Purchased from Parkville Pen parkvillepen.com
First Impressions: Pen came in a red cardboard/leatherette satin-lined presentation box marked with the Columbus logo inside & outside, with the legend: ARGENTO 925 0/00 inside. Box was inside an outer cardboard sleeve also with the Columbus logo, a model-number sticker, and a round sticker marked "M." The outer box sleeve shows signs of having sat around for a while; it is slightly yellowed and possibly flyspecked.
The pen was fitted with a “dummy,” or empty, short international cartridge, with a cartridge full of blue ink below it in the pen's barrel. Also included was an instruction leaflet in English and Italian.
The pen itself is slightly tapered, more so on the barrel end. The cap on both ends is shiny (unengraved), while the barrel and cap have longitudinal bands of "barleycorn" engraving alternating with narrower un-engraved, shiny bands, or pinstripes. The clip has the legend "Columbus" laser engraved on it. The letters in "Columbus" are stacked instead of being arranged side-by-side.
The pen seems small-ish, though capped, is not much shorter than a Waterman Phileas (more on that below).
So, here goes:
Appearance & Design (8.5) – It is a very attractive pen, I think.
I guess I just knocked off a little because it isn't the most beautiful pen I've ever seen. Nothing wrong with it, as I say, it is very attractive, and I like it. But 10 would be perfect beauty; I'm not even sure I know what that is... Still, 8.5 is an excellent score.
Construction & Quality (8) – I see absolutely nothing wrong with the build quality.
The cap does not post securely, though, which is an issue for me, as without the cap posted the pen seems pretty small to write with.
Weight & Dimensions (8.5) – It's semi-small, but seems smaller than it actually is.
Capped, the Extrema is longer than an Esterbrook SJ (at 4.73”) by almost 1/2" (12.5mm), about 11/32” (9.3mm) longer than an Esterbrook Transition J (at 4.88”), and about 1/8" (3.2mm) shorter than a Waterman Phileas. Its girth is pretty equivalent to that of the Phileas (and the Esterbrook J), except that unlike the Phileas (and the Esterbrooks), the cap is the same diameter as the barrel where the cap and barrel meet, making the others seem much larger than the Columbus.
Length over all: 5.225" (133mm)
Uncapped: 4.635" (118mm)
Posted: 5.665" (144mm).
Barrel greatest diameter: 0.458" (11.6mm)
Average section diameter: 0.335" (8.5mm)
As for weight, I don't have the type of scale which will measure grams or ounces in fractional parts. I doubt that a kitchen-type scale would be sensitive enough for our purposes here. The Extrema inked with a Waterman long cartridge feels a tiny bit heavier than the Phileas inked with a cartridge, but not quite as heavy as a Pilot Carbonesque Vanishing Point inked with converter. For a sterling silver pen this one is not very heavy; the silver must be fairly thin throughout. This could be good or bad, depending on one's preference. Since the cap can't be securely posted, I would prefer that the barrel be heaver. Still, at this price, I don't really expect it.
Nib & Performance (7) – Puts down a fine, fairly dry line.
Gold-plated steel nib. Box says it is a medium, but there are no markings on the nib itself to indicate nib width. On decent paper it writes like a Japanese fine.
It's also very smooth, even as dry as it writes. I guess you could say there is some feedback, as you can tell you're writing, but there is no scratchiness at all.
I love the very thin dry-ish line this nib puts down on paper; it's perfect for doing crossword puzzles on that cheap newsprint paper.
There's one problem, though: Uncapped, the nib will dry up after less than two minutes of non-use, such that it has to be re-started by dabbing it on a paper towel. That might simply be the price I must pay for such a dry writer; I don't know whether this fault can be remedied without making the nib write wetter.
I had to knock off three points here. Though I love how the nib writes now, I will most likely have to have the nib-drying problem adjusted, which I fear will alter its writing characteristics (making it write wetter).
Filling System & Maintenance (8) – Cartridge/Converter
No converter was included. I unscrewed the section from the barrel to find a dummy international short cartridge installed. I removed that and put the pen back together before going to the other room to get a cartridge. I noticed that the pen rattled. Took it apart again to find a full short cartridge in the bottom of the barrel. Decided that if it'll hold two short cartridges it ought to take a long Waterman, and it does. The pen's large-ish ink capacity is a plus for me.
Though I might or might not prefer some other filling system, the bare fact is that this is a C/C pen. It is what it is.
EDIT: I'm not sure what else I might expect to find, really. I have a Bexley LE with this same system. It's easy, reliable, and versatile; no problem here.
I knocked off two points because no converter was included with the pen. I'll have to do some research to find out what converter is a perfect fit, likely a hit-and-miss process.
Cost & Value (9) – To me an attractive sterling silver pen that writes decently at this price is a very good deal.
$115 included the shipping (which, by the way, was lightning-fast!). This is ~75% of the MSRP of $150 + shipping. I consider this to be a good deal; the pen is out of production, and as such, increasingly hard to find.
I always seek out bargains, and I believe this is one.
Conclusion (Final score [SUM/6]: 8.2) – I really like it.
Though I'd really prefer that the cap posted securely, if I can get the nib-drying problem resolved to my satisfaction, this pen will end up being one of my faves.
What appears to be brassing or something just above the clip is not. Could be an artifact, reflection, or some tarnish.
Edited by escribo, 10 October 2009 - 18:09.