(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Well, I'm eating crow, that's for sure. In my review of the Franklin-Christoph Model 19, I claimed that I was not interested in the ice models that the company makes. I now own an ice model, and it is one of the coolest pens I own (pun intended).
I sent back the Model 19 after I decided it was too big for my hand. Following many emails back-and-forth with Lori in customer service (she gets new angel's wings every time I email her), I finally decided on the Model 65 Stabilis in ice. What made me change my tune? I saw a video review of a different ice model which the reviewer had eyedroppered. When the ice is filled to the brim with ink, the result is simply magical.
The pen transforms into whatever color the ink is, but, because the acrylic looks like ice, the ink sparkles inside. The effect is unlike any demonstrator pen I've owned.
The Model 65 Stabilis is the smaller version of Franklin-Christoph's desk pens with a #5 nib (the model 65 is longer and takes the larger #6 nib). The name Stabilis comes from the pen's unique design. The barrel is round except for one small portion that is flat. This allows the user to place the pen on a desk without worrying that it will roll off. It's genius, really.
The flat side is etched with the words "Franklin-Christoph Model 65." This branding is unobtrusive but classy, especially when you see it reflected in sunlight.
Another design element that makes this pen stand out is the cap threads. Instead of the threads being on the barrel, they are at the top of the grip section. Not only does that mean your fingers never feel the threads while writing, but the threads act as the barrier between your fingers and the nib. Why didn't someone think of this sooner?
Like most Franklin-Christoph pens, the Model 65 can be used with cartridges or a converter (both are included with the pen). The fact that you can also transform the pen into an eyedropper makes it even better.
The Model 65 is light, weighing only .06 oz/17grams without ink. It measures 5.35 inches in length capped, 5.6 inches uncapped, and 6.2 inches posted. The barrel diameter ranges from .51 inches to .39 inches near the grip. The Stabilis is a full-length pen with a comfortable barrel size. The acrylic makes it extremely light and easy to write with.
I don't normally post my pens, but I tried writing with the Stabilis posted just to see how it felt. I thought posting threw the balance off slightly, but it's a subjective thing. The cap is rather small, and it's completely round (no flat side), so it can roll off the desk pretty easily. I stand it up vertically so it won't roll.
For this pen, I decided to get the Mike Masuyama stainless-steel medium italic nib.
It is fantastic. In all honesty, I cannot tell the difference between this stainless steel nib and the 18k nib I had on the Model 19. In fact, I like this nib's design better–an understated "F" in an etched diamond and scroll work.
I thought the italic might be more finicky than the medium stub I had on the Model 19, but it is smooth and has a wide sweet spot. It produces a nice, crisp line and doesn't catch on the paper.
I emptied the pen after making it into an eyedropper to see how hard it is to get the ink out. I rinsed the barrel with water first, but I noticed ink residue near the bottom. I used some pen wash, shook it up pretty well, and rinsed again. Even using a Q-tip didn't get that little bit of residue out. If it makes me crazy, I'll try soaking it all night.
I disassembled the nib unit and all the ink accumulated there cleaned out nicely. Lori warned me that if ink gets in the threads it's more difficult to clean out. She suggested avoiding troublesome, highly saturated inks (which is fountain-pen-community-speak for avoiding a certain blue ink that causes major existential crises whenever it is mentioned in forums). The key is, use your common sense when deciding which inks to use if you transform the pen into an eyedropper.
The Model 65 Stabilis is a terrific pen. It suits me in every way that the Model 19 did not. The pen is currently available in classic black, solid ice, or a stunning blue-violet with numerous nib choices. Prices range from $149.50 to $244.50 depending on the nib.
I love, love, love this pen!
- Beautiful pen at a reasonable price.
- Versatile, since you can use cartridges, a converter, or transform the pen into an eyedropper
- The Solid Ice model is magical when filled with ink in eyedropper mode.
- The Masuyama stainless steel nib is fantastic.
- This pen is absolutely comfortable in the hand.
- Genius design elements, such as the flat side so the pen doesn't roll, and the placement of the cap threads, make this pen stand out.
- People who prefer pens with some heft may find this pen too light.
- Good luck trying to decide between the Solid Ice and the Violet-Blue. Even better, just get one of each!
- Because this pen uses the #5 nib, you can't use it with the Franklin-Christoph 1.9 Music Nib which comes only in #6 size. You can get cursive italic calligraphy nibs in either 1.1 or 1.4mm sizes.