Review: Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona

Pelikan Piazza Navona posted on mirrorThe Pelikan Piazza Navona is one of Pelikan’s City Series Pens. Back around 2004 these pens caught my interest and I eventually added three of them to my accumulation. My tastes do change from time to time but the Piazza Navona is my current favorite.

I originally bought this pen with a factory broad nib. Since broad nibs don’t appeal to me these days I had Mike Masuyama stub the nib at the 2013 DC pen show. It seems sacrilegious to take the tipping all the way down to a fine or extra fine so I stuck with a stub to add a little character.

The Piazza Navona was built by the Roman emperor Domitian in 86 AD. The color of the pen is taken from the tan colored marble of a central fountain (Fountain of the Four Rivers) built in 1651 by Lorenzo Bernini.

The Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona was the Pelikan City Series pen released in 2005. This pen extended the series to include a “most famous places” theme rather than a city. The City Series pens were all limited editions. They weren’t numbered or promoted as limited, but once the manufacturing run was sold out that was it.

Why I got It

The pen is gorgeous and I liked the Pelikan nib from my first City Edition. At the time I enjoyed broad nibs although I wasn’t using them as a daily driver. Plus, the pen was reasonably priced.

What I Got

Pelikan Piazza Navona penI lost the box and enclosures when a broken pipe flooded a storage closet. But if memory serves it was a simple clamshell box that included a pamphlet about the inspiration for the pen.

The fountain pen is a translucent resin. This gives the pen the appearance of depth in the design and does give it a marbled look. The design is beautifully subtle. There’s no ink window but the translucence allows me to see the ink level. The nib is 18 kt. gold with rhodium plating. The broad nib was smooth out of the box. I bought the pen from Fountain Pen Hospital which doesn’t tune the nibs prior to shipping, so I received it as shipped by Pelikan.

The pen has gold trim which works well with the brown resin. The nib is two-tone gold and silver with substantial engraving. I prefer a simpler nib design but I’ve gotten used to this and never considered it gaudy.

The fountain pen is a piston converter. The piston knob, along with the section are glossy black. I’ve gotten used to this but would have preferred the piston knob match the tan resin.

Like all my Pelikans the piston is smooth and easily pulls in a lot of ink. One stroke completely fills the ink chamber. The nib can be unscrewed for cleaning or to replace with a different nib.

The Pelikan logo is on the cap jewel and is more tan than gold, which looks good. The clip is the traditional Pelikan beak shape. The gold cap band has “PELIKAN SOUVERAN GERMANY” engraved on it.

The cap is more translucent than the barrel and the resin feels thinner. The cap does feel fragile but it has held up well over the years. I don’t post my fountain pens so I can’t say if the resin would hold up with repeated posting, but the cap band would provide support.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.2445″ (133.21 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.8610″ (123.46 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.0640″ (154.02 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.5450″ (13.84 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.39″ (9.90 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.4165″ (10.57 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3985″ (10.12 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5480″ (13.92 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4935″ (12.53 mm)
  • Weight: 16 grams
  • Weight (body only): 10 grams

Writing with the Pen

Pelikan Piazza Navona nibWhile the pen came to me with a broad nib that was smooth out of the box, it was both wide and boring so I had stopped using it.

Even though I hold the pen wrong for a traditional stub I had Mike Masuyama stub the nib at the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show. Because of the way I hold the pen I get thin down strokes and wide cross strokes with the stub, the opposite of what’s expected. But it works for me, I still get some nice variation.

The cap can be removed with less than one full rotation, I’d estimate a 315° turn. Even though I can remove the cap quickly, making it ideal for note taking, the nib is too wide for me to use this pen for general note taking. I typically use the Piazza Navona for longer, sit down writing sessions, such as the first draft of this review. The pen is great for these longer sessions. The pen is light and yet a good size for my hand. It’s long enough to be used unposted.

The piston filler hold enough ink for me to get through many long writing sessions. According to Pelikan the M600 line holds 1.75 ml of ink, which is over twice the ink of a short international cartridge. This is more than I would have guessed so I did some more searching and found a 1.37ml capacity listed at Pelikan’s Perch which is closer to my estimate.

The nib is smooth and the feed easily keeps up, even with fast writing. This was true even before the nib grind. I did ask for the nib to be tuned on the dry side. While I’ve become more open to wetter nibs that’s mainly for thinner nibs. I’m very happy with the way this nib writes. The original Pelikan broad nib was definitely wetter.

The threads are just above the section, which isn’t very big, so my fingers do rest on the threads. They aren’t sharp and don’t bother me at all.

The cap does post securely. Since the cap is so light the pen does remain well balanced when posted. Still, I use the pen unposted.

Inks Used

I’ve long forgotten what inks were used before 2013. But I don’t recall any problem inks.

Mike Masuyama filled the pen with an unknown blue-black for testing (I’m sure he knew the brand, but I didn’t ask). The ink wrote well and I didn’t have a reason to flush the ink.

R&K Scabiosa also spent some time in the pen. Since it’s an iron gall ink I gave the pen a short fill. The ink always seemed like it was about to skip but it never actually skipped. The pen and ink didn’t combine for a joyful writing experience. It wasn’t bad enough to flush the ink, but it won’t be back in the pen.

Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown proved to be the perfect ink for this pen. The ink is sometimes thin on the paper but this was only apparent on Doane Paper. The blue grid lines would sometimes show through the writing, giving the appearance of skipping. But it was only the appearance. On non-grid paper the ink looks great. The same thinness that allows the grid to show through gives it some very nice shading. Plus, the ink color matches the pen.

Pelikan Piazza Navona cap jewel

Cleaning the Pen

Like any piston filler the pen is cleaned by cycling clean water through the pen. It’s tedious to work the piston for continuous fills and flushes, but it’s not hard. The nib can be unscrewed and removed to make cleaning easier although I prefer to avoid disassembly, even when it’s easy. There’s less chance of accidents this way.

Wrapping Up

The Pelikan Piazza Navona is one of my favorite pens based on looks. It’s also perfectly sized for my hand. Getting a broad nib ended up being a mistake for me. Getting it stubbed gives it some character and I enjoy using it. It’s not a nib I can use as a daily carry, but it’s great for sitting down and doing some long form writing (long compared to notes and marking up documents). So based on this the Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona Cities Edition is a keeper.

Additional Reading

I was surprised by the lack of reviews of this pen. David at JustPelikans.com (JustDaveyB.com) until recently has all the Cities Series pens and inks up the Piazza Navona often. So more photos and writing samples here.

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Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium

Esterbrook #9668 nibI’m getting near the end of the quest through my accumulation of Esterbrook nibs. It’s time for the Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium Nib.

Like all 9xxx series nibs it’s osmiridium tipped. Nib charts from the 1950s list the nib as being for “general writing.” It’s a basic, middle of the road nib that’s not very exciting. This one has “Esterbook” and “9668” engraved the length of the nib, with Esterbrook on top of the nib number. It’s a nice clean design which I like.

My particular nib was in a batch of nibs I bought on eBay, I didn’t have a box but did appear to be in mint condition. The nib is a nice smooth writer that puts down a wide medium line. It helps that the nib is wider than the fines so it doesn’t dig into the paper fibers. There’s good flow and no hint of skipping. While it does have “firm” in the name it doesn’t feel as nail-like as the fine nibs. I’m becoming more accepting of medium nibs and this one has a nice feel to it.

It’s a basic nib that was probably pretty popular in its time. But it is a Master DuraCrome which were more expensive, so it isn’t a bargain basement nib these days. An eBay search finds one with a $15 BIN price. Anderson Pens lists it for $20 although it is out of stock.

It’s a nice medium nib. That’s not exactly a raving endorsement from me since I prefer fines and extra fines. Despite that it’s a nice writing nib and I may find myself inking it up in the future as medium nibs seem to be growing on me. The Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium is a keeper.

Additional Reading

9668 Nib Sample Writing – The Esterbrook Forum – The Fountain Pen Network

I didn’t notice until posting the photos that I refer the the nib as a firm fine in the writing sample. I had fine on the brain. The nib is a firm medium.

Sunday Notes and Links

Sheaffer Balance Oversize - Marine Green

My favorite pen/ink combo for the week

My favorite fountain pen and ink combo for the week was an easy choice, despite having several good choices. While I can be fickle, the Sheaffer Marine Green Balance is my favorite fountain pen based on looks. The stub nib doesn’t hurt its standing either. The Montblanc Daniel Defoe ink has grown on me over time and it really shines in this pen.

I updated my Resources Page with the newly (more or less) found pen blogs. I also deleted some dead and dormant links. If you’ve got a fountain pen or stationery related blog that’s not listed please let me know.

I’m changing up the “links” part of Sunday Notes and Links starting this week. They won’t be going away, but there will be fewer links. For one, ink reviews will nearly vanish. I used to link to them so I could search my blog when I wanted them in the future. Now I search Pennaquod : Pen Blog Searcher when I’m researching inks. There will probably be fewer links to reviews of common pens and paper for the same reason. Pennaquod is a great resource to find reviews when you’re researching a pen or paper.

I still go through my RSS feed every day and tag fountain pen related articles. These will now go out on a Tumblr hosted website for those of you who like lots of links. This will contain more links than I ever linked to in the past since it’s what I would typically start with and wittle down to the links post. The website is at Fountain Pen Links.

Some links of interest…

MI Pen Show // The Michigan Antique & Collectible Pen show is Friday October 17th and Saturday October 18th

Stipula Passaporto fountain pen – On Fountain Pens // I’ve never seen one of these in clear. Small, but as the review says up front – “Cute pen alert!”

Twist Bullet Pencil. Vintage Meets Modern with a Twist. by Metal Shop and Huckleberry Woodchuck — Kickstarter // Pencils still haven’t caught on with me, but this is the second bullet pencil I’ve backed on Kickstarter. They might just replace one of the Kaweco AL Sports that I carry

Tale of a Vandal Pen Collector: Unexpected Acquisition – Peaceable Writer // I love reading about these old cheap fountain pen finds. Double points since it’s a Sheaffer. And kudos for breaking the seal and inking it up.

A pair of Edison pens – Leigh Reyes. My Life As a Verb // Gorgeous photos

Beautiful recreations of the Ink Labels – Noodler’s Ink // I usually don’t link to blatant marketing, but I’ve always liked the Noodler’s ink labels, but I’m not sure they translate well to a larger size.

Epic ink test – R2M2t – Fountain Pen Physicis // I don’t know of anyone else doing ink tests like these

Sailor Kobe No:3 Sepia Ink Review / Sailor Kobe No:3 Sepia Mürekkep Incelemesi – Write to Me Often // I’ve had a recent interest in Sepia inks.

Off-topic: Software withdrawal and discontinuance of support: Lotus SmartSuite , Lotus Organizer and Lotus 123 // Wow, this brought back memorizes. I was a Lotus Organizer fan long ago. And Lotus 1–2–3 was a trailblazer. Times have changed.

Currently Inked – October 1, 2014

It’s the beginning of the month so I looked through my accumulation and inked up a couple more fountain pens.

The first two pens in the list have never been inked before and both have nibs outside my comfort zone. The Rotring has a medium nib which isn’t all that uncomfortable for me. Against common sense I gave this first time pen a first time ink. First impressions are that common sense isn’t always for the best. The Sheaffer Imperial has a nib that’s totally foreign to me, as you can tell from the writing sample. It’s so wide I’m considering using it to flip burgers.

The two Sheaffer Balances were inked just so I could enjoy looking at them. But the Montblanc Daniel Defoe really shines with the stub nib.

When I look at the pens I have inked up two things occur to me:

  • Almost half the nibs are outside my comfort zone of fine and extra fine nibs.
  • I need to do a lot of writing because I want to use them all.

In addition to my four always inked pens the following are inked up to start October:

Currently Inked fountain pensCurrently Inked writing samplesRotrig 600 Lava (medium) – Athena Sepia // Sheaffer Imperial (broad italic) – Sheaffer Jet Black cartridge // Sheaffer Targa (fine)- Montblanc Daniel Defoe // Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime c. 1935 (broad stub) – Montblanc Daniel Defoe // Sheaffer Balance Aspen (medium) – Montblanc Permanent Grey // Pilot Custom 823 (fine)Montblanc Bordeaux // Edison Menlo (extra fine) – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown // Lamy 2000 (fine)GvFC Carbon Black // Sheaffer Crest (extra fine)Sheaffer Red

Always Inked – September 30, 2014

It’s been over six months since my last “Always Inked” post and the pens have changed. Plus, it’s time for another “Currently Inked” post and I’m tire of squeezing these same four fountain pens into the picture. I always have these four pens inked. At least that’s been true the since the beginning of this month and will be into the foreseeable future. The one thing they all have in common is they can stay inked for months and not have any problems.

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

The Esterbrook Dip-less is my newest always inked pen. Since it’s a dip pen it’s desk bound. I primarily use it for short notes and it still has the Esterbrook #7550 extra fine nib. There’s Sheaffer Red in the inkwell which is a nice bright red ink that suitable for the way I use the pen. It’s the only pen of the four that I clean off every couple of weeks. The red ink dries around the collar so I clean it off before it has a chance to permanently stain the pen. Plus, it starts to look cruddy on an otherwise pristine pen. The dip pen gets used nearly every day, although probably for less than 20 words each day.

 

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz

If there’s a perfect fountain pen and ink combination this has to be it. They’ve been together for well over a year. The Model 66 went over a year just being refilled, no cleaning and it was problem free. It’s mostly desk bound since it’s so big, and clip-less. Because the Esterbrook Dip-less sits on the same desk and I now use the Model 66 less often, it does leave the desk at times so that it gets used.

Kaweco AL Sport Raw Aluminim postedKaweco AL Sport Black Stonewashed photoI couldn’t decide which Kaweco AL Sport to carry, so I carry two of them. Both have finishes designed to be abused so I carry them in the same pocket as my keys. In a bit of irony, even though I’m always carrying these pens they are used the least of all my inked pens. I usually have another pen in my shirt pocket which gets used first. So these get used when I don’t have another fountain pen, or when I need additional ink colors. Maybe it’s because they bounce around in my pocket all the time, but I never have any hard starts. I also don’t have a lot of ink in the cap either.

Commonwealth Pen Show Recap

I visited the Commonwealth Pen Show earlier today. I didn’t take any pictures and didn’t leave with a large (or even medium) haul but it’s worth a recap.

While there was a Boston Pen Show last year the 2014 show is put together by different organizers and is outside Boston. The show was at the Somerville Holiday Inn and in a relatively small ballroom. I heard there were 18 vendors and that seemed about right (I’m terrible at estimating these things). The venue was nice, I really appreciated the free parking right at the hotel. It’s also about a half-mile from the local MBTA station. The room was well lit and didn’t feel congested. Even though 18 vendors is on the small side the room was obviously sold out as there wasn’t any more room for tables without making things feel cramped for the sellers or attendees. There was enough room to walk around and browse, at least when I was there from about 10 to 11:30 am.

Most of the pens were vintage. Richard Binder and Paradise Pens were the only vendors I saw that had primarily new pens, so the brands were limited. Richard Binder was also doing nib work. Also, I think it was Jim Baer I also saw doing pen repairs or nib work.

Jay Potter from PaperForFountainPens.com was also there with pads made from Tomoe River paper. I made my only purchase of the day from Jay. A hard cover notebook of white, blank Tomoe River paper. A review of the notebook was done by The Unroyal Warrant. Jay had only brought seconds to the show so the price was only $20 (regularly $29). I couldn’t tell what the defect was, if I had to guess I’d say it’s because the paper is ever so slightly misaligned where it’s glued into the covers.

A couple Sheaffers caught my eye but I resisted buying them. There were a lot of flex pens being sold, at least they claimed to flex. Since flex is lost on me I skipped those. There was a lot of variety among the vintage pens. I’m not familiar enough with pricing to know if there were good deals or not, but there did seem to be a lot interest in the pens that were there. If I had gone there wanting to buy a pen, rather than show restraint and wait for a perfect pen, I could easily have found one.

The small show size worked in my favor since I had to leave by noon. There was enough time for me to see everything and visit with a few people. I could be wrong, but I would guess that it would get busier after lunch but there seemed to be a good turnout when I was there. Hopefully there were enough attendees and sales to bring the show back next year.

Sunday Notes and Links

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz

My favorite this week was my trusty Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R & K Blau-Schwarz LE. It’s been awhile since I used the pen but it wrote right away as always. I had forgotten what a pleasant writing experience it provides.

I wrote the Sheaffer 300, Omas 360 Vintage and Pelikan Piazza Navone dry this past week and enjoyed them all. None were re-inked since I want to bring so new pens into the rotation. I’ll decide which ones to ink up once I return from today’s Commonwealth Pen Show.

Some links of interest from the past week…

What is a Pen? — Modern Stationer

The Mind and the Fountain Pen – Palimpsest

Morita Fountain Pen Shop – inklode // Nice to see brick & mortar shops thrive, even if it’s a world away (from my pov)

The Cartridge Chronicles – How many pages can you get out of a standard international? – Fountain Pen Physicist

Reevaluate Converters – Edison Pen Company

Review: Pelikan Souverän M101N Red Tortoiseshell SE Fountain Pen – Medium @AppelboomLaren @Pelikan_Company – Gourmet Pens // I have the “Lizard” edition of this pen. I have to say, I don’t really like the look of the Red Tortoiseshell although I’d buy it just for the ink bottle and the packaging.

Monk Paper Lokta Notebooks – Inkdependence!

When Buying Fountain Pens, Splurging (a Little) Is Totally Worth It – WIRED // Preaching to the choir

Edison Beaumont Pneumatic – mycoffeepot.org

Love At First Write: Tomoe River Correspondence Paper – THE PENVENTORY // I’ve been using this paper (but different pads) recently and really love it.

The ‘PF’ & ‘P|N’ Nibs Explained – The Pelikan’s Perch

Lamy Logo Fountain Pen Review – Pen Paper Ink Letter

Pilot Elite fountain pen review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Pilot Prera Demonstrator Fountain Pen Review – F Nib – Orange Accents — The Clicky Post

Noodler’s Creaper Flex (by FlexyNibs!) – On Fountain Pens

Ink Reviews

Review: Diamine Oxblood — Alt. Haven

Diamine Prussian Blue ink review – Peninkcillin

review: noodler’s turquoise – ink between the teeth

Like Nature: Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Green Ink – From the Pen Cup

J. Herbin Tempête Review – The Pen Enthusiast