Cleo Skribent – Classic Gold Piston fountain pen review

Cleo Skribent was born in a garage shortly after the Second World War. The company’s first collection was known as the ‘Cleopatra’, named after the pharaoh of the same name in order to pay homage to the care, innovation and attention the Egyptians put when making the pyramids (even though Cleopatra lived closer to the launch of the first iPhone than she did to the building of the pyramids). However, the company’s founder believed these values were reflected in the production of the pen. Eventually this was shortened to ‘Cleo’, and the ‘Skribent’ part (or ‘Scribble’ translated to English) was the name for a collection of ink pens, which is where the name Cleo Skribent comes from now.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

The company manufactures within Germany. In the pen world, I certainly ascribe many German manufacturers to have innovation and quality at the forefront of their minds (with the exception of Lamy’s 50th anniversary 2000 pen..), so what the name represents isn’t far fetched, even if I am being very pedantic about the chronology. I am extremely conflicted about this pen – and I have had it for a good few months (I think I had it a couple of weeks into my university course, and I’ve finished my first term now) and I just can’t make my mind up about it. However, I think I have landed at the “this isn’t for me” side than “oh my goodness, everyone needs one of these!” side.

My indecision comes from feeling this pen is good, but at the same time not. One thing that I struggle to appreciate, however, is the nib. So this is where I shall begin.

Nib

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

The nib is a 14k gold nib. Usually I am very impressed with German nibs, but the Cleo nib just doesn’t measure up – not only to the German counterparts, but what I expect from a nib in general. The pen didn’t write out of the box – which doesn’t bother me too much, though I know this is a big thing for some people. For me it’s a bonus if it does write out of the box. However, after a flush, the pen still didn’t write as I had hoped. This is when it does become a problem for me. The nib goes from running a decent wet line to becoming quite dry, and sometimes even skipping. It isn’t a persistent issue, but frequent enough to cause annoyance.

 

The feed doesn’t keep up terribly well when you’re looking for line variation. This isn’t a flex nib, but you do expect a level of springiness with gold nibs – as a generalisation. You can squeeze quite a bit out of this pen, but you’ll get railroading quite quickly. If you want to get a thicker line you will need to go slower.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

The nib could be wetter. I think in the image above, the smear you observe is because this ink is a highly saturated ink and can feel slightly oily when smudged. Diamine Bilberry, which I have used in the writing samples for this pen, isn’t an ink that I’d consider dry, either.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic
Supposed to be a medium nib, but here it’s running very dry, compare this with the reverse writing sample below..

The nib does get very dry when reverse writing; it’s good for a few sentences, I would suspect. Though I do find it to be smooth – which I find more important in reverse writing than whether it writes a normal wet line as I usually flip the nib when I need to write smaller, such as when writing equations and fractions.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

Design

This pen in particular is white with gold trims. I think this is a very sleek and understated look – it’s beautiful. I’m a huge fan of this colour scheme. It’s still quite conservative and something you could absolutely take into a meeting, but without being yet another black and gold pen.

Some comparisons for size and aesthetic with a few other pens:

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic
Left to right: Platinum #3776, Pelikan M800, Skribent Cleo, TWSBI Eco, Sailor ProGear II
Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic
Left to right: Platinum #3776, Pelikan M800, Cleo Skribent, TWSBI Eco, Sailor ProGear II

On the finial you have the Cleo Skribent logo, which is a C with a square inside. I’m not quite sure what the square is supposed to represent; the base of a pyramid perhaps? Simple design, but it works and I like that it’s on the top of the finial. It’s in red, which goes well with the white of the pen. The cap screws off and the clip isn’t so stiff that you can’t work it, but it feels extremely reliable.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

Under the cap you have a reasonably long section and a very very slight (in fact pretty negligible) step up to the body. You also have an ink window, which is extremely useful. Because you can’t unscrew the body and see the capacity, the ink window is very very important. The annoying thing about white pens with threads is that ink sticks to the threads like a bastard.

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Filling

The pen is advertised as a “piston” which.. Yes, in a sense. Captured converter is a better term, however. You can’t remove the ‘mechanism’, so if you’re someone who wants to use cartridges, this isn’t the pen for you.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

You get to the converter by unscrewing the end cap. Initially I thought this was a piston knob, so when it came off I was a little surprised (perhaps worried would be a better term as for a split second I had thought I had done something wrong!) You twist the mechanism in much the same way as a normal twist converter. One thing to note is that it definitely does hold more ink than a normal converter.

I’m someone who enjoys using a bulb syringe to clean my pens. Unfortunately I can’t use this method on this pen, so cleaning it requires the same technique as a piston.

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic
Ink is Diamine Bilberry, FYI

Feel

It’s a long pen, it’s also thin and on top of that it’s very lightweight. This is another thing that makes me “er” when deciding on my opinion of the pen. I don’t like the lightweightness of the pen. Coupled with the font on the cap band just makes this feel so cheap. I understand this is very particular, perhaps a bit petty, but if the pen is eponymously named after, arguably, one of the most famous pharaohs of Egypt for the point of innovation and structure, everything needs to be squeaky tight and there are elements that let this pen down. I need this pen to be slightly shorter; a bit heavier and maybe slightly increased in girth – which would make it great. Though, don’t be fooled – I don’t have anything against slim pens.

Also, as this is a large pen, this certainly doesn’t need posting – making it a shocking 163mm. Time for baseball, anyone?!

Price

This pen retails, with VAT, for £155. I know this is a gold nib and advertised as a piston (though I’d really argue that it isn’t), but £155 is far too high a price for this pen. I would so much rather pay almost double that for a Pelikan M800. It’s a piston filler, has a gold nib, it shares an understated design but the proportions and measurements are perfect for the pen – the nibs are also incredibly reliable. Alternatively, I would also rather save the money and buy a cheaper, albeit perhaps with a steel nib, pen. If a piston filler is something you desperately want, buying cheaper won’t sacrifice that – you could invest in a TWSBI, which I think are brilliant pens.

Would I buy it?

Simply, no. I just couldn’t click with this pen. I don’t think the price, the feel or the nib meet at an equilibrium that makes everything worth it. The design is nice, but if I wanted to get something nice to look at, I’d buy a piece of art. Or.. I wouldn’t, that’s the other half’s forté.

  • Where to buy: Write Here
  • Price: £155.00
  • Recommend: Unfortunately not. The price of this pen just doesn’t justify what it offers.
  • Weight capped: 18g
  • Length capped: 144mm
  • Length uncapped: 134mm
  • Length capped: 163mm

Cleo Skribent fountain pen review classic

Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me for review purposes from Write Here, a British retailer. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for providing this review. I would like to thank John from Write Here for the opportunity to review this pen.

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2 thoughts on “Cleo Skribent – Classic Gold Piston fountain pen review

  1. I have the same model in black. The nib wasn’t as bad as yours, but nevertheless unimpressive when compared with the other German pens. It’s unfortunate, because the look and the finish of this pen are truly first class but, because of the nib, I have been refraining from buying more Cleo Skribent.

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