(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.
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.
- Smooth writing, large steel nib
- Piston filler
- Unattractive design, especially the opaque white section
- Rough piston movement
- A bit difficult to get a good fill