Franklin-Christoph must be one of the worst kept secrets in the fountain pen community. A small North Carolina based company who only sell on line and at US pen shows, yet try finding a fountain pen club around the world where at least a few of their members do not own one or more of their pens.
It is coincidental that I decided to write this post (having contemplated something along these lines for around 3-6 months) on the day when the Triangle Pen Show, their local one, was due to start. Franklin-Christoph actually did not move to the area until after they had started making fountain pens. The company relocated in 2005 yet many of us may not know that their first pen, the IPO, was launched almost twenty years ago, back in 2001.
It is hard to talk about Franklin-Christoph without sounding like a fanboi, however try finding someone with something bad to say about the company even if they do not like their products. The life time warranty (excluding user fault – yes I killed my first nib, and yes it was a SIG) , even on transferred pens, certainly helps. As does the friendly and helpful staff, the 30 day no quibbles return policy, and also quick deliveries – I actually ordered a pen one day and received it the next, remembering I’m in the UK, not the USA.
Nibs are another thing F-C are known for. Every pen bought from them will have its nib tested and tuned. At pen shows this is while you sit with them. By default they tune the nibs to be slightly dry as it is a lot easier to make a nib wetter than reverse the process. On ordering (if buying on line) you can give details of any alterations you require. In addition to the usual sizes in steel and gold, including flex and music nibs, there are a number of speciality grinds available. Possibly the most famous of these is the ‘Stub Italic Gradient’ or SIG nib, available in fine, medium, broad (and occasionally BB). This was the creation of Jim Rouse and is now ground by Audrey Matteson (there are friendly debates on line as to which is preferred). In addition Mike Masuyama has produced needlepoint, cursive italics and cursive stubs for them, though what will happen once he shortly retires we are yet to hear.
I would suggest that US pen shows are their natural sales territory as far more pens are available at those than on line. Occasionally these limited edition and one off variations (known as prototypes) do appear in their store but it can not be a surprise that some fountain pen communities organise attending mules to browse and pick up these rarities for other members.
- Model 03 Iterum, Clipless, Black & Cinnamaroon, 1.1 nib – bought second hand from a fellow pen club member.
- Model 19 ‘1901’, Smoke & Cinnamaroon, Broad SIG nib – bought new from their website.
- Model 20 Marietta, Tiger Red, Fine nib – bought second hand at the October 2018 London Pen Show.
- Model 31 Omnis, Jonathon Brooks Heart of Gold, Fine nib – PIF Kickstarter campaign pen.
- Model 40 Panther, Ghost & Smoke, Ruthenium Broad SIG nib – nib was won in the Jim Rouse in-memoriam raffle (to raise funds for his grand kids).
- Model 45 XLV, ‘Candy Floss’, Medium SIG nib – bought new from their website.
- Model 45 CDLI, Black with Blue Cap, Mike Masuyama Needlepoint nib – bought from their website.
- Model 66 Stabilis, Solid Ice, Fine SIG nib – bought from their website, my first Franklin-Christoph pen (btw it is filled with Montblanc Lucky Orange, hence the colour in the photos).
- Pocket 66, ‘Patterned Red’ prototype, Mike Masuyama Cursive Italic nib – bought second hand on line.
- Pocket 66, ‘Grey Swirl’, Medium SIG nib – bought from their website.
- Penvelope 6 in umber canvas – used as my daily to work carry case.
- 20 Pen Case in black leather.
- Midnight Emerald – a decent dark green, the first of their inks I bought. Used off and on.
- Spanish Blue – a reasonable blue ink I’m happy to use but will not replace.
- Sweet Maroon – quite a regular ink for me, so much so I bought the second, larger bottle you see in the picture.
- Tenebris Purpuratum – a dark purple which I do not use much.
- Urushi Red – a decent red ink, but a bit too close to Sweet Maroon so I do not use much, though will quite happily when I finish my Sweet Maroon.