Tag Archives: Italix

Italix Chaplain’s Tankard

A little bit of history  Italix is an increasingly legendary name in fountain pen circles, having been made famous by the Parson’s Essential model in particular, and we’ve reviewed a couple of their models very positively before. The usual modus operandi is to commission an inexpensively-manufactured body from China and fit it with a high-quality German (generally JoWo) nib which has been ground, fettled and finished by the proprietor – Mr.Pen himself. It’s been a winning formula previously, so we were keen to get our hands on the latest offering…

How it looks  This is very much a black resin and gold trim affair, which looks like it could have come straight out of Miss Marple’s drawing room. It is the very essence of the ‘classic’ look. No alternative trims or finishes are available yet so it’s a case of ‘like it or lump it’, but our reviewers certainly approved.

How it feels  A fairly light pen, this is well-balanced in the hand and there are no distractions from the feel of the nib on the paper – which is just as it should be. What it doesn’t feel is cheap , and that might be a pleasant surprise when you see the price tag.

How it fills  The tankard in question is, in this case, not a pewter beer-jug but a captured converter, which adds a bit of variety to filling procedures. You can take off the whole barrel and twist the converter as normal, but if you prefer there is a blind cap at the end of the barrel which exposes a substantial turning knob. This harks back to old-fashioned piston-fillers, and is quite handy if you’re trying to siphon up the last drops of ink at the bottom of a bottle. There was a moment of confusion when this pen first came out and it was advertised as a button-filler, which is properly a quite different mechanism, but don’t let that worry you.

Crucially, how it writes…  As ever that depends upon which nib you opt for, but the italic nib our test pen  was fitted wrote impressively smoothly, to the point that it could actually be a ‘daily driver’ pen if you wished. Not too many people have the chutzpah to do that these days, but if you want to stand out from the crowd this is an affordable way to do so!

Pen! What is it good for?  While it’s tempting to suggest that the Chaplain’s Tankard would look the part on stage at your next am-dram Agatha Christie staging, that would be a bit of a waste of such an enjoyable nib. We’d suggest it’s one to take to work if you feel you can get away with it, or keep at home for writing letters if you want to impress family and friends.

VFM  For a mere £28 this is, frankly, an absolute bargain. You’d be hard-pressed to find a mid-range pen with a top-flight range of steel nibs like this from other marques, and the personal service available if you have any specialist needs or preferences around italic or oblique nibs really puts the cherry on the cake.

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  Then the chances are that one of the other Italix designs will be more to your taste.

Our overall recommendation  While the filling system is not a huge novelty really, this is a nicely balanced pen with such a targeted range of nibs that you’ll almost certainly be able to find one which is a real pleasure to use. For such a modest sum we’d encourage you to give it a try, especially if you don’t have an italic nib in your collection yet.

Where to get hold of one  This is available straight from the source and that’s just how we’d recommend buying it. There are sometimes ways to access Italix pens on other platforms, but cutting out the middle-man makes sense and eases the path to after-care if needed.

This meta-review references:

Thanks to  Mr. Pen for kindly providing this review sample.


Italix Deacon’s Doodle fountain pen review

A little bit of history: ‘Mr Pen’ is one of a number of business ventures owned by Ruislip-based company P. J. Ford & Associates Ltd, set up 1989. Their in-house Italix range of pens is already well-known thanks to the famous Parson’s Essential and, as we’ve already reviewed, the English Curate. Italix has now entered the budget end of the market with the Deacon’s Doodle – and of course, we had to put it to the test.

How it looks and feels: It’s a classic look in brushed stainless steel and it comes with a choice of nibs AND a converter. One might be concerned that a stainless steel pen could feel a little heavy, but this is not the case – the Deacon’s Doodle is pleasantly ‘there’ in the hand, but it’s no dead weight.

How it fills This one’s a straightforward universal cartridge-filler, but amazingly at this price point it comes with a good converter as standard.

Crucially, how does it handle? All our reviewers report that it performs well, offering a smooth writing experience and a fairly wet nib worthy of a much more expensive pen.

Pen! What is it good for? The Deacon’s Doodle looks and feels expensive, but – and you might want to sit down for this one – it costs LESS than £15.00!

There are gift set options which include engraving, intelligently aimed at the gift market; nobody would ever guess from its looks and performance that it is a budget pen.

VFM Frankly astonishing. If this pen cost £30 you would be delighted, but for £15.00 it’s a bargain.

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  The Faber-Castell Basic is available in a stainless steel version of similar quality, but that’ll probably cost you a fiver more.

Our overall recommendation  For a budget pen which actually writes rather well and looks a lot posher than it really is, this is pretty much unbeatable. Try one.

Where to get hold of one Straight from Mr Pen

This meta-review references:

Thanks to Mr.Pen himself for sending some review samples our way.


If you are based in the UK and you would like to win the gift set or the fountain pen on its own, all you have to do is answer these three easy peasy questions about the Deacon’s Doodle – all info found on the Mr Pen site.

1 How many nib options are there for the Deacon’s Doodle fountain pen?
2 How much does the fountain pen/ballpoint pen gift set retail for?
3 How much does the Deacon’s Doodle fountain pen weigh?

Two winners will be chosen at random after the closing date 27 April.

Send your answers to: unitedinkdomprizes@gmail.com

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!