Manuscript ML1856 Fountain Pen

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen review United Inkdom

Manuscript is a British company that has been around since 1856. Being around for over 150 years, it is no surprise that this is not my first experience with Manuscript. I seem to remember always seeing their starter calligraphy sets in WH. Smiths and Ryman. The ML1856 is, thankfully, a step-up from these sets. With a price of £125, one should hope so – but I will get to that at the end. This is certainly an improvement from their other products, which is encouraging to see.

Manuscript ML1856 Turquoise Ocean

I got the 1.5mm stub nib. In the ML1856 range, Manuscript offers a 1.1mm stub, 1.5mm  stub and ‘handwriting nib’ options. The nibs are from JoWo in Germany and I think it is no surprise that Manuscript offer two stub nibs given their heritage. In my opinion, this allows Manuscript to pay homage to their past, while remaining a tool for the modern writer. This brings me on to the ‘handwriting nib’. It’s a medium nib – nothing special. The downside is that there are no (extra) broad/fine nib options.

1.5mm fountain pen nib review calligraphy

However, if you do want something other than a medium or a stub nib, it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve; the ML1856 fits a #6 sized nib and the pen is very easy to disassemble – this will of course add to the cost. But it might be something that’ll appeal to some people, as it means you can have things such as gold (or even titanium! (which I reviewed separately for my Namisu review)) nibs as well as various other nib grades. The new nib won’t be branded with the Manuscript logo. Regardless, even though the medium is a ‘handwriting’ nib, you can still use the stubs perfectly normally. Writing the handwritten review, I actually found that I might prefer using a stub in some applications when I have time on my side, such as journalling, to write. For anyone who hasn’t tried a stub before, I would recommend trying one from someone like TWSBI, who do 1.1mm and 1.5mm stubs. At any rate, I would not recommend just spending £125 on a pen with a nib, such as this, you’re unsure of if you’ve never used it before. TWSBIs are cheaper, easier to source and will be easier to sell/trade if you don’t like the nib.

You may wish to try a Lamy Safari stub, but I don’t know how they feel in comparison. For what it’s worth, I prefer the 1.5mm stub compared to the 1.1mm. In addition, I know that Lamy offer 1.9mm stubs if that’s something you’re interested in and not something I see very often. I’m not aware of how easy it is to find these nibs, so if you can’t find them listed with Lamy pens from your retailers then it might be worth dropping them a message.

1.1mm nib comparison with 1.5mm nib JoWo

1.1mm nib comparison with 1.5mm nib JoWo
Do I see feathering?!

The stub nib means you can dive a little deeper into certain types of calligraphy. In my opinion this is how Manuscript stays true to their history. Writing with a stub means you can get some pretty awesome line variation, which lends itself nicely to things such as gothic scripts. I think it goes without saying, but the 1.5mm has more line variation than the 1.1mm. This is natural line variation and I am not talking about flex. In fact, I have found this particular nib to be very, very stiff (as you will see in the picture below).

The difference between a stub and an italic is that the edges are rounded off on a stub which means you will have a smoother experience than a true italic, but as a result you sacrifice crisper line variation. I think it’s this smoothness that means you don’t get much feedback. While this might be great for some, I personally prefer a touch of feedback when writing. The nib is wet and the feed keeps up well which is important for the nature of the nib. However, interestingly enough, I found that when I tried a friend’s medium – sorry – handwriting – nib, I found it to be far wetter than this one. Though as you can see below, this is definitely a wet nib. In terms of reverse writing, no. Just no. It feels horrible and is slightly difficult, as well as being extremely dry after a while. I also mentioned in the paragraph above that the nib is very stiff. I could squeeze some line variation, but it didn’t feel pleasant to do so.

Manuscript ML1856 1.5mm stub fountain pen nib review
Written on Clairfontaine paper. Top line is normal writing, below that is fast writing and I see no skips; the feed performs well. Next I assess the wetness (very wet) and the flexibility (not much) of the nib. Faintly below is a reverse writing sample and it fairs poorly.

So let’s talk about something other than the nib. How beautiful is this pen?! In fact, all of the designs are very nice. What strikes me is that they all have a custom pen aesthetic. Below are three pens that I think look like they could be custom pens due to their design. However, it’s only the John Twiss one on the right that’s custom made.

John Twins fountain pen Manuscript fountain pen Laban pen review custom pen
Left to right: Laban Mento, Manuscript ML1856, John Twiss custom pen

This particular design, Turquoise Ocean, is slightly translucent. If you hold the pen body up to the light, if you are able to see the ink level in your converter, as well as the converter itself. I’m sure I will be asked – yes you can eyedropper this. I want to make it clear however that it is not advertised as an eyedropper. I also haven’t tried using ink in it, but I have tried with water and it seems to be sealed.

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Do u swirl bro?

I do find that Turquoise Ocean seems to have a feminine look to it. This isn’t something that really bothers me. But to some it may be a pro or a con. But I’m not one to be bothered. I think the design is hot. Though, I can’t seem to help and think that something like “Sea Green” would be a better name. It isn’t quite turquoise, but isn’t quite green either. #WhatColourIsTheDress?

The furniture on the pen, and indeed all of the pens in this line as far as I am aware, is silver. But while I prefer gold furniture, I think it would overpower the body. As with my M620 Piccadilly Circus I shall, on this occasion, accept silver. But on other models, I think gold would be a great feature.

Next is the clip. It has 1856 with two embossed circles. Why the circles? No, I don’t know either. I also don’t enjoy, and this is being extremely picky, the font that is used. I’m not sure if writing the year that the company was founded in a modern font is supposed to give some sort of contrast between old and new? If that is the case then they should’ve used a nicer font than what seems to be Arial (or at least some sort of sans-serif font). I would like to see something more calligraphic or classic. But at least it isn’t Comic Sans, ey?

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The clip itself is somewhat stiff, but usable. Perhaps “stiff” is the wrong word. Maybe “strong”.

The cap screws off to reveal a resin section that matches the body and cap. It is long and flares at the bottom. Because of my weird grip, I do have my index on the threads, but I don’t feel them.

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen review United Inkdom

If you are someone who wants to post their pens, this isn’t for you. Though this is already a fairly decent size and I think posting would be unnecessary(M600 size uncapped). Posting makes it even larger by the fact that it doesn’t post very deep and the cap isn’t held on very securely either. What you are left with is a golf club. Personally I prefer larger pens. but Manuscript can appeal to all writers with this size – and it’s not a small pen at all anyway. Furthermore, because the pen is resin it is lighter compared to others. If you are doing some sort of calligraphy, then you would probably want a lighter pen. This would be a great way to segue into the weights and measurements… But that’ll be left for the end.

Pelikan M620 fountain pen Manuscript fountain pen review
Birb

 

Manuscript TWSBI Eco Pelikan M800 Souveran Pilot Custom 823 size comparison fountain pen Manuscript ML1856 review
Comparisons between TWSBI Eco, Platinum #3776 (left) & Pelikan M800, Pilot Custom 823 (right)

 

If you don’t want the Manuscript but are looking for something similar then I would suggest you look into custom pens. This will drive the price up depending on what you ask for, but you could easily get something very nice for roughly the same price as this – and of course it’s going to be custom to you. If I remember correctly, my John Twiss pen (above) cost me £135.

All in all, I am impressed with this pen and pleased with how it performs in comparison to other Manuscript products I’ve used. However, I don’t think that I am £125 worth of pleased. It seems much of the price is the aesthetic, which is understandable up to a certain limit, but £100+ is above that limit. The pen offers stub nibs, which I think is great, but so do other brands; there’s nothing offered like a piston filling mechanism or a gold nib. As I said, I am impressed, but I think this would sit better in a price range of £50-70. I mentioned my Twiss pen costing £135 and personally I think it’s worth the extra tenner, but at a lower price I wouldn’t be as pushed to make a £85-65 jump.

Weights & Measurements:

  • Pen – 22g
  • Body – 12g
  • Cap – 10g
  • Capped – 133mm
  • Posted – 175mm
  • Uncapped – 120mm

Handwritten review (Blackstone Golden Wattle ink on Fabriano 85gm/m2 dot):

Manuscript ML1856 fountain pen reviewManuscript ML1856 fountain pen reviewManuscript ML1856 fountain pen review

This pen was provided by Manuscript in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for providing this review.

Silvine Original Notebooks

Silvine Originals Pocket Memo Note Exercise Project full collection review

Silvine Originals Pocket Memo Note Exercise Project full collection review

When I opened the package from Silvine, I had an amazing sense of nostalgia. I remembered seeing loads of these notebooks around my nanna’s house when she would look after me as a child. I think “Silvine Original” is a fantastic name, because they definitely do seem to pay homage to the original Silvine notebooks but with new fantastic designs, applications and of course – paper quality.

There’s a real personal touch with these notebooks with a hand stitched spine. I’ve had these notebooks for a couple of weeks now and I haven’t experienced any problems with them coming undone or anything like that. I would take complete confidence because they haven’t failed me during my time using and testing them. The stitching is done with a very dark blue thread, which gives a striking aesthetic that doesn’t detract from the design of the notebook. It also works very nicely with the black bold logos on the front.

Silvine is a British company that has been around for over 175 years. They explain how they feel that “British attitude has been one of enthusiasm, innovation and endeavour.” They’re certainly working with that ethos even in 2017; they’re a British company and “proud of it”.

Silvine originals notebook review pocket memo exercise note project
“British made”

On the outside, you see the iconic red cover that has been colour matched “to the 1960s bold red” cover. The same one that you’d be used to seeing in the Post Office, your local shop or, hey, sitting on your grandfather’s coffee table (my mother has also expressed her nostalgia when she saw them for the first time on our own coffee table). The cover is 300gsm that has a very interesting texture to it; I’d describe it as ribbed and feels very nice to the touch. The covers do well. I had one of them in my back pocket for a few days just to wear and tear it and it held up very well. There’s some bending as a result of being in the pocket, which is going to happen anyway – it’s not a hardcover. There’s no tearing or damage. It’s what I would call personality or individuality.

Going onto the inside, you’re greeted with 90gsm Natural White Wave writing paper,  which provides some feedback on your nib. That’s something that I really love about this paper. I like a smooth writing experience, but I don’t want it so smooth that you forget you’re writing (of course, part of this is the result of the nib itself as well as the lubrication of the nib as a result of the ink). I know I made reference to this in the above paragraph, but I think it adds ‘personality’ to the writing experience. It feels more personal and more enjoyable. The textured paper really hits the spot for me. It’s white paper, but it’s described as having an “off white hue”. It’s not ice white like something you’d see in some Clairefontaine or Rhodia notebooks, which achieves a vintage look to the paper and I rather admire that. On the topic of the paper, I noticed across all the notebooks that the paper quality was very good. I mentioned it’s 90gsm, so that’s what you would expect. On some notebooks (such as the Pocket) I experienced ghosting. I’m not going to moan about that, because I do enjoy ghosting to an extent, but I didn’t experience any feathering or bleed through. I was able to write on both sides of the paper.

There are a few more things that go for every notebook, so instead of repeating the same thing, I’m going to lay them out here. All the pages are perforated, which means you have the option of tearing them out if you need. I had no trouble tearing out pages that weren’t necessarily the first page in the notebook. The pages are held in very well; I would not be worried about turning the page and tearing it out by mistake. Furthermore, the perforations aren’t very obvious. So if you do want to keep every page in tact, I certainly wouldn’t worry about them falling out. Another thing I experienced across all notebooks was that the paper performed very well.

I received a large collection of notebooks. To make it easy to sort through them within the review, I’m going to talk about them individually from smallest to largest. I will state the name of the book, the size dimensions and the number of pages. The pages are the individual sheets, so you may want to double the number in your mind for the number of writable pages.Because let me assure you, these pages can take some beating. You can definitely write on the back of them. I will also include the price.

Pocket – 110x72mm, 40 pages £6.50

Silvine Original pocket notebook review

The pocket size is a dainty little thing and you can buy them in packs of 3 (because three is a magic number). This is smaller than the usual “pocket notebooks” such as Field Notes, and I think the purpose of this is because it’s designed more for a “shirt pocket”, as quoted by Silvine. The pages are plain, which I think are essential for something as small as this. It gives you more freedom on the page and allows you to scribble things down on the fly easily and quickly without feeling restricted, allowing you to easily transfer thoughts to paper.

I wrote the writing in the image below at work (it did indeed become a very busy day..) and it shows a little bit of ghosting but nothing drastic. I’m someone who rather enjoys a bit of ghosting through the paper. There’s no bleed through that I experienced, however.

I mentioned in an earlier paragraph about carrying this notebook in my back pocket for a few days. It held up incredibly well. There was some bending, which was expected, but there was no damage to the cover. As much as I love the Pocket, it sadly won’t knock out my daily carry pocket sized notebook.

Silvine Original pocket notebook review field notes
Comparison between the Pocket and a Field Notes ‘pocket notebook’

Memo – 159x97mm, 52 pages £4.50

Silvine Memo notebook review

The Memo size is the next size up. It’s more rectangular than the pocket size, and larger than your normal pocket notebook. Silvine say that the Memo “stands true to the proportions of the classic Memo book” and is “still the perfect size to keep with you all day.” Which I agree with. I love my pocket notebooks, but sometimes you need something a little bit extra – Memo achieves this. This isn’t a pocket notebook and, as with the Pocket, it won’t be knocking out my daily pocket notebook carry. But this is something that would be brilliant to throw in a backpack/satchel/messenger bag/whatever people are carrying these days.

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I promise that this wasn’t intentional, but Silvine state that the Memo “makes making notes, scribbling ideas or just taking down a phone number a beautiful thing.” This was something for work. The training I was doing, believe me, a nice notebook to write in was something that was well needed.. If “scoopy biscuits” is anything of an indicator..

With the faint blue lines, plentiful number of pages and an absolutely perfect size, the Memo will surely be a welcomed companion to your bag. This is probably my favourite of the collection, followed extremely closely by the Exercise (ohhh, the anticipation).

Note – 190x125mm, 52 pages £6.00

Silvine Originals note notebook review

The Note is a perfect companion to the Pocket. It has the same dimensions as the Pocket size; it also contains plain paper (but more pages than the Pocket). Being so complimentary, it means you are able to expand on your ideas you had created in Pocket and transfer them to Note.

Silvine Note notebook review
Do you like how punny I am? The birb reference is me testing out a new Pelikan I received.
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Wanted to highlight how the paper handles ink. This is a very wet ink and there’s no feathering or anything of the sort. Actually get some very nice shading [Noodler’s Saguaro Wine]

Exercise – 230x162mm, 52 pages £7.00

Silvine Originals exercise notebook review

School’s out (well.. Almost) but these notebooks are in! It was nostalgic writing in these because I remember using Silvine (and Rhino) exercise books during primary school 8 years ago. Opening the cover to see the classic blue lines with a red margin certainly put a smile on my face. Writing in this drives home the vintage or retro feel. Sadly I missed the boat when it came to using fountain pens in school (don’t worry – my classmates and I still found ways to get ink in our mouths and down our hands.. I’m ashamed to report there were more cases of the former than the later) but I did put a Pilot G2 to the paper, which is what we used in class and mmmmm baby. Along with the Memo, I think this is my favourite of the Silvine bundle. I would wish for more pages, but then I would be concerned what it would do to the binding, so I think it’s worth the trade off. Just have to stock up, ey?!

Silvine Originals exercise notebook review
Took the time to do exercise questions during revision. I present the answers to the questions on d-block elements..

Project – 305x200mm, 96 pages £14.00

Silvine Originals project notebook review

This is the big boy. It can be thought of as a very big, with far more pages, Sciences book from the Field Notes Arts & Sciences edition. Grid on the right and plain paper on the left. This is a notebook for your projects and, as Silvine put it, “less of a book, more of a locker of inspiration,” which I think sums it up rather nicely. With plain paper on one side you can include illustrations, pictures/photographs, designs, whatever and then annotate and write your thoughts on the right hand side. For me? Well I used it as an excuse to write out phases in bacterial growth aaaaand something a little less academic with a random colouring in of the boxes.

Silvine originalsfullsizeoutput_c5ffullsizeoutput_c60

The only negative thing I have to say about these notebooks is about this one in particular. The Project isn’t hand stitched, but instead glued. There was some slight manipulation of the spine which meant that for the first few pages it was hard to lay it flat. While this isn’t a result of the way it was bound (i.e. glued) because I was able to lay it flat easily and comfortably once I found myself further in, but as a result of the quality control.

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In conclusion, I think that we have a fantastic array of notebooks. Other than perhaps a gap between the Pocket and Memo for a size of the pocket notebooks we’re used to. My favourite size has to be the Memo – it’s large enough to use for a range of applications but small enough to be very convenient. Exercise, as I said, comes a very close second. It’s traditional to the old school (ha) notebooks that I used at primary school. The paper is extremely well performing and provides a lovely writing experience. The off-white hue gives it a very interesting contrast which, given the story, I think works very well for this collection.

I would like to thank Silvine for the opportunity to review these notebooks. I was sent them in exchange for an honest review. As a result, all views expressed are my own.

Kaweco Liliput

Kaweco Liliput fountain pen review ink pearl black fabriano paper

Kaweco is a company from Germany that’s been manufacturing pens since 1833. I was actually aware of Kaweco long before I was in the pen hobby; the Kaweco Sport was a pen I was as familiar with as the Montblanc 149. However, due to aesthetic I was put off. The Liliput, in contrast, did catch my eye. Because of my love for other German pens, such as from Pelikan, I was eager to have a play with a Kaweco. This was my chance.

Kaweco Liliput fountain pen review ink pearl black fabriano paper

I knew that the Liliput was a small pen. However, when I opened the package, I think that I truly did underestimate its size because I thought it would be a bit bigger. There’s probably some Freudian remark to be had there. I wasn’t put off by this – I was nevertheless expecting a less than average pen. Thankfully this is a grower (last one. I promise) as Kaweco thought ahead by putting threads on the end of the barrel so that you can screw the cap on to make it a full size pen; by using threads it means the cap stays on firmly.

Kaweco liliput

Kaweco Liliput pocket pen fountain pen review
dat ass

Ensuring the cap stays on by threads does have its drawbacks as well as advantages – it takes longer to unscrew the cap and then screw it back on the end when you write. As an assumption, you will want to use this on occasion for quick writing, but compare the effort of this with a Pilot Capless which uses a simple click mechanism. You also have to make sure the threads are aligned which surprisingly can be somewhat time consuming, and it also means you can’t post using friction.

Kaweco Liliput size comparison small pocket pen pelican sailor twsbi
(left to right): Pelikan M800, Pelikan M100, Kaweco Liliput, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco

Kaweco Liliput fountain pen size small comparison pilot pelikan twsbi eco 823 custom m800 souveran

Preventing the pens from rolling became too much, so I decided to stick with just a comparison to the Eco uncapped (of which needs to be cleaned it seems!)

This certainly is a pen that needs to be posted. I can write without the cap posted, but it’s very small and gets uncomfortable during long writing sessions. I’m not someone who enjoys posting pens, but because the cap and body seem to look well integrated (though don’t be fooled, it isn’t as flush as, for example, the Lamy 2000 with its piston knob), it doesn’t look as offending when I post. Which is my issue with the Sport that I mentioned in the introduction. Perhaps this is the result of there being no clip which makes it look as though the cap is part of the barrel (I am aware you can take the clip off the Sport, but the cap bulges out and doesn’t look as well integrated).

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Preventing the pens from rolling became too much, so I decided to stick with just a comparison to the Eco uncapped.

I won’t moan about there not being a clip, just highlight that it’s slightly annoying. Thankfully you can buy a clip separately. I refer to this as the “spaghetti argument”: I once had a customer at a restaurant I worked at who asked me why there was “spaghetti in [their] spaghetti bolognese” (thankfully they realised what they had just said after saying it out loud). Being that this is such a small pen, the lack of a clip is a double edged sword. On the one hand it’s annoying because you can’t clip it to a blazer or shirt or even trouser pocket. At the same time I think it makes the pen more compact and makes it more of a ‘pocket pen’. In addition, I feel it accentuates the aesthetic, which I shall get onto next.

Kaweco Liliput fountain pen review the spaghetti argument
Spooble is a word for whatever reason amuses me. I hope to see this definition on Urban Dictionary or something one day.

The Liliput comes in various colours and finishes – perhaps the most iconic recently is the ‘Fireblue’ which is head treated using a blowtorch to give a blue/brown finish. There is also the brass with its multiple finishes, but I was concerned with the brass making my hand smell of metal, which was also the issue with the copper. I opted for the black because together with the black nib, it makes the pen look so stealthy! In my opinion, that’s what a pocket pen should be – stealthy. Anyone reading the handwritten review or looking at the images, yes – using Kaweco Pearl Black ink is intentional.

Kaweco Liliput fountain pen review

The Kaweco Liliput is a cartridge converter pen. A standard international converter is over half the size of this pen; It can only take short international cartridges. I get nothing for plugging this, but I highly recommend the Kaweco ink cartridges – for two reasons. The first is that you might be able to find a selection that comes in this super awesome dispenser which, if done correctly, becomes a weapon for firing cartridges at potential FP converts. The second, and most important, reason is that the cartridges are resistant little buggers. It took me a good week or so to empty one of them (as a student, a full SI converter will last a day, maybe two at a push). Admittedly, this wasn’t constant use but I probably did use it just about daily. I wrote two English literature essays using this pen amongst other things and it still had ink in it by the time I came to write this review (I did change the ink though. I was using Summer Purple which I just can’t recommend enough – it’s beautiful). You cannot use the Kaweco converter with this pen. After reading numerous reviews of it, I wouldn’t recommend it anyway, but because the pen is so short, when screwing on the barrel you will actually decompress the sac and squirt ink out of the pen.

Kaweco cartridge dispenser
The dispenser operates by twisting the bottom. It can be refilled so don’t worry if you get excited while firing the cartridges. As I did. Many times. It can hold up to 8 small international sized cartridges.

Back on to the nib, it is very pleasant. It’s smooth but with a hint of feedback, which is how I like it. However, it is also rather dry, which is not how I like my nibs. The ink probably plays a part in this as well though, as I remember Summer Purple being far drier than Black Pearl. This may be seen as a positive given that this is a pocket pen and may be used on the fly on cheaper paper and perhaps part of the contributing factor as to why the cartridges last so damn long. I know I can adjust the nib myself to make it write wetter, but doing this will void any warranty on any pen, so beware before you try!  I also didn’t want to adjust the nib for the writing samples so that you can see how the nib writes out of the box (or, rather, tin). Kaweco are notorious for having baby’s bottom on some of their wider nibs, so I’d recommend to go for medium/below or if you’re feeling lucky a broad, but probably best to avoid double broad if you’re apprehensive about working on your own nib.

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Reverse writing isn’t too fantastic. It becomes drier and it lasts a word or two. There seems to be a surprisingly decent amount of line variation  for a steel nib, which is nice. If you don’t want a stock steel nib then you can buy a replacement gold nib for £100-120 depending on finishes. If you’re buying from a company you might be able to ask for a little discount if you buy the pen with the gold nib and not be sent the steel, but I’m doubtful they’ll be able to do that for logistic reasons or if it’ll even be worth it. Don’t ask don’t get though, eh? The nib units for many Kaweco pens can be changed between models.

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I do enjoy this dainty little pen. Do I think it’s essential? Ehh, no. It’s a nice little thing to have, but you’re not going to live every day regretting not purchasing it. For roughly £40 (for this finish) here in the UK, it falls nicely in the price range between starter pens and more expensive ‘pre-gold nib’ pens. £40 can be seen as a little steep but once owning it, I think it certainly earns its value. Don’t rush out to get this pen, but if you have the means and happen to stumble across it, I certainly wouldn’t say you should pass up the opportunity without a second thought!

Length:

  • Capped: 96.4mm
  • Uncapped: 87.5mm
  • Posted: 125.7mm

Weight:

  • Body: 6g
  • Cap: 4g
  • Total: 10g
Kaweco Liliput fountain pen review pearl black fountain pen blog black metal
lol I finally managed to sort out my printer scanner.. About damn time.

The Liliput fountain pen and ink cartridges/dispenser were supplied by Kaweco in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own.

Pilot Custom 823

This pen was bought by sumgai.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review sumgai
Sumgai: Slang for some guy – a lucky person who goes to auctions/car boot sales and finds pricey pens for cheap prices.

This guy. I found it during one of my eBay pen search marathons. It was found with a few hours left on auction and with no bid activity.

Before getting into the review, I’m going to highlight a few things as they are important to my views on this pen.

I have heard good things about the Pilot 823 and I did my research way before I even found the auction. I discovered that Pilot UK are kind of lacking in terms of availability for products, because this pen is not available for purchase from retailers in the United Kingdom. I always thought this pen was an unnecessary premium.

Let me tell you – this is not unnecessary. It is a fantastic addition to my collection. I bought it a few months ago as of writing and it hasn’t been uninked since I bought it.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom

The Pilot Custom 823 is one of the top of the line pens offered by Pilot. I am not really sure what Pilot’s flagship pen is, but this pen certainly does have a flag at least. The pen has an MRSP of $360 (I think it’s actually retailed at 288), which comes in at about £278 [as of writing, 30/04/2017]. So consider the Pelikan M800 range, in Pound Sterling, anyway. So it is a pricey pen but you certainly get your money’s worth.

The 823 is a vacuum filling pen with a #15 gold nib, which I am told is the same as a #6 size nib that you may be more familiar with. Comparisons to the TWSBI Vac 700 shows that the nibs are the same size.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom Broad Nib

Vacuum fillers are fun little things. Or, rather, big things. They don’t work on the same principle of the vintage Parker Vacumatic fillers, which work on comprising a sac. There are videos and posts out there explaining how to use these filling systems. So I will only gloss over it in this review.

To fill the pen, you unscrew the end cap and pull out the rod. You submerge the nib into the ink (you cannot use cartridges or converters) and push the rod down. This creates a vacuum when the plunger gets to the bottom of the barrel; causing the air to move into the barrel to equalise the pressure. In doing so it draws ink up into the pen. There will be ways to maximise the ink filling capacity, and in that I will recommend watching video demonstrations, as writing out how to do it will be tedious.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom Vacuum fill TWSBI Vac 700

The ink capacity is huge as a result, as you can pretty much use the entire barrel; which you can’t necessarily do with piston pens as the piston mechanism takes up part of the barrel.

One of the things about this filling system that others enjoy is that you can ‘close’ the chamber. This means you don’t have to worry about variations in pressures when, say, flying. You won’t get ink burping if you close the chamber when flying (or, the risk is reduced, so long as you do it correctly).

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom piston
Pilot say that you should “unscrew the end cap 2mm to allow for ink flow”. I measured it and it means unscrewing the end cap all the way.

This is a double edged sword, because it means when you are writing in long sessions, you will have to unscrew the end cap so that you can still get ink flow, as you will only be able to use the ink in the chamber. I don’t get annoyed about doing it – it takes 2 seconds and I don’t notice it when writing. If you don’t want to leave it open, you can always unscrew it and refill the chamber if you find it running dry. For example, if you don’t like the aesthetic.

The nib is 14k gold and this thing is smooth. I have a broad nib, so take into consideration that it might be a bit smoother than a fine(r) grade. Being gold, you do get a bit of spring and line variation, but it really isn’t that generous as you do get railroading quite quickly.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom nib

You can reverse write, but it takes the line right down to a fine and it gets quite dry.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United Kingdom writing sampleAs you can see, the pen is a gusher. The ink that is laid down just looks stunning. The ink of choice is J Herbin Rose Cyclamen and hnnnnng. Fast writing, the feed keeps up impeccably well – take into consideration how wet this nib is; it shows just how well the feed keeps up with writing.

As expected, the writing experience is very nice, which you are almost guaranteed from Pilot.

Something that I didn’t include in the handwritten review is a comparison between the TWSBI Vac 700. Something that made me hesitate buying it (if I could) at retail was that I viewed it just as a TWSBI Vac 700 with a gold nib and a little sleeker (and it is; it’s more business like while I see the Vac as an industrial sort of design – much bulkier and less well integrated between body and section). The 823 is superbly well balanced and well weighted; it isn’t so heavy it’s difficult to write, nor too light that you forget you’re writing. I find that the Vac is a tad more tedious in terms of writing experience. Of course, there’s the gold nib that you have to consider and I find that an unfair comparison. I have never had a problem with a TWSBI nib and I have a fine and 1.1mm stub for my TWSBI Vac and they write perfectly, it’s just that the Pilot is.. Well, a Pilot nib.

The 823 has gold furniture, so that’s another win in my eyes.

Pilot Custom 823 TWSBI Vac 700 comparison review

Both pens measure up near enough the same (the TWSBI is just about longer uncapped) – another similarity is, of course, the vacuum filling mechanism. With the TWSBI you also need to extend the blind cap when writing for long periods. You can, however, disassemble both pens and you can unscrew the piston rod with the TWSBI wrench for the 823.

Pilot Custom 823 TWSBI Vac 700 comparison review

Aesthetically, it’s hard to describe this pen. The design is sort of conservative, but it is ‘turned up a little bit; with the use of transparent/translucent barrels. The 823 looks so much better than a Montblanc 149, which people tend to think of as a ‘business pen’. Both are cigar shaped and have that ‘business’ look to them, but the Montblanc is too boring compared to this.

I bought this pen pen eBay; so I didn’t have a say in the design. But I hope one day to own an amber barrel too. The broad nib is lovely but lately I have been jonesing for finer nibs, but using this nib does make me reconsider that. I also think this is closer to Western broads, if not then it’s only a hairline thinner.

Pilot Custom 823 size comparisons review Pelikan M800 TWSBI Eco Pilot Capless Vanishing PointThe Pilot 823 isn’t a small understated pen. I have large palms but relatively small fingers (to which my girlfriend teases me about..) and I find the pen sits comfortably in my hand, which is great because I hate posting pens.

Pilot Custom 823 size comparisons review Pelikan M800 TWSBI Eco Pilot Capless Vanishing Point

I got the Pilot 823 for a very good price. If you ever have the means to get this, even at full retail, then you will be getting yourself a FANTASTIC pen and I just can’t recommend it enough. If you were to ask me what a ‘next-next level pen’ would be, it’s this.

Weight:

29g overall; 19g body; 10g cap

Length:

149mm capped; 130mm uncapped

Handwritten review with J Herbin Rose Cyclamen.

Pilot Custom 823 fountain pen review handwritten reviewPilot Custom 823 fountain pen review UK England United KingdomPilot Custom 823 fountain pen reviewPilot Custom 823 review fountain pen ink United Kingdom United Inkdom

KWZ – Cappuccinno

Diamine Kaweco Montblanc Caran d'Ache Ancient Copper Organic Brown KWZ Cappuccino Caramel Brown Toffee ink review comparison

Before getting into the review of the particular ink, there are a few things I need to iron out. I will first be discussing retailers and then particular pens and how they react with this ink. Rather lengthy, but if this is the first review of the four posts that you’re reading, I recommend reading it. The first part is more ‘for me’, but the second part could save you a pen!

This review is the final KWZ review as part of the United Inkdom meta review. Ink samples have been sent to members of the United Inkdom (myself included). These were supplied by Pure Pens. I have, however, bought KWZ inks in the past from Bureau Direct. I want to include this disclaimer because I do not want to continue with a review if I do not highlight where the source of the ink in the review is from for this series. Grapefruit and Cappuccino (this review) are full bottles from Bureau that I have bought myself, while Honey and Menthol Green are samples I was sent specifically for review purposes courtesy of Pure Pens.

Finally – KWZ inks have an infamous reputation of reacting with TWSBI pens – specifically the Eco. I have encountered this problem personally, with Grapefruit in my Eco. I know that Honey has been known to stain the pen barrel and Menthol Green apparently stains converters (we shall see in my review if this is the case with me). I am not sure if this is the same case with other TWSBI models (540, 580, Vac 700(R) or (Vac)Mini) – I am not brave enough to try as I do love my TWSBI pens. The barrel gets scratched and it’s very difficult to move the piston – it is thought that the ink reacts with the silicone grease but I am not sure if this is 100% the reason. It is my understanding that KWZ have been working on changing this, but again, I am not brave enough to try and you never know how old the bottle of ink is that you’ve bought (i.e. before or after any reformulation). I have a Pilot 823 that was shipped to me after the original owner used KWZ ink and there’s no damage to the piston arm or any scratching/clouding on the barrel. I haven’t tested it myself though. I have also been told by other users that the Pelikan piston became slightly harder to use (only slightly so) and after reapplying grease it was find again. Use at your own risk.

Jump to another KWZ ink review (they will be updated with hyperlinks as the reviews are published and all links open in a new window):

  1. Grapefruit
  2. Honey
  3. Menthol Green
  4. Cappuccino

Brown is an interesting ink colour. I feel that a brown ink will either be loved or hated. They are Marmite inks (rather ironically, as Marmite is kinda brown).

KWZ Cappuccino fountain pen ink review brown

Even though you might not consider it to be a diverse family, I find brown inks can actually be rather varied. Some might be a dried mud/earthy brown like Caran d’Ache Organic Brown or an orange/brick red brown such as the ever beautiful ink, Ancient Copper, by Diamine.

However, browns can also be a dark, almost chocolate brown. The sort of brown you see in the Lindt chocolate adverts where the “master chocolatier” (I wish I was compensated by Lindt to throw that phrase in. I was not) picks the melted chocolate up by the whisk and let’s it crawl back down to the bowl. You know the one. Inks such as Diamine Chocolate Brown, Kaweco Caramel Brown and Montblanc Toffee Brown come to mind. Hungry yet?

Diamine Kaweco Montblanc Caran d'Ache Ancient Copper Organic Brown KWZ Cappuccino Caramel Brown Toffee ink review comparison

Then you may need to wash that food down with a drink. KWZ Cappuccino will hit the spot.

Cappuccino is a brown ink (spoiler) that has the dark and chocolatey look, but with a hint of organic/coil colour (still hungry?)

However, that’s what makes this ink so fun and beautiful. The mix gives to some fantastic shading that could be similar to the colours in a coffee (or think of Pelikan’s Cafe Creme, which I will own one day……..). For that reason, I think that the name Cappuccino is better than Latte because of the chocolate colours and the fantastic blend of coffee and organic browns.

One of the things that I love about the colour brown is how fantastic it looks with blues and this is a brown ink that goes well. It isn’t too dark but not too light and I think that gives a lovely contrast, especially with vibrant blues.

KWZ Cappuccino fountain pen ink Diamine Blue Velvet anniversary ink
To me this is just utterly beautiful. The blue ink is Diamine Blue Velvet. Notice the shading, too.

KWZ Cappuccino is, as expected, well flowing and wet. But the ink has a different smell to the normal vanilla/thyme smell. It smells somewhat medicinal. Cough medicine comes to mind, or Call (which was the absolute greatest thing about being ill as a child).

KWZ Cappuccino fountain pen ink review blogOn cheaper paper the ink becomes flatter and veers away from the ‘chocolate’ brown and focuses more on the organic side of the ink.

Brown inks aren’t everyone’s go to colour, but the variation in lines and how it looks with blues means that this ink will be in my rotation quite often. Maybe even knocking out reds for annotations whenever I’m using a blue.

This particular bottle was purchased with my own funds from Bureau Direct at a price of £12.95. KWZ’s Iron Gall inks can be purchased for £16.95.

Handwritten review:

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KWZ – Menthol Green

KWZ Chemistry

Before getting into the review of the particular ink, there are a few things I need to iron out. I will first be discussing retailers and then particular pens and how they react with this ink. Rather lengthy, but if this is the first review of the four posts that you’re reading, I recommend reading it. The first part is more ‘for me’, but the second part could save you a pen!

This review is 3 of 4(and a half) as part of the United Inkdom meta review. Ink samples have been sent to members of the United Inkdom (myself included). These were supplied by Pure Pens. I have, however, bought KWZ inks in the past from Bureau Direct. I want to include this disclaimer because I do not want to continue with a review if I do not highlight where the source of the ink in the review is from for this series. Grapefruit and Cappuccino are full bottles from Bureau that I have bought myself, while Honey and Menthol Green (this review) are samples I was sent specifically for review purposes courtesy of Pure Pens.

Finally – KWZ inks have an infamous reputation of reacting with TWSBI pens – specifically the Eco. I have encountered this problem personally, with Grapefruit in my Eco. I know that Honey has been known to stain the pen barrel and Menthol Green apparently stains converters (we shall see in my review if this is the case with me). I am not sure if this is the same case with other TWSBI models (540, 580, Vac 700(R) or (Vac)Mini) – I am not brave enough to try as I do love my TWSBI pens. The barrel gets scratched and it’s very difficult to move the piston – it is thought that the ink reacts with the silicone grease but I am not sure if this is 100% the reason. It is my understanding that KWZ have been working on changing this, but again, I am not brave enough to try and you never know how old the bottle of ink is that you’ve bought (i.e. before or after any reformulation). I have a Pilot 823 that was shipped to me after the original owner used KWZ ink and there’s no damage to the piston arm or any scratching/clouding on the barrel. I haven’t tested it myself though. I have also been told by other users that the Pelikan piston became slightly harder to use (only slightly so) and after reapplying grease it was find again. Use at your own risk.

Jump to another KWZ ink review: (they will be updated with hyperlinks as the reviews are published and all links open in a new window).

  1. Grapefruit
  2. Honey
  3. Menthol Green
  4. Cappuccino

So. The review!

KWZ Chemistry
My own wit. Sent as a reply to someone about chemists using inks, which I found very fitting to this review series as the owner of KWZ has a PhD in chemistry! Also managed to get some A level revision in, so two birds with one stone?!

Over at the United Inkdom, our chief Scribble (verb and proper noun), will often save a teal ink for me to review whenever we get samples of inks in.

KWZ Menthol Green fountain pen ink review

Well, Menthol Green is that ink.

KWZ Menthol Green is a teal ink that has a slight leaning towards green. This is most easily observed when you compare it to its look alike, Diamine Marine (below) and especially on cheap paper. Like other KWZ inks, this is a well flowing ink, but I found it to come out of the nib slightly drier. Though, by KWZ standards, that is by no means dry. Despite coming out wet, the inks dry with a very respectable time – which this ink also does. Oh. Vanilla. Yep. Smells of vanilla.

KWZ fountain pen ink review menthol green
One thing you can always count on with KWZ is that the ink will be nice and saturated.

There have been reports of Menthol Green staining converters. I have not had that problem. I haven’t tested the ink in TWSBI pens either, but the issue is usually a tad more complicated because of silicone grease and the such. Either way, unless you have a c/c demonstrator, you won’t notice any staining and converters are cheap if it does become an issue. I was using this with a Montegrappa converter (which I believe is just a branded Schmidt K6) and had no issues. This ink is also very easy to clean out; which is something that I have noticed with other KWZ inks as well.

KWZ fountain pen ink review menthol green
My Montegrappa converter was completely fine after cleaning the pen out.

One thing I noticed about the ink is how similar it is to Diamine Marine. So much so that in the handwritten review I changed pens to one with Marine inked up and I couldn’t notice the difference. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s rebottled, however. What leads me to this conclusion is mainly the vanilla, but when you look deeper, I notice that Menthol Green lies closer towards green. This is most easily visible on the second pass of the swab.

KWZ Menthol Green fountain pen ink review Diamine Marine ink comparison
KWZ on the left and Diamine on the right. Menthol Green is certainly greener and Marine may perhaps be slightly lighter.

One ink that I thought it was going to be similar to, but turned out to be much lighter in comparison, was Roher & Klinger Smaradgrün (which translates to ’emerald green’ thanks to my fluency in German ability to use Google translate).

KWZ Ink Roher and Klinger Smaragdgrun

KWZ Menthol Green is a beautiful colour and of course, I think that every person should own a teal ink. But for the premium price, is it worth getting over a cheaper, and larger in volume, Diamine bottle?

KWZ fountain pen ink United Inkdom review

It certainly flows better and cleans easier, but Diamine are by no means poor performing inks (aside from Sargasso Sea which has a staining reputation). They do, after all, have over 100 inks in their line up so they must be doing something right. Personally, £11.95 compared to £5.95 for 20ml less of ink isn’t worth it. But there are differences that may make this ink appeal to you over Marine. I also want to stress that this is not an ink that has simply been rebottled. Konrad at KWZ has a PhD in chemistry. This achievement requires a lot of hard work and the dedication he has to the manufacturing of his inks is something I respect hugely. This ink is 100% KWZ formulation. Kudos!

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KWZ on the left and Diamine on the right

Cheaper paper displays the differences in a far more obvious way. KWZ is greener while Diamine is definitely lighter and closer towards blue.

fullsizeoutput_9ccOn cheaper paper the ink loses its shading and appears greener.

IMG_7348For those interested, Diamine showed more bleed through.

There are some inks I think you should ‘just get’. While this isn’t one of those inks, I do feel that this colour family is a need. If you think this appeals to you then by all means pull the trigger because I know you will not be disappointed with the colour or performance of this ink.

The sample for the new formulation of this ink was supplied by Pure Pens, (opens in a new window) an online retailer based in Wales, UK. Hop on over to their website and snag yourself a bottle for £11.95.

All views expressed are my own. Pure Pens supplied the sample and I received no other compensation for doing this review.

Handwritten review:

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KWZ – Honey

Before getting into the review of the particular ink, there are a few things I need to iron out. I will first be discussing retailers and then particular pens and how they react with this ink. Rather lengthy, but if this is the first review of the four posts that you’re reading, I recommend reading it. The first part is more ‘for me’, but the second part could save you a pen!

This review is 2(and a half) of 4(and a half) as part of the United Inkdom meta review. Ink samples have been sent to members of the United Inkdom (myself included). These were supplied by Pure Pens. I have, however, bought KWZ inks in the past from Bureau Direct. I want to include this disclaimer because I do not want to continue with a review if I do not highlight where the source of the ink in the review is from for this series. Grapefruit and Cappuccino are full bottles from Bureau that I have bought myself, while Honey and Menthol Green are samples I was sent specifically for review purposes courtesy of Pure Pens.

Finally – KWZ inks have an infamous reputation of reacting with TWSBI pens – specifically the Eco. I have encountered this problem personally, with Grapefruit in my Eco. I know that Honey has been known to stain the pen barrel and Menthol Green apparently stains converters (we shall see in my review if this is the case with me). I am not sure if this is the same case with other TWSBI models (540, 580, Vac 700(R) or (Vac)Mini) – I am not brave enough to try as I do love my TWSBI pens. The barrel gets scratched and it’s very difficult to move the piston – it is thought that the ink reacts with the silicone grease but I am not sure if this is 100% the reason. It is my understanding that KWZ have been working on changing this, but again, I am not brave enough to try and you never know how old the bottle of ink is that you’ve bought (i.e. before or after any reformulation). I have a Pilot 823 that was shipped to me after the original owner used KWZ ink and there’s no damage to the piston arm or any scratching/clouding on the barrel. I haven’t tested it myself though. I have also been told by other users that the Pelikan piston became slightly harder to use (only slightly so) and after reapplying grease it was find again. Use at your own risk.

Jump to another KWZ ink review: (they will be updated with hyperlinks as the reviews are published and all links open in a new window).

  1. Grapefruit
  2. Honey
  3. Menthol Green
  4. Cappuccino

So. Time for the review!

“Oh honey” is what I was saying to myself when I realised what a fool I was for being so late to this party. KWZ Honey was the ink that took KWZ into the mainstream within the pen community (in my observation at least). Why I didn’t get a full bottle of this sooner is beyond me because I rather adore this ink. As with Lamy Dark Lilac, I finally understand the hype.

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Honey is a thick golden brown substance made by bees and often finds itself mixed into my green tea. This ink only shares one of these characteristics, however.

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If I don’t become a doctor, I know there’s always the chance for me to become an artist. KWZ Honey with honey. And a bee.

KWZ Honey is a saturated golden brown ink that, unlike real honey, is well flowing and will not clog up your pen. I do not own any inks quite like this. I have plenty of browns and the closest in my collection that I could think of was Diamine Autumn Oak, but the comparison was way out as it’s far too orange. Diamine Golden Brown isn’t much of a close match either as it seemed darker and warmer (but I was only going off of comparisons online).

KWZ Ink review wetness
Ink that lubricates the nib and is wet on the page, but has a decent drying time (Clairefontaine Europa paper)
KWZ Honey ink review
Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng. The ink looks tasty.

One of the things that attracts people to this ink is how it shades. What I love about the shading is that there’s a lot, but it’s definitely subtle.

KWZ have reformulated Honey (and I am not sure how this affects interaction with TWSBI pens). Konrad, the owner and manufacturer of KWZ ink, says that the colour remains the same, but the scent has gone. I am fortunate to have a very kind friend whom has lent me a sample of the old formulation of Honey. Pure Pens have sent the new formulation to review.

KWZ Honey old formula and new formula comparison

I can certainly tell that the new formulation doesn’t have the KWZ smell. Which is disappointing in my opinion because I really do enjoy the smell

However, while some people have said that they notice differences between the two formulations, I can’t notice any differences.

KWZ Honey old and new ink formulation comparison
Perhaps best represented in this picture – I don’t notice any differences. Old on the left and new on the right.

In my writing sample I did say that the new formula seems lighter, but while reading over it a second time, I can’t even remember where I changed from the pen with the old formula to the pen with the new formula. If you ask me, you won’t lose out on the amazing colour you see online for this ink.

However. I might have to eat my own words when you consider cheaper paper. I do want to point out my hypocrisy – the new formulation does seem to be a little browner/darker when you use it on cheaper paper.

KWZ Honey ink reviewAnd once again, it seems more evident here. The top is the old formula and the bottom is the new formula. Perhaps more red/orange? But rest assured that if you are using the paper that otherwise handles fountain pen ink well, then you’ll see no differences. That’s what I experienced when testing with things such as Rhodia, Clairefontaine and Tomoe River.

I think that KWZ Honey is a truly unique colour and it should feature in everyone’s collection. It isn’t a straight up brown and it isn’t sepia. It is an ink that is easy on the eyes and strays away from characteristics of brown inks which I think is the closest colour family.

The sample for the new formulation of this ink was supplied by Pure Pens, an online retailer based in Wales, UK. Hop on over to their website and snag yourself a bottle for £11.95.

All views expressed are my own. Pure Pens supplied the sample and I received no other compensation for doing this review.

Handwritten review:

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