This Just In: Benu Minima

photo of the Benu Minima with a writing sampleThe Benu materials have intrigued me since the first time I saw them online, which was only a month or two ago. Their fountain pens seem reasonably priced, although with plenty of competition at all their price points. While shopping for the Diplomat Aero Volute I came across the Benu Minima. It’s a small pen, and it had a small(ish) price. I don’t remember if it was on sale, but I suspect it was since it got my attention. The price has since risen, further making me think it was a sale. I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to try out the brand, so I added the Mystical Green model to my cart.

I’ll digress a bit into the Benu Minima pricing. It’s weird, so shop diligently if you want one. The Benu website sells the Mystical Green for $120, but I paid less than half that. Benu itself lists some other Minimas at $120, but most Minimas are $80. Retailer pricing varied from full list (matching the Benu website) or higher to the more typical 80% off, even at the same retailer. They do have a long list of U.S. retailers, although I only checked the ones I typically buy from.

Back to the Minima. It’s a pocket or bag pen, at least as far as the size is concerned. It’s clip-less and is just under 5″ in length. The Benu website says the minima weighs 18 grams, which seems about right. The fountain pen has a Schmidt branded nib. I believe that Schmidt now sources all their nibs from JoWo and Bock for assembly into their nib units. This is confirmed since Benu does say that they use Bock and JoWo nibs supplied by Schmidt. Benu is based in Moscow, Russia, and makes their pens there. Their U.S. distributor is Luxery Brands USA.

The Minima arrived in a white cardboard box with Benu printed in gold. Opening the box reveals a thin, white cardboard sleeve, also with Benu printed in gold on it. The Minima is in the sleeve. The box also contains a product sheet and shredded paper for cushioning. A nice overall presentation.

I bought my Benu Minima with a Fine nib and Mystical Green acrylic. The style of acrylic, multiple shades of color, and sparkles make it hard to judge in online photos. So much depends on lighting along with my own computer screen. The same can be said for other Benu pen models. Overall, I think the Mystical Green was represented accurately, and I’m happy with my choice. The acrylic doesn’t have the depth of the Leonardo or Kanilea that I recently added to my accumulation. The sparkly bits seem to be on the surface, rather than part of the acrylic itself. That does seem to be appearance only. While it’s hard to see inside the cap, shining a light inside does show some sparkles. So the lighter green, with sparkles, does appear to go all the way through. Plus, the pen’s surface is flat and not as rough as if the sparkly bits were applied to the surface. This is a long-winded way to say that although this isn’t a Jonathan Brooks level acrylic, I do like it.

The Minima is often described as being a faceted pen, and some (maybe most) are faceted. However, the Mystical Green Minima is not faceted. If you are buying a Minima, and facets matter to you, either scrutinize the pictures or visit the Benu website. Websites that list each acrylic separately seem to get the description right. Websites that use one Minima listing and then a pick-list for the acrylic seem to get it wrong. Not being faceted, and being clip-less, my Minima rolls easily.

The nib itself is all silver, with some engraved scrollwork. The nib size (“F” for fine) is also engraved along with the Schmidt branding. I’m used to larger fountain pens with larger nibs, #6 or bigger, so this #5 nib looks tiny. But the pen is small, so it’s the right size for the pen, a #6 nib would be comical.

The Minima does not post. Although the cap does fit over the tapered end, it does not hold the barrel at all. At best, it will wobble, although it would probably fall off. (Benu does say the cap doesn’t post.) The Minima is listed as a standard international cartridge/converter fountain pen. However, a full-size converter will not fit, as it is too long. A converter that fits in a Kaweco Sport should fit. However, I never found those small converters worth the hassle and won’t be trying one in the Minima.

Despite being a small fountain pen, I find that the Minima is comfortable to use. It’s just long enough to fit comfortably in my hand. It was comfortable enough to write the three page draft of this post in one sitting. I also found myself picking it up at other times simply because I liked using it. It’s my daily writer rotation, so when its turn comes up, I happily use it.

The Minima is slightly bigger than my Kaweco Brass Sport that I often carry. I’m not sure how well this acrylic will hold up to the abuse of my keys if I put it in that pocket. Unlike the Brass, the scratches and dings won’t add character to the acrylic. My phone often rides in my other pocket, so I don’t want the pen in there. I’d be afraid that the metal cap band would find a way to scratch the phone screen. So, I’ve yet to carry the Minima as a pocket pen. I have little need for a pocket pen these days, and the Kaweco Brass Sport is already inked. While that’s the main reason, another is that I bought the Minima as a rental, figuring I’d be passing the pen on after getting a good look at it. A scratch would undoubtedly make the pen less desirable. The acrylic does appear to be durable, and I’m curious as to how it will hold up. If I decide this pen is a keeper, I’ll probably carry it with my keys to see how well it holds up.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Benu Minima. The acrylic is a nice variation from my typical pens, very mystical. I wouldn’t want all that sparkle in all my fountain pens, but it’s a pleasant change. The Fine nib was a smooth writer out of the box. I haven’t had any skips or hard starts. I’ve only had the Minima for two weeks, so these are early impressions and could change once I’ve used the pen more. I had expected to sell off the Minima once I’ve used it enough. I’m reconsidering, and the Benu Minima may be a keeper. [Update June 20, 2020: I decided that the Minima doesn’t have a place in my rotation, so I’m putting it up for sale,]

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