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Taccia Merit


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14 replies to this topic

#1 tonybelding

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 19:41

The Merit is a recent introduction from Taccia, and it's one which I stumbled on pretty much by accident. I'd never even noticed Taccia before. I was just getting serious about stubs and looking for something with a B nib that I could have ground. When I saw that I could get a Merit from ISellPens.com for $65, that seemed too good to pass up.

These pens are available in solid colors: classic black or cherry red with gold-plated trim, and in bright orange, teal blue, or a light powder blue with white metal trim. The Merit is a large pen, even by today's standards. It's very close in size and shape to my Aurora Talentum. It's also similar in profile to my vintage Parker Duofold, but slightly longer.

First Impressions

The Merit comes in an oversized dark blue (almost black) display box with a cardboard slipcase, typical of fine pens these days. There's a leather-like textured cover on the outside, spring-loaded hinges, and a rumpled cloth setting inside where the pen can sit diagonally and look precious. I'm sure this makes a nice impression in a retail store with the box sitting open in the display counter. However, it makes me long for the "good old days" when pens came in smaller cases that were more practical for storage and travel after the sale.

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The pen came with no instructions, only a small card touting its lifetime mechanical warranty. I have mixed feelings about the lack of instructions. There was a time when pens came with a sheet of simple instructions. Why did that ever stop? The last couple of "fine writing instruments" that I bought came with horrible instructions. My last Pilot came with a jumble of instructions for multiple different pens, and my last OMAS came with what I can only describe as a promotional advertising booklet. By way of comparison, the lack of any instruction booklet with the Taccia is an improvement. I still wonder why modern pen companies have so much difficulty with this, though.

Look and Feel

This is a large pen. It's not heavy, but it's definitely what would have been called an "oversized" pen back in the good old days. For comparison, it's similar in girth to my Aurora Talentum and my vintage Duofold. Capped, it's just slightly longer than the Talentum. Like the Talentum, the Merit is just a tad too fat for my Mignon leather pen pouch.

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The Merit most definitely does not give the impression of a "budget" pen. The plastic and metal trim are nicely polished. All the parts fit together smoothly and without gaps. The nib is marked IPG but looks good. The pen looks and feels solid. The only exception is a rattle whenever the rear of the pen is bumped or tapped. This sound is apparently coming from the converter (marked Schmidt), as the twist knob is a bit loose. This is a common characteristic of Schmidt converters, including the one that came with my OMAS Emotica, but the Merit almost seems to amplify it somehow.

The cap screws on, and it takes 2-1/2 full turns to release. That's more than most of my screw-cap pens, and it makes the Merit a little slower to deploy -- a minor annoyance. The clip is nice and long, with a no-nonsense round ball at the end, which I like.

The cap also posts positively, stopping against a metal trim piece which I assume was placed for that very purpose. This is a lightweight pen for its size, so it's no problem to use posted. (I've fallen out of the habit of posting my pens, anyhow.)

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I'd say the most distinguishing feature of this pen is the ink window. I've never been a fan of ink windows on cartridge-converter pens; it wasn't a feature that I looked for. Now, after seeing how nicely this is done, I'm sold on it. It's easy to see if the pen has ink, and the window doesn't detract in any way from its styling.

The Converter

The rattling converter bothered me, and when I took a closer look I saw other problems. It didn't join tightly with the feed. The piston didn't make a tight seal, so that traces of ink sometimes seeped past it into the rear of the converter. I decided to upgrade it, so I ordered a set of three Schmidt K5 converters -- their premium model -- from Blurafia. This are definitely nicer. They are reinforced with more metal parts, and they fit snug with the feed. The piston makes a positive seal. The only negative is that the twist knob rattles exactly the same way the cheaper converter did.

The Merit has an amusing quirk related to the converter. The outside of the converter is so near to the inside diameter of the pen's barrel that it forms an air seal when opening or closing the pen. There's a moment of resistance followed by a tiny pop as the air is released.

In my opinion, Taccia should start putting these premium Schmidt converters into the Merit. The pen is good enough to deserve it. On the other hand, it's an inexpensive pen and it came with a converter that worked OK, so maybe I shouldn't complain too much. (A.T. Cross, I'm looking at you!)

The Nib

F and EF nibs have been my mainstay, and I've considered some M nibs too flabby for my taste. This was one of the first B nibs I ever got, and I was pleasantly surprised. It didn't make me a convert to broad nibs, but it was smooth, didn't skip, had a middle-of-the-road ink flow that pleased me, and was great for showing off colorful inks.

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I was tempted to keep it just the way it came from the factory. However, I did eventually send the pen to Pendemonium for grinding. I didn't give them any special instructions, just told them to "make it a stub" and let them take it from there. Pendemonium not only has one of the least expensive grinding services, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quick turn-around.

I was even more pleasantly surprised upon putting the new tip to paper. This stub is fine enough and smooth enough for everyday handwriting without having to write extra-large or slow down and take extra effort to keep from snagging. At the same time, it's wide enough and produces enough variation to add some flair to my writing and give it that italic look that I wanted.

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The only remotely negative thing I can say about this nib is that I might still prefer an oblique to a straight stub. Maybe next time I'll ask for an oblique grind. Yes, I'm quite sure there will be a next time. :)

Incidentally, the Merit's nib is mounted with its feed in an Esterbrook-like module, so it should be easy to replace or interchange.

Value

You've probably gathered by now that I like this pen, and that's without even taking the price into account. When you look at what they're selling for now -- as low as $65 through ISellPens.com -- then it's a compelling value. We're talking about a pen similar in size and style to an Aurora Talentum. Have you priced an Aurora Talentum? You could get every color of Merit for what one Talentum costs.

I may be going out on a limb here, but the Merit strikes me as being the modern-day equivalent of the original 1920s Parker Duofold. It's a large, well-made pen. It's available in festive colors (or black, if that's your thing) with a straightforward but attractive style. It's offering great value for money. To me that seems much closer to the spirit of the original "Big Red" than a pricey modern Duofold.

Highly Recommended.

P.S.: The photo where I've posted it with the Duofold and Talentum is the better representation of the Merit's color. I couldn't get the color temperature fixed right in the other two photos, for some reason.

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#2 jigesh

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 20:42

Excellent review! Thanks. I had Molteni Curukova Ebonite, which is essentially Taccia Staccato in Ebonite. The workmanships is excellent for the price and feel is solid. The steel nib is by JoWo and wrote extremely well on mine. Taccia has many models in various affordable price range and those who are looking to customize nibs later on may find Taccia a non-expensive route.

#3 CRB

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 21:42

Thanks for a great review. I appreciate your taking the time to photograph writing samples before and after the nib regrind. Glad to hear it's a winner.

Cheers,
Joe

#4 AtomicLeo

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 04:11

I was debating which to get the Alto, Momenta and Merit. The Merit seemed too blah for me. I picked up a Momenta from pencity.com and an Alto from the Classifieds Forum. Both pens have horrible converters. The Momenta converter would not form a tight seal with the feed and the converter would just spin while I turned the knob. The Alto's converter was at least functional but also does not form a tight seal with the feed. Rattles like the Merit. I emailed Taccia twice to see if I could get a replacement converter for my Momenta and they didn't even bother to respond to the emails.

I also ordered the K5 Schmidt replacement converters, but they are too long for Momenta. When I put one on the Alto, I thought it would work but then it became stuck and I had to remove the metal ring on the converter to remove it from the pen. Good thing the feed/nib were removable, otherwise there was no way I was getting that converter out! So if your reading this and thinking about using the K5 converter in either pen, don't bother!

Both are good (Alto) and great (Momenta) writers. The pen's coloring, especially the Momenta, is amazing considering the prices, but the converters and the complete lack of response from Taccia has turned me off on the brand.
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#5 jandrese

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 05:32

Nice review, thanks. Pendemonium does have one of the best nibmeisters around, good choice.

#6 aldi

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 06:23

Nice pen and italic customization.

Excellent review!
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#7 Inked

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 14:26

Thank-you for the great review.

The new grind on the nib helps create such character. I hope we see more of that in the future.

Cheers.



#8 southpaw

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 00:47

Nice pen - I have the Orange Cream. I'm pretty sure the converter rattle is actually the turn knob tapping the inside of the barrel. This is easily solved by pushing a small amount of paper towel into the end of the barrel. It's also retrievable should you so desire.

Mine is awaiting to be flushed and, this time, I'm going to try it as an ED. I'm not a big fan of c/c fillers, although this one is nicely done. I was somewhat taken back by the c/c and ink window, but it actually works well on this pen. With converter in you almost cannot tell. Anyhow, I'm suspecting it'll work very well as an ED filler and the ink window will be a nice asset in that filling style. All in all, I'd say the pen has a lot of Merit (forgive the obvious pun). Enjoy yours!
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#9 79spitfire

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 05:49

I've been sitting on the fence on this pen for a long time, so you put me over. I ordered one from Isellpens last night...

*sigh* this really is an addiction enabling web site isn't it...

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#10 lightweaver

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 16:01

I'm a big fan of Taccia - have a Momenta and Staccato - both lovely pens. Never really considered the Merit, always thought of it as a smaller pen, but having seen how big the pen is, I think I might give it a try. Great review.
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#11 79spitfire

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 16:38

This is a big pen. It's the same size as the Momenta and Staccato. I just recieved mine. It's the Onyx Black with the gold trim, very classy. Very smooth "F" nib out of the box. Typical western fine just a tad wider than the Pilot M nib. Perfect for the types of *potty mouth* paper used in industry at the moment. I think this would be a great daily user for those who don't want to expose their more "Prized" pens to rigors of daily life.

I is on the light side as large pens go however. I look at this as a bonus!

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#12 AtomicLeo

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 17:00

This is a big pen. It's the same size as the Momenta and Staccato. I just recieved mine. It's the Onyx Black with the gold trim, very classy. Very smooth "F" nib out of the box. Typical western fine just a tad wider than the Pilot M nib. Perfect for the types of *potty mouth* paper used in industry at the moment. I think this would be a great daily user for those who don't want to expose their more "Prized" pens to rigors of daily life.

I is on the light side as large pens go however. I look at this as a bonus!


Did you have issues with the converter? I love the way my Momenta writes, but the converter burns my a** and Taccia's no response to my emails really has ticked me off. I'm thinking about buying a Merit and modifying it to a CI.
Atomic Leo

#13 79spitfire

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 17:06

This is a big pen. It's the same size as the Momenta and Staccato. I just recieved mine. It's the Onyx Black with the gold trim, very classy. Very smooth "F" nib out of the box. Typical western fine just a tad wider than the Pilot M nib. Perfect for the types of *potty mouth* paper used in industry at the moment. I think this would be a great daily user for those who don't want to expose their more "Prized" pens to rigors of daily life.

I is on the light side as large pens go however. I look at this as a bonus!


Did you have issues with the converter? I love the way my Momenta writes, but the converter burns my a** and Taccia's no response to my emails really has ticked me off. I'm thinking about buying a Merit and modifying it to a CI.


Converter was a little cheap, so I had Todd send me a Schmitt converter as the OP suggested. The converter is flimsy compared to the rest of the pen. It likely is how they are able to bring the pen in at this price point, so I'm not too worried about it.

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#14 ethernautrix

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 17:14

Very nice review. I haven't read very much about Taccia, haven't particularly looked for information, but I have seen a model that appeals to me, Red Tie, I think, and your review puts a check in the positive column (should I ever revisit the Taccia option). Thanks.

I like the photo of it with your other two pens -- also like the vintage Duofold. Sweet!

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#15 Russ

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 02:15

I learned to appreciate the broad nib in my Momenta also. Wide without being too wide. And the whole pen is very sturdy and durable. A joy to use. Yes, the converter is weak, but it can be replaced.






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