Review: Chesterfield Antique Oxford

Note: I've changed the water test to the bottom of the review. Saves some paper.

My thanks to Marty for the ink samples!
Chesterfield is an American brand of ink made by either Private Reserve or Diamine. It’s not a super well known or popular ink. There is no real consensus though more lean towards Diamine. It seems that xfountain pens used to sell these inks but now xfountain pens’ website now re-routes to the Birmingham Pen Company. However they don’t sell any Chesterfield ink. Now putting that aside, Chesterfield Antique Oxford is a bold and bright blue ink with a red sheen. Plus it also shades very well. Chesterfield Antique Oxford is a lubricated blue ink that flows well.

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Posted on March 21, 2017 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Jinhao - Dragon’s offspring

The Numbers:
Weight: 58g
Length (capped): 145mm
Length (uncapped): 125mm
Price: USD$21.30 on eBay
Body Material: Metal
Nib Material: Stainless steel
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and converter
Colours: Various

Intro:
Another China made fountain pen this time by Jinhao. I must say if you are not inclined to read negative reviews, it’s time to stop now. My thanks to Sunny for loaning me this pen. With that out of the way, I think that’s about the last positive thing you will read in this particular review. Let the rage begin.

Packaging:
The Jinhao Dragon’s offspring comes in a solid and heavy wooden box. The box is decorated with Chinese characters. Opening it you will find the fountain pen and a mini wooden scroll inside. Personally I found the packaging a little heavy handed with the sheer Chinese-ness. Well it is named Dragon’s offspring or I think it would be better translated as Descendants of the Dragon so I guess that’s what Jinhao was going for. The box itself is quite heavy and can be repurposed as a pen box for the desk. The packaging is a mere preview of the pen itself.

Performance:
The Jinhao Dragon’s offspring is a heavy pen that comes in a few colour options. The one I have is the brown and gold version. The barrel and the cap is mostly a bronze colour and tipped with black finial and end cap. It is also accented with a gold clip, centre band and end rings, oh don’t forget the “nipple” at the top of the pen. Overall, this is a rather ostentatious but cheap looking fountain pen. It doesn’t comes across as classy at all. It looks like it is trying so hard to impress but it manages to fall down the hill hitting everything along the way.

Let’s start with the dragon head clip. It looks really gaudy and mediocre. As a clip, it does serves it purpose but that’s about it. The pen cap has rows of Chinese characters etched into it. These characters are ancient Chinese which subsequently changed and evolved over the years to give us the modern day traditional and simplified Chinese characters. Then, closer to the clip, there are the Chinese characters that translates to dragon’s offspring etched on the cap. Finally there is a etch of a traditional Chinese dragon curling around the pen barrel.

The cap opens and closes with a light snap. The closure doesn’t feel secure and it feels as if the cap will pop open with just a light tug. I suspect it contributed to a problem that I will discuss later. The Jinhao Dragon’s offspring is a back heavy pen unposted but the cap can be posted if you enjoy fighting the pen for control. The grip section is a regular black plastic tapering towards the nib. It is smooth and easy to hold. The step between the barrel and the grip is small but can be sharp depending how sensitive you are to such things. The Jinhao Dragon’s offspring is a cartridge and converter fountain pen. The convert it provided has a small spring inside to help agitate the ink.

The nib is large and satisfying to look at but that’s the end of it’s function. The nib dries out easily even when capped, I think in part due to the loose fitting cap. If you are working in a dry environment it will dry out all the quicker. Then once you get it going, it still hard starts. It writes wet but the constantly hard starts will mar any masterpiece you are writing.

Conclusion:
Personally, this isn’t truly a pen if it cannot function consistently as a pen. This is at best a decorative piece and nothing more. I don’t know if the pen is a lemon but as things stand now, I cannot recommend this pen to anyone. There are better gaudy pens to buy that function better.

Pros:

  • None!

Cons:

  • Unbalanced
  • Nib hard starts
  • Nib dries out even when capped
Posted on March 17, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Kobe Arima Amber

My thanks to Glenn for the ink sample!

Kobe inks are made by Sailor and this particular ink behaves similarly to other Sailor made inks. Kobe Arima Amber is a Nagasawa exclusive ink but is now also available in the US via Vanness Pens. It is a lubricated ink that flows well. It is a blend of brown and yellow. You might describe it as sepia. Personally I don’t really like such a warm, light brown. Colour aside, it shades well and behaves beautifully.

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Posted on March 14, 2017 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Edison Pearlette

The Numbers:
Weight: 18g
Length (capped): 131.7mm
Length (uncapped): 120.6mm
Price: USD$150 from various retailers
Body Material: Acrylic
Nib Material: Stainless steel
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and converter or eyedropper
Colours: Various

Intro:
Picture this, I was overseas in Hong Kong. It was late at night. I was browsing Instagram on the hotel wifi. I saw a sales post there. My eye was instantly drawn to the two Edison Pearlette fountain pens on sale. “No!” I told myself. “No, impulse buying.” I slept on the decision and promptly emailed the seller for either of the two Edison Pearlette with a perference for the one with the F nib. Can you imagine trying to co-ordinate a purchase over email while travelling. Long story short, I wasn’t able to purchase the one with the F nib and picked up this particular Edison Pearlette instead.

Performance:
The Edison Pearlette is a custom acrylic fountain pen made by Edison Pen Company. They are a custom pen company who also makes a line of production pen available at various retailers. The Pearlette is one such signature line fountain pen.

The Pearlette is not a large pen. The body reminds me of the Nakaya Piccolo but with a taper towards the end of the barrel. You cannot go wrong with this pen body shape. It is one of my favourites. Comparing the length of the Pearlette to the Piccolo, they are the same length but the girth of the Piccolo is wider than the Pearlette’s. This is one of the problems I have with the Pearlette but more on that later. Being made of acrylic, the Pearlette is a light pen. The particular acrylic used for this Pearlette is the Flecked - Aztec Gold Flake, it is a beautiful brown and orange specked material. At times, under the right light, it would seems as if the pen is glowing from within. Pairing it with a gold clip is the best choice. The acrylic is machined and hand finished to such a thinness, especially on the cap, you can see through the material! The workmanship on the Pearlette is flawless

The gold clip is a simple tapered one that has a decent amount of flexibility to it. The cap comes about 1 and 3/4 revolutions. The turning is smooth and easy. The cap can be posted to extend the length of the Pearlette. Now this is something I wouldn’t ever do on my Nakaya pens. Back to the Pearlette, the grip section is where I have the most problem with this pen. It is way too narrow even for me to hold it comfortably. I understand that this is meant to be a small fountain pen but the girth doesn’t have to be sacrificed right? Personally this is a deal breaker for me. I can’t write for long periods with the Pearlette without feeling uncomfortable. However, that’s just me so your mileage may vary. The Pearlette takes a standard international cartridge and converter plus it can be turned into an eyedropper pen, thanks to the acrylic body. If you turn it into an eyedropper pen, the ink capacity just went off the roof.

Next comes my next problem with my particular Pearlette, it was sold with a #5 two-toned stainless steel EF nib by JoWo. However I think the seller might have modded the nib previously. The nib wrote very very dry when it first arrived. I begged a local pen shop for help and they managed to straightened the nib. It improved the flow dramatically but not enough for my liking. I mean it is a simple fix of buying another nib for the pen. However with the grip being the way it is, I think it is rather pointless for me to keep the pen.

Conclusion:
The way the pen wrote was no fault of the Pearlette’s design but I just wished the grip section is wider. If it was the same width as the Nakaya Piccolo’s, I think the Pearlette would have been a great alternative to the Piccolo. Of course, I don’t think Edison Pen Company would have to copy the Piccolo’s design without adding their signature touch to it. It is a conundrum but as the Pearlette is now I can say it is not a pen for me.

Pros:

  • Excellent workmanship
  • A huge variety of acrylic and ebonite available to choose from

Cons:

  • Too narrow grip section
Posted on March 10, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Sailor Jentle Black

My thanks to Louisa for the sample.

Sailor Jentle Black is not a jet black super saturated ink. It shades subtly and looks more like black water colour rather the super dark ink of a marker. It flows well and it is lubricated. I like that it is “sticky” enough that I can use it in the FA nib without too much trouble.

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Posted on March 7, 2017 and filed under review, Ink.

Stainless steel nibs for everyone

Stainless steel nibs are what a beginner fountain pen user experiences. As you spend more time using fountain pens, most would move onto gold nibs. Personally, I am a fan of stainless steel as well as gold nibs. A good stainless steel nib can be on par and sometimes be better than a gold one. It all depends on the individual nib characteristics. The stiffness, the ink flow and the smoothness are the three main nib characteristics I usually judge my nibs on. I believe stainless steel nibs can be enjoyed by anyone be it a newcomer or an experienced fountain pen user. Here is a list of stainless steel nib pens that everyone can enjoy.

Faber Castell Loom
The Loom is Faber-Castell’s entry level pen. The original M nib I got with the Loom is super smooth. It’s like writing with butter on hot glass. Personally I found it way too smooth but if smoothness is the priority, you can’t go wrong with a nib from Faber-Castell.

Kaweco Supra
I love the size of the #6 Bock nib that my Kaweco Supra comes with. The nib has just right amount of smoothness and the ink flow is generous. What’s best is the #6 nib is interchangeable with other pens such as the Tactile Turn Gist and Franklin Christoph pens.

Platinum Balance
The Platinum Balance is not one of my favourite stainless steel nib but I think it deserves a mention for it’s surprisingly bouncy and soft nib. It can provide you with some cushion as you write that’s similar to how gold nibs behave.

Pilot Metropolitan
This is a popular beginner fountain pen and the nib is just plain outstanding. It comes in fine or medium nib and I prefer the fine. Pilot being a Japanese company does an excellent job with the fine nib. I’ve purchased 4 Pilot Metropolitans so far and all of them wrote out of the box. The nib is a great balance of smoothness and feedback that Pilot has mastered.

Pilot Murex
The Pilot Murex has good looks paired with a great writing experience. It is a complete package. The nib is plain but all business when it comes to writing. It provides a characteristic feedback and this is one of my favourite steel nib pens.

Sailor ProColor 500
I had one bad experience with an entry Sailor pen but the Pro Colour is different. The nib is stiff and hard as a nail. Though the nib is finer than the Pilot’s equivalent but it doesn’t scratch the paper. It glides effortlessly across the page and provides the perfect balance of feedback and smoothness. I wish Sailor would improve their entry level steel nibs so that they can provide some competition in the entry level Japanese steel nib pen space.

Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night
The stainless steel nib I got with the Visconti Van Gogh is outstanding. It isn’t just because it writes well with a good ink flow but the nib provides me a natural line variation with having to push the nib. Though the nib was sold as an EF, I found it wrote like a stub nib. It also has some give as I write as well. The nib is also beautifully adorned with scrollwork.

Do you have a favourite stainless steel nib pen? Drop me a comment and tell me about it!

Posted on March 3, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, thoughts.