Chasing Shiny Things: Model 27 Diamondline by Franklin-Christoph

Franklin-Christoph Model 27 Diamondline

One of the problems of attending a pen show is that you come home and think, “Why didn’t I…?” There’s so much going on– so many pens and people and inks to see– that your focus tends to drift. Well, MY focus tends to drift.

When I got home from the DC Super Show, the question rolling around in my pen-brain was, “Why didn’t I spend more time with the folks from Franklin-Christoph?” They had a well-laid out set-up and were very approachable, but they were also very busy. I stopped by early on, then meant to stop back, but each time I circled by they were pretty swamped. Still, I meant to make it a point to spend more time at their booth, but somehow, I forgot. (I’m blaming that swirly hotel carpeting for messing up my concentration. It’s disorienting, I tell you!)


Happily, not long after I got back home, Franklin-Christoph announced two new Special Edition Model 27 fountain pens- Diamondline and Radiant Red. Nice looking. Great price. Here was a chance to mend the error of my ways. Tough decision, but I went with the Diamondline. Ooooooo…shiny.

Diamondline detail
Diamondline detail

The pen arrived and was as shiny and great-looking as I’d hoped. But there was one little snag. One of the included ink cartridges had somehow popped its seal and dripped a couple of spots of ink (tiny ones, but still) on the pen “cushion” inside the box. It didn’t REALLY matter, but I do keep all my boxes stored away, and I like them to be pristine. So I emailed Franklin-Christoph, explained the issue, told them that it really wasn’t a very big deal (though my OCD tendencies thought otherwise), but wondered if I could get a new box. I HAD AN ANSWER WITHIN THE HOUR. Maybe even sooner than that. A new box went out IMMEDIATELY and arrived a few days later along with a very nice Franklin-Christoph keychain. So customer service? High, high marks right there.

Logo on the cap’s end

The Model 27 is a cartridge/converter pen, with the following dimensions (as taken from the Franklin-Christoph website)-
Capped: 5.5″
Posted: 6.5″
Unposted: 4.75″
Narrowest portion of the grip: 0.32″
Weight: 1.65 oz/46.78 g (without ink)

It’s a fairly slim pen with a nice weighty feel. When posted, the pen feels a bit top-heavy, and this is something that Franklin-Christoph is up-front about on the product page (see the Designer’s Note).  I’ve been using this pen unposted almost exclusively and find it to be very comfortable. Those with large hands, though, may find the grip section to be a bit too narrow.

Grip section comparison
Grip comparison: Model 27 vs. Lamy AL-Star

While the grip is quite different than the grip on the Lamy AL-Star, the other dimensions are not, as shown below.

Posted vs. Lamy AL-Star


The clip is spring-loaded and the profile reminds me of Faber-Castell clips. This one has just a bit of detail, subtle, but consistent with the Diamondline theme.

Clip detail

Bodywise, the only thing that bugs me a little is the fact that the cap screws onto threads that are on the section, not on the pen’s body. Because of this, I sometimes twist the entire section out of the body when I’m just trying to uncap the pen. I did find that if I over-tighten (just a hair) the section in the body, this happens far less often.

Medium stub nib by Mike Masuyama
Medium stub, by Mike Masuyama

The Model 27 is available in a wide range of nib choices, in both steel and gold nibs. I chose a steel nib with a medium stub. As I understand it, nibmeister Mike Masuyama grinds all of the custom nibs (needlepoint, medium italic, medium stub, broad italic, and broad stub) so that was a definite selling point. To get a quality pen, at this price point, with a Mike Masuyama grind was a no-brainer.

Medium stub by Mike

Though I’ve been a hardcore fine/extra-fine nib user, I’m beginning to inch toward nibs that are a little bit wider, mostly because ink shading is much easier to see and appreciate. This medium stub by Mike may just be my new sweet spot. It’s still on the finer side of medium, but with just a bit of a stub to bring out the beauty of the ink- Iroshizuku kon-peki, in this case. There’s not much line variation to be had (not in my hand, anyway), but the steel nib is smooth with a middle-of-the road wetness. I just love it.

One things for sure, the next time I get to a pen show, I plan to hunker down with the folks from Franklin-Christoph. They aren’t just selling shiny things, but shiny things done right.

Color Burst: Pilot Petit Pens

Just so you know: These pens were sent to me by Jetpens for review purposes. They were a fun surprise that perked up a kind of icky day. I have not been otherwise compensated, and I promise to tell it like it is.

Pilot Petit Pens

Last week was draining- lots of running around both days and evenings- and I was running on fumes by the end of the week. When I feel like this, the world goes kind of grey, and I just feel like sleeping. It’s dark by 7:30 pm which doesn’t help my sagging spirits. When I ripped open this little surprise package from JetPens, my mood instantly lifted. PENS! COLOR! Who needs to nap now?! Not me!

Pilot Petit pens, uncapped

These adorable pocket-sized pens by Pilot truly POP with color. The Petit pen series comes in three styles and eight colors. I was happy to sample each style and five of the colors. Measuring 4.2″ capped and 4.9-5.2″ posted (depending on style), these pens are super portable and just really, really cute.

Available as a Fountain Pen (Petit1), Mini Sign Pen (Petit2), and Brush (Fude) Pen (Petit3), there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re writing, lettering, drawing, illustrating, brainstorming, or just doodling (me!), you’ll have a blast loading the pen with ink and putting it to paper.

Clear feeds

The Petit1 Fountain Pen features a clear feed that mesmerizes me. To load up the pen, it’s as easy as removing the protective yellow cap from the cartridge, popping the cartridge into the body of the pen, then watching the ink draw through the feeder tube and into the feed. Here…take a look:

Petit1 disassembled
Prior to inking

Ink on its way to the feed
There’s the ink on its way to the feed

Inked pen
Fully inked feed

Cool, huh? This fascinated me every time I inked one of these pens. Easily amused? Possibly. But I don’t own any other pen that lets me watch the ink travel from the cartridge to the nib.

Petit1 Pens in Blue-Black, Baby Pink, and Clear Blue

The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen features a firm felt tip (medium) and is loaded with ink the same way as the Petit1 Fountain Pen. Here’s a look at the inking of the Apricot Orange pen:

Uninked Petit2
Uninked Petit2

Petit2 disassembled
Petit2 disassembled

Ink heading to the felt tip
There goes the ink!

Fully inked Petit2
Fully inked Petit2

Petit2 Apricot Orange
Apricot Orange Petit2

And because I can’t seem to stop, here are a few photos of the inking of a Petit3 Brush Pen:

Petit3 before inking
Petit3 sans ink

Apple Green ink on its way
Apple Green ink on its way!

Inked Petit3
Ready to go!

Apple Green
Petit3 in Apple Green

So the colors are cool, but how do they write?

I tried out the fountain pen first (blue black) and LOVED it. For such an inexpensive pen, it writes great- smoothly and solidly. Sure, the nib is plain and quite stiff, but the line is crisp and I haven’t experienced a single hard start or skip. The flow is generous, but not a gusher. Truly just right.

Petit 1 Fountain Pens
Petit1 nibbage

Though I’m partial to the fountain pens, the other two models are just plain fun. The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen has a firm felt tip that feels like it’ll stand up to a lot of use without going mushy. The Petit3 Brush Pen is a bit softer than the Petit2, but is still quite firm as far as brush pens go. It’s possible to get some line variation from the Petit3 model. I usually write quite small, but I can see myself using these pens to brainstorm or sketch; anytime I want to write a bit bolder.

Visible ink supply
No need to guess how much ink you have left

What else do I love? Well, the visible ink supply, the caps that SNAP on securely, and of course, the price. At $3.80 for Petit1 and $2.90 for the Petit2 and Petit3, the price is low enough that you can sample a few styles and/or colors without dinging your wallet. A pack of three refill cartridges runs $1.90, and the same cartridges fit all three pen models. Mix and match or color-coordinate. Have fun!

In Episode 80 of FPtv, Tim Hofmann spoke about “penvangelism”- spreading the fun of fountain pens to others. Tim practices “penvangelism” by having some inexpensive pens on hand to give out to curious friends and acquaintances. After writing with the Petit1 pens, it dawned on me that they’d be a really cool way to spread the fun of fountain pens and to enlighten the uninitiated. A fountain pen gateway drug, perhaps?!

In addition to the colors shown here, pens/cartridges are also available in black, red, and blue. These would be my usual conservative choices, but wow, I’m loving that Apricot Orange. The body and grip are made of smooth and sturdy plastic. The clip is a little fragile and the grip can be a little on the slippery side, but this is just nit-picking.

My husband walked into the kitchen when I was doodling with the pens and asked, “How much are those?” When I told him, he said, “Then why do you have to spend [insert much higher price here]?”

Hmmmm…he kind of had me on that one.

Petit Pens

Color me impressed.

Branching Out: Conklin Mark Twain “Halloween” Crescent Filler

Conklin Mark Twain

Before attending the DC Pen Show, I did a lot of reading about the best ways to navigate such a large show. One rule I heard over and over was to walk around the entire show before making a purchase. That made sense to me. By doing so you can eye ALL of the offerings and shop around for the best deal. So that was my plan.

I stopped at Pendleton Brown’s booth VERY early in the show and walked away with this pen. No browsing. No comparing. I just swooped in and purchased.  So there goes THAT rule!

Conklin Crescent Filler

Apparently I have a thing for orange swirly pens (see “Tiger Stripey” and “Persimmon Swirl” as evidence)- especially ones with a cool filling system. The Conklin Crescent Filler was a pen I wanted to try in person before buying because it looked as though the pen’s Crescent Filler mechanism could get in one’s way. I’m happy to report that this is not the case. The resin ring sits in the “web” between my thumb and forefinger and is not even remotely a nuisance.

Pendleton Brown
Pendleton having a blast!

Even in the very early hours of the show, nibmeister Pendleton Brown was grinding nibs at a furious pace. People walked by his table, and literally tossed their pens at him, asking for “smoothing” or a re-grind, then wandered off. How he kept track of what he was doing is beyond me. But despite all of the nib work in front of him, he graciously took the time to explain how to fill this Crescent Filler. It’s all very simple- just twist the resin ring until it loosens, align the slit in the resin ring with the crescent, insert the nib into the ink bottle, and depress the crescent. This compresses the “bladder” inside the pen so when the crescent is released, ink is drawn into the pen. After a few compressions, the pen is filled. No cartridge, no converter. Just fill and go.

Crescent Filler

This style of Conklin pen is reportedly an exact replica of the original Crescent Filler used by Mark Twain…thus his signature on the cap band. Twain was a fan because “…it carries its own filler in its stomach,” and also because the crescent kept the uncapped pen from rolling off of his desk.

Mark Twain
“Mark Twain”

The spring-loaded clip is sturdy and quite springy. Pressing down on the end of the clip easily rocks the clip so that it can be clipped to a pocket or bag. The cap screws on and can be easily posted but I find that I usually don’t. (In fact, I hadn’t even tried to post it until I sat down to write this review.) The resin pen feels equally well-balanced posted or unposted.

Springy clip

So I was intrigued by the color of the pen and the filling system, but what sealed the deal was the SUPER SWEET 1.1 mm stub nib. It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m normally an EF or F nib person (small writing), but once I wrote with this crazy smooth stub, I had to buy it with this nib- even though Pendleton would have swapped it for something finer. Nope, I said. This is the nib I want. (Who AM I?)

1.1 mm stub

One drawback of this filling system is that there really isn’t any way to monitor the ink level. So I just use it until it runs dry. No biggie.

The stub nib means that this isn’t an everyday writer for me (though I DO doodle with it almost every day), but who cares? It’s so gorgeously smooth that there was no I was going to pass up this stub.


So even though I stepped a bit outside of my comfort zone when I chose this pen, it feels so good.


I thought that I might find focus at the DC Pen Show, but instead I found myself wanting to branch out a little bit. And you know what? Branching out is fun. And oh so smooooooth.

The ink used in this review is Monteverde Black, and the paper is from a Rhodia dotPad No. 16. Purchased for $99, this pen turned out to be a very good deal, despite my lack of “shopping around.” 

Wow: Sheaffer Taranis (Sleek Chrome) Fountain Pen

Sheaffer Taranis (Sleek Chrome)

Coincidentally, as I sat down to handwrite the rough draft of this review- for the pen named after the Celtic God of Thunder- a fierce thunderstorm rolled through our area. The power flickered, a huge chunk of our neighbors’ tree toppled into their yard, thunder growled and cracked, and jagged lightning lit the prematurely dark sky. This storm was a DOOZY, and I loved every minute of it.


But there are those who beg to differ- like my neighbors with the tree damage. And the same appears to be true when it comes to the looks of the Sheaffer Taranis. I read a number of reviews before picking up this pen from the Andersons at the DC Pen Show and found that the opinions run hot and cold. You either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the “love it” camp.


One bone of contention is the over-sized clip. It IS a long one- almost as long as the cap- but that doesn’t bother me in the least. It’s pretty plain, does the job, and doesn’t visually detract from the sleek look of the pen. Others beg to differ.


The distinctive metal-on-resin section draws strong opinions from both camps. Some call it ugly. Others call it attractive and innovative. Personally, I like the look (though the Sheaffer branding could have been toned down a bit), and I really like how it feels. My fingers naturally fall on either side of the low-profile metal SHEAFFER strip, and even seem to enhance my finger placement a bit. It’s nothing like the clip on the Pilot Vanishing Point which often feels like it’s in my way.

Underside of section

Note that the nib size is not found on the nib, but on the section’s “underbelly.” Took me awhile before I noticed that.

Squared end of the Taranis cap

The Taranis’s body and snap-on cap transition from the expected round pen shape to narrow squared off ends, which results in a uniquely sleek look.

Hooded nib

Yesterday’s storm made me say “Wow!” and that’s exactly what I said when I wrote a few lines with the tester pen at the Anderson’s booth in DC. The hooded, super-smooth steel nib absolutely sold me on this pen. Even in fine, the nib absolutely glides across my Rhodia dotPad without a hint of scratch. It’s pure pleasure to write with, and has been from day one. One thing to note, the Taranis requires Sheaffer’s proprietary cartridges and converter, and while not ideal, that’s not a deal-breaker for me.

At 35 grams, this pen is neither noticeably heavy nor light, and is very well-balanced. I’m as happy using it posted as I am unposted.

So, though others may disagree, I love my Sleek Chrome Taranis as much as I love thunderstorms. Undoubtedly because both make me say, “Wow!”


Note: The ink used for this review is Pendleton Brown’s BLaKWa by Organics Studio. Paper is from a Rhodia dotPad No. 16.