Sailor A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artists Guild Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Cat on the Road

12 05 2012

Why do scans never do these pretty purple inks justice?

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.

It’s like a haiku, but in the form of a pen, with a cat on it.

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.

Did I want medium nibbed? No. Fine nibbed? No. Cat nibbed? Yes, perfect.

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.

How the barrel would look if you flattened it out and painted it into a nightmare. I’m so sorry, Mr. Adorable Catman. Fun fact, the placeholder caption I gave this picture was “eldritch terror”

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.

The only major flaw: needs a cat on the nib.

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.

OOGA-BOOGA-BOOGA! That’s what the hip young ghosts are saying nowadays, right?

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.

1996? That’s older than my car that just died. DON’T YOU DIE ON ME TOO, BABYCAKES PENFACE.

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.

Sailor Clear Candy Fountain Pens at JetPens

Ink Drop Soup: Expensive Fountain Pens Just 30 and Below

21 12 2013

If you follow my Twitter, you already know about the humorous exchange I overhead at my local pen store. It went like this:

“I want an expensive fountain pen.”

“What’s your price range?”

“Thirty and below.”

For those not afflicted with the fountain pen condition, that probably sounds like a reasonable number. You may be thinking, why I could get upwards of thirty units of terrible crappy pen that I like for thirty bucks! But you’re thinking of an entirely different beast. For me, expensive fountain pen starts being an applicable label once we reach one Benjamin, and anything past about three of ole Benjy-boy is reaching the territory of “you had better not” expensive; any price tag with four or more digits is comfortably in the laughably unattainably probably-not-even-if-I-won-the-lottery category of expensive. Five figure fountain pens? Mythical beasts, the mere suggestion of which I will giggle madly at until I cry at the very idea of a mere mortal owning such an ethereal figment.

But back to real human numbers; there are a lot of good fountain pens you can get for thirty-and-below, so rather than merely laugh at the ignorance of the uninitiated, I figured I should throw some suggestions out there. So, random dude I didn’t even talk to in the pen store, it all depends on what you’re looking for when you say “expensive.” I’ll break it down by body types.

Mostly Plastic

They comes in colors everywhere~!

They comes in colors everywhere~!

There are all types of pens under 30 when you look at mostly plastic bodies. The advantage of plastic: bright colors. Stand-out in this category is the Lamy Safari (which apparently I haven’t actually reviewed yet, in spite of owning…several; for link purposes it’s similar to the Vista),  but I’ve enjoyed all of the pens pictured here. There’s the Paperchase Wonderland Fountain Pen, the Chelpark Terminator (and similar, yet unreviewed Conqueror), Noodler’s Ahab Flex and Noodler’s Piston Fill Fountain Pens, the Sailor A.S. Manhattaner’s (which is no longer available, but pretty much identical to the Sailor Clear Candy, and comes in a zillion colors), the Lamy Safari, the Pelikan Future (as yet unreviewed?!), and Pilot’s Penmanship and Plumix.

Plastic & Metal

I also have a Pelikan Steno I got for under 30 that would go here except I don't know where you would get one. Mine showed up at my local pen store...

I also have a Pelikan Steno I got for under 30 that would go here except I don’t know where you would get one. Mine showed up at my local pen store…

Not quite as many, but you’ve got the Pelikan Pelikano, the Hero 616 (as yet unreviewed!), the Ohto Rook, and the Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen.

Mostly Metal

Bonus points if you start singing some kind of musically appropriate song when you see the word "metal"

Bonus points if you start singing some kind of musically appropriate song when you see the word “metal”

Metal is probably more what I’d think a person would have in mind when they want to put the words “expensive” and “fountain pen” together. All three of these are solid options: the Schrade Tactical Fountain Pen is probably the smoothest of the bunch, with three colors available, it also comes with a rollerball option if you get tired of the fountain pen, and it doubles as a weapon. What more could you want for about $25? The Muji Aluminum Round Fountain Pen is a little more comfortable than the Schrade, but less likely to help you win an impromptu brawl. And the matte black Sheaffer VFM is simple, classy, and smoother at both ends than the other two. Bonus, all three take standard international short cartridges.

In hindsight, I probably should have posted this earlier in the gifting season, but depending on your holiday you’ve still got potentially plenty of time to pick any one of these pens up.