(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Laban Pen Company is a Taiwanese brand founded in 1981. Their motto is “Refill your soul by writing.” I tried to find out more about the company, visiting their website and Facebook page, but neither of these offered any specifics about the founders. The company sees itself as carrying on the long tradition of writing by hand and creating beautiful instruments to aid in that process.
I’ve never owned or used a Laban pen, so I was excited about the opportunity to try the Ocean Blue fountain pen. It comes in a black clamshell cardboard box.
The Laban Ocean is part of a two-pen series called “Land and Sea” (the other pen is the Laban Forest). The blue acrylic barrel is meant to mimic “waves breaking gently on the sand” (Facebook Post February 13). The remainder of the pen (cap, grip, bottom section of the barrel) is a marbled ivory color.
The pen is adorned with gold-plated accents. The cap has a medal-like finial with the Laban crest.
It also has two thin gold bands at the top, a gold spring-loaded clip, and a wide gold band near the bottom, etched with the company name. The acrylic is thick and the cap is sturdy and of excellent quality.
The body of the pen is made of the same thick acrylic. The grip and bottom of the barrel are both accented with gold rings (two where the barrel meets the grip and one between the barrel and the bottom of the pen). This is a large pen, measuring 5.9 inches/150mm capped, 5.2 inches/132mm uncapped, and 6.8 inches/172mm posted. Because the cap weighs 14 grams all by itself, posting really throws the balance off.
Not only is the acrylic thick, but the threads inside the grip and the barrel are metal, adding extra weight to the pen. The pen weighs 34 grams overall.
The Laban converter is plastic and inserts into the metal portion of the grip. I found that the converter slips in and out a bit too easily. I’d like it to be more snug.
My Laban has a gold-plated, stainless steel fine nib with engraved scroll work and nib size. The number 3952, “Laban,” and “Germany,” seem to be printed or etched onto the nib. This is the only detail that detracts from the pen. Close up, you can see that these items seem smudged. I searched long and hard to discover why the number 3952 is etched on the nib. 3,952 meters is the height of Yushan Mountain (the highest mountain in Taiwan), so perhaps this is why the number appears.
The nib is a smooth writer, but it does not offer any flex, bounce, or line variation. Still, the feed provides plenty of ink to the nib which is juicy and fun to write with. I’ve not experienced any dry starts, skipping, or rough writing with this nib, even though the tines are slightly misaligned.
I am deeply impressed with the Laban Ocean Blue fountain pen. I took it to a faculty meeting yesterday, and everyone at the table wanted to look at it. The ivory and blue acrylics work really well together, all the gold accents make this pen look like a high-end luxury pen, and the pen has the heft of a Montblanc 149. You can purchase the Laban Ocean Blue from Vanness for $104.00, which I think is an incredible price for so much elegance.
(Vanness Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.
Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!