The Edison Huron Clipless
, in Red and Black Ebonite July 2009
2 July is my birthday, and on 2 July 2009 I was turning 65, a milestone for anyone in the United States: it makes you officially OLD.
I was wondering what to buy myself—a pen obviously—without breaking the bank when a former student of mine, whom I taught in Washington D.C., contacted me to ask what new pen I wanted for the big 65th
. Reverting to the Conscientious Catholic Schoolboy I was taught to be as a child, I asked only for a Pelikan 215 Black Lozenge, and if he could manage it, with a cursive italic nib. I then directed him to Richard Binder.
The next week he called my partner and asked him what I really
wanted, i.e., what was "The Pen Of My Dreams". No question about that, and if he wanted to buy "the professor who changed my whole life" a more expensive pen, well, the Rebellious Catholic Schoolboy that I actually turned out to be didn't even flinch. I told Paul to tell him I wanted an Edison Pearl.
He told me to go ahead and contact Brian Gray and he would pay for it no matter the cost. And then it happened: Brian showed me the prototype he was working on. Now we were talking BIRTHDAY. First Impressions via the Internet
I had always been drawn to the Red and Black ebonite that Brian uses on his pens, but Brian offered to show me other potential materials he had in his studio. After looking at several gorgeous options in acrylic I still couldn't get the Red and Black ebonite out of my mind. To me it looks like fossilized wood or a polished semi-precious stone. So I chose the ebonite.
The first obstacle appeared when Brian showed me the clip he intended to use and asked for my honest opinion, since he hadn't made a firm commitment to use it on the final product. I told him quite honestly I thought it detracted from the beautiful simplicity of the pen, at least my
pen. I told him I thought it looked like someone stuck a piece of jewelry on it that didn't belong there.
He showed me a couple other clips and I chose the understated plain one without any curves, grooves or striations. This was the clip from the Pearl and I liked it a lot. He said he would send it to the platers with his regular order.
I then experienced the unique, unforgettable coolness of logging onto his web site at the appointed hour to watch him make my pen. Now there's an ad for Mastercard, because that
Then Fate intervened. Two endless weeks later, and just three days before my birthday, the clips came back from the platers. But it turned out they had forgotten to plate mine. That would make it another 2-3 weeks of waiting for my clip and I was already champing at the bit and disappointed I wouldn't have it by my birthday. But, since I celebrate my birthday for a full week, I figured it would just go on a little longer this year.
I took another look at the pen, which now had a hole in it awaiting a clip, and it struck me how I could solve the dilemma, have something unique, and at the same time, hopefully, hasten the delivery of my birthday pen. I asked Brian if he could make this one clipless. He said he definitely could and would, but was sorry to say it would still delay the process a week or so, because he had to grind a new cap, since mine was drilled for a clip. I said that was better than waiting three weeks.
That weekend Brian and his family went to his parents' home for a cookout. On his father's desk he noticed a copy of my latest novel. He sent me an email the next morning telling me that he had been having the feeling that he knew my name from somewhere but couldn't place it. When he noticed the book on his dad's desk he remembered seeing his father reading it. He told me that his father promised to lend it to him when he was finished. (Writers love
when this happens, as some of you know. But what
By Tuesday my pen was finished and in the mail 2nd
Day Air; and likewise, an inscribed copy of The Assassination of George W. Bush: A Love Story
was on its way to Milan, Ohio.
I realize this was a long intro, but remember, I'm a writer. I can't resist a good story. Second Impressions
Obviously my first impression of my new pen was via Brian's web site, and his stand photography would probably make a Bic ballpoint look desirable. So I certainly didn't expect the pen itself to outshine the professional photograph. But it did. And how!
Brian wraps his pens in a style derivative of the Japanese Furoshiki. The pen is rolled in a beautiful swath of blue fabric that is then placed inside a sturdy fat plastic tube for protection in transport.
This civilized tradition allows one an unforgettable tactile and visual experience as the recipient unrolls the Furoshiki and the prize inside is slowly, tantalizingly revealed.
After staring at the pen for a good 2 to 3 minutes, taking in its lustre and form, I took it in my hands for the first time. I expected to feel light-headed, but that was just the writers imagination I inherited from my mother. This pen is the very definition of the word "smooth". It seemed to draw heat from my hand, adapting itself to my body temperature so that it was difficult to tell where my hand left off and the pen began: just what a writer dreams of in a fountain pen. That is so much more receptive thant the jolting of one's senses that can occur with the coolness that acrylics often possess.
At Brian's recommendation I had upgraded my nib to the duotone Jowo iridium nib rather than taking either the free Chinese nib that came with the pen or opting for a gold nib, something I have previously preferred in all my pens. Brian said to trust him in this recommendation and assured me that if I wasn't happy with it he would switch it out for the gold nib for the price difference any time. (Note: Brian has since changed his policy and the Jowo duotones are now standard equipment on all his pens.)
With part of the $75 I saved by passing up a gold nib, I had Brian add a second Jowo nib modified to a stub. The stub nib came attached to the pen when it arrived. I immediately dipped it and began to write.
This is my first stub and it seemed toothy to me, so my partner did some light smoothing with micromesh and Voila! Now it felt like I was writing on glass. N.B.
When I later told Brian, he said if he had known I liked my nibs super smooth, he would have done that for me and offered to make any further adjustments on either nib free of charge at any time. Anyone ordering a pen from him should make a note of that and be sure to tell Brian exactly how you prefer your nibs.
One of the things Brian pointed out to me early on was that this new model was designed with a longer nib section, so that the writer isn't gripping the barrel threads, something that played into my decision to purchase this model. I noticed the comfort of the pen in my hand, and particularly the smoothness of the nib section beneath my fingers, which lends to the overall tactile experience of this smoothest of finishes.
Brian had also warned me of the sulphuric odour that a new ebonite pen gives off when being opened, but the only scent I noticed was when I uncapped it and sniffed inside the cap, and that was very mild. I was so smitten with this instrument it could have smelled like cow pies and I wouldn't have noticed.
I have compared the weight and size of this pen to that of all my others and I believe it is the lightest pen I own in spite of its heft. It is also the largest pen in my modest collection notwithstanding- its weight. It is larger than my Mont Blanc 148 in both length and girth, but an infinitesimal bit heavier perhaps than my Parker 45. I didn't weigh them. Why weigh when you can write?
L-R: Pelikan M400, Parker Sonnet, Waterman Charleston, Mont Blanc 148, Edison Huron, Parker 45 The dimensions—copied from Brian's site—are as follows:Weight w/ Cap 21g Weight w/o Cap 13g Cap Diameter .610" Body Diameter .550" Length Capped 5 3/4" Length Uncapped 5 1/8"
I know it is customary to "rate" a pen in its review, but if we FPN members have learned anything in these topics, posts, and reviews it certainly must be that taste and judgment are highly subjective. So I am going to eschew that tradition and say simply that this is "the archetypal fountain pen."
In my estimation, The Edison Huron sets a new standard for the amalgam of style, elegance with simplicity, and beauty. Above all, it provides me with the ultimate experience of writing with a fountain pen.
Simply put, I want no other pen. And whenever I sit to write a letter, which I do every day, the Edison Huron is the only pen I reach for.
Edited by krandallkraus, 29 July 2009 - 05:59.