Monday, April 11, 2022

Fountain Pen Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red



I have been using fountain pens since 2008. I have used and owned many fountain pens, many of them made from acrylic, special resin, and ABS plastic — tough, durable, and made to last the tumble and stumble of daily use. Last February, an offer to review a fountain pen added a new material and pen to my collection and brought a new product to Rants of The Archer. Wancher Inc., the Oita-based company that Taizo Okagaki built in 1987 sent me one from their flagship fountain pen model, the Dream Pen in True Ebonite

The Dream Pen is Wancher's first flagship fountain pen model. I still remember the frenzy during Wancher's launch of their Kickstarter campaign for the Dream Pen in 2018. Back then, they offered three models: True Ebonite, True Urushi, and True Maki-e. The launch was a huge success, and now the Dream Pen has 14 models, including several types of urushi, a Titanium, and the highly-coveted Raden.

Wancher's traditional Japanese presentation box. 

Sand Red is my very first Wancher fountain pen, and I love its packaging in a traditional Japanese wooden box. The box has a nice monoprint of a fountain pen and sakura tied together by a deep red elastic band with tassels on both ends. Inside the box, the Sand Red fountain pen is safely tucked inside a pen kimono, together with ink cartridges, an instruction manual, a postcard, and a guarantee certificate. The Wancher box reminds me of the box that my father made for me when I was a young school kid, which I filled with stationery, bookmarks, stickers, clippings, and other ephemera.

The Wancher traditional wooden presentation box includes the Sand Red fountain pen and pen kimono, a Tsugaru Urushi pen pillow, ink cartridges, an instruction manual, a postcard, and a guarantee certificate.

This Wancher pen is also my first ebonite fountain pen. I am glad that Wancher recommended the Dream Pen because I like the traditional and minimalist cigar-shaped design of the pen. The Dream Pen's simple design speaks elegance and I had a hard time choosing one from the eight pens in the True Ebonite series because all the pens are beautiful! I chose Sand Red for its unique and uncommon red color, and I am happy with my pen choice. It is a large pen, measuring 6.05 inches while capped, and 5.24 inches uncapped, but it is well-balanced and comfortable to use for writing.

Sand Red is a very unique pen. Made from ebonite, an excellent material from natural rubber that is durable and has a warm feel for handwriting. Ebonite has been used in making fountain pens since the early 20th century, but its complex production process turned manufacturers to other materials that are easier to work with. Wancher is now using the finest ebonite from Japan as an homage to traditional fountain pen manufacturing, combining vintage materials and minimalist design.

Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red

I noticed that the color of Sand Red changes according to the intensity of light. In bright light, it appears almost like dark pink to pale red. However, in low light, Sand Red looks like a dark cherry red. 

The Wancher Dream Pen Sand Red fountain pen has a unique red color.

My Sand Red fountain pen has the following specifications:
  • Length, capped: 6.05 in | 15.36 cm
  • Length, uncapped (nib tip to barrel's end): 5.24 in | 13.30 cm
  • Full pen weight: 26 g | 0.92 oz
  • Body material: Ebonite
  • Trim: None
  • Cap: Ebonite, screw-on, cannot be posted
  • Clip: None, but Wancher offers a selection of roll stoppers
  • Nib: No. 6 Jowo stainless steel in Medium, also available in Extra Fine, Fine, Broad, Stub 1.1, or Stub 1.5. Wancher also offers other nibs, including Jowo gold plated stainless steel, Wancher 18k rhodium-plated, and Wancher 18k solid gold.
  • Filling mechanism: Cartridge or converter, both supplied with each pen purchase.
  • Color: Sand Red; also available in Marble Red, Marble Blue, Marble Purple Gray, Marble Green, Marble Brown, Matt Black, and Silk Black. 

Sand Red can be filled with ink using a converter or standard international ink cartridges, both are included in the box.  

Another key feature of the Dream Pen series is its compact air-tight caps to prevent ink from drying out in the nib and avoid hard starts. The mechanism also ensures a secure cap closure. However, this cap doesn't have a finial, and the screw-on cap cannot be posted, but this is not a problem for me as I rarely post my pens.

Ebonite up close. Sand Red ebonite is smooth and polished to a high gloss.

I chose a medium steel nib for Sand Red, for my current writing preference. The stainless steel Jowo nib bears the Wancher logo and the nib width (M). It is wet and wrote smoothly the first time I inked it. It wrote so well out of the box and did not need any modification or priming prior to use. 

Wancher also offers other nibs for their fountain pens, including gold-plated stainless steel Jowo (Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.1, and 1.5), rhodium-plated 18k gold (Medium or Broad), and 18k solid gold (Medium or Broad).

This western Medium nib on a Japanese fountain pen is a gusher! It's wet and writes smoothly.

The Sand Red is a large fountain pen, and it has almost the same length as the Esterbrook Oversize and Edison Collier. It is also longer than the Montegrappa Miya 450 and Leonardo Furore. The Sand Red's section (grip) is slender than most of the pens in this line-up, but it is very comfortable to hold when writing.

From the top: Esterbrook Estie Rocky Top Oversize, Montegrappa Miya 450, Wancher Sand Red, Leonardo Furore Zenzero (Ginger), and Edison Collier Antique Marble.
No. 6 nibs fit all these wonderful fountain pens.

To test how the Sand Red's nib writes, I filled it with new red ink from Robert Oster. RO Signature Direct Sun looks so good in Sand Red's wet medium nib. I'm pleased that the stainless steel nib wrote smoothly out of the box, without the need for any adjustments or tuning. I did not experience any hard starts or skipping. The pen wrote smoothly, and I had a fuss-free writing experience with a well-balanced fountain pen.

New red ink for my new red fountain pen. Robert Oster Signature Direct Sun is a perfect match for Sand Red.
Sand Red's Medium nib writes like a Broad! But I'm not complaining, as it writes so smoothly. I am rereading Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore and I love this part of the book's first chapter.

Aside from watches and fountain pens, Wancher also offers different accessories, including leather cases, wooden cases, and pen pillows. Wancher has kindly offered to include a pen pillow for Sand Red and I chose the Tsugaru Urushi Pen Pillow. It is crafted with Kara-nuri, a high-quality Tsugaru-nuri technique that illustrates distinctive speckled patterns created by four to six different Urushi color lacquers. I have yet to save up for my first Urushi fountain pen, but the Tsugaru Urushi Pen Pillow will fill my Urushi wish for now. This Pen Pillow is a nice addition to a pen collector's set of accessories.

Wancher's Tsugaru Urushi Pen Pillow - Aka-age

In my time and experience as a fountain pen collector and reviewer, I did not imagine that I will try an ebonite pen from Japan, or even own one. I have always dreamed of getting an ebonite and an urushi fountain pen, and Sand Red came along. It's a wonderful and amazing pen and sometimes I spend minutes staring at it, just enjoying its beauty. I am very happy and pleased with the Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red fountain pen, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore the brand and its fountain pens. Wancher has been making unique fountain pens since 2011, with the commitment to use the finest materials and craftsmanship in their products. What are you waiting for? Get a Wancher fountain pen in your collection!

Wancher provides each pen with its own pen kimono. My pen's kimono is thick and protects my Sand Red fountain pen.


Rants of The Archer thanks Taizo Okagaki and Wancher Inc. for providing the Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red and Tsugaru Urushi Pen Pillow in this review. Sand Red is available at Wancher starting at US$200, while the pen pillow retails for US$80. 

To learn more about Wancher Inc. and its offerings, visit its website at https://www.wancherpen.com/. For updates, promos, and giveaways, follow Wancher on social:

Monday, April 4, 2022

Fountain Pen Review: The Good Blue R615 Fountain Pen Matte Black


I first saw the fountain pens made by The Good Blue on Instagram. I got curious about the CNC-machined fountain pens made from aluminum and stainless steel. I thought that these pens must be durable, sturdy, and perfect for daily use. Then I saw that these pens have flex nibs, something I dread using fountain pens. Oh, wait! They have a non-flex, wet medium nib! I reached out to The Good Blue and was surprised to learn that the UK-based pen company has a local distributor in the Philippines! The Good Blue is sold exclusively by my friend Kailash Ramchandani's PenGrafik. Two weeks later, I received a Matte Black R615 fountain pen with a non-flex Happy Medium nib and a spare Fine Flex.

The Good Blue is a London-based start-up that uses 3D printing and CNC machining to prototype and manufacture fountain pens. Born out of the pandemic, when most of us were forced to slow down and stay indoors, the manufacturer rediscovered his love for fountain pens, ink, calligraphy, and writing. He soon found that fountain pens with flexible nibs are expensive and began creating flex pens for himself. After careful design and several prototypes, he is now ready with a fountain pen with amazing flex that is well-made and affordable, the R615 Fountain Pen.

The Good Blue Fountain Pen is well-packaged in a tin box.
The fountain pen and spare nib inside the tin box.

The Good Blue R615 Fountain Pen 2022 series is available in Matte Black and Silver that can be fitted with any of the five different nibs that are interchangeable. Flex nibs are available in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, titanium, and gold.

The Matte Black fountain pen's body is made from high-grade 6082 aluminum that is anodized matte black for protection and durability. The grip section is machined from untreated 304L stainless steel that is precision textured with surface roughness for an ergonomic grip. 

The Silver fountain pen's body is also made from high-grade 6082 aluminum that is clear anodized for protection and durability. The grip section is machined from untreated CZ121 brass, precision textured with surface roughness for an ergonomic grip. The grip is expected to develop a patina over time. 

The Good Blue R615 Fountain Pen Matte Black 2022 Series
The Matte Black's anodized body and stainless steel grip look elegant and neat.

The R615 fountain pen has the following measurements and specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5.90 in | 13.8 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5.40 in | 12.5 cm
  • Pen weight with full converter: 46 g | 1.6 oz
  • Weight, barrel and section: 35 g | 1 oz
  • Material: Anodized 6082 aluminum and untreated 304L stainless steel
  • Cap: Screw-on, not postable
  • Clip material: No clip 
  • Nib: No. 6 two-toned Medium nib; also available in four different flex nibs
  • Filling mechanism: Converter, included in the package

The R615 Fountain Pen can be filled with ink using a standard international cartridge or a converter if filling from bottled ink. A Schmidt converter is included in the pen package.

The R615 fountain pen can be inked using international standard cartridges or through a converter. A Schmidt K5 converter is included in the pen package upon purchase.
This fountain pen has a unique roll-stopper! A flat-plane stops the pen from rolling off, and the barrel and cap screw back aligned every single time. However, this alignment is sometimes off with the section, which triggers the finicky me. It doesn't affect writing, though.
I requested a non-flex nib, and this is what they call Happy Medium, a wet, monoline medium with no flex. This medium nib is perfect for everyday writing.
The Good Blue and Kailash offered a spare FineFlex nib for me to try. The FineFlex nib with a specially designed polymer feed is meant for "wetter writing and juicy swells."

Missing a clip? The Good Blue R615 fountain pens do not have clips, but one side is a flat-plane that serves as a stopper so the pens don't easily roll-off. 

Capped, the R615 Fountain Pen is longer than a Lamy Safari, Gravitas Entry, YStudio Portable, and Kaweco DIA2. Uncapped, it is slightly shorter than the Gravitas Entry, but longer than the other four pens.

Fountain pens in black, from the top: Lamy Safari All Black, Gravitas Pens Entry, R615, YStudio Brassing Portable, and Kaweco DIA2.

To test how the Happy Medium nib writes, I filled the R615 Fountain Pen with Robert Oster Signature Australis Rose, a charming pink ink. The Happy Medium wrote smoothly and wet, as promised. It wrote very well and I had no trouble writing with it at all. The R615 Fountain Pen is an enjoyable pen that can be used for long periods of writing without any discomfort. It is not heavy for my hand, despite being made out of aluminum and stainless steel. It is durable, sturdy, and tough, just perfect as an everyday fountain pen. 

Happy Medium is a happy nib! It's wet and smooth, perfect for daily use!
The FineFlex nib is just perfect for people like me who are not into flex nibs. The FineFlex nib has the right amount of flex just enough not to freak me out! For future FineFlex nib users: fill the pen with wet ink to facilitate faster flow into the nib-feed unit.

I am happy with the R615 Fountain Pen in Matte Black, and I'm wanting the Silver pen, too! I definitely recommend this pen to anyone who wants to explore and know this brand. It's a beautiful pen and is designed well for long-term use. I read that new pens are coming to The Good Blue in April. Get one for your collection!


Rants of The Archer thanks The Good Blue and Kailash Ramchandani/PenGrafik for providing the R612 Fountain Pen Matte Black for review purposes. R615 fountain pens are available for purchase on The Good Blue website. In the Philippines, it is available from PenGrafik.

To learn more about these beautiful and well-crafted pens, follow The Good Blue on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thegoodblueco/).

Monday, March 28, 2022

Fountain Pen Ink Review: Cozy Comforts by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × micahfinds

In the previous two years during the pandemic, we saw pen companies and brands come up with new and exciting products that kept most of us—including me—entertained and motivated at the same time. It's always inspiring and moving when people work together to bring out excellent products for others to enjoy. Products from such partnerships are not only well-crafted and full of details, they are designed from the heart with their intended users in mind. 

One such product is the most recent ink set from Robert Oster Signature that the most creative @micahfinds designed for EndlessPens. Cozy Comforts, a six-color fountain pen ink collection is an EndlessPens exclusive, inspired by six soothing sounds, smells, sights, and sensations. Inspired by tea, coffee, books, campfire, and stars, these beautiful and vibrant fountain pen inks evoke feelings of comfort, ease, and satisfaction. Rants of The Archer has the pleasure of introducing to fountain pen enthusiasts all around the world the EndlessPens exclusive Cozy Comforts by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds

Cozy Comforts, a brand new ink collection exclusive to EndlessPens.

Cozy Comforts by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds

Cozy Comforts are six beautiful ink colors with shading, sheening, and shimmering properties. The six colors are the following:
  • Tea Time – a green ink inspired by the color of matcha green tea
  • Coffee Date – milky brown ink inspired by lattes
  • Old Book Smell – rich red-brown ink inspired by worn and torn leather-bound books
  • Soft Kitty Warm Kitty – cool grey-blue, inspired by the coat of the Russian Blue cat.
  • Campfire Crackle – shading orange ink with a black sheen and a touch of shimmer
  • Stargazer – a dark sheening teal ink with blue and silver shimmer, reminiscent of stars lighting up a night sky.
Six colors in Cozy Comforts fountain pen ink set. Please click the photos in this review to zoom in.


Cozy Comforts Tea Time

"Tea Time is a desaturated green ink inspired by the color of matcha green tea, paired with gentle conversations, mindful journaling, or grounding meditation."

Tea Time, the only green ink in the set, is a lovely fountain pen ink color. It has a yellow undertone that makes it more unique than other tea, olive, or moss green inks such as Robert Oster Crocodile Green and J. Herbin Vert Olive. Tea Time reminds me of late afternoon tea with friends or a warm cup on a cold, rainy night. This ink is very expressive of the color undertone with beautiful shading, especially if used in fountain pens with wide nibs. It is well-behaved and has excellent flow.

I used two types of paper for this review, Canson 90gsm sketch paper, and Tomoe River Paper 68gsm in LiveNotes notebooks from PenGallery. Tea Time appears lighter in the Canson sketch paper and a bit darker in Tomoe River Paper. It did not feather or bleed on both papers, but dried faster on Tomoe River Paper.

Cozy Comforts Tea Time by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
Tea Time has a strong yellow undertone.
This green fountain ink is very expressive and has wonderful shading.


Cozy Comforts Coffee Date

"A milky brown ink inspired by lattes, and the company of those who make you feel like your favorite self."

Coffee Date is a warm, golden-brown fountain pen ink inspired by milky coffee, a pleasure I have forgone for several years now. This fountain pen ink has medium shading and a subtle yellow to orange undertone. It is a bit lighter than the Robert Oster crowd favorite Caffe Crema and has less red than J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie. The first time I saw the color of Coffee Date, I thought of caramel instantly, and looking at my writing sample felt like I am smelling caramel toppings on a cup of coffee. Coffee Date is well-behaved and has excellent flow. It did not feather or bleed on both Canson sketch paper and Tomoe River Paper.

Cozy Comforts Coffee Date by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
Coffee Date is lighter than Robert Oster Caffe Crema, and is more golden brown that the red-brown J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie.
Coffee Date has medium shading and dries a beautiful golden brown.


Cozy Comforts Old Book Smell

"Old Book Smell is a rich red-brown ink inspired by worn and torn leather-bound books. Running your fingers through the spines as you walk through library and bookshop aisles."

Old Book Smell is a rich, luxurious red fountain pen ink with a dark brown sheen. It has medium saturation but flows and dries well. It is darker than Robert Oster Signature Red Candy and almost similar to Diamine Oxblood. This ink has medium shading, well-behaved. It did not feather or bleed on Canson sketch paper or Tomoe River Paper. The red-brown Old Book Smell reminds me of the hard-bound Reader's Digest compilation books I used to hoard when I was in college. Most of them have turned red-brown due to age and use, and they smell old, too. 

Cozy Comforts Old Book Smell by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
Old Book Smell has medium shading and a lovely dark brown sheen.
This dark red-brown ink reminds me of the old books I hoarded when I was in college.


Cozy Comforts Soft Kitty Warm Kitty

"A cool grey that leans blue, inspired by the coat of the Russian Blue cat. Warm ball of fur curling up against you on a gloomy day, reminding you that tomorrow can be better."

Soft Kitty Warm Kitty is the most expressive ink color in the Cozy Comforts set. The grey-blue ink also produces a light purple undertone, depending on lighting, paper, and nib width. It is a shading ink, and I am excited to see it from a stub nib. Though my cat is a ginger tabby, Soft Kitty Warm Kitty will always remind me of cats. This ink has good flow, but it feathered in the Canson sketch paper, although it was fine in Tomoe River Paper.

Cozy Comforts Soft Kitty Warm Kitty by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
Soft Kitty Warm Kitty has a beautiful light purple undertone.
Soft Kitty Warm Kitty is a beautiful grey-blue ink that will always remind me of cats.


Cozy Comforts Shake 'N' Shimmy Campfire Crackle

"A shading orange ink with a black sheen and a touch of shimmer. From embers to flame. The crisp sound as the logs burn, warming you on a cold evening, camped out with friends."

Finally, this set has orange ink!

Shake 'N' Shimmy Campfire Crackle is such a beautiful dark orange ink with a very fine shimmer and black sheen. It is a well-behaved ink, flows well, and did not feather or bleed in either the Canson sketch paper or Tomoe River Paper. I love the fine gold shimmer in this ink and will probably include this in my regular orange ink set. 

When I was in high school, I loved studying using our dining table which faced the small bahay kubo next to our house. One evening, as I was studying for a biology exam, there was a brownout in our neighborhood, and as I stood up to get some candles, I saw a burning ball of fire inside the bahay kubo. It was a mesmerizing mix of yellow, orange, and red all in a ball of fire that we call santelmo. Yes, I saw a santelmo in my lifetime, and Campfire Crackle brought back memories of that dark, magical night. 

Cozy Comforts Shake 'N' Shimmy Campfire Crackle by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
I like the fine shimmer of Campfire Crackle. It's simple, subtle, and beautiful.
Campfire Crackle is a redder version of Burned Orange without the shimmer.
Campfire Crackle is a beautiful orange ink with fine gold shimmer and a black sheen.


Cozy Comforts Shake 'N' Shimmy Stargazer (Stargazing) by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × micahfinds

"A dark sheening teal with blue and silver shimmer, reminiscent of stars lighting up a night sky. The 3 AM thoughts. The hushed sounds of nature. The smallness of one, and the bigness of the whole."

Shake 'N' Shimmy Stargazer is a dark teal fountain pen ink with a unique blue and silver shimmer. Of all six ink colors in the Cozy Comforts set, Stargazer is my instant favorite! It reminds me of Christmas trees and holiday decorations! Looking at the swatch of Stargazer is like staring up at the summer night sky dotted with flickering stars.  Like Campfire Crackle, Stargazer is a shimmer ink that is well-behaved and flows well. I chose a Broad nib for the two shimmer inks in this set for a better flow and also for the shimmer to show.  

Cozy Comforts Shake 'N' Shimmy Stargazer (Stargazing) by Robert Oster Signature × EndlessPens × @micahfinds
Stargazer has a unique shimmer of silver and blue flecks. 
Stargazer/Stargazing is a darker, greener ink than Herbin's Emerald of Chivor, but equally beautiful.
The shimmer is very visible in this writing sample from a Broad nib.


It was fun and exciting working on the review of these six fountain pen inks. I enjoyed working on the swatches and doing the small art and writing samples for each ink color. This set has a good selection of colors, and @micahfinds did an excellent job—all six inks are well-crafted and full of beautiful details.  

Do you want to try and experience Cozy Comforts? Get them from EndlessPens where you can buy the whole six-color set or pick individual bottles of the colors that you like. 

I had fun doing this spread for Cozy Comforts.


Rants of the Archer thanks @micahfinds and EndlessPens for providing the complete six-color set of Cozy Comforts for review purposes. To see EndlessPens' product offerings, visit their website or follow them on social media: