Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen Review With 18kt Gold Stub Nib

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -4

Kaweco is famous for its pocket-size pens but they also make a number of nice full-size pens including the Elite I am reviewing today.

I was drawn to the Elite’s large nib, that Kaweco refers to as a size 250 (Bock #6).  Most Kaweco pens including many of their other full-size models use a much smaller nib that Kaweco calls size 060, similar to a Bock #5. Kaweco also makes a 14kt solid gold 250 nib but it is not sold with any of their standard pens.  You have to buy this nib separately and unlike the steel version, you only get one nib grade, medium.

You may have noticed that my review title says 18kt gold, this is because I ordered a 14kt nib and received an 18kt nib instead.  This particular nib is not listed in their parts catalog.  From what I can tell the nib I received is an 18kt gold stub nib from the beautiful $1,500 Kaweco King Limited Edition fountain pen.  Now that we have sorted out what I am reviewing here, let’s get to the pen.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -5

The Elite features a hand-polished faceted black piano lacquer acrylic body.  The acrylic is turned from a single block.  I imagine that “black piano lacquer” refers only to the color and high gloss and not the actual use of lacquer.  The cap is is chrome and features a black finial with a silver Kaweco “jewel”.  This same jewel is also found on the end of the barrel.  “Kaweco Elite GERMANY” is printed on the cap in black letters.

Vintage Kaweco Sport 12G  with the Kaweco Elite
Vintage Kaweco Sport 12G with the Kaweco Elite

 

I like the design of this pen; it looks modern and professional.  The high gloss acrylic feels silky smooth to the touch.  The clip is high quality with a clean imprint and no rough areas.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -7

Even under the clip the finish is flawless.  I also like the knurling on the bottom of the barrel.

Kaweco "jewel" on the Elite
Kaweco “jewel” on the Elite

The Kaweco logo “jewels” on the top of the cap and end of the barrel are not as crisp as I would like and when I compared it to my vintage Kaweco Sport there was a noticeable difference; a small gripe but none-the-less worth pointing out.

Kaweco "jewel" on a vintage Sport
Kaweco “jewel” on a vintage Sport

The Elite weighs approximately 39 grams with the cap responsible for 18.5 of them; this makes the Elite on the heavy side.  To use this pen comfortably I had to write with the cap off.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -3

Posting the cap makes the pen very top heavy and the cap does not sit very far down the barrel, so it’s length exacerbates the balance problem.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -2

With the cap off the Elite is very comfortable with its long acrylic grip section.  The Elite measures 13.8mm long capped and about 13.4mm uncapped.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -8

The 18kt gold nib is writes smoothly and is a good performer.  I find that it does write on the drier side (something I will likely adjust later) and that it can take a bit of work to get the ink flowing when a new cartridge is inserted.  Once it starts flowing the nib works great and is a pleasure to write with.  The 18kt gold nib has some spring but I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly soft.

18kt nib on top and steel on the bottom
18kt nib on top and steel on the bottom

The nib shares the same plastic feeder as the steel nib.  The nibs are threaded like those from Pelikan and Aurora, making nib swaps a breeze.

Threaded nib units are a excellent feature
Threaded nib units are an excellent feature

The Elite can hold two short international cartridges and interestingly there is a spring inside the barrel, something I haven’t seen on any other fountain pen.  This spring is useful in getting the second cartridge out of the barrel.

The Elite is not sold with a converter.  I tried a standard Bock converter which fit onto the section but was too fat for the barrel.  Luckily I have a Kaweco converter and surprise, surprise, it fit.  I did find that the converter regularly removed the spring when I unscrewed the section.  I would recommend removing the spring if you use a converter.

Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen -1

The Elite fountain pen has a street price of $150, while the 14kt gold nib (again, only sold separately) costs about $200.  In the $150 price bracket there are lots of excellent pens, like the Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Vanishing Point.  I find that Kaweco Elite stands up to these pens nicely.  It really comes down to preference.

But what about the $200 gold nib? The problem for me is that the steel nib is really good.  If we were talking an extra $50 then I would go for the gold but from a writing perspective the gold nib isn’t enough of an improvement to justify it’s high price.

Please note: this pen was provided to me by Kaweco at a subsidized cost for purposes of this review.

Here are some other great reviews of the Kaweco Elite fountain pen:

(I have no affiliation with any of the sites linked below)

The Pencilcase Blog – Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen

The Gentleman Stationer – Pen Review: Kaweco Elite

My Pen Needs Ink – Kaweco Elite – Pen Review

Pens! Paper! Pencils! – Kaweco Elite fountain pen review

Gourmet Pens – Review: @Kaweco Elite Fountain Pen – Medium @JetPens

Pen Addict – Kaweco Elite Review

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Danitrio Hakkaku Ancient Flower Midori-Dame Fountain Pen Review

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-4

Danitrio is perhaps the biggest name in Maki-e pens outside of the main three Japanese makers (Pilot/Namiki, Platinum/Nakaya and Sailor).

Danitrio Maki-e pens are not an entirely Japanese product. The company is based in California and the pens, as far as I know, are manufactured and painted in Japan but use Bock nibs from Germany…so it’s a multinational effort to put one these pens together.

I have been eyeing a Danitrio for a while as they offer very good value for money. While they are by no means cheap, they are considerably less expensive than most comparable Japanese pens.

One of the great things about Danitrio is that they offer their pens in a large number of shapes and finishes.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-5

Despite having similar dimensions to a Montblanc 149, the Hakkaku is one of Danitrio’s smallest models measuring 13.5cm long and 1.5cm wide.

The ebonite body has a faceted flat top design. The dark Midori-dame finish softens the look of the facets. A lighter color would do a better job of accentuating this pen’s shape.

The clip is sprinkled with gold flakes and painted in the same midori-dame finish as the body. Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-43I am not a big fan of flowers but I kept coming back to this ancient flower design.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-13

It is very well balanced and looks great against the green background.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-11

This pen (I am told) uses a Togidashi Maki-e technique.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-10

The finish quality of the Hakkaku is comparable to Nakaya. It’s not perfect like a Namiki pen; it has more of hand made look and feel to it. The threading is smoother than on my Nakayas and unlike my Nakaya Naka-ai Negoro the design always lines up when I put the cap on.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-12

The section is signed with the artist’s signature.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-9

The #6 size nib is solid 18kt gold and produced by Bock in Germany.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-6

The fireball design looks great. The nib has a fine point and is considered one of their “soft” nibs. The nib is soft and if you apply some pressure you can get some line variation but for me with a light hand I don’t notice much.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-7

The fine point is smooth and writes with a medium line width (typical Bock). If you want a true fine you are better off with an extra fine nib.  The nib doesn’t have as much character as those made by Pilot or Platinum but it’s a good performer and if you like a smooth soft nib this one is very nice.

The Hakkaku takes standard international cartridges and comes with a Bock converter.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-15

The feed is plastic (and out of alignment, the dealer has since remedied the problem).

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-8

This pen has a retail price of $1,900 and I was able to get it for a bit less than half that.  By comparison, a plain urushi lacquer Namiki Yukari Royale runs $1,500 and a Maki-e versions range from about $4,000-$10,000.  I am not saying this pen is the same quality as a Namiki (it isn’t) but it is a more affordable way to get your hands on a good quality Maki-e pen.

Danitrio Hakkaku Fountain Pen-76

At the end of the day I am really happy with this pen.  It looks and writes great and it was reasonable enough that I don’t worry about using it everyday.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Old Style Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -2

Pilot’s most famous fountain pen is without question the Vanishing Point (aka the Capless).  This is the best selling and simply the best retractible nib fountain pen ever produced.

Many models have been introduced since the Vanishing Point’s inception in the early 1960s and the one I am reviewing today is a “Namiki” branded model with a faceted black plastic body and white metal trim. This body style was introduced in the 1970s stayed in production until the late 1990s. This particular Vanishing Point was made in 1997 right before the introduction of the current metal bodied Pilot Vanishing Point in 1998.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3
Old style “Namiki” branded faceted Vanishing Point (nib extended)

This older model (which I will refer to from now on as the “faceted VP”) is much more attractive with its elegantly integrated clip and slimmer faceted body. The current Vanishing Point has a much less harmonious design with bloated clumsy look to it.

Current style Pilot Vanishing Pont with nib extended
Current style Pilot Vanishing Point (nib extended)

 

The faceted VP is lighter and slimmer, weighing in at 18.5 grams and measuring just 11mm wide (clip not included).  The current model weighs in at 31 grams.  To my hand the faceted VP is much more comfortable to use.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -5
Top: faceted VP with Pendleton Brown Butter Line Stub Bottom: current model with Richard Binder Italifine

The nib on this faceted VP is 14kt gold instead of 18kt gold on the current production model. The nib started life with a medium point and was ground into a butter line stub by Pendleton Brown.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -8

This particular grind offers a great combination of usability and writing flair. I have done a number of custom grinds on medium nibs and this one my favorite so far. The nib is so smooth with just a hint of feedback…it’s luxurious.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -6
Top: faceted VP Bottom: current model VP

Downsides?

The converter. These faceted VPs use a squeeze sac converter. It doesn’t hold enough ink so I always use cartridges with the metal cartridge cap.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -4
Top: squeeze sac converter in nib unit Bottom: piston converter in nib unit

The current model by comparison uses the Pilot Con-50 which is nicer to use and holds a slightly more reasonable amount of ink.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3

This is an awesome pen.  You can find them used ranging from about $80 to $150.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -1

Bomo Art Diary Planner Review

Bomo Art Diary -1

Bomo Art makes some of my favorite leather bound journals and when I had the opportunity to visit their shop earlier this year in Budapest I decided to try one of their diaries/planners.

Bomo Art Budapest
Bomo Art’s store front in Budapest

I struggle to use a diary consistently.  Every year I tell myself I am going to use one to stay organized and if I am lucky, I keep it up for a few months but eventually it falls by the wayside.  With this in mind I went for an A5 size half leather bound version with a weekly format.

Bomo Art Planner Diary -3

They come in six sizes with a full or half leather binding.  There are three layouts, I chose the vertical weekly layout.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -4

You also get to chose from eight leather options, I chose dark brown, and there are numerous papers for the cover of half leather binding dairy.  I chose an antique map paper.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -2

My dairy cost about $15 USD which is a pretty reasonable price for a book of this quality.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -7

The diaries are made by hand in Budapest with the diary contents by Diarpell of Italy.

Bomo Art Diary -8

The paper is thin but holds up very well to fountain pen ink.  With such a thin page you do get some ghosting but nothing that would prevent me from writing on both sides.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -5

The paper is ultra smooth with almost no feedback.

Only moderate ghosting and minimal bleed with the huge 2.4mm Parallel pen
Only moderate ghosting and minimal bleed with the huge 2.4mm Parallel pen

This diary layout was designed in 2000 and as such, it still has an address/phone number section.  Apart from the address book this diary has no extras.  There are no blank pages for notes nor pockets for loose papers.

Bomo Art Diary Planner -9

The stitched binding is pretty nice.  The signatures are not as small as you might find on some Japanese notebooks but the binding lays pretty flat so I have no complaints.

Bomo Art Planner Diary -10

At the end of the day the Bomo Art is not a feature-rich diary but it’s beautiful looks and high-quality feel make up for it’s simplicity.

In writing this I realize I have yet to review any of their wonderful journals.  It’s now on my to-be-reviewed list so stay tuned… they are beautiful.

BomoArt Leather journal
Bomo Art Leather Journal

OMAS Extra Lucens and Lucens Fountain Pen Review

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens

The Lucens and Extra Lucens were the best quality and best looking Italian pens of the 1930s and 1940s.

Italian pens during this period were largely inspired (and in many cases copies) of American pens. The Lucens and Extra Lucens were offered with visulated barrels much like the Parker Vacumatic and Waterman Ink View. The Extra Lucens also featured an arrow nib and an arrow clip not unlike the one found on the Parker Vacumatic.

In the late 1930s Wahl Eversharp came out with the Doric, a faceted pen very similar to the Extra Lucens; there is some debate about which pen was introduced first.

Omas Extra Lucens -2

 

The bodies were made of celluloid and all of them had a degree of transparency to them.  The pens in my photos that appear black (because they are filled with ink) have black striped barrels and were originally clear but have turned into to a red color.  There were a number of beautiful celluloids that these pens were produced in.  The rarest and most valuable color was a grey pearl (if you Google “OMAS Extra Lucens Limited Edition” you can see a reproduction of this pen, though the original was not brown).

Both the Lucens and Extra Lucens use a stantuffo tuffante, or plunger filling system. This system is considered to be the same as the one used by the American brand Dunn, which had a patent on this system in 1920. OMAS patented their version in 1936 and for this reason we see “Brev.73725 – 1936” on the barrels of these pens.

Omas Extra Lucens -4

The plunger filler eliminated the use of sacs which made for a (supposedly) more durable filling system with a larger ink capacity.

Omas Extra Lucens -9

Personally, I do not like this system and I am not surprised that it was abandoned in favor of the piston filler. Filling the pen requires pulling out the plunger which draws up ink into the pen and then quickly pushing the plunger back down allowing the air to escape through a breather tube inside the barrel…if you push the plunger down too slowly all of the ink you just drew into the pen will be expelled. The filling system is relatively durable such that I feel comfortable using these pens every day. The weak points being a cork seal and breather tube.

The Lucens and Extra Lucens came in three sizes, the largest of the three measures about 14cm long capped and the midsize measures about 13cm (unfortunately I don’t have a small one to measure). The larger model is more or less the same size as the current all celluloid OMAS Paragon. The midsize is very similar in feel to a Pelikan M400 though slightly longer.

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (small), OMAS Lucens (small)
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (midsize), OMAS Lucens (midsize)

The nibs of the Lucens and Extra Lucens are quite different. The Lucens “Extra” nib with heart shape breather hole was the standard nib used on all of the OMAS Extra pens, while the Extra Lucens had a special arrow nib with a pentagon shape breather hole.

OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib

The Extra nib has longer tines than the Extra Lucens nibs creating more flexibility. The Extra Lucens nibs are soft and springing but not flexible (based on the small handful I have sampled).

Two Extra Lucens nibs
Two Extra Lucens nibs

During the war the Lucens and Extra Lucens pens had white metal trim and “permanio” nibs which were made of a steel alloy. These nibs, unlike Montblanc and Aurora’s wartime nibs, were not very resistant and many of them corroded.

The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens
The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens

The Extra Lucens was also offered with a bi-tone reversible arrow nib. The reverse side was stiff for carbon copies while right-side up the nib was soft like a regular OMAS nib.

Omas Extra Lucens -10
Writing sample with the Lucens

These pens are very nice reliable writers that I enjoy using. I almost always have one inked up. Like most vintage Italian pens, these are relatively rare and expensive. The large size Extra Lucens are the most desirable but for me as writers I prefer to use the smaller models.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink Review

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -2

Shimmering inks have become very popular in the last year and it’s largely thanks to Stormy Grey.  Stormy Grey is part of J. Herbin’s “1670” line of fountain pen inks.  1670 inks are highly saturated and the original formulation of Rouge Hematite (the first ink in the line) was infamous for clogging pens.  All four inks in the 1670 line now come with this warning label:

J. Herbin 1670 warning

I only use these inks in my cheaper pens and ones that are easy to disassemble and clean.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -1

Stormy Grey contains flecks of gold that tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle and in order to draw them up the bottle must be shaken, otherwise you are left with a much more plain dark grey ink.

Gold flecks settled at the bottom of the bottle
Gold flecks settled at the bottom of the bottle

Stormy Grey is a very wet ink (perhaps to compensate for the gold flecks?) and this translates to bleeding and feathering on more absorbent papers.  The ink worked well on Rhodia but for more porous papers, a thin nib or dry pen is going to be a better match.

I have been using this ink for several weeks now and it performed trouble free in a number of pens until I put some in my TWSBI 580 with a 1.5mm stub nib.  In the TWSBI I got spotty performance; sometimes it would write just fine and other times it would choke and skip.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink -4

Apart from some gold flecks left behind, Stormy Grey cleaned out of the pens I tested nicely; this was a nice surprise for a highly saturated ink.

Objectively, Stormy Grey is not a good ink but it is attractive and interesting.  I can only recommend this ink as a curiosity; it is not a serious every day ink and but putting this stuff in your pen you are risking a clog.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen Review

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-1

The Namiki Custom Impressions line of pens was produced in the late 90s and while it predates the very popular Pilot Custom 74, it is essentially the same pen with a “celluloid” body and no markings on the cap band.  These pens are cellulose acetate and not the cellulose nitrate normally associated with the word “celluloid”. The difference is that the cellulose acetate feels and can often look like a more typical plastic without the depth and oily feel of real celluloid.

The Custom Impressions came in five colors: Sapphire, Medley, Ambertone, Ruby and Emerald. I have Sapphire, Medley and Ambertone. It has been suggested (and from what I can tell rightly so) that Aurora used the same green plastic as the Emerald in their Optima. I have photographed them with a couple of Optimas…I am not certain that the Ruby is the same as Aurora’s Burgundy but they are close.

My Namiki Custom Impressions with two Aurora Optimas
Left to right: Custom Impressions in Ambertone, Medley, Sapphire, Aurora Optimas in green and Burgundy

I particularly like the Sapphire and Medley colors; these to me are the most unique and beautiful.

These pens came with a con-70 converter and a 14kt gold #5 nib.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-7

There is another variation of the Custom Impressions that very closely resembles the shape of the Custom 845, but again in “celluloid” and with a #10 instead of #15 nib. This model seems to be much more scarce and considerably more expensive than the pens I am showing here.

Like the Pilot Custom 74, the Namiki Custom Impressions make excellent workhorses. The nibs are butter smooth and wonderful writers.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-6

To my knowledge these pens were only produced in fine, medium and broad nib grades.

Medium nib on top, fine on bottom
Medium nib on top, fine on bottom

I also find the nibs on the Impressions to be softer than the ones on the Custom 74. It seems to me, based on a small sample of Pilot/Namiki pens, that the pens from the 90s and early 00s have softer nibs than the ones produced more recently.

I have a decent amount of experience writing with Pilot/Namiki nibs from size #5 to size #20 and while I find all of these nib sizes to be very comfortable, the #10 seems to hit the sweet spot, with the #5 feeling a bit small and the #15 and #20 feeling a bit big. If you have big hands, which I do not, you may not like the #5 nib on these pens.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-2

The Custom Impressions are full size pens measuring just over 13.5cm long, capped and weigh approximately 22.5 grams empty (with the con-70 installed).  These pens post very well and I find them comfortable to use posted and unposted.

Namiki Custom Impressions Fountain Pen-8

Prices for the Custom Impressions range a bit as they do not come up for sale all that often. If you can get one for around $150-$200 (depending on condition) I think that is a fair price but keep in mind if you prefer the look of a simple black body, a Custom 74 can be had for around $90 new.