I was looking for a fountain pen specifically for
that special class of victims I call my friends, as I’m often pressing fountain pens onto them, and they, for their part, are making a career of gripping these pens by the nib and getting ink all over their hands. I put a call out over Twitter for suggestions of fountain pens that even my fountain pen challenged friends could use without making a terrible mess, and got a response from one reader, Claire, that I should try the Rotring Core.
Let’s take this insanity one step at a time. So the look of the Lysium version of the Rotring Core is evocative of the kind of design choices that might be made by a queasy and colorblind extraterrestrial. There’s a lot going on here, visually, and it just doesn’t quite make sense. Is this a pen, is it a nightstick, I’m not sure.
I’m not ready to let go of this design. I’ll start with the body. It’s covered in cryptic, Pepto-Bismol colored phrases like “FORCE RESOURCE” and “WRITE-ON SYSTEM”. Next to “WRITE-ON SYSTEM,” the pen indicates “TURN THIS WAY,” and though it indicates a direction, the body of the pen is unclear what, exactly, is meant to go that way. Thankfully it comes with a helpful set of instructions.
I will have to reserve judgment on this FORCE RESOURCE feature and this WRITE-ON SYSTEM, as the pen comes with no helpful indication of exactly how these mechanisms are meant to work.
Before we open this pen, let’s pause for a minute and examine that cap.
The cap sports such features as being as heavy as the pen itself; odd, rubbery turquoise coating; two ridges on that rubbery coating that seem intended to increase the gripping power of the clip, but actually just make the pen nigh-uselessly difficult to clip onto objects; and just being strangely humongous.
Opening up the pen, you’ve got an allegedly ergonomic recessed grip, and a nib covered in golf-ball dimples.
I’m not going to quibble over fine versus extra-fine. I’m going to quibble about how oddly uncomfortable this grip is (I never felt like I was gripping it quite right, or when I almost did, the feeling was fleeting), and what a schizophrenic performance I got from the nib.
It was so terrible on the Behance Dot Grid paper that I couldn’t write all the way to the bottom of the page. But I was not willing to put the pen down yet, so I gave it a go on some Clairefontaine paper.
And, for good measure, I busted out a few more doodles on my other favorite magicpaper, some Strathmore drawing paper.
The Rotring Core performed well enough to be worth not throwing out, but is that really what I want from a pen? “Just good enough to not be garbage.” No. I can’t imagine that there will ever be a time where I think, “You know what pen would be great for this task? The Rotring Core;” unless the task is “bring a writing object that can put ink on a page AND embody social awkwardness.” Maybe you like odd and awkward pens. Here’s your new true love. For me, the only niche this pen fills is “design oddity that looks like it doubles as a weapon.” I don’t regret it, but I really don’t love it.
The Rotring Core is also not the easiest pen to find, but I do believe I found the best price on it at Pens & Leather, if you’d like to persist in making your acquaintance with this pen.