The Bexley Sleeve Filler Fountain Pen (Retail $275, Special Offer $175) is a bit different than any pen I’ve ever used before. It features a pair of gold bands on both ends. When I saw it at Vanness Pen Shop back in the Spring, my curiosity was piqued. I knew I had to try it out. It was part of a collection of new-old-stock pens that Vanness had in their inventory.
The date stamped into the cap in gold says “Bexley Col., OH USA 2001”. According to Vanness, this pen was a reproduction of a sleeve filler design from the early 1900s as well so it’s a double-throwback.
So, what exactly is a sleeve filler? By twisting the the gold band on the bottom end of the pen, it reveals a lever bar and the ink sac. So, the pen is actually a modern sac filler with the sac hidden under the “sleeve.” By depressing the bar and then releasing it — it will slowing raise up as it fills with ink — you are filling the ink sac.
It’s pretty ingenious. And once the ink sac is full, the sleeve is twisted back into place to recover the bar and sac.
From a long-term maintenance standpoint, I’m not sure how difficult it would be to have a repairperson disassemble the pen to replace the ink sac but I suspect that removing the pen barrel from the feed assembly is probably similar to a lot of other vintage pens. In 10 or 20 years, someone can figure out how to do it. In the meantime, the sac in the pen feels supple and durable.
The pen is black acrylic with gold bands and features a two-tone 18K nib. It’s a fairly petite pen. Not quite a pocket pen but it maintains small, vintage proportions (4.875″ uncapped and 5.125″ capped). However, the cap can be posted making it quite long (over 7″).
I lined it up next to some comparably small, modern pens for size comparison: to the right of the Bexley is an Aluminum AL Sport from Kaweco, a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 45 and a TWSBI Mini. None of these are posted. Clearly the Bexley is longer unposted and then it can be posted as well making it longer. The grip area is also comparable to the TWSBI and Franklin-Christoph.
In terms of weight, the acrylic makes this a pretty light pen overall weighing only 20gms total, uncapped just 12gms. It can be posted but in my small hands, the balance was off. If my hands were larger or my writing grip was different, I could see where it might make sense. Just be careful if you decide to post it as the inclination exists to twist the cap when taking it off the end which may cause the sleeve to come untwisted and potentially expose the ink sac. Not a huge deal but it could get messy.
Have I talked about the nib. The nib is fantastic. I get why people go gaga over Bexley pens now. There are some really weird and wonderful reproductions and unusual designs in the line like this sleeve filler but the nibs! Its beautiful and its writes like a dream.
So, I inked this little black pen up with my favorite new black ink, Ky-no-oto #1 Nurebairo black ($28 for 40ml bottle) which is amazing and had a blast using this pen. I enjoy the scale of the pen and the buttery smoothness of this nib. There’s a little spring in the nib but not flex, so to speak. Its just a light, pleasing writing experience.
While a black acrylic pen isn’t something that normally makes people say “Oooo, what’s that?” I think it brings the focus to the pair of gold rings which is what makes this pen unique. But its the nib that makes this pen really sing.
The Bexley Sleeve Filler is also available in Camouflage and Terracotta. Since these are NOS, there are very few left. If this seems like something you might like, don’t dawdle. Once these are gone, it will be hard to find them in this condition again and be able to choose your colors and nibs.