Long Term Review: Fisher of Pens Hermes

Fisher of Pens Hermes with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE bottleMy Fisher of Pens Hermes was a 2016 Washington D.C. Pen Show purchase. I wrote about my first impressions here. Fisher of Pens is Carl Fisher’s brand for the custom pens that he makes. In this case, while it’s a custom pen, I bought it off the shelf (actually a table).

It’s the pen color that caught my eye. It was a dark pen that stood out among all the bright green pens on the table. I love the color. The base color is a deep, dark black. An olive green web covers the pen, giving it a vintage look. The celluloid is called vintage web green, which is an appropriate name. An yes, I did say the material is celluloid, making this my only modern celluloid fountain pen.

While the bulk of the pen is celluloid, the finials on each end, along with the section, are black ebonite. I’ve used eight different inks in the pen, one of which made two visits. Early on I had some hard starts and flow issues. Carl did contact me and offered to have the pens sent back for an adjustment. I declined the offer.

Other than flushing out any manufacturing residue, I never believed fountain pens needed to be broken in. If this had been my first fountain pen, I’d probably believe that they did. It’s gotten better and better with continued use.

The problems were never severe, just annoying. Increasing the ink flow is within my capabilities, but I was reluctant to make changes since the pen wrote great most of the time. I like my fountains a bit on the dry side, so I let things go and resisted the urge to tinker and adjust. Now, the Hermes is an enjoyable writer. If it has been unused for a week or more, it may need a little help getting started. That trait is shared by several other of my thin nibs.

This pen highlighted one of my fountain pen quirks. I have this aversion to changing a fountain pen once I get it unless I got it with the intent to make a change.  I can sometimes bring myself to make changes, such as getting a new nib grind or fixing an obvious problem such as consistent skipping due to a misaligned nib. I also like to use a pen for a while before I make any changes, such as a nib grind. That was undoubtedly a factor in my hesitation in making any changes to this pen. The annoyances were more than offset by the writing enjoyment the pen usually provided. I was concerned fixing the annoyances would ruin some of the pleasure of using the pen. My patience was rewarded.

The Hermes is a straight rod, without any taper. The cap screws flush to the body. Thanks to the web pattern, it’s hard to see the seam between the cap and the body. The fit is perfect. It’s a long pen, which means it looks thinner than it actually is. I find thin pens uncomfortable, while this one has plenty of girth for comfort. It’s also a relatively light pen, considering its size. The only metal on the pen is the nib and clip. Since the cap doesn’t post, the clip doesn’t add any weight when writing. I can use the pen for very long writing sessions without my hand getting fatigued.

Since it’s such a long pen, it’s not a pocket carry. The cap requires two full rotations to remove or replace, so the Hermes isn’t suitable for quick notes. I typically.keep the Fisher of Pens Hermes in a two or three pen case. Currently, that’s the Nock Co. Tallulah. My Visconti 3-pen case has been used in the past. The Hermes fits comfortably in the Tallulah, with just enough clearance for the zipper (there’s a protection strip of material between the pen and zipper). It needs to use the middle slot on the Visconti, otherwise the pen will press against the zipper. While I do use it at my desk, it’s mostly used when I’m working somewhere else. This is mainly because it’s in a pen case that stays in my briefcase, so it’s ready when I head out. Once a pen enters the case it’s there until I’m motivated to swap it. It’s a pen I only use when sitting at a desk or table, it’s too unwieldy to use while standing or on the move. So while it may be used infrequently, when i use it, it’s for a more extended writing session.

It’s a fact of life when carrying pens in my briefcase or computer bag, the jostling results in extra ink loose inside the cap. While hardly unique to the Hermes, the Hermes seemed to result in more ink inside the cap than usual. Because the pen is a dry writer, this surprised me.

Inks Used

The inaugural ink for this pen was KWZ Green #2. It was a little dry, even for my taste. Both the pen and the ink were new to me, so I attributed the dryness to manufacturing residue. I filled the pen at the pen show and didn’t clean it first.

After giving the pen a good cleaning, I picked a familiar ink, Montblanc Irish Green for its next fill. It was fine until I let the pen sit for a week, then I had to resort to some water to get the ink flowing again.

Next up was another new to me ink, KWZ IG Green #2, the iron gall version of the first ink. This one performed well, probably helped by the fact that the pen was used nearly every day. Although I did need to prime the feed a couple of times, I never had to find some water.

Waterman Red was used next, breaking the string of greens. After 3 or 4 days the Waterman Red turned a darker red, more like Diamine Ancient Copper. The ink was fine, just darker. I did need to prime the feed if the pen was stored nib up for a few days.

It was time for my favorite ink, so next up was R&K Blau-Schwartz LE. As expected it performed well. No hard starts or skipping.

P.W. Akkerman #28 Hofkwartier Groen was the worst ink in this pen. Nib creep was an issue, and a lot of ink found its way into the cap. The ink & pen performed well, with manageable nib creep, until near the end. Then it became messy with ink working its way to the section. It was also tedious to clean out of the pen. This is the one ink that will never return to this pen.

To recover from the Groen ink, I picked Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku, a well behaved green ink. This ink performed well and returned to the pen in a few months. Although, I admit its return was more because I forgot it had been in the pen and didn’t check the ink history first.

I used Omas Green between the two Shin-Ryoku fills. The ink performed well except for when the pen sat unused for over a week (maybe closer to two). Again, water was needed to get the ink flowing. Unfortunately, while trying to wet the nib I was clumsy and got the cap slightly wet and dirty, so I decided to clean, flush, and completely dry the pen.

The last ink and the one used to write the draft of this review was Sheaffer Emerald Green, from back in the days of the yellow boxes and inkwell bottle. It’s performed well so far.

Conclusion

In reviewing my older blog posts about this pen, I see I may have been a bit harsh. When I really like a pen (or anything), I have higher expectations, and the negatives stand out to me more. What I didn’t mention enough is how much I enjoy using the Fisher of Pens Hermes, and it brings a smile to my face when I use it.

The Fisher of Pens Hermes has been a finicky pen. It just doesn’t like being ignored. I’ve no doubt that a little tweaking could increase the ink flow, but I’m thrilled with its current performance. I’ve found I like my pens to be drier than what most people prefer. I’m glad I didn’t fix the pen. It’s broken-in quit nicely.

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Long Term Review: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen

Sailor Pro Gear KOP (M) with Montblanc Lucky Orange bottleThe Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen in basic black with rhodium trim, and a medium nib was a 2016 Washington D.C. Pen SHow Purchase. It’s been filled with fourteen different nibs since then.

I wrote about my first impressions in my “This Just In” post on August 11, 2016. I’ll recap some of that post here where it makes sense. You can revisit that post to see my very first impressions. This review covers the two and a half years since then.

A case can certainly be made that this pen is overpriced (~$740 now, only $20 less when I got it.) It’s a basic black pen with rhodium trim. It’s certainly well made, but it’s a resin (plastic) pen. It does have a 21kt gold nib. Many less expensive pens share those specifications, at least on paper. If I hadn’t been able to test it and talk to others about it at a pen show, I wouldn’t have purchased it. But I did purchase it. I have no regrets.

Sometimes I feel compelled to use a pen in order to get my money’s worth, especially at this price point. I want to use the Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear.

At the time I purchased this KOP I was very much a thin nib guy, the thinner, the better. This nib made me more open to medium nibs. I’m grateful that I resisted the urge to have it ground down while I was at the pen show.

While not ideal for all my pen needs it has become one of my favorite pens. This is attested to by the fact that I’ve used fourteen different inks with it in a little over 30 months. This is a lot for me. This is easily the most of any pen during this time. All fourteen inks were written dry, and a couple received refills of the same ink. While I’m not getting any new inks these days, it’s been my first choice for trying new inks since I got the pen.

It’s a pen I use when I plan to sit down and do some writing at a desk or table for an extended period. Extended can be as little as 10 minutes (but typically much longer). It’s not a pen I use for intermittent note-taking or as a pocket pen.

Inks Used

In general, the nib is a nice, slightly wet writer that does a good job of showing off the variations in an ink’s color. The following inks have been used in this Sailor King of Pen. I’ve included any notes I made at the time I used the ink.

  • KWZ Gummiberry – The first ink I used in this pen. It helped sell me on the pen and nib since it showed off the purple color so well.
  • Bookbinders Ground Rattler
  • P.W. Akkerman Hofwartier Groen #28
  • Robert Oster Signature Orange
  • Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake (orange)
  • Montblanc Lucky Orange – The ink performed well in this pen. Although the feed shows signs of ink drying out, I didn’t encounter any skipping or hard starts.
  • Bookbinders Red-Belly Black – This ink was very *clingy* to both the nib and the feed.
  • Callifolio Aurora – nice line variation with this nib & ink,
  • Callifolio Teodora
  • Montblanc The Beatles Psychedelic Purple – This ink has become a favorite and this pen allows the ink to shine.
  • Athena Sepia
  • Papier Plum Burgundy
  • Sailor Sei-Boku Pigmented Blue-Black cartridge
  • P.W. Akkerman Steenrood von Vermeer

Summary

I haven’t updated my favorite five modern fountain pens since buying the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen, but based on usage, it has a claim to replace any pen on the list, other than the Homo Sapien.

##Photos from the KOP’s past