Pelikan – Stola III

Pelikan is my favourite pen manufacturer – I think that the Souverän pens are amongst the best that you could have in your collection. While I’m not a beginner (I don’t think..?) fountain pen user, I was still very curious to see how the Stola III ranked – as it seems to be Pelikan’s way of getting into the beginner fountain pen market. So how does it fair?

Pelikan Stola III review

When people mention beginner fountain pen to me, three (I’m counting the two Lamy pens as one) pens spring mind: the Lamy Safari/AL-Star, Pilot Metropolitan & TWSBI Eco. So why isn’t the Pelikan Stola III in that line up?

Coming in at £19.95, the Pelikan Stola is cheaper than all of the models I just listed (with the exception of the Lamy Safari). However, if we’re comparing the models, it seems that on the surface, the price point is the only place where the Stola III comes out on top. Here’s why:

The Pelikan Stola III is only available in a medium nib – compare that with the EF – 1.5mm (1.9mm in the case of Lamy) nibs available from Lamy and TWSBI. And yes, I hear you – what about the Pilot Metro’? Well, while it also comes in a limited number of nib options, the nibs are Japanese grades and I think they’re far more beginner friendly than a German medium nib in allowing a user to find their perfect grade. Another thing that separates the Stola III and the Metropolitan is that the latter is available in various colours (and the Lamy Safari/AL-Star even more) which, again, makes it more beginner friendly. One of the greatest things about the pen hobby is how personal it can be from one person to the next and with different colours, you can achieve that. Unfortunately, the Pelikan doesn’t offer that.

One other thing I want to mention is about the filling mechanism because this is a huge downside to me. I wasn’t able to get a converter into this pen and I am certain this isn’t user error because I tried various converters that later fit fine into other pens. On Pelikan’s website, there’s no mention of using a converter, but it does say you can use “Pelikan’s high capacity cartridges” or “Pelikan Edelstein ink cartridges”. To be honest, I’m rather confused by this because it’s my understanding that Pelikan actually lead the movement in making the standard international cartridge/converter design. SI cartridges fit into the pen (the particular cartridge I have is a Kaweco small international) but for some reason converters don’t. Not everyone wants to use bottled ink, but I definitely think it’s useful to have the option. Why some beginner pens don’t come with a converter already I absolutely don’t know. Yes, Lamy. I’m also looking at you. We want to encourage more people into this hobby – let’s not make them think it’s a hassle or postpone their enjoyment because they have to wait for a converter to ship.

Design

The design looks very modern and sleek. I almost want to say industrial but at the same time professional; I’m very impressed.

Pelikan Stola III fountain pen review

As per typical Pelikan, we get the mama pelican and baby pelican on the finial. Another thing that is typical for Pelikan is the bill shaped clip – something I really enjoy about the Pelikan pens. Could be seen as gimmicky, sure, but I think it’s great. It’s different from the gold/silver coloured bill of the Souverän clips also because it isn’t a solid piece of material. It looks very Lamy-esque. There’s no cap band, but at the bottom of the cap reads “PELIKAN” in a more industrial font that is found on the Souveräns. The clip snaps off to reveal the section. The cap is aluminium.

 

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The section is larger than that found on the Souverän line (which is really small) but by no means large in comparison to other grip sections across other brands. Because the cap isn’t a screw type, there are no threads and the step up to the body isn’t noticeable and there’s nothing sharp. The body, in comparison to the cap, is brass but wrapped (which is where the name stola comes from as it means ‘wrap’ in German) in the same silver lacquer to give it the same aesthetic.

Now would be a good time to mention the difference between the Stola I, II & III pens. The former two are only available in rollerball and ballpoint, while the Stola III is available in rollerball, ballpoint and fountain pen. Stola I pens have an all black body design but with the Stola II the cap is silver while the rest of the body is black. It’s only on the Stola III that the body is silver, as well as having the Lamy-style clip.

Nib

As I said above, the nib is a medium – it’s steel and looks to be a little stubbish (though doesn’t actually write like a stub). I think the Pelikan nibs, aesthetically, are the best. The Stola III doesn’t compromise just because it’s a cheaper pen. The scrollwork isn’t as sophisticated and you don’t get two-tone designs as you do with the Mxx0 nibs, but there’s still a nice design and the Pelikan logo on the nib.

Pelikan Stola III nib

In terms of writing performance, I’m very pleased. Pelikan have a reputation for nib grades to run a little bit wider than the same size designation of another brand, but the steel nibs are an exception to this rule. This is a true medium and comparable to the Pelikan fine gold nib.

Pelikan Stola III writing sample
Normal writing (top) and fast writing (bottom) to show how the feed keeps up. Also a demonstration of the wetness of the nib (admittedly coming to the end of a cartridge) as well as the line variation you can achieve – at your own risk.

It writes a wet line and is very consistent with its flow, even during fast writing. It even offers quite a bit of line variation! It’s not advertised as a flex nib or intended for flex purposes at all. It’s a pleasant nib to use – I really do enjoy it and it gives a smooth writing experience. Perhaps a little too smooth. This is a personal preference, but I enjoy a little feedback when I’m writing.

Feel

The pen is rather heavy. Short and heavy is the best way to describe it. It isn’t a small pocket pen but definitely not M1000 size. Some might need to use the pen posted, but therein lies the problem: it doesn’t post. I think this is something to do with the inner cap inside the pen, whose purpose is to prevent the nib from drying out when it’s capped. I’d be wary of trying to force the cap onto the back to post it as you may run the risk of breaking the inner cap and that won’t be great for your nib when capped [insert witty line here about you never wanting to cap the pen “because it’s just that good.”]

Pelikan Size comparison TWSBI Eco Lamy Safari Al Star Pelikan M800 M400 Souverän White tortoise souveran
I gave the Safari (L2) to my brother. Don’t ask about the clip, because I don’t know either..

Pelikan Size comparison TWSBI Eco Lamy Safari Al Star Pelikan M800 M400 Souverän White tortoise

Uncapped you can see really just how small the Stola III is. The only other pen that I could compare it to would be the Pelikan M100 size:

Pelikan Stola III M100 comparison m200 m400But then compare this when the M100 is posted and taking into account the Stola III doesn’t post:

fullsizeoutput_e30I can use the pen unposted, but I think some might struggle and without being able to post securely has the real potential to put someone off.

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To conclude my feelings, I need to word it very carefully to convey my thoughts exactly as it could get a bit lost. Do I think this is a good pen? Yes – It writes well, I like the weight and I enjoy the design, but I am annoyed by the fact that it a) doesn’t come with a converter and b) doesn’t even fit standard international converters. Ultimately, I don’t think that this is the best entry level pen despite its economical price because it’s very restricted in what it offers.

  • Where to buy: Cult Pens (no affiliation for this review)
  • Price: £19.95
  • Recommend: As an entry level pen? Nope. Perhaps better for people who just want a new pen to their collection, perhaps from Pelikan but not necessarily a Souveran.

 

Measurements:

  • Weight
    • Body – 20g
    • Cap – 12g
    • Total – 32g
  • Length
    • Capped – 13.4cm
    • Uncapped- 12.2cm
    • Posted – N/A

Writing Sample: Pelikan Stola III with Kaweco Palm Green ink on Fabriano 85gsm

Pelikan Stola III writing samplePelikan Stola III writing sample

Taroko Design A5 Notebook

Tomoe River Taroko notebook review fountain pen ink sheen
  • Where to buy: Bureau Direct [here]
  • Price: £7.95 (other size options are available which are different prices. This is the A5 price)
  • Page count: 32 individual sheets
  • Paper: Tomoe River
  • Paper weight: 68gsm
  • Layout: Dot, lined & plain
  • Binding: Stapled (pages are not perforated)
  • Recommend? – For the UK market this would be fantastic as it offers a great way to try out Tomoe River paper. However, there are other options that are more economical (£/page) such as the Seven Seas Writer by Nanami. For us in the UK (and perhaps Europe too?) this might not be the best option due to shipping and customs etc.

I’m rather intrigued by the Taroko Design notebooks. I’ve owned the 124mm x 88mm passport size before and used it as an ink log, so I’m familiar with the notebook, but in a different size.

Taroko Design notebook review

There are many things that I love about the Taroko Design notebooks. The paper is 68gsm Tomoe River, which is somewhat difficult to source in the UK and is a cheap way to try the paper if you’ve never used it before. The quality is fantastic, but I shall get onto that further down. Another thing that really draws me to the notebooks are how thin the front & back pages are. Along with the 68gsm pages inside, the result is a very small and compact notebook – something thin enough that you could slip into a packed laptop bag or something of the sort with ease.

Taroko Design A5 notebook Tomoe River review pen
Is this still cool? You can use the notebooks for various 100% serious applications.

Tomoe River has a famous status within the writing community – and rightly so (there was the option for a pun there. I didn’t take it. You’re welcome)! When fountain pen ink is laid down onto Tomoe River the paper really does show off the ink in some of the most beautiful ways, and the most common way is through sheening. There are also a lot of shading opportunities, which you often get with less absorbent paper. So while the paper is great for playing with inks and the such, be wary of dry times as they do tend to be longer than other types of paper (I did a quick test between Rhodia, Clairefontaine & TR and the latter easily came out on top as making inks seem wetter). This is a pro and a con because on the one hand you get lovely wet lines put down that allow inks to really come into character on the page, though it also means you’ve got longer dry times and so if you’re jotting something down quickly then you’ll likely get ink on the opposite page when you close the notebook if you don’t give it long enough to dry.

Tomoe River Taroko notebook review fountain pen ink sheen
do u sheen bro? [Diamine Onyx Black & Sailor Hankyu Department Store LE Maroon]
Diamine Bilberry Sheen Bureau Direct Taroko design Tomoe River notebook review
Diamine Bilberry was written in a Pilot Capless [Vanishing Point] fine nib and I still witnessed a lot of sheen.
Tomoe River sheen Sailor Hankyu department store limited edition Maroon ink

On the topic of ghosting, it is noticeable, but I’m rather impressed because it actually holds up better to paper that’s thicker than 68gsm, which isn’t too shabby. I get no bleed or feathering, even with nibs that cry ink onto the paper.

Taroko Design writing sample ink sheen fountain pen tomoe river
Various writing samples with different inks and pens. The paper handles the inks phenomenally well.
Tomoe River Taroko Design notebook review
Shot of the reverse. Ghosting is obvious but there’s absolutely no bleedthrough.

While I’m a fan of the thin, somewhat delicate, front and back covers, this might not appeal to everyone. It does mean there’s a risk of tearing, bending and otherwise damaging the ‘clean’ look of the notebook, but does offer the opportunity to give it the “pocket notebook” treatment where the notebook does get a little beaten up which is something some people in the EDC community quite like the look of. But if you want to keep the notebook looking pristine then I’d be careful how you’re packing the notebook in – the thinness of the notebook is definitely both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it and your personal preferences.

Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
The black lined notebook
Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
Dot grid brown notebook.

There’s the option for the Taroko notebooks to come in lined, dotted & plain paper – each paper design with a different front and back cover (black, brown & dark blue respectively). The different front covers makes it easy if you want to pick up a notebook on the fly and don’t want to faff around opening each notebook to make sure that you’ve got the right paper type that you want in that moment. Of course, this assumes you’ve got at least more than one paper type. It would be great to see the option to choose your paper type and the colour of the front/back covers – though I do understand from a manufacturer’s stand point where the logistics may not be that easy to execute. Even though Leuchtturm are able to achieve this, Taroko aren’t pumping out notebooks at the same rate as Leuchtturm to give people such a wide choice of colour and paper. For the same reason, this is why I’m not surprised we’re not seeing green or neon pink colours and only these three. Though it does lend itself to a formal and conservative look that I rather admire.

In what has turned out to be my shortest review, I’ll conclude and say that this notebook has many fantastic applications. It won’t take up much space in a bag, the paper is amazing so you don’t sacrifice a good writing experience either. It is also great for personal use – I have been testing this out at a local pen meet up that I go to roughly every month because of how well the ink looks on this paper when I am trying out various inks or pens. It’ll certainly make taking notes fun (or perhaps distracting..!), though if you’re taking notes then you may want something larger as a result such as full A4 loose sheet Tomoe River paper, but then you run into a far higher price as a result. If you’re looking for a cheap way to try Tomoe River as well as an easy way to source it (speaking in terms of getting it within the UK) then you cannot go wrong with these notebooks.

Pros:

  • Thin notebooks
  • Great way to test out Tomoe River paper – for a cheap price!
  • Tomoe River paper! Really highlights the characteristics of an ink

Cons:

  • Dry times are long
  • Damage to front/back covers may be off putting to some (but aesthetically pleasing to others!)

Disclaimer: These notebooks were provided by Bureau Direct in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for doing this review.

Pilot Custom 823

  • Where to buy: Outside of UK – [Here] is the link to Goulet Pens
  • Price: $288
  • Recommend?: Without a second thought. I now have two of these pens (one broad (this review) and another medium). I absolutely will get a third probably in a fine nib. I am completely certain in saying this.

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

Pros:

  • Everything.
  • Large ink capacity
  • Nib writes phenomenally
  • Lovely design
  • Vacuum filling mechanism is fun
  • High price tag but 100% worth it

Cons:

  • Large ink capacity isn’t for everyone
  • Wish to see this in other nib grades such as an EF and also interesting grinds such as cursive italic – though the latter grade is very ambitious to expect

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 – Honey

  • Where to buy: Pure Pens [Here]
  • Price: £11.95
  • Bottle size: 60ml
  • Colour: Honey, literally
  • Shading: Yes!!!
  • Sheen: No

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.

Pros:

  • Beautiful colour – love it!
  • Flows well

Cons:

  • The new formulation is the exact same colour as the old, but I miss the strong smell

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

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Wing Sung 235 Fountain Pen Review

Wing Sung fountain pen nib
  • Where to buy: eBay
  • Price: £3.99 (+free shipping)
  • Recommend?: If you want the aesthetic of an old-school Sheaffer nib but for a cheap price, this if for you. An extremely lightweight pen so stay away if you’re someone for heavy pens.

Sometimes when I am bored and should be doing something useful with my time, I will end up on eBay searching to find a new addition to my collection. This was one of those purchases.

 

I don’t know a whole lot about the brand Wing Sung. I do know a bit in the sense that they are from China and sell relatively cheap pens. In my opinion, they are a more up-market Jinhao.

The pen writes very well. Initially I did have to flush the pen out because I was getting arg starts if I didn’t write with it for about 30 minutes. I didn’t spend £100+ or anything excessive so I’m not really too annoyed about having to do that. After doing it, the pen wrote very well. It’s nice and wet, has no flow issues and it keeps up with quick writing very well. The nib does make quote a bit of noise, but I wouldn’t say that it’s scratchy. I also like the feedback that it provides, but it still has nothing on what I get from my Pelikan M620.

The nib is, however, quite firm – even when taking into account that it’s a steel nib. When trying to squeeze out any line variation, it’s difficult for the feed to keep up.

 

The nib has an interesting design – it is very Sheaffer-esque. I think it is beautiful, though, I do not appreciate the huge ‘MADE IN CHINA’ stamp I think that could have been left out, or placed on the cap band.

Wing Sung fountain pen nib
I’m sure Wing Sung were going for a heart shape at the top of the nib, but it looks more like a butt..

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I do enjoy how the nib wraps around

The pen is incredibly light. I’ve no idea what this material is, but it reminds me of something like carbon fibre. If this pen cost more and was marketed in such a way then I would be fooled.But it is very sturdy; I have a weird tendency to hold the cap in my right hand while I write and dig my thumb into the ring opening. I haven’t noticed any disfiguration.

The converter is an aerometric type converter and I have discovered with all Wing Sung pens (a grand total of 3) I have used that they are all equipped with this style converter and are impossible to remove. This is no exception. On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about losing a converter, but on the other hand, if you need a spare converter to hand and this is your only pen un-inked then you’re out of luck it seems.

As far as I am aware, the 235 only comes in the rose gold finish. In the handwritten review (which you can always find at the bottom of the typed review) I say that it looks more like a typical gold colour. I compared it to another gold pen and I did indeed see a pinky colour to it. The 233 model appears to be a somewhat similar design but in black. These seem to be your only two options.

Of course – I am no stranger to gaudy pens.

Wing Sung 235 Jinhao 1200 fountain pen review

However, unlike the Jinhao 1200, you can actually feel the ridges, while on the 1200 there seems to be some overlay that means you can’t feel them.

All in all, I don’t think that it’s a bad investment for a nib that writes well and looks nice, a pen that is nicely sized and can be something to mess around with because it’s cheap. Certainly, this pen will not be like the others that you have in your collection.

And if it is – we need to get talking!

Diamine Hope Pink on Clairefontaine Europa paper

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Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Beautiful nib design
  • Writes well

Cons:

  • Aerometric converter that you cannot remove – would rather the option to use my own converters
  • Lightweight (may be a pro for some)

Namisu Studio Ebonite

  • Where to buy: Namisu [Here]
  • Price: £110 (+£45 for a titanium nib)
  • Recommend?: As long as you’re okay with no clip, this would be a great pen if you’re looking for something £100+ but is only offered with a steel or titanium, so £110 might be a tad steep. A great sleek pen!

Writing this review is as much a tease for me as it is for you – because this pen is still on pre-order (at time of writing, 11.02.2017). Pens with the steel nibs will be shipping out on the 15th February, with the titanium nibs shipping out on the 15th March. I know this because after only 10 minutes of using this pen I searched it up. So that’s my first impression over quickly, right?! NB – At time of publication the steel nibs will be shipping but the titanium won’t be shipped for another 4 weeks exactly.  The pens are now available for purchase from Namisu.

In this review I won’t consider the nib because I’ve been fortunate to try out a range of nibs (including a titanium!) which I shall include in a separate review which you can find here.

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Clairefontaine – Europa A4 Notebook with Lamy Dark Lilac

The design, to me, is very appealing. I enjoy the tapered design and the lack of a clip really accentuates the sleek aesthetic of the pen. The design is certainly, in my opinion at least, inspired by the Nakaya Piccolo. So.. What makes this different from the Jinhao 599 vs the Lamy Safari or the Hero 616 vs the Parker 51? Well. That’s a good question. The materials that they use for their pens are exceptionally better than that used by the typical Chinese plastic copies inspired designs (in this particular pen they highlight that the barrel is ebonite, while other bodies are (sandblasted) titanium and aluminium) that we often see, but is that an exemption? Now, I’m not saying this is a direct copy but it is very difficult to ignore the similarities between the two pens. This presents me with a difficult situation, but I feel it’s important to highlight; I am after all giving impartial reviews here. To be honest, I’m unsure how I feel. The other models in their lineup aren’t similar to other pens, that I can tell anyway. There are only a certain number of pens you can design with a tapered design. If not similar to the Nakaya, I’m sure there may well be another pen design I’d be questioning the similarities between. Benefit of the doubt? I’ll leave that one up to you because personally I struggle coming to a definite yes or no. Especially as the conical finials seem all too familiar, which is something that could have been avoided. Does it ruin the pen and the experience, however? No way.

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Getting it to stop rolling was an issue..

Namisu say that the Studio Ebonite is a “writing instrument that embodies the contrast between vintage materials and the latest technology.” They can achieve this by using ‘old school’ ebonite – a “rubber-based material originally used in the early 20th century for fountain pens, and later abandoned by most manufacturers in favour of various plastics, which were easier to work” and the titanium finials to give it the modern, technological look. I appreciate the idea, unfortunately I’m not sure if “titanium finials” are the pinnacle of latest technology. Using rudimentary materials like ebonite is something I quite enjoy as it shows this isn’t just ‘another pen’. It’s a nod and appreciation to the manufacturers and materials that got this hobby to where it is. Also, being made of ebonite, it gives the user an advantage where they might find the metal pens in their lineup difficult to use for extensive writing sessions.

The colour scheme is black with grey titanium furnishings. I’d say it lends itself closer towards silver than a ruthenium/grey type colour. I’m someone who prefers gold furnishings, but I am glad Namisu went with this colour scheme because gold would be far too ostentatious for this sleek pen. Even if there was a gold version, I’d still go for this colour.

The pen is a comfortable size. Uncapped it comes in at 12.8cm (a fraction over 5 inches) and capped it’s 14.0cm (a fraction over 5 and a half inches). I should also mention, and it is specified on Namisu’s website, this pen is not designed to be used posted. As someone who tries their hardest not to post pens, this is no issue. However, if you feel the need to post the pen then this is not for you as it’s “not designed to be posted”. The only posting I shall be doing with this pen is when I reluctantly give it to the Post Office.

For size comparison, it is only just about smaller than the Pelikan M600 uncapped, but larger in girth. I’d compare it to that of the TWSBI Vac 700 in that respect.

Namisu Studio Ebonite Size Pelikan TWSBI

Namisu Studio Ebonite Size

So. Pricing. On the product page, the pen can be preordered with a steel nib for £105.00 + £3.50 postage and packaging sent by Royal Mail tracked 48hr. I’m surprised that it isn’t free P&P, seeing as some retailers will do free shipping over [x] amount, which is usually around £20. That’s for UK shipping. Unfortunately I don’t know any American, Canadian or German addresses that I could try, but I did try my girlfriend’s address in the Netherlands, which gives a P&P of £7.50 for international 3-7 days tracked. For an additional £35 you can get the titanium nib. If you think about it, most manufacturers will charge a £70-100 premium for a gold nib upgrade. Considering how unique (in comparison to gold anyway) this material is, I’m surprised it’s half the price. £140 might seem a lot, but when £35 is a titanium nib upgrade (which you will read in my review of said nib, is a lot of fun and definitely worth it), is it really that much to pay? This is getting into the nibs a little, but the steel will only come in extra fine, medium & broad; there’s no fine option. Whereas the titanium nibs only come in medium and broad. The nibs are Bock, so I’m sure it’s an easy switch if you want a fine titanium instead of a broad or medium. Also means if you go for the £105 option, you’ll have a spare (#6) Bock nib unit.

So who’s this pen for? Well, others within the United Inkdom review community will know that I like to take the pens to school and out and about to test the pen thoroughly before I write reviews. My school notes are, in a way, the basis of my reviews. When taking this to school, I went to slip it into my front blazer pocket and.. Whoops. No clip. This isn’t a complaint, because I know it doesn’t come with a clip: you buy it knowing that. So I put it in my pen case, which wasn’t an issue. So if you intend on this being your sole carry, make sure you have an alternative case. This is best lived, if not in a pen case, in a pen pot because I’ve had it before where the pen almost rolled off my desk… Whoops! Of course, if you can get away with not needing a clip then it’s great for every day use because of its sleek profile.

To conclude – do I recommend this pen? Absolutely. I would have no issues recommending this to someone if they asked me what pen they should get for £100+ — so long as they are okay with no clip. That’s the only snag I think people may run into. If you can get past it, you’ll enjoy this pen I am sure.

Pros:

  • Options for a titanium nib
  • Interesting body material
  • Comfortable in the hand
  • Sleek/stealthy

Cons:

  • Clipless – which may be a problem for some people

Super 5 Fountain Pen (Delhi)

  • Where to buy: Papier Labor [Here]
  • Price: €24.90
  • Recommend?: A tad overpriced in my opinion. The nib is very smooth and is pleasant to write with but wouldn’t recommend to a beginner or over and above some other pens, such as the TWSBI Eco.

Orange is the new black? Ahh, c’mon. You knew it was coming. After my Blue Sea review I feel pressured to keep up the puns.. Anyway, while I’m not a fan of the show, I am definitely a fan of this pen.

Super 5 name their inks and pens after geographical locations:

  • Delhi – Orange
  • Darmstadt – Black
  • Australia – Burgundy
  • Arctic – White (pen only)
  • Atlantic – Blue
  • Dublin – Green
  • Frankfurt – Grey (ink only)

And the pens are identified in rather peculiar ways, if you ask me. The one I was sent is the Super 5 ‘B’. It’s said to be a calligraphic 1.5mm nib. It’s not. It can be found on their website for €24.90 which I personally find rather steep. Throw in a couple more quid and you can get yourself a TWSBI Eco. I like this pen, but I prefer the Eco.

When I first opened the package containing this pen, which was kindly sent to me by a fellow United Inkdom reviewer, whom received the pen from Super 5 themselves for review purposes, I was a little taken back and my first impression wasn’t entirely positive. But never judge a book by its cover! I promptly inked it up by syringe filling the small standard international cartridge that is supplied with the pen (as the converter you have to pay for separately) with the Super 5 Delhi ink and put the nib to the paper and my first negative impressions had disappeared.

Super 5 fountain pen

The nib is smooth. Really smooth. The sort of smooth that if you were in the bar with your significant other, they would be going home with this nib instead; it’s that smooth. Of course, part of this is attributed to the fact that it’s a broad nib, which are generally smoother than finer nib grades due to the way that they are made in order to be broad. If you wanted a smooth nib but with a little feedback, this is not for you. I am not really sure where the nibs are sourced; whether they are made in house (which personally I doubt but I may be wrong) or if they’re from an outside company. They are certainly not Bock or JoWo nibs.

 

The nib is nice and wet, though in the writing sample below, it might not seem that way but I’d put it down due to the ink being fairly dry, because the line it lays down initially is very wet indeed.

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Reverse writing is doable but not very pleasant to write with. It also runs dry very quickly. In terms of line variation, it’s already quite a broad nib and there’s not much give to it; it’s quite stiff. Can squeeze some out, though.

fullsizeoutput_6d6The final point on the nib is that the nib keeps up with the wet flow when fast writing. I cannot work out what I wrote, it was a while ago. I suppose I was practising my doctor’s handwriting.

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“Fast writing the feed keeps up well. A..” I give up.

The section is larger than others and made of plastic, so it isn’t slippy and is also comfortable as you can hold a little higher up the section – if that’s what you usually want to do.

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It is clear to see that the pen is strikingly orange. This is what put me off; it’s a plastic pen and it’s bright orange. I’m no stranger to gaudy and ostentatious pens, but for some reason on first inspection this didn’t do it for me. After pairing it with the Delhi ink, I sort of became to appreciate it and I do like the contrast with the black clip. There are other colours, however, so if orange is a deal breaker then you can always go for white, black, blue, green or red. While it is plastic, I would be careful converting it to an eyedropper.

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Which segues nicely — for some unknown reason to me, the blind cap screws off. I have no clue what purpose this serves. But this means there are additional threads that you will need to be careful with if you do convert it into an eyedropper. As well as the blind cap, the finial also unscrews. Again. Do not know why, because even if you remove the clip which is held in place by the finial, the piece of plastic doesn’t screw on all the way and so leaves a gap in between the finial and the cap body itself. For pedantic people like myself, this is a no go. In addition to this, every single thread is squeaky. Including the one to get to the converter/cartridge.

 

fullsizeoutput_6d9I really don’t understand why you can do this.

All in all, I’m not disappointed by the pen – quite confused by it, admittedly, and I’d be hesitant to pay the price listed, but it writes and it’s a nice experience. Quality control could be a little better though.

Pros:

  • Very smooth nib
  • Can be disassembled, if that’s something that interests you
  • Feed works and keeps up well
  • Various colours you can try as well as nib options

Cons: 

  • Why do you need to take off the finial and blind cap?
  • Expensive for what it is