Friday, January 29, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: Kaweco Student Transparent Blue


After sharing my review of the orange Ice Sport with Kaweco's Sales and Marketing Team, the manager, Sebastian Gutberlet, arranged to send me a small package of sample products to review on the blog. The box from Nürnberg arrived safely in Los Baños, and to my surprise, it had Kaweco ink cartridges in all colors, a Denim pouch for two Sport pens, and a selection of Kaweco pens, including this beautiful transparent blue Student fountain pen.


I have always known Kaweco for their small pens — which I think are cleverly designed. The short Sport and tiny Liliput — extended by posting their caps — are wonderful pens. But Kaweco also makes full-sized pens, such as DIA, Elite, Allrounder, Special, Elegance, and the Student.

I look at the Student as an introduction to Kaweco's range of full-sized pens. It is closely similar to the aluminum-bodied Kaweco Allrounder, but is made from high quality acrylic. Think of the Student to the Allrounder resemblance as that of the Safari to the AL-Star.

When I received the pens, I noticed that Kaweco's packaging for the Student is simple, yet unique: the pen came in a long Nostalgic tin, encased in a cardboard sleeve. The tin has a lovely vintage design, and can fit one or two pens. It's a reusable box, and will hold more pens and other stuff once the tray is removed.

The cardboard sleeve for the Kaweco tin.


And has a tray with slots for two pens. Once the tray is removed, the box can hold other stuff.

The Student is made from high quality polished acrylic, while the section and trims (clip, cap ring, finial) are chrome-coated brass. It weighs ~26 grams (with a full short cartridge), and measures ~5.2 inches while capped, 4.7 inches uncapped, and 6.3 inches when posted.

The Student when I disassembled it: cap, barrel, section, feed, and nib.

The Student is a bottom heavy pen because all of the brass trims (finial, clip, cap ring, section) are in that part. The cap alone weighs 16 grams, the barrel and section at 10 grams. The barrel without the pen's section is very light, is wider in the middle, then tapers off towards the end.


Sebastian sent me a fountain pen to review, but the Student is also available as a ballpen, or rollerball. This pen fills with ink through a converter or a cartridge, and I inked it with the Royal Blue cartridge which came with it.


Kaweco uses the same finial (top cap) design for most of its pensThe Student's finial is in chrome, bearing the Kaweco logo. While this finial is the same as the finial on the Sport, the Student's diameter makes it appear smaller.


 The photo below shows the underside of the top cap.


In other pens, the branding is all over the barrel. The Student, however, has it all in the cap. The Student's chrome clip — identical to the Allrounder's clip — has the Kaweco logo. The clip is tight, but slipping it on or taking it out of a pen slot is not a problem at all.


On the top part of the cap, opposite the clip, 'Kaweco Student Germany' is printed.
On the chrome-coated cap ring, the imprint says 'Kaweco'.
On the other side, the imprint is 'Germany'.

Bock, a German nib manufacturer, makes nibs for Kaweco. The nib imprint includes the width (B), logo, and the words 'Germany' and 'since 1883' under a filigree-like pattern. For the Student, nib availability ranges from extra fine (EF) to double broad (BB).

I requested a B nib for this pen, and thoroughly cleaned both the feed and nib before inking, to take off any residue from manufacturing. The steel B nib wrote well, it is smooth, wet, and did not skip when I wrote with it. Some line variation was possible with a little pressure, but I didn't push it further because it's not really a springy nib. But it's not a nail, either, and I love writing with it.


The Student's section is a heavy part of the fountain pen. It is made of brass, made smooth by the chrome coating, and I little flared towards the nib. It's cold to the touch, and because it's so smooth, my fingers sometimes slide towards the nib.


I didn't notice this before, but Kaweco's feeds have imprints too!


Kaweco uses the same feed and Bock nib for many of its fountain pens, which allows users to easily change their pens' nibs. It is the same feed and nib for all the Sport series, the Liliput, Student, and Allrounder.

Left to right: Liliput, Student, and Sport. They have identical feeds and nibs.

As I mentioned above, the Student measures ~5.2 inches, a length that I find comfortable enough for writing without the need to post the cap. The Student allows posting, but it becomes unusually long at ~6.3 inches, and a bit top heavy.


The Student is longer than the Sport by an inch, and by ~1.5 inch than the Liliput. Uncapped, though, the two small pens become full-sized pens when their caps are posted.


The Student with my blue demonstrator pens. It's a bit shorter than the Platinum 3776 and Noodler's Ahab,
but longer than the Pelikan M205.
Here's the Student with other pens.

Here's a writing sample of the Kaweco Student, filled with Kaweco's Royal Blue ink. The ink is a vibrant blue with hints of purple. It shows minimal shading, but flows well. It's a truly well-behaved ink.


The Kaweco Student is a light pen, and very comfortable to use for long periods of writing. It's a well-balanced and well-built pen, a reliable writer, and though I find the nib a bit small for my writing style, it's fun that I can swap nibs between pens. The Student is an elegant and beautiful fountain pen and I am happy to add it to my growing collection of blue demonstrator pens.


The Student and other Kaweco pens are widely available in many reputable sellers worldwide, with prices ranging from US$58 to US$65.

In the Philippines, Kaweco pens are exclusively available at Scribe Writing Essentials, where it sells for PhP2,995 (~US$62).

I received the Kaweco Student fountain pen in this review free of charge from Kaweco Germany. For more about Kaweco and their products, visit their website at http://www.kaweco-pen.com/en/index.php.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fountain Pen Review: 2015 Lamy AL-Star Special Edition Copper Orange



Many of us have heard about the 2016 Special Edition Lamy AL-Star, but before we get our hands on the Charged Green pen — and before 2015 ends — let me turn in my review of the 2015 AL-Star.

Late last year, Lamy released an announcement that made their followers and collectors happy: the 2015 Special Edition AL-Star pen color will be a vibrant and happy Copper Orange! I looked forward to a new Lamy fountain pen, and I looked forward to adding a new orange pen to my growing orange pen collection.


Lamy AL-Star is almost identical to the Safari, its older cousin. It is wider in diameter, though, and somewhat heavier at 22g (the Safari is lighter at 17g). Designed by Safari creator Wolfgang Fabian, the AL-Star was launched in 1997 in polished high-tech aluminum, instead of plastic. 

According to Lamy's news release for the 2015 Special Edition pen, Copper Orange gives a whole new meaning to the concept of luminescence: it is pulsing with energy.

The Copper Orange AL-Star pen in this review is a fountain pen, but the line also includes a rollerball pen, and a ballpoint pen. I received the fountain pen in this review at no cost from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company.


The AL-Star's cap and barrel are made from high-tech aluminum, and the section is plastic, instead of matching the pen's body's material. AL-Star fountain pens measure 5.5 inches while capped, 5 inches uncapped, and 6.6 inches when posted. The cap with the oversized chrome-coated stainless steel clip is 2.5 inches long, the length from the nib to converter is 4.6 inches, while the barrel measures about 3 inches.

Lamy's proprietary piston operated Z24 and Z26 converters can be used to fill the fountain pen with ink from a bottle, but the Z24 is a more suitable converter because it has two tiny nipples that fit snugly into the small grooves in the upper part of the section. When the nipples are fitted in the grooves, the converter stays in place, preventing messy ink spills.


The AL-Star has the same black top cap (finial) of the Safari, which is also what's installed on all of my AL-Star fountain pens.


The AL-Star has the signature triangular section grip, a feature I find comfortable and helpful especially for newbies. Others find it uncomfortable and annoying, but it is designed to make writing easier, meant for users to have a firm grip on the pen. Near the end of the section is an anti-slipping brake which prevents a user's fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. Unlike the Safari pens’ matching body and section materials/colors, AL-Stars have transparent gray plastic section.

The great thing about Lamy fountain pens is the interchangeability of their nibs across most of their product line. The AL-Star shares the same feed and nib with the Safari, Vista, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. AL-Star fountain pens bought in the Philippines have medium nibs, but other nib sizes are available: extra-fine, fine, broad, and left-handed. The AL-Star can also be fitted with an italic nib ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.


The AL-Star fountain pen's barrel has an ink window that allows me to check on my pen’s ink level without having to screw out the barrel from the section. Towards the top part of the barrel is the Lamy logo etched in aluminum. 

Copper Orange AL-Star with Lamy Safari Flame and Lamy Safari Creme Orange.
Lamy AL-Star pens (from top): Aluminum, Graphite, Silver Green, Ocean Blue, Black Purple, Ruby Red, Pearl, Blue Green, and Copper Orange. A Silver Blue AL-Star has recently joined the lot but missed the photo shoot.


Lamy is now offering matching inks with their special edition pens. We are lucky that the Copper Orange ink in 50ml bottles and cartridges was made available in Manila. I got a bottle long before the fountain pen reached the stores, and I filled the pen with the matching ink as soon as I received it.


The 50ml Copper Orange ink is in a Lamy T52 bottle that comes with a roll of ink blotter to clean the pen after filling, or blot writing. The bottle has a small basin at the bottom, to allow filling when the ink level is low. 



The Copper Orange ink is well-behaved, with excellent flow and lubrication. Shading is visible when used in wide nibs (1.1, at least). It may not be a bright orange, but when I look at the ink color, I see yellow, orange, red, and brown all at the same time. This ink is a keeper and I'm happy I got myself a bottle.


I love this AL-Star fountain pen. It is versatile (interchangeable nibs), simple, minimalistic, and helpful to newbies (triangular section grip). The polished metallic finish has a special glow that brings warmth and brilliance to the Copper Orange AL-Star. The AL-Star may be prone to scratches because of its material, but given the proper care, these pens will last for a long time.

If you haven't gotten one of these Copper Orange AL-Stars yet, go get one now!


Lamy Safari pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy retailers, visit: http://www.lamy.com/content/find_a_retailer/index_eng.html.

In the Philippines, the AL-Star Copper Orange fountain pen and ink (and other Lamy products) are made available by Times Trading Company, through their kiosks at National Bookstore branches around Metro Manila. 

Lamy products are also available at Scribe Writing Essentials, a specialty store offering fountain pens, inks, and paper products, Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, visit http://www.scribewritingessentials.com/stores/.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Comparison of Blue Fountain Pen Inks

Black and blue are the two ink colors that are commonly used in fountain pens for everyday writing, and most people use blue inks for business and professional purposes. Blue is my 'go to' ink, and I have more than 30 bottles of blue fountain pen inks, but not all blue inks are the same. I have a few favorites, and I categorized them into three categories: Regular/Standard Blue, Dark Blue/Blue-Black, and Turquoise.


REGULAR/STANDARD BLUE INKS

This category has the widest selection of blue inks, including the basic and true blue inks. Some blue inks in this category have green and red undertones, but the ones I included here are the true, vivid blues. These ink colors can be used everyday in business and and legal documents, in note taking, and even journaling.


J. Herbin Éclat de Saphir is a vivid, bright blue ink with excellent flow and lubrication. It's a wet ink, and shades well, especially in broad or stub nibs. Éclat de Saphir is a beautiful, bright blue even after it dries on paper. It doesn't stain the pens I've filled with it, and is easy to wash off.
J. Herbin Éclat de Saphir

American Blue is my favorite Private Reserve blue ink. It is bright, saturated, and has excellent flow. Shading is best in broad and stub nibs, where I occasionally see a distinct red sheen. American Blue is a well behaved saturated ink, and does not stain or clog my pens. My PR bottle is a fast dry ink, and it dries really fast!
Private Reserve American Blue (Fast Dry)

I have Noodler's Baystate Blue, and I love its bright color, but I am more drawn to the depth and richness of Noodler's Blue. It's a saturated blue ink, and takes longer than most inks to dry. I usually use it on my broad-nibbed pens.
Noodler's Blue


DARK BLUE/BLUE-BLACK INKS

Whenever I want to try a different ink color that's still blue, I go through my box of blue-black inks. They are still blue, but darker, and yet lighter than black. I use blue-black inks to sign documents, and in note taking at the office.


Noodler's Midnight Blue and Bad Belted Kingfisher (BBK) were my first blue-black inks. I prefer BBK because of its depth, shading, and lubrication. It's a saturated ink, smooth, and a true blue-black ink that doesn't become teal after it dries. The only downside to this ink is its drying time. It takes a while to dry, around 20-25 seconds, especially when it's used on a wide nib. It also takes a while to wash off.
Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher

Pelikan Blue-Black is my favorite blue-black. It's from Pelikan's 4001 ink series, and a dry ink, so I use it mostly in broad and stub nibs. It's very expressive, turning grayish blue from dark blue, and the shading is simply awesome. It doesn't feather or bleed on thin paper, and dries fast.
Pelikan 4001 Blue Black

My bottle of 1670 Bleu Ocean came from this ink's first batch. It doesn't have the additional gold flecks, and I like it that way. Most people avoid this ink because it is heavily saturated, but I love its deep, dark blue color, and my Lamy Al Star Ocean Blue is always inked with it. The pens I filled with this ink wrote smoothly, and Bleu Ocean dries faster than its older sibling Rouge Hematite, which is a notoriously slow drying ink.
J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

TURQUOISE INKS

When I was a fountain pen newbie, my first ink love was Waterman South Sea Blue, a turquoise ink. It has been discontinued several years ago, and I have found a few turquoise inks in place of South Sea Blue. While turquoise inks are lovely, I use them more for journaling.


Bleu Pervenche is my introduction to J. Herbin inks. It is a lovely turquoise ink, with subtle hints of green. Bleu Pervenche has excellent flow and lubrication, shades well, dries fast, and easy to wash off.
J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche
Pelikan 4001 Turquoise is a bit darker than J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche, but has the same hints of green. It has nice shading, excellent flow, and dries fast (around 10 seconds). Although it's a light blue ink, it becomes a bit darker when it has dried.
Pelikan 4001 Turquoise

Below is a photo of the ink swatches on a page.

These inks are my favorite blue inks. They are the most behaved, easy-to-maintain-in-pens inks, they do not clog nor stain my pens. The pens in my EDC are always filled with one or two of them.

I got these inks from different stores at different times, but in Manila, they are available at Scribe Writing Essentials. For availability and prices, contact Scribe through their website, or visit their stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangri La Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall.
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