(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 PenBBS 350 is an aluminum fountain pen that comes in silver or matte black finish. It is supplied with a fine steel nib and a rollerball adapter that allows you to use fountain pen ink.
Because it is made of aluminum, the pen is rather heavy, weighing in at 23.6 grams. Without the cap, it weighs 15.7 grams, so it still has quite a bit of heft. You can post the cap, if you dare, but it makes the pen very unbalanced.
This is a medium-sized pen in length, 5.12 inches/130mm capped, 4.84 inches/123mm uncapped, and 6.5 inches/166mm posted. The grip is a little over 10mm in diameter, which is rather small for my hand (see my discussion on how it writes below). But it does have a lip that keeps your fingers from slipping.
The clipless cap is octagonal with PenBBS engraved on one of the facets. The finial is also engraved with “PenBBS 350” and a tiny “F” or “P” (I’m not sure which) in the middle. The inside of the cap appears to be lined with plastic.
The body of the pen is smooth aluminum broken only by the cap threads. The threads are placed well away from where your fingers sit on the grip, so they do not interfere with writing at all.
You can fill the pen with the supplied converter or you can use cartridges.
The fine steel nib is adorned with scrollwork and “PenBBS Since 2005 China.”
PenBBS nibs come only in fine and medium (and this model may be limited to fine). They are interesting nibs because their tips flip up just a tiny bit, almost like a mini-fude nib.
The nib writes smoothly, but I noticed a good amount of skipping with KWZ Baltic Memories. I read other reviews of PenBBS pens that indicated these nibs can be a bit stingy with ink. So, I’ll try the pen with a wetter ink next time.
Because the pen is so heavy and the grip so small in diameter, I found my wrist and fingers cramping up even after only short periods of writing. I normally like hefty pens, but they need to have larger diameter grips that help balance the weight more evenly. Then again . . . maybe it’s not the grip. Maybe I’m just old and a bit arthritic.
I’ve never tried a fountain pen with a rollerball adapter, so I was pretty excited about this little extra.
To my amazement, I actually enjoyed writing with the rollerball more than I did with the fountain pen nib. The rollerball was smooth and the ink flowed perfectly. You can see a writing comparison between the nib and rollerball below. I love the idea of using fountain pen ink with a rollerball. I will say, however, that trying to clean ink out of the rollerball unit was next to impossible.
This is my first PenBBS. I’m very impressed with the pen. It has a beautiful, simple design. All the components work well, especially the rollerball adapter. The nib seems a bit stingy with ink, but it’s usable, and I suspect it will write better with a wetter ink.
At only $22.00 I think this pen is a steal. You can purchase it from Vanness Pens in either silver or black. Other colors are available from the PenBBS Etsy site, but you have to wait quite awhile to receive your pen as it is shipped from China. I ordered two different models last week and plan to review them later this summer.
(This pen was purchased from Vanness Pens with a reviewer’s discount.)
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