Review: Platinum Carbon Desk Pen

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

Pardon the smudge on the Platinum Carbon Pen. I’ve been using it for several weeks for making art, particularly of the mixed media variety and managed to get a smudge of acrylic paint on it. Should you purchase one of your own and want it to look as well-loved as mine, you must also smudge a little acrylic paint on the barrel — color of your choosing. My smudge is a pale apricot color.

Okay, now let’s talk about this unusual pen. First, the Platinum Carbon Pen was designed to be a desk pen (which explains the hideously inappropriate rubbery plastic cap) AND it was specifically designed to be used with Platinum’s permanent Carbon Black ink. What appealed to me is that the nib is a “super fine” Japanese nib and known to be a good performer. Why would you want or need either of these things?

First, I’ve not been much inclined to fill my regular fountain pens with waterproof or permanent ink and I’d guess you aren’t either. I don’t want to damage my pens should the ink dry or clog in the pen. So, the fact that the Carbon Pen is designed specifically to work with the Carbon ink means the feed is a bit wider to accommodate it. Also,the pen costs a whopping $13.50. That’s cheaper than a Kaweco Sports so if it clogs to the point that its unusable, I’m not sacrificing a more expensive tool. Next, the nib is super smooth and SUPER fine. If you’re looking for a fine fine line that isn’t going anywhere… this is a good option. Now, you could always put some other inks into the Carbon Pen but I am quite liking the idea of a pen with a specific purpose — like a Sharpie Marker. I don’t need a Sharpie Marker all the time, everyday, but when you need a Sharpie Marker, not much else will do. I feel the same way about the Carbon Pen. If I’m taking notes in a meeting, I don’t need super fine permanent writing. But if I’m drawing or writing in a journal, I might want something that is permanent.  And finally, its sort of shaped like a paintbrush with a long tapered end which actually gives it nice balance and is quite comfortable in the hand. I wish the end had been rounded rather than the flat blunt end but for $13.50 I’m not going to complain too much.

The long shape doesn’t make it particularly pocketable but it fits in my Kipling 100 Pen Case with no issues so I travel with it anyway regardless of its impractical length.

The cap cannot be posted unless you want your pen to look like the guy at the party with a lampshade on his head. Your call.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

More paint smudges on the grip section. The Carbon Pen has gotten some serious usage since I got it and the great thing about it being so budget-priced is that I don’t care if its got paint on it. The nib and hardware are gold toned so despite the paint smudges, it looks very proper and dignified.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

The partially hooded nib is an interesting design choice but it makes its feel pretty stable despite its wickedly stiletto nib point.

The pen comes with one Carbon Black ink cartridge. A pack of four refill cartridges is $3.30. Some have mentioned that this is a bit high for cartridges but since the nib on the Carbon Pen is so fine, it does not use about a lot of ink. The cartridges last a long time. Alternately, you could purchase a full bottle of Carbon Ink ($25) and refill the cartridge or buy a converter ($8.25). I just bought a pack of cartridges and I’m going to see how long it will take me to go through five cartridges. I’m willing to bet it will be years before I need more.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

The nib, even though its super fine, was very smooth on the paper and has a tiny bit or spring to it. It makes it a pleasure to write with. What I loved was combining it with Sai Watercolor Brush Markers for drawing. Since the Sai Watercolor brushes are water soluble, I was able to smoosh the colors around using a water brush but the Carbon Pen lines stayed in place.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

If you have need of a super fine, permanent ink fountain pen, I can’t recommend the Carbon Pen highly enough. I love this pen so much I might buy the Desk Stand just so its handy at all times, even though the stand is more expensive than the pen… on second thought, I might just buy an extra Carbon Pen.

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18 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Some of the techniques I used for the drawings (particularly the strawberry) were from the CreativeBug class by Heather Ross on drawing. She designs lots of fabric patterns. But thanks for the kind words.

  1. I’ve used a Pilot Penmanship with Carbon ink for years to draw with. The Penmanship had the finest nib I could find, much finer than any other extra fine nib I tried, Japanese or European. I recently got a Platinum Carbon pen to try, and was surprised to find that it is even finer than the Penmanship. I may get another to use with Platinum’s pigmented sepia. The pigmented ink tends to clog a Penmanship, though I never had any trouble with the Carbon.

  2. Thanks for that width comparison chart Ana – most useful.

    Thanks also Mike Szwark – Yes I’ve used the penmanship too, until I bought a Platinum pen with a UEF (ultra extra fine) nib ! Yes it is finer than the penmanship being a step down in size from the japanese extra fine of the Pilot.
    You mention the platinum carbon sepia – I’m still searching for a decent brown ink for my miniature drawings but have been really disappointed by the colour that this sepia looks like on the monitor & so haven’t bothered trying it.
    What is the colour like in real life ? it looks to totally lack any vibrancy on the screen.
    What I really want is a true brown without to much red in it & not greyish either.
    Cheers Mike

    1. To me, the Platinum Pigmented Sepia is more of a brown than a sepia, but I think it leans a tad towards red. The ink I found that looks the most like sepia to me is Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia. Looking through my ink journal, the ink that looks most like my definition of a true brown is the sepia ink from Tachikawa’s disposable fountain pen with a G nib (available from Jet Pens). Keep in mind that these are all subjective opinions based on how I judge colors. Have you visited the Swab Shop at Goulet Pens to compare colors?

      1. Ah right, thanks for that , as others have commented a number of times here “Sepia” seems to be a general term for any roughly speaking brownish tone. Although I must admit I’ve never seen the real stuff that comes from a cuttlefish !
        I will definitely have a look at the Tachikawa sepia – that does sound very interesting for my purposes.
        Thanks again Mike

  3. Ana, you needn’t worry about Platinum Carbon Black (or Atramentis Document Black for that matter) clogging your pens any more than any dye-based ink. Those of us who do pen and wash work a lot rely upon these fountain-pen friendly pigmented inks daily.

    I cut down a Platinum Carbon Pen so it would post and be short so I could stuff it in my pocket. It resides there 24/7. Never clogs, never dries up. Wonderful pen. Right now I have these pigmented inks in a Namiki Falcon, TWSBI Mini and a Pilot Prera. I’ve done this for several years without problem, as have many others.

  4. I’ve heard so many good things about this pen, including your review. I chose to get this one as permanently permanet ink pen in EF. But I’m having a horrible time writing with it! It’s hard to start, it skips, incredibly inconsistent. I really want to make this work fo rme. As someone with more experience using this pen, does this sound like i got a dud, or is there a “sweet spot” with the nib i need to find. any help or input would be so much appreciated!!!

    1. I’m shocked to hear you’re having such issues with it. Are you using the Platinum Carbon Ink cartridges that shipped with the pen? I would double check that they are seated properly in the feed (make sure its pushed into the feed tightly). I might also give the nib and feed a good cleaning to make sure that it didn’t get clogged somewhere. If one of my PCDPs has been sitting for awhile (and by awhile, I mean 2 or 3 weeks unused) I will stick the nib in a cup of water and then wipe the nib with a paper towel to make sure there is no dried ink in the nib. Finally, because the nib is so very fine, the tines can pick up little fibers of paper or a stray hair so you might want to inspect the nib for anything in the tines. I am still shocked that you are having issues because mine pretty much writes on anything except acrylic paint. I found that will clog it up pretty good but I managed to clean that out and get it writing again, good as new!

      1. Thank you so much for your feedback. After trying all your suggestions, I ended up purchasing a new pen, and I love it! I did have another question/thought. I remember seeing a photo somewhere on the interwebs where you had cut off the end of your desk pen. This got the hamster in my brain wheel running a bit. Would a Kaweco clip fit on the cap of the desk pen?
        Enjoy your time in DC and thank you so much for all you contribute!! I thoroughly enjoy hearing and reading what you have to share 🙂

    2. I am shocked too… I’ve never had a Platinum Carbon pen clog. I’ve never even had to clean one — and I clean my pens regularly. I’d return it — if you can. The only reason I’ve bought so many is that I tend to give them away to new users…

      1. Paying shipping to return it was not worth, so I just ordered a new one. Now I absolutely love it! So smooth, had ink in it for months without cleaning and still writes wodnerfully!
        I’m considering testing out trimming down the body on my dud pen as a more portable option.

  5. I’ve thought about this post for several years and finally broke down and added the pen to a JetPens order (I don’t know why it took so long – $13 for a Platinum pen – such a deal!). Clearly it’s meant to sit in a smart desk holder which I might actually buy for work, but the end is chopped off in a weird way, at first I thought something broke. Would be nice with a tiny gold cap. Platinum Plaisir pens are an absolute favorite so I knew the nib would be good. It’s better. Love the super fine! The long tail does make it harder to toss into a handbag (too long for my pen case as well!). But it could live in a Traveler’s Notebook and that’s where it will be on my vacation this year.

    1. There is a quick and easy hack that, while not making the pen any prettier, certainly makes it more portable. The long end can be trimmed down with a dremel tool, box cutter or other small saw to a length that fits better into a carrying case. Just be sure not to trim it too short that it no longer fits your converter or refill. You can finish the end with air-dry clay or epoxy to make it look nicer or just file down the rough edge and cover it with washi tape. The tip came from Ian over at Pens! Paper! Pencils!.

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