Caran d’Ache Hexagonal Ecaille Chinese Lacquer M Nib Fountain Pen Review

Caran d'Ache Hexagonal

The Caran d’Ache Hexagonal Ecaille Chinese Lacquer fountain pen is an odd ball in my collection.  I don’t like skinny pens nor do I like fingerprint prone pens and pens with metal sections….this pen is all of these things.  So why do I have it you ask? It was the price. I saw this pen new old stock in a small pen shop in the Netherlands and I just couldn’t let it go.

I have decided to use a more standardized review process for nicer fountain pens with six categories and a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best and 1 being the worst).

Appearance:

Caran d'Ache Hexagonal
It is hard to see the marbled red look of the Chinese lacquer in the pictures.

The Hexagonal shares the same shape as the original Caran d’Ache Ecridor pencil.  The combination of gold plate and red marbled Chinese lacquer are pretty dated looking but the fit and finish make this pen still beautiful in my eyes as an objet d’art.  I can’t think of another pen in production today that is comparable.  The Hexagonal Chinese Lacquer is still listed on Caran d’Ache’s website but if you look around you will have a hard time finding one.  The rectangles carved into the grip section are a touch I quite like.  I love the squarish shape of the 18kt gold nib and the lack of a breather hole.  My pen is from the 90s and the more recent Hexagonals have a more traditional nib with a breather hole.  This pen is a fingerprint magnet and I worry that even wiping it with a soft cloth with scratch it.  Score: 3.5

Build Quality:

Just by looking at the Hexagonal you can tell that it is of the highest quality.  The “Maison de Haute Ecriture” will never disappoint you in the quality department.  The gold plate is beautifully polished and the hand painted Chinese lacquer is gorgeous.  Running your finger on the barrel you will notice that there is a seamless transition between the gold and lacquer; you cannot feel it at all.  The rectangle shapes carved into the section are painted with lacquer.  The pen both caps a posts with a crisp snap.  This is an incredibly well made pen and is easily on the same quality level as S.T. Dupont and Graf von Faber-Castell. Score: 5

Caran d'Ache Hexagonal

Size and Weight:

The Hexagonal weighs in at just under 27 grams which is neither light nor overly heavy for a normal fountain pen.  The pen measures 5.25″ capped, 6″ posted and without the cap the pen measures 4.75″.  At its widest point it is less than half an inch thick and the grip section measures about a quarter of an inch thick.  The weight and the length of the pen are all excellent but the width makes this pen uncomfortable.

What Caran d’Ache did was made a capped version of the Ecridor pencil which has the same girth as a pencil wooden pencil.  Keeping the same form factor with a capped pen means shrinking the grip section width and this is a serious problem comfort-wise.  The smaller the girth, the more pressure needed to control the pen and when you consider that this pen weighs many times more than a wooden pencil the result is not brilliant.

I wrote a letter with the Hexagonal and about half way into the second page my hand was in pain and it was a struggle to continue.  As a pen for quick notes you shouldn’t run into any problems but I wouldn’t recommend it for long writing sessions at all.  Score: 1.5

Caran d'Ache Hexagonal

Performance:

Lots of tipping material
Lots of tipping material

The 18kt gold medium nib writes well and is very smooth with some light feedback. I have had no issues with skipping or hard starting.  The performance of the nib has been flawless for me.  It’s a pretty stiff nib so you wont see much in the way of line variation.  I love nibs with character and unfortunately (like most modern nibs) the Hexagonal’s nib does not have much.  Score: 3

...Perle Noire*** (I did it again)
…Perle Noire*** (I did it again)

Filling System:

The Hexagonal uses a cartridge or converter which is a feature I am starting to like on high-end pens.  A piston filling system is more expensive to produce and holds more ink but from a cleaning perspective is much less desirable.  I like to be able to change inks frequently and a cartridge or converter allows me to do just that without much hassle.  I can easily go from an dark black to an ultra light orange without even giving it a second thought.  With a piston fill pen I wouldn’t be able to make that change without a ton of cleaning.  I use a regular Waterman converter with the Hexagonal and I have had no issues.  Like the nib, the performance is good but there is nothing special to note here.  Score: 3

Value:

The retail price of this pen (with the updated nib) is about $1,300 and I could never pay that for this pen.  The quality is certainly there but it’s just not comfortable.  I also feel as though there is no X-factor with this pen like you would have on many similarly priced pens from other manufacturers.  I paid about €120 for my new old stock Hexagonal and at that price it is not a regret for me but it also isn’t a home run purchase as I rarely use it.  Score: 2

Bottom Line:

Unless you love the style and can put up with the thin grip section, the Hexagonal isn’t a pen I would ever recommend.  Final score : 18/30

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Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Medium Nib Review

DSC00580

The Pilot Vanishing Point is an extremely popular fountain pen with a click mechanism that retracts the nib.  I have had mine for several years now and while it’s frequently inked it’s far from my favorite pen.  To me the Vanishing Point is purely a tool; it’s reliable and can be operated with one hand for quick notes but it’s not fun to write with.  My VP has a brown lacquered brass body with rhodium accents weighing in at 30.9 grams with a full converter.  The VP measures just under 5.5″ long and is about half an inch thick at its widest point.  The Vanishing Point is a pretty ugly pen; it’s definitely not a show piece.  The VP looks the most dignified in matte black and unfortunately for me it was released well after I purchased my brown one.

Pilot Vanishing Point Nib

The stiff 18 carat gold medium point nib has no personality but is smooth and reliable.  The medium point is a bit finer than most European mediums and the flow is pretty average.

Namiki marking on the nib
Namiki marking on the nib
Nib extended
Nib extended
Nib retracted
Nib retracted

Depending on how you hold your pen the clip may be an issue because it is so close to the tip.  Having a pretty standard grip it does not bother me but this pen definitely wont work for everyone.  Also, I do not find the VP to be comfortable for long writing sessions as the grip area is relatively wide and the pen is quite heavy.  The Vanishing Point comes with a converter, a cartridge and a metal cartridge cap (that prevents the click mechanism from crushing a plastic cartridge).  The VP offers a lot of pen for the money with an average street price $140.  The build quality is excellent as with all Pilot products and it has held up well quite well for me.  The nib has a lot of tipping material so I may have it ground down into a stub to give this great pen some character.  I recommend trying the Vanishing Point in person before purchasing.

Pilot Vanishing Point

Here are some great reviews of the Vanishing Point:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

The Pencil Case Blog – Pilot capless/ vanishing point fountain pen

No Pen Intended – Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen

Lady Dandelion – pilot vanishing point – a functional, chubby dolphin

Tyler Dahl Pens – Pen review – Pilot Vanishing Point!

The Fountain Pen Quest – Review: Pilot Vanishing Point “Matte Black”

Ed Jelley – The Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen in Matte Black – Handwritten Review

Everyday Commentary – Pilot Vanishing Point Review

Gourmet Pens – Review: Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point Raden – Medium

The Pen Addict – Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Review

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot 78G is a great looking budget fountain pen. The pen I will be reviewing has a bold nib that is actually a stub; I do not know why Pilot doesn’t offer this pen with a round tipped bold nib.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Nib

The nib writes quite well with some feedback but it is a bit dry for my taste; I may have to experiment with some different inks to find what works best with this pen.

The Pilot 78G comes with an aerometric-style converter and also accepts Pilot cartridges.  It is rare for pens at this price point to come with a converter.  For example, the ultra popular Lamy Safari at $35 doesn’t come with a converter; you have to pay an extra $5 to get one.  Unlike the aerometric filling system found in a Parker 51 the Pilot’s doesn’t hold a lot of ink.  If you plan to do a lot of writing you would be better served by using this pen with a cartridge.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen

The body is made of a lightweight black plastic and features a gold plated steel nib and clip.  The 78G weighs in at about half an ounce which is lighter than I prefer.  Capped it measures about 5.25″ and is 0.5″ wide at its widest point.  The grip section is a problem, at less than a quarter inch wide I find it too skinny to be comfortable for long writing sessions.  If you have larger hands or a tight grip this pen may be a bit too small for you.  The body of the 78G seems to scratch quite easily but at this price point it’s not that big of a deal.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Cap

I have been using the Pilot 78G for 7 days straight now and it is great for taking notes. Compared to my Lamy Safari w/1.1mm stub, the Pilot 78G writes better, looks better and costs a fourth of the price.  In short the Pilot 78G is great entry-level fountain pen that I highly recommend.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen
Pilot 78G fountain pen writing sample. Diamine Ultra Green ink on Maruman P160 Report Pad.

Here are some great reviews of the Pilot 78G fountain pen:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Gourmet Pens – Review: Pilot 78G Green Fountain Pen – Broad Nib

Ink of Me Fondly – Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Fine Nib Black Body

The Daily Acquisition – Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Review