Stipula Passaporto Crystal Clear Eyedropper Fountain Pen

23 02 2013
Possibly M nib? Not entirely sure. Delicious Pendleton mix ink though.

Possibly M nib? Not entirely sure. Delicious Pendleton mix BlaKWa ink though.

The Stipula Passaporto was just a distant, expensive dream until I stumbled upon it half-priced at the DC Pen Show (at Speerbob’s booth) and couldn’t resist.

It's a bit like a cigar, except you can write with it and it probably won't give you cancer and OKAY IT IS NOTHING LIKE A CIGAR

It’s a bit like a cigar, except you can write with it and it probably won’t give you cancer and OKAY IT IS NOTHING LIKE A CIGAR

The design of the pen combines several of my most favorite things: compact, clear body, fountain pen, made in Italy. The only thing that could make it better is if it could dispense espresso through my skin into my blood stream while I write.

Remember when I would be awake in the daytime and have natural daylight for these pictures? THOSE SURE WERE THE DAYS

Remember when I would be awake in the daytime and have natural daylight for these pictures? THOSE SURE WERE THE DAYS

The body is a sturdy sort of resin something or other, and seems to hold up well in spite of making numerous unprotected trips in my pocket. It can be filled with standard short cartridges, or as an eyedropper pen with bottled ink. It even comes with its own glass eyedropper. The cap screws on to close, and presses onto the back to post. When closed, the pen is Fort Knox secure. This is not a pen that will unscrew in your pocket. The cap, when posted firmly, is pretty secure (though can be knocked loose), and makes the pen long enough for comfortable long-term writing. And my, is it ever comfy! I LOVE the thicker body barrel for writing.

Chance of humidity: always percent

Chance of humidity: always percent

Now, for a few negatives. This first one drives me crazy—condensation in the cap. Or ink in the cap. Or worse, BOTH. It happens often, and especially when I carry this pen in my jeans pocket. The pen is secure, so I’m not worried about this stuff getting out, it’s just annoying that it’s there at all.

Sure it writes wonderfully NOW...

Sure it writes wonderfully NOW…

The second BIG big negative is that I could not get a steady writing flow going right out of the box. It was crazy frustrating, and I tried everything I could think to do (besides take it back, because I would admit no defeat). At last beaten, I took the pen back to the ballroom, and escorted it (and some cash) over to Pendleton Brown to see if he could do something for it. And he did! It writes wonderfully now, a nice tactile smooth with an ink flow that never fails. And he hooked me up with some of his Waterman BlakWa ink mix, which I am currently in love with.

Little leaf keeps pen | From rolling down the table | Some but not all times

Little leaf keeps pen | From rolling down the table | Some but not all times

You might think, with these two major problems looming over it, that I might not like this pen. But fountain pens are funny things. Maybe it’s their offbeat nature. Maybe it’s a psychological attachment fueled by all the dough you fork over for pens like these. Who knows. But in spite of its problems, I love this little pen. I’m glad I got it, and I enjoy using it.

Unfortunately, I don’t see any clear versions of the Passaporto fountain pen at Speerbob’s, and none of the other colors are for the price I got mine at. If you’re looking for this pen at an unbeatable price, you might have to make the trek to a fountain pen supershow to get a good deal. Or scour the internet. Best of luck in your quest.

Ohto Rook Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Red Body

28 04 2012

Sorry, Shoreline Gold, but you could never hope to beat turquoise as the destined color for this pen

Spoiler alert: this may very well be my favorite compact fountain pen.

It's a grower

The Rook is designed for pocket perfection. The aluminum body is so lightweight, you might mistake it for plastic (I had to bite mine, like a pirate with a suspect gold piece, to make sure it really was metal…it seems like metal….you’d better buy and bite one yourself, though, just to be sure). It is the shortest fountain pen I own, by 0.4 cm, shorter even than the Kaweco Liliput, which JetPens STILL erroneously claims is the “smallest fountain pen at JetPens that accepts standard international short cartridges”—the Rook accepts standard international short cartridges and by JetPens’ own measurements is shorter. But it’s also much cheaper; perhaps that’s why it isn’t getting the recognition it deserves?

Put it in your change purse, your cigarette case (instead of cigarettes; smoking is bad for you, kids!), your pocket, behind your ear, inside of a larger pen...

Sleek and durable body, has a clip, easy to open (once you figure out, after a comedy of frustration, to hold the black end part on the non-clip end and pull away the rest of the black body and clip end), snaps securely shut, and when posted boasts the useable length of a full size pen. And it’s sturdy. This is what a pocket pen needs to be: quick and convenient, for ease of use, but also sturdy and reliable, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth using.

Efficiency like this, it's gotta be German.

It’s not my favorite nib on a compact pen—my heart belongs to Kaweco on that score—but it’s still a good nib. A little on the dry side (especially compared to something like the A. G. Spalding), the nib is more tactile than smooth, but it’s never scratchy. Ink flow is good, unless I let it sit for a month or more without using it.

Not the most attractive scrollwork accents, but it tried.

What matters is it does what I need it to do, without any notable problems that would get in the way of writing, and the design is comfortable enough that I could write for an extended period of time if I need to. Be warned though: the barrel, as you can see, is a bit slim; if you find thin pens uncomfortable then this might not be the pen for you.

Your pocket's new best friend

My only complaint against the Ohto Rook is that the red band around the clip area isn’t the same shade of red as the grip; the clip-band is just a little lighter, perhaps a fraction more orange. But for such a great pen, that’s pretty nitpicky stuff.

Ohto Rook Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Red Body at JetPens

Pilot Petit 1+2+3 Mini Pens

9 07 2011

I see great promise in these pens!

Another exciting sample package of complimentary goodies arrived in my mailbox recently from Jetpens! :D (this little face is obviously shorthand for “one thousand thanks unto JetPens”) I would never have guessed a few years ago how exciting a white Jiffylite bubble envelope could be.

The Pilot Petit is back, and true to cliche it's better than ever

I was pretty bummed when I saw that the old Pilot Petit1 was being discontinued. It wasn’t the best fountain pen; at the time I found the nib to be a bit too wet of a writer for my tastes, but I really liked the principle of the thing. Luckily, I already owned about six Pilot Petit1 pens, and a whole bevy of ink cartridges to go with them.

So naturally I needed more Pilot Petits when it burst back onto the scene. I always wondered what the “1” in the name was about; seems like Pilot was planning this product expansion all along (or at least, they can pretend that’s what went down).  You’ve got the Pilot Petit1, a fountain pen just like the original; the Pilot Petit2, a sign pen/marker pen (for very small signs, I presume); and the Pilot Petit3, a fude/brush pen.

Note the clear underbelly on the fountain pen; a thoughtful touch that lets you see just as easily as you would with the brush and marker pen exactly what color you have loaded.

We’ll stick to numerical order, for sanity’s sake, and start with the Pilot Petit1.

Hey there old friend!

I don’t know if this is just a variation in quality control or what, but the new Pilot Petit1 seems to actually be a fine nib this time, which is great considering that’s what it’s branded as. Maybe it’s just the one I got, I don’t know, but if the new Pilot Petit1 models really are true fine nibs, that’s great news for the future of these pens when drawing (and writing on multiple types of paper; finer nibs tend to fuzz and bleed less).

Why stop at one round of drawings when I can continue directly overboard with two?

I can’t really see a difference in the nibs, but I felt like the new Pilot Petit1 was better. If anyone knows why this might be, please let me know. Otherwise I assume it’s just wizardry and penmagic.

To the left, an old Pilot Petit1 color-coded to the nines, lest you forget what color originally came in the pen. To the right, the new Pilot Petit1, colored only by the ink within.

The entire body of the new Pilot Petit1 is the same translucent color (mine is purple), including the clip and the cap, in contrast to the old Pilot Petit1 which had a clear cap instead. Another minor difference is that the body of the new Pilot Petits have four very small bumps around the end of the pen, so the cap clips on when you post it instead of just being pushed onto the end until it goes no further.

The sign pen has a clear cap and a translucent clip and body, making it easy to see the marker tip's color

I don’t really do much work with signs or markers. And this marker tip is really a bit too small to be making actual signs. I did test it on some small, glossy, sign-like paper:

The theme was "Why am I trying to get away with NOT having obscene amounts of writing/drawing samples?"

What I’m starting to see is the potential for these three pens to work together in an artistic capacity. Use the Petit1 for doing fine, detailed work, as well as sketching out guidelines and such, then use the Petit2 for coloring in larger areas, making thicker lines, etc. And then use the Petit3 for fun and profit.

Pilot Petit pens 2 & 3 seen here in the wild, sizing one another up before battle(/mating; the rituals of pens are unclear)

Finally, the Fude/brush pen. This is the only compact brush pen I have, certainly the only one I know of, and undoubtedly the only one clocking in at anything less than prohibitively expensive. Coupled with the ability to choose between various ink colors/refill/change ink colors without having to buy a new pen, I think the Pilot Petit3 stands out as a very fun intro option to brush pens. Line variation was great, and the only complaint I have is that I find the solid colored clip to be a little gauche. Maybe do a clear clip instead? It just doesn’t match the rest of the set, or even the rest of its own body.

Pilot may come out with some crappy products, but they make up for it with hits like these.

Pilot’s done a good job improving upon the Pilot Petit. Care was taken with the details—like adding tiny bumps so the cap would click securely when posting, or making the underside of the fountain pen nib out of clear plastic so you could easily see the ink color—and it’s paid off. My hope is that they’ll come out with more ink colors (at least all the ink colors they had with the original Pilot Petit1; several of my favorites are missing), more body colors (currently the only body colors available are in the theme of girlsplosion springtime pastel bonanza), and perhaps even more models (like, say, a Pilot Petit4 rollerball? Petit5 highlighter??).

Thanks again to Brad and JetPens for these samples!

Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit2 Mini Marker Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit3 Mini Brush Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit Pen Refill Cartridge – Clear Blue – Set of 3 at JetPens

A.G. Spalding & Bros Mini Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Silver Body

1 05 2011

No paper is appropriate for this pen.

Disclaimer: this pen was bought for me by a friend in exchange for the use of my Sakura inking pens for a week. I don’t know why I felt such a disclaimer was necessary, but there you have it. I guess this is an approximation of gratitude? Yes.

This is a smooth-looking little pen. This pen is the epitome of all that is sleek and classy.

Post the cap and transform what was merely portable into something functional and comfortable to hold. Like magic.

In terms of appearance, this pen wins ten out of ten points. The design is minimalist professional, everything streamlined and silky, sophisticated and suave. The body has a soft silver finish that I find irresistible—every time I pick this pen up to think of what to type, I just end up stroking the pen. It’s wildly inappropriate.

In terms of size, this pen is perfect for tucking into a jeans or coat pocket. Weight-wise, it has a nice heft for a pen of its size; not very surprising, considering the body is all metal.

This cap is secure. This cap is the metallic pen version of a security blanket. Basically, no monsters will come out of the tip of your pen with this cap on.

The cap snaps into place with a sharp and satisfying click. There’s no worry of having this pen come open in any situation where you don’t want it to. It posts on the end quite snugly; no snap, but still very secure.

But it’s not all sunshine and sleek design wrapped in a bubble of stability. The metal barrel has an unrelenting tendency to come ever so slightly unscrewed from the nib and feed section—never enough to fall off, in my experience, but enough that I have to tighten the barrel back on every time I pull the pen out. So if the barrel takes seven full revolutions to come unscrewed, whenever I pull the pen out it’ll be slightly unscrewed, but never by more than a full revolution. It’s annoying, and I’m not quite sure how to fix it.

The nib is a lie. Or the "F" stands for "FAT"

Now, how does it write? The nib’s got a little bit of tooth when writing, but overall I think it does pretty well for a broad nib pen. Oh, I’m sorry, what’s that? This is supposed to be a fine nib? In what earthly conception of the word “fine” are we talking? The opposite day definition?


Yeah, I’ve harped on this a lot, but I’ll say it again: THIS IS NOT A FINE NIB PEN. At BEST, you could call this a medium. I’m currently using a Rotring fountain pen cartridge in this pen, because the cartridge it came with was EVEN WORSE; by worse I mean wetter, took longer to dry, and just generally got in the way of a satisfactory writing process. On thirsty papers, it’s fuzzy, feathery, and bleeds through at all the spots where the pen last touched the paper. It will dry in about five seconds though. On smooth paper, it’s a left-handed nightmare; dry times of fifteen, sometimes twenty seconds. I can only write one line at a time, essentially, or I end up getting my hand in the still-drying ink as I progress down the page. Maybe if I were to write from the bottom up?

Does it look like it would write so thickly? I do not know what such nibs look like. Is my pen an anomaly? What is the DEAL?

What this pen needs is a quick-drying ink. Unfortunately, the short barrel makes it difficult to put a converter in. I haven’t searched too extensively for a short converter, mind you. Maybe I could fill up an old cartridge with some quicker ink.

Hopefully I’ll get around to experimenting with other inks in this pen—the design is too fine for me to give up on it entirely. I’ll put an update on here when I have the chance to try other ink. As it is, I’m having a hard time using up the ink it’s got to get a cartridge available for testing. Thirsty paper looks bad, smooth paper takes too long to dry. Any suggestions for good paper to use?

If you’re looking for a sleek, compact fountain pen with a rich, wet line, ta-da. I have found your true love, please invite me to the wedding. If you’re looking for a sleek, compact fountain pen with a fine line, the princess is in another castle. Sorry.

Why you gotta be like this, baby? Why you gotta throw down so much ink? You are breaking my fountain pen based heart.

A.G. Spalding & Bros BRFT208 Mini Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Silver Body at JetPens