Ink and Pen Notes: Edison Menlo Pump Filler and Athena Sepia

Edison Menlo Pump Filler with Athena Sepia ink bottle

I’ve had the Edison Menlo Pump Filler for just under three years. It was a purchase from the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show. It topped my Favorite 5 list back when it still had that new pen glow. It never repeated as a top 5 modern pen, but it’s still been a frequent visitor to my rotation since I got it. It’s always paired with a brown ink. This time it’s Athena Sepia. Athena is the house brand for the Maruzen stores in Japan. Sepia describes the color, not that the ink is derived from the cuttlefish.

The pen was filled at the end of December, meaning it lasted just under four months. This is a little long for this pen even though it holds a gallon if ink (OK, not a gallon, but a lot.) This is the longest an ink has lasted in this pen which did surprise me since it really gets along well with the extra fine nib in this pen.

This ink makes the nib feel even smoother than the previous inks. The nib has always been smooth, especially for an extra fine, but with this ink it feels like it’s gliding above the paper, especially on smooth Tomoe River or Rhodia paper. Yet it puts down a nice dark line without the hint of skipping. There weren’t any hard starts, even after sitting for a week or so.

Athena Sepia rivals Montblanc Toffee Brown as my favorite brown ink. I bought this bottle from Nanami Paper (where it was very expensive) but they no longer carry it, and since it’s a department store brand it’s non-existent outside of Japan. I’ve seen contradicting claims that Athena ink is made by various manufacturers. I suppose it’s possible that the manufacturer varies by color and people have assumed they are all the same. This FPN post says the Sepia is made by Sailor. If Athena Sepia crossed my path again I’d buy another bottle. But I doubt it will so I’ll simply enjoy it while it lasts ,then go back to Montblanc Toffee Brown.

The ink is easy to flush from a pen, but the Edison Menlo Pump Filler is a royal pain to clean. The large capacity and feeder tube makes it take forever to flush out. So this is one pen where I break my rule and do remove the nib/section simply to clean the pen. Or, I do what I did in this case and simply re-ink the pen. Not only do I kick the cleaning can down the road, but I get a very nice ink and pen combination to write with. The Athena Sepia ink is well behaved so I’m not worried about damage or staining.

I usually don’t write these Ink & Pen Notes until I’m ready to clean the pen and put it away. That was my intent in this case, but after writing this up I realized what a pain it would be to clean the pen and I’d much rather enjoy the using the Edison Menlo Pump Filler for another month or two.

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Ink & Pen Notes – Franklin-Christoph Model 20 with Athena Sepia Ink

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Vintage Green with a broad stub nib and Athena Sepia Ink bottle

I picked Athena Sepia as the first ink for my second Franklin-Christoph Model 20. This Model 20 has a medium stub nib, one of the optional Mike Masuyama grinds available from F-C. It took me a relatively quick two weeks for me to write the pen dry which is a good indication that I liked this pen/ink combination.

The Athena ink is the store brand of the Maruzen department stores in Japan. It appears to be made by Sailor although the bottle is unique. The ink is hard to find in the United States which makes it expensive. I picked mine up from Nanami Paper although they don’t seem to stock it anymore.

The medium stub in the Model 20 is very, very smooth. It’s a steel nib, not buttery smooth, but I like a little feedback so it’s great for me. I often forget to mention whether the nib is steel or gold when I write about my F-C pens. I always get the steel nib although gold nibs are an option, for an additional cost of course.

The Athena Sepia worked great with this pen. It’s a dark brown, almost black ink. It looks nice with this wider (for me at least) nib. There’s just a little shading. The ink flow is true to the nib size so there’s variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes thanks to the stub.

I haven’t picked the next ink for this Franklin-Christoph Model 20 stub nib yet. It’s a new pen so I’ll want to pick a different ink. I do like the Athena Sepia ink so it will probably find its way into another fountain pen sooner rather than later.