You might not have heard of Penlux. I bought a couple of its inks from Anderson about a year ago, but at that point I didn’t know it made pens. And those pens are not widely distributed here in the UK: as far as I know, only the Northumbrian Pen Company sells them.
Which is a shame, because Penlux has a solid 20-year history as an OEM in Taiwan, and five years under its own brand. The pen I’m reviewing here, the Masterpiece Grande, is its main product and it’s a rare beast: a big pen, with a true in-house piston filler, available for £150 in the UK. And it’s pretty good.
Mine is in a resin called ‘Black and White Koi’, which has the effect of disrupting the outline of the pen rather like the old wartime ‘dazzle ships‘. But if you can see past that, you’ll note that the overall design is somewhat inspired by the original ‘Masterpiece’, the Meisterstuck Montblanc 149.
True to its ‘Grande’ name, the Masterpiece is sized very similarly, with rounded cap and piston knob and a similar hand feel — although the Penlux has a markedly longer section than the Montblanc, and a much smaller #6 nib, resulting in a similar overall length.
The result is a very, very comfortable pen, if you like them large, at least.
The cap posts, if you’re insane.
Balance is excellent, with the whole pen weighing 33g despite the metal piston mechanism inside, and the cap threads are not at all sharp.
Aesthetically, I have a few complaints. On a canvas this big (15cm long and 17mm across the barrel), the black and white cracked ice resin is just a bit overwhelming for me.
Although there are other options in the range, including a turquoise and leaf green, I would probably be boring and opt for the black if I was spending my own money.
The narrow coined cap band is just a bit fussy for my liking.
And the plating on the bottom edge is uneven.
But the wheel-ended clip and other silver-toned trim is fine:
and the resin is perfectly polished, so I take this as a blip.
Lastly, on a pen this big, I find the #6 nib just a bit undersized.
But that’s really all my criticism of the looks, and indeed of anything else.
The Masterpiece feels absolutely rock solid in build. You can tell from the translucent resin that the walls of the barrel are thick. Penlux uses PMMA resin, the same as Sailor.
The cap seals well so there’s no drying out, and uncaps in an acceptable two turns, on threads that are decently smooth.
The piston, perhaps the big selling point, is an in-house design made from aluminium. It works well, with a large capacity and slop-free action. The piston travels with little resistance, just a little grittiness from the threads. I didn’t try to remove the piston, but it has flats on the threads that a TWSBI wrench might just fit.
The nib is a standard steel JoWo, #6 sized, laser-engraved with the Penlux ‘P’ logo. Mine is a medium and writes predictably well, inked for these photos with Standard Bindery Stargaze. No complaints for an everyday writer.
If you want a proper piston filler, you like large pens and you don’t want to spend the earth, look no further. The Masterpiece Grande is a really solid choice — literally and metaphorically.
Penlux sent me this pen for free to review directly. You can get yours from the Northumbrian Pen Company.