Category: Pen Review

Pen Review: Weight of Words Fountain Pen (Fine Nib)

This morning I noticed several other people posting about their YStudio The Weight of Words Brassing Portable Fountain Pens so it must be in the air this week. These somewhat rare little gems from Taiwan seem to be making their way around the world and ending up in the hands of many fountain pen fans. Dries at The Pencilcase Blog in Europe posted his pure brass COPPER version today and Leigh posted one she got in Singapore today as well. So… around the world in brassing pens!

The packaging is fantastic and normally I don’t care much about packaging. However, if the packaging can have secondary use for storage later and doesn’t look too overly branded then YEAH! for good packaging. The Weight of Words pen comes in a deep stained wood box with paperboard lining that can be removed  making the outer box fully reusable. There’s a thumb hole to remove the lid and the only branding on the box is the company name and the characters for what I assume is the name of the pen in Chinese on the lid in gold foil. Very simple and elegant.

Under the lid is a piece of fine grit sand paper and an instruction booklet for the pen, including on how to use the sand paper to weather and age your pen to look more worn. I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that as I like how my pen looks as is at the moment but I’ll hold on to the sandpaper for now in case I change my mind.

Inside the box is the die cut layers of recyclable corrugated cardboard (not foamcore!) to hold the pen, wood carrying tub and lanyard in place. I got the black lacquered copperBRASS version of the pen.

The carrying tube is wood (I think) with a slit at the top to  allow the cap of the pen to stick out of the top. Its a clever design element. The leather lanyard ties can be threaded through the cap of the pen and then looped on to a bag loop, key fob, or whatever else you can think of. The pen cap clicks into place rather than a twist mechanism making it a nice option for everyday quick writing.

Its a smaller pen so its probably not something a lot of people would want for long writing sessions and the cap does not post. For my small hands though the brass added enough weight to make it comfortable to use for note taking and on-and-off use throughout the day.

The nib is a standard Schmidt fine nib. Pretty and scaled to fit the pen overall.

When the pen is wrapped up tight in its carrying case and with a leather lanyard attached it looks pretty unique.

The Schmidt nib means its a good writer and it comes with a converter.

Since this pen is quite hard to come by I won’t torture you with price points and availability. If you’re in the EU or Asia, keep an eye out in your local stationery or pen shop for YStudio products because they are worth taking a look at. If you’re in the US and planning to travel, leave some room in your shopping budget for the possibility of seeing one of these in the wild. Maybe they will wash up on our shores sometime soon.

EDIT: Thanks to Dries for catching my errors. I really shouldn’t write my reviews at 6AM!

Kickstarter: DUO Everyday Ballpoint Pen and Stylus

One of the most recent Kickstarter projects to cross my path is the DUO Ballpoint Pen and Stylus. It’s a slim aluminum, twist retractable ballpoint pen with a stylus tip on the reverse end.

For my tech-savvy friends out there, the stylus is a 6mm Wacom Bamboo Stylus tip and actually works really well on my iPhone and iPad. I haven’t had a chance to put it to the test using any of my drawing apps yet but navigating through email, and regular touch interface worked fine. As someone who uses a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet and a Cintiq, I’m pretty picky about touch capabilities and the Bamboo Stylus worked well enough to not make me crazy. Often, my fingers are so cold that they don’t actually work on my touchscreens so having the DUO handy is actually a bit of a blessing.

The pen is slim and small enough to fit into a pocket, even some of those ridiculous “girl jeans” pockets. The anodized color is pretty without being flashy and is available in four colors: gunmetal grey, copper orange, satin black, and my peppy electric blue which is a lovely turquoise color. The etched crescent moon is the only branding on the pen which is subtle and makes me feel a bit like Sailor Moon.

The pen takes a standard Cross ballpoint refill. I’d say the Cross ballpoint refill is a fairly common refill but there are not a lot of options with this particular refill. It is a “ballpoint only” refill. There are not any gel or rollerball options available. Monteverde makes a version of this refill in Medium or Broad in their “soft roll” and the medium tip option is available in ten colors but that’s the extent of your options.

Most big box office supply stores (i.e. Office Depot, Staples, etc) or your local pen shop should have the Cross ballpoint refill in stock in some variation. Places like RefillFinder, Amazon, and Cult Pens list the Cross refill on their site. I know Vanness Pens and Anderson Pens stock the Cross ballpoint refill in store but don’t list them on their site so if you’re ordering from them, you may want to call in or email and ask to have them add a couple to your next order.

The DUO can be backed for £20 for one pen as an Early Bird for one pen and one refill and they estimate shipping in July of 2017.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by 529Studio for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Lamy AL-Star Pacific Special Edition 2017 (EF Nib) and Lamy Pacific Ink

I spent a very amused hour listening to Myke and Brad fuss about the new Lamy Special Editions for 2017 on this week’s episode of the Pen Addict. Did you hear the episode? First, a big congratulations to the guys for reaching their five year milestone!

I was tickled that Brad was so passionate about not liking the AL-Star as much as he liked the Safari. My feelings on the subject are the exact opposite. The plastic Safari cost is about $30 but for about $7 more you can get the more durable (and IMHO more aesthetically appealing) aluminum AL-Star.

Finally, knowing that Lamy is doing the same pebbly finish on the Petrol Safari special edition that they did on the Dark Lilac means that the AL-Star is going to remain a classic since it keeps the original smooth finish. I’m not a fan of the pebbly finish that Lamy is using on the Dark Lilac and the upcoming Petrol model but you may disagree. So, as you can see, my opinions are diametrically opposite of Brad and Myke on the subject of the new Lamy Safari and AL-Star releases.

Onward, to the Pacific! Isn’t the color stunning? Like all the other limited edition Lamy colorways, the question really boils down to this… will you kick yourself later if you don’t buy it? Its the whole FOMO thing. If you love Lamy AL-Stars or you’re a fan of all things turquoise-y you are going to want to pick one of these up. If you’ve never purchased a Lamy Safari or AL-Star before and were considering buying one, this would be a good one to buy. As a fan of the AL-Star over the Safari, I’m always going to prefer it over the Safari but if you asked Brad, he’d tell you the exact opposite so you’ll have to use your best judgement here. Do you like metallic sheen? Or do you prefer glossy plastics or pebbled finishes?

I received the Lamy AL-Star Pacific with an EF nib ($37.60) from Goulet Pens. Generally, I find that the Lamy nibs tend to run a little wet and a bit wider than other European nibs. I find the Lamy EF nib to be a very pleasant everyday writing pen and with the Lamy Pacific ink ($10.50 for the 50ml bottle) its a great pick-me-up for a grey February day.

Don’t forget to add a Z24 converter ($4.95) to you order if you plan to use bottled ink.

There’s been a lot of discussion around the Lamy Pacific ink being repackaged Lamy’s Turquoise ink. Many pen shops (as well as Lamy) have clarified that the Lamy Pacific ink is the same ink as Lamy Turquoise so if you already own a bottle of Lamy Turquoise, you do not need to purchase another bottle of Lamy Pacific — unless you really want to. However, if you have not purchased Lamy Turquoise in the past, this would be a perfect opportunity to grab a bottle to match this lovely pen.

Lamy Pacific ink is a vibrant turquoise blue that has good shading and even a big of magenta sheen. Shading is visible even in the EF nib writing and the color stays bright and legible even in the fine writing of the EF nib. While Lamy has trouble getting a bright, legible green, they do a splendid job with their bright, legible blue. And at the price point, this ink cannot be beat. Add in the cool bottle with blotting paper built into the bottle and you have a great deal.

I’ve included a couple other current turquoise inks that are popular at the moment for comparison. All were painted on Rhodia paper. Robert Oster Torquay is notably darker and Sailor’s new Yuki-Akari is a bit lighter than the Lamy Pacific.

In the end, I find the AL-Star, and the Pacific color in particular, to be one of the nicest looking pens Lamy has done in awhile. Could you imagine if the Lamy 2000 had been Pacific Blue Makralon? I wish Lamy had been a bit more upfront about the ink color name change with retailers but Pacific/Turquoise is such a gorgeous color and it really does have a lovely sheen that I don’t think anyone will get stuck with too many bottles.

It does make me wonder if the ink for Petrol won’t be rebranded Blue Black though.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Monteverde Intima Neon Pink 1.1mm Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Set

Monteverde Prima Fountain Pen and Rollerball

Do not adjust your monitor… the Monteverde Neon Pink Intima Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Set (Special Sale Price $52) are really this bright! I have previously reviewed the Neon Green version of the fountain pen and it was priced so that this deal is basically like getting the ballpoint for free. Also, while the neon green was bright, it was not nearly as eye-popping as the pink. Just saying. This color is definitely brighting my dreary February days!

Monteverde Prima Nib and tip

Fountain Pen tech specs:
Length: capped is 5.25″
Posted: 6.375″
Unposted: 4.675″

The fountain pen comes with a converter which is excellent for the inky-inclined but the pen does take standard European cartridges if you prefer. I forgot to weigh the pen but its plastic with metal hardware so it is pretty lightweight but well-balanced.

This was my first experience with the ballpoint design. Its a twist mechanism to reveal the pen tip. While I found the clip to be placed a bit low if I didn’t get the pen placed in my hand “just so” it would poke in my hand, I did find myself grabbing for it often to quickly dash off a quick note, add an item to a list or add a to-do on my calendar. Despite my little fuss about the clip, the slightly bulbous shape was pleasing in the hand and the color is cheerful and fun.

Monteverde Prima Size Comparison

I’ve included a visual size comparison of the Intima fountain pen with some commonly used pens above that you might be more familiar with to help place the Intima in your fountain pen cannon. Lengthwise, its about the same as the Pilot Metropolitan but widthwise, its more similar to a Lamy Safari or AL-Star. From a price standpoint, its definitely a step up from the pens shown but is not a +$100 fountain pen. It certainly looks a bit “fancier” than the other pens here though.

The material is shimmery and it will catch the light to show some interesting sparkly details. I tried to photograph it to show some of the details in my particular model below. The white is where it is catching the light.

Monteverde Prima Pink Shimmer close-up

Monteverde Prima Writing Sample

Ignore my written header! This is the Monteverde Intima Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Set.

The 1.1mm nib on the fountain pen performed fairly similarly to my previous experience with the neon green Intima but it wasn’t until I started using it that I remembered I’d had one in the past. My almost-8-years of pen reviewing is starting to affect my memory! I knew I have an Prima with a fine nib… anyway… clearly, my nib preferences remain consistent. I tend to like either razor fine or 1.1mm and get similar results. I did notice that the Monteverde nib was a little dry. It may be this particular nib or the nib/ink combination as I haven’t had a chance to try a different ink with this pen. I did test the pen in my right hand, to see if angling it differently would have better results. It did seem to flow a bit better so there may be a slight misalignment to the tines that 75%-90% of the world would not have noticed. It hasn’t affected the overall performance, its just not as wet as some other 1.1mm nib I’ve used. Alternately, you’ll notice I did NOT manage to smear any ink this time so I should probably not be complaining.

I swapped out the ballpoint refill with a Monteverde Ceramic Rollerball refill ($8 for two refills) that fits into pen since it accepts any standard Parker-style refills. Oh, that pink color! I did discover that the ballpoint had a little feedback in the refill — it jiggled around a little bit. So, I added an extra spring to the refill. I swiped one out of a retractable pen I had laying around and stacked it on top of the one that was in the pen. The two-spring stack added stability to the refill in the pen barrel so that it didn’t shimmy around anymore and gave me a much better writing experience. Voila!

I used one of the new Monteverde inks: Purple Mist which comes in a 30ml bottle ($8). I like the size of the bottle — its one of those nice in-between sizes, not so big that I feel like I’ll never use it all up but not so small that I feel like I bought another itty bitty precious sample. And at $8, its not a break-the-bank purchase either. Anyway, about the color… its a bit lighter wet than I had expected but it dries darker. So, if you decide to try it, definitely give it time to dry before making your final decision. The color is more of a reddish purple when wet and, as it dries, the violet blue becomes more apparent. Which is interesting. It shades and I feel like I noticed some sheen as I used it but maybe I was willing it to sheen. The jury is still out there. At $8 per bottle, it might be worth adding a bottle of the Purple Mist, or your favorite color on to your next order to try out one of Monteverde’s new colors. Let me know what you think.

Monteverde Purple Mist Ink

My conclusion is that if you are looking for a chance to get a little fancier than a Kaweco Sport or Lamy Safari but are not quite ready to go into the over-$100 fountain pens just yet, this Monteverde Set might be a nice gateway. If you love pink, it doesn’t get pinker than this either.

The good news is that Pen Boutique wants to spread the Valentine’s Day Neon Pink Monteverde Love to one lucky reader.

The Giveaway:

The winner of the giveaway will receive Monteverde Prima Neon Pink fountain pen and ballpoint set and can select one (1) bottle of the new 30ml Monteverde inks, compliments of Pen Boutique.

To enter:

Please leave one (1) message in the comment sending some love out into the world. Are you taking your mom out for Valentine’s Day? Doing something nice for your significant other? Serving food to Meal on Wheels? Leave your love in the comments to be entered to win. No love, no entry. Those are the rules. I can disqualify anyone who does not play by the rules.

The Fine Print:

All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Saturday, February 11, 2017. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Sunday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 10 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping is at the discretion of Pen Boutique. US residents only.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Boutique for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Pilot Custom 912 Waverly Nib

Pilot Custom 912 Waverly

The Pilot Custom 912 Waverly ($224) is a most unusual fountain pen. And its not unsual for its exterior. From the outside, it looks like what the Brits might call a “saloon car”. Not in a bad way. It’s an upscale 4-door black sedan in the nicest possible way but no one would look at the outside of this pen and ogle. It’s understated and refined. It has simple silver hardware withe very little ornamentation or flash. It’s not fancy.

Pilot Custom 912 Waverly nib close up

When the cap is removed, you see beautiful etching on the 14K gold nib, a razor fine point and the letter “WA” etched on the nib. “WA”?

Pilot Custom 912 Waverly nib close up

When turned to the side is when you see, this is not ordinary nib. Did it get dropped? Nope. It is meant to be bent at an angle like this with the tip flared up ever so slightly. According to Pen-Info.jp, it is designed this way to allow any writer to write at any angle. For a left-hander, this means that some of the issues that can sometimes confound a left handed writer with softer gold nibs, extra fine nibs or writing overhanded or at odd angles, can be avoided with a nib like this.

Pilot Custom 912 Waverly

Pilot Custom 912 Waverly writing sample

So, do my writing results prove it? Indeed they do. I have been writing consistently with the 912 since before Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!) and the pen performs flawlessly. My previous experience with a Pilot Custom 74 F was not as successful partially because of the softness of the nib and the angle of my writing. This is clearly a vast improvement. Do I wish I could put the beautiful nib in a sports car package? Yes. But I’m okay driving around in the saloon car sometimes too.

Check out fellow lefty and Desk-contributor Tina Koyama’s review of the Custom 912 Waverly as well.


Included an affiliate link but I purchased this pen with my own money and all opinions are my own.

Pen Review: Visconti Wall Street Limited Edition Green Pearl Celluloid Double Broad

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition

The Visconti Wall Street Limited Edition Green Pearl is the first Visconti that I’ve ever had the privilege to use. In terms of looks, its probably the exact model I would have picked for myself. The layered green celluloid catches the light similarly to vintage Parker Vacumatics. As someone who’s heart is perpetually stuck in a 1940s film, this is an easy way to win my heart. The unique, rounded square shape is also quite appealing too. For starters, its far less likely to roll off the table and it actually feels quite nice in the hand.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Cap branding

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Cap

Aesthetically, my one sticking point is the Visconti branded scimitar clip. I have just never liked this design decision and Visconti sticks it on almost every pen they design. Its like the un-design decision. Can’t think of how to design the clip? Stick the scimitar on it. Where the layered celluloid is supposed to create the illusion of floors of a skyscraper and the twinkle of lights in the windows and the shape of the pen is supposed to be reminiscent of the shape of a building, why stop at the clip? Could it not also evoke the decorative filigree on buildings like the Carbon and Carbide Building or other great historical architectural marvels? I didn’t mention the Chrysler Building because that seemed obvious but you know what I mean… right?

Most of the weight of the pen is in the cap and the clip, weighing an impressive 42 gms capped but uncapped and filled, it weighs a more manageable 25 gms. The chart below includes capped and/or posted weights for common budget-priced pens for comparison.

Fountain Pen Weights

In regards to length, the Wall Street can be used posted at an impressively long 7″ or unposted at a more diminutive 5.25″ which fit comfortably balanced in my small hands. Closed and capped, the Wall Street is 5.75″ which is only about 0.25″ longer thank your average Lamy Safari so its not a small pen but its not out of the ordinary size-wise.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition nib BB

This nib on this particular model is the BB, double broad “Dreamtouch” 23K gold correction: palladium. It is a soft, slightly flexible nib and is quite smooth though I had a bit of a learning curve finding the right angles to  get the best performance from the nib. The BB required being held at a slightly higher angle if I was writing from below the baseline (from my left handed angle) though writing from above, I had no issues with writing at all except that the pen laid down so much ink that dry time became an issue and I kept sticking my hand in wet ink. It’s a bit flexy but I would certainly not be inclined to use it as a flex nib.

In order to take full advantage of the flexibility of the nib though, writing from below the baseline was my best option. Just the weight of one’s hand and the movement and passion with which one is writing is enough to add some character and flair to the strokes.

However, when writing overhanded, I needed almost no contact with the paper to get ink to flow. The lightest of touches was needed and ink just appeared on the paper which was really nice. It meant that writing was easy and I wasn’t having to push or pull or will the ink out of the pen. It just flowed.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Writing Sample

I did not talk in depth about the filling system which is a double reservoir power filler. The best information I could find to clarify what a “double reservoir power filler” was came from Inks and Pens who succinctly explained that its a glorified vacuum filler. Oh, well. That’s much easier to understand. The challenge is getting a full flush. Since this is not my pen, I did my best to fully flush the pen clean but it left a bit of clean water in the reservoir. Rather than disassemble a loaner pen, I’m going to leave the water in the pen than risk disassembly. It actually arrived with a bit of water in it so it seems to be an issue coming and going.

I confess, I waited until after I did all my testing and writing and experimenting to find out exactly how expensive this pen was. I know that Visconti pens are not inexpensive but I did not want the price of the pen to factor into my opinion of the pen. As many of you already know, I’m not a fan of the hype and fanfare around the Homo Sapiens line (see Pen Addict podcast episode 238) so I went into my Wall Street experience a little skeptical to begin with. However, I did warm to the pen in general. I did gasp a bit at the price.

If I wasn’t such an ink changer and didn’t think the clip was phoned-in, I might actually consider this pen as a possibility for my collection, with an extra fine nib of course. But with those caveats, I think I might rather put that kind of money towards a refurbished Parker Vac instead.

PS: I didn’t go into detail about the packaging because it was just fancy packaging. If you’d like to see photos of the box, check out this review for a different version of the pen, but the same packaging.


Big shout out to Casey (AKA Punkey) for loaning me this pen to try out. He is, as always, my enabler, my comrade and my favorite troublemaker.

My Cross Century Secret Stash (and a Cross Spire for good measure)

cross century assortment

Last summer, after answering an Ask The Desk post about finding a classic ballpoint pen, I developed a fascination with Cross Century pens. At the DC Pen Show, I acquired my first, an engraved Cross Century II in matte blue metallic and have since acquired three more: two classic Cross Centuries and a Cross Century II Starlight from NOS this December. You may be asking yourself, what’s the fascination?

First, the original Cross Century is similar to the Parker Jotter in that the design has been around for decades. Its classic, streamlined and elegant. Originally created in 1946 and still in production today, the Cross Century is a sleek, elegant design and, like the Jotter, worthy of being in any pen collector’s collection, whether you acquire your grandfather’s or purchase a new one. Or both.

cross-century II twilight grey

The Cross Century II is an updated version of the Century modified to accommodate rollerball refills, a more ergonomic grip section and the larger pens preferred by modern pen consumers. This also allowed for some innovations in their refills as well which Cross refers to as the “Selectip” refills which appealed to me because one of the options is a felt tip. Of all the major pen manufacturers, Cross is the only one I know of that offers felt tip as a refill option.

(This is the point at which I am NOT going to talk about the Star Wars Cross designs. Like they never even happened. Nevermind, those are the  “Townsend” line — they are still awful. I can gripe about the Marvel Century IIs. Those are bad too. Giant logos do not make for good licensed products. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled happy review.)

And then there’s the “Switch-It” mechanical pencil option that can be dropped into the ballpoint pen to turn it into a pencil. I love a pen manufacturer who considers giving their customers range and options! Of course, the actual implementation of the “Switch-It” refill is a little janky and it is only available as a 0.7mm mechanical pencil which steam a lot of people since the older Cross mechanical pencils were 0.5mm or 0.9mm so the fact that the Switch-It insert only has one width option is kind of lame. Anyway, actually using the Switch-It insert took a little practice since it doesn’t work like any other mechanical pencil I’ve ever used.

cross century plaid

While it took me awhile to figure out how to work the Cross “Switch It” Pencil refill on my own. I came to the same operating action as demonstrated in the video shown here:

 

cross-century pens open

And, of course, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I modified the Cross Spire pictured at the top of the photo to accept a Uni Signo 0.38mm D1 refill by jamming a bit of plastic in the end of the barrel to make up the space disparity in the length. It’s now one of my favorite everyday pens.

My engraved “The Well-Appointed Desk” Cross Century II Royal Blue Selectip Rollerball Pen $29.95 (plus engraving charges) is filled with the fine tip porous point black ink and the Cross Century II Starlight Rollerball in Grey has a fine tip porous point with blue ink. The Starlight was purchased NOS  and is no longer available but Anderson Pens still has some of the ballpoint pen models available.

cross-century writing

Cross refills are considerably more limited than Parker. Cross makes proprietary refill sizes and offer a limited range of tip sizes and colors, where PArker style refills became the industry-standard size. As a result, Cross pens are not nearly as popular unless you like plain black and blue ink and medium width ballpoint or rollerball refills. However,  if you are willing to do a little tweaking, there’s some opportunities to make these beauties work for you. And, in some ways, it looks like Cross is trying their best to help too like the Switch-It pencil refill.

Now, if they can build on that…

cross-century-3

The models shown above but not mentioned are: