The Sailor Ink Bar may be my first fountain pen, but the A. S. Manhattaner’s was the first pen I really coveted, after I discovered JetPens. The first pen to sit on the wish list of my heart, weighing heavily upon my wallet (for these were the times before the incrementally increasing insanity that is a fountain pen addiction). But who can resist the allure of an adorable cat? Not the internet, and certainly not yours truly.
Cream-colored body, warm fall-tone accents—I feel like I ought to be writing on parchment and drinking some kind of pumpkin-spiced concoction out of the choicest and most cozy of mugs.
After cycling through regular rotation for about a year and a half, I’m impressed with how the decorations have held up, from the fact that I have not yet broken off the clip to the indelibility of the cat design.
I’ve had several pens—my Rotring Art Pen, my Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, my very first Sailor Ink Bar, for example—where the writing on the barrel has worn from somewhat all the way to completely off. I don’t think there’s a single speck missing from the A. S. Manhattaner’s.
I worried about how the hard plastic body would hold up—almost a year and a half later, there’s not a single crack apparent. I worried over what kind of performance such a simple steel shield of a nib would deliver—here we are, and I remain satisfied.
Compared to the Sailor HighAce Neo, this nib is just thicker enough to give a smoother performance than the extra fine nib. The feel is tactile, while still giving no scratchiness or any feeling of resistance. The nib writes a bit drier than most nibs I’ve used—at some angles, when I’m writing too quickly the ink will ghost out a bit, mostly on loops that fall below the line of writing.
Perhaps a wetter ink would balance that out, but I’m not too bothered by it. Unlike the HighAce Neo, this model comes with a cartridge (the special Sailor kind) that I’ve found very easy to clean and refill. I don’t remember much about the original ink cartridge ink, except that it was black, and it wrote like ink.
The bad news is that the A. S. Manhattaner’s line has long since been discontinued—Sailor A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artists Guild Fountain Pen’s discontinued page at JetPens—and where you’d find one of these now only Google knows.
The good news is that Sailor has released the cheaper, physically identical Clear Candy line in a wealth of colors (alas, sans cat. It’s a trade-off. Cats are a top-dollar item, not sustainable when you’re trying to keep pen costs down). I have seen and used a Clear Candy model in person, and can confirm they are the same. It’s a great entry level pen, and the Clear Candy comes in some of the best colors ever.