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.

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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.