Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fountain Pen Review: Kaweco Classic Sport Red

Kaweco welcomed 2016 with the launch of a selection of new pens, ink colors, and accessories. Four Sport pens  one for each of the following lines: Classic, Skyline, ICE, and AL  were released during the year. A bright, shiny red pen with gold trims was added to the Classic line, and my friends at the magical shop in Nürnberg sent me one to review here. I do not have many red fountain pens, and the red Classic Sport pen is the perfect addition to the small group of red pens in my collection.

The red Classic Sport fountain pen is from Kaweco's Sport Series that includes the Aluminum, Stonewashed, AC, Art, Brass, ICE, and Skyline. It is available in black, chess, guilloche, white, green, burgundy, transparent, and red. It is called the Classic because it follows the same design from the early 1940 Kaweco Sport pens. Sport pens are clipless, but clips are available from retailers in chrome, gold, or bronze finishes.

The Sport is a lightweight fountain pen, is easy to carry in one's jeans' pocket, or tuck in a bag. This small pen, however, has a unique design and becomes a full-sized pen when the cap is posted on the barrel. The pen is designed well, and Kaweco built it using high quality plastic.

Without a clip or an ink cartridge, the Classic Sport fountain pen weighs 10g (body - 6g; cap - 4g) only. Did you know that a posted Kaweco Sport fountain weighs exactly the same as the body of a Lamy Safari?

The Classic Sport fountain is ~4.10 inches with its cap on, and a short 4 inches without the cap. When the cap is posted, the pen measures 5.3 inches long — a full-sized fountain pen!

Some fountain pen users say that Kaweco Sport pens are difficult to use without posting the cap. But this pen's faceted cap is designed to be an extension of its barrel to make it a full-sized pen. The cap is also a built in roll stopper, so that even without a clip, the pen will not easily roll off a surface.

The Classic Sport fountain pen's parts — barrel, section (grip + feed + nib), and cap are in the same bright red color. The nib and feed are friction-fitted into the section, and they can be easily pulled out for a thorough cleaning. The cap is threaded and screws securely to the barrel — not typical of small pens in this price range — which is a very practical feature.

The Classic Sport fountain pen is filled with ink using cartridges or converters. Kaweco has their Premium ink cartridges for Sport fountain pens, but international standard short cartridges also fit in these fountain pens. Kaweco also offers two types of converters for Sport fountain pens: mini-converter and the squeeze converter (in my pen, pictured above) which can fill up with the same amount of ink as an international standard short cartridge (0.5–0.6 ml). However, filling it up was awkward, and squeezing it repeatedly did not fill it with ink to its full capacity. I inked this pen instead with a cartridge of Kaweco's Sunrise Orange.

The bottom of the Classic Sport fountain pen barrel is knurled, and says 'Made in Germany.' 
The Sport's oversized cap with octagonal shape is iconic and distinguishes it from other Kaweco pens.
Classic Sport pens have gold trims, including their finial (top cap), which bears the Kaweco logo.

My red Classic Sport has a medium (M) nib, but Kaweco Sport pens have nibs ranging from extra fine (XF) to double broad (BB). Other Sport pens have chrome/silver nibs, but those in the Classic line have gold plated nibs. The imprint includes the nib width (M), Kaweco logo, and the words Germany and 1883 under a filigree-like pattern.

The feed and nib of Kaweco Classic fountain pen. The nib's gold plating has discoloration in the part where it is inserted in the section, but this does not affect writing at all.

My red fountain pens: Lamy LE China, Pelikan Souveran M400, Unic, and Kaweco Classic Red.
Kaweco Sport fountain pens (from top): Calligraphy, AL (aluminum), ICE, Skyline, and Classic.

The medium nib wrote well out of the box. It's still a little narrow for my writing, but very useful when the occasion calls for small handwriting. Sunrise Orange was launched in 2016, together with Smokey Grey.

The Kaweco Classic Sport is a well-made, compact fountain pen that is portable and easy to use. The gold-plated steel nib writes well, and can easily be swapped with other Sport nibs. It's a great pen in the US$30 price range, a perfect companion for small notebooks. If you are looking for a happy fountain pen, I suggest you get this red Kaweco Classic Sport for yourself.

The Classic Sport and other Kaweco pens are widely available in many reputable sellers worldwide. For a list of sellers, visit Kaweco's Store Locator.

I received the Classic Sport fountain pen in this review free of charge from Kaweco Germany for review purposes. For more details, visit the Kaweco website.

In the Philippines, Kaweco pens are available at Scribe Writing Essentials stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, SM Megamall, and in their Cebu branches. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, visit the Scribe website. Kaweco pens are also available at Stationer Extraordinaire.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: Monteverde Prima Green Swirl

In my years of accumulating, collecting, and using fountain pens, I've tried many brands, and found several favorites to keep. There are still some that I want to try, pen brands that I want to know more about. One of these is Monteverde, an American pen brand distributed by YAFA Pen Company. I've always wanted to try Monteverde pens — the demonstrator Artista Crystal, the carbon fiber Invincia, and the acrylic Prima.

A few weeks ago, Pen Chalet owner Ron Manwaring kindly sent me this lovely Monteverde Prima fountain pen in Green Swirl with a wonderful No. 6 stub nib to review. I don't have many green pens, and this Prima in Green Swirl is just beautiful! It's a perfect green pen for the year, to match Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery.

The Prima series is available in five colors: Green Swirl, Tiger Eye Swirl, Turquoise Swirl, Purple Swirl, and Black Swirl. Monteverde also offers them either as ballpoint, or rollerball. These pens' caps and barrels are made from European grade glossy acrylic resin, accented with black and chrome.

The Prima measures 5.30 inches long and weighs 27 grams when capped. Without the cap, it is only 4.92 inches and 17 grams. When the 10 gram cap is posted, the Prima is longer at 6.10 inches, and heavier at 27 grams. This is why I (and other fountain pen users) do not usually post my pens. Posting their caps make them uncomfortably long and heavy.

Cap and barrel of Monteverde Prima. The translucent glossy acrylic resin with black swirl is just beautiful.
In different lighting, it has an attractive sheen and shimmer.

It's useful that the Prima can be fully taken apart. The threaded Monteverde converter can be easily disassembled, too. 

The barrel tapers off toward the black finial at the bottom, separated from the body by a chrome ring. When the fountain pen is uncapped, and the barrel is separated from the section, one is left with the converter and the nib and feed assembly (holder, feed, and nib). Using a rubber grip, I was able to take out the screw-type nib and feed assembly from the metal section. I pulled out the nib and feed from their holder, for a complete disassembly. It wasn't an easy process, and one I won't recommend to newbies and inexperienced hands to avoid breaking the feed or its holder. 

I usually disassemble pens for thorough cleaning and even drying. Cleaning pens for reinking or storage is always a must for me. 

Monteverde Prima parts (from top): cap, barrel, section, piston driver, converter, piston rod/shaft, converter ring, nib and feed holder, feed, and nib.

The Prima's metal clip is quite stiff, but holds the pen securely in place. The chrome cap rings with black inset has two imprints: 'Monteverde' on the clip side, and 'PRIMA' on the back side.

The Prima can be filled with ink using a standard international cartridge or converter, both included in the box. The threaded Monteverde converter screws onto the section for a secure fit, preventing ink spills if the converter is accidentally pulled out. The Prima's metal section adds to the durability and stability of this pen.

Monteverde offers the Prima fountain pen series with a fine, medium, broad, and stub (1.1) stainless steel nib. The Prima's nib contains several markings. Monteverde's logo of jagged mountain is imprinted across the nib, cutting across the breather hole. At the base, the logo and 'Monteverde USA' are imprinted. On the left tine's shoulder, 'Monteverde' is again imprinted, while the nib width (this pen has a 1.1 stub) is on the shoulder of the right tine.

The underside of the Prima's feed bears the number 6, indicating the pen's nib size.

The Prima's nib (center) with other No. 6 nibs (left to right): Edison, Bexley, Nemosine, and Jinhao.

Size comparison with smaller and bigger pens. From top: Kaweco Ice Sport, Prima, Kaweco Student, Lamy Al-Star, and TWSBI 540. The Prima is a full-sized pen designed to be ergonomically balanced for comfortable writing.

The Prima's 1.1 stub stainless steel nib is an expressive writer. The line variation it produced, together with ink shading is lovely. It's a hard starting nib, though, and definitely not a wet writer. When I was writing the text below, I had to pause several times to push some ink in the converter into the feed and nib. I'm thinking that this problem may be due to poor ink flow in the feed, a common Monteverde concern that I knew about prior to this review. But that can be remedied by widening the ink channel, and using a wet ink to avoid flow issues.

Despite the flow issue (which I have fixed), I am happy with the Prima and will recommend it to those who want to explore and know the brand. It's a great pen, and I will consider getting another one in the future. The Tiger Eye and Turquoise Swirl pens look good! Get one for your collection.

The Monteverde Prima in this review is provided by Pen Chalet where it retails for US$75. For more details on purchasing pens from Pen Chalet, visit their website at https://www.penchalet.com/.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fountain Pen Inks Review: Robert Oster Signature Ink Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue

I came upon Robert Oster Signature Inks one morning, at breakfast. I saw an ink swab of Bondi Blue, and thought it's a beautiful blue ink. I realized Robert Oster has a lot of blue ink, and I fell in love with Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue. A lively chat with Robert Oster followed, and a week later, I found myself at the post office, picking up seven (seven!!!) bottles of inky awesomeness from Down Under.

Blue inks overload!

In the past, I have used fountain pen inks from China, India, and Japan, but I have not tried inks from Australia until I saw Robert Oster's Signature line.

Signature Inks are made in Australia, reflecting the country’s natural color palette. Robert Oster is proud that his inks originate from the Coonawarra district of South Australia, one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world. His ink palette has the colors of the sun, sky, sea, earth, vines, and wines.

Blue, blue-green, and green inks from Australia! I got the sky, the sea, and the vine!

Robert is kind to send me Bondi Blue, Australian Sky Blue, School Blue, Torquay, Tranquility, Green Diamond, and Marine. I realized that he sent me the sky, the sea, and the vines of Coonawarra.

Signature inks are sold in tall, leak-proof, Australian-made 50ml plastic bottles that are sturdy enough to survive the sometimes bumpy ride from Australia to the rest of the world. 100ml bottles are also available in selected sellers of Robert Oster Signature Ink worldwide.

Robert Oster Signature Inks come in tall 50ml bottles with gold labels bearing the Signature branding.

Label on the other side of the bottle says that Robert Oster Signature Inks are 'known for their unique colors',
and have a 'certain something.'

Each bottle of Signature Inks has a leak-proof cap which also carries the sticker indicating the ink name/color. 
Just be careful not to mix bottles and caps when you have several ink bottles open.

Signature Ink bottles have wider openings that can accommodate large pens.
I can't fit that TWSBI in a 30ml Diamine bottle, or in the 1670 J. Herbin glass bottles.

I chose two from the seven inks that I received. I tried Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue first, and used pens with wide nibs to see the lovely shading and the impressive halo that I saw in Robert Oster's sample ink swabs. Bondi Blue went to my Pelikan M205 with BB nib, and the Australian Sky Blue went into a TWSBI with B nib.

Bondi Blue (top two paragraphs) and Australian Sky Blue (bottom paragraphs) on Tomoe River paper.

Here are my observations, followed by sample photos of the two inks. 

Both inks are wet, and flowed smoothly onto paper. Australian Sky Blue is wetter than Bondi Blue, which explains why it dried longer. Both have excellent shading and halo, but Bondi Blue's is darker, wider, and more visible. Like most fountain pen inks, these two have low water resistance. I have not used them long enough to test their color fastness, but both colors look like they will last, as long as they are not exposed to extreme heat or moisture.

Bondi Blue is dark blue while wet, but turns lighter when it dries. On paper, it looks similar to Waterman South Sea Blue, or Sheaffer Turquoise. Australian Sky Blue doesn't change much when it dries, and it's more similar to J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche and Lamy Turquoise.

Robert Oster Signature Ink Bondi Blue. Bondi ian Aboriginal word which means 'water breaking over rocks,
or noise of water breaking over rocks.'  Perhaps Bondi Beach is the inspiration for this ink color.

I love how Bondi Blue goes light to dark from a single pass to triple passes.

See the shading? And the sheen/halo? This ink has too much sheen! It's visible on the single pass swab (top), which is still very light, but dark and heavy on the swab with three passes (bottom).

Bondi Blue's sheen in my writing sample. This is the reason why I chose to use a pen with BB nib.
The sheen won't be visible in a pen with fine or medium nib. 

Wet ink + BB nib = long drying time.

Robert Oster Signature Ink Australian Sky Blue. Inspired by the bright blue of a cloudless Australian sky.

Australian Sky Blue is a turquoise ink with lovely shading that can go from light to dark, depending on the pen and paper used.

The swabs with double and triple passes show the lovely sheen/halo of Australian Sky Blue.

Shading! Sheen! What's not to like and love about this ink?

Wetter ink + B nib = longer drying time.

I had fun trying and reviewing these Robert Oster Signature Inks. I now have four pens filled with different Robert Oster inks, and I'm looking forward to more fun in my next review.

Writing sample of Bondi Blue on Midori MD Paper.

Are you looking for turquoise inks to add into your collection? Get one from Robert Oster Signature Ink palette. Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue are great choices, but there are more turquoise inks there! Torquay and Tranquility are also excellent ink colors, so why not get them, too! Watch out for these two in my future ink reviews.

Robert Oster Signature Inks are available in a number of authorized global resellers. To look for a reseller near you, check Robert Oster's list of global resellers. In the Philippines, these inks are available at EverythingCalligraphy.com.

For more information about the Signature inks, visit the Robert Oster website. For updates and news of new Signature inks, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
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