It is no secret that I have a thing for cheap fountain pens. Sure I have more than a few that many would consider to be expensive (though none with costs in the four figure range) but there is something about those at the sub £30 or even sub £20 price point that I find appealing. I’m not quite sure what it is but the reason may be that many are designed for younger people or students from countries where fountain pens still must be used at least some of the time in school. I think it is a mixture of the interesting colour combinations and the general toughness of the designs and materials you find in this sector that I like.
Kaweco have several ranges which fit under this grouping and while most people will be aware of the Sport and even probably own one or more of those in the plethora of finishes and colours with which they are available, it is the Perkeo which is the brand’s starter pen. A full sized fountain pen made of tough plastic with a reasonable selection of colours and colour combinations it certainly peaks my interest.
First off, I need to inform you that this pen was leant to the United Inkdom review group, of which I am a member, by Kaweco themselves. Expect a meta review for this pen late this month or early next. It came with a converter installed, which would normally be an extra (in the UK and Europe anyhow). I was also leant the calligraphy set, which I did not use but it did allow me to compare the finish of this pen with dark grey/blue one that came in that set.
From first looks you know this is a Kaweco. It is the DNA in the cap with it’s octagonal shape with facets that look like they have been sanded down leaving the curved ends behind. In addition you have the classic Kaweco finial disk. The barrel differs from the cap and also from the round nature of the Sport by having 16 fine facets. While thin these do seem to be quite effective at stopping the pen body from rolling (when uncapped). Also being a lot thinner than the sides on the cap means that you will need a very high level of OCD to want to line up the top facet of the cap and barrel, which is a good thing as the cap pulls on/off, so no threads to keep everything in line.
Being a demonstrator you can see an inner cap sealing the nib and this seems to do a good job. There is no clip but then how many school kids these days have to wear blazers, almost certainly this pen will be left on a desk, in a pen cup or carried in a pen/pencil case. There is a satisfying pop when you remove or replace the cap.
Looking at the section and there can be no doubt the Perkeo is aimed at young students as there is very prominent moulding to force a tripod grip. It is not quite as aggressive as on a Lamy Safari/Al-Star or Pelikan Pelikano, however if you do not get on with these pens then this Kaweco might not be for you. I actually find it quite comfortable though compared to it’s rivals the flat underside of the section does mean a thinner grip.
In the hand the pen is light, but it does not feel brittle. When screwing the barrel back in to place there is resistance for the last part turn which helps to secures it. The pen arrived with an optional converter installed, however the pen does come with a short international standard cartridge plus a spacer/empty cartridge which should be placed in reverse in the barrel to help push the full one home (it works, I tested it with a cartridge I was using in another pen). Presumably due to safety (anti-choking) reasons, there are subtle air gaps in the barrel finial meaning you will not be able to eye dropper this pen, which is partly a shame as you can with the plastic Sports and this has an advantage I will cover shortly.
The cap does post securely, though due to the lightness of the pen it does throw the balance out slightly. I suspect, again due to the lack of weight, you will not notice this after a short while.
The nib appears to be the same size #4 as you find in the Sport models. Since I bought my Orangina Sport Kaweco have changed their supplier from Bock to Jowo with the result the shape, patterning and feed are slightly different (check the pictures at the very bottom of this article). It is hard to compare the feel of the two as this pen came with a fine nib while my Sport has a medium, however this one does feel harder and stiffer, which is similar to the differences between stock #6 JoWo and Bock nibs.
The nib is dry, though it never fails to start and the pen behaves well if left uncapped. As you write the line does become thinner and fainter, but there’s no skipping, the pen just carries on laying down the ink. I had the same behaviour with my Sport but found when filled as an eye dropper, rather than using a cartridge, the flow was better. This, as previously mentioned, is a downside to the breathing holes in the barrel as this stops the Perkeo from being used as an eye dropper. I was able to improve the flow in my Sport with minimal fettling, however as this is a loan pen I’m not going to see if it works here. I have used one other pen with a size #4 nib (by Schmidt), my PenTitan and that also suffered from being dry so I do wonder if my experience with steel nibs this size is the norm.
I feel like I’ve done a near full review but have not yet mentioned why Kaweco have kindly leant us this pen. The Perkeo has been around for a while with some interesting colour schemes, however recently more colours have been added to the mix as well as a demonstrator finish, which is this pen. It might be dependant on using a clear converter, but the ink saturation in the clear section and feed, plus a partially full converter does make for an attractive proposition, at least with the turquoise ink it is presently filled with. I suspect with a darker colour or black the effect may not work quite so well. The one problem for me is for some reason it reminds me of the crystal BIC ballpoints and while the appearance has grown on me, my first reactions were not so positive. Cheap comes to mind, and rather than £15 cheap I was more thinking along the lines of something from my pens for a fiver review. But as said, over a short time the looks did grow on me, with the converter gradually emptying being part of that. Actually, if I were to buy one of these I would be tempted to get as broad a nib as possible and fill it will a bright shimmer ink, allowing the glitter particles to sparkle in the light. The thing to remember is there are presently 10 different colour options, plus the calligraphy set so you are not just limited to the demonstrator.
I did wonder about doing a quick comparison review as I have two of the Perkeo’s chief rivals, the Lamy Safari and the Pelikan Pelikano, plus a lower level Schneider pen. All four have the triangular shaped sections with the Lamy being the most pronounced, and as a result thinnest to hold. The Kaweco sits roughly midway and I found it could still be held with relative comfort with reverse tripod or four finger grips. The Pelikan and Schneider are more comfortable to hold, but I think much of this is due to the rubber overlays which almost certainly will wear and split in time. Writing I could not compare as the Lamy is uninked and the Pelikan comes with an ‘A’ beginners nib.
So my views. At first I was uncertain with the demonstrator. Compared to the solid coloured calligraphy pen it looked cheap and clumsy, yet as time went on I began to appreciate its appearance, especially as the ink level in the converter started to drop. Certainly for £15 it is a pen you would struggle to go wrong with, though you really ought to splash out an additional £6-8 on a converter if you want this demonstrator version. For younger kids I would suspect one of the multi coloured options will go down better. It is a surprisingly crowded market place at this price point and the Perkeo does hold its own among some bigger names in the pen world. I suppose the real problem for this pen is the Sport is just £3-5 more and that is the eponymous model for Kaweco.
Would I recommend one? For a kid or student then yes, for an adult I might recommend spending slightly more and going for a Sport instead.
- Clear section and feed add to the looks, as does the clear converter and barrel as the ink level drops.
- Good value.
- Good starter pen.
- Can not be eye dropper filled.
- Has a lot of rivals at this price point, including in-house.
- Dry nib, though this does appear to be the norm for #4 nibs.
- First impressions are of a cheap pen even for £15.
- Kaweco Sport is only slightly more money.
First up the Perkeo is alongside a Lamy Safari, a Pelikan Pelikano, a Schneider Xpect Vivaz, and a Kaweco Sport.
Some sister shots along side the Sport. With the close up of the nibs, from the top at first it is hard to spot the differences between the newer JoWo (on the Perkeo) and the older Bock (on the Sport) nibs until you look at the shoulders and outer tine curves, with the feeds on the underside the difference is a lot more obvious.