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Parker Ingenuity


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#1 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 17:38

I posted the original form of this review on my blog, where there are a few more pictures. It's prompted by the events of this thread, where a load of us were discussing this "new mode of writing" in something of a vacuum, and into that vacuum Colorado Pens thrust three review samples. I got one of them.

- - - Cut 'n' Paste begins- - -

I should probably start before the first impression, though, with an overt statement of my predisposition (because I’m posting this review in more than one place). Not only am I a fountain pen zealot, but I am infected by vintage fountain pens and their somewhat more graceful writing properties. I’m not entirely innocent of modern pens, though, and will be making, for the most part, an examination of the Ingenuity with comparisions to modern high-quality instruments in mind. My touchstones for this review are all pens that occupy roughly the same price-point as the pen under consideration, and I have spent a great deal of the preceding week examining and practicing my own powers of discriminating between subjective and objective opinion. The outside observer may think that I’m still biased, and I’ll not deny it, but I’m trying hard to spot it when it happens.

On with the first impressions. Behold the Ingenuity Large Classic:

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The fountain pen I referred to most often in this review is the Waterman Carène; they cost about the same amount (allowing for the price differences between various modes of Carène), and are made by companies which are lashed together at the owner (Newell-Rubbermaid holds Parker and Waterman). Right off the top, the close analogy is present; the boxes are of much the same size and finish, and are appropriate to having spent this amount of money on a pen. That little bit of paper at the back is an appendix to the main instruction sheet, which is hidden under the pad; the main instruction sheet doesn’t know the 5th Mode exists yet. Oh, for those who wonder, the modes are everything pre-fountain pen, fountain pen, ball-point, roller-ball, and this thing, according to the adverts.

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The pen is extremely old school in its looks; cylindrical, flat topped. It is a large pen, somewhat broad, and the surface finish is also in keeping with the price level. I have a little bit of trouble with the clip, which despite the looks of it is attached to the cap only at its upper end, very similar to the “Z-clip” of vintage pens. Looking at the catalogue sent with the pen by its kind donor, this seems to be the set-up on the Parker Premiere as well, so it’s not a sign of the new kid getting a cheap treatment. This isn’t really a low-grade clip, either, although the Carène’s spring-loaded clip just seems a little more high-class. As it happens, my objections to the clip (small as they are) are simply side effects of the mounting. This pen is quite heavy, in the modern “heavy = valuable” concept of pens, and the clip’s springiness is only just equal to the task of keeping it in the pocket when tying shoes; this makes me nervous. The solution to this also makes me nervous; slide the fletching of the arrow over the top of the pocket. This bugs me because it might afflict the pocket’ fabric, and because I fear rendering the clip sprung. This sad nervous condition is, of course, not a proven problem, and may be overlooked as one man’s opinion.

Uncapping the pen, I find that I actually approve of the way the cap posts. It seems very gentle inside, and while it posts by friction it doesn’t carry the same sense of impending damage to the barrel’s finish that I get when posting caps on the Carène or the Sheaffer Legacy, although the weight and balance of the pen are such that I rather don’t think I would make a habit of posting. The mechanism by which the cap stays on the busness end of the pen is, alas, the deformable inner-cap “clicker” common to a lot of modern Parkers and various other maker’s pens. There are some versions of this mechanism which have not stood the test of time, and while I can’t put this down as a strict negative, it will be something to watch as the model ages.

The section is plated metal, and this is usually an invitation to a complaint about a slippery section. There is a little texturing on the section, which may be sufficient to address this problem. I certainly didn’t find it an issue when testing this pen, but I was doing this in a cool environment with hands not given to dampness. Warm and damp pen users may find a gripping problem. Something that I did find a problem is a sharp step at the joint, which prolonged use saw digging into my fingers a little. Trying to avoid the step saw the pen out of balance, at least in my hand. On the Slim models, this step is not present.

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Getting to the point (ho ho!), I turn to the real nexus of pen-fancier’s curiosity. Merely looking at it, it’s not a raving beauty, although I find that if I squint I might find resemblance to the Parker 65 or 75. The impression, which seems to also follow the lead of the Premier, is one I find somewhat appealing, but I can’t shake the fact that it reminds me of the side of the arcade game console in The Last Starfighter. Looks aside, though, we are told that the pen “adjusts to your writing style after the first few words.” How about that, then?

Well... it is, I think, a bit of license on the ad-writer’s part. The bit that looks like a fountain pen’s point is, in fact, a mere protrusion from the face of the section. It may provide a little support for the actual writing component, but after trying the pen inverted, I don’t find that that needs much support. The actual writing component is an insert, which looks slightly like a 1940′s science-fiction interpretation of a modern pen cartridge. From the end of it peers a little writing tip, which looks for all the world like the hard-tip fibre pens I used in the mid-1970s drawing childishly careful architectural three-views of various Gerry Anderson spacecraft.

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The refill has some lugs on it that act along with the “feed” to prevent the whole insert from rotating in use. I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, as in recent examination of Parker’s Jotter ball-point, I learned that part of the reason for the whole cartridge rotating is to ensure even wear. With this pen, that’s not possible. The tip material seems sturdy (read on) but it’s not tungsten nor iridium, and is bound to wear under constant use and with all the friction concentrated on one place. Will it wear more slowly than it runs out of ink? I can’t say. I can say that even an iridium-tipped fountain pen point will take a flat spot eventually, and I suspect the fifth mode will be quite susceptible to that... which may count as adjusting to your writing style.

There is a spring at the back of the barrel against which the tail of the cartridge lies; it might also be something that is meant to allow for writing-style adjustment, but I’m jiggered if I can figure out how. When holding the pen in the sort of angle a fountain pen prefers, the pressure doesn’t transfer in that direction, and the spring doesn’t come into play. When the pen is held more nearly perpendicular, it takes a lot of pressure, in the opinion of a fountain pen user, to get any response out of the spring at all, although a heavy-handed writer may find it gives some cushioning but that hardly translated into enhanced expression. On a kitchen scale, I found it took about 1 point to start moving, and the metal “nib” grounded out at about 1.4 pounds. On the durability front, the writing tip did not actually collapse during my experimentation with that alternate lifestyle, so it is up to a certain amount of roughhousing.

I do not have an answer for the question, “Does it dry out if you leave it uncapped?” Probably. Don’t abuse your pens by leaving them about uncapped.

Now we are at the actual meat of the matter, the point hitting the paper. I tamp down my inner chauvinist at this juncture, and admit that it is not entirely unlike a fountain pen in the way it makes marks on a page. There is no more call for pressure than a fountain pen, and the visual density of the marks is good and consistent in a similar way. Another pen is shares a price point with is the Parker “51″ (guess how much 1945′s $12.50 is worth in modern cash?), and at the risk of getting some extremists howling for my blood, I have to say that the feel of the Ingenuity moving along a page is much the same at that iconic instrument’s. Held perpendicular, as a habitual ball-point user is apt to, the marks are a little closer to the “medium” the cartridge promises, while in the flatter fountain pen manner, it’s rather thinner.

The ink is quite water resistant, too, although I found on a long immersion that it turned blue. It is slightly less hesitant to write on a thermal-paper credit card slip than a fountain pen, but is no better on glossy magazine papers. We run up against another objection that only a fountain pen devotee might make; there are but two colours of ink, blue and black. This connects to another and more serious possible problem; if only Parker is making the refills, and Parker decides in a little while that the new thing isn’t bringing home the money like it should, refills could get mighty rare. They did it before with the Liquid Lead pencils, after all.

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This writing sample is a little unfair to the Ingenuity, as it is flanked by older, flexier pens. The inks were chosen to be water resistant to a greater and lesser degree, and the portion left of the black horizontal was held under running water for one minute.

Conclusions should here follow, but I’m not sure I’ve got any. I’ve explained my impressions as I went. However, I’ll dance around a couple:

•I am somewhat doubtful on Parker’s claim of inventing a brand new way of writing. This may be a polishing or enhancement of something that has been out of favour, but it’s darned familiar.
•Is it fair to compare it to fountain pens, or fountain pens to it? Not entirely, as it is something rather different. However, in putting that very suggestive and entirely non-functional split in the end of the casing, Parker has drawn the comparisons.
•Is it worth $160 (or more, in some versions)? That’s a knotty question. If I took a non-pen-fancier off the street, showed him or her any of the pens I’ve mentioned in this review, and said, “I want over $100 for this,” I’d be called a looney in an instant. Is any pen worth that much? My own answer is ”yes” in some cases, and it becomes a great battle of subjective opinion then about which cases. To me, the Ingenuity is not, but that is a reflection of my own inclinations rather than the pen’s inherent virtues. To someone else, it might be.

I’m curious to see how long the writing unit lasts in action. At $8 to replace, it had better take a while to wear or run out, but I’m going to be listening for that result rather than trying it out. It’s not a bad pen, but it’s also not a fountain pen.

Edited by Ernst Bitterman, 17 October 2011 - 18:00.

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#2 rcarlisle

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 18:17

Thank you for tackling this and for being so thorough and even-handed. I was curious what these were when I saw one on the cover of my latest catalog from Fahrney's.

Having read your review, I find it offensive that Newell-Rubbermaid is trying to pass off a thing that is in no way a fountain pen as being fountain pen-like or an improvement over fountain pens. I don't mind new technology or better things to write with. I am no Luddite. But I want things honestly labeled what they are. I once knew a fellow who brought carob dried fruit "brownies" to a party. He didn't label them as what they were. They looked for all the world like chocolate brownies. All evening people would bite into the "brownies' (expecting a delicious chocolate brownie) make an ugly face, and spit the bite out. They might have found them interesting and even good if they had known what they were really getting. This product makes me less likely to buy new Parker products. If they are MISLEADING in this I wonder what else they are being MISLEADING about?

edited to replace "deceitful" with misleading. I apologize. Deceitful is too strong a word for what Parker is doing with this writing instrument. But what they are doing would fit in fine on an episode of "Mad Men".

Edited by rcarlisle, 18 October 2011 - 17:31.

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#3 olivier78860

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 18:59

It would be really, really nice if the people who run Waterman and Parker these days just gave up their positions to people who actually enjoy pens.

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#4 GeeTee

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 19:53

Thank you for your review. The pen looks like a cheap chinese knock-off imho with the metal section and the flat nib-thingy. Wish parker started to make some interesting new FP's instead and bring back Duofolds in the original colours, why not a Duofold piston filler, that would be a pen i would be interested in.

#5 Florida Blue

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 23:57

Thank you for the review.

I actually find the design of the pen to be quite attractive. The design reminds me a lot of the modern Parker Premier fountain pens. I probably won't buy one because of the price but I would certainly consider it in the under $50 price range. Although, I detest rollerballs because the rollerball refills are so expensive and don't last long but $8 is actually not out of line for a refill. Parker already charges $5 for rollerball and ballpoint refills. If it lasts longer than a ballpoint refill and writes smoother than it might be worth it.



Having red your review, I find it offensive that Newell-Rubbermaid is trying to pass off a thing that is in no way a fountain pen as being fountain pen-like or an improvement over fountain pens. I don't mind new technology or better things to write with. I am no Luddite. But I want things honestly labeled what they are. I once knew a fellow who brought carob dried fruit "brownies" to a party. He didn't label them as what they were. They looked for all the world like chocolate brownies. All evening people would bite into the "brownies' (expecting a delicious chocolate brownie) make an ugly face, and spit the bite out. They might have found them interesting and even good if they had known what they were really getting. This product makes me less likely to buy new Parker products. If they are deceitful in this I wonder what else they are being deceitful about?


Parker in no way has ever stated that this is a fountain pen or has tried to pass it off as being such. I find it offensive that you charge them as being deceitful.

Edited by Florida Blue, 17 October 2011 - 23:59.

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#6 opus7600

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 00:21

Parker in no way has ever stated that this is a fountain pen or has tried to pass it off as being such. I find it offensive that you charge them as being deceitful.


Are you LOOKING at it? What is that nib-looking thing which is not a nib doing there, if not to make it look like a fountain pen?

#7 Florida Blue

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:58

Are you LOOKING at it? What is that nib-looking thing which is not a nib doing there, if not to make it look like a fountain pen?


I will tell you what it is for. This is a quote from Lewertowski about the purpose of the metal hood:

"The metal nib is designed as such to bring flexibility to the tip of the refill and get a smoother writing. The ink dries very quickly."

I believe the nib probably keeps the refill from drying out and allows it some degree of flexibility without bending out of shape.
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#8 estie1948

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 06:26

Ernst, Thank you for your very informative review. You answered several questions for me. Again, thank you.


Parker in no way has ever stated that this is a fountain pen or has tried to pass it off as being such. I find it offensive that you charge them as being deceitful.

In the catalogs I've seen, Parker has not "ever stated that this is a fountain pen". However, have "they tried to pass it off as being" a fountain pen? I'd say yes. I've reread the adverts repeatedly and Parker never says it is not a fountain pen. If that nib-look-a-like isn't meant to cause one to at least think of a fountain pen, I don't know what is. You are honestly saying that in your opinion Parker could not have used a different shape to achieve the flexibility and prevented the tip from drying out between uses? And this is an entirely new, never having existed before form of writing instrument (think Flair and their ilk)? What exactly do you call deceitful?
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#9 Nonsensical

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 11:50

Ernst, Thank you for your very informative review. You answered several questions for me. Again, thank you.


Parker in no way has ever stated that this is a fountain pen or has tried to pass it off as being such. I find it offensive that you charge them as being deceitful.

In the catalogs I've seen, Parker has not "ever stated that this is a fountain pen". However, have "they tried to pass it off as being" a fountain pen? I'd say yes. I've reread the adverts repeatedly and Parker never says it is not a fountain pen. If that nib-look-a-like isn't meant to cause one to at least think of a fountain pen, I don't know what is. You are honestly saying that in your opinion Parker could not have used a different shape to achieve the flexibility and prevented the tip from drying out between uses? And this is an entirely new, never having existed before form of writing instrument (think Flair and their ilk)? What exactly do you call deceitful?

It's all the eye of the beholder, I guess. I wouldn't go as far as to call it deceitful. It may be slightly misleading to call it an entirely new form of writing instrument- then again most advertising is indeed misleading. :rolleyes:

I wouldn't pay $150, and to be honest, it doesn't really appeal to me. Paying $12 for a refill? That's a whole new bottle of ink! :puddle:

Anyone else out there who likes to buy ink...You know what I'm talking about :eureka: !

#10 richardandtracy

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 12:24

Ernst,

Thanks for that very even handed review. I have been interested in the concept, but had suspected that the pen isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. It is interesting to see your comparison of the necessary writing forces. Maybe this is an alternative to a FP, but I too would like to see whether Parker is going to support the refill for the long term. I was more than a little niggled when the felt-tip re-fill went.

Regards,

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#11 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 14:11

Are you LOOKING at it? What is that nib-looking thing which is not a nib doing there, if not to make it look like a fountain pen?


I will tell you what it is for. This is a quote from Lewertowski about the purpose of the metal hood:

"The metal nib is designed as such to bring flexibility to the tip of the refill and get a smoother writing. The ink dries very quickly."

I believe the nib probably keeps the refill from drying out and allows it some degree of flexibility without bending out of shape.


As much as I respect JML, he's out a little on this-- the nib-like object has no give in it whatever. When I compare the writing properties to a Parker "51", I include the good and the bad aspects of the old pen-- it may be as smooth as one could wish, but flex has never been in the cards. It also can't play any role in drying prevention, because there is no part of the writing tip as it's exposed on the end of the cartridge that lies behind it... unless one is exerting about 500g of pressure straight down. Parker never says "fountain pen" in connection with this thing except to say that they're not the same thing, but that purely decorative bifurcated thing leads the imagination irresistibly towards thoughts of FPs.

I did neglect drying time in the review; it is very brisk, and I don't think a left-hander would find this pen made any particular mess of their page or hand.

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#12 rminj

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 14:58

Ernest,

What a well written review. Certainly if every item I purchased, car/pen/food was frankly written
about like this we would all be better off.


I'm sure it writes really good. But I think Parker missed something here. Can anyone on this board
recall being part of Parker's focus group that designed this? The cost of the great writing experience here so far seems to be:

a.) A proprietary refill.
b.) A high cost pen and slightly high costing refill
c.) A questionable design choice to make it look like a fountain pen.

I would have liked them to come out with an EcoRoller or Noodler's roller competitor where one can use
fountain pen ink and the tips are replaceable. They could have marketed it as a Green and Eco-friendly pen. But I can see where they would sell very little refills that way.

#13 Florida Blue

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 15:30

What exactly do you call deceitful?


I wouldn't call this pen or Parker or Newel Rubbermaid deceitful. That is particularly strong language without any proof that they are deliberately trying to deceive people into thinking this is a fountain pen. It does look like a fountain pen and I made no attempt to prove it did not but I think anyone who has ever used a fountain pen in the past is not in anyway, shape or form going to be fooled into thinking this is a fountain pen. We are obviously not their target market for this pen. I think this pen is suited more for people who use rollerballs or ballpoints and may be interested in a smoother writing experience but either don't want to bother with or find it impractical to use a fountain pen. Fountain pens are not for everyone and some people would like a better writing experience nonetheless. I think the refill looks like it may be fun to use and I may be interested in a cheaper variant in the future especially if the refills and the pens could be found easily at places like Staples where I already buy many Parker products.

In the past year I have bought 4 new Parker fountain pens from authorized dealers and several bottles of Quink, packages of Quink cartridges and ballpoint refills and I have never felt I was deceived in anyway by any Parker product I have purchased. I don't think it is right to claim that a company or any of the individuals that work for the company are deliberately or have tried to deceive their customers without any evidence to prove it.

I can understand why people are upset by this pen because they feel it is masquerading as a fountain pen when it is not and it gives them another reason to complain about Newell Rubbermaid for ruining the Parker brand both claims I believe to be grossly overstated.

I suppose Parker could just make the same pens for 60 years like Pelikan and Montblanc call it a day and they would upset no one.
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#14 Florida Blue

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 15:32

As much as I respect JML, he's out a little on this-- the nib-like object has no give in it whatever. When I compare the writing properties to a Parker "51", I include the good and the bad aspects of the old pen-- it may be as smooth as one could wish, but flex has never been in the cards. It also can't play any role in drying prevention, because there is no part of the writing tip as it's exposed on the end of the cartridge that lies behind it... unless one is exerting about 500g of pressure straight down. Parker never says "fountain pen" in connection with this thing except to say that they're not the same thing, but that purely decorative bifurcated thing leads the imagination irresistibly towards thoughts of FPs.

I did neglect drying time in the review; it is very brisk, and I don't think a left-hander would find this pen made any particular mess of their page or hand.


Thank you again Ernst. I appreciate you taking the time to go into detail to explain how the pen works.
Parker: Sonnet Flighter, Rialto Red Metallic Laque, IM Chiseled Gunmetal, Latitude Stainless, 45 Black, Duovac Blue Pearl Striped, 51 Standard Black, Vac Jr. Black, 51 Aero Black, 51 Vac Blue Cedar, Duofold Jr. Lapis, 51 Aero Demi Black, 51 Aero Demi Teal, 51 Aero Navy Gray, Duofold Pastel Moire Violet, Vac Major Golden Brown, Vac Deb. Emerald, 51 Vac Dove Gray, Vac Major Azure, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, 51 Vac Black GF Cap, 51 Forest Green GF cap, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, Duovac Senior Green & Gold, Duovac Deb. Black, Challenger Black, 51 Aero Midnight, Vac. Emerald Jr., Challenger Gray Pearl, 51 Vac Black, Duofold Int. Black, Duofold Jr. Red.

#15 Uncle Red

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 18:25

Ernst, thanks for the review. It was very well done. The only surprise was the water test, I expected the Ingenuity to fail. The advertising goes on about how this is easier and cleaner than a fountain pen, I don't see it. I also don't see any "expressive" aspect to the writing, well no more than any other felt tip.

#16 welch

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 22:07

Thanks, again, Ernst. Splendid review.

My quick notes:

- from Fahrney's catalog, the Ingenuity never seemed to pretend that it would be a fountain pen. I've seen some unethical advertising in the pen market, but this isn't close
- it always appeared to be an enhancement to the fiber-tipped pens of '70s, the best of which was the original Sanford Expresso. I liked the original Expresso because it had more of a fountain pen feel than ball-points and felt-tip pens
- I gave an Ingenuity a quick -- very quick -- try at Art Browns. It seemed dry compared to the wet P51 medium / Asa Gao I had in my pocket. (Noting the ink because A-G is wet, and that nib is also wet.)
- the size (also the full-size version) seemed a bit lumpy when posted. No time to try the smaller version
- I hate steel gripping sections, but Parker has at least put on some "mini-bubbles". Would prefer plastioc or even a rubber grip. Yes, I have carried a ballpoint Frontier Flighter for more than ten years.
- While nobody from Parker surveyed me about this pen, I took a survery that asked if I would buy a pen with a section that could take a fiber or FP or roller point (probably something else, as well). They certainly have asked, and recently...that was about a month ago. Of course, I suggested that Parker re-issue Penman Sapphire, and no answer yet.

Ernst's review is enough to prompt me to go back to Art Browns when I have more time.

Edited by welch, 18 October 2011 - 22:08.

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#17 estie1948

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 04:27

What exactly do you call deceitful?


I wouldn't call this pen or Parker or Newel Rubbermaid deceitful. That is particularly strong language without any proof that they are deliberately trying to deceive people into thinking this is a fountain pen. It does look like a fountain pen and I made no attempt to prove it did not but I think anyone who has ever used a fountain pen in the past is not in anyway, shape or form going to be fooled into thinking this is a fountain pen.


Okay, Florida Blue, I understand what you are saying. You are one side of the fence and I am on the other. And I will admit that I can think of other companies that have "allowed an individual to be mislead by their advertising department" in a bigger way than Parker "may have done" in this instance. Perhaps "deceitful" was too strong a term.

Ernst, I apologize to you for having detracted from the discussion of your excellent review of this pen.
No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery. -Anon.
A backward poet writes inverse. -Anon.

#18 jacanivel

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 13:13

Thank you for this thorough and well illustrated review. Was waiting for this pen to show up in Manila. I'll keep my money and stick with fountain pens.

#19 SnowLeopard

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:34

There are spiders that mimic insects, insects that mimic flora, and now we have a fiber thingy- tipped pen (...it's not felt ...)...that mimics a fountain pen. I really appreciate innovation. OOOPs-a-daisy! I meant to say, in this case,...adaptation...sorry...I think this is what Darwinians would support. Creationists will just have to suck-it-up...for now....lol. After all, isn't that why we began to love fountain pens in the first place? Wrote with it just a short time ago. Not bad at all....nice line...like a roller....no shading. However, it's not likely to appear on my must have list. Wait, there might be one reason to ... If they issued the original PPS inks...I might gift one of these to my gf .... for a future trade...for something. Now, If they gave away a bottle of that elixir, as a new promotion with pen, I'd take the plunge 4 an oz. or three of that stuff. Wouldn't U ? I can see that their marketing team is still asleep at the switch. FYI, I'd even consider keeping the pen, too. PS...This pen might just become the Edsel of fp's (...or the "missing link" to the next great pen from them...like the '51 was)....that'd be so cool. Note... to whomever is up this early at Parker...I'd have made the point an italic. Now that would look really interesting with a slight cut-away on the top of the nib. I don't care for the shape it's in at the present. Then it wouldn't look at all like a spitting cobra, or a small invertebrate male's appendage...LOL...for the line...it's all about the line. Disclaimer...I haven't had my Kona coffee yet this morning.Maybe my gf will brew some Jamaica Blue Mt. She's got killer beans....in the fridge.

Edited by SnowLeopard, 20 October 2011 - 08:49.


#20 ehemem

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:26

I think this pen needs a more appropriate name, something like DISINGENUITY or SUDOPLUME. Ya know, somethin really catchy.






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