Pelikan M620 – Piccadilly Circus Special Edition

Pelikan_Piccadilly_Circus_M620_Review

If you want a TL;DR of this pen, I adore it. I will also tell you that I have put another review on hold just so that I have another excuse to write with this pen tonight. Oh. Also, London.

I have lived in London my whole life, and I am so happy that I do. Of the 5 universities I applied to, 4 were in London (I let Mother think this is because I want to stay close to home, but really I just love the city). I really cannot put my love for this city into words. Ykno another thing I really love? Pelikans. Pelicans are pretty cool, also.

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So when I discovered that Pelikan did a City Series Edition of London, I NEEDED it. I go to a pen met up every month in London. This is where I met my Chief Enabler (you can read his review here (opens in a new tab)), and you will discover why he has this name. Because not only did he just prompt me to buy a Pilot Custom 823 and not only his Pelikan M100 ‘Stormtrooper’ (I am sure to do a review of these two pens) but also sold me this pen. And I am so thankful because, while I don’t have a grail list, this pen would certainly feature on said list.

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I received a few very weird looks when getting these pictures.. More can be found on my Instagram, 7heDaniel

So what makes this a London themed pen, other than by nomenclature? Well, the answer for that lies in the body design, which is difficult to ignore. Pelikan didn’t use this design just because it looks nice (and it does. It so does) but because it mimics the vibrant, neon aesthetic and embodies the out-going nature that Piccadilly represents. This is not a pen that is just sold with a special edition tag with new fancy design and swirls, it means something. To me, that is very important in the pen because if it didn’t have meaning, I think it would completely turn me off.

There is one issue I have with the pen: the furnishings are silver, and I am a gold guy. If I had the choice, then I would have gold furniture on this pen. However, it does not come with that option. But it isn’t something that annoys me as much as I love this pen (I’d say it’s a 3/10 annoyance but I have a 923728463763287/10 love for the pen). That being said, the pen has the Mxx0 nib which is the two-tone gold nib. This might irk some people. It makes it more personal to me so I’m not bothered by it all.

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But talking about the nib, it’s fantastic. It’s a fine, and compared to my M800 fine I think this is a ‘true fine’ while the M800 is a Pelikan fine (for those of you who don’t know, Pelikan nib grades tend to run a tad broader than other Western nibs). It isn’t as smooth, but gosh the feedback is beautiful and it sings! It is also very wet for a fine nib. Reverse writing and line variation can also be had.

The M620 is part of the same size class as the other M6xx pens. I regard 600 as a ‘normal’ size. M8xx as ‘large’ and M1xxx as ‘oversize’. I can still write with this pen without the cap posted — and that is super important as someone whom detests writing with the cap posted. I’ve tested the pens in my hand across the entire range of Pelikans before, so I knew that this size was okay for me. The pen also has the famous Pelikan pelican (ehh) clip which I adore as well as the mama and babba pelicans on the finial.

The pen is also lighter than the M8xx and M1xxx sizes. Not just because it is thinner and smaller, but this pen (along with the 400 & 200 series) doesn’t use a brass piston. So that mitigates a lot of the weight, which is great if you prefer lighter pens. Thankfully I have no preference for every single pen I buy.

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A few more size comparisons. From left to right: TWSBI Eco, TWSBI Vac 700, Pelikan Piccadilly, Sheaffer Legacy Heritage, Montegrappa NeroUno Linea
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A few more size comparisons. From left to right: TWSBI Eco, TWSBI Vac 700, Pelikan Piccadilly, Sheaffer Legacy Heritage & Montegrappa NeroUno Linea

You can buy an M600 for a cheaper price than what I got this for (and if not, you’re looking in the wrong place..!) and it will write exactly the same and feel exactly the same. But the original M60x design will not embody my favourite city in the world and something that has been a big part in my life recently (due to frequent trips into London, particularly with my girlfriend over the past two years). It’s personal to me and I love it. That’s what this hobby is about.

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I also love tea. Funnily enough, I bought this in a tea shop in Piccadilly long before I got this pen..

Only spend what you think a pen is worth; and to me, this pen is priceless.

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Namisu Studio Ebonite – Bock Nibs

As I said in the main review of the pen (which you can find here), I was going to make a separate review looking at the nibs on offer for this pen (excluding the steel medium and the titanium broad nibs). I will look at the extra fine and broad steel nibs and then the medium titanium. Best ’til last? Let’s see.

Bock steel fine nib review

I’m a broad guy but writing with this nib was just pure joy. I mention this in the broad review, but Bock really do nail the grades in my opinion. This is what I would expect from a Western extra fine. However, reverse writing makes it even finer. It’s actually rather impressive handling reverse writing.

Even though it’s an extra fine nib, there’s no scratch but a nice feedback that reminds you that you’re writing. I don’t like glassy smooth nibs. But in comparison to the other two nibs, this one is the hardest and has the least amount of bounce.

 fullsizeoutput_797But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any give to it. You press hard enough and you can get some utterly ridiculous line variation with it. As you can see with the smudge, the nib gives quite a wet line, and I found it did so even without much pressure either.

fullsizeoutput_791.jpegThe broad nib is smoother than the extra fine, which is a sort of given, it’s also a little springier. Again, with the broad nib you can get some really amazing line variation out of it. However, it fails when it comes to reverse writing as it gets very dry and it’s incredibly scratchy. fullsizeoutput_792The broad nib has a really generous ink flow. Using Lamy Dark Lilac and I think it really shows the ink off nicely. However, it isn’t so wet that I can’t use it as a lefty overwriter.

And the one you’ve all (I think?) been waiting for..

fullsizeoutput_793I’ve never used a titanium nib before – it was the first nib I went to when testing this pen out. I learnt three things:

  1. These nibs are SO FUN
  2. They’re not really practical
  3. Reverse writing with a titanium nib is awful

I’m fortunate enough to have control over the paper that I use in my day to day life so I was able to use the nib pretty freely. However, when I had to write on poorer paper.. It wasn’t so friendly and didn’t really play nice because it’s incredibly wet, and you can see how that by how much darker the ink is. This also means that your converter drains quicker than with a steel nib of the same grade.

And to drain the converter even quicker, the nib is very bouncy. As I said in the sample, I gave the pen to my mother and she didn’t enjoy it at all because it was “too bouncy”. I’d go as far as saying semi-flex. This actually backs up both posts – the nib is fun but not really practical in every circumstance. Especially with the reverse writing. Whenever I’m writing out formulas, equations or annotations I sometimes like to use the reverse for a little bit because it gives me more space to write as I can write smaller. Not with this nib. Sends a shiver down my spine just thinking about it.

fullsizeoutput_794But damn. Look at how that ink is laid down..!

img_6071But it can lead to smudging from my hooked handwriting. I did notice that sometimes. Usually when I go down line by line prematurely, which I sometimes experience anyway but not as often as I did with this. Again, an absolute gusher. I have no idea what a broad will be like.

So in conclusion, if I had to get one of the nibs, I think I would go for either the titanium and learn to master it or the extra fine because that really stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I usually go for broads and it’s just something new. If practicality is what you’re after, then go for the extra fine. If you want a bit of fun, go for the titanium.

Or.. You could get the titanium for a reduced price and then order your own Bock nib and have both. Consider yourself enabled. *drops mic*

Namisu Studio Ebonite

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.

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.

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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.

Super 5 Fountain Pen (Delhi)

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 (which you can find hier (German website, but easy to navigate)) name their inks (all of which I shall review in the future) and their 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 (£21.33 at time of writing (30th Jan 2017)) 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 gives you a line that’s very similar to the Super 5 rollerball (which I will also review). It’s 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 (if you read my handwritten review then I apologise for going in a complete reverse order..) 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.

Robert Oster – Deep Sea

I’m on my third cup of coffee. I feel I’m coming down with a cold or something and I’m very very tired. One thing I am not tired of, however, are these Robert Oster inks. Now, a disclaimer – for me, Blue Sea wins between these two inks. I’m very enthusiastic to get a few more of the Oster inks, particularly the blue ones, just to compare them. But this review is of Deep Sea. Yep. It has sea in the name, but I don’t have the brain power right now to think of puns so you’re spared.

Prior to getting these inks from iZods to review, I actually had a small sample of this ink from a pen meet-up I go to each month in London. It was about the time that I first had a sample of Pelikan’s Aquamarine and this is what started my love for teal inks. Deep Sea pushed me ‘deeper’. In comparison to Pelikan’s ink, Deep Sea is a darker teal – much darker. I did get one comment regarding my previous post from someone saying that I should include more comparisons between inks, so I took four swatches of inks I thought were rather similar, though the fourth one is a little far stretched to be ‘similar’. Being a dark ink, I thought it would be useful to highlight it’s more true-teal than lending itself towards green.

fullsizeoutput_670In my opinion, the ink sits very nicely between Blue Suede and Aquamarine (well, it sits above and left of respectively, but you get the idea). I included Ebony Green (which I have also reviewed) because it’s a very dark green, and this is a dark teal. When writing with it I was questioning whether it was more green, but this highlights it quite nicely and demonstrates that this is not the case.

Something to point out – of all the inks, when doing the swatches it was Deep Sea which was the wettest. No surprises, Aquamarine was the driest. Noticeably wetter than Private Reserve, but not excessively. I think noticeably is the best word to describe it.

In terms of behaviour, I was very impressed. The ink flows well (it lubricates very nicely) and is easy to clean out of pens. I think we still see Oster inks as the ‘new kid on the block’ (and not for a bad reason, but because the inks have made such a sudden impact on our community) and I would ordinarily be a little cautious of putting them in, say, my Pelikan M800 which is one of my favourite pens if it’s a new brand (the best example would probably be KWZ). From my experience everything has been fine.

Like inside the pen, the ink is also well behaved on paper. On Rhodia it appears a little darker than normal, depending on how you catch it in the light (mainly with ‘ink’, I can definitely remember why I wold consider this as a green-black/teal)

fullsizeoutput_66fAs I said, it looks similar to Blue Suede but a darker shade

fullsizeoutput_671img_5436On cheaper paper the ink actually appears lighter, which I find interesting. Can see showthrough, but bleedthrough is only really where I’ve pushed down when trying to get line variation.

img_5437To sum it up, while I do enjoy this ink, I don’t adore it like I do Blue Suede or Blue Sea for example. I do like it, but if I had to use one ink colour for the rest of my life, I would easily score this one out of the running if I was honest. Which I am because I received these inks in return for an honest review. Wasn’t that a nice segue? All views expressed are my own. Head on over to iZods to pick up a bottle, or two.. Or three of Robert Oster Signature inks!

Robert Oster – Blue Sea

Play along with me. Buy a bottle of ink for every dreadful sea related pun I make. The first bottle is a given because after reading, I can assure you’ll want to buy this ink:

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Inside my TWSBI Eco. Ohhhh, I’m such a tease.

Apparently this year, the famous Blue Monday (which typically occurs on the third Monday in the month of January) was the worst of the years since the formula was devised in 2005 and it was indeed something I felt. But it wasn’t bad – it was enjoyable. Why? Because I was using a blue ink – an AMAZING blue ink. So it was (good) Blue Monday for me this year. I’m going to tell you why this ink is absolutely phenomenal and I hope you’ll sea why (I’m so glad I got that out of my system).

For the United Inkdom meta review, I was sent the ‘sea’ Robert Oster signature inks. I have been fortunate enough to try out Deep Sea before, just as my teal ink fascination (perhaps that’s an understatement? Obsession?) was beginning to flourish. Along with the hype around Fire and Ice in the bloggersphere, it’s pretty safe to say that I went in with high expectations, especially as this ink is also a blue (unfortunately I was unable to get my hands on any Fire and Ice before writing this review, but from what I can tell, Sea Blue is slightly lighter in shade). Despite these expectations, I was still utterly blown away. While I have never used or seen Fire and Ice in person, I would go out and say that this is the ink that people should be going crazy over. Robert_Oster_Blue_Sea_Ink_ReviewFire is hot, sure. But this ink is hotter.

I’m a blue guy. I think the number of blues I have in my collection outnumber other inks, though I’m not certain on this. I have 74 inks at last count. So I like to think I know my blues, and this ink has certainly made an impression on me. However, I think what makes me think it’s a better shade than Blue Ice is because I’m not one for sheen. Sure, it’s fun and interesting and cool, but it isn’t a necessity for me. Another colour, Majestic Blue has very intense red sheen as well. So if you wanted a sheening blue, perhaps try those two. In terms of shading, I wouldn’t characterise it as  Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Mont Blanc Irish Green or Diamine Autumn Oak (to name a few..) but it isn’t Diamine Orange which is incredibly flat and two dimensional. I adore conservative shading inks, so this is definitely one of the reasons I enjoy this ink.

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Revision and also something for an ink review. Two birds with one stone. Electrode potentials, for anyone interested..? Written in a Rhodia A4 notebook on Clairefontaine paper.
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Rhodia A5 stapled notebook

In terms of shade, I would say that Deep Sea is definitely on the lighter side, but I wouldn’t call it a turquoise. For point of reference, it’s darker than Diamine Sapphire Blue. While I’ve been called out once before (namely as a result of my pedantic stance on the nomenclature of the Private Reserve inks I was reviewing a while back) so I hope I don’t rock the boat here, but I may as well mention that in comparison to other ‘sea’ inks, like Diamine Sargasso Sea, it is much much lighter, but more of a true blue in comparison to that of the greenish-blue, Caribbean Sea by Caran d’Ache. That’s my naming convention plug done for the review. Smooth sailing from here on out (I’m not even sorry). I would say it’s a more saturated, less.. Uh.. Paint like ink than Britannia’s Blue Waves. I never really realised how many sea-themed inks there are.

In between studies, I work as a part time waiter and manager at a restaurant. To keep things brief, we had a table that was rather rude and I had to write a statement to my Area Manager about the situation. The pen I used was inked up with this ink and I just took some copy paper from the restaurant office and went to town. The ink performed very very well. Unfortunately I don’t have any writing samples of this, but there was some bleed through, as well as in the manager’s diary (just a standard A4 diary from WH Smiths). But on other paper like Rhodia, Clairefontaine and Leuchtturm A5 it’s brilliantly behaved. No bleed/show through – as expected.

This is an ink that will beat any sinking feeling that you’ll experience on days like Blue Monday, so sail on over to iZods and pick up a bottle or two.. Or, uh, how many dreadful puns was that?

Disclaimer: I was sent these samples from iZods in exchange for an honest and fair review. All views expressed are my own and I did not receive any compensation as part of my review.

Darkstar Collection Notebooks

I honestly find it astonishing that Darkstar has only been around for a little over a year. Starting at the end of 2015, Darkstar have constantly been making their handmade UK notebooks better and better and better. Nothing’s perfect, and unfortunately I can’t say they’re Leuchtturm A5 (I say A5 for a reason, which I will explain below) or Rhodia level yet, but I can, without a doubt, see them heading that direction and taking the UK market by storm and I hope one day to see them being a major player within the international market challenging the names I just mentioned. Based in the United Kingdom, Darkstar handcraft their notebooks in a way that I can best describe as “personal”. I’m going to throw this out there so you can skip this part if you want – I’m going to talk a little about the business and why I appreciate them. Not about the notebooks themselves, I’ll start that after the next paragraph:

I first came across Darkstar on their Instagram page a while back. What gravitated me towards them was their interaction with their followers/customer base. One of the things that made me jump down this rabbit hole within the fountain pen(/stationary) hobby was the community. Darkstar do not let go of this, and that’s one of the things that makes using these notebooks so pleasurable; it’s all something that adds to the writing experience and that’s why I think it’s important to mention within the review because that’s something that I do not get when I am using a Leuchtturm notebook. They have nice colours, sure. Contents and individually numbered pages, that’s cool. But were the notebooks handmade? Do you know what went into the notebooks? These aren’t Mont Blanc pen notebooks for the businessmen/women, they’re custom made hand turned pen notebooks for the individual.

As I said, the company has been constantly improving their notebooks, and the version they’re at now still isn’t them at the top of their game. I did run into one or two issues with the notebooks. One being that the pages are rather prone to tearing out easily. The only other issue I ran into was the paper quality. While not disastrous, again, not Rhodia level (though, I would say better than the Leuchtturm Master, which is why I say it’s not disastrous; just not perfect).

The two notebooks I received came in a beige colour (akin to the kraft Field Notes) and a sleek matte black notebook with an interesting cover. It feels sort of like rubber but.. Not.. I honestly have no idea how to explain it. But from certain angles it looks like a regular notebook without the branding that you see on the beige notebook. If you want stealthy notebook, this is the one that you want.

When using fountain pens, I love being able to feel the ink. On this paper, I find that rather difficult as the characteristics of the ink is reduced and the line feels almost two dimensional, rather than three with things such as shading. Of course, no doubt this will be improved in further versions.

In terms of the tone, I wouldn’t call it white like Clairefontaine (which is what I personally prefer), but very very very slightly creamier. This might be part of the reason why I say the writing feels 2-D, because that’s what I feel when I write in Leuchtturm. I won’t say anything negative about the tone of paper, because that’s a purely personal preference.

fullsizeoutput_572Also works well with rollerballs; I have noticed a lot of feathering and bleed through on my Retro 51 when using it even in the Leuchtturm A5. The paper makes the ink behave very well. I feel that Darkstar have been able to tame the ink with their paper (which is certainly the priority), but a slightly glossier paper would do me. Again, this is personal preference. The dry time is still very very good. Not as long as Rhodia, but it doesn’t dry immediately. Some of you may know that I am left handed and I write hooked. By the time my hand runs over the line, it has dried fine.

In terms of the quality of the paper, it performs very well. It even handles my (admittedly terrible) flexing in a vintage Parker rather nicely. No bleedthrough, but I do notice ghosting. Again, a personal preference but I don’t mind ghosting as I think it adds character to what I’m writing. On closer inspection, I do notice that there’s feathering on my Sheaffer italic nib. Ever so slight, but it’s there. When using my Jinhao 1200, which is an absolute gusher, I don’t get that, so perhaps it’s partly to do with that particular nib rather than the paper.

I also notice that the quality control of their paper is a little hit or miss. However, when I say this, these notebooks were testers. I will not say whether you should or should not give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of quality control (including the binding issues, though it was an issue previously on their earlier releases) but something that I wanted to make you aware of. The individual sheets aren’t all flush and some pages in the black notebook are sometimes printed without the dot layout and just plain. I will say though, the notebooks are no strangers to laying flat!

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Notebook laying flat!
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As you can see, the left side is printed plain and the right side is dotted.

Binding issue.img_5020

All in all, while not at the top of their game, I know that Darkstar will continue to improve. If there are two things I hope to see in the future, it would be an A4 hardback with an improved binding and glossier paper. No doubts I can see the A5 being a big hit in future versions.

Disclaimer: I received these notebooks free of charge in exchange for an honest review and had no other compensation. All opinions expressed are my own. I would like to thank the folks over at Darkstar for the opportunity to review these notebooks, as well as the motivational images that brighten my Monday morning.