Even though I’m not terribly proficient at using them, I really do love a good glass dip nib pen. So when I saw that Jetpens had Rohrer and Klingner Glass Pens ($30) in stock, I was eager to give one a go. I chose the Blue and Copper version.
The pen is super lightweight (approximately 17g) and is handcrafted in Germany. No two are quite the same; they may vary a bit in pattern, texture and tip width.
If you’ve never used a glass dip nib they’re tons of fun! Grab a bottle of ink, a notepad and your pen to get started. Open the bottle of ink and dip the nib of the pen in, swirling a bit to let in gather in the grooves. Then settle down to write. As you write, if the ink starts to fade a bit, gently twirl the pen to allow the other grooves to drain towards the nib. See how long you can write with just one dip in the ink!
This particular pen is approximately 7.25″ (18.5cm) long. It fits comfortably in my hand. So far the only thing I’m still playing with is exactly how get some line variation by adjusting the nib angle in my strokes. This nib isn’t as fine as another glass nib that I have (my other is technically acrylic as well!), but it’s of much better quality. The nice thing about glass nibs is that as long as you’re careful with them, they’ll last forever!
If you’re looking for something fun to play with, or to add to your wishlist for the season, try one of these!
I have a secret weakness for multipens. I love the idea of having several colors of ink, maybe a pencil, even a tiny eraser — in one pen barrel. Some of the Japanese multipens do all that, some allow for other types of refills.
The other reason I like multipens is that when I run out of ink, I can just replace the refill, not the whole pen. So, like my fountain pen habit, I like the reusability.
The Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto is a wide 4-refill plastic barrel. The end is translucent to see the moving components and check the ink levels of the refills.
The top of the pen barrel hinges open and the refills are slid down into the spring-loaded channels. The plastic knobs that stick out from each refill become the knock mechanism that is pushed down in the channel to reveal the tip at the other end. To retract, just pull down on any other refill and the exposed refill will spring back up. If you continue to push on it, the newly selected refill will click into place. I find it a bit easier to retract one refill before pushing down to reveal the next. (The other Japanese multipens work similarly once a refill is installed).
As is apparent from the name, the Coleto uses Hi-Tec C gel ink in its pen refills ranging in size from 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5. There are also metallic, pastel and fluorescent colors available. I tend to have less issues with ink drying out in the Coleto than I’ve had in the regular single-use Hi-Tec C pens so, of all the Hi-Tec C products, the Coleto multipen is one of my favorites.
The Zebra Sarasa Select
The Zebra Sarasa Select is available in 3-refill or 5-refill options. The Select is a slim design but the color options definitely skew a bit more … flamboyant? The plastic barrels are printed with shimmer metallic paint in bright reds, pinks or white (shown here) which gold metallic vine around the uppermost window through which to see the refill status. This pen also does not include a clip.
Not to throw gender into the mix but I’m going to assume that a clipless multipen in pinks, corals and pearl were probably designed to appeal more to women. I know not all women like these colors but most women I know don’t clip pens into their shirt pockets. As such, I recommend that the Select line continue but that Zebra introduce some other colors: plum, forest green, a deep teal?
If this design is not as understated as you would prefer, I recommend looking at the standard Zebra Sarasa multipen line. The same refill options are available but the color range is a bit more varied and models with clips are available.
The Sarasa Select opens at the grip section (like the Pentel i+ shown below) and the refills are slotted into holes in the top of the barrel. There is one knock that is bigger and translucent that is designated for a pencil refill should you choose to use one. This is the only slot to put a mechanical pencil refill since its the only knock that still sticks out after its depressed down so that its possible to advance pencil lead.
The Zebra Sarasa multipens use Zebra Sarasa gel ink and there are few gel pen fans I’ve met who do not find the Sarasa to be one of the nicest writing gel inks. With the Sarasa multipen, there are gel refills in sizes 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5, Surari ballpoint pen refills, pencil refills. There are also five metallic gel colors available. The addition of the ballpoint refill (should you need to fill out forms or need ink that stands up to lots of surfaces) makes the Sarasa multipen a great option for someone needing a gel pen, ballpoint pen and a pencil all in one barrel.
The Pentel i+ (Slicci compatible)
The Pentel i+ series, despite the vague name, is one of my favorite multipens. I love the Pentel Slicci refills but the single-use pens are very narrow and are becoming harder and harder to find. The bright, glossy plastic barrel (available in a variety of non-gender biased colors) allow most people to find a barrel color that appeals to them. I love the bright yellow-green myself (I know, big surprise.). The glossy white or black put all the focus on the clear grip area where ink levels and color selection can be viewed.
The i+ designs allows for pencil, gel pen and Vicuna ballpoint refills to be used. Gel pen refills are available in 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5mm. The Slicci gel refills are not available in any metallic inks at present.
The clip is streamlined and acts as one of the knock mechanisms. When adding a pencil component, its recommended to add it in the slot activated by the clip since, like the Sarasa Select, the other knock mechanisms slide flush with the body when depressed.
Aesthetically, the Pentel i+ is pleasantly understated. It offers an array of refill options though not as many as the PIlot Hi-Tec C. The refills for the Pentel i+ are slightly less expensive overall though making this multipen a great option for someone looking for variety on a budget.
While I have not attempted hacking one refill to fit into another multipen, the size and shapes of all three multipen refills are relatively similar. The plastic caps in the end of the Hi-Tec C Coleto refills can be popped out easily and the refills have been modified to fit other pens so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that, with some trimming, these refills might be somewhat interchangeable in some pen bodies. THIS HAS NOT BEEN TESTED. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
The Lamy 2000 Multipen
Finally, the Lamy 2000 is both in a class by itself and comparable to the previously mentioned Japanese multipens. Pricewise, I could rebuy all three multipens and the necessary refills twice and probably just reach the price of the Lamy 2000 multipen, it’s also the most durable, solid-feeling pen in the lot. As it should be. It’s metal, not plastic. Fancy brushed metal finish to boot.
The seam in the grip area where the Lamy 2000 is unscrewed is virtually invisible creating a smooth, uninterrupted design. Why is that seam not where the silver meets the black metal? Good question. I have no answer. I suspect being further back on the barrel makes it easier to align the refills with the holes inside the pen and align with the color tabs ringed just under the clip.
Inserting the refills take a bit more force than with the plastic Japanese pens but once the refills are in place, the colors are selected by simply turning the pen so the color you’ve selected is facing upwards and pushing the knock down. It’s kind of magical.
While Lamy insists on its own proprietary refills, a standard D1 refill fits into the Lamy 2ooo easily. In fact, the first thing I did was swap out the stock refills with Zebra D1 gel refills. Because of the red, green, blue, black color marks and the limited variety of colors available in D1 gel ink (or any D1 style refill) the Lamy 2000 doesn’t have the option for lots of different color refills or swapping in a pencil component. So, what you get in design and durability you lose in options.
All the gel inks perform as anticipated. For an in-depth analysis on standard black gel ink, check out our previous post. The performance, legibility and usefulness of the wide variety of colored gel ink is largely a matter of preference. Lighter colors tend to work better in wider tip sizes than the extra, extra fine tips I tend to gravitate towards.
Above is a close-up of the eraser component in action in the Hi-Tec C Coleto model. It wouldn’t be useful for covering large areas but it’s great for erasing a letter or a bit of detail from a drawing.
Above is a close-up of the metallic gold (0.5mm) refill in the Zebra Sarasa Select. When placed properly in the slots, the point size will be visible in the clear grip area of the pen body.
So, what should you glean from this post?
If you haven’t tried a multipen yet, there is one out there for you. If you are looking for the largest selection of gel ink colors, I recommend the Hi-Tec C Coleto. If you want to be able to have a ballpoint refill as well as gel ink and maybe a pencil, then go with the Pentel i+ or Zebra Sarasa Select (or regular multipen). If cost is not an issue and you just want some standard colors, then the Lamy 2000 multipen is a solid choice.
Why should you trust me?
This is a photo of my box of pen refills. I have an equally large box of pencil refills. There’s a reason everyone messages me with refill questions.
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
I remember vividly the first pen show that the Nibsmith had Leonardo pens stocked at his table. The Momento Zero model caught a lot of people’s attention at that show, and for good reason. I was not immune. It’s one of the only pens I can think of that I purchased immediately when seeing a brand for the first time.
I was impressed with Leonardo then. But what is arguably more impressive is that I’m even more enthusiastic about what the brand is doing now. They continue to release great new materials in the Momento Zero. They’ve added a new filling mechanism. They are even working with makers like Jonathan Brooks to use some of the best handmade resins in the world as a canvas for their pens. (P.S. If you missed the first round of the primary manipulation, the preorders are up at that link for round two!) And now, they are working with the Nibsmith to bring an exclusive #8 nib into the mix.
I have been bugging Dan on a regular basis about when the oversize nib version would drop since Dan first mentioned the possibility to me. He was kind enough to loan the Leonardo Momento Zero Grande in Blue Fiodacqua to me for review, and it was worth the wait.
We will get to the star of the show (the nib of course!) in a minute, but there are a few things about the pen worth noting as well. This was my first experience with Leonardo’s new piston filling mechanism. The highest compliment I can pay is that it reminds me a little of a Pelikan piston mechanism. Pelikan has the best pistons in the business, and I don’t think they will even be matched. But this might be my second favorite piston. The mechanism feels as smooth as it is solid. It’s difficult to put into words what about the build of this pen gives it such a high-quality feel. But when you pick the pen up, you can just tell it’s well-made.
I was honestly surprised by how much I love this material. I think all of Leonardo’s materials look every better in person than they do in photos online, and this one is no expectation. The white portions of the material are a swirly mix of slightly transparent areas and a pearlescent shine. That extra depth to the material is what makes so many of the Leonardo materials special.
Beyond the obviously great materials, it’s the details that Leonardo really does well in my opinion. The metal bands at the end of the body and the section are a really nice touch. The grip section of the Grande is a little longer than that of the Momento Zero, and I think that length is needed to balance the pen. The section tapers a bit, and the thinness of the pen at the point of the grip makes this large pen manageable to use even for someone with small hands like me.
That being said, there’s no getting around the fact that this is a large pen. I show it below compared to everything from a TWSBI Eco to a King of Pen. The body is not as wide as the King of Pen, but it is longer and heavier. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to big pens over time, and others with small hands may not agree- but because the pen is so well balanced, and because the section works so well for me- I have no issues with the size of this pen.
The overall size also makes the Grande a perfect home for the oversize #8 nib. This nib makes even the M800 (second from the left) nib look small.
It’s a big size upgrade from the typical #6 sized nib. What does that size upgrade get you in terms of performance?
Others reported some early issues with early #6 Leonardo nibs, but I can honestly say everyone I have tried has been stellar. Even the steel nibs are truly exceptional, almost to the point where I can’t tell much of a difference between the gold and steel #6 nibs. I would have likely told you to stick with the steel #6 nib for a regular Momento Zero if you asked me at a show. I did for my Momento Zero Blue Hawaii, and haven’t regretted it once.
But a #8 gold nib is a completely different story. Larger sized nibs are where you really start to see a huge impact of gold nibs, and there is really no other nib material that can match the experience.
I’ve waxed poetic at pen shows and on the internet about the 823 nibs. It’s an outstanding daily workhouse pen. This #8 nib takes everything I love about that nib and takes those things up a notch. For anyone who knows how much I adore the 823 nibs, that is really saying something. It’s impossible to communicate the feel of a nib on a page in photos and words, but it’s really the smoothness on the page that sets this type of nib apart.
The pen also has an ebonite feed that is made in-house by Leonardo. Flow can be can an issue when you get up to nibs of this size, but with the ebonite feed the pen has great flow and leans towards the wet side.
Larger nibs tend to write broader lines. This M #8 nib writes about the same line as the Leonardo broad steel #6 nib. So if you want a line true to size, make sure to size down.
Compared to two of my other favorite gold nibs, the oversize #8 is a little softer than the 823 but has less “give” than the Sailor King of Pen that tends to produce a bit of line variation. It’s also a little broader than the M nib counterparts of those pen models.
I was talking with some of my other Desk friends earlier this week, and it was mentioned that the non-Grande Momento Zero is one of the best-built pens you can get in the sub-$200 price range. I definitely agree with that assessment. Beyond that “entry” model, there are a number of upgrade options. I especially appreciate that there are a variety of models with different price options across the range. Even in the larger Grande pens, for example, you can still opt for a steel nib. And the less expensive “captured converter” models are also still available. But if you are going to go big, the Momento Zero Grande with the piston fill and this particular nib checks a lot of boxes for me.
It’s hard to talk about “worth” at the price point of this Leonardo Grande. But looking across the market in this range, I think you get a lot of “bang for your buck” comparatively. This type of nib is not something you usually get unless you are buying a pen like the King of Pen, a Custom Urushi, or an M1000. On top of the nib, you are also getting a pen with an excellent piston filling mechanism and plenty of excellent options when it comes to materials. For me, it hits a sweet spot between build quality, aesthetics, and the writing experience that few other pens can match.
I’m pretty sure Dan sent this to me knowing it would be difficult for me to send back to him! I guess the only question now is whether or not I decide to get a nib grind (included with purchase for this pen) or leave the nib as is. With a nib this good, it makes for a difficult decision.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were loaned for the purpose of review by the Nibsmith. Thanks to Dan for sending this over! Please see the About page for more details.
This is not a review of the Traveler’s Factory Green lineup. It begins that way but don’t be fooled. There is more to this post (and the pen) than just a review of a pocket pen.
The latest lineup from Traveler’s Company is a set of compact writing tools – fountain pen, ballpoint pen, rollerball, and pencil – in a new finish. The sea foam green color was chosen to match the color of a factory floor and it certainly brings that to mind.
From the outside, these four items look almost identical (the pencil has an eraser rather than an eyelet). Ana wrote a review recently on the fountain pen and I’ve copied her photo here so you can see the similarity.
I appreciate the compactness of these pens (and pencil) plus the eyelet for a possible strap or chain. To use the pen, the brass insert is pulled out of the factory green section of the pen, turned around, and reinserted. The ballpoint and pencil each use this brass section as a holder for the ballpoint refill or small pencil. But the rollerball – there is no refill included.
To fill this rollerball, the brass section opens to reveal… a connection for a fountain pen ink cartridge.
I’m not sure when I first saw a ballpoint/rollerball pen that used fountain pen ink. It might have been a Super5 pen or a small brand from Japan or perhaps the rollerball pen from Noodlers. I do know that the concept caught my attention immediately and soon became an item that I searched out. I found out quite recently that the Traveler’s rollerball pen uses fountain pen ink and I hunted down the factory green edition at JetPens.
Of course I had to use a purple cartridge for the first fill.
Below is a photo of the factory green rollerball pen and the brass ballpoint pen for size comparison. I’ve had the brass edition for several years which I purchased after learning about an amazing hack to convert the ballpoint into an easy-to-carry dip pen.
Using a Zebra G dip nib instead of the ballpoint pen refill makes the brass pen significantly shorter though.
For size comparison to more common pens, the Traveler’s pen is slightly longer than a Schön Pocket 6 pen and slightly shorter than a Kaweco Sport when closed.
When open, however, it is the longest of the bunch.
You may notice that the Schön pen also has a rollerball section instead of a nib. Yes, it also takes fountain pen ink. I love these things.
As I confessed earlier, rollerball pens that use fountain pen ink have been an obsession of mine for a while. Here are four of the easier-to-find models: PenBBS 350 (affiliate link), the Factory Green Traveler’s rollerball, Schön Pocket 6 rollerball, and Monteverde Engage. The PenBBS and the Monteverde pens use converters. The Traveler’s and Schön pens use short international cartridges – they are too short to accept any converter although you could easily refill empty short cartridges with any desired ink. Ana demonstrated this in a recent Instagram post.
As a final test of these fountain pen ink guzzling rollerball pens is the writing experience. Nib sizes vary in rollerball pens, typically 0.7 or 0.5 mm sizes. At times the size is not called out so I have compared these below to a known rollerball size, a Lamy M66 (in a Lamy Swift pen) which is approximately 0.8mm.
The Lamy rollerball definitely has a thicker feel to the ink – more viscous. The Traveler’s pen and the Schön pen feel like I am writing with a more narrow point although the writing doesn’t look finer – these two pens also feel smoother. One plus – if the fountain pen ink rollerballs start to write dry, it is easy to squeeze the cartridge a bit to help.
Have you ever used a fountain pen ink rollerball? What did you think of the experience?
DISCLAIMER: All items in this review were purchased by me. There is one Amazon affiliate link in the post, all other links are only to show a similar item.Please see the About page for more details.
I cannot believe we are a week away from Thanksgiving here in the US. I feel like I was at the Baltimore Pen Show just a few weeks ago and, at the same time, I feel like 2020 has gone on for years. This means it’s the start of Gift Guide season in the blogosphere. Next Wednesday, the annual Pen Addict podcast will once again allow me to grace the digital airwaves with opinions about what should and should not be under the tree, in stockings or however one chooses to recognize the end of 2020 and the holidays that accompany that.
I’m going to pause for a second to bring your attention to two seemingly unrelated postal posts, hence the title. One is from Fountain Pen Love about receiving packages from various online pen shops and the ways they are packaged and at what point a purchase qualifies for free shipping. The second post is from the USPS news releases about the latest bump in Priority Mail shipping prices. I just want to remind people that when shops give customers free shipping, the shipping is not really free. The shop is still paying the shipping fee to the tune of a 3% mark-up higher than before plus the latest surcharge due to increased volume caused by the holidays and the pandemic. So, sure if you’re ordering a $1000+ pen, Priority Mail shipping is probably a small discount but on $35 or $50 purchase, that $8-$14 really adds up. Remember that many of these online pen shops are small, family-run businesses. And shipping is not just the postage but the cost of boxes, bubble wrap, packing material, mailing labels, and the time it takes to do all that work. Amazon and Etsy have set an unreasonable precedent with free shipping that diminishes the small profits that small businesses earn. Most of those profits get reinvested in buying or making more products to sell. Okay, I’ve said my peace. I’m hopping off my postal soap box.
For those who participated in the survey on Monday about the possibility of The Desk hosting an occasional video, YouTube won by a landslide.
(FYI: two of the votes for “I don’t want to see your face” were me and I’m sure at least one of them was a certain rabblerouser named Tony. The other 13 of you…thanks!)
And.. this video is amazing. I still feel like this so when we do start our videos, remember we are all weird on the inside.
We need each other. Please support our sponsors and affiliates. They help keep this blog going. Your patronage of their shops, services and products will let them know you appreciate their support of the pen community. Without them, and without you, we could not continue to do what we do. Thank you!
Every year around this time I start thinking about holiday cards. Now holiday cards have a ton of decisions to be made. Do you hand write them or do you get them printed? If you’re not religious (or you’re of different religions) can you find non-denominational cards that you can send to everyone? How many do you send? Do you hand address them?
I’ll take a stab at answering the questions for myself. Many years ago, when my list was only in the single digits, I sent handwritten cards at the holidays. For the last several years the list has grown and I have taken the easy way out and put together photo collages of the highlights of our year, and gone to Vistaprint to get them printed. Since my husband and I are not religious (and we were born of different religions), I usually opt for a “New Year’s” themed card and add a short bit of text to what’s being printed. The one thing I have done for the past few years is hand address the cards using my fountain pens. I really enjoy putting Robert Oster’s Fire and Ice in a broad-nibbed pen and going to town – all that shimmer and sheen just feels holiday-inspired.
Of course my dilemma for this year is that we haven’t gone anywhere and we’ve done very little due to coronavirus and the state of the world. While I miss my family and friends terribly, and I am deeply thankful for all my blessings this year, I can’t figure out the best way to go about sending holiday cards. I don’t have new photos of us, and it’s hard to think of what to write if I go the handwritten route.
Have you thought about your holiday cards yet? What will you do this year? I’d love to know!
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at The Well-Appointed Desk Shop right now. We have all sorts of things in the work that I am dying to share with you. I also have the urge, as the pandemic stretches on, to connect with people.
As an introvert, this is a new sensation. When I first started going to pen shows, I would almost make myself sick with stress the night before knowing I would be interacting with so many people. It got even worse when I had my own table. I am also not inclined to be center stage, on camera or whatever it is that lures people to the spotlight. But… I know that sometimes, showing objects, colors, inks, textures, etc in motion, being able to do live Q&A and demonstrations can be incredibly useful. Sometimes, a picture and description is just not enough.
So, I decided to ask you, dear readers, if this is something you would want? And if so, what online channel do you most frequently use? So, if you could take a minute to answer my survey and leave any comments, I would most appreciate it. I’d like to start planning, if not weekly, at least the same day and time every time I host a video chat.
At this point, I think I prefer a live chat over pre-recorded video but you tell me.
If you have more you’d like to say, please leave your additional thoughts in the comments. Thanks!