Is that a fountain pen? Or a rollerball? Fountain Roller?

by Jessica Coles

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.

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great review! I’ve used two fountain rollerball pens. One was a J. Herbin mini, sold on JetPens.com. It used a short international cartridge. At the time, I was still very new to fountain pens. My experience with that particular rollerball turned me off (perhaps unfairly) to all fountain rollerballs for a time. It wrote kind of dry and scratchy. I did not (and still don’t) know how to fix that.

    The other was a no-name freebie that was nicely included in my very recent Sailor fountain pen order on eBay. The freebie is actually very pretty; it’s a Sailor 1911S wanna-be in a clear demonstrator iteration. It also has rose gold-colored trim; like I said, very pretty indeed, for a freebie. It actually does have a name around the band, but I can’t read it. It came with a converter included! So I inked it up with Kobe Pearl Blue ink (which I had received with my Sailor PGS Pearl Blue fountain pen) and started writing. A little dry at first, after letting it sit upside down in my pen cup a while, it writes fairly wet and smooth. It’s a little narrower than I’d prefer, since I love broad nibs, but it’s not bad. I plan to re-ink it with a permanent black FP ink and use it for checks and addressing mail.

    Now that my experience with these pens has improved somewhat, and after reading your review, I’m going to have to find a fountain rollerball with a fatter point that writes nice and wet and broad. See – you’ve started something! I’m going to blame you for a new (hopefully) minor obsession. 🙂

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