Dip Pen Review: Victorian Trading Company Dip Pens

I was given the opportunity to dig through our inventory of pen samples and review everything currently in stock at Victorian Trading Company. I’ve decided to break this into two posts: today will be the dip pen assortment and tomorrow will be the ballpoint pens. At present, Victorian Trading Company  is not carrying any gel pens or fountain pens but, as part of the new product development staff, our goal is to change that.

First up is the Brontë Bone Dip Pen & Stand ($29.95). This set is a beautiful, embellished brass pen stand with a bone handled dip pen with gold hardware.

The stand will work just as well with other pens in your collection and is weighted nicely to support a range of pens without tipping over when you reach for your writing instrument.

The nib that shipped with the holder is unlabelled and was a very firm nib. I chose to skip the nib and replace it with a titanium Zebra G dip nib ($27.50 for 10) — my go-to dip nib.

While the Zebra G nib is a bit more curved, it fit into the grip housing with little effort. I had more trouble getting the original nib out and had to use a piece of rubber to get a good grip and pull it out (pro-tip!).

Once I had the Zebra G nib in place, I took a flame to the tip to remove any oils from the nib and increase ink adherence. (photo above is before I took a flame to it).

Since the pen did not ship with any specific ink, I tested it using the closest bottle of ink I had: Montblanc Beatles Psychedelic Purple (which I bought at the recent Patreon-only sale from Gentleman Stationer). The holder is long like a paint brush and fairly slender which may not be to everyone’s tastes. The cost for the set, however, seems to largely be for the holder, not the nib holder. If you’re looking for a beautiful decorative pen rest, it would be worth it to purchase this set just for the stand.

The next set is the Crimson Tidings Dip Pen Set (on sale now for $19.99). The set includes a glass dip pen with a decorative brass grip section and a “pointy finger” nib. The set also includes a bottle of Calligraphy Ink (do not use in fountain pens). On the interior of the box is a wax seal marked “Le Seal” but there is no other branding on the set. After some research, I was able to determine that the pen set is from Hong Kong.

The pen holder body is a blown glass with silver foil inlaid under the clear glass and below the silver is a bright candy apple red.  The decorative brass grip adds weight the the “business end” so if you have a light hand, the weight will help create a thicker, darker line without adding pressure. It will all be from the weight of the pen.

As a lefty, I figured out quickly that the pointy finger nib is a right hand and after using it for a bit, I felt like the nib was flipping off everything I wrote. Luckily, its easy to swap out the dip nib with your favorite non-opinionated nib should you want to do that.

Even though the nib was a bit odd, it wrote quite well. It is a good deal stiffer nib than my preferred Zebra G but it still provided some flex. If you have a heavy hand, this might be the amusing swatching nib of your dreams. I tested the Calligraphy Ink that shipped with the set which is a warm brown/sepia color. The calligraphy ink is a bit looser in feeling than the fountain pen ink I’m used to using. When I say “looser” I mean its wetter, more fluid feeling — fountain pen ink often has more surface tension, IMHO.

The last set currently in stock at Victorian Trading Company  is the “Steampunk Calligraphic PenSet” ($37.95). This set features a feather quill dip pen with a brass decorative grip section and two bottles of Calligraphy Ink in black and amaranth (red). On the box is the name “Lo Scarabeo” which turns out to be European company specializing in tarot and oracle cards. How delightful!

When I first saw the feather quill pen, I was skeptical that it was “all feather, no quill” but after I started using it, it turned out to be my favorite set.

The nib included in the set is a Leonardt 300 ($0.99 each) which is a decent, albeit a bit stiff for me, calligraphy nib. The shape of the grip section is a bit more oval than round which created a surprisingly comfortable grip even with the decorative details engraved in the grip section.

Once again, I swapped out the nib on the Steampunk Set with my tried-and-true Zebra G and tried the inks. The inks seemed to have the same bottle design and functional characteristics of the ink in the Crimson Tidings set.

If you’ve been looking for a fun, funky dip pen for ink testing or to practice your calligraphy, these options would definitely inspire you to write more and any of the three are functional. You just have to decide which design in your favorite.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Victorian Trading Company for the purpose of review. I was not compensated to write this review (other than the fact that I am on their payroll). Please see the About page for more details.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oooh: fun. I like that last set, too, though I like your purple Beatle’s ink better than the red and black that come with the set. Nice box, too.

    I have been wondering what influence you would be having over at VTC. I'm pleased to read that we'll be seeing more fountain pens. Perhaps you could nudge someone into offering some fountain-pen-friendly stationery that is more elegant than frou-frou.


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