The TWSBI Eco 2 Years Later

I’ve already reviewed the Eco, specifically the yellow edition from last spring, but I feel that post didn’t accurately reflect my feelings about this pen. I used to have four Ecos, and now I have one, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s my first Eco, the transparent orange edition from 2019. This was my fourth or fifth pen in my collection, and I was so excited about it! It’s a beautiful color, and the Eco is a great beginner pen. There are many people out there who collect every color released of the Eco, but I cannot afford, nor do I want to be one of them. I’m the kind of collector who likes to use all of her pens, and I feel bad if I don’t use a particular pen that I’m fond of. When I had four Ecos, I felt neglectful of my beloved orange. So I sold the other three to a better home.

There has been a lot of writing lately about special edition burnout. It’s come to a point where “special edition” doesn’t really mean anything, and manufacturers are taking advantage of consumer hype. I’ve only been in the fountain pen hobby for two years, but this has definitely gotten worse over the last year or so. Finding a particular model of pen that you like among a growing sea of colors is special, because you form a bond with this tool that can be kept for years and years. The thing about the fountain pen hobby is that FOMO is driven almost purely by social media.

“Buy it for life” is also being used more in the outdoor industry, and I’ve seen it applied to pens occasionally. Many people buy a fountain pen specifically to reduce waste and to have a serviceable writing instrument. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people, and I have more ink than I and my girlfriend will ever use. The Eco is definitely a “buy it for life” pen, it even comes with everything that you need to service it yourself. It seems like there are many people out there that question the durability of TWSBI pens because of cracking. All TWSBI pens have an o-ring on the section threads to make a double seal inside the cap. Unfortunately, this makes it very easy to over-tighten the cap and crack the barrel. You can prevent over-tightening the cap by stopping when you feel resistance from the o-ring. It takes one and a half turns to fully cap the Eco. On TWSBI demonstrators, you can see when the inner cap seal hits the end of the section.

Inner cap

I’ve dropped my Eco quite a few times, from about two feet. These drops did no damage to the body of the pen, but one of the drops misaligned the nib. The height of these drops is minimal and it’s onto a wood floor, but I dropped a Platinum #3776 from the same height and cracked the finial. This was minutes after I got the pen, and it’s the reason I returned it. The cap seal on the Eco is so good that the nib never dries out. My Eco is always ready to write, and has never hard started. This pen has never let me down, and I believe that it never will. Forming emotional attachments to inanimate objects is a very human thing, and it’s important to recognize that in a materialistic hobby. Most pens that people come across everyday are disposable, but a fountain pen gets brought to life every time you fill it and write with it. I don’t care if this is overly sentimental because I’m a Pisces.

Upturned & Downturned Nibs

Take a look at a nib of yours. Is it straight, or does it have a slight upturn or downturn? Is the tipping ball on the top or bottom? There’s an entire spectrum of nibs from an upturned fude all the way to a downturned concord or reverse fude. Fude nibs somewhat resemble a painter’s pallet knife and allow for different line widths based on your writing angle. Reverse fude allows for an extra-fine line while writing normally, and a regular fude while reverse writing. These nibs aren’t for everyone, but the spectrum in between these two poles is very diverse with a nib for any writing angle and preference. I decided to write this post after using the Midori fountain pen, which has a downturned nib. I wasn’t sure how the nib would feel when being used at a high overwriting angle, but it’s very nice. Starting with upturned nibs, lets work our way through the nib spectrum.

Fude~

These nibs are pretty easy to find on Chinese pens on amazon, or Sailor has a fude nib. You can also make one yourself or have one made by a nibmeister. Sailor offers these nibs at 40 and 50 degree angles. I’ve been using a 50 degree fude, which writes like this:

A fude takes some getting used to, and doesn’t have to have such a firm angle. On instagram there are many examples of what a fude can look like along with writing and drawing examples.

Waverly~

A Pilot Custom 912 Waverly

Waverly nibs have a gentle upturn and almost look like they’ve been dropped on the floor. Pilot offers a Waverly nib on their Custom 912 and 742 that is (in my opinion) the best writing experience a lefty overwriter can find. In the 1940’s Sheaffer made their conical triumph nibs that are Waverly nibs. With the gentle upturn, it doesn’t matter how you hold the pen or at what angle. It’s always just right, and I’ve found that my handwriting is neater while using my Pilot Waverly nib. Certain nibmeisters, like on fpnibs.com, can turn a regular nib into a Waverly.

PenBBS~

PenBBS nibs are in between a Waverly and a Kugel. They have a slight upturn with the tipping ball on top, and the very tip of the nib where it meets the paper is rounded. This nibs produce a slightly stubby line that is wider than a traditional fine. I haven’t tried a medium nib from PenBBS, but I saw that they have a rounded medium.

Kugels~

I have two nibs that can be considered kugels, which means ball tip. They’re different so I’ve listed them separately.

Montblanc Stainless Steel Medium:

A Monte Rosa.

I have a vintage Montblanc Monte Rosa with a steel nib that has the tipping ball on top and no upturn, but it’s labeled as a regular medium. The steel has some springiness and looks to have originally been gold plated. These nibs work very well for reverse writing. Even though the nib itself is not upturned, the tipping ball on top creates a wide sweet spot.

Lamy Kugel:

These nibs are not upturned like the previous examples, but the tipping material is rounded to be shaped like a ball. A kugel nib is smooth from most writing angles, and can be pushed across the page. Lamy used to make kugel nibs within the last 20 years, which can be found on eBay. Pelikan used to make kugel nibs as well, but they are harder to find. The only kugel nib that I have right now is a Lamy medium kugel, and it feels different from their regular medium nibs and even their left handed nib. It comes close to Lamy’s 14k gold nibs, but silkier.

Postings~

The following nibs can all be under the posting umbrella, but are different. Different brands manufacturing in different countries and decades have varying standards, and that is very interesting to me.

Esterbrook Ex. Fine Ex. Firm Posting:

When Esterbrook was making their “J” series of pens, they offered an exceptional range of nibs that could be easily swapped out. This made it easy to find the right nib for your purposes without buying a whole new pen. The 9450 EF Ex. Firm Posting nib has very little tipping material with the nib itself being quite thick. This nib has a slight downturn and produces a very fine line. These nibs were made to withstand a firm hand while writing on forms that required carbon copies. If you’ve never had the pleasure of making a carbon copy, you have a regular sheet of paper on top and underneath it is at least one sheet of carbon transfer paper. If you write on the top sheet with enough pressure, your writing is transferred to the bottom page. Today, you could use this nib to write out a check.

Posting:

Regular posting (PO) nibs can be hard to find nowadays, but Pilot offers one on their Custom 912 and 742. A traditional posting nib is designed for the same purpose as the Esterbrook one above, but has more of a downturn. It’s called a posting nib because it was designed for writing on postcards. The Pilot posting nib is still stiff, but has some give because it’s a gold nib. I haven’t tried one of these PO nibs myself, but reviews say that this nib writes without feathering even on copy paper.

Manifold:

A manifold nib is the German version of a posting nib. I have a vintage Pelikan manifold gold nib that is slightly obliqued and super stiff. There are two breather holes that allow for shorter tines, which helps make the nib so stiff. I have to rotate the nib a little to accommodate the left foot oblique, which feels natural. This nib feels very buttery and writes silently.

Pilot Falcon~

The Pilot Falcon is a unique bird. Pilot actually makes two “falcon” nibs: one for the Falcon, and one for their 912 and 742/743 pens called the FA. For the purposes of this post I’ll just be discussing the Falcon nib. Falcons have a small hump in the nib and feed where the tines begin to accommodate extra springiness. These nibs are labeled soft, but I’m not sure how these compare to Pilot’s soft #5 gold nibs. From the hump, the nib is angled downward and the tip remains straight. These nibs can be used while overwriting as long as you use minimal pressure. While underwriting, the springiness is extremely satisfying and you can get about one millimeter of line variation.

Midori MD “Beak”~

Midori added a downturn to the medium nib on their MD fountain pen. It’s advertised as being beak shaped and suitable for all writing angles. This nib has more of a downturn than a PO nib, and really is smooth at different writing angles. It also has more give than a posting nib.

Reverse Fude~

I’ve never written with a reverse fude nib, but I’ve watched Mark Bacas’s instagram videos that show him writing with one. Here is a link to his page.

The Pilot Deluxe Urushi

Back in March, I posted some first impressions of the Pilot Deluxe Urushi on Buy Me a Coffee. Here are some of those impressions along with the insight I’ve gained after having this pen for a few months.

The Pilot Deluxe Urushi is a slim snap cap fountain pen with an Urushi lacquered brass body. The nib is a uniquely shaped 14k gold fine. The wonderful thing about the Deluxe is that it’s an Urushi pen for under $150 USD! I ordered from Pensachi, as this pen isn’t available outside of Japan. Shipping to the United States was $20, but it came quickly even with weather delays, and was packaged with care.

This is my first Urushi pen, and I love it. The pen feels warm in my hand, even with the brass body. I wasn’t expecting the Deluxe to feel much different than my Pilot Stella, a different lacquered brass pen, but it really does. The Deluxe may not feature the breathtaking craftsmanship of a Namiki or Nakaya, but you get to try out an Urushi pen with a fantastic nib. The finial and the tail of the pen have a lovely gold jewel that catches light beautifully. While this pen is able to be posted, I haven’t posted it and don’t plan to. I suppose you could slip the cap on the back of pen very carefully, but I don’t know how the Urushi would hold up. The snap cap has a firm click. Before the pen arrived, I figured that the grip section would be blue resin to match the rest of the body, but it’s also Urushi lacquered. I’m not sure if the section will scratch over time with the snap cap, but so far there is ne’er a blemish.

The branding has a really nice texture.

I inked this pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake; I like orange and blue together. This ink flows very well and the nib feels silky on paper, it’s a joy to use this pen. While underwriting, the nib is pretty firm but I could get a little bit of line variation. This nib has a slight amount of feedback, but is still smooth enough that the pen can seem hard to control on smooth paper. The shape of the nib is unique for Pilot. It’s a combination between the beak shaped Falcon nib, and the inlaid E95s nib. Generally this nib looks the most like a Lamy nib, but with better quality control.

Clip designs. From Left: CH 912, E95s, Lucina, Legno, Custom 98, Falcon, Prera, Deluxe Urushi.

Something that I just realized while typing this is that Pilot has a really nice variety of clip shapes. There’s the Falcon clip, the sword shaped clip, the ball clip, and there’s the clip on the E95s. The clip on the Deluxe has a slight taper in the middle, with a facet that catches light well. Near the finial there’s a somewhat militaristic engraving. There’s no branding on the clip, the only branding is on the back of the cap. This is a really classy, understated pen that’s more than meets the eye. The Pilot Deluxe Urushi can be found on Pensachi for $135 USD.

Writing sample

Snap Cap Fountain Pens

snappy cappies

Snap cap fountain pens are great for taking quick notes, writing on the go and general convenience. Here I have compiled a list of ten snap cap pens, for beginners and experienced users alike, for any way you hold your pen. This isn’t a ranked top ten list because there are so many snap caps that I haven’t tried, and this list is Pilot heavy. You may notice that the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari/AL-Star/Vista are not on this list, and that’s because they are very popular starter pens that have been discussed a lot. The pens I have here are some alternatives at various price points, whether you’re looking for something different or something beyond a starter pen.

1. The Kaweco Perkeo

The Kaweco Perkeo is a great value at under 20 dollars. It comes in several fun color ways and is offered with fine or medium nibs. As of my writing this, Kaweco recently came out with new monochrome colors in pink, green, blue, and clear. This pen can take any standard international cartridge or converter, so there are many different ink options. The Perkeo is a great fountain pen for beginners because the semi-triangulated grip helps the user hold the pen in the correct way, but it works as a great pen for lefties because it’s still comfortable to hold with a different grip than the design intended. Smudging has not been an issue with this pen. These pens take long and short standard international cartridges and converters, and can fit Kaweco’s really nice piston converter. The cap on this pen has a quick hollow snap, and is easy to operate.

2. The TWSBI Go

The TWSBI Go is a quirky little pen with a unique spring loaded filling system. It retails for just under 20 dollars and comes in blue, grey and clear with nib options ranging from extra-fine to 1.1 mm stub. To fill the pen you just dip it in your ink bottle and press the button! Of the piston fillers in my collection, the Go is by far the easiest to take apart and put back together. The Go has a round grip with a pronounced edge that is comfortable to hold for lefties no matter their grip. The flow of this pen is moderately wet, but performs well with fast drying inks such as Robert Oster. The Go cap has a loud snap that’s quite firm, and can take some effort to uncap. I’ve splattered ink a few times while uncapping this pen.

3. The Pelikan Pelikano Jr.

I’m using this JetPens photo because I no longer have a Pelikano Junior.

The Pelikan Pelikano Jr. is one of the few pens on this list offered with a lefty specific nib. It has a left handed molded rubber grip that is quite comfortable to hold. Like the previous two pens on this list, this pen retails for about 20 dollars. The Pelikano Jr. is truly tailored for lefties learning to write with a fountain pen. The nib is a medium, and is ground in such a way that is especially smooth for lefty’s. The Jr. has a translucent colored body and comes in several neat colors. If you prefer a look that is more professional there is a regular Pelikano that also comes with a left handed nib. The Pelikano can take both long and short standard international ink cartridges and converters. The Pelikano cap snaps similarly to the Perkeo.

4. The Platinum Preppy

A clique of Preppies

With the best value at 5 dollars, the Platinum Preppy is a great pen to dip your toes in the fountain pen waters. It comes in a rainbow of translucent colors, with nib sizes in extra-fine, fine and medium. There is even the option for a highlighter and marker tip! The Preppy takes proprietary Platinum ink cartridges. The Preppy does take Platinum converters but they cost more than the pen itself. If you want to try bottled ink and are feeling adventurous, this pen can be easily converted into an eye dropper with an o-ring and some silicone grease. The inner cap has a seal mechanism that will keep the nib from drying out for a year. The fine and medium nibs are both very smooth and a pleasure to write with. The round grip is also comfortable to hold, no matter your grip style. The Preppy has two siblings: the Prefounte and the Plaisir, which are also snap caps under 20 dollars. The Platinum Preppy performs excellently with lubricated inks such as Monteverde, and have a low dry time. These caps have a softer snap than the the other plastic pens on this list, and the click is very pleasant.

5. The Pilot Kakuno

Mmmm aesthetic

The Pilot Kakuno is very kawaii. It comes in soft pastel colors in the U.S market and translucent demonstrator colors in the Japanese market. The nibs on the Kakuno have little faces on them to remind the user to keep the nib facing up. If you’re an over-writer, the little face will be looking at you upside down or sideways, but it’s still cute. The face that comes on the nib is based on tip size; the EF has a cheeky winky face. The cap on this pen has a clicky snap and is easy to uncap. Though this pen is designed for kids, people of all ages love the Pilot Kakuno. This pen retails for about $10 USD.

6. The Pilot Prera

A seriously satisfying snap of this cap, the Pilot Prera has a more professional look than the Kakuno. At around 40 dollars this pen is more of a step-up than the previous pens on this list, but is worth it for the smoothness of the nib. The Prera can be found on Amazon in solid colors such as ivory, grey, blue, yellow, and red. The Prera can also be found on most pen websites with a clear body and various transparently colored finial and tail. This version comes in colors such as clear red, clear navy, and clear grey.

7. The Lamy Studio

A bigger step up from the other pens on this list, the Lamy Studio caps with a short and sweet click. Equally (perhaps more) satisfying is how the pen clicks when being posted. This pen has a wide variety of special editions that range in price and materials. The Studio has a metal body with a unique propellor shaped clip, and has been released in several special edition colors. Most versions of the Studio come with a steel nib, but there are some that come with a 14k gold nib, at a higher price. The standard price is 80 dollars USD.

8. The Pilot E95s

The Pilot E95s is less snappy than the other pens on this list, but it’s still satisfying to cap and uncap. The cap slides on softly and clicks gently when hitting the stopper ring on the end of the section. It’s a classic design pocket pen, so the cap posts in order to transform this little guy into a full sized pen. The nib is an inlaid 14k that’s soft and smooth. In my experience, the medium nib is springier than the fine. From about the mid-1960s through the 1970s, the Japanese Big 3 (Platinum, Sailor, Pilot) had their own roughly identical version of this pen that can be easily found on ebay. Today, Pilot is the only brand that has this design available in a new pen. The Pilot E95s retails for $136 USD.

9. The Midori MD Fountain Pen

The Midori MD fountain pen is the newest on this list, having been released in the US earlier in 2021. This pen has a vintage design similar to a Parker 51 with a plastic/resin body and brushed metal cap. The body is cream colored to match your MD notebook, and the grip section is clear with a clear feed. The grip is matte plastic that’s subtly ribbed, and it feels nice to hold. The cap of the MD fountain pen snaps very firmly and feels sturdy. When capped, there’s no step between the body of the pen and the cap that makes for a sleek line. The firm medium nib has a unique downturn similar to a beak, and writes smoothly even at a high angle. The Midori MD fountain pen retails for $38 USD.

10. The Traveler’s Company Fountain Pen

The fountain pen is on the right, pencil on the left.

The Traveler’s Company, known for their high quality notebook systems, also makes writing instruments! Every iteration is pocket sized and brass. In 2020, Traveler’s Co released a special edition Factory Green line, pictured above. There’s a bullet pencil, fountain pen, rollerball, and ballpoint. I’m just going to discuss the fountain pen here, and it’s wonderful. Similar to the Pilot E95s, the cap slides on the back of the pen with some resistance in order to create a full sized pen. When you cap the pen, the snap is hearty with a satisfying click. I can’t speak to how well the snap mechanism holds up over time, but the material of the pen feels solid. The Traveler’s Co fountain pen comes in plain brass and Factory Green, and retails for around $70 USD.

Honorable Mention: Pilot’s Snap Cap Pocket Pens

It’s okay, there’s no milk in the bowl.

Several years ago Pilot made these wonderful snap cap pocket pens, but have discontinued them. The Stargazer is the US model, while the Stella and Legno are Japanese models. The Stargazer and Stella both have a subtly sparkly lacquered body while the Legno has an impregnated wood body. There is also a rare celluloid model called the Legance 89s. These pens feature the less common Pilot 14k #3 nib, and have a flat top design. If you prefer a traditional cigar shape there is also the even rarer Custom 98. The Custom 98 has the same #3 nib, and looks very similar to a Montblanc 144. I’m grouping all these models into one paragraph because they’re essentially the same pen with different bodies. Unfortunately they’re hard to find nowadays. They can be found with persistent hunting on eBay or a pen swap forum. The snap on these caps is so damn satisfying; it starts out soft and then finishes with a quick click. These pens are an honorable mention because they’re difficult to find at a reasonable price.

The Desiderata Pen Co. BAMF

That’s a full sized Rubik’s cube

I’ve actually reviewed this pen before, in a post called Happy Fountain Pen Day. That post was an initial review, so this will be a more long term one after having the pen for about five months. Desiderata is a Black owned pen company based in Chicago, and they make excellent small batch fountain pens.

“A royale with cheese”

The BAMF has a large ebonite body with a glossy red ebonite grip section. The body and grip section are all one piece, except for a blind cap at the back where you can access the spring-loaded Pump Piston. The blind cap really blends in; I wasn’t sure where it was at first because the little striations in the ebonite match perfectly when the blind cap is screwed on. Unscrewing the blind cap reveals red ebonite threading, which is a nice surprise. The Pump Piston mechanism is very smooth with a titanium rod. The current webpage for this pen says that a new batch will be out in spring 2021 with an in-house screw piston rather than the spring-loaded one. As you can see in the photo above, the pen says “Bad Ass Motherfucker” on it. The engraving is really subtle, which is nice if you have kids unless they pick the pen up to look at it.

The BAMF can be ordered with a Zebra G nib, Jowo nibs from EF to 1.1mm italic, or a Nemosine 0.6mm stub. I went with the Nemosine nib, and it’s great. The stub is very round and forgiving enough that my girlfriend and I can both enjoyably write with it. I can overwrite and underwrite with it; I didn’t know stubs could be like this. Even with the fine stub, there’s still line variation. While overwriting, there is less line variation for me but still enough that my handwriting has some character. I’ve tried two different inks in this pen: Noodler’s Q’ternity and KWZ Honey. Q’ternity is a thick blue-black that writes very smoothly and dries fairly quickly. Honey is one of the few brown shading inks I’ve found that actually dry. Honey doesn’t write as smoothly as Q’ternity, but it flows very well. When capped, this pen seals up enough that there have never been any hard-starts or skips.

Nemosine nibs have a really lovely butterfly design.

While I’ve never dropped this pen, its durability is unquestionable. The smooth grip section is very comfortable while overwriting, and I really like the vintage style flare near the nib. If you’re interested in this pen, there’s a sign-up box to be notified when the new run is available. The BAMF sells for $188 USD.

The Kaweco Sport (Fountain Pen)

The Kaweco Sport is a favorite among many fountain pen users for its small size and many color options. I’m a fan of pocket pens myself, and enjoy these little guys. The Sport line has many iterations besides the rainbow of standard plastic models; there are AL or aluminum models, carbon fiber, special acrylic, steel, and brass. You can also get the Sports in rollerballs, ballpoints, clutch pencils, and mechanical pencils. When Kaweco went under new ownership in 1994, they updated the design from a piston filler to the standard international cartridge/converter system. Vintage Sports with gold nibs and pistons can be found on eBay, and I hope to acquire one someday.

My navy sport next to a Sheaffer Balance Jr and a TWSBI Mini for size comparison.

The first Sport I owned was a clear one with a medium nib. At first it had some baby’s bottom issues, but Kaweco customer service sent me a new nib, which worked fine. Baby’s bottom is where a nib is over polished so that the inside edges of the tipping material are rounded and don’t touch, inhibiting ink flow. Later, I tried a white Sport with a fine nib, but it had flow issues and only liked very wet inks. My third Sport is navy with an extra-fine nib, and it’s just right. The navy is a lovely deep blue color with gold trimmings. I added a black clip, which compliments the navy nicely. I ordered this pen from St. Louis Art Supply over the summer. They test all fountain pens over $20 USD before sending them off, and this Sport had the best out-of-box writing experience out of all the Sports I’ve tried.

The Sports are a good starter pen for lefties with small hands, or for anyone who wants a pocket pen. These pens are designed to be posted, but my hands are small enough to use the pen unposted if I’m just writing a quick note. Posting really helps keep the pen balanced. My grip happens to fall on the threads above the grip section, which is fine with the plastic models as the threads aren’t sharp.

Sports take short standard international cartridges, or Kaweco’s slide piston converter. Kaweco also makes a tiny squeeze converter, but I’ve found that they don’t work very well and come apart easily. I’ve also found that Kaweco pens write better with non-Kaweco inks, except for their Pearl Black, which wrote great every time. Lubricated inks like Monteverde come in cartridges and seem to flow smoothly. Faber-Castell cartridges also work well. I haven’t tried Herbin or Diamine cartridges, but I know their inks work well out of the bottle.

If you don’t want to use cartridges, or are bothered by Kaweco’s converters, plastic Sports are able to be converted into eyedropper pens by applying silicone grease to the barrel threads. You can add an o-ring as well but the silicone grease works just fine.

Eyedroppering is especially nice with clear barrel models such as the clear classic, and any of the ice series. In the picture above, I’ve filled this pen with Noodlers Blue Nosed Bear. This is a super wet ink, so the fact that I was able to write with this and enjoy it means that this medium nib was a very dry writer. I’ve taken notes with my navy Sport, and it flowed well, but the design of the pen makes it impractical for start/stop applications unless you’re able to use the pen unposted. When I was first trying to write with my clear Sport that had baby’s bottom, the pen wouldn’t flow consistently when I was holding the pen at a high angle. My girlfriend tried using it while holding the pen at a lower angle and she was able to get a consistent flow. I’m not sure how common baby’s bottom is for Kaweco nibs, but it is an issue to look out for. If you’re a lefty over writer beginning their fountain pen journey with a Sport and you encounter baby’s bottom, please don’t be discouraged because there is always another nib.

Here is a writing sample from September. It’s just notes from an online IT course.

I love Kaweco as a brand, and love all of my pens from them, but the quality control on their nibs can be uneven. I once bought a double broad Kaweco nib, and it didn’t have a slit. Fortunately, all of their pens except for the Supra take the same nib, so it’s easy to swap nibs once you’ve found one that you really like. All Kaweco nibs are friction fit inside a plastic housing. On all metal sectioned models, this housing can just be screwed in and out. On all plastic sectioned models, the housing is stuck inside the section and is not able to be removed. To remove a Kaweco nib from its housing, use a rubber grip or jar opener and pull it out by holding the nib at the tapered part of the feed. Kaweco feeds are a lot more durable than (for example) TWSBI feeds, so these pens are good to practice on if you’re a beginner nib swapper. Lamys are good for practice as well, but you can’t play around with other nib brands.

Every version of the Sport will have its own writing experience, which is why the AL-Sport will have its own post. Besides the fountain pen, I’ve also tried the rollerball and the clutch pencil, which are both pleasant to use and will also have their own posts in time. You can purchase your own Sport wherever fine writing instruments are sold. The plastic models generally sell for about $25 to $30 USD.

The Franklin Christoph Model 25 Eclipse

How about that Harris Tweed!

When I was researching this pen, looking for reviews, I could only find ones written for the original iteration of this model. Franklin Christoph changed their design of this pen since then, so I’d like to review the Model 25 in its current, sleek form.

The Franklin Christoph Model 25 Eclipse is one of the most unique pen designs I’ve ever seen. The clip is on the body of the pen, head side, so that the nib is always facing downward when the pen is clipped to a pocket. The cap is short and seals up the nib very nicely. To post the cap, you just slip it under the clip. This makes a very satisfying click, and then an audibly satisfying click when you remove the cap. The cap threads are close to the nib and out of the way of your grip, which means that the rest of the body is one smooth surface. The clip is engraved with a diamond pattern, and the finial is engraved with the Franklin Christoph logo.

When I ordered this pen in mid-December, the color available was vintage green. This resin is slightly translucent, you can see the threads inside and a little bit of the converter. The green is warm and sophisticated, and the build quality is superb. The threads on the body are engineered so that the clip and nib are always aligned. The nib is semi-hooded and cannot be easily removed. If you want to swap out the nib, FC recommends that you send it to them. If you like to live dangerously, you can contact FC for instructions on how to remove the nib.

The Model 25 is my first Franklin Christoph pen, and it lived up to my expectations. I ordered my pen with a high performance steel fine nib. The FC website says that the high performance steel “is more like gold today than most nibs you’ll find through pen history.” This nib definitely feels different than a standard stainless steel nib, it’s delightfully smooth. When I first inked up this pen, I used a Pelikan Aquamarine cartridge. I wanted to make clean-up as easy as possible, since the nib can’t be easily removed. Unfortunately that ink is pretty dry, and the pen kept hard-starting. I took out the cartridge, cleaned the pen and inked up with TWSBI Midnight Blue. Midnight Blue is much wetter, and the Model 25 hard-started much less, but didn’t like writing in short bursts. Next, I tried Iroshizuku Kon-Peki. Kon-Peki is just right, it flows very well. I had hard-starting issues with Midnight Blue before, and wanted to see if maybe that ink would work better in a different pen, but it’s a finicky ink.

The cap thread placement that I mentioned earlier makes the Model 25 very comfortable for those who grip their pen high on the section, like me. The diameter of this pen is wide enough that my thumb doesn’t dig into my index finger while writing, which has been a problem for me with narrower pens. Overall, I really enjoy this pen and feel that it’s worth the investment for those looking to dip their toes in the Franklin Christoph waters. FC releases this pen as a special edition model periodically throughout the year, one color at a time. At this time of my writing this post, the vintage green model is sold out. The Model 25 is $155.00 USD (with a steel nib and no special grinds) on the Franklin Christoph website.

Here is a video of me writing with this pen:

Yama-Budo by Pilot Iroshizuku

A planner doodle on Tomoe River paper.

Iroshizuku is Pilot’s higher end line of inks that are available in all the colors of the rainbow. The ink that I’ve chosen to write about today is Yama-Budo, a lovely burgundy color. This inks shades from fuchsia to plum, and on certain papers it’ll sheen a nice gold. In the photo above, the sheen looks almost chartreuse.

Yama-Budo is very well behaved, like most Iroshizuku inks. It flows well out of every pen that I’ve tried it in, and isn’t too wet. On this Nock Co. paper that I’m writing on it dries very fast. Also, Yama-Budo doesn’t feather or bleed-through. On absorbent papers like Leuchtturm and Nock, this ink is very lefty compatible, especially with finer nibs. On the Tomoe River paper pictured above there’s some smudging, but once this ink dries it doesn’t lift.

As far as inks on the red/purple spectrum go, Yama-Budo is right in the middle. It’s bright enough to draw attention to notations, and dark enough to use as a regular note taking ink. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and it’s among the handful of Iroshizuku colors that I keep coming back to.

Yama-Budo next to Lamy Beryl and Colorverse Andromeda

Iroshizuku inks come in these nice sturdy glass bottles, with minimalist labeling and a little dip in the bottom to help get all the ink out. Yama-Budo is an old friend that you can call after a long period of time and pick up right where you left off.

If you would like to purchase this ink, please click here. This is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission from the sale. It’s a way to support this blog directly!

Reverse Writing!

Tiny

My girlfriend, who is a righty, has been looking for a really fine-nibbed pen to take notes with at work on small pieces of paper. She recently got a Sailor Pro Gear Slim in fine, and a Sailor 1911S with a 21k zoom nib. She got a zoom nib so that it could eventually be ground into an extreme predator nib, which is an extra fine held normally and an architect when flipped over. We both have TWSBI minis in EF, and she always writes EF in quotes because it’s not fine enough. So last week, she decided to try and write with that pen with the nib flipped over (or reverse writing) and had a great experience!

I’ve been afraid to try reverse writing since I ruined my first fountain pen by doing that. Now that I’m more versed in the way of the fountain pen, my girlfriend encouraged me to try it again because the ink will dry faster while writing quick notes.

The photo above is a sample of both my girlfriend and I trying out some currently inked pens while reverse writing. Gold nibs ended up working well across the board, while steel nibs ended up being more finicky. The Pelikan m200 and MontBlanc Monte Rosa are both steel nibs that performed very well reversed. The m200 is normally quite broad for a fine nib, and with Noodler’s Golden Brown it’s extra wet. Reversed though, the nib is more akin to a Japanese fine. In the photo below I tried to get a close-up of the Pelikan nib. The tip is pretty ball shaped, with some raised tipping material on top. Theoretically, any nib with raised tipping material like that should work for reverse writing.

Birb

Now the MontBlanc, written in green on the sample page, is an elevated reverse experience. Both me and my girlfriend loved writing with this, it’s great.

The Monte Rosa is a vintage pen by MontBlanc, the model I have is from the late 1950s. The nib is labeled medium on the piston knob but the tip is upturned like a waverly nib. I don’t know if all MontBlanc steel nibs are like this, or if this nib was worked on at some point in its lifetime, but it writes very smoothly. Writing reversed at a high angle you’re using more of the ball at the top of the nib. So, you get a finer line without sacrificing smoothness or ink flow. Writing reverse with this pen is what I imagine writing with a kugel nib feels like. I just found out about that type of nib yesterday and I’m very excited about them.

Zoomies

Using the two zoom nibs was interesting because I didn’t know how versatile they are, or how nice 21k nibs feel. The tips are ground into a triangle shape, so the lower the angle you hold the pen, the broader the line. For me, using my zoom nib at a nearly 90 degree angle gave about a medium line. When reverse writing though, no matter what angle the writer holds the pen, they’re using the pointiest and finest part of the nib. I didn’t try reverse writing with a fude nib but I imagine it would have a similar outcome.

The finest line I was able to get was with a Pilot Custom 98 with a #3 fine nib.

I really need to polish that section ring
My two Pilot #3 fines side by side

This nib doesn’t have much tipping on top, but the nib seems slightly downturned with a round point. With this I was able to write as tiny as I can with a 0.4mm Hi-tec Maica. I also have a Pilot Legno 89s with the same size fine nib, but it writes less smoothly than the Custom 98 no matter what. I took a close-up of them side by side and I think the 98 tip is a little bit rounder and blunter. I did purchase the Custom 98 used and the Legno new, so the older nib is more worn in.

The Pilot Custom 912 with a Waverly nib gave a similar experience to the Monte Rosa but the 912 just has the upturned tip and no ball on top. This nib is fantastic anyway, and is so pleasing to write with for a lefty like me because you’re always writing at the correct position. With reverse writing, it’s like you’re using a posting nib because it ends up being downturned. You get a considerably finer line that could probably be used for writing checks.

The most surprising pen to try with this experiment was a Pilot Falcon, not the most lefty friendly pen. But, it writes really well reversed. I have it inked up with Namiki black right now, which is normally really wet out of this pen, but reversed it’s just the right amount of wetness. While overwriting normally with a Falcon I usually use light pressure so that the tines don’t catch on the paper, but reversed I haven’t had to worry about that.

The Vanishing Point Decimo was another surprise for both me and my girlfriend. This is another pen that is problematic for lefty overwriters because of the clip by the nib. Reverse writing with the Decimo was weird, and I still didn’t find it comfortable to hold.

Overall, this experiment was fun and revealing. Reverse writing doesn’t work with every pen, but Japanese gold nibs had more consistent results. I recommend trying out reverse writing with your pens if you like writing tiny and fast drying ink.

Happy Fountain Pen Day!

On this very special day for the fountain pen enthusiast I’d like to say hi and thank you to the small handful of people who’ve decided to follow this blog recently!

Today isn’t a new pen day, but last week my Desiderata BAMF came in the mail. Here are some initial thoughts, a full review will come later.

The BAMF is an all ebonite pen from the Desiderata Pen Company. This is the first handmade small batch pen I’ve purchased. The BAMF is meant to have a Zebra G dip pen nib in it, but there is the option to just have a regular fountain pen nib. I opted for a Nemosine 0.6 mm stub.

I love the engravings on Nemosine nibs.

The 0.6 mm stub nib is very nice to write with. My girlfriend and I can both write with it and the writing experience is the same. This nib can even be used while over-writing, and it’s still smooth. The tip is very round, making it much more forgiving for a lefty than a 1.1 mm stub.

The BAMF has a stealth blind cap on the back of the pen to reveal a pump piston filling mechanism. This system is very similar to a TWSBI Go, but you can’t see how much ink is in your pen. Overall, I really like the BAMF. It’s very comfortable to hold and the nib is very lefty friendly.

“Hey can you hand me that pen?” “Which one?” “The one that says ‘Bad-ass motherfucker’ on it.”