No sense in beating around the bush on this one. I love this pen.
The Edison Menlo Pump Filler is one of the unique filling systems that Brian Gray of Edison Pen Co. has created or re-introduced over the years. Brian can explain it much better than me in his videos and diagrams (see the Menlo home page), but in a nutshell, you dip the nib into your ink bottle, depress the pump to expel air, then release the pump to bring in ink. It’s a fascinating process to see, especially in a demonstrator like mine. In about four pumps the entire 1.7 ml reservoir is full and ready to write.
As great as this filling system is, there is more to this particular Menlo than that. First of all, this is a fully custom job done by Brian specifically for me. If you listen to the podcast or follow me on Instagram you have heard or seen me discuss how my Nock Co. partner Jeff got in touch with Brian to build this pen to give me as a gift. I had some general email conversations with Brian on a different pen that the two pulled from for the barrel colors, and then they conspired behind the scenes to nail down the final product. And nail it they did.
I love demonstrators, and I love red and blue, so why not combine the two? The result is what I refer to as my Menlo 3-D. It looks cool and is a joy to use. The aforementioned filling system works like a champ, and the steel fine cursive italic nib ground by Brian before leaving the shop is crisp and clean.
The barrel shape is almost an afterthought with everything else going on with this pen, but it may be the feature that suits me the most. It’s just the right length and just the right diameter to fit my hand and give me the best writing experience possible.
If there are any negatives to be mentioned about the Menlo, they would be the price and the difficulty in cleaning. The model I have cost $350 with the steel nib and will run you $450 with an 18k gold nib. With all of the additional design work and mechanics involved in making this pen you can be sure it will cost a pretty penny.
Cleaning the Menlo has proven to be a challenge, at least compared to cleaning a simple cartridge/converter fill pen. As easy as the pump is to fill the pen with, it takes several orders of magnitude more pumping to flush it clean. The pen can be unassembled for easier cleaning, which is the route I usually take. The nib unit is sealed on the back end to allow for the ink tube to function within the closed barrel so I generally soak it in water overnight since I cannot flush it with an aspirator like I would for more standard nibs. There is definitely some time and elbow grease involved to get it just right.
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It is, but don’t let that sway you from considering a Menlo. It holds so much ink I actually end up cleaning it less than I do some of my other pens.
All in all, I am a big fan of the Menlo, and this one in particular. The style fits me perfectly both in form and function, and I love that there is a story to tell along with it. Yes, it was a gift, so I didn’t come out of my own pocket for it, but I can see another Menlo added to the collection in my future.