I'll be following the traditional format of reviewing the pen in each of the categories, but since this is a custom pen that was made to my exact specifications, it doesn't make sense to me to use the number scale because everything would be a 10/10. No pen is perfect, but this pen is perfectly how I asked for it. As part of this review, I will compare this celluloid pen to my acryllic and ebonite pens. I will also compare a variety of Edison nibs.
Many others have commented on Brian's excellent customer service, and I will add this experience to the list. It's impossible to overstate his professionalism and dedication.
I discovered Brian Gray and the Edison Pen Company earlier this spring, and it didn't take me long to decide that I wanted one of his pens. Besides the fact that he makes beautiful pens, I liked the idea of a hand crafted writing instrument. I spent a few weeks looking at the photos on the website, but I had trouble narrowing down my choices! I finally spotted a photo that inspired our final design, and I called Brian to begin the process.
For those of you who aren't sure of how to begin, he makes it very easy. I told him my initial thoughts, and he asked questions from there. The final design was truly a collaboration of my vision and his expertise. I made two changes after the initial invoice, and both times he promptly sent an updated invoice for my approval. The total time from my first phone call until I received the pen in the mail was about 6 weeks.
I had a picture in my mind's eye of what the pen would look like, but there is always that fear that reality won't live up to the ideal. When Brian emailed me photos of the pen for final approval before shipping, I was thrilled. It was just what I had envisioned.
When it finally arrived, I didn't open the box for half an hour because I was afraid I would be disappointed, but it was just right. I had to leave right away to take my daughter to get her senior pictures taken, but in a way that was good because I took the pen with me and had a chance to evaluate it strictly for its aesthetics and not its writing ability.
Appearance and Design:
I really like the design of this pen. The contrast of the black and ivory was the starting point for our design. I liked the rounded ends of the Herald, but I thought the clip from the Nouveau Premiere would suit my idea better. Brian said, "No problem." We initially decided on using acryllic for the material, but I later upgraded to celluloid for the ivory and ebonite for the black.
I now have pens from Brian in acryllic, ebonite, and celluloid. Even though I have been writing with FP for about five years, I am relatively new to the world of nicer pens, so I think I can write from the prospective of a newcomer to compare the materials.
Acryllic -- the acryllic pen I have is the Nouveau Premiere in black satin. It is perfectly smooth and lightweight.
Celluloid -- this Herald is my celluloid pen. I probably won't do this one justice! To me, The celluloid pen is as smooth as glass but not cold to the touch like glass. It is very comfortable to hold for extended writing sessions. The inside of the cap has a distinct camphor smell -- like Vicks Vaporub for those familiar with that brand. You do not smell it at all if you do not bring the cap up to your nostrils. I specifically smelled it because I had read that celluloid was smelly. If you think you would be put off by the smell, don't worry. If you don't smell it on purpose, you will not notice.
Ebonite -- my ebonite pen is the Nouveau Premiere LE. It literally feels alive in my hand. It is no mere pen, but is an extension of my fingers transfering my thoughts to paper. Its appearance is glossy, but it feels silky in my hand. It warms as I write with it as if it is molding itself to my hand. As it warms, the ebonite releases its typical faint "rubbery" smell. I don't think it smells like rubber myself, but that is how others have described it, and I don't have a better word. It is not unpleasant, and from what I have heard, that will go away with time.
If I had to choose either ebonite or celluloid, the ebonite would win -- but just barely. There are some designs that are not available in ebonite, and celluloid is a very close second. In fact, my next pen from Brian will be in tortoise celluloid.
Weight and Dimensions:
Here are some pictures comparing the length and girth of the Herald to the Nouveau Premiere and my Visconti Homo Sapiens. As you can see, the Premiere is the narrowest of the three, and the HS has the widest girth. When capped, the Premiere is longest, but the HS is longest uncapped. I don't post my pens, so I don't have a picture of that.
One of the things I was most uncertain about was the size pen I wanted. I have larger hands and long fingers for a woman, so I need a larger pen for extended writing sessions. I debated back and forth between the Herald and the Herald Grande but eventually decided on the Herald. I am still not sure if I made the right choice. I sometimes find my fingers gripping the section down close to the nib instead of further up like I usually write. It is not enough to make it uncomfortable, though. If I order this pen body again, I will probably either choose the Grande or ask Brian to extend the length slightly.
I like the girth of the pen. My Nouveau Premiere is a little narrow for my taste, so this is just right. It feels almost identical to my HS in girth. It is much lighter than the HS, though.
Nib and Performance:
I chose a gold,, broad nib for this pen. I now have Edison nibs in fine, medium, and broad, and I have included a writing sample for each. I will probably eventually get my medium reground to an extra fine for annotating in my literature anthologies. I find myself writing with a medium less and less, and I need something that will write on those exceedingly thin anthology pages without bleeding through. The fine nib will annotate mass market paperbacks without bleeding through, and it also does well on cheap, student notebook paper.
I asked Brian to do the "next to impossible" with this broad nib, and he did an excellent job. I sent him a sample of both HP 24 lb copy paper and of Crane and Co. stationary. I do not like feedback on my nibs at all. I wanted the nib to write perfectly smoothly on the Crane paper without bleeding through on the HP paper. It does what I want on both. I couldn't ask for more.
As far as comparing gold to steel, that is something you can only know after you have written with both. Brian's steel nibs are very, very smooth. In the thread for my Premiere LE review I pointed out that the manager of the B&M pen store that I frequent was shocked at how smooth the steel fine was. The gold adds spring and life to the nib, though. (Spring, NOT flex!) My broad, gold Edison nib compares favorably to the palladium nib on my HS. It's not worth the extra cost for everyone, so if you aren't sure, start with the steel. You can always upgrade later. Switching the nib is literally as easy as changing ink.
The only leakage that has occurred is a small amount in the cap when my pen case accidentally got stored nib-side down in my bag. I only noticed that because I specifically checked. It had not leaked outside of the pen.
My pen is a cartridge/converter filler. Brian offers a bulb filler for an extra cost. I initially considered making this one a bulb filler, but Brian pointed out that because of the black blind cap and finial, the bulb filler would make the proportions look awkward. I agree. I have converted my Nouveau LE to an eyedropper with no problems, and I will probably do the same with this pen when I settle on a long-term ink color. The converters Brian provides are very high quality.
Cost and Value:
Value is something that is so subjective! I could have found a cheaper pen that writes just as well. One of my best writers is a beat-up vintage Shaeffer that I bought off of ebay for less than $10! This pen has value for me, though, because it is beautiful, it is exquisitely comfortable to write with, and it is custom made. I will definitely be buying another pen from Brian again in the future.
Base price for the Herald: $250
Upgrade nib to gold: 100
Upgrade materials: 40
Edited by Tiffanyhenschel, 27 August 2011 - 21:53.