Posts filed under Fountain Pens

Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with FA Nib: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 is not a particularly remarkable pen on the outside. It is black resin with rhodium-plated rings at the juncture of the grip and barrel, at the bottom of the barrel, and at the top and bottom of the cap. The clip is unadorned, and the only branding is on the cap ring which says "Custom Heritage 912 Pilot Japan."

The 912 comes with a CON-70 push-button converter that holds a good amount of ink (0.6 ml). I much prefer this to Pilot's other converters, but I will say this one is tough to clean thoroughly. You have to flush it repeatedly, and the ink tends to get caught in the nooks and crannies of the converter.

It is a light pen, weighing in at only 25 grams. The length is comfortable posted (6.18 inches) or unposted (just under 5 inches).

What makes the 912 shine is the 14K rhodium-plated FA nib (you can, of course get the pen with other nibs). The FA nib (short for Falcon) has cutouts that look like wings.

This design allows the nib to flex when the writer applies pressure to it.

Unlike a Soft Fine nib, which is simply less firm and offers no flex, the tines of an FA nib actually spread, giving that coveted line variation so many writers love.

You can also write normally with the FA nib, and it has a lovely spring to it.

My 912 worked perfectly out of the box. I inked it with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo, and I spread the tines as far as I dared. The ink flowed perfectly and the nib floated on the paper. However, when my bottle of Montblanc Blue Hour arrived, I tried it with the 912. Boy, was I disappointed. The nib railroaded almost immediately. I tried priming the nib, forcing more ink down, but nothing worked.

Wondering if this was a problem with the ink or the nib, I experimented with several different inks. You can see the railroading with Blue Hour, but none of the other inks caused any problems.

I read on some other blogs that the FA nib works best with Pilot inks, but I tried several different brands and they all worked fine. In fact, I tried Blue Hour again after all my tests and suddenly it worked perfectly. I can't explain this. Maybe by the time I tried Blue Hour again, the nib and feed had been flushed so many times they were able to handle a drier ink.

Still, Yama-budo is my go-to ink for this pen. It is such a happy color (it forces me out of my blue ink rut), and the FA nib almost makes my writing look Spencerian . . . almost.

Aside from the initial railroading problem, the only other negative is nib creep. I noticed this from day one. For whatever reason, ink creeps between the tines and pools on the nib's surface. From what I've read, this is caused either by the wetness of the ink or possible hairline fissures in the nib. It doesn't affect the writing, but I get a little OCD-irritated that the nib surface isn't pristine. If I try to wipe it clean, more ink just smears over it. It's a Sisyphian battle. I lost.

No modern pen has yet managed to duplicate the super-flex pens of old. But, if you want the convenience of a modern filling system (no dried up sacs, no broken lever boxes, no rotten cork seals) and a smooth, flexy nib, the 912 FA is a great choice. I honestly did not expect to like this pen as much as I do. I planned to review it and then sell it. But that's not going to happen. This is a keeper.

I purchased my Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with the FA nib through Amazon for $155.37. The seller was in Japan, so it took almost a month for the pen to arrive. That seller does not currently offer this pen anymore, but you can check Amazon periodically to see if it becomes available. Classic Fountain Pens has the pen back in stock ($256), so you can order from them or from your favorite Japanese eBay dealer.

Pros

  • Lightweight pen for comfortable writing
  • Good ink supply with the CON-70 converter
  • The FA nib is a wonderful option for people who desire flex but don't want to use vintage pens
  • Simple, elegant design

Cons

  • The pen only comes in black; I wish they offered a variety of colors
  • The CON-70 converter is difficult to clean completely
  • The pen can be difficult to obtain in America
  • Fairly expensive for a plastic pen (though the nib is 14K)
Posted on July 24, 2015 and filed under Falcon, Fountain Pens, Pilot, Pen Reviews.

Bexley Phoenix Fountain Pen Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Bexley Phoenix collection includes four colors: black with a clear barrel, red with a clear barrel, blue velvet with a blue translucent barrel, and cappuccino with a bronze translucent barrel. The caps on these pens are marbled acrylic, and the piston knobs are black, except for the cappuccino's which is caramel.

Goldspot Pens kindly loaned the Bexley Phoenix in Velvet Blue for review. The retail price for this pen is $219.00, but it is currently on sale at Goldspot for $164.95. The pen is 5.3 inches capped, 5.125 inches uncapped, and 6.45 inches posted.

The nib is a two-tone, custom-engraved, stainless steel nib that comes in fine, medium or broad. The nib on the loaner pen from Goldspot is a fine.

And the nib is the best part of this pen. It is large and writes smoothly. It's a very firm nib (no flex or bounce). But it isn't scratchy nor does it exhibit hard starts.

The marbled blue cap with a black top section is elegant, and the steel accents complement the silver swirls in the marbled acrylic.

The clip is unadorned except for a small "B" stamped at the top and the ring is plain. The clip is flexible enough to attach to a pad of paper or a shirt pocket.

Unfortunately, the pen's design begins to fall apart once you remove the cap. The grip portion of the barrel and the piston are black. The mid-section of the barrel is translucent blue, allowing you to keep track of your ink level. This unusual combination of a marbled acrylic cap with a demonstrator barrel doesn't work well. When I look at the pen, I think "someone put the wrong cap on this pen."

Then there's a section I can't quite describe. It's opaque, and it looks like a wad of wet Kleenex was stuffed into the barrel.

I have no idea why the pen was designed with this element which, frankly, I think is ugly. Had the designers simply used the marbled acrylic or translucent blue, the pen would be more attractive. Maybe they were trying to hide the piston mechanism. But this strange opaque white section ruins the appearance of the pen, especially since it isn't uniform but mottled.

In the photographs, it looks like this section is textured on the inside, but you can't see that with the naked eye. It may be a trick of the light or an aberration the camera picked up.

In addition, two holes, which I assume are necessary, mar the appearance of the barrel.

Appearance isn't the only problem with this pen. The piston does not turn smoothly at all. You can feel the piston bump along as you turn it–gallumpf, gallumpf. It's quite disconcerting. I don't know if the barrel is misshaped or if the piston is not perfectly round. I've owned Pelikans with hard-turning pistons (something easily fixed with a little silicone grease), but I've never felt a piston "gallumpf." Maybe this is simply how Bexley pistons turn. If so, I don't like their pistons.

Whatever causes the Bexley piston to stutter doesn't seem to affect the seal. However, I discovered that the pen won't fill unless you have the entire nib submerged plus a little of the grip. Since the nib is so large, you'll need to have deep, full ink bottles or figure out a way to angle bottle so the nib is completely submerged. That's what I did to fill the Bexley with Diamine Denim.

My son demonstrates the tip fill

My son demonstrates the tip fill

I am not impressed with the Bexley Phoenix fountain pen. Although it is a smooth writer, the design of the pen is disappointing, and the piston mechanism, at least on the loaner pen, is bumpy. I've not tried other Bexley models, but I would not recommend this one.

Pros

  • Smooth writing, large steel nib
  • Piston filler

Cons

  • Unattractive design, especially the opaque white section
  • Rough piston movement
  • A bit difficult to get a good fill
Posted on July 17, 2015 and filed under Bexley, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 "Marietta" in Vintage Green: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Franklin-Christoph Model 20 "Marietta" is a simple, minimalistic pen. Originally offered in black, the pen also comes in a beautiful olive- green color, and I'm told other colors will be offered soon. The design, with clean lines and a few flourishes, is reminiscent of vintage pens.

The Marietta is the perfect size for me. It's a slender pen compared to many of the other Franklin-Christoph models. It can be comfortably used posted or unposted. The pen is 5.0 inches (127mm) from nib tip to barrel end and 5.45 inches capped (138.43mm). The barrel diameter is .51 inches (12.95mm), and the grip is .41 inches (10.41mm) at its smallest. The pen weighs 22.7 grams with the converter (no ink).

One of the best design features is that the grip has absolutely no threads to worry your fingers. The cap slips on and off rather than screwing, so the grip is completely smooth. And, the cap makes a satisfying "click" sound when you slip it off the pen.

Matching grooves adorn the top of the cap and the bottom of the barrel adding interest to the otherwise straight lines.

The clip is small (about half the size of the cap) and sports the diamond motif.

An "F" is engraved in the finial.

The company's name and model number are lightly engraved around the cap. I appreciate the subtle branding of Franklin-Christoph pens.

I chose an 18K gold Masuyama medium cursive italic for my Marietta.

Even though I love the steel nib on my Model 65, I wanted a gold nib for the Marietta. I thought the gold diamond etched on the nib would complement the green color of the pen, and it does.

Like most of the other Franklin-Christoph pens, the Marietta can be used with a cartridge, a converter (included), or as an eyedropper. For now, I'm using the converter though I may turn my Marietta into an eyedropper eventually.

The pen wrote perfectly the first time I inked it. For my written review, I used Sailor Jentle Epinard, an ink that matches the pen almost exactly. I've had no problems with hard starts or skipping. It's a firm nib, but it writes a gorgeous line with just enough variation to give my handwriting character.

I don't have anything negative to say about this pen. It's beautiful, light, comfortable to write with, and has a great nib. The color is unique and sophisticated. I love the ease of the slip on cap and the simple, elegant design. I am so glad Franklin-Christoph made the pen in a color other than black, and I'm looking forward to the other colors they will offer in the future.

The Marietta starts at $165 (steel nib) and comes with a leather case. With a Franklin-Christoph 1.9 steel music nib, the pen costs $175. The pen costs $255 with any 18K Franklin-Christoph nib. And for nibs specially ground by Mike Masuyama, you'll pay $180 for steel and $270 for 18K gold.

Pros

  • Elegant, simple, classic design
  • Easy on and off slip cap
  • Comfortable length, width, and weight
  • Beautiful, sophisticated color with gradations from light to dark green
  • Customizable with numerous nib choices
  • Comes with a leather zipper case

Cons

  • People who like heavy pens may find the Marietta too light
  • Similarly, those who prefer pens with a wider girth may not like the Marietta's slender profile

Note: I purchased this pen for my own use and was not compensated by Franklin-Christoph for this review.

Posted on July 10, 2015 and filed under Franklin-Christoph, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger Fountain Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

The Pilot Metropolitan is one of those pens that caused quite a stir when they first hit the U.S. market. Why? Well, for me it was the price, the quality, and the feel of the pen that made it seem like such an excellent value. It's a fantastic everyday pen, a vey good choice for a first fountain pen, and a pretty good choice for a gift pen. I guess I've overlooked it in my reviews because it's just so ubiquitous and standard nowadays. But, I recently ordered a new one due to my recent predicament of only having one fountain to use. The Metropolitan seemed like the only right choice when I was trying to pick an affordable pen to use as an everyday writer for the next few weeks.

I went over to JetPens and picked out the white Metro with a fine nib, and also got a pack of Pilot Blue-black cartridges for good measure because their blue-black is one of the best. In a couple days, I was back to using a regular size pen as my everyday writer. The Liliput is a great pen, but a little too small for my taste when it comes to longer writing sessions.

Now, I purchased my first Metropolitan back in 2013 and used it heavily for several months. This review is for a new pen, but one that I've used a lot in other forms.

First off, there's the exterior of the pen, which is very simple and balanced. The original pens only came in three colors (black, silver, and gold) with three pattern options for the band (dot, zig-zag, and plain). Later on, Pilot released other designs that featured fake animal skin textures and more colors. I went with the white body and tiger print band. Personally, I love this design, but I know it's probably polarizing.

The pen has a fantastic weight since the insides of the barrel are supposedly brass. The outside is metal, probably aluminum, and I'm a huge sucker for metal bodied pens in general. In my opinion, Pilot hit a home run with this particular line of fountain pen. It's also very comfortable for me when I write — I've never had any complaints or aches when using the pen.

Apart from that, it's all about the nib. And, like I have come to expect from Pilot, it's smooth and error-free from the beginning.

My first Metropolitan has a medium nib because that's all Pilot offered in the first round. Later, they also introduced the fine nib, which is what I got this time. I've gotten to the point where I love both sizes and I pick them based on my mood. This one is no exception. Thin, crisp lines come out of this nib at a steady rate. The blue-black excels with this size nib, as you get a healthy dose of blue with just enough business feel.

For under $20, I don't think you can do better than the Metropolitan. It's a crowd-pleaser. It's about 4-times more than a Preppy, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of the Preppy in feel and performance. You can toss the Metro in the bag and not worry about it, while the Preppy will soon crack or break with minor wear.

It's also neutral compared to the Safari since it doesn't have a unique grip. And, now that they offer more color and band options, you can get one that offers a little more personality as well.

If you haven't tried out a Metro yet, you owe it to yourself to try out the fountain pen that offers the most value! It's an excellent beginner fountain pen, but it also hangs with the more expensive pens as well. It's a win-win.

Posted on June 24, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Metropolitan, Pen Reviews, Pilot.