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Glass Pen Comparison


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24 replies to this topic

#1 fiberdrunk

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 05:23

I thought it might be useful to do a comparison of some of the various glass pens out there. Since each pen is handmade, no two pens behave exactly the same, even by the same pen maker. But it's revealing to see the shape of the various pen tips, to get an idea why some glass pens might flow better than others.

From top to bottom:
J. Herbin Green Glass Pen (from the 1990's)
J. Herbin Blue Glass Pen (from 2011)
Rohrer & Klingner Blue-Red Glass Pen (from 2012)
Authentic Models Palette For Pens Blue-White Glass Pen (from 2011)
Authentic Models Palette For Pens Clear Glass Pen (from 2011)

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The numbers in the written sample below show how far I got on just one dip of ink. The sample was written on Strathmore Calligraphy 400 Series paper using my own homemade traditional iron gall ink.




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I've had the green J. Herbin pen the longest of the bunch, and it has always been a smooth pen. It never required any sanding of the tip, even out of the box the first time. My newest J. Herbin (the blue one) is quite scratchy and required sanding, by comparison, and the flow is much drier-- in the photo (second one down from the top) you can see the tip on this one is rather long and narrow by comparison, and I wonder if this is why the flow is drier. If you can find a good J. Herbin, this can be an excellent pen. My green one is my second favorite glass pen. Despite the round marble-like stopper, my fingers tend to get the inkiest when using the J. Herbin pens. The pens work well with both commercial and homemade inks (including iron gall, black walnut & pokeberry inks). Oh, and I love that the J. Herbin ink bottles have a little pen rest on them just for this glass pen!

My favorite of the bunch is the Rohrer & Klingner pen. It's very smooth, pretty, has good flow, and puts down a reliable medium line. This is the one I recommend the most and is my favorite (I did a separate review of this pen here). I like the flat disk-like stopper on this pen. Though smaller than the J. Herbin stopper, the shape seems to prevent my fingers from getting inkier. So far I've only tested this one with commercial and homemade iron gall inks and it works well with them. I never had to sand this pen, either.

Lastly are the two Authentic Models (Palette for Pens) glass pens. They are packaged very prettily but are incredibly fussy to use. They don't even do well with the Authentic Models ink that they come packaged with. For the longest time I didn't think these pens worked at all (so far, only my homemade iron gall ink has worked with them). Even if you can find an ink these pens work with, they tend to put down a heavy, inconsistent, gloppy line that takes forever to dry-- which then tends to get smeared as you continue to write. Because it puts down a heavier line at first, it runs out of steam quicker than the others, so this means more frequent dipping. These pens are fatter but feel alright in the hand. They are pretty, but I just wish they wrote better than they do. The little bottles of ink that came with the set are gorgeous, but are sealed with wax and are a pain to open. And once you do get the wax off, the little bottles do not reseal reliably.

The Authentic Models set, with inks:

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My recommendation would be to test a glass pen before buying it if it is at all possible. But since most of us are mail ordering them (myself included) I recommend testing it immediately upon receiving it with a few different kinds of inks. I have had to return one faulty J. Herbin glass pen before. Sometimes a pen may work with one ink but not another. One that works well with all of your favorite inks is a keeper!

Edited by fiberdrunk, 08 March 2012 - 06:35.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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#2 Uncle Red

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 17:44

Wow, thanks for the review Fiberdrunk.

#3 gwilliams

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 17:58

awesome comparison of the 3 pens. I have the J. Herbin 2011 glass pen which I did have to sand a little, which did help it to write better. I am now looking for the Rohrer & Klingner glass pen to purchase. I was born a leftie also but was forced to learn RH wish I could write LH again.

#4 plc123

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 18:25

This is helpful! I didn't know that glass pens could hold so much ink! I love the ability to change inks quickly, too.

Thanks for the review!

#5 SheilaM

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 18:54

I have two of the Herbin pens; one worked beautifully, the other was fussy. Of course, I chipped the one that worked beautifully, so now it works nicely if I hold it just so...sigh. It always seems like such a gamble when buying these. Maybe I should try one of the R&K.

Your experience with the Authentic Models pen doesn't surprise me; my experience with them in general is that the product looks better than it performs.

Thank you for doing this comparison; it's good information to have!
"Expect a most agreeable letter, for not being overburdened with subject (having nothing at all to say), I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end." --Jane Austen

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#6 Lalique

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 19:29

Aloha, Fibery and Inky Goodness:

You have presented a marvelously delicious review of glass dip pens sure to stir interest in glass dip pens. There is a large cost difference between the three glass dip pen sets, and we do tend to get what we pay for.

The cost of the Rohrer & Klingner glass dip pen set with one glass dip pen and two bottles of ink is greater than $39.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.stylos.se...?id_product=448 .

The J. Herbin glass dip pen set with one glass dip pen, one small sample bottle of ink and one small sheet of parchment paper is greater than $26.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.shopwrite...riting-set.html . I bought one of those on sale that cost me under $21.00 including the shipping. A J. Herbin Peacock Feather Shaped Glass Dip Pen is on my "to buy" list, http://www.thewritin...y-j-herbin.aspx

The Authentic Models glass dip pen set comes with two glass dip pens and six bottles of ink at a cost greater than $20.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.thewritin...tic-models.aspx .

I am curious about the Fountain Pen Style Murano Glass Dip Pen that costs just under $40.00 USD by itself without ink and/or paper included, not including the shipping and not on sale http://www.thewritin...-greenblue.aspx . It's on my "to buy" list along with a Rohrer & Klinger glass dip pen set after seeing your wonderful reviews of it.

I'm also curious about the Corrie Glass Tide Pool Glass Dip Pen that costs just under $75.00 for the glass dip pen alone before adding the shipping charges, not on sale http://www.thewritin...rrie-glass.aspx . That one is also on my "to buy" list.

Edited by Lalique, 08 March 2012 - 19:59.


#7 fiberdrunk

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:12

Aloha, Fibery and Inky Goodness:

You have presented a marvelously delicious review of glass dip pens sure to stir interest in glass dip pens. There is a large cost difference between the three glass dip pen sets, and we do tend to get what we pay for.

The cost of the Rohrer & Klingner glass dip pen set with one glass dip pen and two bottles of ink is greater than $39.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.stylos.se...?id_product=448 .

The J. Herbin glass dip pen set with one glass dip pen, one small sample bottle of ink and one small sheet of parchment paper is greater than $26.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.shopwrite...riting-set.html . I bought one of those on sale that cost me under $21.00 including the shipping. A J. Herbin Peacock Feather Shaped Glass Dip Pen is on my "to buy" list, http://www.thewritin...y-j-herbin.aspx

The Authentic Models glass dip pen set comes with two glass dip pens and six bottles of ink at a cost greater than $20.00 USD not including the shipping and not on sale, http://www.thewritin...tic-models.aspx .

I am curious about the Fountain Pen Style Murano Glass Dip Pen that costs just under $40.00 USD by itself without ink and/or paper included, not including the shipping and not on sale http://www.thewritin...-greenblue.aspx . It's on my "to buy" list along with a Rohrer & Klinger glass dip pen set after seeing your wonderful reviews of it.

I'm also curious about the Corrie Glass Tide Pool Glass Dip Pen that costs just under $75.00 for the glass dip pen alone before adding the shipping charges, not on sale http://www.thewritin...rrie-glass.aspx . That one is also on my "to buy" list.


Wow, that Writing Pen Store sure has some tempting pens! They must have more varieties of glass pens than anyone else.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#8 Lalique

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:41

They must have more varieties of glass pens than anyone else.



I have not seen more glass dip pens on anyone else's commercial website, and I've looked at many. I paid for some items through PayPal I bought from The Writing Pen Store, then, cancelled within an hour after I placed my order and before my order was processed. To get my refund, I had to file a PayPal claim that did the trick almost immediately after I filed my claim. I'm sure they're fine UNLESS you cancel an order and expect a refund. A warning to the wise when doing business with The Writing Pen Store, buy from them through PayPal, and, if you cancel an order, follow up with emails to the Writing Pen Store and Mile High Net Stores LLC that is the parent company and also call Mile High Net Stores LLC to be sure they are processing your cancellation and your refund : ) .

Before I filed my PayPal claim I called Mile High Net Stores LLC and was told on the phone they had already processed my refund, but when I went to my PayPal account, it wasn't there. It was at that point I filed my claim. Within the hour of my filing, my full refund credit was showing in my PayPal account.To be fair, when I called, I was told their computers had been down. It could have been that there was a refund notation that indicated my refund had been processed when it had not.

Edited by Lalique, 09 March 2012 - 08:04.


#9 KristinaPerrez

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 10:01

thanks for the informative review

#10 basterma

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 11:42

Thanks for the review. I enjoyed reading about the pens. I always wondered about using them. Don't know if I will though. Too many hard floors around where I live. I'd be so afraid of breaking them.

#11 fiberdrunk

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:30

Art Brown currently has J. Herbin glass pens on sale for $10.50 plus shipping. That's the cheapest you'll find them anywhere. This is the photo from their website:

Posted Image

Edited by fiberdrunk, 09 March 2012 - 15:31.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#12 fiberdrunk

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 19:09

For glass pen fans, I just did a review of New Leaf Premium 100% Recycled Banana Paper (from Office Depot), and in the process of testing inks on the sample, I discovered this paper works awesome with glass pens!!

J. Herbin Glass Pen with FPN Noodler's Galileo Manuscript Brown Ink:

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Edited by fiberdrunk, 09 March 2012 - 20:40.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#13 fiberdrunk

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 20:44

This is helpful! I didn't know that glass pens could hold so much ink! I love the ability to change inks quickly, too.

Thanks for the review!


How far the ink goes depends on the paper. I found I had to dip a lot more frequently with banana paper because that stuff just slurps the ink right up!
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#14 fiberdrunk

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 20:37

I found this neat website that shows how glass pens are made. It's a photo tutorial.

Making Glass Pens
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#15 MusicalWriting

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 23:45

I found this neat website that shows how glass pens are made. It's a photo tutorial.

Making Glass Pens

Very cool! I was wondering how this was done.
I sing while writing.

#16 seanruss

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 23:06

I found this neat website that shows how glass pens are made. It's a photo tutorial.

Making Glass Pens

Very cool! I was wondering how this was done.


+1, ditto

#17 dterrible

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 14:23

May be good production pens, but try: http://www.glasspens.com/pens.html for really great pens.

#18 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 14:48

Thanks for the review! I LOVE glass pens, and have a few of them. Some cheap no-brand ones behaved about the same as your description of the Palette set and I really, really, really wanted to buy that set.

I mean really.

The newest glass pen in my collection is from Goulet. They have a demo/tutorial video which helped me a great deal because one of my older glass pens had a chip in the business end. I didn't even know you could smooth it out.

#19 plc123

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 15:16

May be good production pens, but try: http://www.glasspens.com/pens.html for really great pens.


@dterrible - have you used these glass pens before? what do you know about them?

thanks for any info!

#20 fiberdrunk

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 15:34

May be good production pens, but try: http://www.glasspens.com/pens.html for really great pens.



Those are really pretty pens. I notice they offer a repair service, too. I've never seen anyone offer that before for glass pens!
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik






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