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Battle of the IPG's


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24 replies to this topic

#1 KendallJ

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 21:51

There's a trend in fountain pen design I've noticed recenty. What I call the "value designer" pen. These are pens with steel nibs (usually, but not always "Iridium Point Germany" or IPG nibs), a focus on well made design ideas, and a moderate price point, usually $40-70. Laban, Libelle, Taccia, etc are all brands that have entries in this slot.

My last experience with IPG nibs was the ACME Frank Lloyd Wright series, which I found to be too heavy, with rotten nibs. I eschewed all IPG pens after that (snob that I am ;) ) Then at the Detroit Pen Show this winter, one of the dealers had 2 laban Mentor pens, and bid me try them out. I was very pleasantly surprised by nice design and a GREAT nib! Intrigued I remembered that experience, and recenlty as I have been waiting for my Nakaya Urushi decided to pick up two of htese IPG pens, one a Laban Mentor, and the other a Taccia Imperial Portuguese. The following review is a comparision of what I found.

Posted Image

1. Overall design Taccia 5* Laban 4*

Both are resin pens with steel nibs. The Laban resembles a Sheaffer Balance in design and proportions while the taccia is a little more blunt ended. both are interesting design ideas, with some classic elements. Both are "resin" pens coming in a series of different resin types. Basic differnce for me was the Taccia had nicer resin grain, while the Laban "tortoise" resin looks more like a pen with "plastic chunks" embeded in it. The version i tried at the Detroit show was the yellow resin which doesnt have this look and in retrospect, I'd go with that resin version (in yellow or blue) before I went with the marble versions. Taccia threads at the end of the section which is somewhat unique.

2. Size / Weight Both 4*

The Taccia and Laban are both roughly the same size and weight light pens. Slgithly more heft and girth to the Taccia, but not much.

3. Nib Taccia 5* Laban 3*

Now that I've had some experience tuning nibs, I'm a little more critical of the nib of a pen. I must say that I tuned up the nibs so that both of them are now great writier, BUT the Taccia wrote perfectly out fo the box. Upon close examination fo the nib, the Taccia was perfectly symetrically shaped and well ground. The slit is right down the middle. The Laban iridium ball was not symetrially shaped and the slit was off center, making it a bit troublesome out of the box, and frankly required a little more than just smoothing to get it to write well.

Posted Image

4. Filling Mechanism Both 2*

C/C boring, but frankly this is not a big detractor. They both use the least expensive all plastic convertors that you find on Asian made pens, like ACME, and even the Conklin convertors.

5. Fit / Finish taccia 5*, Laban 4*

Taccia edges out the laban on this area too. Resin finish is sligthly better, threading is better. Both get high marks for their nicely designed clips.

Posted Image

6. Overall value Laban 5* Taccia 4*

At $45 (isellpens.com) vs $72 (richardspens.com) the laban is slightly better value for what are pretty identical pens. The Taccia comes with a 1 pen travel case which is a nice adder, but not enough in my book to justify extra price. The Taccia is a little prettier pen, and more nicely finished so its my favorite, but if you look at the cost vs feature curves, Laban wins best value.

My mind has been changed about these mid priced "designer pens" and if you are budget conscious they are hard to beat for a combination of looks and function.

Kendall Justiniano
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#2 philm

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 22:19

Nice review Kendall,

I have the Taccia, the same forest marble that you have. I too, did a little regrinding to get it just the way I like it, but it was good right out of the box. Now you have my interest piqued re the Laban.

Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough review.

phil

#3 Ann Finley

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 23:27

Very nice review, Kendall. Thanks for sharing the info & beautiful pictures.

Best, Ann

#4 southpaw

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 01:40

My interest is peaked, but they'll have to wait. Thanks for a great review. Nicely done - and the pics are wonderful.
"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 27 May 2005 - 05:15

Great review and photos, Kendall :) (I always look forward to your reviews)

That threaded section on the Taccia reminded me of two other pens of yours---the Krone Geometrik (reviewed here) and the Krone Boulder(reviewed here)---have that have them too! (but not at the nib end of the section)

I received a gorgeous Laban Mento (not Mentor = different model name), the "big brother" of the Mentor in your review, from an generous friend and it's a fabulous writer.
I have heard very good things about Taccia pens, though, so thank you for spotlighting both of these well-made but lesser-known pen brands.

Edited by Maja, 27 May 2005 - 05:16.

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#6 Guest_Denis Richard_*

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 05:19

Great review as usual Kendall. I've tried some IPG few years ago, in cheapos... the "promotional pen" kind. I'm guessing there must be several grades of those nibs. Do we know who manufactures them ? Is it Schmidt ?

#7 wimg

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Posted 27 May 2005 - 22:33

Thanks for the nice review, Kendall!

It is always a pleasure to see any of your reviews, because of the attention to detail, the beautiful pictures and the personal notes. Greatly appreciated!

Warm regards, Wim

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#8 toothy

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 00:32

Great review as usual Kendall. I've tried some IPG few years ago, in cheapos... the "promotional pen" kind. I'm guessing there must be several grades of those nibs. Do we know who manufactures them ? Is it Schmidt ?

It's a really good question :huh: I've often wondered myself. Quite a few mid-range 50-100 dollar pens use them now (ACME, Taccia). . . but so does the 5 dollar "designer" pen I picked up at Target.

BTW "real" Schmidt nibs that I have seen all have a company hallmark stamped on them.

Edited by toothy, 29 May 2005 - 00:34.


#9 KCat

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 00:41

if it's a "true" IPG nib (best examples I can think of are on Acme pens) then I've found them largely unpleasant to use. Laban nibs are marked as Laban nib vs. as IPGs and while they are not German nibs, my experience is that they are good quality. The Taccia are pretty - but I would worry that the sudden step up from the section to the barrel would bite into my hand (my problem of course, everyone is different when it comes to how they grip a pen.)

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#10 KendallJ

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 03:08

Kcat, good point. I am not using the IPG term to refer to any information about where these nibs were made, rather just to refer to the general concept of steel nibs, at inexpensive price points.

I usually think of a true IPG knock-off as having the MB snowflake (or its semblance) on the nib, being a true giveaway that it was made specifically in Asia.

I think you'd have to grip your pen pretty darn high to hit that step up. More concern would be those who grip low and hit the threads I think.

Kendall Justiniano
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#11 KCat

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 18:16

I think you'd have to grip your pen pretty darn high to hit that step up. More concern would be those who grip low and hit the threads I think.

it's the web between thumb and forefinger that can get irritated by certain pen features. For example, I don't use pens with textures or angles because it irritates the area. I loved the write of Pilot G2 click disposables - but the seam hit at just the wrong spot in that area. So I think, given my smallish hands, the step on the barrel would hit that same spot. I could be wrong though. Would just have to try one to know.

hmm... i'll see if Dromgoole's has them when I go in to test drive the 1911M (whenver that happens. :( )

KCat
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#12 KendallJ

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 03:40

it's the web between thumb and forefinger that can get irritated by certain pen features. For example, I don't use pens with textures or angles because it irritates the area. I loved the write of Pilot G2 click disposables - but the seam hit at just the wrong spot in that area. So I think, given my smallish hands, the step on the barrel would hit that same spot.

I'd be surprised if it did. On my hand, that "webbing" hits the pen almost 2/3 of the way up the resin section. You'd have to have pretty small hands for it to rub.

On a side note, I should inform folks I had to repaire the laban today. I had the pen in a leather pen case, and the leather bands that separate the pen was pretty tight. Anyway, when I took the pen out to write today, the cap band, and a small ring of resin that holds it on were pulled off the cap. the resin band is fairly small and fragile looking, and not very much glue to keep it on. Epoxied them back and good as new, but was a bit of a disapointment.

Kendall Justiniano
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#13 KCat

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 23:15

hmm.... the cap band on the Celebration is threaded. interesting failure. :(

KCat
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#14 Stylo

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 18:08

Thanks for the review. I have been "meaning" to do one as well for my own Taccia Imperial Portuguese in Cranberry (but don't hold you breath :lol: )

Just a comment on gripping with this pen. Putting the screw thread low is a great idea to accomodate medium to high grippers. But for those who grip low, they should know that these threads are very nicely smoothed out and that they don't "cut" into you skin like those of the M200. KCat, as to the step, it is angled and somewhat smoothed out, but I don't see how they can touch the web between thumb and forefinger, unless you hold the pen with your thumb sticking straight out. But be warned that this is a pretty hefty pen. If you like the M200 size, maybe the non-Imperial version of this pen would suit you better. Also a note for those who grip at the highest point, the girth of this pen is much more there than if you grip in the"middle." It does not have the ultimate fit in my hand, but it is still very good.

As to the nib, it doesn't have a special hightened feedback that some nibs do, but it is extremely smooth and very reliable (at least mine is), and it is even pretty for an IPG :)

#15 ednerdtheonly

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 04:39

Well, I've been looking at some of the other Laban pens online. A few pens, especially a gold filigree on black caught my eye.

Posted Image

Which Laban models, if any, does this filigree pen share a nib with? Assuming that nib size is the same as that of the Mentor, how large would this pen thus be in comparision? I'd really like to know the girth/length of the pen, but have no way to carry out size comparison.

Edward T.
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#16 ednerdtheonly

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 04:50

Penspiration states that Taccia's Imperial Portugese "are made in some of the world's most modern pen factories using medium stainless steel nibs from German master nib maker Bock." Is this actually true?

Edward T.
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#17 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 02:53

I know that Laban Nibs are made by Bock
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#18 Arnav

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 03:30

A question about the Taccia for pen historians:

A pen that's been attracting me -- the (old) Sheaffer Crest -- started out with cap threads at the end of the section. (I think I've also seen some old safeties like that.) Seems this was not as robust as the later, more conventional design. How did these fail? Might the Taccia have the same problem, or are modern acrylics better than old celluloids?

I've never held such a pen, but the bottom-of-section threads seem to me to be a very attractive and ergonomic feature. I'm wondering, though, if they're really a good idea.

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#19 Apollo

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 23:28

Very nice comparison of the Taccia and Laban. Despite the Italian name, are Taccia pens made in Taiwan like Monteverdes? Is it correct to assume that "IPG" pens are?
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#20 Rufus

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 20:37

I took delivery of a Taccia Imperial Portugese in Forest Marble with a medium nib yesterday and have spent several hours yesterday and today writing with it. This is an excellent pen and much better than I expected. I spent a considerable amount of time researching affordable pens and decided on the Imperial Portugese because of its rich, but not flashy looks, price and the good reports from owners. As soon as I opened its box I knew I had made the right decision: the Forest Marble acrylic and chrome furniture look very rich and make the pen look a lot dearer than it is. After handling the pen for two days I am very impressed with its feel and the quality of the materials used and how they are put together; nothing cheap or slipshod here. But what has impressed me the most is the way this beauty writes: I use all my pens unposted and I find the IP the ideal size for my hand and perfectly balanced. The one concern I had about the pen before I received it was the location of the threads for the cap on the section just above the nib rather than the usual location above the section; I thought they might interfere with my fingers when writing (a bit like the clip on the Vanishing Point as reported by some owners), but they aren't at all noticeable even after writing many pages. The nib is also a dream; it wrote first go out of the box filled with Waterman's Florida blue; it makes a nice true (IMO) medium line with good wetness; it is smooth, but not glassy, giving nice feedback. Being a steel nib it doesn't have the springiness of my Bexley 14k and 18k nibs, but this is not a criticism, just an observation. Shu-Jen Lin founded Taccia in the belief "that pens should be affordable, stylish and well-built." If my Imperial Portugese is indicative of Taccia's other pens Shu-Jen Lin has hit the bullseye on all counts. In sum, the Imperial Portugese is an honest, high-quality pen that punches well above its weight. I'd buy it again with absolutely no hesitation and I'd buy another Taccia pen in a flash; in fact I have been admiring the Staccato in Burgundy Ebonite.
Bryan

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