Fountain Pen Review

Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir: Coral and Tropic Brown

Today I am more on the luxury path because I want to introduce you to the Heritage Rouge et Noir line by Montblanc. Here I focus on the fountain pen(s) exclusively (and skipping e.g. the ball pens etc.). A friend of mine lent me the Coral and I contribute with the Tropic Brown which I purchased in Hamburg last summer. The collection is completed by a black coloured pen (which has no specific name – at least I didn’t found something on the MB-website related to this). I concentrate here on the models I have access to.

Nibs, feeds, and caps from Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral and Tropic Brown
The nib, the feed, the section and the cap (with the clip)

What makes these pens so special? Well, for me it their style in combination with one of the softest nibs I have ever seen. The last point, however, means not too much, since I have not so much experience with fountain pens and their nibs. Actually, I own a couple of fountain pens, but most of it are modern products (which is not necessarily bad but I am sure I lack the great writing experience of many vintage pens as well as many modern ones, though). The nib of both pens, as well as others of this collection, behaves the same in terms of softness and writing experience. The back of the nib is flat (not rounded like many other nibs known from MB or Pelikan etc.). Due to this, the nib bends a bit and makes the writing soft or springy (I am sorry, but I have no better words for it). But there is almost no flex, no spreading of the tines, that is. You obtain not more line variation by pressure than by any other more regular modern nib from MB. The point is, it doesn’t feel like a nail.

Both pens, the Coral and the Tropic Brown, showing a bit feedback while writing, they do not glide over the paper absolutely smoothly. But this might be also dependent upon paper or ink. Also the polishing of the nib has an influence on this.

The pen I lent (the Coral) is equipped with an oblique medium nib, the Tropic Brown carries an oblique broad nib. In internet shops as well as in the Montblanc Boutique the Heritage Collection you can choose between a fine nib or a medium nib, only. In case you prefer oblique nibs or broader (B, BB) you have to send it to Hamburg for a nib exchange. You can not take away a pen with a non-F or M nib directly, that is. The nib exchange can take 2 weeks plus shipping time. Anyway, the nib looks gorgeous! It is quite small (almost same size as the MB Meisterstück 144), shows the imprint of a snake (very similar to that of the Writers Edition Agatha Christie) and has a triangular breather hole. The overall design of the pen is skinny but elegant. Everything (nib, section, barrel, twisting turning knob) is well proportionated.

The Heritage Rouge et Noir line offers also a black pen. The main difference between the black one, the Coral and the Tropic Brown is the colour as well as little details on the cap, the clip, the nib, and the surface of the barrel. The cap of the black version, has an orange finial, a bit more simplified clip where the snake eyes lacking the gems. The nib is unicolour, rhodinated. The section is matted. This version is the cheapest of the three („cheap” has another meaning in the Montblanc universe, for sure …). The Coral, is unicolour – everything is in this orange tone. The nib is rhodinated, but the area of the snake imprint is gold coloured. The snake clip is „aged” with an artificial patina or taint. The eyes of the snake include green stones (very tiny little gems). The section is matted like the black version). The Tropic Brown has an orange finial which fits very good to the brown tone of the rest. The clip and the nib (as well as the shiny/polished section show an champaign gold tone. The nib is unicolour, the snake clip shows dark gems.

All three models have in common that the barrel and the section are of metal, whereas the cap and the twisting turning knob are of plastic. Here comes the first little draw back, since it turns out that there is a slight colour difference between the plastic parts and the metal part – at least in the Coral. The plastic knob and the cap are a little bit more pale than the barrel (metal). It is not a substantial difference, but it is visible under most light conditions (except if the light is switched off ;-).

color_difference_Heritage Coral
Slight differences in colour of the different materials visible only in the Coral. The metal part (barrel) is a little bit more vibrant then the plastic parts (cap and piston twisting turning knob).

A very nice feature is the vintage looking Montblanc logo on the cap. Also the very big but slightly beige coloured star/snow cap on the finial.

Two other objective flaws I have also to report: the threads for the cap (which are located very close to the nib at the section – usually they are located between section and barrel), is prone to collect dirt (ink remains). This is more valid for the Coral (with its matted section and threads) than for the Tropic Brown. Another not too positive thing is, both pens carry a very low amount of ink: 0,6ml that is. I find it a bit weak … In fountainpennetwork.com I found a thread where somebody was stating, these pens were no „real” piston-pens rather than converter pens (built in converter). It was demonstrated with pictures of a disassembled fountain pen. Well, ok this is something I do not care too much about. The low ink capacity bothers me more. A regular converter contains eventually up to 1ml of ink …

The pens are not postable at all and show no ink window. The plastic feed is the same as for the Meisterstück 144.

Comparisons

Here I want to show you some other fountain pens to compare the Heritage R&N with. In terms of size it is quite obvious that the R&N is a very skinny pen, on the section close to the threads it has a diameter of ca. 8mm, close to the transition to the barrel a bit less than 10mm. Due to its metal barrel and section it weighs 35g (with a bit ink) compared to a modern Meisterstück 146 with 27g (also with a bit ink). Actually the Heritage R&N Line has much in common with the Noblesse Line from Montblanc (late 70s to mid 90s). The length and the girth is comparable. Also, the nib performance (flat nib which bends up but not spreads so much).

Nib comparison
Sections and nibs of some thinner Montblanc fountain pens – from left to right: Coral, Tropic Brown, Noblesse (80s-90s of the last century) and Meisterstück 144.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir, Coral and Tropic Brown, Size Compariosn
Size comparison, capped – from ledt to right: MB Mesiterstück 146 burgundy, Platinum President, Lamy Safari, Pelikan Souverän M400, a slim Caran D’Ache 849, Montblanc Noblesse and Hertiage Rouge et Noir, Coral.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir, Coral and Tropic Brown, Size Compariosn
Size comparison, uncapped – from ledt to right: MB Mesiterstück 146 burgundy, Platinum President, Lamy Safari, Pelikan Souverän M400, a slim Caran D’Ache 849, Montblanc Noblesse and Hertiage Rouge et Noir, Coral.

Writing Samples

In terms of nib grinding, the oblique nibs of the R&N behave as expected. But one has to consider, line widths can differ very much within the same nib grade (not only because of the obliqueness).

Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Tropic Brown (OB) and Coral (OM) Writing sample. Together with a couple of other fountain pens (Pelikan, Lamy ...)
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Tropic Brown (OB) and Coral (OM) writing samples. Together with a couple of other fountain pens (Pelikan, Lamy …) . Remark: wp means with applied  while writing.

 

Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Coral (OM) -  Writing sample.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Coral (OM) – writing sample.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Tropic Brown (OB) -  Writing sample.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Tropic Brown (OB) – writing sample.

Package

The pens come in a white sleeve covering a red-black paper-box. The pen case itself is the standard-case MB usually provides. The booklet is a bit more special. It holds the red-black (rouge et noir) colour scheme and contains some pretty illustrations (following the colour scheme). It says something about the history and the origin of the Heritage Collection. At the end there is the more or less usual part of maintanance and warranty. Quite nice, if you ask me …

heritage_package_booklet
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir, Coral and Tropic Brown. Package and Booklet

Summary

Both of the pens are a joy to look at as well as a joy to write with. They are looking very special in terms of clip design and colour. Although they are very fancy they keep their elegance due to the slim and long shape. They are quite usable but on the heavy side. But if they would be much lighter it would be – at least for me – very difficult to hold them and to write with them over a longer period of time. But this is something one has to consider for themself.

Pro:

  • quite unpretentious but fancy design (at least for me) in terms of colour and colour combinations (eg. orange colour of the finial together with brown or the green gems together with the orange colour)
  • very soft nib experience (at least for 2 of 2 pens)
  • fantastic oblique grinding (for me, not for those who prefer a regular nibs)
  • heavy – in terms that one holds something in hands which is not too light for its size

Con:

  • low ink capacity
  • no ink window
  • colour inconsistancy (Coral)
  • not postable (for people who not post no problem, but for those who do, it is)
  • anything other than f or m not immediately  purchasable rather than sending it for nib exchange
  • very expensive

 

Visual impressions

wp_impression1wp_impression4wp_impression5wp_impression2wp_impression6wp_impression3

Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Collection
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Collection
Allgemein · This and that

Ink consumption of a fine nib versus an italic 1.1mm nib (Lamy Safari -Z50)

Lately, I recognized on my wordpress-statistics that somebody from Mexico was hitting my page by entering the search phrase „how much more ink does m nib use compared to F“. Well, he or she obviously found my page and landed on it, but two things have crossed my mind regarding this: (a) be carefull what you search for when entering my webpage. And (b) the vistor had an interesting question, indeed. But I had no answer  to offer for this question, though. Sad enough … I wanted to get deeper into this. But how?

Here, I don’t want to bore my venerated readers too much. For those who want to read the results, please just scroll down to the „Results“-section. All others may just continue …

How I tested ink usage

For me it had to be executed as simple as possible, but also as reliable as possible. And not too time consuming. Unfortunately, I have not an exact scale and no access to it, either.

The only quite accurate measure I have is an injection and a cannula to fill a converter with an exact amount of ink.

The following considerations I also took:

What is a correct/reliabe and most of all reproducible measuremant of ink usage?

Well, obviously not the amount of pages written with a given amount of ink. Because it is impossible to write the same content twice or even more often in exactly the same way (same letter sizes, same distances between the words).

Therefore, I just have drawn lines with a defined length. Afterwards I counted the lines and multplicated it with the respective (constant) length.

  • In order to observe the biggest possible variation, I compared in this case a fine nib with an italic nib (1.1mm – since I have no broader ones).
  • I drew lines by holding particularly the italic (stubbish) nib leading to the broadest possible line width.
  • To make sure, everything is dependent only upon the nib size, I used a fountain pen capable of easy nib replacement (just the nib – not the feed). I found it in form of a Lamy Safari. Hence, I used exactly one exemplar and changed the nib, only. Well, we will see, that even this approach has its weaknesses, however.
  • For completion: The very common Z50-nibs were used. These are compatible to the Z51 nibs. The former ones are blank steel, the latter ones are steel nibs covered with black color. The compatibility is extended to the lx-nibs (Z52) as well as to the gold-nibs (Z55, 56, 57) which are much softer by the way.
  • I used the same ink (Lamy Green), coming from the same jar.
  • I used the same paper type from the same note book, expecting not too much variations of the paper from one page to the next. It was an Oxford desk book 90g/m2.
  • Since I used a relatively low amount 0,4ml of ink (due the fact I didn´t want to spent too much time with drawing stupid lines) I proceeded without any pause to prevent drying and or evaporation of the ink. If you have seen how quickly ink can vanish out of a cartridge or converter you will agree to this method.

Here the full procedure:

  • Cleaned and dried a Lamy Safari equipped with an italic 1.1mm nib (out of a pool with several 1.1mm-italics).
  • Taken an injection plus a cannula. Filled it with Lamy green ink (a not very wet ink). I took exactly 0.4ml (eye judgement from a 0.1ml-scaling – but I shot a photo to verify) and filled it into the converter. I also made sure no air bubbles were sucked up or persisted in the injection (this would reduce the amount of ink significantly at the given low quantity I used for this test). The ink was injected into the converter by pressing the piston slowly but exactly one time – I hope the amount of residual ink in the cannula has been the same for the attempts with the other nibs.
  • Mounted the converter into the pen and turned the piston until the first ink drop was visible in the feed under the nib.
  • Drawing lines, and lines, and ines … until no more lines where possible to bring to paper.
  • Before proceeding with the next nib, again cleaned and dryed everything.
  • Mounting another nib, and refilling the converter as described above (and comparing the filling level with the foto I shot – just to be sure).
  • Repeating the test with a F nib (and again an italic 1.1mm-nib).

Results

Well, this section can be short: with a fine nib from Lamy you can get twice as much lines on the paper as with the Lamy italic 1.1mm nib. Or in other words: the fine nib uses half the ink compared to an italic 1.1mm. In an ideal world …

inkcapacity_at_italic_or_finre_nib_data
Fig. 1. Ink usage in meters when using a fine nib or an italic1.1mm-nib from Lamy (for a Lamy Safari). Note, the italic nibs must have shown a strong difference in wetness.
inkcapacity_at_italic_or_finre_nib_graph
Fig.2. Diagram from the measurements shown in Fig.1.

But hold on! Obviously, a dryer nib, even though quite broad (also 1.1mm, that is), is capable to use as much ink as a wetter fine nib. How can that be? I would guess, since anything else in this test was in the same condition: one of the italic-nib was wetter than the other. The slit between the tines of the wetter nib was a bit broader than the dryer nib. Also possible, the contact surface between the rear side of the nib and feed was different. Generally spoken, the nib geometry was slightly different between both italic nibs.

Discussion

What are the weeknesses of this test?

  • It does not tell you much about the number of pages or words you can write more with a fine nib compared to broader nib. Because any finish of a word (or even non-connected character) increases the ink usage – that is what we notice as (and like so much) shading.
  • We have to take into consideration the line variation of an italic nib: in a usual writing procedure the strokes are thinner and therefore less ink consuming in diagonal bottom left to top right direction than in direction orthogonal to this (for a right hander). For this test I only prepared the broadest possible strokes.
  • It is the test of just three nibs.
  • Possible innaccuracy due to low ink amount.

What one may can say is, in case of a comparable nib-wetness the ink usage of a nib with a width of 1.1mm is maximum twice as much as for a fine nib. In practice, in the real worls, that is, this difference will be much smaller due the the thinner lines an italic is capable of.

Also, in real world a fountian pen enthusiast might have two pens of the same type (say Platinum President in F and B), but will not see any difference in ink consumption since the fine nib is may be wetter than the B-nib.

All in all, I would say, everything is dependent upon the wetness of nib and feed. The nib width gives only a small (but also unreliable) hint upon how many words more can be written with a finer nib.

This and that

Ink Capacities …

… for various fountain pens and converters.

I gathered numerous fountain pens (own ones and those from friends) and measured their ink capacities. I also took a couple of converters – proprietary ones such as for Lamy or Sailor as well as standard international ones (SI). This list cannot be representative since it does not contain any eyedroper pen …

The measurements were performed quite simply: Wothnthe respective pen or converter, I sucked up water from a little container and spilled it into a little bottle with a scale (the little blue thingy in the title picture filled with blue substitute). I spilled out as much as possible (by turning the twisting turning knob of the pens and converters quite often), but of course, a little bit of ink was always left in the feed. Anyway the measurements give you quite precise impression of how much ink can be hold by each fountain pen. Therefore, the measurements are sort of the minimum one can expect (I would guess anyway that the feed can hold max. 0,1ml, depending on its size – but this s only a guess, nothing more).

It is not a surprise that the converters have quite low ink capacities (around 0,6-0,8ml), but it is actually a surprise that the big and girthy pens do not hold enormous ink amounts, either. Eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 149ers or the Pelikan M1000 – as these two are the flag ship pens of the respective pen brands. In turn, some of the smallest and thinnest pens hold quite much ink, eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 14 from the sixties asn well as the MB 24. Both hold 1,6ml and 1.5ml, respectively. Also the rather small Pelikan M200/400 hold 1.3ml/1.4 ink which is comparable with the significantly bigger pens M600 and M800 from the same brand (both 1,3ml).

Very low ink capacities are shown in the Heritage Rouge-et-Noir-Series by Montblanc. I had two of them for measurement and both hold not more than 0,6ml of ink … even a Montblanc converter or an unbranded one (standard international which fits into old Montblanc Noblesses or Slim Lines or even into modern Graf von Faber-Castell converter-pens) hold substantially more ink (0,8-0,9ml). That is a bit dissapointing. Similarly behaving the converters from Sailor and Platinum (0,6ml). The Kaweco converter holds least ink of all the converters checked here, but this one has to fit into a very small Kaweco Sport – a very small pen … What do we learn from this? Size doesn’t matter …

Diagram:

inc_cap_diag

 

Table:

Pen ink capacity [ml]
Kaweco Converter (for KW Sport) 0,5
Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral 0,6
Montblanc Heritage R&N Tropic Brown 0,6
Platinum President Converter 0,6
Sailor 1911 Large Converter 0,6
Lamy Converter (Al-Star, Lx, Safari) 0,8
Cleo Skribent Ebonite 0,8
Montblanc 3-44 G 0,8
Pelikan Converter (threads) 0,8
No Name Converter (“SI”) 0,8
MB Converter (looks “SI”, for Slim Line and Noblesse) 0,8
MB Converter black-gold (threads and spiral) 0,9
Graf von Faber-Castell Converter (for all FvF-C) 0,9
Visconti HS Lava (oversized, Bronce) 0,9
Visconti Wall Street Converter 1,0
Lamy 2000 Macrolon 1,1
Montblanc 32 1,1
Lamy 2000 Metal 1,2
Pelikan Souverän M1000 Black 1,2
Montblanc Meisterstück 149G 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Ultra Black 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Daniel Defoe 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Agatha Christie 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE William Faulkner 1,3
Pleikan M800 Tortoise Shell 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M600 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M200 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 149P 1,4
Montblanc Donation Pen Johannes Brahms 1,4
Montblanc Writers Edition Alexandra Dumas 1,4
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Burgundy 1,4
Pelikan Souverän M400 1,4
Pelikan M1000 Demonstrator 1,5
Noodler Flex Pen 1,5
Montblanc 24 1,5
Montblanc Meisterstück 14 1,6
ink or paper review

Shimmering Inks …

 

Since may be 2-3 years shimmer inks became more visible in the fountain pen and ink “scene”, I would say. I never had a huge like for these inks but I tested one exemplar. It was the J. Herbin ink 1670 Bleu Ocean, ca. two years ago. Actually, I was not satisfied at all with this ink. Neither it shew (and still shows) a well behavior on the technical side (it bleeds through) nor has it a well shimmer effect. I was disapointed. But may be I got a bottle from an extremely bad production day – I don’t know. Lateley, I got aware of Diamine Shimmer Inks. I was sceptical in the beginning, but from that what I saw in the web I was very excited. Well, that happens quite often. I see all the well prepared ink tests, showing copper plate tests or writing samples with very nice and adorable exceuted hand writing – very, very nice, indeed but in practice … well.

I bought 2 bottles and since I was quite happy, I got 4 more bottles, afterwards.

Today, I want to show you 6 shimmer inks from Diamine and the above mentioned J.Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean ink:

  • Diamine Sparkling Shadows (grey ink, with golden flakes)
  • Diamine Golden Oasis (green ink with golden flakes)
  • Diamine Blue Flame (dark blue ink with golden flakes)
  • Diamine Blue lighning (turquoise ink with silver flakes)
  • Diamine Shimmering Seas (blue-black ink with golden flakes)
  • Diamine Golden Sands (light-brown ink with golden flakes) – my absolute favorite
  • J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean (very dark blue with little golden shimmer)

All in all, none of the Diamine inks are disapointing (to me). Quite the opposite, they have very good properties in terms of show through and bleed through, but I checked only on Rhodia White, 80g/m2 which is a quite well performing paper and suitable for fountain pen inks. However, the J.Herbin ink is actually bleeding through. The darker inks do show through quite visible but for me it is no big deal. My favorite ink is in any case the Golden Sands ink followed by the Golden Oasis.

Apart from the esthetical perspective, I didn’t run into problems with the ink flow or with congested feeds, at all! This is a good sign. The Golden Sand ink contains very much of the glitter (accordong to my feeling). I filled one of my pens with it over one month and it has shown no issues in this period. Also, after one week of not using it. Hence, I trust these inks in this respect. What I anyway not dare to do is filling such an ink into a Montblanc whose guaranty (2 years) has not yet expired, because the people from MB are so picky in this respect. I heard if one encounters feed-related issues the guaranty is no longer valid for these parts of the pen. It is obvious, that it is easier to find remnants from shimmer inks than from regular inks in a feed and MB does not produce shimmer inks (per September 2017). But ok, this is for many people a no-brainer, anyway.

I can summarize actually here all pros and cons because at least the Diamine inks show the same behavior. All inks are quite wet (for me it is a plus), the darker inks are highly saturated, no bleed through, a level of show through in accordance to their brightness (quite normal, I would say), a strong shimmerimg effect – here it turned out, the brighter the ink, the stronger the effect. Also, all inks show a good to phantastic shading – the brighter/lower saturated, the stronger. Everything else is a matter of taste, so enjoy the photographs and scans (individual issues worth to be reported you will find in the figure captures.

I find, shimmer inks adding a graet value to the handwriting if used for letters or birthday cards and stuff like this – may be not to a signature under an employment contract or a peace treaty … but hey, its peace, man …

shim_summary
Photographs of shimmer inks under daylight. Phone was placed directly above the paper, the shimmer effect becomes quite low. Even lower in case of a scan.

Diamine Blue Flame

Diamine Shimmer ink - Blue Flame
Diamine Shimmer ink – Blue Flame
wp_shim_blue_flame
D.  Blue Flame. A quite dark ink with not very strong shading in the used pen at least. The glitter/flakes are golden and may be also show further colors. The ink shows quite visible through the Rhodia paper but does not bleed through

Diamine Golden Oasisdiamine_golden_oasis_2-

wp_shim_golden_oasis
D. Golden Oasis.  Very pleasing green ink with very strong glitter effect. Great shading. Visible show through, negligible bleed through (only under pressure of the nib).

 

Diamine Golden Sands

Diamine Shimmer ink - Golden Sands
Diamine Shimmer ink – Golden Sands
wp_shim_golden_sands
D. Golden Sands. Nice light brown tone, lots of shading and strong glitter effect. Just phantastic …

Diamine Sparkling Shadows

Diamine Shimmer ink - Sparkling Shadows
Diamine Shimmer ink – Sparkling Shadows

 

wp_shim_sparkling_shad
D. Sparkling Shadows. A grey ink with golden flakes. Good shading as well as good other properties. Just for me the least pleasing Diamine ink I show here, but that is just my taste. Nothing wrong with it, otherwise.

 

Diamine Blue Lightning

Diamine Shimmer ink - Blue Lightning
Diamine Shimmer ink – Blue Lightning
wp_shim_blue_lightning
D. Blue Lightning. Silver glitter flakes! fitting very well to the cold turquoise color. Great shading.

Diamine Shimmering Seas

Diamine Shimmer ink - Shimmering Seas
Diamine Shimmer ink – Shimmering Seas
wp_shim_shimm_seas
D. Shimmering Seas. Like Golden Oasis and Golden Sands quite flashy effect und er the right light. The in itself is quite dark and saturated.

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

J.Herbin Ocean Bleu
J. Herbin, 1670 Ocean Bleu
wp_shim_jh_beleu_ocean
J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean.  Dark blue and quite shasingless ink. The glitter effect is very low! One can also say, quite decent. But for a shimmer ink too low to my taste. Bad behavior when it comes to bleed through. This ink feathers also quite strongly (at least on the Rhodia paper).
ink or paper review

Orange Inks – an update …

Hi folks. When I last week uploaded the report about orange inks, I was already sure, that I have missed at least one orange ink. After a while it was clear, which ink it was: Diamine Blaze Orange. Verdammt, god verdomde, fy fæn, dammit – those were the words which came straight to my mind in order to compensate my own stupidness. Because it came even worse, actually! Oh yes! I have forgotten also the more yellowish Rohrer & Klingner Schreibtinte Helianthus. The last one I found when I searched for the Diamine ink which is filled in one of the typical unpretentious 30ml-mini-plastic-bottles, which are easily to oversee in the cave I call my treasure chest of ink (or the other way round).

Well, I decided not to stuff the report from last week with the two new inks but writing an addendum. Since it was appropriate, I compared both inks (remember: orange and yellow) with its most fitting “counterparts” from the last report – just see the images. By the way, in the writing samples, I call the Diamine Blaze Orange wrongly “Blazing” Orange, I apologize for this mistake.

Diamine Blaze Orange

Pro:

  • good shading
  • wet but not very wet
  • going to be saturated
  • no bleed through on Rhodia paper and Oxford (I did not checked Ikea)
  • good properties in terms of show through on same paper mentioned above. But of course, the ink is higher saturated so you really see something on the reas side oft he paper.
  • Cheap! I had hope this ink would be very similar to the expensive Montblanc ink Lucky orange (remember: Diamine Amber does not differ so much from MB Golden Yellow), but my hopes were destroyed, both inks look different (not on the photographs I uploaded here).

Con:

  • Again, the narrow opening of the little bottle. It allows only converters or slimmer piston pens to slip into it. But bigger glass-bottles from Diamine do not show this kind of flaws (than again, these ones do not allow to incline (as Pelikan-4001-ink bottles do) to let pens get refilled more easily.
  • The ink itself is quite proper, I don’t see any issue. But I expect the same draw backs on cheap papers as for the other orange inks.

Rohrer & Klingner Schreibtinte Helianthus (Sunflower)

Pro:

  • very “flashy”
  • nice shading
  • no bad properties on Rhodia or Oxford papers
  • very wet (yes, for people who like it on the dry side oft he spectrum, this is a con)
  • although not very fancy, I like the design oft he bottle and the label
  • quite cheap ink

Con:

  • nothing very particular, but the ink dries out at the bottle (threads) so that an orange powder remains (see image). I recognized the same behavior at the Montblanc Golden yellow ink (without mention it in the last report). This is actually not an issue, but the powder may fall down on your clothes, so take care! I had no issues so far with congested feeds or so, but I use to clean the pens quite often. Thus, in case you get the ink dry out in your pen you might run into problems. I am not willing to test that out.
Powder_on_ink_bottles
Deposits of dryed ink on the threads of the ink bottles. To the left, Rohrer & Klingner Helianthus, to the right, Montblanc Golden Yellow. The almost same yellow ink from Diamine (D. Amber) does not show this behavior.

Writung samples

Rhodia_Blaze_Orange
Writing sample of Diamine Blaze Orange on Rhodia White paper (80g/m2), front side on top, and rear side on bottom. The comparison between This ink and MB Lucky Orange reveals stronger differences than could be shown by this photograph.
Rhodia_Heliathus
Writing sample of Rohrer & Klingner Helianthus on Rhodia White paper (80g/m2), front side on top, and rear side on bottom. Diamine Amber looks in nature a bit more different than on the photograph. Sorry for the mistake I made, the inks name is Rohrer … not Rhorer … I blame it on the Rhodia paper 🙂
Oxford_both_helia_blazing
Diamine Blaze Orange and Rohrer & Klingner Helianthus on Oxford Office Book (90g/m2). Front page and rear page.
ink or paper review

Orange Inks (Part I)

OK, I admit it, I like orange and yellowish inks! They give me the feeling of summer and the sun, which I miss so much here up north where I use to live. Seriously! However, I don’t use those inks very often, anyway … Why? Because I have seen it enough after a while. And because there are also other beautiful ink colors such as blue shades, red shades or brown shades (one can argue, the latter ones are just darker orange tones – that’s right … but then again, not entirely true: a cup of coffee, even if diluted with milk, has nothing in common with orange juice. OK, both are drinks).

I had a look on the following inks:

  • Montblanc Lucky Orange
  • Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
  • Diamine Amber
  • Lamy Orange
  • Montblanc Golden Yellow

and a roller ball pen from Mitsubishi (uni-ball orange with a fine tip)

Something general

Well, ok, this is my first ink review. And it will be very subjective. I don’t have the possibilities to test the ink with 5 different papers in five different pens (filled each ink, that is), or performing a chromatography, although it would be very exciting, but I don’t have, and will not get chromatography-paper here in Norway, either. Therefore, I will perform a “test” on the papers or notebooks I use to write on most of the time. These are paperblanks journals/note books, Rhodia paper (in white and ivory, i.e. 80g/m2 and 90g/m2) and Oxford or Clairefontaine. Ooops, that’s already five … Ok, but I won’t test 10 papers, basta!

I found it anyway interesting to see how these inks behave on cheap paper such as from IKEA. And since my interest has awaken, I also tried Leuchtturm paper as well as an Oxford office book which was laying around open a couple of weeks and caught moisture (I can tell you it behaves completeley different compared to “fresh” paper). Therefore, an ink-review is always also a paper review, at least partly.

First I tried to scan the writing sample rather than shoot a still of it, because the white balance is tricky to keep constant over several test episodes. But it turned out the scanner resembles the color, and shading of the inks very badly. Thus, I came back to still fotography – even though the white balance is going to hell … But then again, your screens, my honoured readers, will most likely be not calibrated, anyway.

I found some criteria to be important: shading, wetness, show through, bleed through as well as the subtle changes of the line width caused by different absorbency of the papers (I will show you examples).

Since I really investigated the behavior in depth I will devote a separate blogpost to this, afterwards (Part II). However, in order to keep the heads up of the readers so far (you are falling asleep, don’t you?), I come to the point right below.

The Results

In the order of my best liking.

Diamine Amber:

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Pro:

  • very good shading
  • low saturation (I like this feature, people who don’t, may put this into the cons-section)
  • quite wet (which I also like)
  • no bleed through and show through (strong decline for papers not suitable for fountain pens, though. But that is valid for other inks, too – that’s why these papers are not fountain pen ink friendly).
  • cheap

Con:

  • nothing, unless one loves dry inks or higher saturated fluids
  • ok, there is one more thing: the small 30ml plastic bottle does not allow thicker fountain pens to slip in.

 

Montblanc Golden Yellow

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Pro:

  • very good shading
  • low saturation
  • quite wet
  • no bleed through and show through (see the remark above)

Con:

  • very expensive
  • limited availablity – makes the prices on ebay even higher, when the inks are sold out in most shops – the good thing: Diamine Amber looks similar and is a cheap alternative.
  • ink bottle less proper to fill pens than the regular standard bottles (shoe-shape)

 

Montblanc Lucky Orange

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Pro:

  • quite good shading but far less pronounced than in the yellow inks
  • very “blazing” orange shade
  • wet (drying time is long, though)
  • behaves good to very good in terms of show through and bleed through on suitbale papers

Con:

  • very expensive
  • limited availablity – makes the prices on ebay even higher, when the inks are sold out in most shops
  • LE-ink bottles are less proper to fill pens than the regular standard bottles
  • the luminance fades a bit away right after drying

 

Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin

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Pro:

  • shading (diminishes very much on less suitable paper)
  • quite wet for an Edelstein ink (my experience is that the Edelstein inks are on the dryer side of the spectrum)
  • behaves good to very good in terms of show through and bleed through on suitable papers
  • standard ink (no limited availability)

Con:

  • not cheap but not extraordinary expensive, either
  • no particular cons, it does simply not flash me as much as the other inks do
  • ok, one con more: the ink bottle ist bad for refilling pens when the ink level is low. But the bottle itself looks very stylish

 

Lamy Orange

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Pro:

  • shading on most papers
  • technically ok
  • nothing very special here, it does its job
  • ink bottle contains blotting paper (if this ink is available in bottles – I use cartidges of this ink, only)

Con:

  • it really lacks shading and luminance (compared to the other fountain pen inks)
  • it s a bit dry to my taste, but some people will regard this as an advantage

 

Mitsubishi Uni-pen eye orange (fine) – non-competetive

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Pro (in terms of for what it is supposed to use):

  • dries quickly
  • quite luminous ink for what it is

Con:

  • surprisingly low eligibility on cheap papers or on those which are not made for fountain pen ink (eg. Paperblanks dayplanner). May be this is due to the fact of the fine tip, a broader tip would not cut out paper fibres so quickly.

 

The bottom line

The Diamine Amber is very similar to the Montblanc (MB) Golden Yellow in terms of color and shading – on all tested papers. It turns out that the Diamine Amber has the nicest shading (i.e. the most pronounced) of all tested inks. Also technically, in terms of show through or bleed trough it shows the best behavior, followed by the yellow ink from Montblanc. This is most likely the effect of the brightness (it is obvious, the brighter the ink the less it will shine through the paper). All inks loose their “capabilities” on “bad” paper such as the paper from IKEA but also expensive ones used in the paperblanks dayplanner. This paper is thinner and a bit more smooth compared to the remaining journals from this manufacturer – thus, even though the paper used in the dayplanner might be qualitatively very good it is simply unsuitable for the use of fountain pens, though. I did not check it out, but it might be much more useful for ball pens.

Whereas the Diamine ink plays out its best properties on the suitabe paper types, behaves the MB Golden Yellow best of all inks on the less suitbale papers. Anyway, serious fountain pen users won’t pay too much attention to unsuitable papers, don’t they?

The Edelstein Mandarine ink behaves more averaged, comparable to the MB Lucky Orange which is a bit more saturated and more “flashy” due to its intense brightness. On less suitable paper both inks loose their nice properties (shading and brightness).

Lamy Orange is somewhat the weakest ink in the list without beeing bad at all. Just to my taste it has no fresh looks and technically it is more prone to show through or even slightly bleed through some papers. The shading of the Lamy is quite well and not worse than Lucky Orange or Edelstein Mandarine, but is outcompeted by the more yellowish inks on the list (Diamne Amber and MB Golden Yellow).

One aspect I found out is, that “aged” paper, that lie about on a desk for a couple of weeks and might had caught moisture (not rain!), looses dramatically in quality so that the aging kills somewhat the performance of the ink (or the paper …).

For the sake of fun I also checked out a Japanese ball pen, the Mitsubishi uni-ball Orange. Well its ink is quite boring (e.g. no shading at all) but without claiming to be fancy, of course. Well it does its job quite ok, but is surprisingly prone to show through and bleed through on both types of papers, the suitable ones and the less suitable ones for fountain pens.

The writing samples

Here, still shots and scans are shown. Note that scans do not resemble the luminousity and the shading of the inks properly. Photographs suffer from unsteady white balance, though. I only give here some examples of the numerous papers I checked out).

Rhodia_white_ivory_vorne_fürBeitrag
Writing samples of all tested inks on Rhodia white 80g/m2 and ivory (90g/m2) – foto

 

EPSON MFP image
Writing sample (scan) on Rhodia white.
EPSON MFP image
Writing sample on Clairefontaine Triomphe (90g/m2), scan.
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Writing sample on Offord Office Book (90g/m2, scan image)

 

EPSON MFP image
Writing sample on IKEA paper (scan)
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Writing sample on an “aged” Oxford office book (same as mentioned above). “Aged” means the book lies open a while and paper was exposed to the ambient conditions (air moisture etc.). The effect is, that the inks lacking shading and luminousity to a certain degree. The paper itself react with stronger show through and bleed through, also the lines getting thicker.

 

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Line thickness variation on different papers (dependent on adsorbency).
EPSON MFP image
Rear side of both Rhodia papers (to the left: Rhodia white, to the right: Rhodia ivory. No bleed through is visible. Show through is stronger for the Rhodia White.
Fountain Pen Review

Sailor 1911 Large (Zoom nib) …

… a Japanese precious?

I assume, the Japanese brand Sailor is well known in the fountain pen world. The company was founded 1911 in Hiroshima. Quite often the namegiving number is imprinted on the nibs of several (if not all) pen collections/series from this company. This together with an anchor (may be to emphasize the nautic symbol with the company name “Sailor Pens”).

So, let’s hoist the anchor and sail away …

The 1911-Series shows a wide spectrum of sizes and colors/finishes/materials (see the following page for details: http://www.sailorpen.co.uk/1911-series.html. To summarize this, classical cigar shaped pens are available like the Large or Classic as well es more “chiseled” ones like the Young. You find finishes in black, yellow, blue, burgundy, white and even translucent ones (demonstrator). Most are cartridge/converter-pens except for the Realo, which has a piston filling system. This particular series has also an ink window which all others are lacking.

The fountain pen I demonstrate here, the 1911 Large with rhodium trims is not shown in the webpage mentioned above, may be it is meanwhile abandoned. You find a sibling which is called “1911 Silver”, so either this is a new name for the one I own, or the shop I ordered it, sold it under a wrong name. But does this matter? No, I don’t think so …

Parts_and_finnial
Top: Parts of the pen. Bottom: finial

 

Look and Size

The pen is a classical cigarr shaped pen with a screw cap (is it only my impression, that I have to turn it a bit more often than eg. a Visconti Wall Street or a Pelikan Souverän?). It hast a very regular shaped and unfancy clip, which just works as it should, a neutral finial and a blind cap separated from the barrel with a silver ring (rhodium plated). The cap has a slim and a broad ring, it says in outlined capital letters: “Sailor Japan Founded 1911”.

When you open the cap (two full turns) you get to see the section which tapers down and expands a bit at the very end (to prevent the fingers touchiung the nib and feed).

The nib is a 21kt gold nib (rhodinated). The nib is longer than those from a Montblanc Meisterstück 146, but again narrower than that from a Pelikan M800. The fountain pen itself is sizewise very comparable to the abovementioned pens (see image below). The nib of the Sailor 1911L is by no means undersized compared to the rest of the pen anatomy (as it is the case for the Graf von Faber-Castell Anello – just as an example).

The nib shows a flourish imprint, as well as the founding year (1911), the anchor, the carat number (21kt) and the corresponding permille value (875) and finally the Sailor-Logo.

Something I found interesting: the upper part oft he barrel, where the threads are located, looks almost identical to the Platinum President (see size comparison-image), although the caps are not interchangable. Also the trims of the cap look very, very similar.

Size_comparison
Size comparison (capped and uncapped). (1) Sailor 1911L, (2) Platinum President, (3) Pelikan M800, (4) MB Meisterstück 146, (5) Lamy Safari, (6) Edison Collier, (7) MB Meisterstück 149.

 

Material

The Material is a so called PMMA-resin. Well, it does not tell me too much, please feel free to read the respective Wikipedia article:

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly(methyl_methacrylate).

Does it look different from, well, for example the “precious resin” the Montblanc pens are composed of? Yes, it does! But I cannot describe the difference, I am sorry. Is one of both harder? I don’t know, I don’t want to intentionally scratch them with a needle or so, just to prove their hardness. The biggest, “obvious” difference is that the precious resin in MB-pens is slightly translucent (you observe a dark red color under very bright light), whereas the PMMA in the Sailor is absolutely opaque.

 

Filling mechanism

Just a simple cartridge/converter system. But proprietary. “Sandard international” will not work.

 

Nib performance

The 1911-Series are delivered with EF, F, M, B MS and Z nibs). MS means Music nib and Z means Zoom nib. According to what I have learned about Japanese nib grades the general eqaulization of japaneese F corresponds to western EF (as well as M=F, B=M – so, Japanese grades are one grade thinner than western grades with the same name) applies also here.

The pen shown here is equipped with a Zoom-nib. This type of nib enables the user to produce wide lines as well as fine lines with the same nib. The stroke-width is dependent upon how you hold the pen (see image below). It is obvious that this type of writing is nothing for a regular use for a quick letter or shopping list. One would use it carefully and with intent on the purpose. Of course, the nib is absolutely usable for a regular use, anyway. When holding the pen “normally” (in the usual 40-50 degrees handholding) the stroke will be a western medium to broad stroke). When flattening the angle even stronger the stroke gets bolder. But actually not very much so. The biggest difference occurs between the upright position (very thin stroke like western F) and the normal type of pen-holding (western medium to broad grade).

Zoom_nib_synopsis
The Zoom nib in the Sailor 1911 L
zoom_Nib
This is how Zoom-nibs work

 

Well I didn’t found so far a use for the capabilities of the zoom nib. It might be very good for thin remarks on articles or any kind of book, but in this case an EF-nib or reverse writing of a broader nib does the same job). But this is only me! In the web are numerous youtube-videos available that show the purposes of this nib much better. Back then, when I bought this pen with this nib I was fascinated from it, but actually I had no use from it in practice afterwards.

The nib experience with this particular nib is also not too awsome, since it sounds like a felt pen while wiriting. The tip is very rough and quite often it accumulates fibers from the paper. However, I never experienced a hard start or skipping at all. It just writes.

The nib is quite stiff and shows no flex. The line variation is supposed to be obtained by different pen holding, anyway. Reverse writing is possible (at least with this one). I generally put not much attention to the option of reverse writing in a review, because I made the experience that this is different for each nib (even when it comes from the same manufacturer and if it is the same grade), but if it is possible with one exemplar it is most likely not generally impossible due to the specifity of the nib design.

The same applies to wettness. This is a very individual thing for each nib. This one is quite wet, but another one might be super dry …

Writing sample
Writing sample of the Sailor 1911 Large.
stroke_comparison
The broadest stroke possible with the Sailor Zoom-nib (*) compared to other broad nibs.

The bottom line

The Sailor 1911 is (in a positive way) a very classical (up to unspectacular) pen, which has shapewise much in common with a MB Meisterstück (146) and even more with the Platinum President. Also the handling is very comparable (the balance is a bit different, due the heavy brass from the piston filling mechanism in the MB 146, though). In my opinion, appart from the nib, this pen is absolutely “average” for its class. What I find very special, however ist that the ink never(!) dries out, no matter how long the pen is not in use. No other pen I know offers this (except for the Platinum 3776 … coincidence?). This pen is a reliable well performing, good workhorse.

 

This and that

Oblique Nibs

Below you find a synopsis of several oblique nibs over the last say 30 years. Of course this is not the complete picture – since I have no access to fountain pens from all possible companies and eras.

Anyway, what is an oblique nib? Well, see the picture below and this question will be answered …

In my opinion, oblique nibs offer with no effort, giving “character” to your handwriting. OK, it cannot outcompete extraordinary handwriting with a flex nib, but this is anyway art. I talk about everyday handwriting when taking notes or writing a letter (and not a birthday-card).

But there is a difficulty inherited to these kind of nibs. The fountain pens equipped with oblique nibs are not easy to hold. They need a certain contact angle on the paper. Holding it wrong leads to skipping. But the reward is a somewhat nicer looking handwriting – for those who like it, of course …

Again only in my opinion, Montblanc produces the nicest oblique nibs, because they show the strongest line variation between the two strokes. And of course, the biggest effect is seen if the nib has a wide width (such as OB or OBBB rather than OM).

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation. Oblique nibs with “flex” also exist.

Unfortunately, Pelikan does not longer produces oblique nibs (unless you order the “Wünsch-Dir-Was-Feder” in which case the customer has to visit the Company in Hannover (Germany). In most shops the Pelikan obliques are sold out and in ebay they are offered to substantial higher price compared to the standard nibs (F, M and B). Montblanc does produce mostly F and M by default, but one can send the pen to the headquarter (in Hamburg) and ask for the non-standard obliques within six weeks after the purchase and will get a replacement for free. Lamy and Graf von Faber-Castell provide and sell still obliques by default, although it might be that the shops might not have them in stock.

Obliques come in a wide range of tip-shapes (see image below). They can be almost flatt (like an italic) but also quite “bulky” (if this word make a sense at all since we talk about structures in mm to sub-mm size). The slanted cut alone does not lead to the above mentioned line variation. Like italic nibs, the aspect ratio between width and thickness (<1)  makes the line thickness. Although even fine obliques exist (I have seen it in old Montblancs), the smaller the nib grade, the less pronounced is the variation.

Nib_structure
Top right: sketch of a regular nib and an oblique nib cut – view from top. Center: sketch of sideview of nibs. Right: sketch of the resulting lines when using an oblique nib. Bottom: images of diverse oblique nibs from different producers and from different years.
writing sample
Writing samples from various fountain pens (and one italic nib by Pelikan on the bottom).
Fountain Pen Review

Cleo Skribent Ebonite (Brown)

Here, I want to introduce a kind of special fountain pen to you. This one seems not to be very common (although I found out that several color variations are sold out in most shops, eg. the green and the blue variant). I purchased the brown version form Ludwig Blankenhorn (mypens.de).

Ok, what is so special? The material of the barrel, the section, the endcap and the cap is from ebonite. As I understood it, barrel and section are cut from one piece. But may be I am wrong here, and actually at least the pen shown here seem to be of two-three pieces (see images below)

The Material is very light and so is the entire pen. But the ebonite feels a bit more warm than  for example the “precious resin” of the pens with the star or the resin of Pelikan pens etc.

The company Cleo Schreibgeräte GmbH (Cleo wirting instruments) was founded in 1945 right after WWII in Bad Wilsnack (Prignitz/Brandenburg). So we are dealing with a german pen. The company delivered the whole eastern block with writing instruments until the end of the nineties of the last century. In the seventies almost 1million pens were produced every year. The company became privatized and delivered parts for other german pen producers. Since the end of the nineties they also procuce the Skribent-Series (eg. Classic or Ebonite which is shown here). The paragraph is taken and translated from a wikipedia entry.

Size and Look

Well it is a sort of normal sized pen compared to other common pens, such as the Lamy Safari or the MB 146. In detail, the Cleo is a bit longer than the MB-pens, but the biggest difference is the slimmer (and by the way very nice) concave shaped section.

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Size comparison: from the left to right: Cleo Skribent Ebonite, Cleo Skribent Tertius (same size as the Classic), Lamy Safrai, Montblanc 146, Montblanc 149.

Very stylish are actually three design elements: (a) the ring (silver colored trim) at the end of the section (b) the facetted barrel (11 faces), which are also represented by the cap. The cap has an oval cross section, by the way, the barrel is round. (C) I have to mention the very beuatiful clip. To my opinion one of the most pretty clips in the fountain pen world. Its functionality is also given: it is springy enough.

Also quite lovely is the transition from the section to the barrel: the threads look not only like usual thraeds but like very nice turnery. This impresion is supported by only two existing threads (rather than 5 or more other fountain pens feature).

The Material is of ebonite, as mentioned above and as it is the namegiving feature, of course. Well, the coloring reminds after wood. The surface is not matte but also not entirely shiny – something in between. The material offers not the same depth as some resins do, for example in the stripes of a Pelikan Souverän (see picture below).

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To the left a Pelikan Tortuoise Shell. The Stripes show sort of a depth and shininess reminding after mother of pearl or something. The Cleo Skribent Ebonite (right hand side) is lacking this feature entirely.

Anyway, in the sunlight the brown color unfolds its warmness. So, there is no doubt, that this guy looks good 🙂

All trims are in silver color and rhodium coated. The ring on the cap says: “made in Germany   CLEO” The finnial of the cap shows the Cleo-logo, which looks to me as a mixture of a modern style and a style form the twenties of the last century as well (but that’s just me).

The pen has no ink window!

Filling mechanism

The pen has a sort of piston filling mechanism. A bit inconvenient is the need to remove the endcap. It looks a bit like the mechanism known from some Delta pens.

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Filling mechanism: under the endcap is the twisting turning knob of the piston located. By the way, the yellowish spot on the endcap is just a reflection – the endcap is of merely ebonite and shows no inlay or something

After removing the endcap you find the twisting turning knob. From this point, the filling mechanism works like in any other piston-filled pen.

When holding the en in hand and shaking it (strongly), the I feel a sort of wobbling. So I assume, there is built in a converter or at least something separately. No big deal. However, the official webpage claims a piston filling mechanism.

Nib

The nib is a 14 k gold nib coated with Rhodium. It shows the Ceo-logo, the comapny name, the imprint of the nib grade (here a B nib) and a sort of  ornamental “band”. The latter and the logo are in golden color. Looks very sober to me.

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Three images of the Cleo Skribent Ebonite broad nib (to the left) and a Pelikan M800-nib (italic broad, each to the right).

For me the shape of the nib, its size as well as the feed shows strong similarities to the same items in a Pelikan M800. The nib shoulder of the Cleo is a bit more rounded whereas the nib of the Pelikan is a bit more flat.

But how does the nib perform? Well, it is a very, very smooth nib. I would say, already a bit too smooth, since it skips or has hard starts on very smooth paper such as the Rhodia ivory (90g/sqm). Quicker strokes (or backward strokes) are prone to skip. On a slightly rougher paper (e.g. the white paper from Rhodia with 80g/sqm) the nib behaves much “better” in this respect.

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Writing experience with the Cleo Skribent Ebonite.

What I really love is the grinding of the broad nib which is slightly stubbish (see image above). This gives the handwriting a bit more character. I like such things. What you not should expect ist flex by any means. The nib is quite stiff and allows not much line variation under pressure. The stiffness is comparable to other modern nibs from various brands (MB 146 or Pelikan M800). Other available nib grades are F and M (no obliques or italics).

Overall

Well, for a couple of hundred bucks you could expect something serious! And I must say, you get something serious. The nib is well tuned, not too wet. It is slightly stubbish – don’t expect this on a medium nib from this company! Technically, I have no complains, the only thing I would have liked better is the filling mechanism. The endcap which needs to be removeed is just inconvenient. Designwise I have no complain neither, but this is in the eye of the beholder. Take in mind, the section is on the slimmer side of the spectrum.