Before I begin I would like to say that this is my first fountain-pen review. My experience of 'pens' is not narrow but my experience of fountain pens is. I have only recently decided that in 2008 I want to explore fountain pens, my past experience of pens is mostly from Calligraphy which I do as a hobby. Also I have refrained from ranking different criteria, what I mean is you wont see me say that this pen gets 4 out of 5 or whatever since I feel this is inappropriate and totally subjective. Anyway I hope you find this review informative.
1. First Impressions – When I first removed the Christmas wrapping paper I was confronted with a not too large, not unattractive, flat cardboard box which is pictured below.
When I opened the box there was a tray containing the various writing implements and refills and an information sheet on maintenance and refilling. The tray contained the following:
Two colour ball point
Ball Point Pen
Roller Ball Pen
15 fountain pen refills divided between 3 colours, blue, black and red.
10 Micro Pen refills
8 Two colour pen refills divided between the two colours blue and red.
1 Roller ball refill
2 Ball point refills
A generous amount of HB refill leads for the pencil.
Then I thought to myself 15+10+8+1+2+1=37 not 66 piece refill set as mentioned on the box, then I saw on the spare lead box that there were 30 pieces so this 66 piece refill set is 15+10+8+1+2+30=66, maybe it’s just me but this annoys me a little when every single lead is accounted for in the claim that it is a 66 piece refill set. Anyway I tested each implement one by one, from left to right along the tray and they all worked fine, then I reached the piece de la resistance, the fountain pen!
*Note that in this picture 2 blue cartridges are missing, they are in the pen.
2. Appearance & Finish – I am now going to evaluate the fountain pen exclusively independent of everything else contained in the set. From what I can gather all pens in all sets have a brushed steel finish with what seem to be brass trimmings. You cannot buy different finishes, though I suppose for a pen that cost £9.99 (cheaper from some retailers) this is pretty much irrelevant. Looking closely I can see small blemishes on the steel but only very minor ones. The brass trimmings and brass clip are well attached and look ok, though the clip does look a little plain and boring and being the focal point of a capped pen it does bring the appearance down (I have seen photos of this pen with a different design of clip that is square and angular in appearance). There seems to be a few spots here and there of what seems to be tarnishing on the brass but this comes off with a rub. As well as this there are a few minor scratches but all in all the appearance of the pen when capped is good for such an inexpensive pen. When the cap is removed there is a glossy black plastic section block with a well fixed brass end in to which the nib and feed is attached. Overall I am pleased with the appearance of this pen but the main let down is definitely the clip which looks bland, cheap and seems stiff when attached to clothes.
3. Design/ Size/Weight- As mentioned above the pen is made of steel, brass and has a black plastic section block. When the pen is capped and contains two ink cartridges (one spare) it weighs 19grams. When the cap is posted it feels too heavy and in my opinion massively unbalanced when writing, this will be due to the fact that the cap weights 10grams which is the same as the pen when it contains two cartridges. When uncapped however it feels about right, not too heavy or too light, well balanced and ok to hold. The pen is cylindrical in shape, tapers slightly towards the rear end and has flat brass ends to both the cap and pen. When capped the pen measures about 13.7cm in length, the diameter of the widest section of the pen is 9mm. The diameter of the plastic section block, which tapers ever so slightly, is about 7mm. When uncapped the pen (not including the nib) is about 10.4cm long. Overall I would say the pen is a medium weight when uncapped and containing two international size cartridges, but too unbalanced to use with the cap posted.
4. Nib Design & Performance- The nib is a two tone nib, the upper half being gold coloured and the lower portion steel coloured. I am not sure of the size, I would say it was fine but there seems to be no choice when buying this set for nib size, on the feed it says the number 4 which I assume is the size. The width of a down stroke appears to be a tiny bit more than 0.5mm in width. The box and advertising campaign claims that it is iridium tipped and the nib is stamped ‘IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY’ though I know of no way to test this other than breaking it ha-ha. As for the size of nib I am not sure, it seems an average size to me at about 1.7cm in length when attached to the pen and 7mm in width at the shoulders. There is a tiny amount of flex but it isn’t that noticeable and seems to make very little impact of the style of writing it produces. The ink flow seems fair, maybe a little drier than most but not too dry, the feed is made of black plastic. On the paper is seems toothy but not scratchy, however I can imagine that it writes quite a bit different to a really nice smooth writer, all in all I don’t really mind the way it writes.
5. The Filling System- The pen takes international size cartridges and there is room for a spare inside the pen. I have attempted to fit an international size converter made by the Manuscript Calligraphy company but have had trouble getting it to fit in to the plastic section block, though I have successfully narrowed it to fit now. I have not tried any other international size converters from other companies, but it seems on pictures the end of them is narrower than a Manuscript one which seems wide at the shoulders, so maybe they will it out of the box I don’t know. I think if I could change this pen I would make it ever so slightly wider so I could know an international size converter would definitely fit without any hassle. I think the inside of the section block where the cartridge or converter is inserted has a diameter of about 6.5mm and is about 9mm deep.
*The converter I tried looks like this
6. Cost/Value- I am pretty sure the MSRP is £9.99, which I think mine was bought for though I know for a fact slightly higher and lower prices have been asked for. The pen was bought new but I do not know where from (as it was a present). I think for what it is (all other stuff included in the set, but even if the fountain pen was on its own) it is great value for money.
7. Overall Opinion/Conclusion- Although the advertising campaign was probably a little extreme and exaggerating in the fact that it has an iridium point (so they say) I think this pen is good value for money and is good for any beginner where fountain pens are concerned. At this price there is really nothing to lose in buying it but there are definite potential gains.
Thank you for reading this review on the JML Classic Fountain Pen from the JML Classic Pen Set.
Edited by Lozzic, 30 December 2007 - 12:26.