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An Appreciation Of Noodler's “Charlie”

noodlers charlie heart of darkness review

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#1 catbert

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 00:06

 My first attempt at a pen review. Comments and suggestions for improvement gratefully received.

 

-----

 

Noodler’s 'Charlie' is a free eyedropper pen that comes with the 4.5 oz size of Noodler’s Heart of Darkness - and now also with FPN Voltaire Candide Vermilion. These are my impressions after using them together for about a month.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The free pen with Heart of Darkness used to be an eyedropper-converted Platinum Preppy. As Nathan Tardif of Noodler’s Ink explains, the Charlie pen is a response to the events in Paris in January 2015 - his way of saying ‘Je suis Charlie’, or at least ‘Ce stylo est Charlie’. 

 

Charlie 1.jpg

https://www.youtube....h?v=G-FpVSf8udI

 

I missed out on the first batch of 140 Charlies, which sold out quickly. In some ways, being neither a satirical writer nor a cartoonist, I felt unqualified to take up that torch. But as soon as Goulet Pens (no affiliation, happy customer) got a second batch in stock around mid-May, I put in an order.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

Charlie is a light, slim pen, similar in size, shape and materials to a Noodler’s Creaper. It feels comfortable and solid. The screw cap (mine is black with muted red-brown streaks that are hard to photograph) is interchangeable with a Creaper cap. 

 

Charlie 2.jpg

Creaper above, Charlie below.

 

The clear barrel, which is perhaps a touch softer than a Creaper’s, has NOODLERS INK CO stamped into one side and CHARLIE on the other. I think the absence of the ‘CHARLIE’ imprint on the barrel identifies a pen from the first production run. 

 

Uncapping the pen reveals a black section and a friction-fit steel nib with an ebonite feed and a classic profile. It looks like it might be possible to swap a Creaper nib and feed into the Charlie.

 

Charlie 3.jpg

Nib and section: Creaper above, Charlie below.

 

Approximate dimensions (ruler and kitchen scale)

 

Length: capped 132 mm, uncapped 118 mm, posted 138 mm

Section diameter: 9 mm

Inked weight: capped 12 g, uncapped 9 g  

 

Charlie 5.jpg

Size comparison: (top to bottom) Ahab, Creaper, Charlie

 

WRITING EXPERIENCE

 

Before filling I pulled and cleaned the nib and feed to remove any manufacturing residues, as recommended for Noodler’s pens.

 

The internal threads of the barrel are pre-greased. When filled to just below the threads, the barrel holds about 2.5 ml of ink.

 

After filling, the pen wrote on the first touch - no hesitation or skipping. Inked with Heart of Darkness, the smooth non-flex nib produces a fine, wettish, and very black line. Reverse writing yields a finer, drier, but no less black line. It was briefly a hard starter after a couple of days nib-up in a pen cup. Loosening the section a half turn and then tightening it again primed the feed and restored normal flow. 

 

Charlie 7.jpg

Writing sample on Nock index card.

 

CLOSING OBSERVATIONS

 

After a month using Charlie, I have only a few minor issues:

- The ink reservoir seems to run down faster than I use it. The same is true of all my Noodler’s pens. Something about the permeability to air of vegetal resin compared to other plastics?

- Because the cap posts deeply, any ink in the cap gets on the barrel and then on my hands. (I don't usually post but discovered this when measuring the posted length.)

- The cap threads bind slightly, as on other Noodler’s pens. 

 

Quibbles aside, I like Charlie very much. I like its looks, the way it writes, and what it stands for.

 

There is something attractive about a straightforward pen with a huge supply of indelible ink. Only the thought of all that ink getting loose in a bag or pocket stops me using it, or any eyedropper, as a carry pen. But that could change.

 

As for Heart of Darkness, I don’t yet know if it will become my standard black. I like it well enough that I shall be using it a lot in Charlie (and other pens) - and not just because I have a lot of it. 

 

With many pens, aesthetics, fine materials, heritage - even price - inform the writing experience. Because it is functional, unadorned and free, Noodler’s Charlie removes these from consideration. There is almost nothing to distract from the essential function of putting ink on paper to fix your thoughts for posterity, or until you get to the supermarket. (I say ‘almost nothing’ because any transparent container of ink is quite distracting to me.) Whether you write and draw to advance free speech and great ideas, or for less exalted reasons, Charlie is an enjoyable little pen.

 

Noodler’s Charlie

 

Design: classic, open nib

Options: random cap swirls, otherwise none

Filling system: eyedropper only

Nib: steel

Feed: ebonite

Body material: vegetal resin

 

Pros

free (with 4.5 oz bottle of Heart of Darkness or FPN Voltaire Candide Vermilion)

smooth writer

large capacity

small and light

posts securely

feels sturdy

 

Cons

smells a bit (doesn’t bother me)

too small and light for some

 

Charlie 9.jpg

Hommage à Tardif.



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#2 swanjun

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 01:29

If not for the disappearing ink factor, I might want one!



#3 catbert

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 03:38

If not for the disappearing ink factor, I might want one!

 

I knew what to expect going in, so that hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me.

 
I guess it’s partly a side-effect of too many inked pens. They’re all evaporating, but I can’t see. That said, the Preppy and the Parker 51 seem to last for ever.
 
More scientific measurement needed …


#4 mudman

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 04:27

I like this pen a lot, really light. The smell bothered me a little as well.



#5 mehandiratta

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 18:56

 My first attempt at a pen review. Comments and suggestions for improvement gratefully received.
 
-----
 
Noodlers 'Charlie' is a free eyedropper pen that comes with the 4.5 oz size of Noodlers Heart of Darkness - and now also with FPN Voltaire Candide Vermilion. These are my impressions after using them together for about a month.
 
BACKGROUND
 
The free pen with Heart of Darkness used to be an eyedropper-converted Platinum Preppy. As Nathan Tardif of Noodlers Ink explains, the Charlie pen is a response to the events in Paris in January 2015 - his way of saying Je suis Charlie, or at least Ce stylo est Charlie. 
 
Charlie 1.jpg
https://www.youtube....h?v=G-FpVSf8udI
 
I missed out on the first batch of 140 Charlies, which sold out quickly. In some ways, being neither a satirical writer nor a cartoonist, I felt unqualified to take up that torch. But as soon as Goulet Pens (no affiliation, happy customer) got a second batch in stock around mid-May, I put in an order.
 
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
 
Charlie is a light, slim pen, similar in size, shape and materials to a Noodlers Creaper. It feels comfortable and solid. The screw cap (mine is black with muted red-brown streaks that are hard to photograph) is interchangeable with a Creaper cap. 
 
Charlie 2.jpg
Creaper above, Charlie below.
 
The clear barrel, which is perhaps a touch softer than a Creapers, has NOODLERS INK CO stamped into one side and CHARLIE on the other. I think the absence of the CHARLIE imprint on the barrel identifies a pen from the first production run. 
 
Uncapping the pen reveals a black section and a friction-fit steel nib with an ebonite feed and a classic profile. It looks like it might be possible to swap a Creaper nib and feed into the Charlie.
 
Charlie 3.jpg
Nib and section: Creaper above, Charlie below.
 
Approximate dimensions (ruler and kitchen scale)
 
Length: capped 132 mm, uncapped 118 mm, posted 138 mm
Section diameter: 9 mm
Inked weight: capped 12 g, uncapped 9 g  
 
Charlie 5.jpg
Size comparison: (top to bottom) Ahab, Creaper, Charlie
 
WRITING EXPERIENCE
 
Before filling I pulled and cleaned the nib and feed to remove any manufacturing residues, as recommended for Noodlers pens.
 
The internal threads of the barrel are pre-greased. When filled to just below the threads, the barrel holds about 2.5 ml of ink.
 
After filling, the pen wrote on the first touch - no hesitation or skipping. Inked with Heart of Darkness, the smooth non-flex nib produces a fine, wettish, and very black line. Reverse writing yields a finer, drier, but no less black line. It was briefly a hard starter after a couple of days nib-up in a pen cup. Loosening the section a half turn and then tightening it again primed the feed and restored normal flow. 
 
Charlie 7.jpg
Writing sample on Nock index card.
 
CLOSING OBSERVATIONS
 
After a month using Charlie, I have only a few minor issues:
- The ink reservoir seems to run down faster than I use it. The same is true of all my Noodlers pens. Something about the permeability to air of vegetal resin compared to other plastics?
- Because the cap posts deeply, any ink in the cap gets on the barrel and then on my hands. (I don't usually post but discovered this when measuring the posted length.)
- The cap threads bind slightly, as on other Noodlers pens. 
 
Quibbles aside, I like Charlie very much. I like its looks, the way it writes, and what it stands for.
 
There is something attractive about a straightforward pen with a huge supply of indelible ink. Only the thought of all that ink getting loose in a bag or pocket stops me using it, or any eyedropper, as a carry pen. But that could change.
 
As for Heart of Darkness, I dont yet know if it will become my standard black. I like it well enough that I shall be using it a lot in Charlie (and other pens) - and not just because I have a lot of it. 
 
With many pens, aesthetics, fine materials, heritage - even price - inform the writing experience. Because it is functional, unadorned and free, Noodlers Charlie removes these from consideration. There is almost nothing to distract from the essential function of putting ink on paper to fix your thoughts for posterity, or until you get to the supermarket. (I say almost nothing because any transparent container of ink is quite distracting to me.) Whether you write and draw to advance free speech and great ideas, or for less exalted reasons, Charlie is an enjoyable little pen.
 
Noodlers Charlie
 
Design: classic, open nib
Options: random cap swirls, otherwise none
Filling system: eyedropper only
Nib: steel
Feed: ebonite
Body material: vegetal resin
 
Pros
free (with 4.5 oz bottle of Heart of Darkness or FPN Voltaire Candide Vermilion)
smooth writer
large capacity
small and light
posts securely
feels sturdy
 
Cons
smells a bit (doesnt bother me)
too small and light for some
 
Charlie 9.jpg
Hommage à Tardif.

Good post

Edited by mehandiratta, 01 July 2015 - 18:57.

vaibhav mehandiratta                               

architect & fountain pen connoisseur 

 

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#6 Master and Commander

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 16:58

Great review!  Thanks so much.


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#7 inkstainedruth

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 20:09

Thanks for the review.  

I'm finding I like the Charlie pen a whole lot -- not what I expected for an eyedropper.  My only previous experience was with the Preppies included with some of the 4-1/2 ounce bottles of Noodler's inks: they worked well (I have mine set up with the rollerball heads), but seemed really cheap-looking and feeling).

The Charlie doesn't seem cheap, just inexpensive.  I thought that mine seemed to have the same size cap as my FPCs -- thanks for confirming that.  I've had mine since the end of May, and I think I'm still running the first or second fill of Heart of Darkness through it in early July -- so if there's evaporation, it's not a lot (and about par for the course of the resin bodied FPCs and Konrads I have).  Once it's emptied out finally, I'm going to try Old Manhattan and see if I like it better than HoD -- which I'm finding I really like a lot, BTW.  Or maybe even something a little more "exotic"(who knows -- it might end up being the new "BSB pen"...  :rolleyes:).

 Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#8 catbert

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 00:50

A small update, in which curiosity is satisfied.
 
----
 
Last week Charlie was getting to about half empty, the feed was noticeably more saturated, and it was writing wetter. Not unusual for an eyedropper, as I understand it (this is my first). I didn’t write long enough for my hand’s warmth to cause any ink burping.
 
Since I had to top up the pen anyway, it seemed like a good time to answer a couple of questions I'd been thinking about:
Q. Can a Creaper nib and feed fit in a Charlie? Can a Charlie nib and feed fit in a Creaper?
 
Charlie-Creaper 1.jpg
Creaper nib and feed above, Charlie nib and feed below.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A. Yes and yes.
 
Charlie-Creaper 2.jpg
Above: Creaper with Charlie nib and feed.
Below: Charlie with Creaper nib and feed.
 
Putting a larger ink supply behind a Creaper nib has a lot of potential. And there is the added bonus that the Charlie barrel is easier to flush.
 
The ‘Crealie’ hybrid (yes, terrible name) railroaded a little in the sample but is good now. It writes like a standard Charlie, which is to say smooth and wet, but feathers more on Nock card when flexed.
 
Charlie-Creaper 3.jpg
Writing sample on Nock index card.
 
The reverse combination - Charlie nib in Creaper body (‘Charper’?) - worked well in a dip test. The feed sits further forward in this configuration. That might be an issue if your writing angle is lower than, say, 30 degrees.
 
Charlie-Creaper 4.jpg
Charlie nib in Creaper body. Note stubborn rouge hematite stains.
 
I will most likely return this Charlie to its original state and get another one for nib swaps and inks other than Heart of Darkness. It’s a pen I grab often for quick notes and general noodling. Evaporation is not as bad as I originally thought, considering it gets more handling than other pens (I still can’t help watching the ink slosh back and forth). I don't notice the smell unless I take a hit off the inside of the cap - and it's nowhere near as pungent as an Ahab  :).
 
Charlie-Creaper 5.jpg
Crealie and Charper? Creachar - rhymes with creature - and Lieper? Perlie? (I'll stop now.)
 
Clearly a lot of pens will have to be inked with Heart of Darkness to justify another bottle, and another Charlie.


#9 sd10521

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 01:58

Thanks for the great review. Now I have to ink mine up.

I was a little hesitant because I thought I would have more ink on me than on the paper.



#10 catbert

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 22:49

Thanks for the great review. Now I have to ink mine up.

I was a little hesitant because I thought I would have more ink on me than on the paper.

 

Thanks!
 
Hope you’ll come back and let us know how you get on with Charlie. On my third refill now. I like it quite a bit - but you already knew that.


#11 Tas

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 22:30

Brilliant review. Thank you.



#12 Bobje

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 23:35

The back story and values behind the pen do indeed inform its use, don't they? I really enjoyed your incisive review.


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#13 catbert

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 00:07

Brilliant review. Thank you.

 

Thanks!

 

Is Charlie with heart of darkness a combination you would use for sketching?



#14 catbert

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 00:09

The back story and values behind the pen do indeed inform its use, don't they? I really enjoyed your incisive review.

 

Thanks. I think they do, yes.

 

I see there's a documentary about the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists now.



#15 inkstainedruth

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 01:05

Well, I now have 3 more Charlie pens, courtesy of Nathan's specials at the Commonwealth Pen Show over the weekend.  I'm thinking that I may try one as a dedicated BSB pen (the eyedropper means I can play around with dilution right in the barrel).  As for the other two, I might try the sample of Blue Ghost in one; the third I haven't made up my mind about yet.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#16 catbert

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 01:12

Well, I now have 3 more Charlie pens, courtesy of Nathan's specials at the Commonwealth Pen Show over the weekend.  I'm thinking that I may try one as a dedicated BSB pen (the eyedropper means I can play around with dilution right in the barrel).  As for the other two, I might try the sample of Blue Ghost in one; the third I haven't made up my mind about yet.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

Yes, it struck me as an excellent pen for experimenting with inks. 



#17 SL89

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 01:48

I love the Charlie pen. I have two so far and would love to get more (as well as the unnamed Noodler's pen that comes with other ink bottles.) Right now they are inked with Borealis Black and Nikita Red, and they are my go to pens. I never thought that I'd be so impressed with something considered to be so cheap. It really made me re evaluate what I liked about pens, and that is form following function. For me they are objects and tools to be used and utilized.



#18 Tas

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 08:20

 

Thanks!

 

Is Charlie with heart of darkness a combination you would use for sketching?

 

It will be.

HOD seems to flow better than Noddler's Black too and I look forward to trying it out in loads of other pens.

 

(De Atrementis Archive Black is still more resistant than either to water washes though)

 

I love the Charlie pen. I have two so far and would love to get more (as well as the unnamed Noodler's pen that comes with other ink bottles.) Right now they are inked with Borealis Black and Nikita Red, and they are my go to pens. I never thought that I'd be so impressed with something considered to be so cheap. It really made me re evaluate what I liked about pens, and that is form following function. For me they are objects and tools to be used and utilized.

 

I agree, I have a couple of expensive pens and love using them but there's something about creating art with the most basic of tools that really thrills - Look at Ch'ng Kiah Kiean's work for example, mostly sticks and ink . . . STUNNING.



#19 inkstainedruth

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 15:04

I agree, I have a couple of expensive pens and love using them but there's something about creating art with the most basic of tools that really thrills - Look at Ch'ng Kiah Kiean's work for example, mostly sticks and ink . . . STUNNING.

Wow -- those drawings are amazing!  I was not familiar with the artist.  Thanks for posting the link.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#20 Tas

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 18:23

Wow -- those drawings are amazing!  I was not familiar with the artist.  Thanks for posting the link.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

Glad you like his work. :)

I recently bought one of his books but am sad that his previous publications are out of print.  :(







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