Review: Nock Co. Brasstown

Nock Co. Brasstown with a Lamy Safari for scale. A regular Brasstown doesn't come with the badge.

Nock Co. is a company started by Brad Dowdy - Mr. Pen Addict and Jeffrey Bruckwicki. They specialise in making pen cases but have since expanded their products into paper goods. The Brasstown is one of the initial product offering by Nock Co. It was right there at the beginning but I didn’t have enough money then to get it during their Kickstarter campaign. Later on, it was tough to snag a Brasstown for myself because it was one of the more popular pen cases that Nock makes.

It was about two months ago that I managed to buy one. I had opted for a barn red and midnight colour way. The first one arrived not long after ordering. After using it for more than a week I noticed that there was a hole in one of the pen slots. I shot an email off to Nock Co. and received a reply within a few hours. Nock Co. has great customer service and they made it right. A replacement Brasstown reached me not after and now I am happily using it.

The Brasstown, if you are not familiar, is a pen roll combined with a zip case. It has 6 individual pen slots on the roll and it still has quite a bit of space in the pouch to hold pens or other accessories. Like all other Nock Co. pen cases, it is made of mylon. It doesn’t have much in the way of padding but the material will be able to protect your pens from scratches without any problems. I don’t worry about my expensive pens getting scratched if I transport them in the Brasstown. Plus the nylon material should provide a certain amount of water resistance as well.

The Brasstown comes with a pair of generously sized zippers. I’ve mentioned in my review of the Pilot Pensemble that a pen roll is inherently a right-handed product but the Brasstown has double zippers so I can close the case in a way that makes sense to me. Of course, you run the risk of having your pens the wrong way around that way but if you use your pen case while seated at a table I don’t see a problem having your pens facing downwards.

Though the Basstown doesn’t have a flap to protect the clips by rolling the material you are isolating the pens from each other. The generous space inside the Brasstown means I get to fit more than a few sample vials or gel ink pens if I want to.

The Brasstown is one of those product that just makes senses the moment you see it. You will be wondering how did we survive without one for so long. The Brasstown is perfect for students who carry around a combination of fountain pens and regular pens along with a number of accessories. Personally I use this to transport my pens for pen meets otherwise my preference would be the Nock Co. Lookout. A Nock Co. Brasstown retails for USD$40 and I count that as a great deal for the pen case you are getting.

Additional Reading:

Posted on September 23, 2016 and filed under Case, review.

Review: Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green

Graf von Faber-Castell is a teal shade with a strong grey undertone. It’s quite similar to Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine but Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green is darker and grey-er. It’s a dry ink with a good dry time and it also shades well in the right pen. It goes from a pale grey-green to a dark green. Personally I prefer this over Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine. Which is your favourite of the two?

Similar Inks:


Editor's Note: I've also updated the J.Herbin 1670 review with a review for Caroube de Chypre. I've decided against seperately it out as a review on its own for the sake of having all the 1670 reviews together. You can find the review here


Posted on September 20, 2016 and filed under review, Ink.

Review: Pilot Custom 823

The Numbers:
Weight: 29g
Length (capped): 15.3cm
Length (uncapped): 13cm
Price: USD$288 from Pen Chalet
Body Material: Plastic
Nib Material: 14K gold
Filling Mechanism: Vacuum
Colours: Clear, Amber and Smoke

Intro:
Pilot makes a variety of different fountain pen models. Most are of the cartridge converter variety. The Pilot Custom 823 however is the only vacuum filling fountain pen that Pilot manufactures. It comes in a variety of colours but the amber is my favourite. The cigar shaped pen is one of the largest pen in Pilot’s line up. The warm amber plastic goes very well with the standard gold accents that adorned so many Pilot fountain pens.

Packaging:
When I purchased this pen it comes in a large black box. Inside the pen is nestled among satin like cloth and it comes with a bottle of Pilot Black. Now that’s proper packaging, though I would really prefer if the pen came in a smaller box. It would make for easier storage if nothing else.

Performance:
The Pilot Custom 823 has a clear amber cap. The dark inner cap is quite visible. Aesthetically, it doesn’t make for a pretty picture but it gets the job done keeping the nib from drying up.
Size wise, the Pilot Custom 823 is a larger sibling of the Pilot Custom 74, it is the same size as the 743 and is just slightly larger than the 742. Check out this page for a better idea. Though the Pilot Custom 823 is a large pen, it is well balanced. Posting the cap on the end of the barrel does make it back heavy especially with the weight of the plunger at the end of the barrel. The cap posts deeply so you don’t have to worry about the pen becoming overly long and unwieldy.

The Pilot Custom 823 comes with the same clip that is shared by almost all other Pilot pen from the Custom 74 and upwards. The only difference is the size. Personally I think the boring design of Pilot pens is really going to be their undoing. Ok rant aside, the cap unscrews in 1.5 revolutions. Under the cap is a size 15 (Pilot size) 14k gold nib. The nib is a good size to go with the larger pen body.

The grip is an opaque brown plastic then the entire barrel is a clear amber before ending with the same opaque brown end cap. The grip has a very slight taper down towards the nib and ends with a flare before the nib. The grip is comfortable and there is only a very slight step between the barrel and grip. The threads on the barrel are smooth and doesn’t hurt my fingers. The demonstrator nature of the pen barrel allows you to watch the ink sloshing inside.

Given that the Pilot Custom 823 is a vacuum filler, you have to remember to unscrew at least 2mm to break the vacuum inside the barrel and allow the ink to flow freely as you use it. It was a hassle for a while because I don’t have any other vacuum filler fountain pen but it wasn’t long before I just left the end cap unscrewed for the entire day and only tightening it when I was packing up to head home. Also the vacuum filler nature of the pen makes it one of the safer pen to bring it flying. Once the end cap is tighten, air pressure will not cause the ink from inside the barrel to be expelled. However what’s already in the feed is still affected by the ascend and descend of the plane.

The 14k gold nib comes in a variety of options even WA or FA nib if you purchase it from Tokyo Quill. I opted for a very boring F nib. It writes smoothly, exactly what I have come to expect from Pilot for an out of the box writing experience. Coupling the large ink capacity and the F nib means I have an excellent workhorse that can go on long writing sessions without fear of running out of ink.

One thing to note, Pilot recommends you only use Pilot standard or Pilot Iroshizuku inks with their pens. Personally I didn’t have any problems with ink flow, hard starting or skipping with the different brands of inks I’ve used but I have a friend who has problems after filling it with some Rohrer and Klingner ink. The best rule of thumb is probably picking an ink that’s better viscosity.

Conclusion:
The Pilot Custom 823 is the perfect workhorse fountain pen especially pairing it with the right nib for yourself. It has the largest ink capacity from what Pilot is offering right now. Plus, it looks understated but classy at the same time. Fill it with a bright ink and it brings a little flair to the table. Though I complain about the very boring fountain pen designs by Pilot, the 3 options that Pilot has for the 823 is by far some of the better choices available. (Not counting all the Pilot Metropolitan or Pilot Vanishing Point options.)

Pros:

  • Larger ink capacity
  • Nib size matches pen body
  • Classy pen design

Cons:

  • Hassle to remember unscrewing end cap

There are affiliate links in this review. I may get a small amount of store credit if you purchase anything via the links. You are under no obligation to do so but if you would like to do something nice, do buy what you need via my links.

Posted on September 16, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Montblanc William Shakespeare Velvet Red

Personally I am not a fan of red inks. I prefer my red inks darker like Sailor Jentle Oku Yama or Grenade but the Montblanc William Shakespeare Velvet Red took me by surprise. I purchased it based on a writing sample I’ve seen at my local pen store. Velvet Red shades and the way it does reminds me of Bungbox L’Amant. Not in terms of colour but more in terms of dynamic range. The range between the lightest and the darkest is quite beautiful. Of course, this is highly dependent on the paper and nib. Velvet Red is one of my surprising ink purchases this year.

Similar Inks:

Posted on September 13, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo Oro

The Numbers:
Weight: 37g
Length (Capped): 141.4mm
Length (Uncapped): 129.3mm
Body Material: Acrylic
Nib Material: 14K gold
Filling Mechanism: Piston filler

Intro:
Delta fountain pens have been all the craze over here on the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers’ Facebook group. I suspect the members of the group have single handedly wiped out the entire stock available on eBay. I picked mine up a few months before the craze and got a good price on the all orange, very flashy Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo Oro.

Delta has a range of different fountain pens in the Dolcevita line up and the naming can be confusing. The Medium is a cartridge converter pen. The Oversize is well… large and a piston filler. The one I am reviewing today is the Stantuffo, it is a piston filler model and it comes either with the Delta Fusion nib or 14K gold nib.

Packaging:
Delta has outdone themselves in terms of the packaging. The box is huge and heavy. It has an outer black cardboard box with the orange Delta sticker. Remove the cover and you will find a plastic box secured with screws. Next to the plastic box is a small bottle of Delta black ink. Under that plastic box is all the usual papers and instructions. Unscrewing the plastic cover, you will find the pen nestled in a bow tie shaped cut out.

The entire packaging is as ostentatious as the pen itself. Maybe it’s more than a little pretentious but I must say Delta knows how to impress with its packaging. Personally, I’d rather they had the pen in a smaller, more compact packaging, to save me on shipping if nothing else.

Performance:
The Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo is bright and flashy in all its marbled orange glory. It is a good size fountain pen but not too big that it’s too heavy. The pen is made of an acrylic material that looks like orange crushed ice. The material does help cover most of the pen mechanism but some are still visible underneath it all. The pen is mostly a straight, equal diameter barrel but it flares out slightly towards the piston knob. There is a slight step at the piston knob and it ends with a diameter slightly narrower than the barrel. The cap is just slightly larger than the barrel. The end cap unscrews easily to reveal the piston knob. The Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo do feel back heavy because of the metal piston knob and the metal furniture at the end of the pen. The balance does get worse the higher your writing angle is. You can post the cap if you are inclined to but the balance totally goes out of the window when you do that.

The pen is accented by rhodium trim except for the centre band which is made of sterling silver 925. There are models of the same name but doesn’t have the sterling silver centre band. One way to differentiate between the two is the detail on the centre band. The one with the sterling silver has the design engraved on the centre band while the other is laser etched.

The Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo has the traditional clip with roller. It is secured to the cap via a band on the exterior of the cap. The roller helps with securing the pen over a pocket or a pen case. There is a faint imprint of the words “Delta, Dolcevita, Midsize” at the cap. There is also the number 35460 / Italy just above the centre band.

The cap unscrews in less than a single revolution. The grip of the pen is nice and wide. It is neither so wide I have trouble wrapping my fingers around it nor so narrow that I cannot hang onto the fountain pen. This is a grip I enjoy, it is ever so slightly convex and ends with a slight lip before the nib to guide your fingers to a natural stopping point. The threads are not sharp and are gentle on the fingers. The tinted ink window is nice and easily visible even when capped.

The Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo is a piston filler pen. The piston moves up and down the barrel easily. The knob turns smoothly and without trouble. However as you turn the knob you might notice it clicks. There is a clutch allows you to continue turning the knob even if the piston is fully retracted. The piston filler system provides a good amount ink capacity over a standard cartridge converter system.

I opted for the 14k F nib for this pen. I am not sure if it is my writing angle or just my luck, the nib and feed is a little misaligned like my Delta The Journal fountain pen. It doesn’t affect the writing experience as far as I can tell. The nib writes like a true fine nib and it is rather stiff. Personally I prefer my nibs to be on the stiffer side. It aids in quick writing and works better with my writing style. If you are looking for a juicy, flexy nib you are barking up the wrong tree. Personally, I find the nib lacking in character but there is a stub nib option is available with an additional fee. In terms of balance between the size of the nib and the body of the pen, the nib does looked a little on the small side but I got the pen at a good price so I can’t complain.

Conclusion:
A flagship Delta fountain pen with a 14K gold nib at an excellent price what’s there to complain about? The piston knob clutch is an interesting feature that I wished that all piston filler pens come standard with. Though the balance is slightly off for me, this is a well made pen with a nib that writes well for my style. If you can find one for a good price, get it. I wouldn’t recommend paying full retail price for it though.

Pros:

  • Piston knob clutch
  • All that orange!
  • Piston filler
  • Stiff nib

Cons:

  • Slightly back heavy
Posted on September 9, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine

This is Pelikan’s 2016 ink of the year. It is a teal colour, one of those in between shade. I think this is a love it or hate it colour. I personally prefer if it committed to either a darker teal or maybe a bright turquoise colour. As one friend remarked Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine is sort of sitting on the fence. Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine is a dry ink. It is best used in a wet nib. It worked really well in my Faber-Castell M nib. However I had a hard time getting my TWSBI nibs to write with this ink. As someone who is totally lacking in a comprehensive dry ink library, I am tempted to hang onto this bottle of ink though the colour just doesn’t speak to me.

Similar Inks:

Posted on September 6, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.