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Bexley America the Beautiful


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#1 DRP

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 18:36

Bexley America the Beautiful

Pens are works of art. Part of the reason we like them is they appeal to us in more than one way.

Writing with a nice pen should be an enjoyable venture. If a Crayola wrote as well as a good fountain pen, we would probably all scrawl on the back of brown paper bags but the overall experience just wouldn't be the same.

A good pen appeals to us in different ways, as does a piece of art.

It is thus only sensible -- to me at least -- to compare a new Bexley pen against a piece of art in my hometown gallery, the Nelson/Atkins, that being Monet's Boulevard des Capucines.

Before proceding, I should note this review is of Parkville Pens' chocolate ebonite limited edition. As the Parkville Pens' release is nearly identical to the America the Beautiful series, my comments apply to both unless specifically noted.

That being on record, here's the review:



First Impressions:

Monet: Nice. Really nice. Really, really nice.

Bexley: Nice. Really nice. Really, really nice.

Results: Monet wins this one. Boulevard des Capucines is a lot bigger.


Appearance & Finish:

Monet: Subtle detail. Monet's use of multiple colors in a single dabbed brush stroke offers a totally different impression when examined close up as from a suitable viewing distance.

Bexley: Also, subtle detail. My first impression was positive. Like the Monet, detail of materials is much more evident up close. I could see how the individual details combined to make the whole which was evident more from a suitable viewing distance.

America the Beautiful comes in four color combinations: black with a rose gold plated trim, mahogany with midnight blue swirls, strawberry with white swirls, ocean blue with brown swirls. The Parkville Pen chocolate ebonite is a different material than the America the Beautiful series. The chocolate ebonite appears with a subtle wood grain counterpoint in a slightly lighter color of chocolate, and also has the rose gold plated trim.

Both the Monet and the Bexley are exquisitely crafted. The finish and feel of the Bexley is flawless.

Unlike the Monet, I could pick up the Bexley. Were I to do this with the Monet, I would be arrested.

Results: Tie vote. Detail of the Monet is infinitely greater but then again, Boulevard des Capucines is a lot larger. On the other hand, I took the Bexley home with me. As noted previously, had I done this with the Monet, I would be writing this from the county workhouse.


Design/Size/Weight:

Monet: Paint on canvas. Big picture. Big. Dominates the entire room. As a matter of fact, most other art cannot be placed near the Boulevard des Capucines because the Monet overwhelms everything around it.

Bexley: Nice scale. Weight is about medium for a nice fountain pen: about ¾ oz with a converter and a full load of ink. Comparing it to Bexley Submariner Grande it is about ¼ inch shorter than a and about ¼ ounce lighter.

When compared to the Monet, the Bexley plays well with others. Although it stands out nicely when placed with other pens, it doesn't intentionally blast them away.

Results: Bexley wins this one by reason of practicality.


Nib Design & Performance:

Monet: I don't know what brush Monet used although it appears to be a remarkably small one. Monet could get two or three or even four colors on a brush so his dabs combined to create subtle shade gradations. How he did this, I don't know. I couldn't do that if my life depended upon it.

Bexley: Bexley utilizes a delicious 18 karat two tone gold nib. I'm partisan to their broad stub nib which glides across the paper. Their stub nibs offer an exquisite balance between smoothness and just a subtle touch of "toothiness" to hold the line.

Nibs are one of the key attractions of Bexley pens. I didn't try other nibs on the America the Beautiful series although have used other nibs on other Bexley pens. Have always been pleased.

Results: Bexley wins again. Monet's technique is clearly superior but given the same tools, I couldn't replicate results. I get good results from the Bexley. I wouldn't with a paint brush.


Filling System:

Monet: Palate with a bunch of different colors of paint. Can use multiple colors simultaneously.

Bexley: Lots of different colors of ink can be used but only one at a time, though a good ink will deliver some nice gradations, especially with Bexley's superlative nibs.

The Bexley can use either a cartridge or a converter. Ink capacity with the converter seems limited if you use a broad or stub nib.

On the other hand, you can fill the entire barrel with ink and screw it on. The barrel is one piece so there's nothing there to leak. A touch of silicone on the threads will stop leaks there, as well. I haven't tried it but have talked to people who have and this strategy works quite well.

Results: Bexley offers a good range of choices but you just can't beat Monet for the ability to use multiple colors of paint in a single brush stroke.


Cost/Value:

Monet: Okay, things get tricky here. If you took everyone who is reading this and drained their savings accounts completely, we still probably wouldn't have enough money to buy Boulevard des Capucines even if the Nelson/Atkins wanted to sell it, which they don't. So we can suck it in and get glad in the same pants we got sad in. If we want to look at Boulevard des Capucines, admission is free. If you ever have occasion to visit Kansas City, you should take advantage of the opportunity.

Bexley: These are not cheap pens. You have to save for a few paydays to buy one. But, you will be satisfied. They are very well made, look nice, and write like a dream (and not one of those weird dreams where you're naked and being chased by a carnivorous animal and you fall off a cliff and waiting to catch you is your horrible fourth grade teacher who said you'd never amount to anything). No, the Bexley writes like one of those dreams you have on a rainy day when you don't have to go in to work and can sleep in. That kind of dream.

Results: Bexley. I can afford a Bexley. I can't afford a Monet.


Overall:
Monet: Lives up to its hype.

Bexley: Lives up to its hype.

Results: I'd buy a Monet if I had the money but I don't. Even if I could, it would have to sit at home and at that, I'd either have to buy a bigger house or knock a hole in the ceiling to fit it in. With the Bexley, it can go with me and it writes nice.

Take the Bexley. If you can afford a Monet, you could always write the check with the Bexley. Oh, and by the way, remember to invite me to the opening.

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#2 RyanL27

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 19:10

Ahh - you beat me. I just received my AtB today from Richard and was going to write a review on it Monday. Oh well, nothing wrong with have two reviews on this great writer.

Well done - a nice comparison review. :)

These are sweet pens for sure!
"I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them."
- Baruch Spinoza

#3 DRP

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 19:38

Two reviews would be an excellent idea. Side by side comparison by two different people. Looking forward to reading your review.

#4 southpaw

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 20:45

Well done! :D :D :D
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#5 Bill

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 02:55

The design and handling of the ATB is outstanding, but a few changes could make it into a classic. How about a better fillling system like a piston-filler, or even an aerometric or vacumatic? How about a subtle ink window? Or how about deeply beautiful and complex Italian celluloid that has that wonderful distinctive aroma every time you uncap it?

Oh wait...Mr. Levy already did that. He called it the 2006 Owners Club.

As nice as they are, I don't think I'll buy another ATB. But I would buy another Owners Club.

Now if Howard would make the OC into a piston-filler, I'd be fighting for the head of the line. And he wouldn't even have to number them. Yessir, I'll take one of each color!

Bill

#6 DRP

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 05:04

Attention Bexley management! Comments above by Bill are excellent. Keep these in mind as you explore future product development.

#7 Roger

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 15:19

As nice as they are, I don't think I'll buy another ATB.  But I would buy another Owners Club.

Now if Howard would make the OC into a piston-filler, I'd be fighting for the head of the line.  And he wouldn't even have to number them.  Yessir, I'll take one of each color!

Bill

I would/will buy another ATB, but NOT another OC! I like the equipoise shape, and think the longer cap is quite handsome so the ATB is attractive to me as is the OC, but the OC suffers from a badly executed filling system.

The vintage Parker Vacumatics eat the OC's lunch in the filling dept. I don't know the engineering tricks that Richard notes re: what they had to do to make the Vacumatic system in the OC, but it doesn't work very well. Even when you have perfected the filling procedure, the OC takes on a disappointingly small volume of ink. Love that celluloid nitrate, but can't abide that filler!

Like you, Bill, I would like to see Bexley expand the number of their pens that offer piston fillers. I lust for their Prometheus, and when one comes along at the right price, I'll buy it!
Roger
Southern Arizona, USA

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