Italix is a brand sold by Mr. Pen here in the UK. They are fantastically made pens sold at a reasonable price because they skip the middle man and sell direct to the customer – I have heard people claim that these pens are in their favourite list, and I don’t blame them. They are executive, look smart, write well and there’s so many nib choices; something you don’t usually get at this price point. The pen for review here is the Chaplains Tankard.
I was very drawn (get it?) to this pen when I saw it due to its design. I think in part because it’s a flat-top, and this is not as common as the rounded pens that are in the market. I like both designs, but for me I think the flat top design is more executive looking – I’m somewhat irked that the Montblanc Meisterstuck pens (with all that they represent) aren’t flat tops. On the Mr. Pen website (link above) there is an option to buy two of these pens (each with different nibs if you want) – one of the pens will have a rounded dome on the top branded “Italix” (and I think the branding looks quite good). If you are buying singularly then it will come with the plain flat top.
The pen comes in black with gold trim – this is the only option. Personally, I think gold trim is the best and while they’re not exciting, black pens can still look good. So I’m happy with this being the case, but others may not.
This is, I think, what interests people the most. Italix is a brand that will provide a number of nib grinds – and the cost is still low. This nib in particular is an italic (I think. It doesn’t look rounded enough to be a stub) and it’s very smooth – which is odd for this nib grade because at the wrong angle it can get snagged in the paper and be scratchy (again, I maintain it’s not a stub nib). Other nib grinds you can get range from standard rounded nibs to extra broad italics and even oblique nibs! The nibs are from Germany and you can rely on the quality (it’s either Bock or JoWo. I can never remember the different motifs). The scrollwork is nice and it is also branded, which is a bonus because (even if it’s not made strictly in house) I still prefer branding on a nib. The writing experience is amazing – well flowing, nice line and smooth.
Due to the nature of the nib, reverse writing isn’t possible, but you do get some nice natural line variation. Another point to make is that this is a very wet nib – but not unusable.
It doesn’t stop at the nibs. This is a cartridge/converter pen, with a twist (punny….), but intended to be used as a converter. It’s not strictly a captured converter as you can remove the converter, but it is a similar concept. You unscrew the end cap and there you can twist the converter to fill the ink. The converter (as you can see in the pictures) is modified slightly to enable you to do this.
Sure. Cool. So what?
That’s sort of my take on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to have, but I don’t really understand the necessity of it.
This isn’t a huge pen, but it’s definitely a reasonable size and isn’t so much on the smaller side. I did a size comparison between a number of pens, but I chose the Sailor Pro Gear II as a comparison because it’s a smaller pen, but also flat top.
As well as sitting well in the hand, the pen isn’t too heavy or uncomfortable. I would assume this is something you would buy as an executive gift, but without the executive price tag, so in part I think it’s important that it’s got a decent weight to it, as some people (particularly if they’re not in the pen hobby) assign weight to quality. This is a bad assumption – the Platinum 3776 is very lightweight but is (in my opinion) much better than the Jinhao 159, which is a relatively very heavy pen.
As I said above, Mr. Pen cuts out the middle man and sells direct – so they keep the cost down. Some pens you see on their website priced at £20~ would have a significant markup if it were from somewhere else. This particular pen costs a stupid £28, and I say stupid because I think it’s undervalued; you could squeeze another £10-20 I think. There is the option to buy two at once (one with the domed top) for £48, which means you can try out even more nib options (or get one for yourself if you’re buying for someone……!). So you get a discount of £8, which I think is quite good – that’s a bottle of ink for example.
Would I buy it?
I will buy an Italix pen this year. After trying this, I’ve really enjoyed the pens and think they’re super cool. Would I buy the Chaplain? Perhaps. I do like that it offers a flat top, but I would prefer if there were other colour options – provided the gold trim is kept. I think this is a good gift for someone graduating or whatever that might not know much about pens and is keen to try them out, but without having to go to the Montblancs etc.
If not this, then what?
TWSBI is the first thing that comes into mind. That being said, you don’t get the same nib options.. Though, you won’t get that from any brand at this price point – at least that I am aware of. Of course, you could buy a pen and grind it yourself (at your own risk). You could go through the rest of the Italix catalogue and find something – some offerings can be quite colourful, too.