When I received the Armando Simoni Club (ASC) Studio fountain pens, they were wrapped in bright blue tissue paper with a sticker from the parent company, The Pen Family, that distributes ASC as well as Conway Stewart, Bexley, Wahl-Eversharp and Oldwin Paris pens. Many of these brands produce high end (read: pretty expensive) fountain pens so when news hit that ASC was trying its hand at more medium priced pens, the pen community was chomping at the bit to see these in person.
Each of the ASC Studio fountain pens retail for $195 each (Members receive 10% automatic discount at check out) and are currently available in five unique celluloid/resin colors. Nib options are F, M, B and each pen is available with gold or rhodium trim options. The web site lists that the pens are “Made in Miami Florida USA.”
The packaging is a durable paperboard box with a paperboard pen rest inside. This packaging feel durable but easily recyclable or even reusable. The pen was wrapped in a plastic mesh sleeve (similar to the mesh that often covers produce at the grocery store) to protect it from any scratches in transport. An ASC logo tag is attached to each pen.
Each Studio pen is fitted with a #6 steel nib (made in Germany) and features a clear ink view window and brass piston-filling mechanism. Since the pen has a built-in piston filling system, no additional cartridges or converters are included with the pen.
The pen colors are, from front to back: Green Guatemala, Arlecchino, Yellow Pinnacle, Blue Pinnacle and Blue Coral. I’m not sure, if I was building an initial pen offering (IPO), I would have chosen this assortment of colors. I’m more inclined to have done a five-color assortment of the Pinnacle colors (red, yellow, blue, green and purple maybe?) and then offered some of the more unusual colors as limited offerings.
That’s not to say I don’t like some of the more decorative materials. The Green Guatemala is a translucent smoky grey with slivers of black and white material suspended in the resin. I most areas on the pen, the inclusions look like bits of seashells but there are spots where it looks like fingernail clippings. Once I “saw” that, I have had trouble un-seeing it.
The Blue Coral is a candy colored confection of red and blue chunks of color with an occasional peek of white. Because of the small white flecks, I think this pen would be most appealing with the Rhodium trim rather than the gold.
The image above shows a close-up of the Greek key pattern around the cap band and the rolling disk on the end of the clip making it easy to slide the pen in and out of pockets. The clip is deep enough to slide over the cover of a notebook as well.
The Arlecchino shows off the clear ink window really well. This particular color combination always makes me scratch my head. If your goal was to find a resin pattern that was reminiscent of camouflage, this is probably it. However, the orange color is very Creamsicle to me and the green is more of an avocado green. The addition of the pops of bright orange and dark grey make me think of what would happen is a martini met an Orange Julius. I’m thinking that’s not going to be tasty.
The cap cap (?) is stamped with the brand name and is ever-so-slightly conical. It’s a nice, subtle approach to branding that I highly approve.
The Blue Pinnacle is a beautiful striated material with a range of bright, brilliant blue hues.
The nibs on all the pens are engraved with a beautiful Deco diamond pattern and the ASC logo. The Yellow Pinnacle is a cool golden yellow color with bands of grey slashed through the material.
The barrel end caps also end in a conical point but there is no metal hardware covering the end allowing another view of the material.
I was given the opportunity to test out all the nib sizes, pictured above from left to right, F, M and B.
The German nibs are wet at all the sizes. If you are accustomed to Japanese nibs, these may need some tuning to meet your requirements. However, I did find that all the nibs were smooth and easy to write with at any angle. The nibs are firm steel nibs with no flex or bounce.
Of the three pens I tested for writing, I thought I’d show the inks I would fill them with if I hadn’t wanted an accurate side-by-side comparison. The Yellow Pinnacle would be a perfect match for the Colorverse x Opus 88 Adobe. Vinta Hansa Sunrise is a little brighter and would be best with a B nib.
The Green Guatemala coordinates with ink that is slightly green in color. The Tono & Lims E=MC2 best but some of the deeper green hues would look great with this pen as well: Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-Matsu, Straits Pens Storm Warning (Ohio Pen Club Limited Edition) and Pen BBS No. 224: Tolstoy.
Deciding what color to match with the Arlecchino pen will be the biggest challenge. Montblanc Golden Yellow is probably closest to the predominate creamy orange color. J. Herbin Orange Indien and Diamine 150th Golden Honey are close to the bright orange pops. Pen BBS No. 342 Matcha Ice Cream and Robert Oster Australis Tea are good matches for the green and Colorverse #29 Matter is a good match for the dark grey spots.
From left to right, Pelikan M205, Pelikan M600, TWSBI ECO, ASC Studio, Sailor ProColor (same size as a 1911) and Aurora Optima, capped.
The same pens from the previous photo, posted.
In terms of size, the ASC Studio pens are 5.625″ capped, 5.125″ uncapped and 6.6875″ posted. In terms of width, the Studio pens are similar in size to a TWSBI Eco but weightier, closer to the 580 in terms of weight. The Studio, capped, weighs 29gms and uncapped 19gms. I would describe the Studio as a full-sized pen. It’s not diminutive but its also not a large or oversized pen. The ASC Studio has the larger nib like an Aurora Optima but it is a longer pen. The Studio is closer in width to the ECO and Optima. The other pens are narrower.
In terms of color, I think the Blue Pinnacle and Blue Coral will sell themselves. The blues are stunning and the Blue Coral with Rhodium Trim is a beautiful look. I was surprised to discover that the Yellow Pinnacle ended up being my favorite color with the Green Guatemala a close second. The Arlecchino is a color combination that you either love or hate. I am in the latter category on this one. It’s just Jell-o Salad meets pimento loaf to me.
I think the ASC Studio pen is pretty competitive at the $200 price point. The materials are unique and the ASC brand has a reputation for quality that means the pens they make are often priced at $800 or more. This entry into lower priced pens with The Studio series put ASC pens within the reach of a wider audience. Hopefully, this will the first of many options available for younger (or just with more limited means) pen enthusiasts from ASC.
- Paper: Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 16 with 7mm guide sheet
- Pens: ASC STUDIO Arlecchino, ASC STUDIO Yellow Pinnacle, ASC STUDIO Blue Coral, ASC STUDIO Blue Pinnacle, ASC STUDIO Green Guatemala ($195.00 each of set of five for $828.75)
- Ink: Birmingham Pen Co. Fried Circuit ($9 for 30ml bottle)