(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
When Syd Saperstein of Wahl-Eversharp came out with the new Decoband oversized collection with “superflex” nibs a couple of years ago, I was pretty excited. I’m always excited about flex nibs for some reason; I’m sort of obsessed. But when I saw exactly how oversized these pens were, I decided there was no way I would buy one. “Way too big for me,” I said, “what with my delicate, little, skinny hands.”
These Decobands are huge pens both in length and especially in girth: 150mm long; 23mm diameter at clip; 18mm diameter barrel (measurements from the Wahl-Eversharp site). Plus, the pen unposted weighs 44 grams. Still, I was intrigued. I had a pen friend who bought one as soon as they came out, and he loved the pen. But I was still concerned about the size. I posted a thread on Fountain Pen Network asking whether or not people with small hands could use the pen. I received lots of replies both pro and con. But one person, Mary, was especially helpful. She has small hands too, but she found the Decoband to be perfectly comfortable. She even sent me a photo of herself writing with the pen so I could see it in her hand. That helped me decide to go ahead and buy one. Thanks, Mary!
Originally, I planned to buy my Rosewood Decoband from Wahl-Eversharp. But there had been a run on the Rosewoods, and Syd didn’t have any in stock. I’m terrible at waiting, and I discovered that Bittner Pens had one, so I ordered from them instead. Bittner is wonderful to work with. They are so polite and helpful, and they are enthusiastic supporters of the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband.
My pen arrived in a huge box. Well, of course—an oversized pen needs an oversized box. Wahl-Eversharp certainly does extraordinary packaging. The pen comes in a large, shiny, black, hinged box.
When you open it, you sort of expect angels to start singing. The inside is covered in white satin-like material with the Wahl-Eversharp name. The pen itself is sunken in a velveteen tray along with a bottle of Wahlberry ink and documentation.
Along with the Wahl-Eversharp pamphlet and the ink is a rubber square you can use if the knob for the pneumatic filler is hard to turn. That’s such a nice little detail to include in the packaging.
This pen is gorgeous. I chose the Rosewood ebonite because I liked how sophisticated it looked, and it does not disappoint. It’s a beautiful cherry-wood color with lots of depth. And it warms up in your hand as you write.
The pen has several gold accents: a band just underneath the black finial, the Wahl-Eversharp seal, the clip, a large band with the Greek key design with two slimmer bands on both sides, and a slim band near the knob at the bottom of the pen.
The clip is really the only disappointing thing about the pen. It’s relatively small compared to the rest of the pen, so clipping it to a shirt might be an iffy thing to do. I know the clip size is in keeping with Syd’s desire to make the pen according to the original proportions, just larger. The size of the clip doesn’t bother me since I don’t put pens in shirt pockets. My disappointment is with the engraving. It lacks definition—almost like a double-image.
The cap screws on securely. You can post it, but, good grief, I don’t know how anyone could write with this pen posted. The pen body is comprised of a black grip, gold threads, the barrel, and the turning knob.
This is a pneumatic filled pen, and the mechanism is nothing short of totally amazing. You unscrew the black knob and pull. The filling mechanism slides out smoothly. And just look at it! Even the filling mechanism is beautiful with the Greek key design on it.
To fill the pen, you insert the nib and part of the grip into the ink. Put your thumb over the little hole in the knob, push, count to 10, and then remove the pen from the ink, wiping off the nib and grip. Then, you push the knob the rest of the way in and screw it closed.
The pen holds a generous amount of ink (2.0ml), and it is so easy to fill and clean. I am genuinely impressed with the system. The pen is fitted with a latex sac that should last a very long time.
As for the nib. Holy cow is it impressive. The nib itself is huge. And I love the design. It’s made of 18k gold. The nib is outlined in smooth gold with textured gold inside. The nib is adorned with the Wahl-Eversharp logo and name and the word “Superflex.”
The nib comes in only one size in the Superflex, though you can get a slightly finer version that they call “gold flex.” To me the superflex writes like a western fine when you aren’t flexing it, but some might call it a medium line.
The feed on this nib is ebonite and it is painted red. It looks glorious!
My original feed was chipped, unfortunately. I contacted both Bittner Pens and Syd, and, because the pen was under warranty, Syd replaced the feed and tuned the nib for me at no extra cost. I love great customer service. The new feed is perfect.
The nib offers excellent flex capabilities. I would say it goes from a fine line to a broad line, perhaps a double-broad line if you push it. The flex is not comparable to a wet noodle vintage pen, but I would say it’s comparable to a semi-flex vintage nib.
I compared the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband with my Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with the FA nib and my Omas Extra Flessibile nib. I don’t own a vintage flex pen, unfortunately. But, I can say that the Wahl-Eversharp offers much more flexibility than the Aurora 88 with flex nib that I reviewed here.
I inked all three pens with the same ink: Kyoto Moonlight, which is a wet ink. My Omas must have had a little blue ink in it still, because the color came out slightly more brown, but it’s the same ink. In my comparison, the three nibs showed similar line variation when flexed. The Wahl-Eversharp performed the best, exhibiting no railroading, whereas both the Pilot and Omas railroaded at times.
You can see that the vertical lines made with flexed nibs are all similar in width, the Omas offering a slightly wider line.
Frankly, I expected the Pilot to be the flexiest of the three, but after comparing the three pens, the Wahl-Eversharp performed the best, with nice line variation (easily matching the Pilot and only slightly less wide than the Omas) and no railroading.
I am very pleased with the flex nib on the Wahl-Eversharp. It provides a smooth, Western-fine line when unflexed, and is nice and bouncy. I love using it unflexed for writing in my journal. When flexed, it provides excellent line variation and snaps back beautifully.
But how does the pen feel? I expected the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband to feel unwieldy, and I thought my hand would fatigue quickly. I was wrong on both counts. Even though this is the largest pen in my arsenal, it is so comfortable in my hand. I don’t experience hand cramping while writing and I don’t get fatigued. When I first received the pen, I wrote my sister an eight-page letter, just to get a feel for the pen during long writing sessions. It was terrific, hands down.
You can purchase a Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Oversized pen from several retailers, including Wahl-Eversharp and Bittner Pens. The Rosewood model retails for around $850 depending on which retailer you use. There’s now a whole range of pens in addition to the Rosewood ebonite, including the Gatsby Pensbury in etched orange ebonite with either gold or rhodium trim; the Gatsby black etched acrylic resin with either gold or rhodium trim; and the plain black ebonite with either gold or rhodium trim. Then there’s the “Magnificent Seven” set that comes in all the amazing Omas celluloid colors (just $7,700!) You can get any of these pens with the Superflex nib (which is what I have) or with a gold flex nib that has more of an extra-fine tip with less flex.
- The Wahl-Eversharp Decoband in Rosewood is a gorgeous, elegant pen. I love the ebonite, and the gold accents are just right.
- The attention to detail with this pen is amazing.
- The pen’s pneumatic filling system is one of the best I’ve used. It’s smooth and simple. Plus, I found cleaning the pen and to be fast and easy.
- The Superflex nib may not be wet-noodle flex, but it offers exceptional line variation. You do not have to push this nib to get it to flex. It is remarkably fluid and it writes well whether flexed or not.
- Even though the pen is oversized, it is not too big for me to use comfortably. That was my biggest fear when I purchased the pen—that it would be too big and ungainly. In fact, it is one of my most comfortable writers.
- Whether you buy this pen from Syd or from another retailer, you will get excellent customer service. I highly recommend Bittner Pens, and I commend Syd for fixing the chipped feed and the slightly scratchy nib quickly and at no cost to me.
- Obviously, this is not an inexpensive pen. But I think the price is reasonable considering what you are getting: an ebonite pen with brass components, and a solid 18k flex nib.
- This is a very large, weighty pen. I discovered that the size and weight did not bother me at all. But everyone is different, and some people may find that this is just too much fountain pen for them.
(I purchased the Wahl-Eversharp Decoband in Rosewood with my own funds.)
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