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Rotring Initial Matte Black Metal Review


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#1 southpaw

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 02:56

This is my first review, so please keep that in mind when reading. I am also new to fountain pens, so bear that in mind as well. Please feel free to offer suggestions as how I can improve future reviews (or if I should just give up).

I have shamelessly borrowed categories from KendallJ’s review of his Sheaffer Aspen Balance (thanks) to aid me in the review.

Overall Design (4/5)
The Rotring Initial in Matte Black Metal is a modern design every-day writer. The cap is topped with Rotring’s signature red circle. “Germany” is imprinted on the side near the top of the cap and “APC System” circles the cap bottom. APC stands for Air Pressure Compensation, a system of the fountain pen which Rotring claims prevents ink leakage and ensures smooth writing even during flight.
The most impressive aspect of the cap is the clip, as it is a very well designed spring-loaded clip with a maximum opening of 3.7 mm – wide enough to easily fit over the pocket seam of your blue jeans.

Size & Weight (5/5)
The Initial is a not a lightweight pen given its all metal construction. Posted, the pen feels substantial, though not too heavy (but I like a heavier pen), albeit a bit “tail heavy.” Unposted, the pen feels significantly lighter and well balanced. The diameter of the grip section is nearly ideal ergonomically.

Dimensions on the Initial are:
Pen length
capped = 144.4 mm
posted = 159.5 mm
nib = 17.5 mm
grip = 26 mm
Pen diameter
max = 13.5 mm
uncapped = 134.7 mm
min = 6 mm
grip = 10 mm

Nib (4/5)
The Rotring’s steel nib is smooth and lays down a nice, wet line. It is engraved with “Rotring” and “F” for fine. The nib is rather unusually shaped based on my very limited experience, but it is in keeping with the pens modern flair.

Filling Mechanism (3/5)
This is the pens biggest weakness as it is a cartridge / converter. The converter comes with it and is a piston type. It is larger than the typical Waterman converter. It functions well.

Fit & Finish (5/5)
The barrel end cap and the cap are polished chrome. The barrel is a highly polished black plastic (edit: black plastic, not lacque over metal - sorry), although the name of the pen says “Matte”. The grip section is slightly textured (anodized finish) with recesses to enhance grip. My sample had no noticeable surface defects.

Summary (4.5/5)
The Rotring Initial is a modern, rugged, good writing every day pen. The clip enables you to carry it in just about any pocket. The size and weight combinations available posted and unposted should enhance writing duration. But don’t forget the best part - the smooth, wet, stainless steel nib which makes writing a joy!

Pics (sorry for the size - could someone tell me how to make them smaller?):
Edited with reduced pic size - thanks Bryan!
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted ImagePosted Image

Edited by southpaw, 06 June 2006 - 13:44.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

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#2 Bryan

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 03:14

Southpaw,

It looks like your photos are in store in Photobucket, so resizing should be easy. Just find your images on Photobucket and click on Edit. You should then see a section to resize your photo. I'd say you need to downsize by 50%.

Take care,

Bryan
Posted Image

#3 ElaineB

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 03:53

Thanks for the review, Southpaw. I have an Initial, too, and I agree with all of your ratings on this one. It's one of my favorite daily writers. Reliable, smooth, consistent. On any paper, with any ink. Yes, the nib is stiff, but it still feels quite satisfying to the hand. More than some other stiff-nibbed pens like, say, a Parker 51.

Btw, I heard that the Initial has the same nib as those hideous Rotring Cores. If that's the case, I can understand why the Core's such a popular pen despite that Klingon-inspired styling! :)

ElaineB

#4 southpaw

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 04:16

ElaineB,
I concur wholeheartedly about the Core's. I wanted to try one, but just couldn't pay even a little bit for something with that design (no offense to Core lovers). But just because you don't like the Core is no reason to bash the Klingons - consider the simple and elegant design of the traditional betleH.
Posted Image
southpaw
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#5 Maja

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 07:39

Great review, Southpaw (and I too like Kendall's pen review format---kudos, Kendall!)...and very nice photos, too! I think your review was very well-written, clear and detailed, so please do post more. :)

I own a Core pen but my Mom only paid 25 cents for it, so how could I say no? :rolleyes: It is a very reliable, sturdy, well-engineered (Air Pressure Compensation system? Gotta love German engineering :lol: ) pen and it sounds like the Initial is too.....
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#6 wimg

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 08:39

Thanks Southpaw,

Well written and nice pics! I never pay too much attention to Rotrings, because you don't see any most of the time, other than the Core or the hexagonal one (forgot the name), which is too heavy and thin for me anyway, so it is always nice to see someone tell a story about one.

Just a question: on your last pic, with the writing sample, on the section you can see something that looks like (4) notches. Is that for the Air Pressure Compensation system?

TIA, warm regards, Wim

the Mad Dutchman
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#7 Fulcanelli

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:07

I'm not sure why, but I always wanted to own a Rotring FP and reading your review, I think I found the one I want. Your review was very helpful, thanks!

I have a request for ALL reviews (I'm not picking on you)...include the suggested retail price. Price has a lot to do with the type of interest I have in reading a fountain pen and knowing if it's in my price range or whether I need to look for a second job is very helpful to me.

#8 Maja

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:10

I have a request for ALL reviews (I'm not picking on you)...include the suggested retail price. Price has a lot to do with the type of interest I have in reading a fountain pen and knowing if it's in my price range or whether I need to look for a second job is very helpful to me.

I think this is a great idea!
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#9 wimg

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:34

Hi Fulcanelli,

I'm not sure why, but I always wanted to own a Rotring FP and reading your review, I think I found the one I want.  Your review was very helpful, thanks!

I have a request for ALL reviews (I'm not picking on you)...include the suggested retail price.  Price has a lot to do with the type of interest I have in reading a fountain pen and knowing if it's in my price range or whether I need to look for a second job is very helpful to me.

Just like Maja, I think this is an excellent idea!
We may have to leave it to the discretion of the reviewer though, because he or she may or may not want to divulge the price of a pen, for whatever reason.

Would we have to include prices for other markets, too? In the European market, for example, prices are much higher than in the US market, and I don't know what prices in Asia, Afica, or Japan are.

Generally, for modern pens, if I want to know the price, I do a bit of googling, or check the FPH website first, and occasionally a few others. That tends to give a good indication anyway.

BTW, do you have a good suggestion for a second job? I am looking for one... :lol:

Warm regards, Wim

the Mad Dutchman
laugh a little, love a little, live a lot; laugh a lot, love a lot, live forever


#10 Fulcanelli

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 09:46

BTW, do you have a good suggestion for a second job? I am looking for one... :lol:

I was thinking of checking out the fast food industry. It seems to be stable, pays poorly, offers little in the way of benefits, but seems to be the job of the future in Amerika. I keep reading that service is the fastest growing industry.

Damn, now I'll have to scrub off the ink stains off my fingers and nose before I apply.

(I realize you aren't in Amerika, so you might have to find another field.)

#11 ElaineB

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 11:31

Just FYI, the Initials were originally street-priced at somewhere around $75, but the Fountain Pen Hospital has them on clearance right now for $35. Or they did a couple of weeks ago. (I bought one for a friend.)

ElaineB

#12 southpaw

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 12:00

Just a question: on your last pic, with the writing sample, on the section you can see something that looks like (4) notches. Is that for the Air Pressure Compensation system?


Wim, as far as I can tell they are just to enhance the grip. The notches do not go through the metal, but are merely indentions.

Regarding the price, I got mine from FPH at $35, but they are $80 as Fulcanelli indicates.
southpaw

Edited by southpaw, 05 May 2005 - 12:05.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#13 Fulcanelli

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 12:03

Just FYI, the Initials were originally street-priced at somewhere around $75, but the Fountain Pen Hospital has them on clearance right now for $35. Or they did a couple of weeks ago.

They must have known I would have bought one because I can't find that special on their page. Today they list Rotring Initials $95, their price $80.

Thanks anyway. ;)

#14 wimg

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 12:24

Hi Fulcanelli,

BTW, do you have a good suggestion for a second job? I am looking for one... :lol:

I was thinking of checking out the fast food industry. It seems to be stable, pays poorly, offers little in the way of benefits, but seems to be the job of the future in Amerika. I keep reading that service is the fastest growing industry.

Damn, now I'll have to scrub off the ink stains off my fingers and nose before I apply.

(I realize you aren't in Amerika, so you might have to find another field.)

Nah, food industry sounds good, and you can do that as a night job quite often. Maybe security guard is something to consider, too, thinking about it. That's another job I can do after normal working hours :D.

I'll have to do considerably more scrubbing than you, it seems. I am busy working on another ink review right now... :lol:

Warm regards, Wim

the Mad Dutchman
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#15 wimg

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 12:26

Wim, as far as I can tell they are just to enhance the grip.  The notches do not go through the metal, but are merely indentions.

Thanks Southpaw, for that info!

I was just wondering, never having seen one in real life. That is a good idea, with the steel section, to prevent it from slipping while writing.

Warm regards, Wim

the Mad Dutchman
laugh a little, love a little, live a lot; laugh a lot, love a lot, live forever


#16 toothy

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 03:20

Btw, I heard that the Initial has the same nib as those hideous Rotring Cores. If that's the case, I can understand why the Core's such a popular pen despite that Klingon-inspired styling! :)

ElaineB

:lol: Actually, I thought that the initial has a nib that was developed for another design horror called the Rotring "skynn". A fountain pen with a hinged clip and a "sensa" -style rubber grip.

It's supposed to have some kind of new venting system that allows the pen to be stored pointing down in a pocket. Has anyone else seen one of these :huh:

#17 Maja

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 08:32


Btw, I heard that the Initial has the same nib as those hideous Rotring Cores. If that's the case, I can understand why the Core's such a popular pen despite that Klingon-inspired styling! :)

ElaineB

:lol: Actually, I thought that the initial has a nib that was developed for another design horror called the Rotring "skynn". A fountain pen with a hinged clip and a "sensa" -style rubber grip.

It's supposed to have some kind of new venting system that allows the pen to be stored pointing down in a pocket. Has anyone else seen one of these :huh:

I haven't seen a Rotring "Skynn" model fountain pen in person...and I don't know if I want to, now that I've seen a photo of it :lol: I'm sure it's comfy to use, but it's just not my taste... Sorry!

(photo of Rotring Skynn pen here)
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#18 smudgy

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 15:02

Great review, Southpaw! :)

Maja, the Skynn is strange! That grip is huge - just looks like too much, and I can't imagine being able to hold it properly. If I bought it, however (and I won't), I wouldn't be surprised if my students thought it was super cool. :P

Edited by smudgy, 07 May 2005 - 15:03.

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#19 Keith with a capital K

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 15:25

I like the idea of posting prices (even if it's the dreaded MSRP) so people will know if the pen they are seeing is something they can afford...

Now...a Klingon inspired fountain pen with a Bat'leth (<<<geeking out here) inspired clip would be cool. I think we had this discussion before and a bunch of us agreed that any Klingon pen would have to double as a weapon so the Rotring 600 was a strong candidate.

I have also thought the Core would be cool if it had some flashing LED's...

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#20 southpaw

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 17:26

First, the Skynn is DEFINITELY not for me.

Second, Keith with a capital K said,

I have also thought the Core would be cool if it had some flashing LED's...

The preceding post was brought to you by the makers of Dayquil and Nyquil


. . . you may want to back off the Dayquil / Nyquil just a bit - try taking it in less than liter quantities.

. . . Flashing LED's on a Core??????

But the geeky Trekie in me likes the idea of a Klingon-inspired clip. Be interesting to see if one develops.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)






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