I often recommend the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen to artists, designers, illustrators — anyone who wants to draw with a fountain pen. First, it’s a relatively inexpensive fountain pen — usually under $20. Next, it ships with Platinum Carbon Black ink which is permanent and perfect for mixed media uses. Finally, the tip is very fine, comparable to the creative favorite, the Sakura Pigma Micron and other of its brethern (the fine fiber-tipped “technical” pens).
Recently, I’ve had trouble finding the classic EF Platinum Carbon Desk Pen through my favorite online retailers. I reached out to a couple contacts and received some conflicting information. On one hand, I was told that Platinum was no longer listing the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen. I looked on the Platinum web site for Japan and it appears that this is the case. The other info I received from the US distributor for Platinum suggested that the pen was still available from some online retailers but they did not clarify if the Carbon Desk Pen was being discontinued, rebranded or anything else.
I let the issue drop for a couple months (pandemic distraction and all) but when I started teaching, I really wanted my students to have access to this pen so my hunt started again.
In my renewed search, I found three variations: the EF, the M and the Desk Pen (no Carbon ink and a snap cap and clip). The EF and M (approx. $15) I got at Wonder Fair and the Desk Pen ($13.41) was purchased on Amazon. All three were sold in blister packs with one cartridge. Previously, I owned a 14K ($24) version from Amazon which I swapped the housing with a friend and cut it down to fit into a pencil case.
Above is a close-up of the nibs to show the difference in the housing and nib shapes. You can see there is a little bit of fiber stuck to the EF nib (something that can happen often because this nib is so fine). Amazingly, the 14K is even finer if you can believe it. Because it’s gold, there is a little give to it but its not flexible.
I have mentioned in the past that the Platinum Carbon Pen is not the prettiest pen in the world. The cap is hideous. The nib and its ability to handle permanent ink well and compete with the technical pens that end up in the trash when the tips wear down or the ink is used up make these worth their weight. And seriously, Sakura Pigma Microns are not going to win any beauty contests so I can look past their ugly. In fact, over time, I have learned to love their weird looks and their funny DEVO caps.
They are definitely function over form. But you can use Carbon Black cartridges or converters and they last so much longer than technical pens. The tips do not wear down and the variety between these styles provide the same range as several of the widths of technical pens.
On different paper, the Carbon ink will be more or less waterproof. I’ve done other waterproof ink tests but Platinum Carbon Black remains my favorite. Either way, it’s clearly water resistant. Depending on how much ink coverage you have, there might be a little transference but for fountain pen ink, it’s the most permanent I’ve found while still being easy to clean out of your pen.
So, while I’m having trouble finding the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen in the usual places, don’t give up. Until I know where Platinum has hidden these, do pen equivalent of crate digging and hunt down some of these gems. They are worth it. And if you know what has happened to them in the Platinum line up, please let me know.
- Paper: Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 16 with 6mm guide sheet and Col-o-ring scrap paper.
- Pens: Platinum Carbon Desk Pen in EF and M ($15), Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with 14K nib ($24) and Platinum Desk Pen ($13.41)
- Ink: Platinum Carbon Black ($20 for 60ml bottle)
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