As nice as this Bexley is, what Vanness did (without my prior knowledge or input) to make this pen special for me was really great. First off, Vanness has the ability to engrave and customize pens in their shop, so they borrowed the logo from Nock Co. and zapped it onto the end of the pen. Secondly, they had local pen maker Shawn Newton, who has worked on several of my pens, grind the broad 14k nib the pen comes with into my favorite cursive italic grind.

How awesome is that?

The pen looks cool, writes great, is personalized, and has a great story behind it. I'm so thankful to have met Lisa and Wendi from Vanness Pen at last years Atlanta Pen Show and really appreciate what they did for me with this pen.

The Arkansas Pen Show runs today and tomorrow, so if you are in the area stop by and tell them hi for me and check out their goods (which may or may not include Sailor Bung Box ink!) You can also see what else they have to offer online at Vanness1938.com.

Posted on February 27, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Bexley.

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

The main reason I keep a product wish list is to keep track of product prices and know when to pull the trigger when I see a good deal. The orange Pilot Custom 74 had been on my radar for ages, and when Pen Chalet had a good deal on them on the podcast back in November I bought it live on the show. $135 to the door made me a happy camper.

The Custom 74 lived up to every expectation I had, and then some. The decision to go with the orange barrel was an easy one. I love demonstrators, and this one is a beauty. The smoke colored section and rounded ends were a surprise too. I obviously knew it came like this, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy this feature.

As easy as the color choice was, nib selection was another thing. Medium nibs normally aren’t my first choice, but recent experience with two other Japanese M nibs led me down this path. This size may be the perfect all-around writing nib. The ink flows as the line remains sharp and clean. Start writing and you can just disappear into the flow.

The 14k nib is a beauty too. I’m a huge fan of Pilot nibs, both in the looks and performance department. This Custom 74 was perfect right out of the box. The large capacity CON-70 converter it ships with is a nice added bonus.

The best thing I can say about the Pilot Custom 74 is I already want another one. That seems to be a recurring theme with me and Pilot. The Violet barrel is now on the wish list, just waiting for another good deal.

Posted on February 16, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Pilot.