Pilot Kakuno – Fine Nib – Black Body / Light Green Cap

12 05 2015
Don't ask me how to pronounce "Kakuno." I promise you however I'm saying it is wrong.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce “Kakuno.” I promise you however I’m saying it is wrong.

I’ve had various color combinations of the Pilot Kakuno languishing on my JetPens wishlist for a while, but it took being stuck home sick in a syrupy haze of cough suppressants for me to actually decide to order one. Which I ordered from my Amazon Prime, for whatever reason.

The reason was money

The reason was money

Although I picked everything about this pen based on what option was cheapest on Amazon at the time, I like the dark grey and lime green combo. The color is fun without feeling childish. Not that there’s anything wrong with childish—this is designed to be a kid’s pen. But the design isn’t aggressively elementary school; it’s a minimalism that holds a broad appeal.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

There’s no clip, but the Kakuno is hexagonal and the cap has an unobtrusive little nub to help discourage the pen from rolling away. The grip is shaped in a roughly triangular hexagon, with all edges (if you can even call them that) quite rounded—the guidance from the grip is subtle and comfortable. The pen itself is lightweight, yet the plastic feels reassuringly sturdy, as far as this price point goes. It’s no luxury resin, but it’s also not some cheap, fragile crap.

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Here’s the most unavoidably adorable part: the face of the nib. Literally. A smiley. face. (unless you have one of the soft body colors; then it’s a winky face) — it’s another point of guidance for the novice fountain pen user: if the pen is smiling at you, then you’re holding it right (or at least not upside down). Maybe not everyone is confident enough in their adulthood to rock out such a happy pen on a regular basis. I’m not here to judge you. But it’s really only noticeable to others if you point the face out. Or if they stare at your hands obsessively.

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t take this pen as my prime writer in a Serious and Professional Meeting of Important Business, but right now it’s my favorite no-worry knockabout pen. I toted it around on a trip to the mountains. I’ve thrown it in countless bags, back pockets, and cup holders. It writes reliably, neither too wet nor too dry, and the fine nib is perfect for everyday use. The performance of the nib itself was surprisingly pleasant (not sure why I was surprised, I should have known Pilot wouldn’t let me down), a sort of tactile feel on the page without any scratchiness or sharp edges.

Impulse purchase yours today!

Impulse purchase yours today!

If you’re looking for a specific color or nib size, JetPens has the full selection. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and aren’t picky, you can likely find a Kakuno on Amazon for under $10 (right now, the winning combination is a fine nib White Body Soft Blue cap with free Prime shipping, clocking in currently at $9.46).

Pilot Kakuno — medium and fine nibs in multiple colors — at JetPens

Pilot Kakuno Fine Nib Fountain Pen Black Body Light Green Cap at Amazon

Lamy Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

12 03 2014
Lamy Turquoise is a wonderfully vibrant, beautifully shaded, and quick drying ink. One of my faves

Lamy Turquoise is a wonderfully vibrant, beautifully shaded, and quick drying ink. One of my faves

The Lamy Dialog 3 is one of those pens that I bought after saving a dollar for every day that I still wanted it. This was before the price hike, and I made sure my local pen store, Office Supplies and More, saved one for me because I knew eventually I’d be getting this pen.

This is probably the only pen box that I really, truly love

This is probably the only pen box that I really, truly love

The Dialog 3 is a work of design art, right down to the slim and beautiful box. The matte black metal body is smooth to the touch, but like Pilot’s matte black stealth Vanishing Point finish it’s somewhat delicate.

Why did I put the Vanishing Point in the foreground? Because it has even more easy-to-spot wear. The Dialog 3 has some too, but it didn't show up as well on the camera

Why did I put the Vanishing Point in the foreground? Because it has even more easy-to-spot wear. The Dialog 3 has some too, but it didn’t show up as well on the camera

You can see where the matte finish has begun to wear away in places—the Vanishing Point finish does the same thing. I guess it’s just part of the sacrifice of looking cool.

Clip is up, clip is down

Clip is up, clip is down

What makes the Dialog 3 special is its twist retract/deploy mechanism. The nib deploys completely, a full and regular-sized Lamy two-tone gold nib, and when the nib deploys the clip draws close to the body of the pen, making it less obtrusive (especially when compared to the Vanishing Point clip).

The creature slowly emerges from its protective cave

The creature slowly emerges from its protective cave

As satisfying as it is to deploy, take care when retracting that you don’t twist past aligning the lines on the body or you’ll start unscrewing the pen. Once you get the hang of it, no problem, but I know there was a learning curve phase for me, particularly when I twisted slowly, and I often accidentally unscrewed the pen.

When Lamy has sculpted grips, I don't like it. When there's no sculpted grip, I find myself wanting some ergonomic consideration. There's no winning with me

When Lamy has sculpted grips, I don’t like it. When there’s no sculpted grip, I find myself wanting some ergonomic consideration. There’s no winning with me

I love the weight of this pen in my hand, but I do feel like the weight and the cylindrical body cause the pen to slowly slide down ever so slightly as I hold it. Some kind of indent in the body for gripping might help, but would detract from the aesthetic. No winning there.

14k, as opposed to the Vanishing Point's 18k. But, a bigger nib. I wonder if anyone sells gold nibs for scrap? Which of the two nibs would nab me more dough at Cash4Gold?

14k, as opposed to the Vanishing Point’s 18k. But, a bigger nib. I wonder if anyone sells gold nibs for scrap? Which of the two nibs would nab me more dough at Cash4Gold?

This nib is fantastic. It’s like writing with buttery whispers—smooth, smooth, smoooooth. The flow is perfect. This nib, a 14k gold F nib, writes about the same as a Japanese M. There’s a little bit of give to the nib if you press it to the page, but the pen is so glassy smooth, skating across the page, that such give never really has a chance to come up while writing since no pressure is required to write.

The Lamy Dialog 3 would probably be a lot more popular if the Pilot Vanishing Point didn't exist

The Lamy Dialog 3 would probably be a lot more popular if the Pilot Vanishing Point didn’t exist

In nib performance, the Lamy edges out the Vanishing Point on smoothness. In clip comfort, the Dialog’s low profile can’t be beat. But the Vanishing Point keeps a better seal on its nib (left unused for an equal amount of time, the Lamy Dialog will dry out faster), and when it comes to price and convenience of the deployment mechanism, the Vanishing Point takes that cake and runs with it. If you’re looking for a high quality workhorse pen, go with the Pilot Vanishing Point and save yourself some money.

Possible reasons to get the Lamy Dialog 3: you have collected every conceivable Vanishing Point

Possible justifiable reasons to get the Lamy Dialog 3: you have collected every conceivable Vanishing Point. You have way too much money. You have a personal family vendetta against Pilot.

The Dialog 3 is pretty purely an item of luxury—especially if you opt for the matte black finish. No one NEEDS the Lamy Dialog 3, and at the price it’s climbed to now the purchase is almost impossible to justify. But the pen is a thing of modern beauty. The writing feels wonderful. And if you do decide to buy one, I certainly won’t judge you.

At time of writing, the best price left on the Lamy Dialog 3 seems to be over at JetPens, and if there aren’t any left there the next best price is over 60 bucks more, and the regular retail cost is about another 80 bucks beyond that. Unbelievable.

Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

4 03 2014

Grab a glass of water; this writing is far too dry

I’ve had an interest in this pen since 2011, when it first landed on my wishlist. Thanks to JetPens for providing this free sample to review.


Tasche is probably not short for Mustasche but it should be

The Tasche has a great compact design—small for carrying, full size for use. There’s a classic elegance to its look, all shades of silver and smooth black.

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

The cap snaps satisfyingly shut to close, and slides smoothly on the end to post. In terms of portable use, this is probably the best, most easy to use design I’ve dealt with. It feels secure when posted, and you don’t have to deal with the slight time delay of unscrewing a cap. Unfortunately, that ends the portion where I have good things to say about the pen.

It's all downhill from here

It’s all downhill from here

First off, the pen didn’t even want to write when I put the cartridge in. I managed to get the pen to write, and it’s been an anemic struggle ever since.

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

This is beyond dry. This is barely usable. This is the Sahara desert in the form of a pen, minus the jackals and sand lizards. I get the sense that maybe the nib slit is too narrow, meaning I might be able to fix it with some effort, but you don’t buy a pen whose quality control record operates on the kind of odds you’d find in a casino. Most people aren’t going to spend good money on an ordinary pen knowing that you’ll probably have to fix it just to get it to be usable. Rescuing this pen will be good practice for me, but unless you’re looking for a rescue operation, stay away.

Sorry Tasche, I'm not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

Sorry Tasche, I’m not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

If you want a working compact pen in the same general price range, drop a few bucks more on the Kaweco Sport. If you want an attractive quality control disaster, feel free to gamble on the Ohto Tasche.

Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body at JetPens

Kaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

5 01 2012

Featuring the same aubergine ink as my first Kaweco review (not the EXACT same...that cartridge ran out months ago. But this is from the same box.)

This review is long overdue. I am not exaggerating when I say I had four separate photoshoots for this thing, in at least 3 different states, each time dissatisfied with the results. This pen DESERVES beautiful pictures, because this is a beautiful pen.

Taken in the fading sunlight outside of Central Park Zoo

This pen is small—though NOT Jetpens’ smallest, in spite of the claim on the Liliput’s page; the Liliput is 3.8 inches capped per Jetpens, and the Ohto Rook, per Jetpens, is 3.7 inches capped. HELLO, SOMEONE AT JETPENS PLEASE FIX THIS INACCURACY THANKS.

Dare to compare

In spite of being 0.1 inch shy of smallest, the Liliput still boasts an impressively diminutive profile among compact fountain pens.

Regular fountain pens Lamy Safari and Pilot Prera for reference, compact fountain pens A. G. Spalding & Bros. Mini Fountain Pen, Kaweco Sport, Pilot Petit1, Kaweco Liliput, and Ohto Rook for comparative littleness battle

Posted, I believe the Liliput is the smallest of these pens, but not so small as to be uncomfortable. I can even write with the cap off, no problems, but that has more to do with my weirdo-grip than the length of the pen.

Reasons why you would even want to write with the cap off will follow

One of the pen’s greatest strengths is also one of its biggest inconveniences. The cap unscrews to come off, and screws onto the back to post. The cap is very sturdy, once posted. But this is not a maneuver suited to quickly jotting something down; the rounded end doesn’t give enough purchase for the cap to line up and easily catch the thread, and it often takes me a try or two before I get the cap screwing on correctly. I do a little better if I sit here, focusing on the task, practicing—but focusing on getting the cap lined up is not my greatest strength when I’m trying to remember something I want to write down.

Hello, silky smooth aluminum. Wait...WAIT NO DON'T ROLL OFF THE TABLE

On the one hand, I love the barrel. Smooth. Uninterrupted. Slips into a pocket like it’s greased down and dripping with butter. On the other hand, this pen is CONSTANTLY rolling off and away (apparently none of the tables in my life are level) any time I set it on a flat surface without a book, additional pen, or some other object to chaperone it. I don’t know what I would do to fix this problem; I love the look of the pen. I don’t want some ugly bump protruding from any part of it, nor do I want the body to be anything other than rounded. I don’t want a clip. I want this pen to defy gravity, just a little bit. That’s the only reasonable solution I can come up with.

On to the writing portion of this never-ending talent show. The nib writes tactile-smooth; you can feel the nib on the page, but it doesn’t drag. Ink flow is nice and consistent. My only beef is that this fine nib seems to write just as fine as my medium nib; which is to say, I perceived no difference at all.

I'm completely baffled

I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe nib size for the Kaweco brand is just a game of Russian Roulette. Maybe you’ll get the nib size you want. Maybe you’ll get shot in the head and have vodka poured on you. Who knows.

Taken at a bus stop in Virginia

So it writes well, it’s nicely made. Let’s talk ink. Takes the standard short international cartridge. I’ve been asked if I know of any converter that fits in this pen. Here’s the smallest converter I know; I think it’s by Monteverde:

Top: plunger all the way out. Middle: plunger all the way in. Bottom: amount of room left when I put the empty converter in the Liliput and screwed the body back on.

I guess there’s theoretically enough room there for a drop, maybe two, of ink. Feel free to knock yourselves out trying. I’d say your best bet is to get a little syringe and use it to fill up an empty cartridge with the ink of your choice.

All the king's horses may have trouble with Humpty Dumpty, but I have opposable thumbs and no trouble reassembling this pen.

I think the biggest hesitation point for this pen is price. I got it at $53; the price has already increased to $55 (metal prices are going up, I hear). Now, I’m both cheap and poor, so this is a lot of money to me. For moneyed professionals and sensible people who save money wisely, and basically anyone other than me, have no hesitation buying this pen. If you’re like me, and you want this pen but $55 seems like more than one should be spending on any pen, wait one day for every dollar it costs, and if you still want it, get it (that’s what I did). I haven’t been disappointed, despite the few drawbacks. It’s adorable, writes well, and is constructed of quality materials. And JetPens just rolled out replacement nibs, for those of you who can’t decide between sizes; get one Liliput, and then another nib to go in it.

One last glamour shot.

Kaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body at JetPens

Kaweco Replacement Nib – Broad – at JetPens

Kaweco Replacement Nib – Extra Fine – at JetPens

Kaweco Replacement Nib – Fine – at JetPens

Kaweco Replacement Nib – Medium – at JetPens

Edison Collier Silver Marble Fine Point Fountain Pen

28 10 2011

Gaze upon the unending beauty of Noodler's Apache Sunset ink.

I am so excited about the Edison Collier that I almost can’t put it into words. I figured I would instead elope with this pen to Cancún, and send you all a picture postcard of the two of us writing novels forever on a picturesque beach. But it’s too rainy-looking outside for any of that, so a regular review will have to suffice.

In a world where most of my pens come out of a mailer envelope, a pen in a box is like a wealthy business tycoon stepping out of a private jet.

Tom Oddo at Goldspot Pens generously offered to let me try out the Edison Collier (and to keep a bottle of Noodler’s Apache Sunset—my choice—as a reminder of the beautiful time shared with this pen); naturally I jumped on the opportunity to try out a new and unknown pen. In spite of the deceptive aura of knowledge I may sometimes project, there are many things I don’t know about fountain pens, especially as you reach the upper echelons of quality and fanciness. I had not before heard of the Edison Pen Company, and I didn’t necessarily expect for this to be my kind of pen. For one thing, it bore no resemblance to any sort of child’s toy or Japanese spaceship. It looked big. It looked fancy. This pen was probably Out of My League. So I pulled out my top hat, and hoped for the best.

I don't kid about top hats.

The body: smooth. The marbling: mesmerizing.

Gaze into the swirling silken patterns and obey my commands

The only labeling is a subtly unobtrusive etching on the barrel, which I admit took me a little while to find.

It need not be labeled; every millimeter of quality craftsmanship whispers its name

This pen probably qualifies as a miniature nightstick. It is BIG. The only pen I have that’s thicker is the cap of my Rotring Core; the only pen longer is my taper-ended Rotring Art Pen. In a little more than two full revolutions, the cap comes off. You can technically post it, in a sort-of-not-really-this-will-fall-off-the-second-it-touches-anything-else sort of way.

With the cap posted, the pen legally qualifies as a miniature baseball bat.

Much to my verbally speechless amazement, this pen, this one pen is the only pen I have ever encountered so far that perfectly fits my natural, incorrigibly incorrect manner of gripping a pen. It is as though its creator chopped off my hand in the middle of the night, molded a pen to it, and returned my hand come morning with me being none the wiser. But it’s also comfortable with the proper pliers grip. I’m pretty sure that shimmer you see in the resin is actually captured magic. It is the only explanation for such inexplicable comfort.

I was hoping the design would feature an infinite regress of the design of a nib on a nib on the nib and so forth down to the molecular level

The nib on the model I got to try is, to the best of my knowledge, equal parts steel and wonderful. Every paper I write on is transformed to a plane of joy. Words, even if I wrote them with this pen, would be insufficient to capture the delight of writing with this pen.

I doubt I have yet transcended to a plane of existence where I could emotionally handle anything more than this formidably magnificent nib

This pen has nothing about which I can even begin to complain. There is nothing I can think of that I would improve. Once again, I’d like to thank Tom at Goldspot pens for letting me try this pen, and I’d like to thank Brian Gray of Edison Pen Company for making this pen exist in the first place.

And I'd like to thank Halloween for the orange background decorations

You like this pen? You’ll need this link: Edison Collier Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens

You just like reading about this pen? Here’s a couple more reviews, you insatiable beast:

Silver Marble with Broad Nib — Office Supply Geek

Persimmon Swirl — Pen, Paper, Inks…Whatever!



one day, lovely pen, we will meet again

Muji Aluminum Round Fountain Pen

10 09 2011

Hold onto your pencil cases, people, this is a good one!

Earlier this year, I got to spend a weekend in New York City / have my head explode into candy at the sight of such pen-related wonders as the Art Brown International Pen Store and Muji. So far, I’ve only gotten around to reviewing my Muji gel ink hexagonal pens, but have yet to say much about what is quite possibly my favorite starter fountain pen. But before we get into that, quickly, look at the wondrous joys of Muji:

You may proceed to roll on the floor and froth at the mouth with delight.

Now, this fountain pen. It pretty much speaks for itself, the way Muji intended: no branding, just beauty and wonderful pen.

Is it a fountain pen? An X-acto knife? A fancy screwdriver??

No words I type can add to what you can see with your eyes. This pen uses pattern and texture in all the right places and all the right ways.

I bet you could put secret messages in the barrel, behind the cartridge. Or emergency scrap paper.

The barrel is just the right amount of slim, and the cap is designed to post flush with the body of the pen, regardless of what side it’s being posted on.

Note the groove-ring on the bottom for the cap to smoothly post onto to.

There’s a little circle on either end, feels like rubber, for those people who insist on having pens with labels; Muji provides with the pen a set of stickers denoting what type of pen this silver cylinder contains (they also offer a ballpoint pen with this same body design).

You'll notice I haven't used mine yet

Everything about this pen is wonderful to touch. I’m afraid if I continue trying to describe this pen to you, I’ll sound like even more of a lunatic. Let’s open it up.

Look at that posted cap. Doesn't it just make you want to weep, it's so beautiful?

Being almost entirely metal, the pen has a nice weight to it; being aluminum, it’s not too heavy. The cap  is so small that it doesn’t affect the balance as far as I can tell. The knurled grip is comfortable, and, being flush with the body, doesn’t end up pressing on my hand in any irritating ways.

Even the nib isn't branded!

The nib is a fine point, but not too fine. I can’t remember if it came with a cartridge or not, but I did buy some Muji black cartridges anyway. I found the Muji black to be too juicy for my tastes, but the good thing with this fountain pen is that it takes the standard international short cartridge. Finding ink for this pen is ridiculously easy! I’ve currently settled on this nice Avocado color from Private Reserve, and I find that the combination is totally Goldilocks-good for me; smooth, but not too wet.

The nib stays remarkably clean. But then, isn't Japan known for its neatness, in all meanings of the word?

It’s also easy to remove the nib and feed to clean the pen out. Being able to do maintenance like that is personally empowering—I am a fountain pen person! I can take things apart and put them back together AND THEY STILL FUNCTION! I have all the passing appearances of an expert!!—and very helpful from a practical standpoint, whether you’re just cleaning between a switch in colors, or you’ve been bad and for some inexplicable reason have let the pen sit so long that ink has dried in it.

I am trying very hard to think of any caveats or drawbacks to this pen. I think the only drawback is that not every state has a Muji store, so people might have to order the pen online rather than getting to experience the whimsy and minimalist enchantment of a Muji store. This pen has everything I would want from a starter fountain pen: simple, easy to use, easy to clean, well constructed, easy to find cartridges for, excellent ink flow, writes smooth and never scratchy, nib is fine enough to be able to write on normal paper but not so fine as to be potentially difficult for a beginner to use. There’s no special angle you have to hold the pen at to get it to work. No difficult to obtain converters involved. Oh, and it only costs $15.50. On the downside, shipping and handling looks like it’ll tack on at least $5.95, and it looks like Muji currently only ships to the US and Canada (well, for the Muji USA website, which, duh, would make sense). BUT!—Muji has stores in Europe, Asia, North America, and Japan, as well as websites for those zones, so it seems like everyone should be able to get their hands on one of these pens, one way or another (international readers, you’ll have to confirm this for me!).

One last suave and sleek pen picture!

Basically, everything is beautiful, life is wonderful, nothing hurts, why don’t you own one of these pens yet?

Aluminum Round Fountain Pen by Muji 

Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – Steel Nib – Fine – Black Body

25 08 2011


The Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s fountain pen hopped into my shopping cart early on in my burgeoning fountain pen addiction, sometime after I became enchanted by the Sailor Ink Bar. This was among one of the first nice fountain pens I owned.

This is one of the pens I carry around in my zippered padfolio thing when I have job interviews. Fact.

The design is simple but deliciously professional, a nice mix of hard, sturdy resin and metal. The only branding on the pen is on the nib, with the rest of the pen austerely unadorned. The cap snaps securely onto both ends, and gives the pen a nice little weight to it. I like having a little weight on the back end to counterbalance my grip style. Some people might find this back-heavy, but honestly, the cap doesn’t weigh THAT much. It’s a nicely constructed pen—I’ve had it maybe a year now, and it’s still looking good.

One in pen years is practically one hundred in people years

Also, look at that grip, and how there’s almost no ridge between the grip section and the back body of the pen. THAT IS WHAT I LIKE TO SEE! I wish I’d taken a close up of that bit, so then I could post here a slowly zooming in .gif of the grip in a sea of majestic sparkles, set to romantic music or something. Alas, an opportunity missed. Moving on.

Let me break it down for you. Literally.

The one thing I don’t like at all about this pen is the cartridge situation—it doesn’t come with a cartridge, and it doesn’t take the standard short international cartridge. And the Sailor Nano Ink cartridges write a very rich black that will dry up in the pen if not used practically every other day. Go ahead and get a Sailor converter for this pen, or end up like me, syringe-filling old, cleaned out Nano cartridges. I haven’t had any drying out problems once I switched to the Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm, so I’m blaming it on the ink. Luckily, the feed isn’t difficult to remove and clean, so if you decide, against my advice, to actually use the Sailor Nano ink, at least you know you’ll be able to clean it when the ink inevitably dries up in the pen. Like I said, no such problems with the Noodler’s ink, quite the opposite in fact—the Dragon’s Napalm takes FOREVER to dry on Clairefontaine paper when coming out of this pen. I’m gonna have to try a different ink once I use up this cartridge’s worth…maybe find some Noodler’s quick-drying Bernanke ink?

Nib may also double as shaving or stabbing implement

I love the way this thing writes. This is a true Japanese fine nib, easily on par with any extra fine nib pen I currently own. Now, I’m using this pen almost exclusively on smooth paper, but even in my brief dealings with normal copy paper I’ve had no issues with this pen—no skipping, ink flow is consistent, I can write fast with it, writing is tactile but not scratchy, doesn’t give any resistance that would slow down my writing. Be advised: if you are a fan of broad nibs and don’t particularly care for any nib below a medium, then you’ll probably find this pen to be scratchy. I don’t think it’s scratchy, but one: I like my nibs fine, and two: I can SHOW you what a scratchy fine nib is (COUGH tachikawa comic nib fountain pen G model nib COUGH), and this is not a scratchy nib. It might be close, but I think it comes down on the nonscratchy side of fine.

My thesaurus advises me of acceptable synonyms for fine. So, here's what a true cat's pajamas nib should look like.

This is a good entry-level fountain pen. Slim, nicely made, holds up well, and it’s affordable. A gateway pen, if you will—a bridge from the low & expensive end (pens like the Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Varsity, Sailor Ink Bar, Platinum Preppy) on your way to the incurable addiction of fancy fountain pens with prices upwards of twenty-one McDouble Sandwiches (I assume McDoubles are used as an international unit of currency) and far beyond. Or you can rest sane and easy with some reasonably priced fountain pens, such as the likes of this Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen.

I keep awkwardly trying to cobble together a pun out of "caption" and "cap end" but it just isn't going to happen. I'll spare you. Instead your caption is: GRATUITOUS CLOSE-UP

Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – Steel Nib – Fine – Black Body at JetPens

Rotring Core Lysium Fountain Pen Extra Fine Nib

22 06 2011

What is the deal with this pen.

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.

I don't know what to make of this.

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 lied. These directions don't explain anything.

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.

I THINK this has something to do with the FORCE RESOURCE. It is unclear what is being forced.

Before we open this pen, let’s pause for a minute and examine that cap.

Theory: the Allen-head screw is meant to conjure feelings of IKEA

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.

WARNING: Posting this cap on the end of the pen only makes the pen even more impossibly difficult to use

My general experience with Rotring Fountain pens is that Rotring doesn't seem to consider the consequences of posting the cap on the end of the pen

Opening up the pen, you’ve got an allegedly ergonomic recessed grip, and a nib covered in golf-ball dimples.

Makes the nib more aerodynamic when you throw it out a window

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.

This looks terrifyingly exotic.

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.

Clairefontaine paper makes everything better

And, for good measure, I busted out a few more doodles on my other favorite magicpaper, some Strathmore drawing paper.

If Clairefontaine paper and Strathmore Drawing paper had paper babies, there would be no need for any other paper ever in my life

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.

Drunk and depressed, the Rotring Core slouches against the side of a coffee mug, wailing to the night, "WHY DOESN'T ANYONE LOVE MEEEEE?"

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.

Rotring Core Lysium Fountain Pen in Extra Fine Nib at Pens & Leather