These Just In: Benu Scepter II & Grand Scepter X

photo of the Benu Grand Scepter X (top) and the Benu Scepter II (bottom)
Benu Grand Scepter X (top) and the Benu Scepter II (bottom)

I received the Benu Scepter II during the first week of June. I’ve been remiss in writing up my This Just In post with my first impressions. When the Benu Grand Scepter X arrived last week, I decided to combine the two into one post. They are very similar fountain pens. While I expected similarities, they are more alike than I expected.

Benu names each Scepter model with a Roman numeral, rather than naming each color. The Grand Scepter continues the Roman numeral sequence right where the original Scepter leaves off. There are currently 13 fountain pens in the Scepter line, which Benu lumps into the Scepter Collection on their website. Online retailers seem to split them apart. Currently, 1 thru 8 (I – VIII) are the original Scepter, and 9 thru 13 are Grand Scepters.

Commonalities & Differences

Both have the same twisted helical design and bodies with a concave shape. Despite the “Grand” moniker, that pen is nearly the same size as the original Scepter, and both are the same size when capped and neither pen can post the cap The differences are in the gripping section and nib. I also see the Grand Scepter acrylics as more muted and subdued.

photo of the Grand Scepter X and Scepter II, both uncapped

Both models have a black cap band with Benu molded into it. Both pens taper out towards the ends of the pen, reaching just over 18mm on both pens. Those big ends do make the pens a tight squeeze in some pen cases. Benu own site lists the capped pen length as the same (133mm) for both models.

Both the Scepter & Grand Scepter require 2 1/2 rotations to be remove the cap. But unlike some pens, the cap can be quickly rotated, with no friction, and needing only three quick flicks of my fingers to remove.

The biggest difference between the models is when the pen is in writing mode, which is where it can matter. The Grand Scepter has the larger #6 nib while the regular Scepter has the smaller #5 nib. The Grand Scepter a longer fountain pen than the regular Scepter when they’re in writing mode. The Grand Scepter is 125.74mm long, while the Scepter II is 121.76mm long. The gripping section girth of the Grand Scepter is also bigger, 10.38 mm versus 9.79mm for my Scepter II. I measured where I grip the pen which is near the nib, and where the section on these pens is thinnest.

The Grand Scepter has glow-in-the-dark acrylics. Personally, I don’t see the point, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Benu lists each pen’s glowing ability on their website under both incandescent and LED lighting. (Check the pen listings for the charts, I couldn’t get a reliable link to them.) My Scepter X is the least “glowy” of all the models. To my eye, the purple ends on my Grand Scepter (the part that glows) looks washed out, so I’m not a fan.

One final difference – the Grand Scepter is not available with an extra-fine nib.

One final commonality – the gripping sections are swappable between the pens.

Benu Scepter II

photo of the Benu Scepter II

I’ve been using the Scepter II regularly since it arrived. The only ink I’ve used with it is Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Bordeaux.

The extra-fine Schmidt nib is a smooth writer and has been problem-free, with no skipping or hard starts. Schmidt uses nibs made by JoWo, according to the Benu website. In the past, the Benu website said Schmidt nib units used to be built with nibs supplied by both JoWo and Bock. Now, the site only mentions JoWo as the nib maker. The nib has the typical Schmidt engraving on a single-tone silver nib. Some color variations do have gold-colored nibs.

close-up nib photo
The Benu Scepter II with an extra fine nib

While I don’t want a lot of sparkly fountain pens, and the Benu Scepter II positively sparkles, I can handle one or two. I love the look of the Scepter II’s acrylic. Green is my favorite color, and green is the dominant color in this pen. Also, while the color varies (shades of green, blue & white), each of the colors has sparkles that appear to be embedded at different levels in the acrylic. The sparkles intensify and fade as the light changes.

The extra fine nib provides a smooth and pleasant and skip-free writing experience.

Benu Grand Scepter II Gallery

Benu Grand Scepter X

photo of a capped Benu Grand Scepter X

The Grand Scepter X is a very recent arrival, so it’s had minimal use. I inked it up with the long international cartridge that was included. A converter is also included. I’ve been using the Scepter II with the smaller #5 nib for so long that the Grand Scepter’s #6 nib looked weird when I started using it. I did get used to it, and my brain no longer pauses to process what I’m seeing when I first begin writing with the pen.

I found the nib to be a little on the dry side, especially when compared to the thinner extra-fine nibs in the Scepter II and the Briolette that I have. With fast writing, while the pen never skips, the line gets thinner and lighter when I write fast. I’ve used the ink in other pens (supplied in the pen box), and it doesn’t have the same problem. On the Briollete, which also has the same ink but an extra-fine nib, doesn’t have the same issues and easily keeps up with fast writing. The writing sample photos show both pens. To my eye, the nibs put down lines of the same width. While I didn’t flush the pen before inking it up, I did clean it before writing these first impressions. It didn’t change the performance.

photo of the Benu Grand Scepter X with its fine nib

To be clear, the pen flows consistently, just dry(ish), even when writing multiple pages at my normal pace. Fast writing results in a lighter line, but it still seems to flow consistently at with lighter line. I can’t write fast for long enough to see if the pen ever gets staved for ink.

Other than being a bit dry, the nib has been a solid performer without skipping or hard starts. I don’t feel a real difference between the grip section of this Grand Scepter X and the Scepter II. Both are comfortable.

I don’t find the Grand Scepter X (or it’s Grand siblings) nearly as beautiful as the original Scepters. The large glow-in-the-dark areas lacks the sparkle, while the color is muted and dull, lacking any pop. The sparkles also seem more subdued. On the Scepter II, they appear embedded in the acrylic, spread across multiple levels. They also sparkle in indirect lighting. On the Grand Scepter X, all appear to be on one level, near the surface. The Grand Scepter needs more direct light to get any sparkle. The exception is the small splashes of blue that cover some of the glow-in-the-dark purple which do have some vibrant sparkle in them.

Benu Grand Scepter X Gallery

Wrapping Up

writing samples of the two pwn

I didn’t check the measurements when I ordered the Grand Scepter. I just expected it would be larger than the Scepter II. I was surprised when it was the same size in almost every measurement. Even the gripping section doesn’t feel different to me, despite some slight differences and different nibs. So while the section girth of the Grand is wider, the Scepter II has been comfortable in the 1 1/2 months that I’ve used it.

On looks, the Scepter II is a clear winner for me. While it could be my specific pens, I find the #5 EF nib to provide a more pleasant writing experience. That writing experience does transfer to the Grand Scepter X if I swap the sections (which includes the nibs). While I like dry(ish) nibs, I found the Grand Scepter a little too dry for me.

There’s a $22 difference in price between the models. The original Scepter (Scepter II) is $88, while the Grand Scepter X is $110. I have a hard time justifying the price difference. If I wanted a replacement #5 or #6 nib unit from a retailer, I’d expect the #6 to be about $5 more expensive than the smaller #5. Maybe the glow-in-the-dark acrylic costs more, I don’t know. While it’s purely subjective, I don’t like the look of the Grand nearly as much. The pen bodies are the same since there’s not more acrylic needed for the pen body. So, while I don’t think $110 is out of line for the Grand Scepter, the regular Scepter is a much better value.

When comparing the Benu Scepter II and the Benu Grand Scepter X, the Scepter II is the clear winner for me.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 26, 2020

photo of Benu Scepter II - This Week’s favorite

My fountain pen usage was up again this week. Mainly due to a rewrite of my Benu Scepter II first impressions so that it included, and compared, the newly arrived Grand Scepter. That Benu Scepter II became my favorite fountain pen of the week. I love the green resin and sparkles.

I keep track of when I buy pens, but I rarely look at the quantity until the end of the year. I looked on Friday and saw that I purchased 18 pens in 2020 so far. I don’t keep track of sold pens in a way that’s easy to see how many I sold this year. But, I only recall two, one of the new ones and the recently sold Platinum. I was shocked at the total number. My brain had me guessing I might have reached a dozen—time to go through them and pick some more to sell-off. Unfortunately, I’m at the point where I can make a case for keeping any pen that I still have.

I also had a rash of spilled liquid at my writing district. Does two qualify as a rash? I did dampen a new notebook, although the damage was minor (smudged ink on some pages). That was a beer bottle where the condensation loosened the label, and while I grabbed it as it slipped and prevented any “spill,” the shaking caused a foam spout which found the notebook I had open. Friday, I hit the cup and splashed tea out of it. It was harmless but did require me to scramble as the tea traveled across the desk. After the Friday splashing, I decided I would only use my vacuum sealed water bottle at the desk. Of course, on Saturday morning, I sat down with my journal and a cup of tea. The same style cup as Friday’s spill. I’ll be cautious for the next couple of weeks, then forget about it. I’ll never learn.

With the arrival of my zoom nib, I searched for some videos on its use. Another video here, jump to 3:18 to skip the tea review and get to the zoom nib review. I had some fun practicing with the nib. With my regular grip and angle, with the traditional nib orientation, the line it puts down is far too broad for me, but that’s only one way to hold the pen. Getting some variation without changing pens, or requiring flex, will be interesting. Plus, I love the look of the pen.

New Arrivals

  1. The Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard (Zoom) arrived Monday. (top pen in photo)
  2. The Benu Grand Scepter X (Fine) arrived on Tuesday. (bottom pen in photo)
photo of the Sailor 1911 Ringless Epinard and Benu Grand Scepter X

Incoming

None

Outgoing

  1. Platinum 3776 Ribbed with an ultra-extra-fine (UEF) nib. While I love the nib, the pen would go unused for years because I didn’t like the aesthetic. I had other pens with great thin nibs that would get picked before this one. While this was my thinnest nib (.1mm), my eyes couldn’t tell the difference when compared to .2mm nibs.

Written Dry

  1. While not actually written dry, I flushed and cleaned the Platinum 3776 Ribbed once I knew it would be cut from my accumulation. The water barely dried before it was on its way out.
  2. Sheaffer Ringtop Jade (fine). I love the jade green material of this pen and the Sheaffer nib is a nice writer (aren’t they all?). But the pen is small and short. I have to post the cap, which makes me grimace as I try to be gentle and not crack the cap. So, I may just use it sparingly. I may be careful but still risk using it. But for now, it’s going back to storage.

Newly Inked

  1. Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (Superfine) with a Platinum Carbon Black Cartridge. I wanted a basic black waterproof ink for the few times where it’s essential. So I went with this Platinum Carbon duo. It’s a nice nib, but a thin & light pen. I’ll only be using it for short session, so this won’t be a problem for me. I have the desk stand, so the pen resides on my desk, ready for use.
  2. Benu Scepter II. I inked this pen up again, with the same R&K Alt-Bordeaux ink, when the Grand Scepter arrived so that I could do a comparison. It got a very short fill of ink and is nearly empty after writing the comparison.

Tiffany // Tailored Pen Company Custom Fountain Pen (REVIEW) – Weirdoforest Pens

I’m seeing Benu Pens in a new light | UK fountain pens // This is the first of several posts Anthony made that I collected for these links. I don’t include the others here, so be sure to check out his later posts after reading this one. Or if, Benu pens don’t excite you, go there to read about spotting bad nibs, a bad pen, and a couple good pens. As for the Benu pens, having now owned four (but only one of the ones he mentions), I obviously agree with his positive comments.

News: Chartpak Changes Pen Repair Policy « The Pelikan’s Perch

What Are My Forever Inks? – Fountain Pen Love // I like this concept, but I think one of the commenters had a good idea in mentioning that picking inks you always want available in a pen is a good idea too.

100 Years of Platinum Pens – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop // I’m feeling quality about selling off a pen from a company with such a rich history.

Notebooks over chaos. — The Finer Point

Notebooks I’m Using – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Personal Journaling Setup Part 2: Revisiting the Commonplace Book — The Gentleman Stationer

Muji is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy – CNN // The U.S. arm is reorganizing under bankruptcy, sounds like high-rents are a major problem, even before CIVID-19. They want to “focus” online but no word on which stores will close or remain.

Other Topics

Wear a Mask for Those Around You – 512 Pixels

How Seattle’s NHL team became the Kraken // Love the logo. Also, how can I not root for a team with a General Manager who’s pro career started with the Hartford Whalers, where he was a star center for 10 years.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 19, 2020

photo of the Benu Briolette
Benu Briolette Secret Garden

My fountain pen usage was up this week. Mainly because I changed the way I journal. Previously I wrote either in the morning or the evening. In the morning, I’m often rushed to get on to something else. In the evening I’m tired and unable to remember the details of my day. Now I do updates throughout the day rather than trying to remember it all at the end of the day. I’ve also worked on drafting a couple of posts.

I broke down and ordered a couple more fountain pens. I’m telling myself these are the last pens until December when I might get something to end the year. I signed up for an in-stock notification for the Benu Grand Scepter X at Goulet Pens, and it arrived this past week, which dropped my defenses and triggered the buying. So I ordered the pen, along with some stationery. Since I was already ordering a pen, I looked at the pens on my watch list. The Sailor 1911L Ringless drew me in. I ordered it from Anderson Pens since they had a couple of notebooks that I wanted to try. Now I have to pick a few more pens to sell-off.

The Sailor 1911 with a zoom nib is a risky choice for me, which is why it spent so much time being considered. I sold off all my 1911, except the Sterling, because I didn’t use them. Plus, I had a zoom nib years ago and never got the hang of it. I’m willing to try again with the zoom nib since I was a neophyte when I had it. I don’t expect it to be a daily writer, just fun to use on occasion.

After I ordered the pens, I received an email from Pen Chalet. Another Benu pen I hade my eye on is on sale this weekend, the Benu Supreme. I’ll pass on it, even though it’s the best price that I’ve seen for the pen. If you do shop at Pen Chalet, be sure to find a 10% off coupon. If needed, check the latest Pen Addict podcast for a coupon code.

After a concerted effort, using it for several days in a row, I finally wrote the Benu Scepter dry. Next up is the Benu Briolette. Although, the Briolette has a long international cartridge and an extra-fine nib so that it will have some staying power. I’ll mix in other pens every few days. I am using just one pen for 90% of my writing most days. Since I’m pretty much always home, and at my desk, the ystudio desk pen gets called on the other 10% of the time. I rather enjoy the challenge of writing a pen dry as quickly as possible.

I mentioned I need to pick some pens to sell-off. I have had the Platinum 3776 Ribbed with a UEF nib inked up. It’s a pen that doesn’t get much use despite the terrific nib. I wanted to compare it to the newly arrived Pilot PO nib. While the UEF is slightly thinner, my aging eyes don’t notice any difference. Plus, I also have a perfect Sailor XF nib in my Regency Stripe that’s nearly as thin. Both pens appeal to my aesthetic much more than the gold trim and nib on the Platinum. I’ll be putting it on my for sale page as soon as I can get photos and flush it out. Mention you’re a regular reader (getting this far in this post qualifies, even if this is your first visit), and I’ll take $10 off the listed price, which I haven’t decided on yet. The pen is six years old and has the expected micro-scratches, but is in otherwise excellent condition.

New Arrivals

None

Incoming

  1. Benu Grand Scepter X with a fine nib.
  2. Sailor 1911L Ringless Epinard

Outgoing

None

Written Dry

  1. Benu Scepter II went dry on Wednesday. Finally! I’ve been using it as my primary (but not exclusive) writer for almost a week. I inked up back on June 14. So it went for just over a month. I liked the R&K Alt-Bordeaux ink that was in it.

Newly Inked

None

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Who’s Behind Wednesday’s Epic Twitter Hack? — Krebs on Security

Wrong About the Apple Silicon Mac – YouTube

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Crónicas Estilográficas: Pilot Custom 72

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Preferences – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 12, 2020

Photo of the Benu Scepter II - my most used pen this past week.
Benu Scepter II – my most used pen this past week.

Earlier in the week, Tuesday I think, I decided to pick one fountain pen and use it as my primary writer until it was dry. I chose the Scepter II with an extra-fine nib and R&K Alt-Bordeaux ink. The pen still has ink today, which indicates how low my fountain recent pen usage has been. My rather feeble defense is that Saturday, I used my ystudio Desk Pen far more than the Scepter II. It was just more suitable for the short notes I was writing as I worked at my desk. Hopefully, I’ll be motivated to pick them up more often during the week ahead.

A bunch of new pens have been catching my eye and trying to empty my wallet. I have to admit, despite having several new pens that have barely been used, I’m itching to buy one. For example, Retro 51 will be releasing a new fountain pen this week. I marked it on my calendar. Although the pen looks beautiful (in photos), I know it won’t become a favorite. Past Retro 51 fountain pens have failed to pull me in. An early model was of poor quality, and later well-built pens were sold off after going unused for years. So I deleted that calendar entry. It’s been like that with other new fountain pen announcements. After some thought, and more research – such as size and weight, I dropped the pen from my want list.

One product that caught my attention is the Sailor Shikiori ink cartridges. I’ve done a 180 on my ink buying philosophy. I used to go with only bottles since they were the best price per ml. But I have drawers full of ink bottles, and most are nearly full. I could set the record as the longest living human and still not use all my ink. Bottles are a low price per milliliter received, but a high cost per millimeter used. So I’ve become more open to ink cartridges. (I’m not too fond of samples.) While undoubtedly expensive on a per milliliter basis, it’ll be less money leaving my wallet overall. I’m still not sold since I only have four Sailor pens that can use them. (I could use that as an excuse for another Sailor pen. There is one calling to me.) I also doubt will they provide something I can’t get from my current ink stash, other than convenience.

New Arrivals

None

Incoming

None

Outgoing

None

Written Dry

None

Newly Inked

None

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How To Write Your First Letter To A New Pen Pal – Fountain Pen Love

Caps and Convenience – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Pen Pals Are Connecting People During Coronavirus

Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Smoothing and Unsmoothing Nibs – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

My new approach to notebooks. | Fountain pen blog

Sheaffer Pen Museum: History in our backyard – News – The Ames Tribune – Ames, IA (via @neilspens)

Lines and Grinds: A Guide for Choosing and Customizing Your Nibs- Part 2 – The Well-Appointed Desk

[PfMP] Parker 51 | dapprman

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 5, 2020

photo of the Kanilea Kona Cherry
My favorite fountain pen of the past week.

Another week of relatively low fountain pen usage. My favorite pen of the week was the Kanilea Kona Cherry with its extra fine nib and Montblanc Bordeaux ink. Despite it’s place as a favorite it didn’t keep me from picking up my other pens throughout the week.

New Arrivals / Incoming / Outgoing / Written Dry / Newly Inked

Nothing at all, an uneventful week.

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