A little bit of history The Kaweco brand has been going for a long old while, and many of their models hark back to designs of a hundred years ago. But just this once, they have echoed familiar themes whilst coming up with something, well, original. Naturally, we had to put it to the test. How it looks Actually, they came up with two Originals, with very different nib sizes. The smaller version uses the diminutive short #5 060 Bock nib familiar from the Sport and Lilliput models, which unfortunately looks a little stunted in a long pen like this. The larger Original, though, uses a nice big #6 250 nib which looks in proper proportion – a bit like a scaled-up Sport, keeping the distinctive octagonal profile which is something of a Kaweco calling card. How it feels Both Originals feel solid yet, thanks to aluminium construction, not terribly heavy. On the whole, robust but usable. How it fills An obvious advantage over the Sport is that the Originals have room for a full-size converter, and Kaweco have maximised that gain by threading the inside collar of the section to allow for a screw-in converter, helpfully also available from Kaweco in a range of colours. For reasons which remain a mystery, we chose purple for our test units, but retailers might be well advised to provide a converter as standard; it’s a much more ‘premium’ experience filling up with ink from a proper bottle, and being able to prime a feed with a quick twist of the converter can help when inks prove to be a little on the dry side. Crucially, how it writes… As ever that depends upon the nib fitted and the ink too, but we had a varied experience with our test units. The tiny 060 had an EF nib which struggled to lay enough ink down really, but as we’d probably elect to upgrade to a more fitting Bock 076 (sadly not yet available in Kaweco branding) anyway, perhaps that’s not the end of the world. The larger 250 had a B tip which surprised several of our reviewers with how well it performed as a ‘daily driver’, so that looks like the winner. Pen! What is it good for? These might be a bit pricy for a school pen, but they are robust enough to serve as a daily driver for a more grown-up writer. VFM At a ‘street price’ close to £100 for the #6 version these are not cheap, to be honest, so our tip would be to buy from a bricks-and-mortar shop where you can try a number of nibs and get the one which really works for you. It needs to be usable to be worth the money, at this price point. The only way is ethics Made in the EU, and packaged sensibly, there’s little to worry about on this front. If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… If the 060 nib just looks a bit short, fitting an after-market 076 will probably help. If you like the 250 version but for some reason just don’t dig a polygonal cross-section, Kaweco’s smoothly cylindrical Supra may be more your thing. Our overall recommendation For people who enjoy brief scribbles with a Sport but want something similar but a bit larger for extended writing sessions – and that might be rather a lot of us – one of the Originals could well be the answer. But given that the right nib makes a big difference, we’d recommend trying them out in the flesh first. Where to get hold of one It’s a fairly new model at present but most fountain pen shops are likely to consider this soon. Buying in person looks less hassle than online purchasing given the possibility of a bit of nibular trial-and-error.
A little bit of history Designer Donna dreamed, during decidedly difficult Decembers deprived of company, of a new sort of notebook. Our kind of musing, that – and as she had already achieved full mastery of the strange beast known as the spiral binding press and was ready with more than a few ideas about the ideal cover art, it seemed a good time to launch a new stationery brand upon the world. So it proved – and here is the evidence.
How it looks Every edition looks a bit different, but that’s the intention; these are hand-made, not churned out by the hundred in an automated factory. The result is organic, classy, and tastefully colourful. The mustard-coloured ruling is a distinctive touch, and it really works.
How it feels The paper has a wee bit of texture, so it pulls ink off even cheap nibs and offers just enough friction to grind graphite from a pencil tip too. Spot on, in this respect.
Crucially, how it handles ink… For recycled paper, very well indeed. Sure, it’s not quite as ridiculously slick as Tomoe River, but how often does anyone actually use that stuff in real life? This is good enough to use for everyday purposes, and posh enough for a bit of reflective diary-writing too, if the mood takes you.
Pulp! What is it good for? It’s good paper for fountain pens, but the bold and groovy covers perhaps suggest an off-duty use for most customers. So, travel diaries, extreme shopping lists, or notes for the next blockbuster novella / feature film seem just the ticket.VFM At £16.99 (including delivery factored in), these aren’t cheap – but then again, they’re hardly ridiculous money either. Certain brands we won’t mention would charge you three times as much for something only half as interesting! Subscribers to Donna’s newsletter tend to get discounts and special editions, too. It’s perhaps a bit too special to take to school, but for many other purposes just posh enough…
The only way is ethics It’s recycled paper from Italy, put together by someone who is presumably paying herself appropriately too. ‘Not much to complain about there! Oh, and given where they are assembled, on this occasion the only way is actually, err, Kent. But pretty close 😉
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… Special editions of many hues are mooted – watch this space.
Our overall recommendation If you want something a bit special in A5, without breaking the bank, you really could do a lot worse.
A little bit of history Classics fans know that Latin pops up everywhere, and perhaps even more appropriately so when the brand in question is Italian. Stipulae originally sprung from the same root as ‘stubble’, perhaps denoting thin reeds for writing or perhaps, as Mick suggests, the custom of breaking a twig to indicate consent to all the terms of a contract – the stipulations. The third Renaissance was in love with all those retro references, and nowhere more so than Florence, home to this day to a fountain pen brand called Stipula. But its output is hardly ever seen in Blighty; so we wanted to find what such a pen was like in the flesh.
How it looks This one looks seriously classy, we think. There’s a touch of bling on the clip, but it gets away with it, and the dark honeyed tones of the material would contrast beautifully with a gold nib if it had one – which it doesn’t, but more of that later. The Etruria Magnifica Miele Selvatico, to give it the full title, is most certainly a beauty – as one would expect with any objet d’art which shares its name with a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent (surely the Etruria they had in mind).How it feels Girthy but nicely balanced; unless you have a very strong preference for slender pens, this should do you just fine.
How it fills This is a straightforward cartridge/converter job, and none the worse for that.
Crucially, how it writes… But here’s the rub. A pen of this provenance deserves a really great nib, preferably one with a bit of life in it – which often requires gold. This is a steel nib, without much bounce, and it’s paired with a feed which could do with the services of a good urologist. The 1.1mm italic tip lends a bit of character, and with a very wet ink it can make an interesting mark on the page, but a nib this broad does take a bit of fuelling and with standard ink this can struggle to keep up. Sadly, our reviewers were less than entirely bowled over.
Pen! What is it good for? It’s good for admiring at a distance, and grand for waving around and looking artsy. Sadly, it’s not always so brilliant for writing with.
VFM If you can find this pen on sale at all, it will set you back at least €195. That seems quite a bit for a steel-nibbed pen, and as the writing performance was less than universally acclaimed the claim on your pocket money might not be the strongest.
The only way is ethics There isn’t much to go on here, but as far as we can gather the pen’s made in an EU location with adequate labour rights, and the packaging is a bit bulky but hardly over-the-top in terms of materials. Not bad.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… There are plenty of other Stipula designs, which are perhaps worth tracking down on continental retail sites. For a modern Italian brand which can be sourced easily in the UK, try Leonardo.
Our overall recommendation Try before you buy; the looks are terrific, but performance may not be exactly to your taste.
Where to get hold of one The other side of the Channel, in short; UK retailers have largely opted not to carry Stipula at present. This meta-review references:
A little bit of history If you’re a fountain pen fan, you’ll know about OMAS – and you’re probably also still missing that venerable Italian brand. But by now you might also know that some of its staff stayed on in the home city and set up Scrittura Bolognese, or Scribo for short. They make the curvaceously pulchritudinous Feel, but they are also up for making ‘private label’ pens for other stationery brands – an offer Write Here were the first to take up. Their ‘WH special’ has been available in various hues for half a decade now, so we have been meaning to get around to this meta-review for erm, quite a while. Eventually the Tropea finish looked impossible to resist.
How it looks The shape of the pen is fairly unremarkable, albeit nicely executed with a sturdy clip. The colouring, though, conjures up a red onion skin very well indeed – which is what the town of Tropea is famous for, after all. We could venture off on a diversion into Italian food here, but you get the gist. It’s tasty. Unfortunately for us bloggers, it’s also nigh-on impossible to do justice to with a camera; you really have to see this in the flesh to get a proper sense of the material.
How it feels Sturdy, but not overly heavy. Large, but not uncomfortably so. Just right, actually; it’s a pen made for people who really want to write – which might sound obvious, but we do come across a few pens which seem to have been produced more as eye candy than writing implements. This, though, is a serious pen for serious pen people (with, admittedly, serious pen budgets). The Scribo nib makes it a more tactile experience to write with, too; this thing really bounces.
How it fills This is a proper piston-filler, which works smoothly and holds enough ink to keep going even with a big wet nib – which is just as well…
Crucially, how it writes… This particular Tropea is fitted with a big 18k ‘standard’ broad italic. It’s standard only inasmuch as it is not the extra-flessibile 14k which Scribo (and OMAS) devotees prize so highly – but there’s certainly nothing ordinary about it. This is not stiff gold, by any stretch of the imagination, so there is plenty of natural line variation and bounce. Astonishingly, the feed can keep up, too! Writing with this is quite the experience, and puts a LOT of ink down on the page. Great if you have a rather extrovert style of writing, although it can be a bit of a handful if small, neat lettering is more your thing.
Pen! What is it good for? The Scribo WH special is designed as a practical every-day writer’s pen, although this particular italic nib makes such a bold mark on the page that it’s hard to imagine many business uses. This is probably just too much fun for the office, but for funky correspondence, audacious recipes, daring diaries, trenchant critiques of the imminent demise of western civilisation and such-like it’s probably just the ticket.
VFM Well, it’s not cheap, it must be acknowledged; the configuration we tested retails at £590, which is a fair bit of cash for a writing utensil. But a soft italic nib is a rare thing, and this is such a treat to write with that if you do have such sums to hand, there are certainly far worse ways to spend it. The ‘mainstream’ alternative options at this price point won’t win you as many admiring glances from penthusiasts and hot pangs of jealousy from disappointed ballpoint-wielders, that’s for sure.
The only way is ethics Hand-made in Italy, by people you can email and get a reply from, this is looking like a pretty sound choice on the ethical front too. The packaging doesn’t include too much disposable content, either; you’ll probably want to put the admirable Scribo pen wrap into use.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… The Scribo Feel is worth a look if you prefer a less cylindrical sort of experience but still want one of these extraordinary nibs – or if you want even more curves, try La Dotta.
Our overall recommendation Try one in the flesh – and if you like it (which, be warned, you probably will), start saving!
A little bit of history OK, relax, we’re not going to relate the whole natural history of flora. Let’s stick to the inks. Diamine released a box set of inks inspired by flowers a few years back, and it was a hit, with shades like Pansy and Cornflower continuing to find new fans even now. So, quite reasonably, Cult Pens thought it would be a good idea to commission a sequel.
How it looks These are packaged in ten square-ish bottles.
How it arrives In a box, naturally enough. This is perhaps a bit predictable, but it’s easier to manage than a flower-pot.
Crucially, how it writes… Not too wet, not too dry – but some of this set are a bit low on saturation, so be warned.
Ink! What is it good for? Drawing, we think; given the pallor of several of these inks they look better suited to illustration than correspondence.
VFM £60 for ten small pots of ink is a fair bit, so the full set is probably one for hard-core floristry fans. Others may prefer to await individual refill pots and pick just the colours which really do it for them.
The only way is ethics Made near Liverpool by a firm we can trust to behave, and packaged in old-school materials, this scores highly.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… Go for the original Flowers box set, which has a rather more robust range of colours.
Our overall recommendation If you find yourself lusting after the pale and mysterious inks which many Japanese brands indulge in, without the instant penury a large collection of those might inflict, you could do a lot worse than try a few horticultural doodles with this box set.
A little bit of history Much as we all mourn OMAS, ink wasn’t their strong point. Their spiritual heirs, Scribo, have apparently set out to correct that. We put the whole range to the test.
How it arrives Packaging isn’t everything, but my goodness do Scribo make an event of it. The cubic cardboard boxes slide out like drawers to reveal stackable square-based bottles which positively shout “we’re special!” – and so they are.How it looks This is a big range, and the different components deserve detailed attention:
The inktelligentsiaThe orange and purple offerings immediately won many fans, the purple dark enough to take to work and the orange stiff competition for any similar shade. If you have only the pocket money for the one bottle, either would be a good place to start.
The patricians Some sturdy blues and very black black here, with an empirical link; Capri was the childhood home of Caligula, uncle of Nero.
The communards Should you wish to raise the red flag, you can do so with a juicy pomegranate, or, err, with a nice Chianti.
The ecologistsThat’s a lot of green for a modest range, but there’s a shade here for everyone – with a civilised teal probably taking the prize.
The dullardsIt’s a little harder to get excited about browns and greys, but they do have an audience – and these at least do it with a bit of class.
Crucially, how it writes… Actually, that varies: some were found to be a touch dry for our testing panel. However, as Scribo pens themselves tend to run very wet, it’s a good match for the right nibbage.
Ink! What is it good for? If you work in design or fashion, perhaps you can take one of these inks to the office. For the rest of us, this is probably best for writing a diary, making private notes or correspondence with friends – and none the worse for that, of course.
VFM These aren’t cheap, by any stretch of the imagination, and are priced comparably with Iroshizuku inks. As a result we would hesitate to advise rushing out and buying the whole range, as the outlay would be equivalent to the price of a very good pen. But if you have treated yourself to a nice Scribo pen and want something which complements it, a bottle of your favourite shade might not be too crazy an indulgence.
The only way is ethics The inks are made in the EU (we think) and the packaging is eminently re-usable, so it scores fairly highly on this front.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… You could try some KWZ – although be prepared that a Scribo pen thus equipped may double as a small fire-extinguisher in emergencies. In terms of the colour palette, Italy may have little to compete with this but over in Japan Sailor and Pilot both have ink ranges which cover similar ground, at similarly ‘premium’ prices.
Our overall recommendation Scribo have done their pens justice with some grown-up inks in really impressive packaging, but they do cost accordingly. Our tip would be to choose just the one which which matches your pen.
Where to get hold of some Our samples were donated by Write Here, the only UK stockist we’re aware of thus far. If you happen to be in Bologna, Scribo may also sell direct.
A little bit of history Our species are not the first terrestrial hominids to make art, and therefore conceivably not the first to use a device like a pen for making marks. But we are, in all probability, the first on this planet to invent copperplate, so it’s perhaps not too bold for Visconti to name a pen design after us. Sed – ecce! – inter homi sapientes, de gustibus non est disputandum. We therefore did our best not to argue too much. Quite a mountain of history, actually Back in the 1970s, steady-state Luddites fought against two intellectual movements and lost twice, first to the constant expansion of the universe and then, down here on Earth, to plate tectonics. But our story starts about half a million years ago when the slow-motion collision of the African and Eurasian plates caused the growth and repeated eruptions of a stratovolcano known to successive civilisations as Etna. It’s held a place in myth and legend ever since, including as the prison of the monstrous Typhon, and as the source of much of Sicily’s soil has been ruled over by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, the offspring of King Rollo (no, really) and, for a brief but toothsome interval, a revolutionary squashed-fly biscuit. Etna also chucks out plenty of lava, of course, and Visconti gamely set out to make something of it. How it looks The classic Homo Sapiens look is a black basaltic tube with a few metal rings and the signature Visconti bowed clip. If it’s under-stated in its usual dress it can be a lot more exotic as a special edition, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on a curious ‘special’ indeed, the Evolution – which looks like a Klingon tool for signing instantly broken peace treaties. How it feels Sizeable, fairly hefty but not ridiculously heavy, for most of our reviewers. Most is not all, mind; at least one of our panel put the pen on the scales and declared it too weighty to live with. The clever bayonet closure (NB, not present on the Evolution) makes for a comfortable grip, though, and the weight is well-distributed. Visconti makes bold claims about the barrel material being hydroscopic, so that it still has a grip in sweaty hands, and although this is perhaps better tested in the summer it does seem to work quite well in practice. How it fills This is a vacuum-filler, and it sucks in a voluminous gulp of scribbling juice without much effort on the user’s part. There’s no way to use cartridges, of course, but if you’re in the market for a pen this pricey a bottle of decent ink is unlikely to exceed the budget. Crucially, how it writes… Now here hangs a tale. Originally, the Homo Sapiens employed palladium nibs which proved notoriously difficult to tune (and harder still to keep in trim). Our duo exemplifies recent alternatives; a usually well-behaved and slightly bouncy gold nib or, for the Evolution, a tubular steel nib which is firm but smooth. A pleasure on either count, although they are very different beasts. The gold nib on our test pen afforded some hard starts to a couple of reviewers, but not to the degree that made writing impossible – and as it flowed adequately for others ink choice may be a critical factor there. Another vital Homo Sapiens tip, which we wish Visconti would tell people directly, is to undo the blind cap a couple of turns before staring to write; this seems to reduce the risk of drying-up considerably.
Pen! What is it good for? In standard trim it’s probably sober enough for the office – although some of the special editions might frighten the horses! The new gold nibs are lovely to write with, though, so this is also ideal for writing a diary or personal correspondence. It’s for keeps either way, though. VFM These are very good pens, no doubt, but compared to other premium Italian offerings the value proposition is sometimes perhaps a little dicey. The Evolution tipped over into four figures, and that’s hard to justify for a steel-nibbed pen, however artistically assembled. Choose with care. The only way is ethics These are made in Italy and (unless someone gets a really harsh cut of the fee) no-one’s being under-remunerated at this price. If you can afford one, enjoy it with a clear conscience!If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… There are new special editions of the Homo Sapiens out most years. Bide your time, save up, and pounce as soon as you see one you like. Or, if you want a posh pen from a different part of Italy, Scribo and Pineider may have a competing claim upon your attention. Our overall recommendation Try one in the hand, if you can – but if you love it, that’s your pocket money spent for a while!
Where to get hold of one Your fountain pen emporium of choice; Visconti is widely stocked. This meta-review references:
A little bit of history The Calamus fountain pen is part of a three-piece writing instrument set also featuring a ballpoint pen and a rollerball pen. This very distinctive pen set has been put together by the German distributor Aratrum as a leaving gesture from their outgoing head of operations, Mr Pflug.
Aratrum is apparently one of Germany’s biggest writing product distributors and their list of prestigious companies include: Kaweco, Platinum, Recife and ACME to name but a few. So yes, this was always going to be a proper bit of kit! The look and feel of this range is the result of two decades of handling and selling pens, and it looks like Herr Pflug has tried to incorporate all his favourite details.
The term CALAMVS is a nod to the Roman reed pen, made from a leaf of Acorus calamus; an intriguiing plant also known as beewort in English, which apparently has psychoactive properties and was even supposedly used by Walt Whitman as a metaphor for ‘forbidden love’ between gentlemen. Golly.
How it looks The Calamus comes in a slick matt black cardboard tube with minimal tasteful graphics in white. The pen is made from brass with a black chromium finish and is piston filled from the back end with the twister hidden under a small screw-closure section. The main barrel features two ink windows, one on each side, with three engraved decorative rings. The clipless cap seamlessly pops on and off and features two engraved rings, a shallow engraved logo and a small steel stud to prevent roll on the opposite side. The Schmidt nib unit features a smoky grey medium nib with an iridium point.
How it feels The pen is made of brass and has a nice heft to it. Uncapped, the balance point is in the middle of the ink window – if that’s by design, it’s a nice touch. In the hand when writing the balance is towards the nib, which many of us prefer but maybe a slight issue for left-handed ‘over writers’ who seem to prefer the weight towards the rear, possibly as a counter to the angle they have to rotate their hand when writing. Another possible issue is the two ink window cutaways; one of our reviewers thought they felt a little sharp.
How it fills At the back of the barrel you have a blind cap, which once removed reveals the end of a captive piston filler. To fill, carefully twist anti-clockwise until fully down, put the nib into the ink source and twist clockwise to fill. One of the design features is the two long and prominent ink windows sitting opposite each other. It is very easy to see the ink level through these when filling the pen.
Crucially, how it writes… The nib is a ruthenium-plated Schmidt size #5. The pen was tested on Tomoe River paper and in a Rhodia Webby with no issues whatsoever. It feels comfortable in the hand and is very smooth to write with. Interestingly there was a tiny bit of squeaking audible from the iridium point for the first sentence or two.
Pen! What is it good for? This is unquestionably a good quality pen with a unique look; it works for handwriting, and also as a fashion accessory.
VFM Remembering this is a limited edition pen, made of brass, and with visual/tactile features that require work, well it may surprise you that at present the pen is just €59. Unfortunately, postage to the UK is another €25, which is a pity, but if you happen to be in Deutschland…
Our overall recommendation For this money the Calamus is a great-looking pen for both writing and accessorising. If you have contacts in Germany, bag one!
Where to get hold of one The Calamus was provided by Papier und Stift, where you can also buy the devil-stick or gel alternatives, presumably for the Muggles in your life.
A little bit of history Rob de la Porte at Made for Ink very kindly sent the United Inkdom review team samples of these notebooks just in time for Hallowe’en. Rob is a real craftsman with a well-deserved reputation for producing limited print runs of affordable, good quality, fun-themed, hand-made notebooks that are ideal for journal keepers of all persuasions. These notebooks are no exception – and they include more than a little bit of history themselves.
How they look The notebooks came beautifully packaged, raising expectations that something good and of quality would be within. We weren’t disappointed.
The Exorcise Books initially look quite unprepossessing, like something that you would have used in school, but they are very definitely a league or two up from that and reveal attention to detail and quality that sets them apart. The B5 paper is 100 gsm uncoated extra white in a smooth finish and hails from Scotland, but no mention of that play please, despite the subject matter. The four designs come in red, pale blue, orange and buff covers.
The inside covers back and front distinguish the notebooks, which have a theme which suits the title. The research for the woodcut images (on the flyleaf) and text (on the back cover) was carried out by our very own Scribble Monboddo, who is also a historian on the quiet; they really add to the notebooks.
The light blue one we saw featured reproductions of woodcuts of the infamous torturer and murderer of unusual and wise women, Matthew Hopkins. In the red Exorcise Book lurked the 15th century’s malodorous Malleus Maleficarum, a manual for interrogating witches. The orange book featured the strange Elizabethan Doctor Dee, and eruditely swept through the even stranger HP Lovecraft, the mad bad Aleister Crowley, and Joseph Smith of Mormon fame too.
Finally, the inside buff-coloured front cover had a reproduction of a book made by the 11th Duke of Rutland in 1619 recording the lamentable putting to death of two women for witchcraft on 11th March 1618. In the fraught times of the war between the new religion (Protestantism) and the old religions (Catholicism and even older folk beliefs) women were the constant losers and victims. The victimisation of the so-called Belvoir witches is recounted briefly in Scribble’s text, noting that there is a unique ecclesiastical monument to the supposed victims of witchcraft in a local church, but no marker to, or even records of the trial of the poor women themselves. The pithy motto of the final sentence is a worthy axiom for these times and for filling these notebooks; “Remember to write what you see and what you hope for, not what you fear.”
One of our number risked a Latin inscription in her notebook but no incubi seemed to appear; so, no Inkdom reviewers were harmed or alarmed in this meta-review.
How it feels The Exorcise Books consist of 60 pages of beautiful, high-quality 100gsm paper which absorbs fountain pen ink like a strolling minstrel wandering over the page. So nice is the paper that you might be tempted to try water colour on the plain paper, but that won’t end well – charcoal, graphite, or coloured pencils work just fine, though.
One of our number did push the wetness of ink considerably and went full on with Diamine Winter Miracle, a very heavy sheening purple ink with a shimmer, and applied with an automatic pen. It showed through on the 100gsm where the ink puddled, and there was some bleed through but that is to be expected with such a payload of ink. The shimmer and sheen both worked but if it’s just for handwriting then this paper will work very well with a fountain pen.
Another reviewer tried a range of different pen-ink combinations including a Sailor Naginata Togi equipped with Robert Oster Opal Mauve, a Waterman Carene 18k gold Fine nib filled with Rohrer and Klinger Verdegris, a John Garnham JG6 with a titanium fine nib and powered by Diamine Inkvent Midnight Hour. All of these, including the very wet JG6 permutation, were quickly absorbed by the paper. Only a very wet ink showed a bit of, err, ghosting.
How it fills Starting to fill a notebook is often one of those rituals of delay and procrastination for fountain pen users and the quality of the paper in these may compound such deferment misery. But the messages and pithy adages on the inside back covers should surely make you want to fearlessly learn more, read more and reflect and wonder on the power of scribing information on paper. Exorcise any fear and record your thoughts and considerations of what you have read, found out, and want to be known.
Crucially, how it handles ink… These notebooks cope beautifully with fountain pen writing. One reviewer blitzed them with super-saturated pen and ink combinations and did a little bleed-through. Another reviewer reported some ghosting. A third found the Exorcise paper behaved perfectly; no feathering, no bleed and only slight show-through with very wet ink, and inks seemed to show very true to their colours and characteristics with the super-saturated combo of double broad nib and purple blue of the Troublemaker Lam-ang and the subtle shading of the Robert Oster Opal Mauve. Neither the blitz of the former, nor the subtly of the latter were missed out on this paper.
The quality of the paper shows through on every level. We were aided by award-winning microscopist Mike Smith, the secretary of the Leeds Microscopical Society, to examine the paper closer. Mike’s equipment yielded a series of images that he said clearly showed the superior quality of the paper compared to 100gsm standard print paper, a 90 gsm French brushed vellum and a ‘certain’ 68gsm Japanese paper.
In brief, the heavier paper from Made for Ink seems to absorb more of the ink in the fibres, and their interstices, across the path it was scribed on the paper and in a more consistent manner.
Pulp! What is it good for? Notebooks and scrapbooks have been the go-to tools for collating and organising information for many hundreds of years. Medieval and Renaissance scribes were typically systematic indexers and bullet-pointers of their commonplace books. These are just as versatile; write Latin, Gaelic or sketch in them and they can cope.
VFM These are high-quality, hand-made products selling at very reasonable prices – no malice there!
The only way is ethics The Exorcise Books are handmade in Rutland from materials made in the UK. Enough said?
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… The reviewers unanimously loved these notebooks. They look good, feel of quality and work consistently with a range of ink and nibs. The chances are that you will like them too – but if you really need something in a different size, Made for Ink also stock very good A5 alternatives.
Our overall recommendation The Exorcise Books are made with paper you can trust to handle any pen and ink combination consistently, and they tell a story. They are handmade by an ethical UK-based penthusiast, and they are good value for money too. They get an unequivocal thumbs-up from us.
Where to get hold of one The Exorcise Books retail for £6.95, and can be ordered direct from: https://madefor.ink/
A little bit of history We’ve reviewed the Perkeo before, so the basics have already been covered. To recap briefly; this is a Kaweco’s entry-level offering for those who find the budget version of the Sport a little too diminutive. The model has served well enough in the market for 2021 to bring some interesting new colours and a three-nib calligraphy set to the market.
How it looks Like a Sport cap with a full-sized barrel on the back, essentially. ‘Nout wrong with that! But the new colour-schemes really add something, especially the splendid ‘breezy teal’ and the icily cool demonstrator version with its unusual clear feed.
How it feels Light and comfortable, with the three-sided grip section gently guiding pen posture.How it fills There’s space for a brace of small international cartridges in the barrel, or a full-sized converter, which really looks the business in the demonstrator version.
Crucially, how it writes… These take Kaweco’s rebranded Bock 060, a small #5 nib with plenty of options. The standard M and F nibs write well (and rather better than when the Perkeo was first released, we think), and the range of italic nibs in the calligraphy set impressed our favourite calligrapher, so no complaints there.
Pen! What is it good for? The Perkeo is essentially aimed at the entry-level market, and fits there very well, but plenty of grown-up, seasoned fountain pen fans seem to rather like it too.
VFM Generally retailing at £12 to £15 at the time of writing, this isn’t dirt-cheap but certainly isn’t highly-priced either.
The only way is ethics Kaweco manufactures primarily in Germany so we have no concerns around labour conditions. Some of the packaging is plastic, but it’s not excessive.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… If you like the Kaweco look but want something pocket-sized, of course there’s the trusty Sport – while if you want an entry-level German fountain pen but can’t find a Perkeo, the Pelikano occupies similar territory.
Our overall recommendation If you’re penabling a member of the family who’ll prefer to pick up something which looks cool, you could do a lot worse than the pulchritudinous Perkeo.
Where to get hold of one Almost any fountain pen retailer you choose; these aren’t hard to find at all.