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 capped Benu Scepter III’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.

photo of the Benu Scepter II

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 XThe 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.

This Just In: ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen

photo of the ystudio pen (partial) and baseLike most machined metal fountain pens, ystudio pens have had a certain appeal to me since I first saw them. Still, they never pulled me in, and I never seriously considered buying one. Then the stars aligned. Kenro Industries recently became a distributor for them, so they had a bunch of new retailers promoting their pens. This has happened while the lockdown has turned my home writing desk into my main work desk, with the clutter that computers and cables bring. I like having a desk pen handy. A fountain pen that I can just pick up and use, no clicking or uncapping needed.

I have my Esterbrook Dip-less pen at the office but didn’t want to relocate it. This includes a big inkwell and a pen that sticks out at an angle. I had visions of something catching on the pen and dragging it over the edge and onto the carpet. So it remains at the unused office. I also have a Platinum desk pen, but that has been missing since I moved. I like having a desk pen that I can just grab and use, no uncapping or clicking needed.

As an aside – ystudio uses all lowercase for their brand name. I’ll do the same, even though it looks wrong and seems a tad pretentious.

photo of the ystudio desk pen in its baseThe ystudio desk pen seemed to be ideal. It would be ready to use as soon as I picked it up. Having a base meant it would always be in the same place, allowing muscle memory to take over. This means I can pick up the pen while keeping my focus elsewhere. It stands straight up, so I’m less likely to hit it while working at my desk. It’s a cartridge/converter, so if I knock the pen off my desk, the worst that will happen is a few small drops of ink on the carpet. The pen arrived on May 2nd, and I’ve been using it since then.

The fact that this is a machined metal pen also appealed to me. The only unappealing part was the price, which seemed a bit high to me. I do realize that among machined metal pens, copper is usually more expensive. Obviously ystudio knew what they were doing when they priced it since I bought the fountain pen.

The ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen arrived in a wooden box with cardboard cutouts. It’s a light box, with wood more like balsa than a heavier wood. There were cardboard cutouts to hold the stand and pen securely, along with an instruction/product pamphlet. A converter is included, although no starter ink cartridge is in the box.

The fountain pen is solid copper, while the base is solid brass and very heavy. The ystudio name is engraved into the copper pen. It’s very subtle, with no added color, which I like. The copper has begun to develop a patina, while the base is as shiny as the day it arrived.

photo of the ystudio brandingI ordered the pen with a fine nib, which is by Schmidt and has its typical engravings. There’s some scrollwork, along with a large cursive “F” to denote the nib size. “Schmidt Iridium Point” is stamped at the base of the nib.

photo of the nib up closeI picked Montblanc “The Beatles” Psychedelic Purple as the initial ink for this pen. I typically use a desk pen for short notes or to mark up a document. So, I like a bright color in my desk pen.

The nib is smooth out of the box. It’s safe to say I’ve used the ystudio pen every day since it arrived, although rarely for more than a few words. The draft of this article (just under 3 pages) is the most I’ve used this pen in one sitting. The pen sits nib down in its base, so it’s no surprise that hard starts have not been a problem. There hasn’t been any skipping either.

hpto of the ystudio classic desk pen laying on a writing sample

The ystudio Classic Desk Foutain Pen and writing sample (Fine nib / Montblanc The Beatles ink

The ystudio desk pen does stick up like a horseshoe stake, so I do have to move it around to get it out of the way as I move my computer or iPad around. Although, in most cases, it ends up to my right, where I can easily pick it up. Also, since my desk folds closed at an angle, I have to push the pen back before I close the desk.

I’m happy with the ystudio Classic Desk Fountain Pen. It performs its intended role perfectly. I expect it to be perpetually inked, other than the occasional overnight rest after being flushed out.

 

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,]

These Just In: Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime (Marine Green) and Diplomat Aero Volute

Photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime (top) and Diplomat Aero Volute (bottom)I’m combining the introduction of these two fountain pens since they are similar to other pens that I’ve written about. Plus, I’m getting really tired of this string of This Just In posts.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime is my favorite pen style. I love the acrylics, and the nibs are great writers. The Marine Green from the early 1930s is the best ever. I’ve also seen it referred to as “Green Marble.” Unfortunately, the cap on my original Marine Green Balance Oversize broke into two pieces, making it unusable. I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement since then.

Comparing my two Marine Green Sheaffer Balance Oversize fountain pens

The new Sheaffer (left) compared to the original, now broken, Sheaffer (right)

This Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime in Marine Green was an eBay purchase that arrived in early March. This was from a trusted seller that I bought from in the past. Even so, I still always assume the pen looks better on eBay than in reality, and bid accordingly. Even if it’s because I missed something in the photos. In this case, the color looked less vibrant and darker than my original Marine Green Balance. From experience, I knew this seller usually had well lit and accurate photos, so I figured this was true. It was also a solid gold-colored nib, and I prefer the two-tone nib. On the positive side, it was a fine nib, and I love vintage Sheaffer fine nibs.

I’ve really, really wanted a Marine Green Sheaffer Balance Oversize ever since mine broke, and my recent pen show visit had been a bust. So I decided to bid on the pen since the next pen show was obviously going to be in the distant future. I set a maximum bid pretty close to my personal ceiling for an eBay Balance, despite the less than vibrant color and the lack of a two-tone nib. I ended up winning the auction. As a side-note, the same seller had a second Marine Green Balance Oversize go on sale a couple of weeks later. This one had a two-tone nib and what appeared to be slightly more vibrancy. By the time I decided to bid, it was already near the maximum I would spend on eBay for this pen, even if in seemingly excellent condition. So, I didn’t bother even bidding. It eventually sold for over $500, which is well above my eBay fountain pen comfort level. So, if that’s the new price level for this pen, it will take a pen show or other in-person sale before I get one. So for now, this pen is it.

Photo of the Marine Green Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime on a pen stand

The fountain pen arrived, and it was what I expected. The Marine Green material is clean, but it is subdued and on the dark side as I expected. The flat-top ball on the clip, along with the marine green, date the pen from 1934 or 1935. It’s a lever-filler, which is my preference over the vacuum (plunger) fillers. The cap does fit my original Marine Green Balance, although the colors are way off. If I wanted to use the stub nib on the original, I could use this cap.

Photo of the Diplomat Aero Volute - cappedI inked the pen up with Sheaffer Green to inaugurate it. As I expected, it was a smooth and consistent writer. The Balance Oversize form factor is comfortable in my hand. The pen wasn’t inked up when I started drafting this post, but before it was done, I missed the pen and had to ink it up.

I’m not disappointed with the Marine Green Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime since it was what I expected. Although it isn’t the ideal replacement for the Marine Green that I loved.

The second fountain pen, a Diplomat Aero Volute, is a more recent arrival. One problem with discovering a new pen brand, and then realizing that they make great pens is that I start exploring other options. While Diplomat is not a new brand, I only recently bought one of their pens. This was the Orange/Black Diplomat Aero, which I got at the Long Island Pen Show. I was pleasantly surprised by this pen when I used it. So I was browsing other Diplomat pens when I came upon the Aero Volute. The barrel and cap have a base color of grey with a black design on top of it. The black design is applied using a process called hydro-dipping or water transfer. (While a pen isn’t used as an example, this video shows the hydro-dipping technique.) Black and grey are my aesthetic these days. Recently purchased furniture and linen have been black and grey. The Volute is a limited edition and has a list price that is $100 higher than the regular Aeros. So, while prices varied, they were still expensive, especially since I already had an Aero. While I used to go crazy with fountain pen models that I like, I now try to limit myself to one fountain pen per model. But I still added the pen to my watch list.

I then came across a Pen Chalet sale, which dropped their price down to $177 (the price has moved back up). Not the absolute lowest price I saw (which was $175), but the lowest I saw from a retailer that had the pen is stock and ready to order. Like a former boss once said, businesses can list any price they want it they don’t have to actually take the order. So with the lower price and one of Pen Chalet’s always easy to find 10% off coupons, the price dropped to a more reasonable amount, so I ordered it. The fountain pen drop-shipped from Yafa, the distributer, but arrived in a reasonable time. It was only a couple days later than the Benu pen that was in the same order.

The packaging was the same as my Orange/Black Aero, although with a limited edition card included. Mine is number 524 of 1000. There’s no number on the pen itself that I could see.

Photo of the Diplomat Aero Volute with the authentication cardLike other Aero pens, it is made of aluminum. The hydro-dipping process means no two pens are the same. My pen thas some lines between the cap and the barrel that do line up and cross from one to the other. While there are other lines that just end, and don’t cross over. Also, while not a literal seam, there’s a visual seam running down the length of the cap & barrel. It’s where lines seem to end and don’t match up. But the design is random, and I only notice these things upon close inspection. They don’t stand out or bother me at all, so this isn’t a complaint or something I consider a flaw. I assume it’s the result of the way the pen was dipped.

I bought the fountain pen with a fine steel nib to provide a slightly different writing experience than my Orange/Black Aero and its extra-fine nib. Like my original, this is a nice smooth nib. Diplomat continues to impress me with the quality of their pens, and I’m glad to see they expanded into more elaborate designs. I wouldn’t buy the Volute at the typical street price, which is around $236. While I do love the design, that would be an $80 premium over the regular production Aeros. I’m sure there’s more labor involved, just like their flame version. However, I find that I do grow tired of distinctive designs, so I couldn’t justify the premium to myself since I already had one Aero. But thanks to Pen Chalet’s often weird pricing and ubiquitous 10% discount coupons, I was able to get one for only a couple dollars above the standard pens. That made in an insta-buy.

I’m thrilled with the Diplomat Aero Volute, and I’m enjoying the pen.

Writing samples: Sheaffer (top) and Diplomat (bottom)

Sheaffer Balance Oversize Lifetime (Fine) writing sample on top. Diplomat Aero Volute (Fine) writing sample on bottom.

This Just In: Kanilea Cherry Kona

Photo of the Kanilea Cherry Kona fountain pen

The newly arrived Kanilea Cherry Kona

If my memory is correct, Kanilea Pen Co. was launch at the 2016 Washington D.C. Pen Show. I remember seeing their beautiful acrylics and considered buying one of them. It took almost four years, but I did eventually buy one.

I stumbled across the Cherry Kona on their website and was considering buying one. It looked gorgeous, plus it was available much faster than a typical Kanilea web order. Then the Pen Addict podcast’s turn came up in my podcast player, and both Myke and Brad gushed about it. It was less than a couple hours later that all resistance and doubt collapsed, and I ordered one.

I did manage to screw up my order, but thanks to proactive and hands-on customer service, it all worked out without causing a delay. I wanted the “Classic Flush” profile, both because it was immediately available, and it is the design I liked best. I must have reset the order form and returned to the default “Classic” profile. The next morning I got an email asking me to confirm that’s what I really wanted. They sent the email because the Classic profile wasn’t the one available immediately. So I replied that yes, I meant to order the Classic Flush profile. I later checked the entire order and found that I had used the shipping address as the billing address, so I sent off another email to update that. Despite all this, the pen shipped out within the promised timeframe.

Hawaii is the focus of Kanilea Pen Co., and the packaging reflects that. The packaging also shows the thought and care that went into the pen. All the pen acrylics are inspired by scenes around Hawaii, and a photo postcard of the pen’s inspiration is included. This does add to the cost of the pen, but it also enhances the experience. In purely marketing terms, it gives the buyer a feeling that justifies the expense. Experience isn’t important, even though it doesn’t make the pen write better. Let’s face it, I have multiple fountain pens with similar nibs, so experience matters to me, whether it’s the writing experience or the emotional experience. It doesn’t make up for a bad fountain pen, but it enhances an already excellent fountain pen and softens the blow to the wallet.

The packaging…

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I dug through the packaging to get to the Cherry Kona fountain pen, after all, that’s what I wanted. I then spent some time admiring the acrylic. It’s gorgeous, with fantastic depth. It seems to bend and reflect light in different directions. I mentioned in the Leonardo Messenger review that the Messenger had a large translucent swath that bothered me since it provided a clear view of the converter. Not so on the Cherry Kona. I knew the converter was in there, but the little chrome that was visible looked like part of the bending and reflecting light. There’s no metal in the pen, so if the converter does bother me, I can simply eyedropper fill the pen.

I finally got around to filling the pen and ran into my first complaint. The cap requires a marathon to twist off, It takes four complete turns to uncap. This translates to six twists with my fingers each time. I don’t have to tighten it completely if I pause when writing, but it’s a bit much for my taste. I don’t recall any of my other fountain pens requiring this much effort. A minimum of a dozen finger turns each time I use the pen.

Kanilea Pen Co. Cherry Kona capped

There’s a choice of nib styles and materials. I picked a polished steel nib. There is some engraving on the nib, but no branding. I like a plain silver nib, so no complaints here. There’s also a flower medallion on the cap finial, and I picked sterling silver for that. No gold on this pen.

Finally, to the ink. I picked Sheaffer Red as the ink to inaugurate this pen. A nice bright red to match the acrylic. The fine nib is a friendly smooth writer, The nib tines and feed seem perfectly aligned (to my eye).

I’ve noticed my hand getting fatigued after writing as little as a page. This isn’t something I expected or currently understand. The pen is on the large side, although very light for its size. The gripping section is concave, so I pulled out my calipers to see if it was thinner than it appeared. At 11mm, it’s in line with my comfortable fountain pens, although that girth is on the low end of the range. I’ve been paying attention and trying to keep my grip looser than usual. This seems to help a little, but it could be a placebo.

Further confusing me is that the fatigue arrives quickly but doesn’t go to the next level, which would be pain or cramps. It’s just tired. I’ve only had a couple other pens with a concave section. A few Karas Kustoms Ink fountain pens and rollerballs, none of which caused any fatigue. I sold most but kept one and will probably ink it up for comparison. The second, an Edison Nouveau, was sold off since it was too thin and light for me, but I didn’t tie this to the concave section as it was a thin pen.

Kanilea Cherry Kona with writing sample

I’ve yet to finish the first fill of ink. Still, the writing experience has been enjoyable, despite the fatigue issues. There’s no skipping or hard starts.

The Kanilea Cherry Kona is gorgeous, no doubt about it. As I’m sure you gathered, the long uncapping effort really annoys me. It was enough to move it down to the “hangers-On” category from what I thought was a sure “Core Pen” listing. Maybe I’ll warm to it, or at least learn to ignore it, but I think it will always annoy me. The fatigue is another issue, and unless I can solve it, the pen will probably go up for sale. Running a marathon to uncap the pen while knowing my hand will feel tired after about 5 minutes will keep me from using the pen. Especially since I have many choices that I can use all day for hours at a time. If I had seen the Cherry Kona at a pen show I would have bought it, there’s nothing about it that would alert me to it being a fatiguing pen for me. I can’t even say it’s uncomfortable, because at first, it’s not. But the bottom line is that the uncapping marathon and fatigue has given me a disappointing first impression.