On the 25th of January 2018, Wancher launched the Kickstarter project ‘The Dream Pen‘, with three options, True Ebonite, True Urushi, and True Maki-E. The launch was accompanied by a series of very positive reviews by various bloggers and vbloggers, resulting in a heavy subscription, including from yours truly (I blame you Figboot). A year and a bit later mine arrived and has been used for the last three weeks.
One thing Luca Baglione, CEO of Srittura Bolognese (ScriBo) is keen to point out is, while he and many of the staff came from OMAS after it’s closure, ScriBo is not a phoenix or a restart, but a new company which is built upon the DNA of the former company (along with some of the manufacturing tools). Initially we first saw a new pen materialise as a store specific limited edition for Write Here in Shrewsbury, UK, a new looking pen using the OMAS specified Bock nibs we saw and loved from the latter days of OMAS. During the summer of 2018, post a couple of high end collector models, ScriBo announced a new consumer model, the Feel, which I saw at the London Writing Equipment Show. My first impressions were captured here (note I’ve since found out the nibs are now produced by Scribo themselves using the old OMAS machinery, and not by Bock) and also in this video of myself and Penultimate Dave interviewing Luca. There are two versions, one in the ScriBo corporate colours of blue/grey, and the other a dark blue. Both look very smart and could be used in any business environment as well as casually. The pens are made from resin, as are those from a number of top German manufacturers, and each one is turned by hand from an individual rod.
I first came across Rob van Nigtevecht and Powerful Signature on a UK based Facebook fountain pen group, where he posted pictures of pens he was making in various stages of creation and assembly. In early 2018 he produced a dark blue pen with appropriate roundels on both finials to help celebrate the centenary of the RAF. This attracted my attention and stirred me on to look at his website. I think by then both RAF pens may already have been sold, but he also had a Marine edition, made from Conway Stewart rods which caught my eye and the rest, as they say, was history.
During this review, and overview I will be covering both of my pens made by John Twiss.
John has been a stalwart of the UK pen show scene for many years. Starting as a hobby, either before or after he took early retirement from IT, he hand makes his pens from a workshop at the Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre, near Nottingham in the UK, selling both on line and through pen shows. With the latter, not only is he an attendee, but also helped restart the Newcastle Show in 2018. In addition to his own pens, he also sells other brands through his (joint owned ?) TwiCo shop.
A quick post on what I’ve got coming up.
From Kickstarter I have three pens due. A Wancher True Urushi Dream Pen, which I will review after around a month of use. The Edge by Venvstas/utopos-design, which I may review though it’s a low cost potential one off by Lucio Rossi, Reason for reviewing it will because Venvstas (Lucio) does produce a range of architectural engineering influenced pens. Finally there is a Franklin-Christoph 31 with Jonathon Brooks material under the P.I.F. campaign. I do need to review my F-C pens, will be an interesting challenge as I feel like I’m a little bit of a fan boy.
I’ve two more pen purchases planned (one is already ordered), though I’m keeping quiet about those at present (one is a substantial cost for me). Hopefully the first of these will be reviewed in February/March.
For my next couple of reviews I’m going small scale British. I’ll be reviewing pens by John Twiss then Powerful Signature next. Hopefully I’ll be able to borrow a Italix Parson’s Essential from a pen club buddy, leaving just (a far as I’m aware) the Worcester Pen Company (does anyone have one of their pens I can borrow?) to cover.
The Scala is an often overlooked pen in the Lamy range, as at launch it competed with the Studio, and in more recent times, with the LX and Aion. Price wise it is the most expensive of the bunch, both in standard steel nib form, in addition to the gold nibbed special/limited editions. I actually purchased this pen before any of its rivals in February 2017, first being attracted to its looks, then finding the pen in a sale at a good price. While the review here is for the specific model, much applies to all versions of the Scala fountain pen, and virtually all to the other gold nibbed versions.
The model is part of the range of limited editions created for the 50th anniversary celebration of Lamy. At the time there was criticism of the cost of the dark amber 2000 model and the higher pricing seemed to filter down as this pen was around £10-20 more than comparable Scala models at launch. Over time the prices started to come down to around £165, the more normal price then for a gold nibbed Scala (steel ones were and still are about £85).
I want to keep my reviews to every two weeks, however once in a while I’ll post something extra in between. This time it’s my present carry for work. This does change over time, but not necessarily quickly, and changes tend to be both due to new pens and change in preferences. As a result this will not be a regular feature.
Onoto was a brand created by De La Rue in 1905 for the manufacture of quality fountain pens, first in London, then in Scotland, and now in Norwich. During that time one of their most successful models was the Magna, also known as ‘The Pen’. For more information on the brand and its history please see the company website at https://onoto.com/the-onoto-history/, else it will take up too much space here. Needless to say, after a period of serious trouble and very low sales, the company was taken over by a fan in 2005 and in 2010 the Magna Classic was brought out, harking back to the classic pen. Numerous models have been based on this design, all hand crafted and with steel nibs by default, gold as an option. Presently, as of late 2018, Onoto are moving from using Bock nibs to Jowo (visually identical).
To most in the UK, Faber Castell produce art supplies, the fact they also produce pens (and are possibly the oldest surviving pen manufacturer) passes the average person by as few high street stores stock their fountain pens. Even then they are often over looked as the Ambitions and eMotions tend to be the only options and price wise start in the mid £60s, where as those few shops selling them will also have Parkers, Cross and Lamy pens starting around the £15-20 mark and many of their models for less than the cheapest Ambition.