This is my first review, so I hope I get the balance right.
I was recently in Sydney and spent some of a Sunday afternoon at The Rocks, which has an excellent weekend street-market. One of the stall-holders makes and sells pens – including fountain pens – under the brand, Taskovski. I hadn't planned on buying a pen, but I saw the Dominium in green, picked it up, tested it, and was sold. I did force myself to walk around a bit first, but then returned and bought it. I think I’m the first person to review this pen.
Appearance & design: 9/10 – beautiful design and colour
Green translucent acrylic, with black swirls, shines in the light. Two-tone nib. Fairly short pen. Black plastic section. Silver, no-nonsense metal clip. No metal band on cap. Tapered ends. Has something of a cigar shape. Simple lines meet modern design. Looks to me like a slightly smaller green version of an Edison Collier Persimmon Swirl, a pen that I have been eyeing for a while. Beautiful.
Construction & quality: 8/10 – solid and well-made
Very well made, with no blemishes. The pen feels warm and tactile to hold. The clip is firm with some spring. The parts of the pen fit together very well. The cap screws closed securely (the seller cautioned against over-tightening), and it posts securely. The stainless-steel nib is made by Bock: nib and feed are perfectly aligned, and the pen wrote straight out of the box. I don’t know how robust acrylic is, but I would not like to test dropping it on a hard surface.
Weight and dimensions: 7/10 – short and lightweight, not too thin
A well-proportioned pen. It is light and short when capped. As you can see from the pictures, the pen tapers, from its thinnest point at the back end of the barrel, to its thickest point where the section meets the barrel. I usually prefer something slightly bigger and heavier, so I’m docking points based on my personal preferences. But it is definitely thick enough to hold comfortably in my large hands. You need to post to write comfortably, but that’s how I like to write anyway, and it's perfectly balanced when posted. I don’t have callipers, so the following dimensions are subject to some measurement error, particularly the barrel width:
- Length, capped: 126mm (4.96”)
- Length, uncapped: 101mm (3.98”)
- Length, posted: 148mm (5.83”)
- Girth (barrel, thickest part): 13mm (0.51”)
- Section length: 20mm (0.79“)
- Nib length: 24mm (0.94“)
- Weight, without cartridge: 14g (0.49 oz)
Nib & performance: 8/10 – smooth writer
Nib. Two-tone steel nib made by Bock, with Taskovski decoration (sword crossed by a quill, and stars at the front of the nib, brand name just in front of the section). The letter between the brand name and the crossed logo is a T (i.e., not an indication of nib size). It's a nice-looking nib. It looks a bit too big for the unposted pen, but is about right when you post it (it's made for posting). Only available in Medium at the market.
Performance. It's a firm nib, but not a 'nail'. I wouldn't recommend doing so, but you could squeeze out a little line variation if you really wanted to. Writing is very smooth, flow is good, and moderately wet. Reverse writing is possible, though scratchy. Feed keeps up well with normal writing, but can struggle a bit with extended fast writing (some skipping). The Medium is on the Fine end of the Medium spectrum, and is very good for everyday writing. For comparison, it writes a little finer than the Fine nib on my modern Pelikan 800. Excellent for note taking, comfortable for longer writing. Can be a slight hard-starter on high-quality non-absorbent paper if it has been unused for a while, but a gentle tap or two is all it takes to restart. I have only written with the supplied black ink cartridge, so cannot comment on performance with different inks. Overall, I am very happy with the writing performance, but I dock a point each for the minor issues of flow and hard-start.
Filling system and maintenance: 7/10 – classic, simple cartridge
Standard international short cartridges only; could take a mini-converter. There are no metal parts, so I'm sure it could be used as an eyedropper (though doing so may stain the inside of the barrel). I'm not all that keen on cartridges, though of course they are easy and mess-free, and the system works very well with this pen.
Maintenance is very simple. I don't know whether the nib can be removed from the feed - looks like a friction-fit - but it's a very simple design and the cap can be entirely dismantled.
Cost and value: 8/10 – worth the price
The seller has a website which prices the Dominium at AUS$99 (~US$93), as of June 2014. I bought it at a lower price from the seller’s market stall (there is a standard discount compared to the website). I found it good value, particularly if you consider that Australia is an expensive place generally (by comparison, a standard paperback cost me AUS$22.90 in June 2014; ~US$21.60).
Conclusion: total rating (47/6=) 7.8/10
I like this pen, and am very pleased I bought it. I would buy it again and would be happy to give it as a present. I have no plans to sell it and expect it to be in my rotation for some time. There are some parts I'm not that keen on - detailed above - but on the whole it's a good pen, as reflected in the score. The positive buyer experience is an added recommendation. Of course, it's an Australian product, so it has limited availability. For me, that adds to the charm.
Postscript: Customer service (not part of the pen’s rating): 9/10
This is a small business and you'd be buying from the manufacturer. The customer service you get is therefore relevant. The seller was friendly, knowledgeable and informative, at pains to explain the parts of the pen and its maintenance. He took the pen apart to show me how it fits together, to ensure that I’d be able to clean it properly. The pen comes with a package of 5 standard international short ink cartridges (wide choice of colours), and a two-year warranty-card. A nice touch was that I could choose whether the box would have gold or silver lettering.