I have long liked the variety quality of Esterbrook nibs. Although I tend to prefer gold nibs, Esterbrook (and other vintage steel) nibs are quite enjoyable. Over the past few years, I had collected several Esterbrook nibs, and I like how easy they are to swap between pens. While I love nibs, the pens aren't quite to my liking. I personally do not like lever filling pens, and I also like seeing how much ink I have left. The solution to this dilemma, of course, was to talk with Shawn Newton of Newton Pens
I reached out to Shawn last fall around this time to see if he would be willing to create an eyedropper pen with a section that would take Esterbrook nib units. Shawn, always willing to experiment and try something new, rose to the challenge. This wasn't as simple as it seemed, and Shawn was very patient with me throughout this journey. Shawn had to create a custom tap
in order to fit Esterbrook nibs. He did, and also had a group buy so that other pen makers could benefit.
In addition, through an issue I had with an ink I was using, I thought there was an issue with the pen itself. Shawn worked patiently with me through that process, including various changes to the original pen such as adding a sac to the original section, as well as creating a new section. Luckily, we both found our way through the journey, and I'm elated to talk about the pen and how wonderful it turned out!
Note: I normally won't give a 10/10 rating to anything unless it is absolutely perfect...
Appearance and Design (9/10)
I ordered the pen in Shawn's Slim (11mm) size with a Straight design. I wanted the pen to be similar in size to my Esterbrook pens, and I didn't want or need the pen to post. I also asked Shawn to put an ink window in the pen, and the rest of the body is made from black/green striated celluloid. I asked for the roller ball clip, conical ends, and a pinched section.
Shawn delivered on the design and I'm particularly happy with how the celluloid material turned out. It is hard to describe or photograph this type of material (similar to purple web celluloid), but it has quite a bit of variation and is quite a striking material.
When I had Shawn make a new section, he was unable to source additional celluloid material due to supply issues, so I asked him to make the section in black acrylic instead. It looks just as nice as my original section.
Construction and Quality (9/10)
The construction of the pen is very good. My only minor complaint is that the cap turns several times and has more of a "soft" closure at the end. It doesn't seem to have a "hard" stopping point, so you can't easily feel if the cap is screwed all the way closed. Having said that, I've never had an issue with the cap coming off or getting loose. It's a minor concern. If I had more of an issue with this, I would have asked Shawn to remake the cap.
Also, in the original section, the nibs could screw into the section too deeply. Shawn remedied this in the new section (the black acrylic one). I also had Shawn make an additional section to take JoWo #5 nibs.
The rest of the pen's design is top notch. The transition between the barrel and ink window is seamless, and the section fits nicely. The cap tapers very gently at the end to the barrel which provides for a nice transition. The pen is nicely weighted and the ink window has been shined to a very nice smooth clear finish.
Weight and Dimensions (10/10)
The pen is nice and light and is around the same length as my Esterbrook J (capped) and a tiny bit longer uncapped. Weight filled mostly full is 16g capped, 9g uncapped. Length is around 12.8cm. Based on what I asked for, this is perfect.
Nib and Performance (10/10)
This pen has worked wonderfully with all of my Esterbrook nibs. In addition, the second section with JoWo #5 nib is great. I'll review this second section and nib separately.
Filling System and Maintenance (9/10)
Pen was designed to be used as an eye dropper. I fill via an eye dropper and use silicone grease on both the barrel threads and the nib unit threads. The pen fills easily and is simple to flush. The small hole
that Shawn put in the back of the section makes it easy to flush with a bulb syringe.
I like the minimal number of parts and ease of maintenance of an eye dropper, and this pen is no different.
This pen also had a sac at one point (a change to the original section), but when Shawn made the new section, we removed the need for the sac.
Cost and Value (10/10)
I purchased this from Shawn last fall, so this is old pricing. The pen cost $170 total (base cost of $125 with a $20 surcharge for celluloid material and $25 for the ink window). The pricing was very reasonable, and given how much additional work I had Shawn do, I'm quite impressed. Shawn's pens are a great value. I ordered the pen on 2012-12-31 and the pen was completed on 2013-03-20.
Conclusion (Final Score: 57/60)
I'm glad that Shawn was willing to take a chance on my idea, and I hope that others will also benefit from the same idea. Using Esterbrook nibs in a custom pen has been a wonderful experience, and I appreciate Shawn's desire to work with me on this pen. It's not only a keeper, I plan to get another made so I can have more than one Esterbrook nib in use at a time!
Had I not encountered an issue with one of my go-to inks (Pilot Blue Black), I would probably not have made Shawn create additional sections or even try to put a sac on the pen. I love how it turned out in the end -- an eye dropper, just as I asked for.
Edited by trhall, 30 November 2013 - 23:14.