The Middle Child: Lamy’s CP1 Matte Black Fountain Pen

Thanks to Brad Dowdy’s weekly “Ink Links”, I stumbled onto a beautifully photographed post featuring Lamy’s CP1 Matte Black fountain pen. That post, with its simple yet stunning photos, was enough to push me to purchase this little-discussed Lamy offering.

Lamy CP1 Matte Black fountain pen

CP1 clip and branding
CP1 clip and branding

I think of this pen as Lamy’s “middle child”— tucked between the introductory and familiar Safari/AL-Star offerings and the more upscale Lamy 2000. With its stainless steel spring-loaded clip, matte black body, and simple timeless looks, the CP1 certainly seems like a relative of the classic Lamy 2000. If you’re talking nibs, though, the CP1 is clearly a sibling to the Safari/AL-Star lines as nibs can be swapped between these models, but not with the 2000.

Black steel nib

Speaking of nibs, when I ordered mine from The Goulet Pen Company, I opted for the black steel nib (fine) to complete the pen’s “blacked out” look. I’ve occasionally had issues with black Lamy nibs writing so dry that they had to be returned, so I included a quick note with my order asking if the nib could be QC’ed prior to shipment. I’m happy to report that the fine nib on this pen is wonderfully smooth and very juicy. Really perfect. Though my past issues with problematic black nibs have always been handled quickly, it’s best not to have a problem at all. This one is simply great.

kon-peki colored feed
Iroshizuku kon-peki colored feed

Price-wise, the CP1 falls between the Safari/AL-Star and the higher-end 2000, running about double the price of the former, and less than half of the latter. I paid $56 which makes this a reasonable and cool upgrade/change from the basic Safari without having to go all in on the pricier Makrolon 2000.

Like its Safari/AL-Star siblings, the CP1 is a cartridge/converter pen, but in this case, the converter is included, which is a nice little feature. Having to “add-on” a converter always bugs me just a little bit, so it’s nice to receive the complete package. Filled with Iroshizuku kon-peki, I keep looking for excuses to use this pen. I can’t figure out what the slim matte body is made of— some sort of metal, I suppose— but I do know that I like the weight and balance and ultra-minimalist look. (Some days I’m all about swirly depth and sheen and eye-popping color in my fountain pens, and the next I’m drawn to a super simple, super stealthy look. Oh, how my pen moods swing!)

Weighing just 17g and measuring 0.37″ in diameter, holding this pen is a little hard to describe. It’s light, but has some heft— sort of a denser feeling than that of a Safari or AL-Star. It’s very slim, yet still comfortable. The snap cap posts easily and doesn’t throw off the pen’s balance in a significant way. Vital measurements are as follows:

    • Capped: 5.3″

CP1 capped

    • Posted: 6.2″

CP1 posted

    • Unposted: 4.6″

CP1 unposted

I sometimes initially dismiss pens this slim as being “too narrow,” but then realize that I’m perfectly happy using an even skinnier woodcase or drafting pencil. The CP1 has a bit more girth than a pencil, so though it is certainly slim and trim, it’s not at all uncomfortable for me and my middle-of-the-road size hands. The grip section appears to be plastic (I can see a bit of a seam), but I can’t confirm that either. Even the Lamy website is pretty stingy with material specifics. The grip’s ridges give my fingers just the right amount of traction.

CP1 vs. Stabilo pencil

Middle children often find themselves struggling for attention between the first-born and the baby in a family. Lamy’s CP1 fountain pen seems to suffer a bit from “middle child syndrome,” quietly tucked between the colorful and popular Safari and the iconic 2000. Like those middle kids, this pen is special in its own understated way.

Lamy CP1 Matte Black

The CP1 Matte Black fountain pen— certainly worthy of some attention, and maybe a little of your Lamy love.

Under My Radar: ACME Stiletto Rollerball

The scene is a familiar one. I receive a gift certificate and a bit of birthday money and the next thing you know I’m steaming up the case of pens at our Scandinavian Design gift shop. I don’t quite have my nose pressed up against the glass, but almost.

This time, though, before I could get into another epic mental wrestling match with myself over which pen to choose, the sly owner (who is clearly onto me), blindsided me with a pen that I’ve NEVER NOTICED before. How is this possible? I have supersonic pen-seeking radar and have purchased a jillion pens from this place and yet I missed these?! Clearly, I’m slipping.

Hmmmm.

In my defense, they WERE tucked to the back of the case, behind a more prominent display of ACME Crayons. They’re very slim. And in a clear tube. And may have been hiding.

Meet the ACME Stiletto Rollerball, Frag model (Designer: Giovannella Formica).

ACME Stiletto Frag

To be honest, my immediate reaction was “nah.” Too skinny. I do like (or have gotten used to) beefier pens and this one is just 0.3″ in diameter. A mere wisp of a pen.

But then I held it, and my opinion starting easing. Hmmm…nice heft for its size. The striped lacquer feels substantial, and the stripes have just a hint of texture. This is a slender, but not a fragile (fra-gee-lay!), pen. Interest is spiking.

Posting end
Posting end

When I went to do a test-doodle (required) I realized that the cap simply pulled off AND WAS MAGNETIC, and that it could be MAGNETICALLY POSTED.

Posted pen
Posted pen

Well take my money.

I’m fairly certain the body is lacquered brass, as this seems to be the metal of choice for ACME pens. The trim is chrome. The capped pen measures 5.8″ and the posted size is 5.9″. And as I said, this is a very narrow pen, so clearly not for everyone. It’s also clipless and very rolly, so if that annoys you, move along.

Magnetic cap
Magnetic cap

As I doodled, the sleek, skinny feel started to grow on me, but it was that magnetic cap that reeled me in. It *SNAPS* into place with strong magnetic conviction and stays put. I could play with that thing all day. Very convenient, too, as there’s no excuse to NOT post the cap. It’s so easy and so addictive (in a magnetic pen cap sort of way).

Disassembled

The liquid ink refill is #5888, which is longer than the standard ACME refill, but writes the same. Black. Smooth. Consistent. The rollerball tip puts down a medium 0.7-ish line on my Rhodia dotPad. As I’ve clarified in previous reviews, liquid ink is subject to a bit of spread, more so than gel ink, but I don’t find this to be much of an issue as long as I’m writing on fairly decent paper.

P8126 vs. longer 5888 refill
Refill comparison: P8126 (standard) vs. 5888 (long)

There were a few other designs available— one with pop art flowers, one with stripes that ran the length of the pen, and one with pink, blue, and yellow hexagonal dots— but I liked the red, blue, green, and white stripes on the Frag model. It looks a bit nautical to me.

P1030498

Packaged simply, in a clear tube that’s plugged on both ends, this is a minimalist pen in the best sense of the word. It’s sleek, simple, playful…

Stiletto packaging

…and magnetic.

ACME cap

Happy Birthday to me.

Embrace the Darkness: Pilot Iroshizuku take-sumi

Many thanks to the fine folks at JetPens for sending along this bottle of Iroshizuku ink. I was not otherwise compensated, and this review reflects my experiences and observations with the ink in my pen and on my paper. Your results and opinions may, of course, differ.

When a bottle of Iroshizuku take-sami (Bamboo Charcoal) showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of JetPens, I immediately knew which pen I’d fill. I recently outfitted my Matte Black Pilot Vanishing Point with a black-plated 18K nib/converter unit, so I all I needed to complete the stealthy trifecta was a superb black ink, and here it was.

Iroshizuku take-sumi

In my previous job of 14 years, I was required to write in black ink (ballpoint, but still) all day, every day. So you’d think that I’d run screaming for the hills now that I’m free of that SOP-dictated requirement. Funny thing is, I still like and use black ink, and am always on the lookout for a particularly good one.

Iroshizuku writing sample

I already have a few Iroshizuku inks (kon-peki and fuyu-gaki…both luscious colors) so I was pretty sure take-sumi would get high marks for good behavior. And it does. In this Vanishing Point with its fine nib (Japanese fine, so it’s like a western EF), take-sumi goes on wet, but dries quickly— easily within ten seconds, even on Rhodia paper. It’s smooth and consistent— a very solid black. Solid in performance AND in looks. It’s not a grey black, not a watered down black. Is it the blackest black ever? Probably not, though I haven’t jumped too far into the black ink pool. I’d consider it to be an excellent black— surely the best I own. (How many times can I say “black”? A lot, apparently.)

Smudge test

I don’t regularly expose my hand-written pages to liquid so waterproofness isn’t something I really care about, but in the name of science, I “spritzed” my page.

Spritzed Rhodia page

So, yeah, don’t do that.

"Get to work!"

I don’t have a big collection of inks (though the pull to acquire more is strong), and I’m admittedly drawn to colors that look like the a glass of fine wine or the sea or a freshly sliced persimmon, especially when I’m writing letters and have time to appreciate an ink’s shading and depth and freshness. But there are plenty of times when I just need need to get stuff done, and black ink has always been just the thing for flipping on the “get to work” switch in my brain.

Pilot Vanishing Point Black Matte

It’s easy to love ink colors that pop off the page, but loving a black ink takes a little more work. Packaged in that gorgeously iconic Iroshizuku bottle, take-sumi impresses with its lovely darkness. It’s like the night sky. Usually you take it for granted, but every now and then you look up and think “wow.”

Back of the bottle

I’m smitten.

Lifesaver: Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen

Those who know me in real life know that this has already been a peculiar year with a bunch of unfortunate occurrences. We’ve had health issues with two of our three Silky Terriers (one was very serious, but all is well now) and lost one of our dear kitties to renal failure. My mother slipped in the house and fractured her wrist. My nieces were in a car accident that totaled their car, but, thankfully, not their bodies or spirits. My glasses broke. My car was sideswiped (hit-and-run) while parked causing $6000 in damages. I’m about ready to kick 2014 to the curb and it’s barely gotten started.

It’s easy to start taking all of this crap personally, which is stupid, I know. And it’s easy to start feeling down and anxious.

The grey, crazy cold winter weather isn’t helping.

I’m not going to suggest that a pen cures all ills, but I have found one that perks up my spirits a bit— The Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen. I’ve started receiving a periodic email from the Yafa Outlet and sometimes browse through their offerings, EVEN THOUGH I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to make a bunch of pen purchases this year. Well, the Wild Stripe quickly caught my eye, and I resisted for awhile, but in the end, I caved. The stripes are just too cool. And the price was right— $57.50 (50% off of the $115 MSRP).

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

The pen is made via their new Laminata process, which Monteverde describes better than I can:

Specially formulated, liquid acrylic resins are poured layer-upon-layer. Each layer is cured before the next layer is added. Monteverde’s exclusive Laminata™ technique takes far more time, but produces much better results compared to the previous “Cut & Glue” method.

After all of the acrylic layers have cured, the Laminata™ acrylic slab is hand-cut, hand-lathed, and hand-drilled. The pens are beautifully designed, and engineered for their beauty and functionality. The pens are then hand-polished to an heirloom quality luster.

What I didn’t initially realize is that the colored stripes are translucent. So when you hold the pen up to a light, or shine a flashlight into the cap, the colors glow. Not that I routinely walk around with this pen and a flashlight…or do I?!

Illuminated stripes

The nib isn’t earth shattering in looks or pedigree. It’s small (#5?) and says only, “Iridium Point” with some generic scrolling. That being said, it’s a smooth writer with just a touch of feedback. I’ve never had an issue with skipping or hard starts. I have noticed that while writing a letter or the rough draft of a blog post, the pen will sometimes write very wet, then less wet (never dry), then wetter again. I’m not sure why it does that but since it never runs to the dry side, I’m not bothered by this quirk.

The feed is clear, and this amuses me almost as much as the translucent rings. I get a kick out of seeing the feed turn the color of my ink— in this case, J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir.

Monteverde Artista Crystal wild Stripe

The threaded cap posts, but takes a bit of oomph to do so. In fact, at first I thought it didn’t post, but the pictures on the Yafa Outlet site clearly show the cap posted, so I gave it another go. The unposted pen measures 4.5 inches while the posted pen measures a more comfortable 6 inches.

When I posted a photo on Twitter, John Martinez (@iamthefollows) replied “Pretty! Lifesaver pen?” I had to agree that his description fits this pen perfectly. The colored rings absolutely look like a roll of Lifesaver candies.

And while a pen can’t be an actual lifesaver, it CAN be a mood saver. This pen has been that for me. Amidst all of the crap that life’s tossed my way lately, I’m having a blast writing letters and journaling with this cheery striped pen with the clear feed. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s not perfect.

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

Just like life.

Compare and Contrast: Kaweco Classic Sport Liquid Ink Rollerball

In last week’s post, I wrote about the ACME Eames Chairs Rollerball. This week’s pen is ALSO a rollerball, so I thought it might be an interesting exercise to compare the two. While there are a number of similarities, there are also some key differences, so let’s take a look.

While I purchased last week’s pen at a local shop, this “gently used” Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball was sent to me by JetPens. It happened to arrive close to my birthday— a happy coincidence. It’s not a birthday without a new (or “new to me”) pen!

PACKAGING
Kaweco tin

Each pen comes packaged in a cool tin, which is probably my favorite type of pen box because I know it’ll last virtually forever. Both tins have hinged lids, but the relief graphics and lettering on the Kaweco tin really make it pop. For a relatively inexpensive pen, this is an impressive package that has an appealing, somewhat vintage, look.

MATERIAL
Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball

The ACME Rollerball is a brass and lacquer pen, while the Kaweco is plain black ABS plastic, with just a bit of accent branding. The plastic is sturdy and durable, great for pockets and purses and backpacks. While I’m very careful with my ACME, the Kaweco is the perfect on-the-go pen. Does the plastic get scuffed up a little bit? Sure, but this is a pen that’s meant to be carried, so if it suffers a ding or scrape, that just means that it’s out doing what it was made to do. I love the ACME, but it’s more likely to live a pampered life than this rough and tumble Kaweco.

CAP and POSTING
Uncapped Kaweco Classic Sport

My ACME Rollerball sports a snap cap, while the Kaweco features a threaded cap. Both caps post deeply and securely by pushing them onto their respective pen bodies. The ACME sports a good-looking clip. The Kaweco is clipless, though an optional slide-on clip can be purchased separately. Since I tend to tuck this “everyday carry” pen in a pocket, I’m fine without a clip. The Kaweco’s faceted body keeps it from rolling away on a desk, so a clip isn’t needed for that purpose. But, as I said, if you’re happier with a clip, there’s one available.

Posted pen

As for posting, it really is a must for the Kaweco as the unposted pen is very compact at a mere four inches. This is, for me, usable in a pinch, but posting the cap makes for a much better writing experience. For those with larger hands, posting is a necessity. The ACME feels a bit top heavy when posted, so I usually use THAT pen unposted.

REFILL
Disassembled Kaweco Classic Sport

The refill in this Kaweco has no branding or markings but it’s the exact size and shape as the ACME 888 Safety Ceramic Rollerball refill in my ACME rollerball, which, incidentally, is also the same as the Retro 51 branded refill (or the Schmidt P8126, for that matter), which means you’ll get the same writing experience in all of these pens. These refills contain liquid ink, not gel, so there’s the potential for a tiny bit of bleed or feathering depending on what paper you’re using. I have to say that I tend to prefer gel ink over liquid ink, but as I rule, I enjoy either one more than ballpoint. Gel is just a bit crisper and predictable, but my qualms with liquid ink are very, very minor.

The one thing that I’m not crazy about with the Kaweco rollerball is that the refill rattles a bit inside the pen. I don’t mean that writing tip wiggles— that’s actually very solid— but that you can hear the actual refill rattling a bit when you move the body of the pen. Hearing this always makes me think that the cap is coming unposted from the back of the pen, but it’s not. Though not a huge deal by any means, it’s something that makes the Kaweco feel less solid.

PRICE
This Kaweco Classic Sport is available for $21.00 at JetPens, while I paid $69.50 locally for the ACME rollerball. Obviously, we’re talking plastic versus brass. Since you get the exact writing experience with either pen, it comes down to a matter of personal taste and intended use.

Kaweco emblem
I’m a sucker for that Kaweco logo!

If you’re looking for a cool, compact solid writer, the Kaweco Classic Sport is a great option. It’s super handy and ready to take on anything the day may throw at you. The ACME is a looker, but not something I want to treat lightly. Some days— actually MANY days— I have so much vying for my attention that the last thing I need is pen angst. So, for me, the ACME is better off at home and in controlled environments, whereas the Kaweco is ready to hit the ground running.

The ACME’s like visiting a museum. You have a good time, and see cool stuff, but there are rules. On the other hand, the Kaweco is like a day at the beach where you boat or swim or play ball. No rules, just fun.

The choice is yours.

Kaweco emblem

I choose…….BOTH.

Sitting Pretty: ACME “Eames Chairs” Rollerball

For Christmas, I received a gift certificate to our local Scandinavian Design store. Despite that fact that the store is packed with a ton of cool stuff, there was no doubt that I was going to put it towards one of the capped ACME rollerball pens— but which one? Even before I stopped at the store, I was mulling over a few options— Nancy Wolff’s “Dogs” and “Cats,” Lurinda Spear’s “Quote,” and Ayse Birsel’s “Write.” Since I had a kitty that was quite ill at the time, I was sort of leaning towards the cat pen. Oh, the mental energy and steam I put into pen decisions! If it could be harnessed, I’m sure I could power a small office building.

Once in the store, though, the choice became even harder. Karim Rashid’s “Orange” spoke to me, and I kind of fell in love with the old-school typewriter key graphic on Michael Doret’s “Qwerty.”

But then I saw the “Eames Chairs.” Hmmmmm. More pondering.

Eames Chairs Rollerball

I have no doubt that the saleswoman— who was outwardly very patient and helpful— was probably ready to scream into a pillow while I fondled pens and mulled over this epic decision. (It’s not a lie to say that I’ve picked out a new car faster than I chose this pen.)

In the end, I couldn’t resist the “Eames Chairs” design. After all, I love to sit. Simple as that.

ACME Eames Chairs Rollerball

The ACME website has this to say about the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames: CHARLES and RAY EAMES are ranked among the finest American designers of the twentieth century. They are best known for their ground-breaking contributions to architecture, furniture design (the Eames Chair), industrial design and manufacturing, and the photographic arts. The legacy of this husband and wife team includes more than 100 films that reflect the breadth and depth of their interests and the integrity of their vision. Theirs was a design collaboration in the deepest sense, and all their work, whether graphics, film or furniture was a product of their collective design process and philosophy. These products are approved and certified by the Eames Office, which is dedicated to communicating, preserving, and extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames.

Once I researched the couple a bit more, I was even more pleased with my choice. They sound like they were really cool people. And, again, CHAIRS.

A couple of special touches made me fall completely for this pen. The center band is etched with the simulated signatures of both Ray and Charles— a sweet little detail.

Ray Eames
Ray Eames

Charles Eames
Charles Eames

The pen’s snap-cap sports a “wheel and spoke” design that adds just a little pop.

Uncapped Eames Chair Rollerball

This rollerball is made from brass that’s silkscreened with the “Chairs” design, then coated in lacquer and clear coat. I do tend to baby it a bit as I’m afraid of scratching the design and that would make me crazy. The pen measures 5-1/3″ when capped, 4-7/8″ unposted, and 6-1/8″ posted. It’s a substantial pen so I tend to use it unposted, though the cap posts solidly and does not shift the balance too drastically.

Chairs

From the “autographed” center band, to the fun little design on the cap, to the “just right” taupey background color, and, of course, THOSE CHAIRS, this was clearly the pen I was meant to take home.

Loaded up with the ACME 888 Safety Ceramic Rollerball refill, you can expect a wet dark solid line that’s very much like writing with the Retro 1951 rollerball. The pen comes packed in a hinged tin, fitted with a dense foam insert, that’s perfect for storage and display. My pen lives in the tin when I’m not using it. (Refer to “scratching phobia” noted above.)

ACME tin

Pen in tin w/ pamphlet
Pen in its tin case, with the included ACME pamphlet

“Take your pleasure seriously,” Charles Eames is quoted as saying. Oh, I do. I surely do.

Just ask that saleswoman.

Eames Chairs

Hocus-Pocus: Delta Fusion 82

Outer box
Outer box

As I mentioned in last week’s post, after typhoons Haiyan and Yolanda devastated the Philippines, Leigh Reyes sprang into action and organized “Pens For Aid”, an online auction that raised funds for the Red Cross relief effort. New and vintage pens were donated by private folks and retailers, and pen lovers placed their bids and crossed their fingers. Leigh, herself a resident of the Philippines, used her passion for pens to help the Red Cross help those who were, and are, hurting. What a super idea.

I’ve wanted a Delta Fusion 82 for some time now— not because of the marketing mumbo-jumbo— but because every review I’ve read or watched makes particular note of the VERY SMOOTH nib. That’ll get me every time. So when a WHITE Delta Fusion 82 popped up in the auction, I settled in for the long haul. The white body isn’t available in the US which made me more determined to win that pen.

And win it, I did.

Hoo boy— what a pen!

Inner box (closed)

Even the packaging is very cool. Inside the outer cardboard box, is a slick inner box with a plastic lid that swivels open to reveal THE PEN.

Swivel lid
The reveal

Delta Fusion 82
The Delta Fusion 82

Let me say that none of my photos do this pen justice. It’s gotta be the whiteness. I just can’t get photos that convey the very cool, cracked ice, look of the body. The acrylic shimmers with depth and is just a little bit translucent. If I look hard, I can catch a hint of the Iroshizuku kon-peki that’s loaded up in the included converter. Because this pen is white does NOT mean that it’s boring. Quite the contrary.

Delta Fusion 82

The clip’s a pretty tight one, but has a lovely profile.

Fusion 82 clip

But where this pen REALLY SHINES is in the nib. Oh my, that nib.

Delta Fusion 82 nib

Here’s how this “Revolution nib” is described in the accompanying booklet:
Thanks to the production characteristics, the ink is made more fluid in the vicinity of the tip of the nib, because Fusion features a “plate” of precious material (gold, palladium, or other noble alloys), that due to its high thermal conductivity, will tend to heat the underlying metal (steel, titanium, or other) and the underlying metal, in turn, transfers heat to the ink in transit between the conductor and the tip of the nib. The higher temperature makes the ink flow more smoothly. At the same time, the nib has characteristics of strength and durability for long writing sessions, higher than those of nibs completely in gold.

Delta Fusion 82

Truth? Proven? Who knows. I DO know that this is one of the sweetest, smoothest nibs I’ve ever used. So maybe, just maybe, they’re onto something. I’ve been using this pen every night to write in my journal— a new habit for 2014, and one that I’m enjoying— and can’t seem to make myself use a different pen. It’s crazy good.

Is there anything I don’t particularly like? Well, as I said, the clip is quite tight, but since I’m storing the pen in its very distinctive box, not in a pocket or case, this isn’t an issue for me. Also, the cap doesn’t post, but it’s perfectly fine in my hand unposted, so no worries there (for me). The crackly cool look of the body and the juicy flow from this heavenly nib easily override what could be seen as “flaws” by some.

Is there hocus-pocus going on between the gold and steel and ink? Maybe. Maybe not. Does this pen write like a dream? Absolutely.

P1030331

I thank Leigh for organizing and handling all aspects of the “Pens For Aid” auction, and for throwing in the amazing goodies that I showed you in last week’s post. She is a generous soul, and an inspiration for pen lovers everywhere.

P1030318