Snippets and first impressions, 26th October 2020

Wow, has it been a wonderful couple of weeks for pens for me. I have been powering through my review queue as quick as I can, but I am just too excited about some of my new arrivals and want to share my first impressions.

Schon shining

Well, they arrived!

My Schon Pocket Six collection is complete! Well, probably not complete, but don’t these six look lovely together?

The Obsidian and Shipwreck are lovely. I even graced the Shipwreck with a gold nib.

They had a colourful moment with two Cross Wanderlust, too.

Tibaldi bowled me over

I quite liked the Perfecta. I bloomin’ love the Bononia. Sleek, well-finished, classic size (spot on with the Montblanc 146)… And look at that resin. Tibaldi has really nailed this design.

The spitfire takes off

For a closet plane buff like me, this Onoto is a special pen — and I wish it wasn’t just on loan!

Well, it looks like it’s battered and pitted. That’s not bad workmanship, it’s design. It’s made from the very airframe of a Spitfire, smelted and reforged as a pen. It’s as comfortable and balanced as you’d expect from an Onoto, and a fabulous writer, but with that ineffable weight of history.

Masterpiece? It’s not all black and white…

The Penlux Masterpiece arrived for review, at last! And I’m not sure what to think of it.

It’s a very affordable piston filler, well built, big and comfortable, and a solid writer — but I’m not yet completely convinced about the crazy Black and White Koi material.

Or the rather glitzy cap band. Or the slightly undersized #6 nib. We’ll see how it goes!

A Yard o Controversy

I posted not long ago about companies giving me the cold shoulder — one of them was Yard-o-Led. Well, despite the snub I went ahead and got a YoL anyway, or rather the Smythson-branded version in glorious pinstripe. Exactly the same pen as the YoL-branded version, but about half the price. Win.

I’m glad I got it. It really is a wonderful pen, built like a tank and curiously poised despite being very long.

But I managed to kick off a bit of a comment storm on Instagram with some tongue-in-cheek comments. YoL themselves chipped in, repeating their usual mantra “we’re a very small company”. I don’t buy this as a justification for, well, anything: Scribo, Leonardo, Onoto, Maiora and plenty of other brands I work with are just as small as YoL and they manage to be friendly, responsive, work with bloggers, and still ship great product.

Still, lovely pen.

When life gives you Lemans…

I drunk-purchased a Caran d’Ache Leman. £370 is a lot of money to spend on an impulse purchase — particularly one you actually expect to dislike. Having read a couple of reviews, I had in my head that the section would be narrow and slippery, the nib characterless… and overall that it was an overpriced pen that the market had left behind. I had that feeling in my gut that I’d made a mistake and resigned myself to living with it.

Actually, the Leman a blinder of a pen and I immediately fell in love with it. Perhaps predictably, it feels as well made as a Swiss watch. It’s weighty, well balanced, and I don’t find the metal section slippery at all. The nib is delightfully smooth, and the bicolour Saffron version I got is a cheerful orange lacquer that I simply love. It’s a great pen. Damnit. Now I need to find another spot in my tray.

The Rickshaw conspiracy?!

You may remember that SF-based bagmakers Rickshaw sent me a load of stuff recently. I use “load” deliberately: they sent me SO MANY pen cases. And to add to the pile, I now have a Bento Bag on its way. I’ve been using the Coozy cases and pen rolls to hold my day’s selection and some pens I’m reviewing, and they just make me smile. The linings are so incredibly soft, I feel like I’m wrapping my pens in blankets.

I’ve literally got a Rickshaw tweed pen roll next to me as I write this post. See?

But apparently that wasn’t good enough for Rickshaw. Oh no. They hatched a plot to sabotage my other pen cases. Let me tell you the sordid tale.

Yesterday I was heading out of the house with my usual kit: my Topo Designs shoulder bag, a Nock Sinclair with three pens and a notebook, my Surface Go, and a load of other bits and pieces. I stuck my Zojirushi travel coffee cup in the bag and went to finish getting ready. I came back to find my bag an inch deep in coffee, held in place by the Topo’s near-waterproof lining. I fished out the Surface Go laptop to discover that, miraculously, it was fine, because all the ports and buttons were on the top side. My Jabra earbuds were wet but survived, my Swiss Army Knife and HDS flashlight of course lived… but what about the stationery? The Nock case kept even the notebook paper dry long enough for me to spot the problem and rescue it, so it transpires that no harm was done to any of my possessions. Incredible.

But I did have to wash the Topo bag and the Nock, putting them out of action for a day or two. And at that point I wished I had another bag just the right size for a writing kit… perhaps… a Rickshaw Bento?

It was at that point I realised I’d been the victim not of an absent-minded failure to install an o-ring in a travel cup, but of a transatlantic sabotage masterminded by a San Franciscan genius. You have been warned.

Supersize me, Onoto

The #8 arrived. It immediately made my other Onotos feel inadequate. The pen itself is no bigger than the usual Magna, but the nib is a definite step up. I opted for Onoto to install a barrel weight for me too, so there’s some heft that I like.

It writes well. Actually, it writes no better than Onoto’s smaller nibs. It’s no wetter, or more flexible. But it is certainly big and beautiful — and you won’t see many like it. It’s nice to feel special.

Catching up?

Since my last Snippets post, I’ve been busy. In case you missed it…

Enter my giveaway! Answer three questions for your chance to win an Esterbrook JR.

Get inside a designer’s mind! What’s involved in creating a £2,500 pen? Mark Braun tells all.

Look close at Gazing Far. I reviewed a wooden pocket pen from a new-to-me brand, Taiwan’s Gazing Far.

Wood you believe it? The Onoto Sequoyah wins me over.

6 thoughts on “Snippets and first impressions, 26th October 2020

  1. Thanks for another great post. The Caran d’Ache Lemans are some of the most elegant and under-rated pens around. The first generation did not have metal sections, and many people were critical of the decision to make the newer pens with them. However, I find the new metal section/ fatter body design and its feel is a bit similar to that of the Otto Hutto model 06. Initially, you feel that the section and body combination of both pens will be uncomfortable and awkward to use; but they both just work very well – maybe as a result of the fact that both pens are very well balanced and sit well in the hand. Lemans are also great, reliable writers, which come in some very nice designs, like the Grand Bleu and this Saffron model. I can recommend the B and BB nibs as being especially good.


  2. Pingback: State of the Collection: November 2020 | UK fountain pens

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