Friday, August 26, 2016

Franklin Christoph Model 19 "1901" Fountain Pen Review

My very first Franklin Christoph pen and all of the reviews I had read beforehand did not lie, a superb pen and great writing experience. Let’s take a look at the model 19 “1901” fountain pen.

First off, this pen is a big pen in width with a decent length. From nib to the end of the barrel it is 5.1” which fits my hand perfectly. The pen is a little hefty at 28g but not too much. It is more of a middle weight pen in the community.
The finish I went with is black and smoke which is a black finish with 2 smoke acrylic rings in the pen. One in the cap and one in the barrel which just adds to the classy, elegant look of this pen. Franklin Christoph 19 is etched subtlely around the base of the cap. 

The nib here is the true star of the show. Franklin Christoph offers steel nibs, gold nibs and specialty nibs including nibs ground by Mike Masuyama. For those unaware with Mr. Masuyama, he is a world renowned nibmeister whom grinds custom nib sizes for customers and all types of nib based work. I ordered a steel nib from the Mike Masuyama nib selection in a medium cursive italic grind. The writing experience is stellar here and I have fallen in love with this nib. I may need to break down and try a 18k gold nib.

The flow is middle of the road between dry and wet. It is just the right amount of ink for the writing need and the feed keeps up well under fast writing conditions.


  • Classy, elegant looking pen
  • Nice weight
  • Custom nib options
  • Price is adequate considering the nib options
  • Company is a joy to work with


  • Would like to see this in a piston filler option

This review is based off of my experiences and opinions. I do not represent Franklin Christoph nor am I being compensated in any way.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

KWZ Honey vs. Organic Studio Foggy Bottom

I have heard about Organic Studio before but had never tried the ink as the fella that makes it stopped for awhile so there wasn't ink to try. Organic Studio is back now and I decided to try an ink called Foggy Bottom (yellow sepia) and huh, it looks like KWZ Honey. Are they the same?

Organic Studio was founded by a Biochemistry student in 2012 and is stationed in Maryland, USA. KWZ was founded in 2012 by Konrad ┼╗urawski, a Chemistry graduate from Poland which is also where KWZ is located.

Why do I bring all of this up? Well, both colors are really identical in color, flow, shading. It is incredible as if one copied another but which was first? Foggy Bottom was a special release for the DC Pen Supershow in 2013, according to the box. I am unsure as to when the KWZ Honey ink was made.

Look at that similarity. The swabs are a tad different but the writing is where the similarities really stand out. I really love both inks, not surprising since they seem like twins.

So which ink came first? Did KWZ copy some of the Organic Studio ink as it wasn't being made any longer? If so, are there other similar inks? Both companies offer Iron Gall based inks as well although Organic Studios only has one that I know of. I am not accusing anyone here, not at all. Just asking a question and typing out loud. 

After a prolonged use of both inks, Foggy Bottom has major flow issues for me and it doesn't seem to matter which pen I load it into. Hard starts and drying out where as KWZ Honey has had none of these performance issues. I find that interesting.

There is a pen store here in the metro area that has the full line of Organic Studio inks as he loves them and did before they stopped production. There are some other colors I want to try from this brand and also to compare to the KWZ inks I already have. Will I find any other "duplicates"? Stay tuned!

This post is based off of my experience and opinion. I do not represent either KWZ nor Organic Studio and I am not being paid by either company either.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Great Ink Resource

It is no doubt that I love fountain pens and ink. I have a rather large and ever increasing ink collection but my ink reviews are a tad lacking. Many people on the internet make ink reviews and it is hard to make an ink review that stands out from the rest and is unique.

I would like to introduce those of you who are newer to the pen community to VittaR. I unfortunately do not know her name and I do know she wouldn’t want it shared anyways. This inkophile has a YouTube channel where she does very elaborate ink reviews and has done many inks to date.

I really do not have a way to contact her as I will usually reach out and ask permission before posting about someone who has an established online presence. What I know is she lives on the Western part of the US and is a classically trained bookbinder and an Italian guru.

Check her reviews out. She is a great resource when you are considering buying a certain ink.

You can follow her at her YouTube account.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Montegrappa Copper Mule Fountain Pen Review

I have had this pen for awhile now and it gets used more and more often as I write. It is a pricey pen but it is interesting. 

The Montegrappa Copper Mule is a copper pen which makes it a heavy pen and I like that. The pen is not solid copper, as the ring on the cap and section are not copper, like a Karas Kustoms pen could be. It can be posted but I prefer not to post my pens and due to the heft, it may be better to be left unposted.

Since it is copper, it will develop a patina over time as it comes in contact with the oils in the skin of the fingers/hand. I didn't think I would like that aspect but after I saw it, I fell in love with the patina.

Now if you happen to be a person that would prefer to have the copper be shiny, a polishing cloth does come packaged with the pen to enable your efforts to keep it nice and glossy. If fingerprints are not your thing, this may not be the pen for you, especially if you want it glossy.

Now for a pen that retails at $375, you would expect a gold nib, right? Well, it is a steel nib with a gorgeous engraving on the nib but alas, it is steel. The nib has some feedback and writes on the drier side of the spectrum. It isn't desert type fry but do not expect an ink gusher.

The filling mechanism is a cartridge/converter style rather than a piston filler that is more common for this price range. 

All in all, I do love the pen and if I had to change anything it would be to add a gold nib and a bit more wetness to the nib.

  • Copper pen
  • Nice balance and heft
  • A great eye catcher
  • Smooth writer with a bit of feedback
  • Very pricey
  • Steel nib for the price
This review is based off of my own experience and opinion. I do not represent Montegrappa nor am I being compensated in any way.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Let's get Grounded with Brown

I had a fun time comparing all of my grey inks and decided to do the same with all of the brown inks I have amassed in some form or another. I couldn't really believe I had so many different brown colors, but let's get to it.

Noodler's Brown

This is a no frills brown color. It really runs right in the middle of the road value wise and is rather mediocre when written with. It is a decent brown but one I do not use often at all.

Noodler's Antietam

Now this brown is interesting. The inspiration for this ink was the battle of Antietam from the Civil War and is the bloodiest battle to date in American history. This ink is way towards the red spectrum of brown but really looks like bloody earth when written with. It is quite an interesting brown and a little creepy when you know the source of inspiration.

Noodler's Manjiro Nakahama

Manjiro Nakahama (aka Whaleman's Sepia) is another special ink from Noodler's and has a story. It is a reformulation of the ink Asian whalemen used when out to sea. This ink is based off of the original and does use squid ink in the formulation. It is a dry running ink in a nib with tight tines. I believe the only place I have seen this ink is Goulet Pens. This ink is rich and very dark but a wonderful sepia brown. It is also the only brown here on this list that is permanent.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses

This is more of a Burgundy color but has leanings towards brown. It is a decent shading ink and looks nice in a stub or italic but doesn't have any wow factor. It is a darker burgundy and is a tad light in value.

Private Reserve Ebony Brown

Easily my favorite brown ink of the bunch and seeing as I have 3 pens inked with it at the moment, it is a staple of mine. It is a rich, dark brown with nice flow and it cleans out of a pen easily. This brown can be used in a professional setting and is an all purpose ink.

J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre

This is a nice reddish brown that looks much like cocoa. Without the sparkles, it is a decent color of brown and writes darker than it is showed in the swab here. This is one of the 1670 Anniversary inks from J. Herbin and has gold shimmer in the writing when the bottle is shaken before filling. It is also a very easy ink to clean out of feeds in the pens I have used.

J. Herbin Cafe des Iles

This is a wonderful brown color which resembles its name which is coffee of the islands. When written with, it looks like you are using coffee rather than ink. For a coffee lover, it is resonant and is quite nice to use. I will caution that it is a pain to clean out of feeds. It is really clingy.

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Guri

This ink is translated as wild chestnut and is a brown with a greenish tint. The flow on this ink is synonymous with the Iroshizuku line of ink and it looks great. It is a nice brown, has good flow and cleans out nicely. It is a bit pricey though.

Private Reserve Chocolat

Much like the J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre, we have another chocolate enthusiast here. This ink looks great in a swab but is much lighter written out, in my experience. It does shade well but it too light for my tastes.

Sailor Oku-Yama

We have another burgundy here but this particular burgundy is much darker and leans heavily towards the browner value. It translates as distant mountain and is a wonderful dark brown when written. It shades amazingly well, flows nice and is also a breeze to clean out of a pen.

Diamine Terracotta

Terracotta is a tad watery, like a lot of Diamine inks I have tried. It shades well, and definitely reminds me of terracotta colored buildings. It is a lighter brown than the swab shows and is not for everyone. Diamine inks are not known for any water resistance and cleanup is a breeze with this ink offering.

Diamine Autumn Oak

This ink is very thin and quite light for a brown color. What I do like is how it really does invoke thoughts of fall with this color. For those of you who like season specific ink colors, this is a definite must have for the autumn season. 

Diamine Burnt Sienna

Burnt Sienna seems to be the middle value brown between Terracotta and Autumn Oak. This is a light reddy brown that can also be used for seasonal inspiration but falls into the too light for me group, as with the other two Diamine inks here.

Platinum Earth Brown

Much like Noodler's Brown, this is a fine offering for a run of the mill brown color. It shades ok, flows well but just has a bland brown color that will appeal to some. If I had to choose between the Noodler's Brown or this one, Platinum wins easily.

DeAtramentis William Shakespeare

I have said this before and will time and time again, I am not a fan of DeAtramentis inks or their naming. This ink is a decent brown with good shading but it is wooly in appearance which I am not a fan of.  If you like the wooly texture, then this is the brown for you.

KWZ Cappuccino

I really like the KWZ inks I have thus far and I am getting a few. These inks are made in Poland and are very nice inks. This one is much lighter in value than I like but for whatever reason, I like writing with it. Perhaps it has something to do with me being a coffee addict. Who knows. It shades decent and flows great as well as cleaning. It looks like a cappuccino and I do like it.

If I were to rate these by my preferences and experiences, here they are in order.

  1. Private Reserve Ebony Brown
  2. Iroshizuku Yama-Guri
  3. Noodler's Manjiro Nakahama
  4. J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre
  5. Sailor Oku-Yama
  6. KWZ Cappuccino
  7. J. Herbin Cafe des Iles
  8. Noodler's Antietam
  9. Platinum Earth Brown
  10. Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses
  11. Private Reserve Chocolat
  12. Diamine Burnt Sienna
  13. Diamine Terracotta
  14. Diamine Autumn Oak
  15. Noodler's Brown
  16. DeAtramentis William Shakespeare
This post is based off of my opinions and experiences. I am not affiliated with any of the above companies nor am I being paid by anyone. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Color Change Phenomenon in "New" Products

I have a hard time with a phenomenon that exists not only in the pen community but in all aspects of products for sale. That is the special colors of goods but not much else changes in the product model. Pilot Metropolitans did this last year with their retro pop line and more recently is Lamy and the LX introduction.

Lamy LX

The Lamy LX, for those who are unaware, is a new offering from Lamy in four new colors which are ruthenium, palladium, gold and rose gold. The LX is basically a re-issue of a Lamy Al-Star with a small amount of changes but an increase in price.

The LX features a glossy black nib, has color matching clips and comes with an aluminum carry case for a list price of $70. The Al-Star does not have a color matching clip, does not have a carry case and a black nib could be added to it easily. The Al-Star usually retails for $38.

Lamy Al-Star

I guess I just do not understand the jump in price for cosmetics and I may be missing something here. I am not bashing Lamy at all as I do enjoy their products. I just do not understand the phenomenon of introducing a new color and people go nuts over it.

Lamy is known for offering a special edition Safari pen every year with a special ink color and that is only made that year. I understand the collecting aspect here, I do. I also understand that it is difficult to offer changes with inexpensive pen lines that are desired and fit in a specified budget. The recent dark lilac offering for 2016 is case and point here.

Lamy Safari Dark Lilac

It seems gimmicky to me to offer this new line of pen at an elevated price just for cosmetic changes. The new pens look nice, they really do, but I would expect to pay Al-Star prices. I could be in the minority here thought wise and that is fine. We are all entitled to our opinions and ultimately can purchase whatever we see fit. Am I telling you to not buy this new pen, nope. Am I presenting my opinion, I am and that is all I am doing here.

What do you think of these pens or this phenomenon? I am just looking for an intelligent discussion here as there is no correct answer.