The PIUMA Minimal Fountain Pen was originally a Kickstarter project but is now available directly from the ENSSO web site. The appeal of the PIUMA is the simplicity of the design. The shape is a simple cigar shape, available in three metals: black painted aluminum ($79),titanium (currently sold out) and brass ($99).
The pens ship is simple black cardboard boxes with the ENSSO logo stamped on top. The pens are protected in molded foam shells. The packaging is just enough to protect the pens and feel appropriate for the purchase price but not fussy. I did find it a little challenging to get the pens out of the foam and required wedging a pencil in to the foam to wrench the steel and brass pens out as the fit was a tiny bit too snug. I guess its better to be too snug than too loose but I started to wonder if I was a weakling for not being able to get the pens out.
All the pens came with an international cartridge converter included and the Bock nibs accept standard European cartridges.
Under each cap, the user can choose between an array of Bock nibs: polished stainless steel, black steel or titanium in an array of widths. While I have a lot of experience with Schmidt nibs, I was not as familiar with Bock nibs (or nibs specifically branded as “Bock” as I know both companies sell nibs branded with other companies logos etched into them so its often unclear where a nib may have been manufactured). I’ll go into specifics about the writing details a little further down in the review.
The titanium nib is stamped “titan” and has a brushed satin metallic finish. Aesthetically, its the most understated.
The stamping on the steel nib 1.1mm was different with a larger stag design and a simple line instead of the more decorative double line with band seen on the other nibs. The word “Germany” is also added.
The black steel nib is pretty understated and consistent in looks to the titanium. I got both the black and titanium nibs in extra fine.
Aesthetically, I find the PIUMA pen very striking in its simplicity. They do, however, have a tendency to roll around a lot because of their design.
All three pens are the same width and length. They measure 5.5″/ 14cm capped, 5.1″/ 13cm uncapped from tip of the nib to the end the barrel. They can sort of be posted though I didn’t find them to be very stable and they measure 6.69″/ 17cm. The Brass and Titanium models were the least stable posted. The Aluminum was more cooperative posted. Officially, the ENSSO site does not recommend posting.
I weighed the PIUMA pens with the converters filled to give a more accurate idea of how they would feel in real world experience. ENSSO lists weights on their site but I noticed that the weights are lower than the numbers I got and I assume they were weighing the pens empty, no converters or cartridges included.
To give some perspective, I included my old standby chart (which I’m noticing could stand a refresh) with the weights of some common fountain pens (capped and filled): a plastic Kaweco Sport Classic, an aluminum Lamy AL-Star and the Lamy Studio in brushed steel are probably the most recognizable these days. These are not heavy pens by any means, but I’d basically have to hold FOUR Lamy Studios to equal the weight of the PIUMA in brass.
The PIUMA pens are definitely pens designed for larger hands or for people who tend to prefer weightier, bigger pens.
In my writing tests, I started with the nibs on one body but in the end I switched them around as I determined that the weights of the individual pens affected how each nib wrote. Some of the ink colors might be a little off as I did not clean the nibs. I was more interested in the writing experience than color fidelity in this particular experiment. (Ignore anywhere that I wrote “steel body” I meant write “titanium”.)
This was my first chance to really get to try a titanium nib and there is some spring in the nib but not as much as I anticipated. I was able to use it at any angle. It did not catch on the paper or create any writing issues, I could flex it a little but I didn’t try to push it too hard. I felt like I was able to get a bit of spring from the black steel EF nib as well so I’m not sure the upcharge for the titanium nib is entirely necessary. Maybe it would be more noticeable to get a titanium at wider widths where you lose some of the spring in steel nibs with a broad?
I had the most difficulty with the brass pen body. I physically developed wrist aches trying to use it. It was just too heavy for me. You can see above how I could not maintain a consistent writing style through six lines.
On the second page, I swapped the nibs around. Basically, I could use any nib on the black aluminum pen. It is by far the lightest model, weighing close to the Lamy Studio. The matte finish made it easy to grip and I was able to control the pen with any of the nibs. I put the 1.1mm steel nib in the titanium body and that combination worked both aesthetically and from an ergonomic standpoint. I was able to get the pen to perform and the weight was evenly distributed.
And finally, putting the black fine nib into the brass body was actually easier to control as it required a lighter touch. The brass is still way too heavy for me. I’m curious if there’s anyone out there who has purchased the brass PIUMA who has been using it as a daily writer? I am a small human at 5’4″ with child-sized hands so I know that the brass PIUMA was not made for me. I would love to hear how it works for someone who is 6’2″ with bear paws. Franz, are you out there?
All in all, I found the PIUMA pens to be lovely but challenging. I think these would be great pens to purchase in person if you had the option to hold them in your hand and feel the weights and try the nibs. I will bring all three of these pens with me to the D.C. pen show and S.F. pen show for people to try and experience for themselves. Please grab me at one of the after hours bar events to check them out in person. We can swap nibs and you can which configuration you like best.