Benu’s Talisman Foxglove is charming (pun intended)

My last review was of the thousand-euro Otto Hutt design08, a complex, challenging all-metal beast of a pen that’s all about the engineering. It was a tough review to write for many reasons.

The subject of this review, the Benu Talisman Foxglove, could not be more different from the Otto Hutt. With the exception of the nib and clip, it’s all plastic, and instead of sober grey and hard edges, the Benu is bright and rounded like a boiled sweet. It’s been a painless pleasure to use and review.

If you’ve read my previous Benu reviews, particularly of the Euphoria with its #6 nib, you’ll find no surprises here. The Talisman is a bit shorter than the Euphoria but it gives you the same light and spacious hold, same decent clip, same quality polish and build, and same willing, smooth Schmidt steel nib with supplied converter and cartridges.

It’s a good size, with a long section and no sharp edges, seen here against a Gravitas Entry and Lamy 2000.

If it sounds like this is same-old same-old from Benu, the Talisman range has a party trick: each model has embedded within its resin some trace of its namesake material, according to folklore bearing mystical properties — like a talisman. In my case, that means it has the foxglove flower baked into it. If you like the concept, each pen includes an artworked printed sheet inserted into the simple recyclable packaging, explaining the talismanic qualities of the special ingredient:

Placed on the front lawn and foxglove is believed to protect the occupants from evil influences, while picking foxglove from the garden and bringing it inside is believed to anger the fairies. But for the greatest benefit, it is recommended to place a piece of the foxglove flower inside a charm or talisman to keep the wearer protected and bring good luck.

I hold no belief in this stuff beyond the proven medicinal properties of herbs and minerals, but it’s a bit of fun, and certainly a creative way to stand out in a sea of plastic pens.

Benu, of course, already stands out in other ways: its resins are custom-poured and feature not just different colours, but mountains of glitter and even glow-in-the-dark powder.

The result is very striking indeed.

And Benu also has a knack for using texture and shape in playful ways. The Talisman is no exception, featuring subtle dimpled facets that alternate rather like an old glass beer tankard. It’s pretty to turn in the light, and doesn’t impact comfort at all.

Oh, and the cap threads ensure that the faceting lines up perfectly.

The Foxglove version I picked is a striking orange and black, with glittery orange at the boundary. I love the way it looks, although there’s one disappointing muddy streak of orange that spoils the transition to black. But of course every pen will be different.

Benu pens lack the rarefied mystique of a Nakaya or the manufactured precision of a Lamy, but they’re absolutely great in their own way. They’re bright, colourful, comfortable, well made and good writers, with bulletproof QC, and keenly priced at about $120. To me, they’re easy and fun and put a smile on my face. No need for magical charms.

The Talisman was sent to me for free to review by Benu. It’ll be available for retail later in June 2021.

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