This is my first review here on fpn, I will try to describe the pen the best I can. It will be a mix of fact and personal opinions so don't quote me if I am wrong!
After much much considerations and after hearing the advices of the good folks here on my post of "Choices, choices, choices" in the general writing instrument forum, I've decided and have bought the YARD.O.LED Corinthian fountain pen.
I've decided to do this review because I realised the very few reviews and real life pictures of the pen available here or anywhere on the net. All pictures shown here are of my own pen except the one explaining the hallmarks.
Some facts: the cap, the barrel and most of the section are made of 925 sterling silver with hallmarks on the top of the cap. The design of the pen is inspired by the corinthian columns in ancient greece architecture. It was said that each pen was hand crafted (not sure if that is absolutely true...) and each nib, which is 18K solid gold, is hand tuned.
The box is very beautiful and made of wood, can see a bit of wood-grain on the top of the box, it is kept closed with a nice patterned clasp.
Inside of the box is, of course, the pen, a leather single pen case marked with the brand's name "Yard.O.Led".
Underneath the upper holder is a jewellery polishing cloth (also branded) with instructions as well as the instruction/warranty booklet. YARD.O.LED pens have a limited life time warranty on the failure of the pen, they will repair or replace parts or the whole pen if necessary. The only thing is to send it to them but that, of course, cost your own money...
Presentation: 9/10 (not 10 because things are a little cramp in there, could do with a slightly bigger box! Maybe not as big as the Conway Stewart Churchill but still...)
Onto the pen itself. This particular pen has been on the shelf for a long long time... it is not very shinny, I cleaned it with some soapy water and that was it. I don't want to use the polishing cloth that comes with it, it is too nice! I think I will go and buy a separate one to do the job. Anyway, the cap is a snap/click on, not screwed on... Which, I have to say, minus a little bit of points... but I can overlook that because of the beautiful flat top / nailhead cap. The clip is an old style clip that is "nailed" onto the cap. I was surprised to find that the "head" or the exposed area of the two "nails" are quite pointy and scratchy, I guess it is true what they said that each pen is individually crafted. I don't dislike it at all, I think it adds personality to the pen! Pulling the cap open (with a bit of force as it it snapped on quite securely) revived a shinny 18K gold (hallmarked) rhodium plated nib which is also branded and stamp (or engraved) with patterns and the size of the nib width. The nib is not too big (as with MB 149) or too small (as with Waterman Charleston) on the pen. I personally wished that it is a two tone nib but I guess that kind of ruined the all silver theme.
The small letter "j" indicates that the pen is made in 2009, so it hasn't been sitting on the shelf for a very long time, just 2 years!...
The pen is not exactly designed to be posted as the cap is posted on quite loosely and I think it becomes too top heavy. The slightly budged rim of the cap also presses uncomfortably on my hand if posted. The length of the pen, unposted, is long and heavy enough to write as it is and I AM a cap poster! It will be hard to figure out where to place the cap from now on and to be careful not to knock it off the table...
Look: 10/10 (The beautiful design is the main factor that got me buying this pen in the first place! Although you may think otherwise!)
The pen fills with a converter or uses international cartridges. There is nothing too special about the converter other than that it has a bit of brownish tarnish on the glass from the inside of the silver because it's been sitting there for soooo long! If you use cartridges, the barrel is designed to have an extra cartridge up on the barrel in case you run out of juice, I haven't try using a cartridge yet so I don't know if both will fit snugly in the barrel or are going to knock around in there...
Filling mechanism:7/10 (good and functional, not unique or fancy but no maintenance will be required compared to for example, a piston filled pen)
Performance of the nib. Now... before it was inked, I had a look down the nib with a 60X loupe and see that it is not aligned properly... There is no need to test it with ink yet because it WILL be scratchy that way, so I push the feed slightly to the side where it is too low and slightly bend down the one that is too high... It is now aligned better and stayed as it is for now. I filled it with its first drink of ink, using my limited supply and my favorite Visconti Blue. Immediately, I notice the engravings on the nib is so deep that the ink has sunk in it! It stained the nib so much that I can't lightly wipe it off. I am sure the it will rinse out though so that is not a problem.
After it was aligned properly, it write smoothly with a wet (about 7-8/10 wetness scale) medium line (may be slightly on the broad side... but that depends on the paper as seen below (also ink choice).
On Rhodia paper (80g,m2 0.5mm spaced):
Cheap notepad, notice the thicker lines:
It is not as buttery smooth as my MB Noir et noir but I like it with a little bit of feedback too! I am sure in time though, it will become smoother.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention that the nib is very springy, definitely not flexy of course but "soft" certainly! I like that too!
Nib: 8/10 (a little disappointed that it is not aligned right out of the box, but it took me less than 10 minutes fix.. for now! I was actually looking for a fine but none were available where I got it from so.... 8 is all I can give now, may be it will earn extra points after some use or... maybe a regrind? to a XF stub... )
The pen is quite heavy, given that it is made of solid silver! I didn't weight it myself but others have indicated that it is around 52g, easily the heaviest in my collection. Interestingly the only one that may match its weight (using my hands to compare!) is a Parker Urban ballpoint!
Now, when I started search for informations on the pen, I notice a lot of the pictures on the net are the official ones that features a eye blinding bling bling pen but when I saw the few real life pictures here I was surprised to see it was kind of murky compared to a chromed pen. So in case anyone else wondered, here is a comparison of the shininess of the pen with 1) a Sheaffer Imperial stainless steel brushed chrome, 2) Waterman (not sure of the model) with a shinny chrome finish, and 3) Waterman 52 1/2 V Rolled gold / gold filled (just cleaning and is rather shinny in real life).
As you can see, it is not as shinny as the chromed finish or the rolled gold finish, but that is before it is polished and that is, in a way, the charm of this pen! It is not about bling or flashiness, it feels like a old friend which you don't mind being a little rough with. I feel like I want to use it, a lot, without worrying about damaging it's finish, and according to many people here on fpn, it is quite indestructible. Plus the little bit of tarnish in the gap of the grooves makes it look antique-ish!
Overall: 8.5/10 (I don't want to give it just a 8... may be it will upgrade to a 9 or even a 10 after some field trial but 8.5 is the best I can give for now. Don't get me wrong, it is a very high score, I will give my favorite pen, the MB Noir et noir the same
or even just an 8, I am quite picky and I love this pen!)
I will get a nice polishing cloth, get it all shinny just to see what it will look like and post it here later.
Yes, I am converted to the dark side (YOL - yelling out loud )!
Post-script: Like I said, I enjoy a fine line so I thought I try writing upside down. It does write an extra fine wet-ish (5-6/10) line with no skip, but was inevitably scatchy as well. So after some smoothing and 50 or so figure 8s on the cardboard back of the Rhodia pad, it has become rather smooth, not buttery smooth, but better than what I can use as a daily writer. OK, I better stop playing with the nib now before it is ruined like many of my other "experimental" pens... I am sure that if given a little bit of time and patience, it will smooth itself out!
The next day:
Seeing how the sun was out for an hour or so today and that I clean the hack out of the pen and waxed it last night, I took the opportunity to take some photos under the sun. The Corinthian can be really shinny and sparkle under the sun too!
Here are just some randome pictures:
I had to reduce the size of the pictures and that took away some of the "shininess". It is much brighter the original images.
Edited by andybiotic, 03 August 2011 - 00:30.