Rotring Newton Fountain Pen

14 12 2013
I think I actually spelled the name of the ink color correctly. This might be the only time I managed that for this color...

I think I actually spelled the name of the ink color correctly. This might be the only time I managed that for this color…

This particular peculiar Rotring entered my life as a birthday present from my dearheart, who went to the local pen store asking for something I didn’t already have. Voilà—a Rotring I’d never even seen before.

I think I need to add another fake sun to the left side of my desk.

I think I need to add another fake sun to the left side of my desk.

With a bit of Googling I’ve decided that this is a Rotring Newton, the mod odd update to the very popular, hexagonal 600 series. The pen has a lot of solid metal and oblique angles going for it, and I love the finish.

You can't just have a pen, you have to gaze deeply into its very surface

You can’t just have a pen, you have to gaze deeply into its very surface

It’s not just solid black—look very closely and you see some dark twinkle to the finish. And all the silvery bits? This pen is a looker.

Untwisting and untwisted.

Untwisting and untwisted.

But beautiful as it is, this pen has some quirks to note. The biggest is how you get to the cartridge/converter side. Look up at the picture of the whole body, see the silver bit on the non-cap end? Twist it counter-clockwise like you’re retracting a tube of chapstick (go clockwise—as though advancing a chapstick—to secure it back to the body). Not what you were expecting. But then why not, why not involve some randomly strange mechanism? Quirk #2: do NOT reuse a standard international cleaned-out cartridge in this pen. I’ve read somewhere before that you need to use the special (pricey) Rotring converter in the Rotring pens or it won’t seal properly…I don’t know for sure about all that, but I know it doesn’t play well reusing a cartridge. The cartridge came loose, ink was everywhere; so I decided not to tempt fate anymore and slapped in the one Rotring converter I have. Fits perfectly. No more ink everywhere.

Modern nib decoration

Modern nib decoration

The writing is mostly wonderful—smooth without being out of control, never scratchy. But I think the nib might be currently suffering from a bit of baby’s bottom.

Is it? I can't exactly tell. The nib looks very round at the tip.

Is it? I can’t exactly tell. The nib looks very round at the tip. That’s about all I can tell

There are times, not even the span of an entire letter really, just the first stroke, where there’s no ink, right at the beginning. Then it starts up just fine. If it is a case of baby’s bottom, it’s an easy fix.

Also it comes with a neato-keen octagonal-type box

Also it came with a neato-keen octagonal-type box

Mine came from Office Supplies and More, but I haven’t seen him have any of this pen before or since. Goldspot carries them, looks like…let me know if you know of any other good retailers that stock the Newton and I’ll add a link!


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

Mini Review – Rotring Fountain Pen Converter

25 02 2011

I would show you the converter off the pen, but then I'd have to take the converter off the pen. That's too much work.

I want to make additional quick mention of the Rotring Fountain Pen converter I got for my Rotring Art Pen. First, a disclaimer: this is the first fountain pen converter I’ve ever owned. All my other fountain pens are either cartridge-fill, have a built-in piston fill, or I found with a sac converter already in it. I do not really have any holistic knowledge to judge this item against.

That said, I think this is a good fountain pen converter for the pen I got it for. Fits easily and snugly on the pen, holds a good amount of ink, and I’ve had no leaks so far. I could not get the converter to fill through the fountain pen tip as per these instructions on JetPens–not a drop, I don’t think, went up into the converter in all my attempts–so instead I just took the converter off, dipped the end of it in my ink, and filled the converter before putting it back on the feed. Use of the converter is pretty intuitive (thankfully, since it comes with no instructions), and I had no other problems getting the converter to work. No complaints here!



Rotring Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens

Rotring Art Pen – Extra Fine (EF) Sketching Nib

24 02 2011

Rumor has it that it is scientifically impossible to not enjoy drawing with this pen.

I’m not really an artist, but I like pretending to be one and buying supplies I don’t need in a bid to guilt myself into making more art (because, jeez, come on, I’ve spent all this money on these THINGS. Gotta use them). And that is why I picked this up for around $18 at Jerry’s Artarama.

Holds pens, ammunition, government secrets...

First off, it comes in this fancy-pants shiny case (which was about 35% of why I bought this pen) that’s just the right amount of minimalist classy, and is (presumably) protective yet lightweight.

Does not completely seal out attacks from lukewarm-hot mint chocolate. Look closely on the lid, and you will see the shadow of what was once delicious.

Opening the case, you find 5 ink cartridges and this neato-looking writing contraption. The body of this pen is in the style of such artist’s tools as paintbrushes or crowquill pens, which is to say, baffling to everyone else. You have opened the lid on some strange and exotic creature just waiting to mark all over your pages.

Now, I started out with five cartridges–only three are pictured. One of these has been co-opted in the improvement of a very inky A.G. Spalding mini fountain pen (but that’s another review); the other was in this pen for a week until my Rotring converter arrived (for the sake of brevity, we’ll do a short review of that later) and now sits beneath a mess of pseudo-sealing tape in a full upright position. They are alright, as far as cartridges go, but they are maddeningly smudgy even far after having dried, and I knew this pen deserved better. Note:

What you're noting is how switching to Noodler's Bulletproof Black on the left side DIDN'T ACTUALLY STOP MY SMUDGING WHOOPS.

I think the smudging problems with the Noodler’s Bulletproof black were mostly due to the ink not being fully dry as I was drawing. But the cartridge ink was getting noticeably smudged through contact with other paper long after that ink was dry. Both inks are a nice, rich black, but I would still recommend a Rotring fountain pen converter if you want to use this pen. The bottle ink just does better.

Just take a gander at this sexy and dangerous looking doodad. This is the only time you'll see that cap attached to that pen

Overall, the pen is made of a nice matte-finish plastic with a sturdy clip and clear, easy-to-identify labeling on the end of the cap so you know which nib pen this is. It seems like such a fancy metal box might have some kind of fancy metal pen inside, but I’m okay with the plastic–it feels durable but not weighty; sometimes I like a pen to have a low profile feel in my hand, and that’s what this pen has.

Where did the cap go? SOMEWHERE YOU'LL NEVER FIND IT AHAHA I AM YOUR PEN AND I WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH MY CAP. I flip it so hard that you can't even post it on me. What are you gonna do about it? YEAH LOSE THE CAP THAT'S WHAT YOU'LL DO.

So, as the maniacally abusive pen points out, there’s nowhere to securely post the cap when you want to write. You can put the cap on the narrow end, where it will rattle around until you lose all semblance of rational thought, or you can put it carefully on the table and hope you don’t knock it off, because putting the cap in the fancy silver box and shutting it in there would make too much sense. But seriously, adding an extra, smaller ring inside the cap so that it could post snugly on the narrow end of the pen…would that be so hard? I know the Tachikawa comic pen holders have this feature for their cheap plastic caps…you’d think a nice pen would be able to do them one better. Someone, at some point, had to consciously decide that what users of the Rotring Art Pen would do, when they wanted to write, was to take off the cap and store it in their cheek pouches until it was time to cap the pen again, and that offering a snug way to keep the cap on the other end of the pen just wasn’t a good idea.

Get up close. Look at all that ink I've gotten everywhere. What a hot mess.

I think this pen is more or less true to its advertised word; here is a fountain pen with a fine nib (I will reserve judgment on how extra this fineness might be) that is fun to sketch with. It was a little paper-temperamental in terms of writing quality, but for sketching the differences were negligible. And it was smooth, without being overly inky or wet, which is my biggest problem with some fountain pens.

I tried to follow the JetPens directions regarding refilling a piston-converted fountain pen, but I couldn’t get the ink to draw up through the nib or the entire submerged tip.  I just took the converter out and filled that up when I needed ink.

I love the quality of the line this pen puts out. It has subtle personality. I love the look of this pen–one of understated difference, elegant simplicity. This is a pen for the regular rotation of implements of artistry. My only problem is the cap-posting issue, which I can certainly get over.

Beautiful art pen / writes haikus and rolls away / due to friggin cap

If you’re near a Jerry’s Artarama, I suggest trying to get the Rotring Art Pen through them (because they are an amazing store / wonderland of fabulously priced art supplies). If you are not near a Jerry’s Artarama, try scouring the internet. I don’t know the best place to recommend, unfortunately, since I got my pen in an actual store. :/
Rotring Art Pen at Jerry’s Artarama

Rotring Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens