“Brad, you need to come see this. It's going to be a problem for you.”
That’s how I first learned about Matthew Martin, and the pens he had on display at the Atlanta Pen Show. My friends know what I like, and when they come to me with a statement like that, I know what I’m about to see is going to be good. And it was.
Matt has been making his unique style of every day carry pen for several years. A quick scroll through his Instagram feed shows a wide variety of barrel materials and finishes, including very detailed machine work. It’s a glimpse behind the mad scientist curtain that produces such wild and varied designs.
One thing you will notice when scrolling through his page is the lack of fountain pens. That was a conscious effort in the beginning it seems. His market was the knife and tactical carry enthusiast. Retractable pens with glass breaker tips and Fisher Space Pen refills tend to lean that way.
The groundwork had been laid, and Matthew decided to start dabbling in fountain pens. And by dabbling, I mean making one of the best machined fountain pens I have ever used right out of the gate.
Storytime: As I was browsing through Matt’s table in Atlanta, my friends and I noticed something interesting. All of Matt’s fountain pens had Edison Nibs in them. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but we had to ask why. Matt told us he didn’t know where to get nibs from, so went to Goulet Pens, and bought all of the 16 Edison nibs they had in stock to use for his pens. How great is that?
That tells you where Matt is at in relation to the fountain pen world. We told him where he could source #6 Jowo nibs in the US (funnily enough, from Brain Gray at Edison Pens) and all had a good laugh about his commitment to making this happen.
While there was work to be done on the nibs, the pen barrels needed no such conversation. In fact, I was left curious at how Matt does what he does. I bought a full titanium, smooth barrel and section, fountain pen, but couldn’t help but be enamored by the mixing and matching of metals Matt offered. Aside from titanium, there were bronze, copper, and zirconium barrels - and mixtures of the various metals in different parts of the pens. On top of that, many pens had the added touch of additional machine work - be it a barrel cut out or section etching.
As simple as the pen I chose is compared to the rest on the table, I knew it was the one I was leaving with. I like technical and flashy, too, but for my first pen from a new brand I like to keep it straightforward, so I can get a good look at the manufacturing without being swayed by swirls.
When I look at my pen, I’m in a constant state of “I don’t get it,” as in, I don’t get how a machined metal pen is this clean and this refined. I use a lot of metal pens and am impressed by a lot of metal pens. This pen has set a new high bar for manufacturing refinement. Yes, I am gushing over this pen, as you have undoubtedly heard me do on the podcast over the last few weeks.
Two main features make this a perfect pen for me. One is the length. It’s neither short nor long. It’s perfect-sized - just long enough to hold a standard international ink converter, and have a good length grip section. There is no extra anywhere. Two, it’s lighter than expected for a metal pen. That is because Matt thins out the interior barrel wall to reduce weight while keeping it thick enough to retain its durability. Those two things combine to give this pen a great feel and perfect balance in hand.
If there is any downside to Matt Martin’s pens, it is that they may be priced out of your comfort zone. After what I have seen, and felt, and used, I think they are correctly priced, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t expensive. The model I purchased was the least costly at $295, and they went all the way up to $595 for a full zirconium pen, with additional barrel and section design work. Most of the two-tone models - which are next on my list - range from $395 to $495. All of the prices include a steel #6 Jowo nib. I bought a new steel EF SIG nib from Franklin-Christoph at the show to add a little extra awesomeness to my pen.
If this is a style of pen you are interested in, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Matt’s work. They aren’t easy to come by right now, with most of them appearing for sale on Instagram as opposed to his website. If nothing else, he is one to watch.
When I entered the Atlanta Pen show, I had never heard of Matt Martin and had never seen his pens. Now, I own a pen that is never leaving my side. I look forward to the day when I can pick out my second one.
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