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Merlin 33 Storm Front review!


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#1 HenryLouis

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:19

Merlin 33 review

Introduction:

I first heard about Merlins when Richard Binder advertised them on his site. Merlin was a small family brand of fountain pens based in Germany, for the market in the Netherlands. The Merlins were made in the 1950’s.

The Merlin brand made two fountain pens: The Merlin 33 and its smaller counterpart, the Merlina. These two pens were available in many different finishes. Richard Binder acquired a stock of them from Classic Fountain pens, inc. Richard and his team worked to re-sac all of the pens and ensured that the button filling mechanism would work perfectly, and that the nibs would write well.

First Impressions:
When I opened up the package, my first thought was: “wow, this is a small pen!”. And small it is. Here are some specs:
Capped: 11.8 cm
Uncapped: 10.7 cm
Posted: 14.2 cm

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Appearance and Design:

This is a VERY small pen. It probably works only posted. The guy I bought this from doesn’t post his pens so he couldn’t use the pen. This should be taken into account if you are interested in this pen. A relatively conservative design, but the celluloid is very nice… It’s my first celluloid pen and it feels… different than regular acrylic… A bit warmer to the touch, and maybe a tiny bit of give. It feels… sort of greasy... that is the word I can use to describe it… You need to really feel it to know what I’m talking about. I believe the grip of the pen is made out of ebonite, but I’m not sure. This is probably the smallest pen I’d buy. I have the storm front finish. I thought it would be a bland grey color but when it came it had just a bit of depth to it underneath the shiny underneath. Clip is secure and the cap posts securely (thank goodness!). The cap also has a twist mechanism, which is nice but not always the most convenient, especially since the pen is small you’d think it would be a convenience pen.

edit: you can't tell how nice the finish is from the photos

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Nib:

You can’t really decide what nib to get… Mine is an extra fine… The pens can vary from Extra fine to fine, semi-flex to full flex. They’re all made out of 14K gold though. On the nib is: Merlin 14K 585. Thinner than the line my Reform 1745 writes. With no pressure, it’s buttery smooth. Nice and wet… When flexing, there’s some feedback but that’s expected whenever flexing nibs.

The pen is a semi-flex affair. It’s on the lesser side of semi-flex. To me, it’s not about how wide the tines flex. It’s more about the difference between thin and thick lines and this is where the pen shines. There is good line variation with this pen. I’d say this is my only flex nib that would be suitable for daily use, not just writing titles for ink reviews. Starts up well without having to be primed, even when uncapped for a few minutes.
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Filling System:
This is a button filler. You have to take off the blind cap and dip the pen into the ink, then push on the back and that depresses the sack, and then when released, the pen fills. Doing this 2-3 times gets a good fill. It’s slightly stiff however, and I find I have to grip it really well to get it filled… But oh well! It works! It’s a small pen so it’s ink capacity might be questioned, but you can’t complain when the pen is so small… You could just bring two with you if it’s not enough.
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Cost and value:

I bought this pen for $55 CAD shipped, owned 2 days. The previous owner didn’t like it’s size when un posted, so he put it up for sale. If I had gotten it from Richard Binder, it would have cost about $90 shipped. So I guess it’s not the best deal buying from him but where else are you going to find a NOS pen with a 14K flexy nib? Plus when buying from him you don’t know if you are going to get a semi-flex or full flex nib… so it’s a bit of a chance, but that’s the wonder of vintage pens!

Conclusion:
A great way to get into vintage flex… and celluloid pens. Buying it NOS means you don’t have to deal with resaccing, or other restorations. I guess the price Richard asks is quite reasonable, seeing as he and his team have rebuilt all of the pens.

I might see myself buying a few more of these… They would make great everyday pens.

Edited by HenryLouis, 21 August 2009 - 02:38.

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#2 italiansallion

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:48

nice review, i find that celluloid has a certain kind of depth to it that no acrylic can show, it just kinda has that shine...

#3 aldi

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:50

[...] It’s a small pen so it’s ink capacity might be questioned, but you can’t complain when the pen is so small… You could just bring two with you if it’s not enough.

:ltcapd: :roflmho:

Excellent review! You should compare it to Lamy Vista, but both capped, to show how small it is.
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#4 AltecGreen

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:36

Great review Henry. I'm glad you are enjoying your Merlin.

They are nice small pens. I've kinda become attached to them. They are small but they are large compared to my 1930's Japanese celluloid pen (the one on the right).



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#5 scutterdav

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:48

sort of greasy


This is the best phrase to describe celluloid. For those who haven't felt celluloid, imagine eating a lot of buttery popcorn then holding your acrylic pen of choice, and that's about what celluloid feels like except minus the popcorn.

#6 LedZepGirl

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:56

Nice, I like that pen a lot. It reminds me of the Esterbrooks from the same era, the colour and simplicity of design. +1 for the button filler! I might have to try and find one in un-repaired condition since I don't like paying for repairs I can do myself.
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#7 dizzypen

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 04:20

sort of greasy


This is the best phrase to describe celluloid. For those who haven't felt celluloid, imagine eating a lot of buttery popcorn then holding your acrylic pen of choice, and that's about what celluloid feels like except minus the popcorn.


great! now i want some popcorn.
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#8 HenryLouis

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 00:36

Thanks for the kind words everyone!

The pen posted is about the size of a Lamy vista capped... so to put that into perspective.
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#9 liapuyat

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 02:57

People used to writing with an Esterbrook SJ should have no problems with the Merlin. Great review and pix, thank you.
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#10 f22pilot72

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 05:43

A great review, Henry, and great pictures, too! You've successfully added a pen to my "to get" list.

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#11 Flourish

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Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:42

Such pretty pictures make me want to go out and buy more of these teensy beauties. I reground my two to xxxf and they both have the perfect amount of flex for me. And they go so well with those small moleskinesque journals we all love to debate over.

#12 jszh

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 15:59

Great review Henry. I'm glad you are enjoying your Merlin.

They are nice small pens. I've kinda become attached to them. They are small but they are large compared to my 1930's Japanese celluloid pen (the one on the right).



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Are they all Merlin except the last on the right? They look so nice. Is the green leaf green on Richard's website?

#13 AltecGreen

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 16:38

Are they all Merlin except the last on the right? They look so nice. Is the green leaf green on Richard's website?



Those are all Merlin 33s except for the one on the right which is a vintage Daimaru. I can't keep track of the colors and names since I have so many. The Merlins are very nice and priced right. However, the celluloid is functional but not top quality.

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#14 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 21:47

never tried one but I read a lot of good things about these pens :thumbup: enjoy yours in good health
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#15 tawanda

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 22:10

I have one and love it, but like Henry says, filling them is tricky coz the button is very stiff.
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#16 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 22:18

This review has helped me out with a mystery-- I've had for some time a piston filler VERY similar to a Lamy 99 that is an utter cypher. The only marking anywhere on it was an obscure trademark on the semi-hooded point. Well, thank's to HenryLouis's fine hand with very close photography, I've found what that obscure trademark is. At last, a hook to hang and investigation on!

The reviewed pen looks a proper jewel. You'll find, I think, after a little practice that a shorter pen is not such an impediment, and accomodating yourself to them opens up a whole new range of niceness.

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#17 mahkie

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:44

Looks like a nice pen, it's too bad about the choice to name it "Storm Front" although I guess you can't really blame the makers of a vintage pen for a name now associated with Nazis and racism
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#18 thrage1

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 17:01

If the barrel is greasy and the button is stiff how do you fill it?
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#19 dogpoet

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 19:22

Excellent review. Looks a beautiful pen as well. Probably way to small for my huge strangler's paws though...

#20 Jimmy James

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 15:32

I picked up one of these at the Raleigh show. Mine is grey shell, and I have been hooked on using it the past week.

Nice review, Henry.






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