Core Pen Review: Kaweco Brass Sport

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loopWhile slimming my fountain pen accumulation, I ended up with 14 core pens (recently increased to 15). Core pens are the fountain pens that stood the test of time and earned a regular place in the rotation. Some pens were picked because they fill a role perfectly, despite other deficiencies. While other pens where selected because they are the complete package, perfect for my hand and great aesthetically. The Kaweco Brass Sport falls somewhere in between.

The Brass Sport is the perfect pocket pen while also developing a character that I like aesthetically. The pen lives in my trouser pocket, along with my keys and the occasional loose change. The pen holds up well to the abuse of the metal objects in the same pocket. Those dings give the Brass Sport some character along with the patina that develops on the brass.

photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport

current photo of the Kaweco Brass Sport

I ended up keeping the Aluminum Sport too, although it may never get used again. The Patina on the Kaweco Brass Sport can develop into outright crud if I put the pen in a pen case for storage. I don’t like polishing my pens, so this provides an excuse to keep the pen always inked up. Between the occasional use and abuse from keys and coins sharing the pocket, the patina is kept under control. I already owned the Aluminum model, so I kept it as a spare in case the Brass Sport goes missing. If the Brass model was to go missing, I would use the Aluminum Sport, rather than buy a new Brass model.

I bought the kaweco Brass Sport in July 2015 and wrote a long-term review less than a year ago.

The pen remains a pocket carry exclusively. It mainly gets used when I don’t have another pen handy or left home without any fountain pens. It moves from pocket to pocket with my keys, so I always have it with me.

photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport (posted)

current photo of my Kaweco Brass Sport (posted)

It just doesn’t get used very often. Even though it is usually in my pockets, literally within arms reach, I usually forget about it. Attested to by the fact it’s missing from several currently inked pictures since it was out of mind when I took the photo. It usually gets used after a “crap, I forgot my fountain pens” moment, which is then followed by an “oh yeah” moment, and I pull out the Brass Sport. Despite the neglect, the pen never fails to write. Possibly because it’s bouncing around in my pocket, although that doesn’t result in a lot of ink in the cap. When posted, the Sport is a regular length. The weight of the Brass doesn’t bother me, and I can use it for long writing sessions. There’s no reason to skip over it, I never think of it.

Some people complain about the smell of the brass, although I never noticed it, so I was never bothered by it.

I’ve had a couple other Kaweco Sports over the years. I found the plastic models too light for my tastes. The aesthetics of the Brass Sport won out over the different metal versions that I had.

The converters available for the Sport, at least the ones I’ve tried, were impractical at best and unusable at worst. I’ve never been one to refill cartridges, so I always used short international cartridges. My ink choice is typically black or red, with red being the must more common choice.

The Kaweco Brass Sport is a core pen primarily because of its functionality as a pocket pen. All Sports have the same functionality, but I like the added weight of the Brass. If a pen is too light, I find myself gripping it tightly, which fatigues my hand rather quickly. So, the Kaweco Brass Sport made the cut as a core pen.

Photos from the archives

Long Term Review: Sheaffer Balance II (x3)

 

Three Balance IIs and some Sheaffer old-stock ink

My first Sheaffer Balance II was the limited edition Aspen. I fell in love, despite some early problems. It joined my accumulation over 5 years ago, and it’s been filled at least 10 times since then. I say “at least” because I’m not consistent in recording when I refill a pen with the same ink. I liked it so much that I added two more Balance IIs within four months, the Jade Green and the Crimson Glow. All three pens have the same 18K gold two-tone Feather Touch nib.

The Aspen was released in 1999, while both the Crimson Glow and the Jade Green were part of the original regular product launch in 1998. There were some earlier limited editions in 1997.

The Aspen was know to have some flow issues when it was new, and mine had those issues when it arrived. It would write for about a page, then stop completely until the feed was primed. I sent it off to Mike Masuyama for adjustment and it’s been perfect since then. The Jade Green and Crimson Glow have both been fine from the start.

Officially, the nibs are all mediums, but they are much closer to a medium/fine. I’ve had western fine nibs that are wider (as was a Pelikan extra fine). I’m not typically a fan of two-tone nibs but I adore these nibs. Their look reminds me of vintage nibs, and there’s a lot of detail in the engraving.

The acrylic used for all three of these pens has a reputation of easily, and spontaneously, cracking. Mine are all in great shape (knock on wood). From what I read, it’s compressed acrylic with a lot of fractures that can cause cracking for no apparent reason. I buy my pens to use, and these are no different. I do handle them carefully. I don’t post the caps, which isn’t a problem since I don’t typically post my pens. I carry and store them in a slotted, cushioned, fully enclosed Visconti case. I never use the clips. I try to avoid my usual habit of fiddling with the cap in my left hand while I write.

The solid color versions of the Balance IIs don’t share the reputation for cracking, but they aren’t nearly as beautiful.

Based simply on the number of pens in my accumulation, Sheaffer is my favorite brand and these are among my favorite Sheaffer. The Aspen topped my favorite pen list in November 2015, although it dropped off a year later since I hadn’t used the pen that entire year. If I was to redo the list today (and it’s long overdue) I would put all three Balance IIs on the list, to share one of the top 5 slots.

I tend to use brown or gray inks in the Aspen. Although a couple other colors have found their way into the pen. Montblanc Permanent Grey is the ink I’ve used the most in this pen. All the inks have worked great. I don’t experiment with this pen, so it only gets ink I already know have good behavior.

A expected, the Crimson Glow often gets red ink, although the most used ink was Sheaffer Peacock Blue, from the days of inkwell bottles and maroon boxes. While I don’t usually like blue inks, I like the idea of using a classic Sheaffer ink in these pens. The turquoise ink has grown on me and the contrast with the red pen is nice.

The Jade Green Balance II has been used exclusively with green inks. Sheaffer Emerald Green is the most used ink while Montblanc Irish Green is the only other ink to be used more than once.

The Aspen is my clear favorite among the three pens. It has been pulled from the pen case and filled far more often than either of the other two.

In difference to their brittle nature, the Sheaffer Balance II fountain pens are not used for note taking, but only when I sit down for the sole purpose of writing. This is to limit the the number of times I uncap and cap the pens. Plus, when taking work notes I can be somewhat absent minded and be a little rougher with the pens, such as laying them on top of the ring binders in a notebook,being a little rough when putting it on my desk, or absently knocking it out of my way. Because of this, they can go a long time without being used. Occasionally I may need to hold the pen nib down to get the ink flowing, or even prime the nib, but they mostly start writing without any hesitation.

The Sheaffer Balance II Aspen, Jade green and Crimson Glow are among my favorite fountain pens. They look great and are terrific writers. What’s not to like? Well, their fragility mainly. It’s what keeps me from using them more. Even though I’m working to trim the accumulation these pens will be staying with me, despite breaking the rule to avoid keeping pens that are similar in every way, except the acrylic.

Links

My Aspen Review

My Jade green and Crimson Glow This Just In post

Saying Goodbye: Waterman Edson

Waterman Edson on standI sold off three of my Waterman fountain pens last week, including my Waterman Edson which I reviewed here. The Edson was my first “executive” pen, and one of my first expensive fountain pens, along with the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe that I got about the same time. It’s very gold and very blue. I did use the pen a lot when I first got it, and I considered it worth the price. By the time I started keeping track of my pen & ink usage, 10 years later, my usage was nearly non-existent. I used it once in 2014 and once again in 2018.

The Edson wrote as well as it did when new, but my aesthetics tastes had turned against both gold and blue. Plus, I now had many more options to choose from. The pen is a nice size, and I can use it for long writing sessions without any fatigue. Usability was not a factor in my decision to sell.

The non-aesthetic negatives were relatively minor. The Edson was tedious to clean. It took forever to flush all traces of ink out of the feed. I also had to take extra care when filling the pen with bottled ink. The ink would stain my fingers from the breather hole unless I dripped out a couple drops after the fill, and wiped the breather hole clean of ink. Early on I used cartridges, and this wasn’t a problem.

I kept passing over the pen because I no longer loved the look, so that was the main reason I decided to sell. There’s too much gold. I never really like blue, although the sapphire barrel on this pen has a nice depth to it. Back in 2003, I’m not sure I even knew other colors were available, although only the sapphire and a more expensive limited edition model was being made in 2003.

While I don’t keep track, I think the Waterman Edson is the first pen I bought new, used it, and then sold it for more than I paid (ignoring inflation).

The Waterman Edson is a fountain pen that I enjoyed and used when I got it, but then my tastes changed, and I moved on.

Long Term Review: Kaweco Brass Sport

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loopThe Kaweco Brass Sport joined my accumulation in July 2015. My first impressions are here. There are numerous editions of the Kaweco Sport, they all have the same design and nibs, the only variation is the material used and the aesthetic design. It’s the one that’s become my “go to” pocket pen, leaving the other Kaweco Sports sitting in a pen case.

In my This Just In post, I mentioned that there was a slight misalignment in the extra fine nib that caused some skipping. I did align the tines which did eliminate the skipping. The pen has been a problem free writer since then. Somewhere along the line I picket up a converter that would fit the Sport, but I never used it. I seemed like way top much trouble for way too little ink, so the pens has been used exclusively with cartridges. I don’t refill cartridges with bottles ink since I basically lazy and find cartridge ink perfectly acceptable.

As the name announces, the pen is made of brass. This makes the Brass Sport is one of the heavier models, certainly the heaviest of any Sport that’s found its way into my hands.

The Brass Sport spent most of its life with me as a pocket pen, although it did spend some time in the pen loop of my Roterfgaden Taschenbegleiter,. The brass complemented the leather perfectly, and it was small enough to stay out of the way. I didn’t spend too much time in this roll. It wasn’t replaced by another pen, it was just easier to carry it in my pocket. Other than that short diversion, the pen is exclusively a pocket carry. It travels in the same pants pocket as my keys, pocket knife, and occasionally some coins. The other side is for my phone, so nothing hard or metal goes in that pocket. The Brass Sport is made for abuse, so the keys don’t damage the pen, they add character and make it unique.

The keys, along with regular use keeps the patina from turning in to outright crud. I did let the pen sit in a pen case for a couple months at the end of which the patina had turned the pen a consistent gray. That was the only time I polished the pen. I used Simchrome to polish the pen.

As a pocket pen, it can go unused for days, or even weeks. It never fails to write immediately when I pull it from my pocket. It’s bouncing around all the time which may help keep the ink at the nib. But, there’s never much ink in the cap. I have had one or two instances of the cap unscrewing from the body when in my pocket. Since the cap is so deep, it stayed on until I pulled the pen out of my pocket, so no ink accidents.

I do occasionally pull the pen out for a more extended writing session. The pen is very comfortable for me when I use it posted. Long writing sessions are never a problem even though the pen is on the heavier side. For shorter notes, I can use the pen unposted. It’s not comfortable, but certainly useable.

As I already mentioned, I use cartridges exclusively Kaweco Sports. Other than the included blue cartridge, I’ve been drawn to using red and black inks with the pen.

The Brass Sport has risen to the top of my Kaweco Sport favorites list. I’m down to three Sports, one of which will be moving on soon. The Raw Aluminum Sport is the only other one I’ll keep. Like the Brass, its looks improve with age an abuse. But, since I rarely need two pocket pens, the Raw Aluminum rarely gets any use (only once since 2015).

The Kaweco Brass Sport was $92 when I got it. It’s not the most expensive Sport, but it’s certainly more than the standard models while having the exact same nibs. I’m happy with the pen and have no regrets.

Saying Goodbye: A Couple Pelikan M620 Cities Series

Pelikan M620 Shanghai and Piazza Novana for saleLast week I sold off two of my Pelikan M620 Cities Series fountain pens. The Pelikan Piazza Navona and Pelikan Shanghai both joined my accumulation in 2005. I was enamored with the designs. It was a time when I wanted to experiment with different nibs, so both cam with broad nibs.

It didn’t take too long for me to realize that broad nibs weren’t for me, no matter how much I liked the look of the pen. At least not for anything more than a brief change of pace.

I really liked the pens so when the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show came around, I brought them with me to have them ground. As I mentioned in my Piazza Navona review a fine nib felt like a waste of tipping material, so I went with a stub. I figured a stub would bring some excitement. I was wrong. While the stubs were nice, and I generally like them, they were still too wide for me to use regularly. The pens were only inked three times each since the pen show. Even when inked, they saw little use. Only the Shanghai has been inked in the last five years, and that was in 2017.

I suppose a grind to a fine or extra fine nib would get the pens more use. While the pens are beautiful, they got a lot more competition for my attention these days. Plus, the history of two bad choices (for me) leaves some bad associations with the pens. The pens are great writers and beautiful, so it was time for them to go to a better home.

I did keep one M620, the Piccadilly Circus. Aesthetically it was my least favorite of the three, but it has a medium nib. Yes, the nibs are easily interchangeable, but I do have an aversion to changing a pens original equipment. Even when that equipment is designed to be swapped.

There’s not much else for me to say. The pens are beautiful and great writers, just not for me. I’m trying to get down to a core group of pens I can use regularly. The lack of use doesn’t give me much to say about them.