Before I joined FPN, I've never heard of DaniTrio as a fountain pen maker. Then again, in my pre-FPN days, I was content with a mere dozen pens.
Then I joined, and started seeing posts that rave about this beast called the DaniTrio Densho. So, after being on the wait list for weeks and weeks, Winedoc finally sent me the long-awaited PM about its arrival. With his usual quick delivery, I received my pen in a few more days. It came with a plain box and an eyedropper. Barebones packaging that is very fitting for this pen. In fact, fancier packaging for this pen would look terribly out of place.
I'll be honest. From all the pictures that I've seen, I was expecting a big black ugly lump that wrote like a champ. The pen isn't really pretty or handsome, but it is far from ugly. It's just a simple, big, black torpedo-shaped pen. I took it out, and held it, still somewhat skeptical about the pen's almost-mythical reputation. The matte finish felt good. After looking at it from all angles, I took a tentative sniff, and got me a nose full of that infamous rubber smell. It isn't unpleasant, and doesn't really transfer to my hands. I've come to like the smell, and have been caught sniffing at the cap while I write.
I then cracked open a new bottle of Noodler's Brown and filled the pen. Incidentally, the ink level in the bottle dropped noticeably after filling the pen to capacity. That was the first time I've ever witnessed such a crazy thing. Talk about ink capacity!
Initially, I had problems with the pen. It worked just fine when I write with normal pressure, but when I flexed the nib, the ink would run out and it'd take a few hard shakes before it would start again. A few frantic PMs to/from Winedoc later, I remembered a post saying to dip the nib in ink for 15 minutes or so the very first time the pen is inked. Although Winedoc had already inked the pen at my request, I did just that and the pen has worked perfectly ever since.
Its a big, black, torpedo-shaped pen. Did I mention that it's big? The pictures below show the Densho with a Pelikan m800. It's slightly fatter and longer than the m800 when uncapped (the perspective of the pictures may make it seem that the reverse is true). This pen is so... nondescript! And I mean that in the best possible way. Sometimes it just feels good to carry a pen that draws absolutely no attention to itself. In fact, this has become my favourite "stealth pen."
This is the quintessential anti-bling pen. I doubt if anyone who is unfamiliar with fountain pens would believe its price tag. When capped, all you can see is a mass of black rubber and a silver-coloured clip with DaniTrio engraved on it. The only other shiny thing on this pen is the nib.
My copy came with a matte finish, and it is reputed to hide normal wear and tear very well. I've been carrying the pen in my pocket for a few weeks with no special care taken to baby the pen, and so far it still looks the same as the day it came in the mail.
The Densho is one of the biggest pens that I have, on par with the flagship pens of major manufacturers like Pelikan's M1000. I usually go for pens that are slightly smaller, but this pen is light enough that it feels as if I'm writing with a smaller pen that fits perfectly. The pen has a very pleasant, inviting feel as if it's asking to be used. It is basically a very well-designed pen with no sharp edges or anything that'd make writing with it uncomfortable or tiresome.
The screw cap can be annoying when you're in a rush, and it doesn't take much to over-tighten it. I have no idea if it's a design feature or something peculiar to my fountain pen, but the first time I screwed the cap back on, I over-tightened it, and it just sort of "clicked over." There seems to be some sort of mechanism to prevent over-tightening, but I don't think I'll be exploring this "function" again any time soon. The pen was designed to be used un-posted. The cap on mine won't post very securely, and in any case it feels just a touch top-heavy when I tried writing with it posted.
The pen is also designed with a "tail" that makes ink flow user-adjustable. Very neat feature. I think I read that someone couldn't quite see where the gap that separates the barrel from the tail. Perhaps it's different for the glossy finish, but it is definitely visible on my copy. Mind you, it doesn't draw attention to itself, but you can definitely see it under normal lighting conditions.
I can find fault with only two design decisions, but only if I'm being overly picky about its looks:
1) The clip design looks somewhat flimsy from the side (see the left side, where it's attached to the cap), and the two rivets on the underside of the clip is rather ugly for an otherwise smooth lines. Let me note that I have had absolutely no problems with using the clip with everything from shirt pockets to thicker coat pockets. I'm sure I'll have decades of problem-free service from the clip, but I just wish it looked a little sturdier.
2) The choice of colours for the clip and nib. I would have flipped the gold/platinum colours of the nib, or change the clip to one that's gold-plated. This is an aesthetic point, but hey, this is my review.
Filling system: 4.5/5
It's my very first eyedropper, and filling it could not be simpler - unscrew barrel, squirt ink in, screw in barrel. While I like it better than converters, I think piston-fills are still my favorite. The treads are tight enough that even if you have ink in them, whatever doesn't leak out when you tighten the barrel actually stays wet in the treads. It works great so far, and I have no reason to think that it'll start leaking until I'm long gone.
Nib Design and Performance: 5/5
The nib is one big piece of 18k gold. Two-tone but mostly gold, it is engraved with a wheely-thingy that's aflame. I'm sure it has some significance to the people who designed in, but to me it just looks pretty. The feed is supposedly ebonite, but that's one thing I don't know much about, or pay much attention to.
This is one of the smoothest writing pens that I have. It has a different feedback feel from my other favourites (e.g. Sailor and Dupont nibs), but it just glides across paper. The flow is adjustable, and since I like my pens gushing like fire hydrants, I have the tail opened at basically twice the recommended length (4-5mm vs 2-3mm). I wish other pens came with this feature.
I decided on a flexy-fine nib to check out what the big deal is with flexible nibs. I have no experience with vintage flex nib, but I've read that DaniTrio's flexy nibs are considered to be functionally the same as vintage semi-flex. The nib does flex quite a bit when you put some pressure on it, but with my normal writing pressure there is absolutely no discernable line variation. Maybe some day I'll learn how to write with flexy nibs, but for now I'm very happy with just using the nib un-flexed. You can see a photograph of my ugly writing and poor attempt at showing line variation with nib flex. The paper used is cheap copier paper (tends to feather just the tiniest little bit).
Winedoc sells them for $175 shipped within the US (up from $150 awhile back), and he has trouble keeping these in stock. This pen is worth every penny of the asking price.
As far as I'm concerned, this is a must have. It is a true writer's pen, the one that screams (but only to people in the know) that all you care about from a pen is how it functions as a pen. Besides the two little aesthetic problems I have with the clip assembly and the gold/silver colour clashes, it has everything I look for in a workhorse pen: smooth nib with flex option, adjustable flow, fits perfectly in my hands, and scratch-resistant. It has become one of my favourite pens. In fact, it has been in my pocket almost every day since I first got the pen weeks ago.
If the size, looks, and price are acceptable to you, you owe it to yourself to experience this great pen.
Edited to fix a few typos.
Edited by helius, 20 December 2006 - 14:47.