In some respects this was a key pen for me. This was the first fountain pen I bought with my own money (as opposed to being a present or using holiday money, the latter being used a few times on cheap French hypermarket sourced pens). Based on where I was working at the time it will have been around 2003-2005, though where I bought it from I no longer remember.
Having rejoined the fountain pen master race post the RSI incident during my finals exam, my membership came in to doubt when I started to work as I used freely supplied gel pens in the office. Still at least I was still using my trusty old Parker 45 at home until it rolled off the kitchen top.
Come early noughties and the company I now worked for stopped providing free gel pens, only cheap BIC ballpoints. I’m not sure if I tried using one of my Parker 25s, but for some reason I decided I needed a new pen. My limited knowledge and brand loyalty at the time led me to limited searches (probably in local shops such as WH Smiths) and on seeing the price of some pens I was shocked and surprised (probably Sonnets, not even Duofolds) while also wanting to avoid the really cheap Vectors. As a result I plumbed for a lower end model, the Inflection.
Visually the pen looks fine. It’s as you would expect with a work horse fountain pen. The gold coloured accents work well with the brushed steel and the black plastic cap and barrel finials look neat and part of the design also working well with the black plastic fletching at the top of the clip which is actually angled in to the cap.
Removing the cap and the black section again looks the part and also provides a minor hood for the nib, which was gold plated (or at least plated in a gold colour). It all looks rather neat and well designed, complete with a ridged ring to rest the finger tips against (which in reality is part of the clutch mechanism to secure the cap).
Filling system wise, I remember the pen came with one or two blue cartridges but I had to buy a converter, which I wanted as I still had a bottle of Parker Quink black ink, my staple for a long time. While I was unaware of the need to flush pens (do many manufacturers actually advise you do so, and do we ever read the blurb if they do…) I filled the pen and it worked.
I now had a work fountain pen and it was used. I should point out that I work in IT, however you still find yourself taking notes and references, and to be honest I’m yet to find a truly decent computerised/on line equivalent (closest I came was Evernote before they started to mess around more with it – and I did have a premium account to properly use it and sync across multiple devices). Also I have always found it easier to review and annotate documentation by printing it out and writing. Everything was fine for a while.
Except was it. I did find the nib would dry out, even when capped and occasionally I would have to dip it in to my (black) coffee to get the ink running again. Roll on a few more years and a new job and I was writing less, with the result of more hard starts and instances of nibs drying out, except now I did try flushing the pen out in running water, including emptying and refilling the converter with water. Net result no real change except with leaving the pen longer I starter to notice that when the ink dried around the nib I would see crystals. This continued and thinking it might be the ink, I bought a replacement bottles, cleaned the pen thoroughly (resulting in me actually rubbing some of the gold coloured plating off the nib) and tried again. No joy. This resulted in my trip down to Leadenhall Market and the branch of The Pen Shop which was there, as documented in my earlier post at the start of this series. Now with a bottle of Lamy ink the crystallisation issue went (and as a result I’ve never bought Parker Quink again) but the nib drying out did not. Also I was now using a second pen for red ink, a newly acquired Lamy Al-Star.
I carried on using this pen until frustration resulted in my buying another lower end Parker in 2013, before moving on the my first TWSBI. Oddly enough in the 5.5 weeks I’ve had this pen inked up with Ferris Wheel Press Peppermint Drop none of the old problems, including the hard starting and nib drying out, have returned. Shame the situation is not the same for the IM I will cover in a week or two time.
So what’s it been like to use. Comfortable enough. The nib is smooth unless you move it too far off angle, at which point it catches the paper (think I mentioned the same on my 25, perhaps it’s the way the tipping is installed and ground on lower end Parker pens). The ink flows well and it is reasonably wet. It is actually not quite as stiff as other Parker nibs I own or have tried and you can actually get a little variation out of it. As a writer it is reasonable, and with the way it is behaving at present if this were your only pen then you would be quite happy.
Weight wise it’s not too bad – the balance is decent and while you do know you have a metal barrel it is not too heavy in the hand. Also it is quite easy to get a decent grip as the section tapers gently and also being long provides the ability to hold the pen nearer or further away from the nib, which ever provides the most comfort. Again this supports my view about his being a decent enough pen for someone who just wants the one.
Long term, what will I do with this pen. Being my first real purchase I should really keep it, though it will probably languish in a drawer. A quick glance at eBay shows these start at £45 and can go for over £100 when you include postage. Higher than I would expect as you can get a brand new Urban (probably the equivalent present model) for about that price or less at present.
So to sum up. This is actually quite a decent pen when it works. At present it is behaving itself and in some respects perhaps it is a good job it did not in the past as it was this which resulted in me looking for replacements and then risking moving on to new makes (to me) and delving deeper in to that hole we call our hobby.