Seen on a greeting card. Nice (and true).
For many years there hasn’t been much going on in terms of new Caran d’Ache mechanical pencils. There is a lot of choice when it comes to ballpoint pens but there wasn’t much to look at in terms of affordable (<£50) mechanical pencils (there are unusually many in the ‘above £500’ range, though).
In recent years this changed to some extent with the 849 mechanical pencil being available in a few new colours and editions, e.g. Black Code. There are, however, not many shops here in the UK that actually stock these.
Today a new pencil joined the Caran d’Ache offering, available in a set with a ballpoint pen as a limited edition, the Set Fresher.
I am happy to see more mechanical pencils from Caran d’Ache, even though it is basically just the same pencil in different colours. I wish they’d do something else, e.g. offering a 0.5 mm version, but for now, just seeing more colours are a nice change.
Caran d’Ache seems to be starting the different colour limited editions game for their mechanical pencils and lead holders, or maybe not starting it but taking it up a notch, while Lamy is by now really good at the ‘new colour game’. Every time I think I won’t buy another Safari they come up with more good colours: last year the re-release of the original colours, this year the beautiful strawberry and cream colours, with matching clip etc.
Kaweco is also really good at this, with a mix of happy affordable colours and more posh looking ones that are slightly more expensive.
In terms of new innovation there have also been some news.
The new Kurutoga Dive is not only rotating the lead like previous versions, but is also advancing it. It is a capped and a limited edition. I wonder if the cap is there to protect the mechanism when not in use. Maybe the front is not as sturdy (in the current version) as previous Kurutogas with less complicated mechanisms. If that’s the case there might be a regular version without a cap in the future. This thought might explain why this is a limited edition: maybe they want to see first how this mechanism fares in the real world, or the manufacturing process isn’t automated enough for mass market production and some manual labour is currently involved in assembly which doesn’t make it quite mass market ready yet….
I believe that the use of the images in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
Acrylic fountain pens fountain pens with bodies made from acrylic resin are still fairly new to me. The ones I used to see in the past didn’t appeal to me, but in recent months I seem to be warming up to some types of acrylic ‘looks’ or rather: there seem seem to be more and more acrylic fountain pens that appeal to my taste.
The first one I really liked was the (in my opinion ‘happy’ looking) FanMu Hawaii fountain pen. I bought this one on eBay. It wasn’t expensive, but later I found out that I overpaid when I found it being offered much cheaper from another seller
The second acrylic fountain pen I really like is the Narwhal piston filler. The look of the acrylic Narwhal is rather fascinating and nice in a completely different way to the Hawaii: the acrylic resin has a beautiful colour and rather attractive swirl patterns in it.
My Narwhal adventure started with KT from Goldspot Pens contacting me and asking whether I want to try the Narwhal. I couldn’t resist (of course), but was torn between the yellow and the blue version. KT then sent me the yellow one.
Nib choice and line width
Goldspot’s blog provides some background information about the Narwhal and the two guys behind the brand and the pens. Times have moved on since this blog post was published: the nib is now also available in medium (the fine nib is of course still available).
Regarding the writing experience: the nib is very smooth. There isn’t much line variation unless you press very hard, i.e. it is not a flexible nib even though you can create a wider line if you want to force it.
I asked for the fine nib, because of my small handwriting. For my normal style of writing the nib is actually a bit too big: the nib’s line width is quite wide for a fine nib, certainly wider than lines from fine Kaweco or Lamy steel nibs. I take Pelikan out of this comparison as there is a lot of variation within the Pelikan brand and its nibs in my experience much more than with Kaweco or Lamy nibs.
My fine Narwhal nib lays down a 0.6mm wide line scanned at 1200 dpi and measured in Photoshop, seen in the picture above, in blue. For comparison: the grey lines under the blue Narwhal lines are from a Super5 with the 0.7mm nib, which produces a (surprise, surprise) 0.7mm line. Please note that these are not standard 5mm squares but smaller Hobonichi squares (English version).
Looks, price and functionality
The pen itself looks great and certainly like a pen from a higher price band than the Narwhal’s $45 (~€38; ~£33). You even get a tool with your pen to help with disassembly, similar to what you get with a TWSBI.
The gold band after the grip section looks very nice, especially without the cap. When the cap is on the pen the transition between the cap and the gold band looks a bit abrupt (check the photos earlier in this blog post) – most pen with bands seem to have the bands at the end of the caps rather than having none at the end of the cap but one ‘in the middle of the pen body’, i.e. after the grip section.
The main attractions for me are, other than the smooth piston filling mechanism, the beautiful three-dimensional swirls that seem to defy the laws of physics because the seem to be much deeper and more three-dimensional than the narrow space between the outside of the pen and the ink reservoir should allow. Have look at them in the video below.
You can’t post the cap, at least not in a way that is comfortable and works well, but as I don’t post pens unless they have to be posted (OHTO Tasche, Cult Pens by Kaweco, …) I don’t mind at all.
I had a look at the ink capacity of the Narwhal and I could fit in a bit more than 1 ml of ink. For comparison: a standard international ink cartridge can hold about 0.8 ml. There is actually more space in the Narwhal than 1 ml, but when you move the piston to the feed there is quite a gap, i.e. there is unexpelled air which is using space that consequently cannot be filled. When filling your fountain pen the traditional way, nib down, the air travels to the top and you still cannot expel the air to fill the ink chamber to capacity. You should be able to get more than 1.5 ml of ink into the pen, if you fill it with the nib pointing upwards, but you’d need some sort of travel inkwell that fits well.
Overall this pen provides excellent value for money. There are not that many piston fillers in the same price range. The Narwhal is very well made and is also available in a choice of colours. I just wish the nib was also available in EF.
Goldspot provided the pen free of charge and KT patiently answered all questions I could think of. I did no receive any money for this review.
Price and exchange rates: March 2021.
Earlier today the BBC published an article about India’s artisanal fountain pens. You can read the article at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-55314701.