rogue rhetoric

random musings by michael d. durkota

Category: .: Fountain Pens

Random Musings about Fountain Pens III

It’s been a few months since my last purchase. I have been enjoying my line-up of Pilots, but I was tempted by these two. I included a summary of features at the end to show how they stack up against the Pilot 823 (my personal standard comparison).

Aurora 88 Nera Unica

I have a few Aurora rollerball pens, but this is my first Aurora fountain pen. I could not resist the black stealth of the 88 Nera Unica. I inked it with Pilot take-sumi. The piston filling mechanism was unique but very easy to use. The ink window is something that I wish every pen had. The pen is lighter than I expected, but I think I like that. The fine nib is a little thicker than I expected, but I think I like that too; it flows a smooth line and the blacked-out 14k gold is sweet. I am glad I didn’t go with a medium nib because it might have been too thick for my taste. Overall, the pen is nicely balanced and comfortable to hold. I can foresee a lot of pages being filled with this one.

 

Retro 51 Tornado – Stealth

I already own the Retro 51 pen/pencil set, so it was a moral obligation to add the fountain pen. I inked it with Pilot take-sumi. I’ve been spoiled by vacuum filling pens, so I wasn’t a fan of the converter; it comes with two ink cartridges that I tossed straight in the trash. The Retro has a noticeable heft compared to the Aurora even though it’s only one gram heavier. The body seems thin for a fountain pen; it is comparable to its rollerball cousin, so that makes sense. The steel nib was a turn-off at first, but it writes smooth enough that you’d swear it was gold. Overall, this pen looks great and functions well enough to be in a league with much pricier pens.

 

  Aurora 88 Nera Unica Retro 51 Tornado Pilot Custom 823
Filling system Piston vac Converter Piston vac
Capacity 1.36 ml 1.06 ml 2.55 ml
Weight (body) 19 grams 20 grams 19 grams
Price (MSRP) $650 $54 $360

Random Musings About Pilot Fountain Pens

Over the last year or so, I have acquired three standard Pilot fountain pens. I inked all three with take-sumi iroshizuku ink. Here are my reviews with a quick summary of features at the end.

Heritage 92
This was my first Pilot fountain pen. I went with the medium nib. The Heritage is only available as a demonstrator; it is clear but has black/grey accents. The pen cap and clip are more contemporary in style. The ends are squared vice rounded. I loved this pen from the moment I inked it for the first time. It is balanced and lightweight. The 14k nib inks a smooth line. The piston filling system is similar to traditional convertors and is very easy to use. The capacity is excellent.

Custom 74
I chose the black smoke model, but it is also available in blue, clear, orange, and violet. I also went with the fine nib. I wasn’t sure how I would like that, but as it turns out, I like it quite a bit. The Custom 74 has the look and feel of a classic fountain pen; from a distance, it looks like an antique, but it certainly is not. I love the silver accents (that was one reason I originally shied away from the 823). The filling system is a CON-70 which is a pump style that is quite unique and easy to use.

Custom 823
After I filled a few pages with the Custom 74, I realized my collection would not be complete without an 823. This is THE pen; it’s the workhorse that Neil Gaiman swears by. You would think his endorsement alone would be enough for me to break out the credit card, but it wasn’t. I resisted for a while, mainly because of the color selection. I prefer blacks and greys and clears. I know that seems petty and silly, but I really worried that I would not be able to write with an amber-colored pen. However, all that changed when pilot released a smoke version. The only draw-back I saw was the gold highlights. I would have preferred silver with the black theme, but oh well, I guess gold will have to do. I had a little trouble inking it for the first time; I’m still not sure why. I even broke out the instructions even though this isn’t my first vacuum filled pen. The instructions said to only use 70 ml pilot ink. I can’t imagine why that would matter. I also refuse to use blue ink, so the bottle that came with the pen was no help. After a few cycles, it finally took a little ink. On the next cycle, it filled the reservoir with ease. I suppose it just needed primed. Although it is technically a demonstrator, the body is dark, and the ink level is very difficult to discern even with a flashlight. That doesn’t really bother me, but I thought I would mention it for full disclosure. I really liked the weight of the pen, even while I was fumbling to fill it with ink. And from the moment that gold nib touched the page, I was in love. This is officially my go-to pen from now on. I am taking the Custom 74 to work; hopefully I won’t have to buy a second 823 just for the office.

Vanishing Point
Since I am writing a blog about Pilot fountain pens, I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Vanishing point. I purchased the matte black version several months ago. I wish I had purchased the 823 that much earlier. I like the concept of the vanishing point, and it is definitely a great design, but it feels awkward in my hand with the clip in the way. Everything feels upside down and I just don’t like it. I also decided to try a stub nib and I wasn’t very pleased with that either. I suppose it would be a great pen to travel with, and I thought it would be a great everyday pen at work, but I found that I was reaching for the pilot varsity disposables instead.

 

Heritage 92 Custom 74 Custom 823
Filling system Piston vac CON-70 Piston vac
Capacity 1.28 1.23 ml 2.55 ml
Weight (body) 12 grams 14 grams 19 grams
Price (MSRP) $275 $200 $360

 

As always, I buy all my pens and supplies from The Goulet Pen Company. They ship fast, and they have an excellent selection. I also highly recommend their instructional videos. I have only been using fountain pens for about two years and I learned most of what I know from Brian Goulet’s YouTube videos.

Random Musings About Fountain Pens

I recently purchased three moderately priced fountain pens from the Goulet website. Each of them was under $30. Here are my reviews:

I filled the Lamy All Black Safari with Colorverse Anti-matter ink. From the Goulet website, “The LAMY Safari is a workhorse pen, known throughout the fountain pen community for its ruggedness, reliability, and no-nonsense functionality. The triangular grip makes it great for those starting out who have no idea how to hold a fountain pen, but it’s used and loved by fountain pen lovers of all levels of experience.” Overall, I tend to disagree. This pen looks sleek, but that is where the appeal ends for me. The medium nib wrote sloppy and uneven, it felt more like a ballpoint. I was frustrated after penning just a few lines. It is light weight (too light) and feels like a pen the waitress at Denny’s handed me to sign for the bill. The packaging is just a little better than a Bic pen you can buy at Walgreens. In my opinion, it is an inadequate fountain pen experience.

I filled the Nemosine Singularity with Diamine Onyx Black ink. The Nemosine packaging is quite nice for a pen at this price. I have seen lessor packaging with significantly more expensive pens. Per the Goulet website, the “Nemosine Singularity fountain pen features a clear translucent demonstrator resin body and cap with black trim. It has a lightweight plastic body and grip, a threaded screw cap which pushes to post, and a silver iridium-tipped German made #6 steel nib.” I purchased this one with the extra-fine nib. I tend to prefer a medium nib; however, I’ve become a little frustrated with absorption and bleed-through on cheap paper (especially at work where they buy the cheapest paper imaginable). The extra-fine nib will certainly help me overcome this frustration. The pen writes very smooth. It is lightweight and stylish. I generally lean toward demonstrator pens, but this one genuinely provided a nice fountain pen experience.

I filled the Monteverde Monza with Monteverde Moonstone ink. From the Goulet website, “This Monteverde Monza fountain pen features a translucent clear resin body with chrome accents and a #5 steel nib. Best of all, this pen comes with three different nibs – fine, medium, and omniflex – each with their own nib unit, grip, and converter for ease of swapping.” I used the flex nib to start, because I had never used a flex and I was curious. It wrote smooth, but I didn’t get the line variations I had expected. Perhaps I just need more practice. The multiple tips are definitely an appeal if you want to try different things and don’t want to maintain multiple pens. Of course, I already have multiple pens and that is part of the fun. All that said, I wasn’t very impressed with the Monza or the omniflex nib.

All three of these pens are decent entry-level fountain pens. Of the three, I would definitely recommend the Nemosine Singularity. It is sleek and stylish. It is also comparable to the Pilot Heritage 92 but at a fraction of the price. If you are willing to go without a gold nib, then you can’t go wrong.

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