A Pen With Personality: The Waterman Phileas Fountain Pen

Waterman Phileas x2

If you were trying to set up the Waterman Phileas on a blind date, you’d probably say that it has a “great personality”— which is code for “not that great looking.” With its “marbled” plastic body, gold furniture, and art deco trim, this isn’t a pen that catches your eye. Some may even consider it a little bit ugly.

Art Deco trim

I met The Gentleman Stationer at the DC Pen Show, and though we didn’t chat for long, I could tell he was a good guy. So when he put a handful of his “surplus” pens up for sale, I took a look, liked the price of the Waterman Phileas he’d listed, and decided to go for it. Up to this point, I didn’t own any Watermans so that was some of the draw— the chance to try a new-to-me brand at a good price.

Green Marble Waterman Phileas

And like I said, when the pen arrived, its looks struck me as unremarkable, and sort of not my style. No chatoyancy, no gorgeous swirls, no rich colors. Oh, well, I thought, it’s only $35. Since the body on this one is green simulated marble, I inked it with Montblanc Irish Green and sat down with it and a piece of Tomoe River paper. Despite the “meh” looks, the minute that nib hit paper, I was a smitten. As I doodled and scribbled, I fell deeper in love with this Phileas, so much so that it actually started looking kind of cute. That funny looking pen shot an arrow right through my ink-loving heart.

Waterman Phileas two-tone nibs

I’ve had this green Phileas continuously inked since it arrived in November 2014. It’s become a go-to pen for letter writing and journaling, or just doodling to take the edge off of a stressful day. So, yeah, smitten. Who woulda thought?!

Blue Waterman Phileas

A few weeks ago I noticed a sale going on at Bertram’s Inkwell, so I took a look (despite my vow to rein in pen purchases this year). And well, whatta ya know, a blue marble Waterman Phileas was listed—again for just $35. I’d made that pen-buying pledge so I mulled this over for awhile before ultimately deciding to buy. (Bert offers a 30-day/100% purchase satisfaction guarantee, so that pretty much clinched the deal.) Even though I already own the green version, the fact that the Phileas is a discontinued Waterman model made this find all that much more appealing.

Writing samples

When the pen arrived, I noted that what is called “blue marble” is actually quite purple. I think Wahl-Eversharp’s Everberry ink—a nice purply blue—would be a great match, but for its first fill I went with Sailor Yama Dori. That ink’s not really a match, but it’s a color I love and use often for letter-writing (especially during this InCoWriMo month). I wondered if the first nib was a fluke, but no—this one is just as nice, though maybe a touch finer. That’s kind of nice—the fact that they don’t write exactly the same even though they’re both medium nibs. Both are phenomenally smooth—kind of “soft” feeling. I don’t mean that in the sense of flex (NOT like the softness on my Visconti Opera Elements nib), but in the way it glides over paper. Whispery. So nice and yet so hard to describe.

Waterman Phileas x2

Some quick research reveals that the Waterman Phileas model is from the late 1990’s and is no longer produced. That’s too bad because this pen would be absolutely perfect for a fountain pen novice—a really lovely nib at a great price. (Prices are kind of all over the place on these, no doubt due to the fact that it’s been discontinued.) If I make it to the DC Pen Show in August, I plan to keep my eyes open for some of the other colors—red marble, grey marble, and black—or other nib sizes. I’ve read that the broad nib is particularly glorious.

Uncapped Waterman Phileas

The cap snaps on and off and posts well. The filling system is cartridge/converter, which is fine by me—easy to clean and maintain. I do like the looks of the two-tone steel nib that sports just a hint of that art deco vibe. The pen is light (24g; 17g body, 7g cap), but not overly so—sort of “just right” in hand. It almost feels like it disappears, but again, I think that’s because the nib puts you in a little trance. Well, it puts ME in a little trance.

We all know that saying, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” The Waterman Phileas has taught me that the opposite is also true—not everything that’s gold (or super smooth steel) glitters.

Waterman Phileas x2

Just like that blind date with the great personality, you’ll soon find that there’s something very interesting going on under the unassuming surface of this pen. The Waterman Phileas—the more you get to know it, the better it looks.

Citrusy! The Faber-Castell Lime LOOM Fountain Pen

Faber-Castell LOOM

I had the Faber-Castell LOOM fountain pen on my radar for along time before hitting the “Buy Now” button. I can’t explain why as I’ve read and seen numerous favorable reviews, and have had nothing but great experiences with Faber-Castell nibs. The price— a modest $40-ish— wasn’t the hurdle, either. Whatever the reason, I found myself picking other pens to purchase while the LOOM languished on my Someday/Maybe list.

Lime LOOM

In October 2014, Fountain Pen Hospital ran a “flash sale,” and as I casually browsed the offerings, I noticed this Lime Green LOOM for a slightly reduced price. I like lime green almost as much as I like orange (when I’m in the mood for something bright), so why back-burner this pen yet again?

Unposted vs. Retro 51
Unposted LOOM vs. Retro 51 Tornado Rollerball

I inked the pen as soon as it arrived and found that any niggly hesitation I’d had was not at all warranted. The oversized cap sort of put me off initially, as it looks as though it’ll add an unwieldy amount of weight to the back of the pen when posted, but I haven’t found that to be the case. The pen is light and on the short side (4.7″) when unposted, and though perfectly usable, I prefer the added weight and length posting the cap adds (posted length is 5.9″). The cap snaps on with a convincing click, and posts deeply and securely. Even though the cap makes the pen look a little bit like a bobble-head, it’s actually not an issue.

Posted vs. Retro 1951 Rollerball

This pen’s body features the highly polished “Piano” finish, so, of course, it’s a fingerprint magnet. I give the pen a quick wipe after a writing session and all is well. If fingerprints give you a nervous twitch, you’d be better off choosing a LOOM with the “Metallic” (Matte) finish.

Nib and grip

The matte metal section features a series of raised ridges that help with grip, though I have to admit that I find the section to be a little slippery nonetheless. Because of the curved shape, and the fact that there isn’t any kind “stop” at the end of the section, my fingers tend to drift towards the nib, despite the added ridges. Since I’m a “low-gripper,” this doesn’t really bother me, but it’s worth noting.

Clip attachment
Integrated clip

End of body
The mirrored, concave end of the pen

The clip is spring-loaded and substantial, the branding is subtle, and the lime green color of the cap (other colors are available) pops in a wonderfully citrusy kind of way. But what I REALLY love is the nib. The fine nib on this pen (the only size available during the FPH sale) is super smooth— just like all of my other Faber-Castell pens. Because I’ve read so many great reviews about Faber-Castell nibs, even on the economical models, I have to assume that this is a company that has their nib QC down to a science. Pay a little or pay a lot— you still get a consistently great nib. I’ve had zero start-up issues, writing is silky smooth, and there’s never been a skip or a hesitation.

Oh, that nib!

Available from a variety of vendors (including Faber-Castell), in a number of colors, and in both matte and gloss finishes, the Faber-Castell LOOM is a pen that delivers great performance at a very reasonable price. Fountain pens not your thing? The LOOM is also available in rollerball and ballpoint formats.

After spending the past few months with this pen, I’m glad I finally moved the LOOM off of my Someday/Maybe list and onto the list of pens I own. It’s one that I keep consistently inked, usually with Sailor Yama Dori, and use it often for letter writing,  journaling, and note-taking. Because— wow— that nib!

Faber-Castell LOOM

In a nutshell:
+ Super smooth Faber-Castell steel nib
+ Springy, sturdy clip
+ Snap cap, posts securely and deeply
+ Matte grip section, mirror finish body and clip
+ Cartridge/converter
+ Subtle branding (jousting!) on cap, cap end, and nib
+ Not too heavy, not too light (25g body, 7g cap)
– Mirror finish is a finger-print magnet
– Some may find the grip a little slippery
– Converter NOT included

For a couple of other takes on the Faber-Castell LOOM, check out…
SBRE Brown’s video review HERE
Brian Goulet’s overview video HERE

Faber-Castell LOOM pens are available from:
ANDERSON PENS
FOUNTAIN PEN HOSPITAL
GOULET PENS

Vintage Value: The Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen (Cracked Ice)

Many thanks to Ron, at Pen Chalet, for sending along this Conklin Duragraph fountain pen. I was not compensated for my review, and this post reflects my experiences with the pen. There are no affiliate links in this post.

Conklin Duragraph
The Conklin box is a little coffinesque, but it holds a very nice pen.

The Conklin Duragraph originally launched in 1923. I won’t pretend to know much (or anything, really) about the history of the Duragraph line, but I was intrigued by the appearance of this recently released updated version. The look is distinctly vintage, with rich-looking resins and a flat-top cap. Branding is quite simple. The center band sports the words “Conklin” and “Duragraph,” bracketed by two sets of three tiny crescents. The flat-top is imprinted with “Conklin Est. 1898.”

Conklin Duragraph

I own a few Conklin fountain pens— all crescent fillers— and while I enjoy them, cleaning them is something of a chore. It takes A LOT of filling and flushing to clean the internal “bladder” of those pens. The Duragraph is cartridge/converter pen which means that it’s simple to fill and to clean. The pen ships with two cartridges AND the converter. (I love when the converter is included.)

Conklin Duragraph

I filled my Cracked Ice version with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo, and set pen to paper. The stub nib on this Conklin Duragraph is smooth and plenty juicy, but not overly so. My other Conklin pens have equally smooth nibs (that’s 4 for 4), so I’ve either been lucky or nib QC is quite good. Flow is perfect— neither too dry or too wet.

Conklin Duragraph

Available in Amber, Cracked Ice, and Forest Green versions, I was initially drawn to the Amber version (fall colors are kind of my “thing”), but decided to branch out a bit and chose the Cracked Ice resin. I haven’t seen the other finishes in person, and I’m sure they’re great looking, but, to me, the Cracked Ice resin accentuates the vintage roots of the pen. It looks like a pen my grandfather would’ve used— sort of understated, but still interesting— like a pen made from crushed sea shells.

Conklin Duragraph

The stainless steel nib is available in fine, medium, and this 1.1 mm stub. Though not really suitable for me as a daily writer, the stub gives my handwriting more flair than it normally has, even though I’m not particularly proficient with it. I’ve never experienced a hard start or any skipping. I’m really pleased with the flow and the feel of the writing experience. It’s silky smooth.

Conklin Duragraph

This is a pen that’s meant to be used unposted. Though it’s possible to post the cap, it doesn’t post securely at all (the cap could/would definitely wiggle off), AND extends the pen to an unwieldy feeling 6.9″ (175 mm). Capped, the pen measures 5.9″ (140 mm). Unposted, it measures 4.9″ (124 mm), which feels fine in my hand, but might be a bit short if your hands are very large. The concave grip gives my fingers the perfect resting place for writing and doodling. The capped pen weighs 26 grams— sort of a nice “middle-ground” weight. I have NO complaints with anything about the look or the feel of this pen.

Conklin Duragraph

This newly released Conklin Duragraph stays true to its vintage roots without the price tag that can come with a vintage pen. Listing for $55, and available from Pen Chalet for only $44, this is a pen that’s hard to resist. I really can’t get over the price. I suspect that the Amber one is in my future, maybe with a medium nib.

Conklin Duragraph

The Conklin Duragraph is a pen that’s easy to fall for. The cartridge/converter set-up means that it’s easy to maintain, the resins are gorgeous, and the nibs smooth. And that price? What’s not to love?!

Conklin Duragraph

Check out the Conklin Duragraph line at Pen Chalet HERE. You really can’t go wrong.

On Fire: The Delta Unica Red LE Fountain Pen (via Anderson Pens)

Delta Unica Red LE Fountain Pen

I rarely come away from watching the Anderson Pens video podcast without jotting yet another pen onto my wish list. Case in point— just before the DC Supershow, Brian and Lisa announced their Delta Unica Limited Edition Fountain Pen, in a gorgeous red acrylic that’s an Anderson Pens exclusive. Wowza.

Oh, that acrylic!!
[Oh, that acrylic!]

With just fifty pens in this color, I was intrigued. And when I heard the price— just $85 (a small premium over the regular Delta Unica colors)— I knew I wanted this pen. BUT, I was getting to the pen show for Sunday only, so I spent a lot of my road trip from New York to Virginia worrying that they’d be gone by the time I was able to shop. PEN ANXIETY!

They were gone. I didn’t get one. The End.

KIDDING.

I hit the Anderson Pens table(s) pretty quickly on Sunday morning and was relieved to find that there were still some left. I chose #34/50 (medium nib), got one of Lisa’s famous hugs, talked to Brian, and ran off to pinball my way around the rest of the show. (Why I can’t seem to do a pen show in an orderly fashion is beyond me. I think it’s adrenaline.)

AP 34/50 Limited Edition
[Limited Edition, Anderson Pens, 34/50]

Once home, the first pen I inked and spent time with was my Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen (LOVE that thing), so I didn’t get around to inking the Delta until a couple of weeks ago. And that’s when I found a bit of a glitch. The pen would write, then stop, then write again. Sometimes it flooded the paper with ink, while other times it ran completely dry. Well, shoot.

Once I took a close look at the nib, the problem was obvious— the nib tines were simply too far apart. I contacted the Andersons by email, included a couple of photos to illustrate the problem, and had a speedy reply from Brian. At his recommendation, I mailed the pen to him, he fixed the nib, and returned it to me asap. Great service after the sale.

Delta Unica matte steel nib
[All better.]

NOW it writes as good as it looks.

Delta Unica LE Red Fountain Pen

It truly is a stunning pen. The red marble acrylic has amazing depth and sheen and looks like it’s on fire from within. Branding is VERY subdued. (You can just make out the “DELTA/ITALY” engraving at the bottom edge of the cap in the picture above.) The clip features a little roller that makes sliding the pen in and out of a pocket or case snag-free. I love the shape of the cap— how it subtly flares out— giving the pen a really clean and simple, but interesting, profile.

Delta Unica vs. Lamy AL-Star
[Size comparison: Delta Unica vs. Lamy AL-Star]

The size is perfect for me (4-3/4″ unposted, 6″ posted). The cap posts securely and doesn’t throw off the balance of the pen. The 0.46″ grip feels great in hand, and the threads and oh-so slight step-down do not interfere with my grip at all. It’s a joy to hold and use. The pen weighs 22g (15g body, 7g cap)— light enough for even an extended writing session.

Delta Unica Matte Steel nib

The nib is steel in a matte finish, and features branding that I find to be a little busy. The writing experience is a smooth and juicy one, with just a bit of feedback. The Unica is cartridge/converter pen, and a converter is included. I’ve filled mine with Sailor Jentle Grenade, a color that was MADE FOR this acrylic.

Delta Unica in LE Red Acrylic
[On fire!]

I’m very pleased with my Delta Unica LE fountain pen— my Anderson Pens Delta Unica. It’s hot looking, writes great, and feels terrific. Brian’s speedy response and quick nib fix proved why it’s important to deal with people you trust. Sometimes things aren’t exactly perfect— with pens as with life— and it’s great to know that there’s someone there should you need help.

Delta Unica LE Red Acrylic fountain pen

Or a hug. (Right, Lisa?!)

————–

Click HERE to watch Brian’s video overview of this pen.

Team Wahlnut: The Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik Fountain Pen

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen

As I mentioned in my quick summary of the DC Pen Show, Fred’s not a pen user, but he IS a talker. He’ll pretty much talk to anybody about anything. As I circled the atrium in the Sheraton looking for deals on Retro 51s (I found a few last year, thus my quest), Fred struck up a conversation with Syd Saperstein, the co-owner of Wahl-Eversharp. After I made my rounds, I stopped at the table and was quickly drawn into the conversation and the pens.

Syd’s a great guy— very easy to talk to and very passionate about his pens. He’s also the perfect salesman— a skill he says he learned from his mother. He’s not pushy in the least, but instead, nudges you towards a purchase with a wealth of information and the interesting history of the Wahl-Eversharp company. He also lets his pens sell themselves. Smart man.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Wahl-Eversharp pens WERE on my “quest list,” but I’d already made a few purchases and was contemplating a gorgeously swirly acrylic pen at another table. But then I tried one of Syd’s tester pens. OH, MY. Once I wrote with the Natural Aluminum Skyline Technik, I was 98% sold. Syd’s easy style, as well as a free bottle of Wahl-Eversharp ink, took care of the other 2%. Even Fred (who’s quite— shall we say— thrifty) was sold. As they chatted, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote a little more. Great nib. (“It’s ceramic-coated,” Syd explained. “And semi-flex.”) Super smooth. Addictively smooth. A nib that makes you say, “Wow.”

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Like I said, I’d been contemplating someone else’s eye-popping acrylic pens, but that Technik tester reeled me right in. Offered in three colors— Natural Aluminum, Black, and Cobalt Blue— I was leaning towards the natural finish while Fred lobbied for the black. He liked the black nib offered on that pen, and in the end, I had to agree. Black pen, black nib. Really cool. Sold.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Once home, the Technik was the first pen I inked. Filled with my free Wahl-Eversharp Everberry ink, my pen wrote just as smoothly as the tester, and laid down a gorgeously wet fine-medium line. I’m horrible at getting pens to flex— I’m afraid of springing the nib and have a really light touch— so even though I’ve yet to take full advantage of the semi-flex nib, I do enjoy the way it feels— springy and full of life.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

I’m quite taken with the design and the construction. Syd explained how the Technik is cut from a single billet of aluminum, resulting in a very sturdy pen. “This isn’t soda can aluminum,” Syd noted. It is the real deal and gives the pen a nice weight (24g capped, 15g uncapped) and substantial feel. I’m just as happy using it posted as I am unposted. The cap posts deeply and securely and feels very well balanced either way.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

The Technik’s details give it a timeless look. The design of the clip, and the way it’s integrated into the cap, looks both modern and vintage at the same time. The finely milled grooves in the cap add interest and give the pen a distinctively retro look. The tapered 5″ (5.6″ posted) body and 0.4″ grip fit my hand perfectly. So even though I was initially on the prowl for a colorful, swirly acrylic pen, this cool black pen completely won me over. And continues to do so.

Technik in hand

I use it EVERY DAY.

Oh, that nib!

The ceramic-coated, black finish, stainless steel nib is easily in my top five— maybe in my top two, just behind my Visconti Opera Elements. I don’t understand how the ceramic coating works, but if it makes a nib feel and write THIS well, then Syd and his business partner, Emmanuel Caltagirone, are definitely onto something.

Disassembled Technik

THE DETAILS
Body and Cap: Anodized Black Aluminum, cut from solid aluminum billet (Natural Aluminum or Cobalt Blue finish also available)
Clip and Trim: Rhodium-plated (Gold-plated option available)
Nib: Fine to Medium Semi-Flex Black Finish Ceramic-Coated Stainless Steel
Feed: Wahl-Eversharp Exclusive computer-designed Magic Feed II
Ink Filling System: Converter included or standard long Waterman style cartridge
Included Literature: Wahl-Eversharp booklet and warranty card
Packaging: Black lacquer piano box embossed with gold “Wahl-Eversharp” on top, with plush white lining inside
Price: $279

The Technik's packaging

The Technik’s style, weight, design, build quality, and even packaging, are all top-notch. That’s what’s cool about pen shows. I’m not sure that I would’ve purchased this pen had I not seen it, held it, and used it in person. Syd’s enthusiasm and deep passion for his pens and his business were as big a selling point as the pens themselves. During the course of our conversation, Syd told us how he’s known as the “Wahlnut” and I can certainly see why.

Clip profile

Just one question, Mr. Saperstein…can I be an honorary Wahlnut, too?!

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen

[Want to know more about Wahl-Eversharp’s history? There’s a great story about the company, the pens, and Syd in the February 2014 issue of Pen World magazine.]

Refreshing! The Kaweco Skyline Sport (Mint)

I really wasn’t in the market for another Kaweco, but then I read Ana’s post about the Kaweco Skyline Sport in Mint. MINT! That’s not a pen color that you see very often, and it’s one that reeled me right in.

Kaweco Sport Skyline

I ordered the pen from Fontoplumo, using the discount code on Ana’s site, and just a couple of hours later received an email saying that my order had shipped. THAT was fast! Frank, from Fontoplumo, also followed up with a genuinely friendly thank you email. Good vibes already, all the way across the ocean.

Kaweco Sport Skyline

The pen arrived about eight working days later— not bad from the Netherlands— and I immediately popped in the included blue cartridge. I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper. I’ve had mixed experiences with Kaweco nibs— from amazingly smooth in my first Kaweco, the Liliput (EF nib), to “won’t write at all” in my AL Sport (also EF). The vendor remedied THAT problem, but it’s made me leery of the brand. My clear Sport writes nicely, but not as good as my Liliput. So what would my experience be with this Skyline Sport model and its medium nib?

The Skyline's medium nib

SUSPENSE!

I’m happy to report that this Skyline writes like a dream— smooth, consistent, pleasantly wet— just like my Liliput. Kaweco nibs are inexpensive and super simple to swap, but I’d rather swap nibs because I want to try a different line width than because of a problem. All is well. Phew.

Closed vs. Retro 51 Tornado

This Skyline Sport is, of course, the perfect pocket pen, made even more perfect by the unusual pale mint color. It’s cool. It’s retro. It’s minty fresh.

Posted vs. Retro 51 Tornado

The pen is light (about 10.5 g), but the plastic is sturdy and feels as though it will hold up well. Posted (as it really must be) the pen is almost identical in length to a Retro 51 Tornado. The cap posts securely, better than the one on my AL Sport which always seems to wiggle loose as I’m writing. The plastic on this Skyline Sport is grippier than the metal on the AL Sport so that hasn’t been a problem at all.

Disassembled Kaweco Sport Skyline

I plan to stick with cartridges or syringe re-filled cartridges. There’s a mini converter available but I haven’t read many (or any) favorable reviews on that, so sticking with cartridges seems to be the best plan.

Despite an iffy experience in the past, this Sport Skyline has me back on the Kaweco bandwagon. Everything about it has been superb— from the quick and friendly service by Fontoplumo, to the smooth and juicy nib, to that cool mint color.

Kaweco Sport Skyline end cap logo

The Kaweco Skyline Sport— it really IS wonderfully refreshing.

———————

Check out Ana’s review HERE, for her take on the same pen, as well as her Fontoplumo discount code.