A few days ago I started writing a September ‘State of the Collection’ post. But the scale of the task has overwhelmed me. With more than 20 posts since the August SotC, and at least as many pens in and out… well, I figured nobody would want to read a post that long. But I do have some snippets for you.
The review queue
I quietly published a page a week or so back listing the products I have in my review queue, and where they came from. It’s part of my efforts to be transparent with you, and to give you a sneak peek into what I’m working on. Take a look and let me know if there’s anything you’re excited to hear about!
Remember my review of three Benu pens a while back? Well, you may have seen that they’ve got a new model out called ‘Euphoria’, featuring a #6 nib, full-size faceted body, and a clip. For Benu, it’s an almost conventional design. They sent me two to review and they arrived today. I think this is the ‘crossover’ winner for Benu: still sparkly and OTT, but normal enough to capture the rest of us. Look for a review soon.
TWSBI and Lamy
I finally succumbed and ordered a 580 in Prussian Blue, which arrived today and reminds me why I like TWSBI so much. Such a wet nib on this one! Oh, and I also ordered the new Eco rose gold tie-in with the Golden Horse film festival. How could I not?
And one last order — and this was actually on my list, so I give myself a pass — I sprung for the Lamy Dialog CC from Appelboom. I won’t receive it until 2021, but I had to put my money where my mouth is.
I live and die by the bottle. Of ink, that is. But I realised that with pens like the Sport and the Schon Pocket Six, I need cartridges and my selection was limited to say the least. So I splurged on a load of cartridges: Visconti, Herbin, Diamine.
I felt a twinge of something when I unwrapped them and popped on in to an uninked Pocket Six. God, this is easy. No fuss. No wiping down. No inky fingers. No risk of spillage. It had me craving the simple life a bit. In fact I inked the two new Benus not with their supplied converter, but with Visconti Turquoise and Diamine Silver Fox. Easy peasy.
It was early last week that I spent a very enjoyable hour interviewing Mark Braun, the German designer behind the Otto Hutt designC (and many other products).
I confess: I went in to the interview half expecting him to be pompous and distracted, but he had clearly read my review, really engaged with the questions, and I warmed to him tremendously. We had a proper conversation. Dangerously, his insight into the design process actually had me reappraising the designC. Now I just need to do justice to the conversation. Look for it soon.
I’m also waiting for a couple of other interviews — I like to mix it up a little and not just write reviews all the time!
Reviewing and price
But speaking of reviews… how do you think they’re going? I’m in a bit of a groove reviewing midrange pens right now. Of the last ten pens I’ve reviewed, eight have had steel nibs and all but one have been C/C filler. Most have been under £175.
That’s unusual for me, but I’ve quite enjoyed it. This is such a competitive space that it drives innovation and excellence. Look back over those last ten pens and there’s so much variety, both in looks and performance. It’s exciting to have so much choice, and there’s always something to say about comfort or writing experience or beauty, even though the on-paper specs are pretty samey.
Reviewing in this category makes for an interesting reviewer’s conundrum. How much should I factor price in to my review verdict? To me personally, it doesn’t make much difference if a pen is £120 or £150, but for a lot of people — and for the success of the brand itself — that will make a huge difference, and it changes the competitive space, too. Something I need to think on more, perhaps, especially since I have more midrange pens incoming. Except…
Onoto goes to the Americas
I have a really good relationship with the folks at Onoto, and we email regularly. I like their products a great deal, and I respect the way they do business. I may have had a sneak peek of forthcoming designs, too. But I was completely blindsided by their announcement last week of the Sequoyah, a brown edition of the Magna that reminds me of the Visconti Medici. I emailed Onoto immediately begging for a review sample. And now I’m listening for the DHL van every day.
Nock is back!
Oh, and of course, one last thing… Nock is back with waxed black canvas and turquoise versions of the Sinclair, my favourite pen case, and the Brasstown. They’re on Kickstarter with 24 days to go. I backed it, obviously, and you should too.