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Another Pilot Custom 823 Review!


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#1 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 03:22

Well, I've finally come to the end of my 'ultimate pen' search, which stopped with the Pilot Custom 823. It fills all my expectations as a writing instrument, so I thought I'd share the joy.

Review written with Perle Noir in a Spirax 5 subject book (which seems to have non-feathering paper, even for BSB!! Not very smooth paper though, which is a small sacrifice mitigated by a good nib... Read on!)

EDIT: couldn't upload the handwritten review in readable resolution. Will transcribe to type soon! Apologies for the delay.

EDIT II: THE REVIEW

Hi All!

I've been eyeing this pen for quite some time, mainly due to the unanimous 'ooh's and 'aah's it gets from FPNers on a regular basis. I'm a one-pen-at-a-time kinda guy, so when I look for that one pen to use all day every day for all eternity (or that's the plan), I try to make sure it's a good one. Of course, the result of that mentality is that I can't remember the last time I've had just one pen... But that may all change now.

At the risk of spoiling the suspense, I'll say that this pen lives up to all expectations. As to how exactly it does this... read on! (Please note that I've just broken up with my Pelikan M805, and this pen is in many ways the 'rebound pen', so a warning that comparisons between the two abound in the following review)

BUILD QUALITY, DESIGN AND DURABILITY - 5/5
Based on the couple of days' use this pen has had, the quality seems stellar in every respect. Whereas my Pelikan began developing a scuff ring around the barrel where the cap lip came in contact after only a few hours' use, the finish on this pen appears to resist the appearance of scuffing. The plastic is thick and substantial, however injection molding marks are visible at the treads. I couldn't give a hoot, though some may have their sanity compromised by those slight grooves.
The trim is gold (not my preference) but well applied and executed, especially when it comes to the cap etchings. They are not just engraved or stamped through the metal; they are filled with the plastic of the type from which the pen cap is made, resulting in a completely smooth surface. It has no affect on the performance of the pen itself (unless you were hoping to stamp the words "***Custom 823*** PILOT MADE IN JAPAN" with the cap ring), but ti shows a brilliant attention to detail lacking in many other pens in this price bracket.
Perhaps most impressive is the absence of a 'rust ring' around the bottom of the section as found on the Pelikan M800. This pen was truly designed to WRITE and ENDURE, at the expense of unnecessary bling.

BALANCE AND FEEL IN THE HAND - 4.5/5
In this area the Pilot leaves its Pelikan nemesis for dead. The M805 was shamefully top heavy, not at all suited for the rigours of a long writing session. The Pilot, on the other hand, is perfectly balanced while having about the same overall heft as the Pelikan. My only qualm is I'd rather the weight be slightly on the lighter side, as I'm used to very light pens. However, if one was to ask me if this was an instrument suited for intensive writing, I'd say 'YES!' and emphatically so (if you couldn't tell from the capitals).

THE NIB - 6/5 (Fine nib)
I'm not certain the above rating is in concordance with the tacit FPN review guidelines, however words simply do not do this nib justice. As you put pen to paper, it makes you appreciate how in Japan they still view nib-making as an art, and not a process for mass-production. This nib is not sourced from Bock, Schmidt, Jo-Wo or any other jo-blow nib manufacturer that pumps out little pointy steel bits by the hundreds. Pilot knows what they're doing, and it shows: smooth with slight feedback, even inkflow and a flexible, bouncy feel characterises this beauty. If you're expecting a wet noodle or even semi-flex, keep walking, but there is just enough expressiveness here to let any reader know you've been writing with something special. However, with this in mind, the nib is so bouncy it's almost like writing on a trampoline. The nib just skips across the page (in a good way). In short, a job very well done, and by far the best nib I've ever tried (and I've tried many).

FILLING SYSTEM - 5/5
This topic has been covered in other reviews and topics ad nauseum, and most likely if you're thinking of purchasing this pen, the filling system is playing some sort of role in your infatuation (fine, interest. getting ahead of myself...). So I'll keep it short: easy to use, HUGE capacity, functional. You can easily check your ink levels, even on my smoke version.
The drawback: Need to unscrew the blindcap before use. What a way to shackle the legs of the world's best runner.

CONCLUSION
If you do any writing, buy this.

Some pics...:
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That nib...
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Thanks for reading!!
ytland

Edited by Ytland, 27 September 2011 - 06:12.

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#2 Nonsensical

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 03:53

Interesting review! I was leaning towards an Edison Nouveau Purple Premiere for my birthday...but now you've just made me want a Pilot custom 823...again.

Just out of curiosity, have you tried other inks on the Spirax 5 subject notebook? I find that my 4 subject notebook has bleedthrough, feathering, you name it for all the inks that I use. (Mainly Noodler's, Diamine and Waterman Florida Blue)...

#3 blopplop

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:41

Thanks for sharing.

I own two 823's: one smoke, one amber. They are without question some of the best pens money can buy IMHO. But I'm not doing a review so I'll stop. :)

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#4 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 05:45

Interesting review! I was leaning towards an Edison Nouveau Purple Premiere for my birthday...but now you've just made me want a Pilot custom 823...again.

Just out of curiosity, have you tried other inks on the Spirax 5 subject notebook? I find that my 4 subject notebook has bleedthrough, feathering, you name it for all the inks that I use. (Mainly Noodler's, Diamine and Waterman Florida Blue)...


Review just posted! Thanks for your advance compliments, I hope the review actually turns out to be interesting... :P

I've heard only good about Edisons, but they only come in c/c or bulb fillers, neither of which I'm an especially passionate fan of.

I'm using a 4 subject notebook, not a 5 as I mistakenly wrote. It's strange you mention this, as I find that all Spirax products are fountain pen hostile, with the effects you described, but the 4 subject notebook seems to use a different type of paper that's much more crisp, almost brittle feeling. It's the only paper I use now, even though it has a vicious amount of drag to it (hey, I'm a uni student... no money for the Rhodia stuff :P )

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#5 TMLee

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 05:55

Thanks for the review.

What is the nib width ?

And ink used?

#6 Nonsensical

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:08


Interesting review! I was leaning towards an Edison Nouveau Purple Premiere for my birthday...but now you've just made me want a Pilot custom 823...again.

Just out of curiosity, have you tried other inks on the Spirax 5 subject notebook? I find that my 4 subject notebook has bleedthrough, feathering, you name it for all the inks that I use. (Mainly Noodler's, Diamine and Waterman Florida Blue)...


Review just posted! Thanks for your advance compliments, I hope the review actually turns out to be interesting... :P

I've heard only good about Edisons, but they only come in c/c or bulb fillers, neither of which I'm an especially passionate fan of.



I'm using a 4 subject notebook, not a 5 as I mistakenly wrote. It's strange you mention this, as I find that all Spirax products are fountain pen hostile, with the effects you described, but the 4 subject notebook seems to use a different type of paper that's much more crisp, almost brittle feeling. It's the only paper I use now, even though it has a vicious amount of drag to it (hey, I'm a uni student... no money for the Rhodia stuff :P )


I'm a University student too, I found that it was actually cheaper to buy Rhodia paper (in my case). One pad of about 160 pages (A4) sets me back less than $5, and I can write on both sides of the paper with barely any ghosting or bleed through. I was using regular Spirax lecture pads before, that cost me $2.50 per pad of 140 pages, but I could only write on one side (70 pages written per pad), due to the bleed through.

As I mostly print out my lecture notes and write extra notes on the Rhodia paper, it's not too expensive. I spend <$20 per semester on paper.

You must have a different notebook to me, then...mine (Spirax 4 subject notebook) is terrible.

#7 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:16



Interesting review! I was leaning towards an Edison Nouveau Purple Premiere for my birthday...but now you've just made me want a Pilot custom 823...again.

Just out of curiosity, have you tried other inks on the Spirax 5 subject notebook? I find that my 4 subject notebook has bleedthrough, feathering, you name it for all the inks that I use. (Mainly Noodler's, Diamine and Waterman Florida Blue)...


Review just posted! Thanks for your advance compliments, I hope the review actually turns out to be interesting... :P

I've heard only good about Edisons, but they only come in c/c or bulb fillers, neither of which I'm an especially passionate fan of.



I'm using a 4 subject notebook, not a 5 as I mistakenly wrote. It's strange you mention this, as I find that all Spirax products are fountain pen hostile, with the effects you described, but the 4 subject notebook seems to use a different type of paper that's much more crisp, almost brittle feeling. It's the only paper I use now, even though it has a vicious amount of drag to it (hey, I'm a uni student... no money for the Rhodia stuff :P )


I'm a University student too, I found that it was actually cheaper to buy Rhodia paper (in my case). One pad of about 160 pages (A4) sets me back less than $5, and I can write on both sides of the paper with barely any ghosting or bleed through. I was using regular Spirax lecture pads before, that cost me $2.50 per pad of 140 pages, but I could only write on one side (70 pages written per pad), due to the bleed through.

As I mostly print out my lecture notes and write extra notes on the Rhodia paper, it's not too expensive. I spend <$20 per semester on paper.

You must have a different notebook to me, then...mine (Spirax 4 subject notebook) is terrible.


Well, the 4 subject notebook costs me about $6, and has 160 leaves, or 320 pages. So this stuff is much cheaper, because I use both sides. Plus I go through paper like water because I'm studying science and engineering, all of which require much scribbling and doodling with real pen and paper. I actually do use Rhodia spiral bound pads for lectures, just so they'll last and they look more important :P

Where do you buy your pads from, if you dont mind me asking?

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#8 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:17

Thanks for the review.

What is the nib width ?

And ink used?


Edited to include nib width (fine). Ink used is Perle Noir from J Herbin, as stated in the beginning of the post.

Thanks!

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#9 Nonsensical

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 08:38

Notemaker.com.au is where I buy Rhodia pads from. I ended up taking notes on my netbook during Law lectures, since I just can't keep up if I write by hand...sadly. (< 50 wpm by hand, > 100wpm when typing...). :rolleyes:

#10 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:24

Notemaker.com.au is where I buy Rhodia pads from. I ended up taking notes on my netbook during Law lectures, since I just can't keep up if I write by hand...sadly. (< 50 wpm by hand, > 100wpm when typing...). :rolleyes:


Whoa, respect. I barely scratch 60 wpm typing... writing on the other hand, that's a whole different story. I have abbreviations I use to keep up with the information flow. (Plus, a pen/paper is usually lighter than your average laptop... wishing I had a mac :P ) I just need a pen that can keep up with the ink demands of speed writing, and the Pilot C823 seems so far to do a pretty good job (I'm on semester break, so the real test is in a week's time).

Edited by Ytland, 27 September 2011 - 09:49.

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#11 Nonsensical

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:44

Yeah, even with a netbook, it's still 1.4kgs, but I only need that for Law classes, so two days a week. I can't write without looking at the page either, I can type without looking at the screen, which allows me to focus. I plan on working on my handwriting, and speeding it up during the long summer break, though. :thumbup:

I'm still really tempted by that Pilot custom 823, but that purple Edison is so pretty...Let me know how it keeps up, once semester break finishes (I'm on mine, too, enjoying it as well! :cloud9: ).

#12 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:52

Yeah, even with a netbook, it's still 1.4kgs, but I only need that for Law classes, so two days a week. I can't write without looking at the page either, I can type without looking at the screen, which allows me to focus. I plan on working on my handwriting, and speeding it up during the long summer break, though. :thumbup:

I'm still really tempted by that Pilot custom 823, but that purple Edison is so pretty...Let me know how it keeps up, once semester break finishes (I'm on mine, too, enjoying it as well! :cloud9: ).


Hmm... I find that I just cant express my thoughts as effectively on a computer as on paper. Its almost like the backlight of the screen is interfering with my concentration. So then I dim it but - hey! - I can't see the words anymore... you get the picture :P

(Trying NOT to think about after the semester break... :) )

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#13 777

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:10

Well that does it. I am totally done for now.

We must be very similar people, because your story is looking EXACTLY like mine is going to be.

I just sold my Pelikan M805. And now I'm considering this pen instead. And now with your review, I am decided. :)

This one looks to good to not try. So, an amber 823, B nib for me!

I loved my Pelikan, but there was something lacking about it, that I couldn't get over. The 823 hits all the points I want it too. I only wish they made silver trim instead of gold, but that's a small quibble. :)

So then, thank you for posting this review! You have placed that last straw on my camel-of-resolve's back, and broken it, in a very good way. Posted Image

Now I'm off to sell some other pens, and work up some cash. :D

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#14 777

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:17

Thanks for sharing.

I own two 823's: one smoke, one amber. They are without question some of the best pens money can buy IMHO. But I'm not doing a review so I'll stop. :)

Dave


Say, being that you own both, could you tell us ( or me :) ):

Which one is more translucent? Smoke, or Amber? I prefer the Amber color more, but I'm interested to know if one is easier to see through than the other.

Thanks!

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#15 fabiorr

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:28

I have also given in to a black 823 and agree with Ytland: it is one of the best writers I own. I just wish I had got a medium nib as the F is like a XF or finer. Anyway this is the smoothest nib I have tried out for such a thin line, and every Pilot I have tried worked flawlessly just out of the box (and they have been quite a few).

Thanks for the review Ytland!



#16 jandrese

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 13:04

I'm always happy to see that another FPNer has found this flawless pen. Thanks for sharing.

#17 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 13:22


Thanks for sharing.

I own two 823's: one smoke, one amber. They are without question some of the best pens money can buy IMHO. But I'm not doing a review so I'll stop. :)

Dave


Say, being that you own both, could you tell us ( or me :) ):

Which one is more translucent? Smoke, or Amber? I prefer the Amber color more, but I'm interested to know if one is easier to see through than the other.

Thanks!


I don't own an Amber 823, but a friend gave me a lend of his for a quick scribble and I can say that it in definitely more translucent than the smoke. When filled with ink it sort of takes the 'brown' edge off too, which is hard to explain... Just understand that the pen looks quite different filled than empty as in stock pics. I chose the smoke colour because it's MUCH less ostentatious than the amber. I bought it to write with, not to stand out (plus you see all the stray drops and staining in the amber model which is pretty much invisible on the smoke). Though I agree with you entirely; silver trim is much preferred... and the gold seems to blend in with the amber quite nicely. So you win either way :)

I'm happy that I broke your camel's back, I think. And it's ironic that your rantings about the Pelikan M805 are what drove me to buy it in the first place! (I believe you had a piece on it on your blog?) Now *that's* karma. Serves you right :P

Edited by Ytland, 27 September 2011 - 13:23.

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#18 blopplop

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 20:03

Indeed, the amber is definitely more transparent. But either way, the pen has a "classy" look. The smoke color is a little more conservative I suppose. But even my smoke one still gets compliments from people who don't use FP's.

The word I would use to describe the look, feel and writing experience of the 823 is ELEGANCE. Having said that though, I would also describe the pen as a writing workhorse. If you haven't done so, I would encourage anyone interested in this pen to read this review of it from a few years back in Stylophile.

Pilot 823


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#19 saskia_madding

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 20:23

I adore my two (clear and smoke) and actually bought back up pens, just in case the original two break. The nibs are incredible, the pens themselves are super comfortable in the hand, I love them. At least one, if not both, is always inked. :cloud9:

where to get the ink & info about my reviews!

 

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#20 tonybelding

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 21:37

This nib is not sourced from Bock, Schmidt, Jo-Wo or any other jo-blow nib manufacturer that pumps out little pointy steel bits by the hundreds.


I hope you don't mean to denigrate the quality of JoWo steel nibs, because I've found them quite good.


Pilot knows what they're doing, and it shows: smooth with slight feedback, even inkflow and a flexible, bouncy feel characterises this beauty. If you're expecting a wet noodle or even semi-flex, keep walking, but there is just enough expressiveness here to let any reader know you've been writing with something special. However, with this in mind, the nib is so bouncy it's almost like writing on a trampoline.


Bouncy? Really? I don't think I've heard that term applied to a nib before.

The nib on my VP was a bit soft, which is not something I particularly like. On the other hand, I think the VP is 18K gold and the 823 is 14K gold?


So I'll keep it short: easy to use, HUGE capacity, functional.


I wonder if somebody can put a number on the HUGE capacity for us?

#21 Ytland

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 22:52

This nib is not sourced from Bock, Schmidt, Jo-Wo or any other jo-blow nib manufacturer that pumps out little pointy steel bits by the hundreds.


I hope you don't mean to denigrate the quality of JoWo steel nibs, because I've found them quite good.


Pilot knows what they're doing, and it shows: smooth with slight feedback, even inkflow and a flexible, bouncy feel characterises this beauty. If you're expecting a wet noodle or even semi-flex, keep walking, but there is just enough expressiveness here to let any reader know you've been writing with something special. However, with this in mind, the nib is so bouncy it's almost like writing on a trampoline.


Bouncy? Really? I don't think I've heard that term applied to a nib before.

The nib on my VP was a bit soft, which is not something I particularly like. On the other hand, I think the VP is 18K gold and the 823 is 14K gold?


So I'll keep it short: easy to use, HUGE capacity, functional.


I wonder if somebody can put a number on the HUGE capacity for us?


Nope, not intending to denigrate the quality of any of the aforementioned companies, but the Pilot nib is just in a class of its own. If you haven't yet tried one, I recommend you do. The 'bouncy' feeling is truly unique, probably because nibs this size are usually made of less-flexible 18K gold (eg Pelikan, MB), whereas the Pilot has a 14K #15 nib, which has significant amounts of spring (not flex). You can actually observe the nib tip lifting from the feed with the slightest applied pressure (this is part of the charm and comfort, not a defect).

As for a number for "HUGE", I've measured the ink capacity, when using the double-fill method for a complete fill, to be hovering about 2.0mL. There's no way to be sure other than measuring the initial and final volumes of the ink bottle when filling, but my approximation using a measuring cylinder of the water expelled from the pen is around 2.0 mL. It may be as much as 2.2 considering the ink in the feed and the unavoidable drops clinging to the barrel walls.

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#22 Gojira

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 00:56

I can verify that the Pilot 823's nib definitely has a springy feel. It's best described as "not a nail". The size of the nib may play a part in this but it's one of the most comfortable nibs I've used. Very consistent line yet it doesn't feel boring.

It'd be nice if Pilot made the 823 with a rhodium trim, particularly for the clear version. IMHO, the gold trim detracts from the rest of the clear pen but it does suit the amber version fine. I don't quite like the ball clip....maybe something more plain or a roller clip would be better.

#23 tonybelding

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 00:59

As for a number for "HUGE", I've measured the ink capacity, when using the double-fill method for a complete fill, to be hovering about 2.0mL.


How much for a normal fill with a single stroke of the piston, the way it's meant to be used?

#24 Ytland

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:50

As for a number for "HUGE", I've measured the ink capacity, when using the double-fill method for a complete fill, to be hovering about 2.0mL.


How much for a normal fill with a single stroke of the piston, the way it's meant to be used?


I haven't measured and don't intend to, but I've read somewhere else that its 1.4 mL. A little research and the number should turn up (I just can't remember where I saw it...). It makes visual sense, since you get a 2/3 fill just the normal way. This is way more than most piston fillers take up.

Edited by Ytland, 28 September 2011 - 01:51.

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#25 crls145

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:25

Your review is great, thank you. I have s Custom 74 which is a more economical Pilot model and yet is a great pen so I can see what a fantastic pen the 823 must be. Thank you so much!

Carlos

#26 Brian

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 23:02

Nice review. I like this pen very much for its ink capacity and find the F point very well done. If I were to compare this point to, say, a stub, the difference between the two would be like comparing a finely balanced fencing foil compared to a broadsword. Not only is it harder to write well with a good fine point, but it is harder to cut one as well. Thanks.

#27 APHK

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:32

I had one with fine nib, one of the best nibs in my collection for very precise writing. I plan to get the 845 with 18K version of the nib when the yen comes down (if).

#28 Pen2009

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 03:44

My 823 F (smoke) has been in the daily rotation.  Initially, I thought the F nib was a little bit scratchy; but, it settled nicely after a few hours of usage (or at least, that's what I felt).  The 823 is well balanced and weighed and I can write by gliding the nib over the paper with the weight of the pen. 

 

Also, I can feel the weight of the ink after a fresh refill. 

 

When I travel overseas, the ink shut off feature comes in very handy. 

 

I already have 3 823s. I am thinking about getting another 823 with an F nib. 


My collection: 149 EF/F/B/OBB, Collodi B/Twain F/Mann F, 146 M, Silver Barley F, M1000/M800 B'o'B/M800 Tortoise/Sahara/415 BT/215/205 Blue Demo, Optima Demo Red M/88 EF & Italic/Europa, Emotica, 2K/Safaris/Al-Stars/Vista, Edson DB/Carene BS, Pilot 845/823/742/743/Silvern/M90/Makies, Sailor Profit Realo M/KOP Makies/Profit Makies/Profit 21 Naginata MF&M/KOP/KOP Mosaiques/Sterling Silvers,Platinum #3776 Celluloids/Izumos/Wood pens/Sterling Silvers,YoL Grand Victorian, and more (I lost counting)

#29 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 05:45

Tried several 823s but the nib was very stiff and I have also seen some examples developping cracks if you disassemble the whole pen for cleaning and maintening it. I would rather go with a sheaffer vac fill balance than with a 823.


Edited by georges zaslavsky, 21 July 2013 - 05:53.

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
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