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Comparison Between Namiki Falcon And Mottishaw's Spencerian Flex Falcon


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#1 schin

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:08

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For this review I am writing on a Rhodia pad. The ink in the normal Falcon (above) is noodler's black swan in australian roses and the ink in the Spencerian falcon (below) is Private Reserve Chocolat.

About the pens

I have had my regular resin Namiki Falcon in soft fine for a few months now, and absolutely love it. But I was very curious about Mottishaw's Spencerian grind which promises 'Regrind to needlepoint plus added flex - suitable for Nakaya Soft and Falcon Soft nibs only'. I have always liked super super fine nibs so I ordered one and it arrived soon after. Normally it takes about 2 days to arrive but mine was a little late because of Christmas and New Years. I have had it for a few weeks now and have gotten better with it and thought I should do a review.

Besides the nib, everything else is absolutely the same. It arrived in the same box as a regular falcon with the converter and everything.
Here is the work order form so you can see exactly what has been done. I love how thorough and helpful they are. I talked to Mariana with some basic questions and she first made sure that I am familiar with flexing and Spencerian script. It is great how thorough she goes into my questions to make sure it is truly what I want. I imagine some have asked for this and it is not for everybody so it's in everyone's best interest that she really makes it clear what it does and doesn't.

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First Impressions and comparisons

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With very close inspection, you can see how the nib of the Spencerian falcon has been thinned out very finely so it almost loses its point. I'm not a nibmeister by any means, I don't even tinker with my Ahab so I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

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Sharpened to a needle point (the spencerian is the bottom pen)

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You can see that the tip is ground down significantly on the Spencerian pen.

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Please keep in mind this side picture isn't a true comparison.. the angle of both pens are not the same, but you can still tell the nib on the tip is less on the Spencerian pen.

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It also looks sharper to me. This makes me quite nervous in handling it!

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General writing

The differences is quite subtle, but the main point is that the tip of the Spencerian is very thin and needle-like, and rather scratchy. It feels pretty much like a dip nib. Even on the fairly smooth Rhodia paper and my very light hand, it scratches away, even when I am not applying any kind of pressure. This may be irritating to some who have a heavier hand or are used to the butter smoothness of other fountain pens. I can't imagine writing with this with a heavy hand, it could very well damage the paper and even tear through it.
However, this pen is not dry.. it is quite wet so the lines are consistently fine. Yet the fine lines leaves almost no shading. More than once I compare this with a 0.4 Pilot High Tec C gel pens, which have a consistent thin line. Since I have gotten this pen, there has been no hiccups or skipping.

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There seems to be more ink flowing out of the spencerian pen compared to the falcon when flexed with the same pressure.

The normal Falcon is also quite fine, but because it is slightly thicker and wetter, it lays down more ink so it is even thicker. The wetness also allows the pen to feel much smoother and more pleasant to write with. It feels more like a traditional everyday writer fountain pen. After the scritch-scratchiness of the Spencerian pen, it can be quite a relief coming back to this pen which feels more 'normal' and work horse-y.

The flex

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Honestly I never considered the normal Falcon to be flexy. It requires too much pressure to flex and thus it disrupts the flow and looks awkward. A good flexy pen needs only a light touch to flex so you can go back to normal and thus look natural. As you can see from the word 'Namiki', I was concentrating too much and pressing down too hard to be able to 'come up naturally' again to create a smooth faux copperplate. However, it does flex alright if you want it to, but I never got much use out of it since I can't flex it naturally enough to make my letters look beautiful.

By comparison, the Spencerian falcon flexes a little easier. It doesn't flex much more, but it takes a little less pressure to do so. I still have to concentrate and rotate the paper to flex properly, but it is relatively easier. I am still not going to use this to replace my dip nibs, but as a normal writing pen, it flexes enough to create some variety in my writing. Unfortunately it does not create the large impressive swells which you often see in Spencerian script, but a pen that does that might as well be magical. Here is what I mean by the variety the little flex provides (written on a rhodia webnotebook):

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Comparing with a dip nib

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Here I compare a Principality Gillott #1 dip nib with the spencerian falcon. I write as fine as I can with the nib but you know it's really responsive so it was hard to control. But you can tell the thinnest line is comparable to the Spencerian pen. Of course, the pen can never swell as large as the dip nib but then again it's not built to do so.

There was a little railroading, I'm not sure why it occurred. Maybe I was going too fast. It doesn't happen often.

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I hope this helps somehow. I'm not an expert with pens so this is all based on my personal experience.


edit:

The spencerian falcon is by no means a replacement for dip nibs, which is traditionally what the old spencerian masters use (they don't use fountain pens). I would recommend the spencerian falcon to those who have these specific requirements:
Does not want to consider vintage nibs
Will ONLY use it for spencerian/business writing with close to no flex
Don't mind paying the money.

For those who don't mind hunting down vintage pens, actually want to flex more than once or twice per sentence and want to attempt copperplate, then vintage or dip nib is the way to go.

Edited by schin, 20 January 2013 - 17:32.


#2 Earthdawn

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:23

Awesome post and review!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us and take excellent photos :thumbup:

#3 hari317

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:24

absolutely amazing Schin. You truly deserve this special pen.

#4 Pterodactylus

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 14:07

Thanks for your interesting review.
I'd like to be able writing like you :-)

When reading it I had the impression you are not 100% convinced of the modification result.
What is your personal conclusion?
Was it the money worth (for you)?
Do you prefer the modified or the original pen?

#5 schin

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 15:57

Thanks for your interesting review.
I'd like to be able writing like you :-)

When reading it I had the impression you are not 100% convinced of the modification result.
What is your personal conclusion?
Was it the money worth (for you)?
Do you prefer the modified or the original pen?


It was a very expensive modification ($110 on top of the price of the falcon) and I'm not a big pen collector so I expected a lot more, to be honest. I expected it to flex more and be like a wet noodle, but looking back, I shouldn't have expected that from a mere namiki falcon. It did exactly what it advertised, that is to write Spencerian, and flex a little while doing so. I am very glad to have it and will not exchange it.

My personal conclusion is it is perfect for my needs. I like modern pens and modern nibs, very very fine lines and a smooth flow. I only had this for a few weeks so maybe I haven't found the perfect way to write with it. I do wonder if the needle point is unique or I may find it in other pens.

I like both the modified and original pen. I am using the modified pen more for penpals and special writing since it creates such expressive thin lines, but I also use the original pen for everyday writing such as for journals and grocery lists. That and the modified pen is so fragile I'm afraid I might drop it!

#6 penultress

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 16:54

I love your handwriting!

From your review, I've put the Falcon on my wishlist. I really love the look of it.

Thank you for the comparison and the in-depth explanations!

#7 geoduc

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 17:11

Excellent comparison and review, schin. Thanks for posting this.

#8 Lloyd

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 19:03

Thank you for a fantastically in-depth review which includes your beautiful writing. I'm rather surprised that the modified nib is scratchy when no pressure is applied. I have some extremely fine nibs and I wouldn't tolerate it if they weren't smooth.
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#9 Pen Nut

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 19:59

Cracking review that. Sort of gets me thinking about a falcon with some form of modified nib. Must try a standard falcon and see what I can gleen from that.

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#10 schin

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 20:56

Thank you for a fantastically in-depth review which includes your beautiful writing. I'm rather surprised that the modified nib is scratchy when no pressure is applied. I have some extremely fine nibs and I wouldn't tolerate it if they weren't smooth.


I don't mind it as I am used to scratchy dip nibs, but I can see how it would drive others craaaazy.

#11 mirosc

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 21:09

Absolutely great review!
This deserves to become a reference point for the discussions about the Falcon.
Thank you a lot!
Greetings,
Michael

#12 den_lim

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:42

Very detailed review. Given the output, I'm not sure it's worth the US$110.

One thing I would like to ask is if the two inks use are the same in terms of wetness and viscosity. A difference in those two qualities might affect the comparison.

#13 pictogramax

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 23:59

Awesome review, thank you!

#14 schin

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 17:42

Very detailed review. Given the output, I'm not sure it's worth the US$110.

One thing I would like to ask is if the two inks use are the same in terms of wetness and viscosity. A difference in those two qualities might affect the comparison.


It is true. The ink in the normal Falcon is noodler's black swan in australian roses and the ink in the Spencerian falcon is Private Reserve Chocolat. I am not an expert in inks so I am not sure how similar these inks are. I did not want to use the same ink as it will be difficult to differentiate them. Maybe next time.

However, I did do a very short review before this one where I used the same ink for both pens, mont blanc midnight blue. I found that they perform more or less the same as the later review. Here is the image:

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I think the $110 is subjective. John Mottishaw is incredibly skilled and I cannot imagine the work put into polishing the nib so as far as I'm concerned, he can charge whatever he wants. Also, since this review, I have gotten more and more used to it and now it is my everyday pen, so the money is very much worth it to me. But if one does not often use fine pens and is not used to writing with it, then I can see how it is expensive.

Edited by schin, 28 January 2013 - 17:49.


#15 Inguz

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 20:52

Your handwriting has so much personality! Thanks for sharing.

#16 tenurepro

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:47

great review, thanks!

#17 mhphoto

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:27

Wow! Great review and beautiful penmanship! :notworthy1: :notworthy1: :notworthy1:

Thanks for taking the time to put it together! :clap1:

Do you perhaps have some vintage 14k flex nibs to compare it to?

#18 mrchan

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 04:24

You did a wonderful review and comparison m8. Incredibly detailed with brilliant samples and pictures. Well done.

I do wonder though, do you find that the flex hasn't truly increased? As in, do you feel that the only thing that has changed after the spencerian modification(bar the scratchiness) was that initial nib became an extra fine so that your line variation SEEMS to have increased but only because the initial writing became extra fine?

I ask this because I did want this pen with this modification badly at one stage, but ended up getting a vintage wet noodle and played with some dip pens instead.

Thanks
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#19 schin

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 03:49

mhphoto: Thank you. I do have several vintage flex nibs but there is no fair comparison. The mottishaw nib's forte is in its fine lines, not the flexing. If one wants flex, then this is not a good option to go to. But if one wants fine lines, then it is perfect.

mrchan: I don't think the flex has increased much at all. Perhaps Mr. Mottishaw added flex to add flow to the nib, but it is about the same as the normal falcon. And you are correct, because the modification makes the nib so fine, any kind of pressure makes it look flexy. Your wet noodle and dip pens would be a lot more responsive than this pen. I feel this pen is more for business penmanship than a shaded writing.

#20 acolythe

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 22:08

I bought from a fellow FPN'er a Mattishall modified Namibia Falcon. It was a small that was stubbed and had added flex. It is the equal of any of my vintage flex pens and the flow keeps up nicely. There is a Very occasional railroad track. If you fear the s atchy Spencerian nib mod get John go make you one like mine. I am Very pleased. I ha en another Falcon at his shop now awaiting a flex mod without stubbing.

#21 amberleadavis

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 22:31

Wow. Thank you.
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#22 joshsrn

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 16:44

Great review, thanks.

 

What vintage pens would you recommend that would be the equivalent or better to the falcon with the spencerian?


May your ways be green and golden, and the wind be at your back.


#23 DanF

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 18:35

Probably the most common would be a Waterman 52, not all nibs will be flexible, and not all flex nibs are equal in flex. Best bet is to look around on Ebay for a while, wait for one that includes a writing sample, and be aware that some pens flex a lot, but also require a lot of pressure to do so, and that terms like "wet noodle" are tossed around rather carelessly. A true wet noodle is quite rare. Expect to pay upwards of $150 for a pen that is advertised as flex with writing sample. You might also keep an eye on the classified here for a vintage flex, but they go quickly. 

 

Dan


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#24 joshsrn

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 21:02

Thank you, I'll keep a lookout :)


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#25 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 22:13

outstanding work from Mottishaw :thumbup: and great review


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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#26 haroldvincent

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:04

Love the review! Thank you.

#27 dhnz

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:07

Just to clarify – you say you compared it to a Gillott Principality but the nib in the picture is a Hunt Imperial. Which nib did you compare it to?



#28 schin

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 15:06

Josh: I don't know much about vintage pens but my experience of them has not been too favorable according to my needs. For me it is most important to have a needlepoint nib that flexes well, maybe XXXF-B. Many flexy pens start at F or even M and goes to XB. It is difficult to find a flexy vintage pen that truly starts as a needlepoint. In that case I believe it needs to be modded, but they can be very expensive.

 

georges & haroldvincent: Thank you!! 

 

dhnz: My mistake! Instead of Principality, it was a Leonardt Principal. The Leonardt Principal, Principality and Hunt Imperial are so similar in design.



#29 Pterodactylus

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 17:39

awm1.jpg
 

(Faber Castell Osmia 223 - F ..... Rohrer & Klingner Smaragdgrün)



#30 Finalist

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 05:58

The pics in the OP's first post are missing. I'm very interested in seeing them. Is there a way to view them or pull them back up?