I love seeing how different brands and makers approach the brief of designing a “pocket pen”… especially since Ian Schon raised the bar and showed everyone that you can include a #6 nib without compromising portability.
Well, this is Leonard Slattery’s take. You may remember that I reviewed a couple of his wooden pens a little while ago, and he teased that he was working on a pocket pen. As soon as I saw the design, I knew I had to review it. It’s called the A Se, and it’s wonderfully different.
The first thing you notice is that it’s not small by the standards of say the Schon P6 or Kaweco Liliput.
Capped, it’s shorter than a Kaweco Sport, but the diameter is striking: it’s 16mm across the whole length of the pen when capped.
Uncap it, and you can see what an unconventional design this is. The section is huge, longer than on most full-size pens. Naturally it includes a #6 nib, and apparently A Sé means ‘six’. A giveaway if you speak Irish!
And the “barrel”, such as it is, is a chunk of metal that’s really only there to hold sets of threads. It’s barely an inch long. The A Se strictly takes cartridges only.
To cover the nib and that loooong section, the cap is nearly as long as a P6 all by itself. And when you screw it on the back of the barrel, it turns the A Se into a positively huge pen. This is a pocket pen for people who don’t like writing with pocket pens.
Although the A Se is not really usable without posting the cap in this way, it’s not onerous to uncap then post. The threads are fast and smooth on both front and back, so you can spin off and spin on in a matter of seconds. It takes 2.5 turns to uncap, and 1.5 turns to post.
Aesthetically, this pen is a beautiful thing when capped, and a bit weird-looking when posted.
As with all Leonard Slattery’s pens, it’s wood and metal: in this case, macassar wood and bead-blasted stainless steel. The combination is simply gorgeous, and it feels wonderful in the hand, too.
The shape is very severe, striking even. It’s flat-ended, the cap is totally straight, and the section nearly so. In both capped and posted positions, the cap sits flush with the barrel. There’s no clip, just a stainless roll stop.
Build quality is generally excellent. Everything that should be flush is perfectly so. The wood is wonderfully finished, except for the cap lip, which looks shiny, perhaps with glue.
The matte metal has a consistent finish with gentle machining marks visible. I did have a couple of teething problems with the pen, though.
Immediately after unpacking from Leonard’s beautiful sustainable box, the roll stop fell out. I reinstalled it with a dab of superglue.
More puzzlingly, I had problems with the included nib, a steel JoWo beadblasted to match the rest of the finish.
It kept drying out on me if I left it even for a few hours. Leonard had tested it for days before sending it to me and had no problems. The cap was airtight. When freshly inked, the nib wrote great. But anyway, swapping in another nib unit, like the 14k medium I currently have installed, solved the problem. Curious.
I did find the threads inside the section bit into the plastic nib unit, making it very stiff to insert and remove the replacement unit. You can see the marks on the plastic below. But once it’s in, it’s in.
In the hand, the pen looks gigantic, but the wooden cap is very light, even with its liner of metal threads, so it doesn’t affect the balance.
But the steel “barrel” has some real heft to it, so the pen doesn’t feel insubstantial. And as I said, the section is very long, so comfort is outstanding.
I love the aesthetics and design of this pen, especially when it’s capped. If you’re comfortable using cartridges, the A Se really has no disadvantages compared to a full-size pen.
I’m not sure I would put a wooden pen like this through the same rough and tumble as a steel or brass Sport, or an aluminium Schon P6, but it feels robust enough to last a lifetime with a little care. It’s truly a gentleman’s (or gentlewoman’s) pocket pen.
Leonard Slattery Pens sent me this pen for free to review. You can commission your own in a choice of sizes, woods and finishes here, starting at a very reasonable €220.