A little bit of history: While other German manufacturers such as Pelikan and Kaweco have been around since the 19th century, Cleo Skribent is a company that found itself established in the 20th century, shortly after the Second World War. The pens were made in Germany, initially in the founder’s garage “behind the iron curtain”. Once the curtain had been lifted, Cleo Skribent saw a booming business and the company continues to manufacture pens to this day. The name Cleo refers to the Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra, with whom the company identifies with due to the innovation and design of the Egyptian pyramids (though Daniel does point out Cleopatra lived closer to the launch of the iPhone than she did the pyramids).
How it looks: This pen measures 134mm uncapped and 163mm posted. Some of us found the pen to be large, while others considered it small. The pen is also slim, which gives it a refined and sleek look, though this may not be to everyone’s tastes. The pens come in a range of colours of white, black or red and each come with their own option of gold or chrome furniture which means there’s something for everyone. The design, depending on who it is you’re asking, could be described as “understated”, or just simply “boring”. Though, the white and gold option does offer something “the same but different” as it’s still a conservative looking design but going about it in a different way. If you want something a bit more “out there” and unconventional, perhaps the red would tickle your fancy. The various options that you get are a fantastic selling point. For example, Daniel enjoyed the white and gold aesthetic, while Sarah thought the gold and silver looked better. There’s choice for everyone (that is, so long as you like white, black or red pens).
On the top of the cap is the Cleo Skribent logo.
The piston filler versions of the pen come with an ink window, which is very handy.
How it feels: The pen weighs 18g capped, so this is an extremely lightweight pen. For some of us, that put us off a little bit. However, it is certainly well balanced and if you wish to post the pen, you can find it to post very well. The cap screws off, but the step up to the section is minimal and due to the long section, you can bet on having a very nice grip on the pen.
How it fills: You have the option of a cartridge/converter pen or a ‘piston’ filling pen. The cartridge/converter is compatible with standard international fittings.
The piston is essentially a captured converter. You unscrew the blind cap at the end of the pen to get to the converter inside and you then twist it like a normal converter. However, the piston filler does hold more ink than the regular standard international converter (which screws in by the way so you avoid any ink spillages by the converter coming loose!). By using the piston filler, it does make it harder to clean out (though not impossible or by any means tedious).
Crucially, how it writes: Not all of us got on with the nib. We noticed hard starts and skips, which isn’t something you would expect from a pen in this price range. The nib is also on the dry side.
Because we were testing the gold nib options, we did find a bit of spring and bounce which is characteristic of gold nibs, however this fell short when we found the feed didn’t keep up with the flow and you had to go very slowly in order to prevent railroading. Though, you can use a super wet ink to potentially fix this.
Pen! What is it good for? The Classic is, simply put, a classic design. It’s slightly more streamlined than other pens, so you get a slightly different aesthetic to the typical cigar shaped pen. This is certainly something you could take into a business or more professional setting. Because of the wide number of choices that you can have, you can choose the exact specifications that suit your needs and would also make it a very good journalling pen or something that you carry around with you due to the lightweight characteristic (also makes it good for extended writing sessions).
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost: The price of this range goes from £75 with a steel nib and cartridge converter filling system to £155 with a 14k gold nib and a piston filler, so it occupies a range in the market. For a gold nib, you can’t go wrong with the Platinum #3776, which you can pick up for £99 if you look in the right places (even cheaper, if you’re on the grey market) which comes with a gold nib and is a pen known for fantastic quality. This is, however, a cartridge converter. The TWSBI Vac 700R is also an option, which has a larger ink capacity, though with a steel nib. If a good, reliable gold nib pen is something you’re after then the #3776 is a very good pen to consider. If the ink capacity is more your concern and you’re looking around this price point, you can’t really beat the Vac 700R at this level.
Our overall recommendation: The gold nibs are pricey for what they offer. There’s something about the pens that just don’t click with some of us, and a lot of that does come down to the nib. On the drier side, skips and hard starts and that’s not something you would expect for a pen that nears the £100 range. Perhaps the steel nib versions are something that’s worth looking into as it’ll be less of an investment. If we had £100 to play with, this might be a consideration but by no means the first priority.
Where to get hold of one: You can view the range Write Here (see what I did there?), which is also where these pens were kindly donated to the United Inkdom reviewers for review purposes. There are also other pens offered by Cleo Skribent that may tickle your fancy, such as the ebonite version which you can also find a review of below.
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