The fountain pen community was shocked back in November 2015 when the Chinese company O-Luxe announced they were closing one of their brands, OMAS, with the doors finally being shut in January 2016. Later that year, out of the ashes, a phoenix rose. Scrittura Bolognese. October 2017 and the first ‘regular’ ScriBo pen was released. A store only collaboration with Write Here of Shrewsbury.
The first version of the Write Here was launched at the London Pen Show, where only a test pen was available until mid afternoon when the rest arrived fresh off the plane from Bologna. Alas by then someone had already sprung the nib of the demonstrator, however more than a few of us were ready and waiting to purchase this pen.
ScriBo, as the company is often referred to, was founded by Luca Baglione and Elena Bettazzoni along with a number of the other workers from OMAS. The aim was to move forwards with new designs while retaining the old DNA. The company was new, the pens would be new, but the heritage would still be there. As mentioned, the original Write Here was their first non ‘four figure’ pen. Two hand crafted, and appropriately expensive specials existed, the Pittura and the Letteratura. Since then we now have the Feel, Piuma, and La Dotta, however the collaboration with Write Here has continued and we have now had five editions covering six colours, with a sixth round the corner (Write Here 2 was available in two different colours). Each edition being limited to fifty units.
The first edition came in the ‘corporate colours’ of the store. Slightly translucent pearlescent greys with a lime green band between the barrel and the piston knob. The finial was a cast metal disk containing the nib image from the end of the store name.
The clip, cap band, and nib were all rhodium plated, resulting in a very well balanced look with a cheeky hint of green. In addition the clip is shaped to largely reflect the line in the store emblem as seen above.
At first I think some people were put off by the fact this is a pen of straight lines. No graceful swooping curves, however the design suits the pen well. There is something clean and modern about the look, especially with the resins used for the original version. The cap is straight sided with the only adornments being the aforementioned finial, the clip and the band. The latter is ever so slightly wider than the barrel with curved edges and if you look inside you will note is it slid over the end of the cap to protect the material as well as adding decoration. On the clip side it is impressed with write here (all lower case) and on the obverse, SCRIBO ITALY (all upper case). The top of the cap has a line round the end just as it curves to where the finial sits. From the patterning on the original you can tell this is a decorative mark, not the gap between two different pieces of resin.
The cap removes in just over one turn and can not be posted.
The clip it is nicely attached by a 90 degree bracket which is locked in place inside the cap. It works very well and I have carried around my pens in jacket pockets on many occasions with no problems.
Looking at the section you may think this could be an uncomfortable pen to hold, what with the threads not being at the and and there being a noticeable step up to the barrel, however when you hold a Write Here you realise this is an oversize pen and the area for your fingers is a lot longer than you expected. It is very easy to get a comfortable hold, even if you have a finger or thumb on the threads or step. The former are shallow and the latter has been rounded off. Comparing my two pens I would suggest there have been minor tweaks over the various releases as my Mariana Deep Blue (5th edition) has slightly softer threads and smoother edges. The section angles down in a straight line towards the nib and there is no rest/stop to protect the fingers, not that you will need one unless you really want to hold the pen right at the end. Interestingly, due to the translucent nature of the grey resin used in the original version, the short gap between the back of the threads and the step actually acts as an ink window. I suspect this is by accident and it might not be on all of the pens in this edition.
The barrel (from the step) tapers in slightly until the small band before the piston knob. On my original pen this is raised slightly, where as on my Mariana it is smooth. I no longer have the Tropea (4th edition), as that was passed on to the next person in the United Inkdom review group a while back, however looking at pictures this matches my newer pen, so again this might have been a refinement or minor design tweak over time. The knob tapers then angles towards the end. As with the cap there is line engraved in to the material as a border between the straight line and the curve. The end is stamped with the pen number, for me 04/50 on the first edition and 41/50 on the fifth.
Earlier in this article I mentioned DNA and it is with the nib and feed that we find this. Back when ScriBo was being started up, Luca Baglione took what many would have considered a big financial risk. At substantial cost he purchased the nib making machines (multiple nib shapes/sizes) from the OMAS parent company as well as new machines to create the ebonite feeds. The net result is we have the same 14k and 18k gold nibs and ebonite feeds as were seen on many a Milord, Ogiva, Paragon, etc., over the previous years. The one difference is rather than being friction fitted in to an ebonite collar which had a reputation for cracking, here it is a screw in plastic collar unit which should be much more reliable. Unique to the Write Here pens is the nib decoration. There are two patterns. Mine are both 14k ‘Extra Flexible’ nibs, with the Write Here emblem stamped in to the surface, Extra Flex below that and then the gold content. The 18k nibs (as seen here with the Tropea in the top picture from when I reviewed it) has a ‘shield’ of horizontal lines as a background to the emblem, with the gold content below that. Regardless of gold type, the nib size is in the traditional spot, on the left side by the collar.
It must be remembered that for the 14k nibs to flex they are softer by design than you would get with other makers. The net result is you have to respect them and take your time if you want the thick lines and flourishes of calligraphic writing. Too much pressure and the tines will splay. I know this from personal experience and my first pen was sent back for repair due to my own stupidity. Note even with the 18k nibs you still get some flex and a nice level of bounce. If you prefer stiff, pencil like pens such as those from Montblanc, Pelikan, Platinum, and Sailor, then ScriBo (and OMAS) nibs may not suite you.
The feed is made from ebonite and unsurprisingly also identical to those found on many OMAS pens. It works very well with flex writing though with the 1.4mm stub you need to pace yourself, something that is far from uncommon with that type of nib regardless of brand.
The filling mechanism is piston. You can get a decent fill, though with no natural ink window it can be hard to tell how much you have left (except on my original). As with all piston fillers, the downside of the larger capacity is the pen is harder to clean, though you could (I’m sure you are not meant to) carefully unscrew the nib section and pump water in using a syringe. Additionally, if over time the piston were to become stiff (which can happen with any piston filler not used for a long period) you can use a toothpick to carefully apply silicon grease to the edge of the plunger before winding it in and out.
I find these pens to be very comfortable to hold and use. With the piston filler they are not the lightest of pens, but also not too heavy. A nice heft as it were with my two pens weighing 18.5g for the original (empty) and 20.0g for the 5th edition (full) uncapped. There was a slight difference between the caps, so I do not know if this is down to the material or minor updates in design.
Price wise I seem to remember the original was £450 with a discount at the pen show where it was launched. Certainly release 3 onwards they have started at £530, with the speciality nibs (EEF, 1.4mm, etc) being another £60-£80 depending on pen. This is compared to the £540-£640 it will cost you for a La Notta and £615+ for the Feel , though there you are also paying for the creation of the facets.
So what are my thoughts on the Write Here. Well to look at it another way you should take in to account I normally only own one of any pen model, however I have two Write Heres and there is potential for a third. I find the pens very comfortable to hold and use, love the nibs, and in many respects consider these to be work horse pens.
Would I recommend the Write Here to others. Well if you like OMAS/ScriBo nibs and have no problems with the price, then yes. If you see a finish you like, grab it. If you like these nibs and are not a fan of the shape of the Feel and La Dotta, then definitely. I do know a number of Americans who have bought Write Heres precisely because of this reason. It might seem a lot of money, but this is still an Italian hand made piston filler with one of the best (IMHO) nibs out there (and gold to boot).
Quick note on my pens. The green stains on the original are due to it being used on and off for 1.5-2 years with OMAS Green. You will note the staining is all on threads, however due to the translucent nature of the resin some can be seen through from internal threads. The Marina has been inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku since it was purchased at the October 2021 London Pen Show. With is being in my daily pen set I found I needed to refill it just before I started this piece, hence a little nib creep.
As well as the ubiquitous Lamy Al-Star/Safari, I have also included my Montblanc 146, which from here you can see is smaller. The actual rival would be the much more expensive 149, which I do not own.
The following images of each edition are from the Write Here website.