Italix English Curate fountain pen review

A little bit of history British fountain pen manufacturers are a rare breed these days.  One of the last to go was Sigma, but the plans for their Rhapsody model live on and have been revived by Italix, the small firm responsible for the Parson’s Essential – which is already quietly famous in our little FP-universe.  The plans, and indeed some of the old workforce, have come together to produce a pen almost entirely produced in the UK.  The only part of the pen sourced abroad is the Bock nib but even that receives regrinding on this little island to achieve the smoothness this brand is known for.  So, things are looking good for anyone wanting to indulge in a spot of flag-waving but, naturally enough, the producers are hoping it will sell as an export too – and to that end, we were grateful when PJ Ford, aka ‘Mr. Pen’, sent us an early test unit to put through its paces.

Announcing the Curate
Announcing the Curate

How it looks Gently sparkly, in a way which is difficult to capture on the camera to be honest.  There is a depth to the sparkle that you can only really get by twirling the pen in sunlight.  But the mottled-tortoise brown is rather tasteful.  Several of us have been tempted by one of the other new colours, the rosy pink ‘candy’ version, and apparently other hues are on their way too.  It does look quite distinctive; there’s not much exactly like this out there.

Curate at rest
Curate at rest

How it feels Solid and nicely-balanced: the cap posts very securely, thanks to an internal spring holding it in place, and the design has been well thought-through.  It’s clearly designed to be used posted but it’s comfortable unposted too.  The metal section is not to everyone’s taste; some found it too narrow for comfort, others have experienced a bit of slipperiness.  But it does feel well-built and likely to last.

Pen to paper
Pen to paper

How it fills This is a straightforward cartridge/converter number.  It comes with a decent quality Schmidt converter and there’s really nothing to complain about there!

Crucially, how it writes… Smoothly – very, very smoothly.  It can even cope with ink which has been brazenly polluted with sparkly particles, like J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor, which it takes in its stride like this:

Writing sample
Writing sample

Pen! What is it good for? That probably depends upon your choice of nib, of which there are many.  With a standard round nib it probably would indeed be just the thing for a curate to record PCC minutes with, or even for signing the parish register.  With one of the wide range of italic nibs it’s probably a pen for fun.  The nibs are good value in their own right, so it’s perfectly possible to buy both and stay, err, agnostic.

Value For Money Pretty good, particularly considering it’s manufactured in the UK. Labour costs alone mean that this could never be as cheap as a pen largely sourced from Chinese components but the quality is also likely to meet your expectations as a result.  It’s not an ultra-cheap pen, certainly, but it’s far from the luxury market that Conway Stewart tried to survive within (more on that in a future meta-review). Many of us have been tempted to indulge, at least!

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… There are still some ‘new-old stock’ Sigmas on the Italix retail site or you could try the cheaper Parson’s Essential to see if Mr.Pen’s nibs suit you.

Curate in the sun

Our overall recommendation Parts of it are excellent… but nothing about the curate’s pen is a curate’s egg!   Apart from that metal section there is little reason to hesitate here, and a lot to like.

Where to get hold of one This pen was only available direct from Mr. Pen himself – who has now sadly retired, taking the brand with him. One lucky reader won our test unit, however, by responding to our call for advise about what pen one should have stashed in one’s cassock.

Gosh that nib is smooth

This meta-review references:

Bi-colour nib
Bi-colour nib, don’t you know…

Thanks to  ‘Mr Pen’, aka PJ Ford, for kindly supplying the pen for our reviews (and indeed for the amazing give-away).

And the winner is: 

Well done to johnthemonkey who said:

I think a Burgundy Kaweco sport would be the understated, classic choice.

We hope you enjoy the pen as much as we all did!

31 thoughts on “Italix English Curate fountain pen review

  1. I would have to say I would want my vintage (1934) Waterman Junior with a 14ct nib in my cassock. It’s matte black to match the cassock and a very reliable writer. The gold nib adds just the right amount of flash. Thank you for the chance to win this beautiful English Curate.

  2. I would want my passport black midori travellers notebook and at least my Pelikan M800, I would probably have another pen with a coloured ink in that meant I had a contrast in colour.

  3. I think I’d take a Pelikan with me for its dependability, though I don’t have experience to know which model. I’ve been quite interested in what I’ve been reading about the Italix pens, and I appreciate the chance to win this beautiful example.

  4. I would like a new pen to be developed by Italix, based on the Church of Scotland. In a nod to Scottish history, clothing, accessories, and the Italix naming tradition, it could be called the “Kirk’s Dirk.” The pen would be tucked in my knee sock, rather than my cassock.

  5. A Pilot Vanishing Point, matte black – functional and unobtrusive – unless I won an Italix English Curate in a give-away, maybe? Thanks for giving us the opportunity!

  6. Thanks for reviewing this new addition to the Italix lineup. I love my Parson’s Essential and would love to be able to test drive this beauty. On the other hand, “Kirk’s Dirk”, indeed…

  7. I’d want something with a bit of Catholic flair. How about a Visconti Michelangelo? Sort of an Italian/Vatican thing going on? This has also inspired my new tongue twister – “papal penpal.”

  8. I might point out that were I to become a digambara Jain I would have nowhere to put the pen, since their ascetics are clad with nothing but sky. On the other hand for an Anglican I think the Pelikan 600 ruby red would be rather nice, reminding me of the colour of a decent communion wine, and also being future-proofed since it is now possible for women to become bishops, in which case it would go nicely with the purple shirt.

  9. I’d stash a Pilot 912 with a PO nib so I could write teensy tiny notes to attach to Carrier Pigeons in the hope that someone would come and rescue me . . . perhaps.

  10. My dream pen is a vintage Waterman flex — how good would those clergy notes look?! but for the mean time, I would gladly settle for this pen!

  11. If I were to join the clergy I would want a solid pen wit a bit of flair. This pen would suit me fine. Actually, it’s what I would look for even in the more likely circumstance that I don’t join the clergy.

  12. I am a devotee of Italix. . The Parson’s Essential, Churchman’s Prescriptor and the Captain’s Commission with cursive or italic nibs are a joy and hallelujah we now have the English Curate… the quartet to battle the four horsemen themselves. ..

  13. No other pen brand (or any brand) has so awe inspiring titles for its products. These pens are worth getting based on name alone. I’d definitely carry a Churchman’s Prescriptor in my cassock if I joined the clergy.

  14. Are there still monastic scribes? A nice italic nib would be handy in the scriptorium for some painstakingly crafted manuscripts, perhaps the works of the Venerable Bede!

  15. I would have Pelikan 120 with me. Thank you very much for this excellent giveaway. I really would like to have the Italix English Curate to write all the time.

  16. Hi, just chanced upon your blog and have been trying to access Mr.Pen’s website, but alas it can not be reached, I have exhausted all other avenues and wondered if you had a contact email or some other of contacting them.I have put off buying one their FP’s and just my luck I can’t view any otheir pens.

    Thanks in advance for any help!.

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