Sometimes a new pen comes along and just shouts, “You need to have me now!” Often these pens come from the big name manufacturers with big advertising budgets designed to whip up the desire of people who have never touched the pen in person. As much as I try not to get sucked into the frenzy vortex, it happens sometimes to the best of us. Then there are magnificent pens that come to you unlooked for and seemingly from somewhere you would never expect. The new Wahl-Eversharp Decoband fits into this category. The W-E pen company was resurrected several years ago by co-owner Syd Saperstein (knows by his FPN handle “wahlnut” around these parts) and has been a real positive example of what can be done when your passion becomes your business. W-E Pen Co. has been putting out some great looking Skyline pens in the last few years, but nothing oversized that caught my attention. That is until I stopped by Syd’s booth at the San Francisco pen show and saw the gorgeous new W-E Decoband in Rosewood with the large #8 Superflex nib.
Ordering the Pen
You can order this pen from the website now that is it is in production, but I ordered it from Syd and his lovely wife at the San Francisco pen show in August 2015. Syd had a black, rosewood, and clear(demo) pen available to look at and hold. He also had a sample of the lapis blue marble acrylic but no pens were produced yet in that color. I spent a fair amount of time holding the rosewood pen and doodling with it. I walked around for a bit but then came back a few hours later to put down a deposit. I paid half up front and then the other half was due upon completion of production. The total price was $850.
A few notes. The pen at the show had an 18K nib, but production pens were changed to have either a 14K Superflex or you can now order a semi-flex 14K EF nib. The blue material is fairly limited because there is only enough rod stock to make maybe 280 pens if there are no production errors. The clear pens were not for sale at the time, but I understand they might be in the future. Contact Syd for more details.
The Arrival and Unboxing
The pen box is huge and beautiful piano black lacquer. It came in a solid white cardboard box and was wrapped in a protective layer of foam. Even on top of the white box was a rubber shim to help grip the Chilton-style pneumatic filler knob. What a thoughtful touch!
Now this pen was not cheap, but you can see the packing materials account for some of the cost. The box is a real solid piece and everything fits in its place. The ink box slot is just the right size so nothing rattles around. The pen sleeps snugly in the case.
The ink is a custom blend in an attractive bottle. I did not open the ink as I have so many other bottles already. I’ll save it for a little later. It was a nice touch to include the ink and a worthy compliment to a pen in this class.
Now, just to show you how impressive the packing was, here are some comparison shots of the packing materials versus a MB 90th Anniversary 149 – a pen that has a higher retail cost. Notice how underwhelming the packaging is by comparison to the Decoband box. No ink from MB either.
The Pen and Design
Have you seen those little sponge creature novelties you put in water and they swell up to 10X their size? Well, this is a similar idea of how this pen looks compared to an original Decoband. This new pen is probably 30 or 40% larger than the original Decoband upon which the new model was based. This is really an oversized pen – and one with a lot of heft. I have a lot of large urushi covered ebonite pens that weigh almost nothing, but this pen is SOLID. The metal tubes inside that make up the pneumatic filling system add a good amount of heft to the pen, but the weight is well distributed and the pen sits in the hand nicely. I wrote with the pen for a long while after inking it up and there was not much fatigue in my hand because the ink flows out well.
The 150MM long pen body is made of rosewood ebonite with a nice, subtle streaking. The body is very thick, I think about 23MM at the widest point of the cap. This required some larger than usual rod stock when crafting the pens. This pen does have the subtle ebonite smell. It is polished to a high shine and I expect the deep color to last for a long time as I do not exposure my pens to a lot of time sitting in the light. The cap top and filler know are both shiny black and offset with gold rings maybe a little over 1MM thick.
The cap has the vintage style clip with a wide rolling cylinder at the tip. Wahl-Eversharp is imprinted upon the gold plated clip and the edges seem to have subtle lines running vertically. Above the clip is a little gold button with the W-E logo that kind of looks like two check marks. Two more 1 MM cap bands surround the wide decoband that is maybe 5MM wide. The wide band is engraved with a repeating greek-type pattern and lots of vertical lines to add a nice texture. All the furniture is gold plated.
The filling knob has notches for gripping and, of course, the hole needed for releasing the pressure and causing the pen to fill.
The cap comes off in about 1.5 turns (not bad really) and reveals a black section and shiny gold threads. The threads are very smooth to the touch. They are very flush with the rosewood body, but there is a little drop off to the section. The section tapers nicely to a little flare just before getting to the nib. There is a gold ring that surrounds the nib and adds a very nice visual flash to the pen. I would say the taper is maybe 2-3MM so the gripping section is probably about 15 -16MM (sorry I do not have precise measurements, but the barrel is 18MM). I like very large pens, and I think this is very comfortable to hold. I think it is a little wider in grip girth than the MB 149 and the Pelikan M1000.
The cap will post as the end of the pen is tapered by the filling knob. I don’t post and I am not about to scuff up my new pen to see how secure it will post. I can say a light push indicated to me it would be possible. Since the cap is fairly light, I estimate it would not make the pen too back heavy for those who like to post.
The pen is pneumatic filler. It is easy to operate. You simply unscrew the end, draw up the filling tube, fully submerge the nib and a little of the section in ink, cover the air hole, push down, open the air hole and wait for 5 seconds before removing the nib. The stroke is smooth and there is no real challenge to fill the pen. I think it is easier than the Visconti double reservoir filling system of the plunger filler on the Pilot Custom 823. The pen says it holds 2.1 ML of ink per fill. This is more than other similar sized pens like the MB 149 and good for a non eye dropper. I think it will be easy to clean and should have a good service life. Once nice touch is the engraving on the filling tube – it’s a pleasant surprise.
In talking to Syd he indicated that the pen is made in such a way that the service center can fully disassemble it and service any of the parts. I find it to be highly engineered and to very, very high fit and finish standards. The pen just feels solid and like something you could pass down to the kids as a favorite heirloom.
The Nib and the Writing Characteristics
OK, so on to the nib and how the pen writes - what can make or break and otherwise beautiful pen. This pen has a specially developed #8 sized 14K Superflex nib. First, let me say I find this nib visually stunning. The top surface is scalloped out to create a subtle textured surface. At the original surface level remain the logo, the company name and the word superflex, all in capitals. This I love beautiful nibs and this one has so much depth and character that I could stare at it for a long time. You just don’t see too many nibs created using a relief-type removal of metal. On looks alone it is a winner.
Luckily this nib is also a great writer. I really like nibs that have a lot of character and create line variation. I like pens before the 1960s when ballpoints took over the world. They tend to have nibs with the ability to flex and add character when writing. (I am quite fond of the MB nibs from the 1950s and early 1960s.) I have found some modern pen makers, especially those who make high end custom pens, can order their large #8 size nibs form Bock to have some approximation of vintage flex. This is the first larger scale production pen I have tried that gives me a similar level of flex to what I have experienced in my vintage pens. Some people like the soft nature of the Pelikan M1000 nibs, but to me they feel mushy, like pushing on a marshmallow. This pen gives with some pressure but still has firmness when writing
With no pressure the pen writes a western M. With a little pressure it creates a BB line about the same as my steel 1.1 Jowo nibs. At moderate pressure (what I call max for fear of pushing a nib too hard), it is maybe the same as a 1.5 to 1.7MM nib width. This is about the same variation as my OM 1950s MB 138. While the W-E website claims a range from F to BB, I think M to 5B is my experience so far. I like that the extra width is available on my command but I can just have plain of M in normal conditions.
The nib is not a wet noodle, but I think it is more usable flex for everyday writing. The snap back (how quickly the tines close after opening) is good but not amazing. Perhaps it is because the nib is not a needle point – it just can’t snap back below a medium. There is a little bit of feedback to the nib. I prefer that over a glass smooth surface. The important thing for me is that no special care is needed, and I can write with this pen at full speed with no issues.
The feed is a really special bit of flash in this pen. The split ebonite feed is coated in red urushi. The cut in the feed runs parallel to the underside of the nib from side to side. The top layer of the feed is heat set to curve up against the nib so he feed can keep the ink flow going even strong during flex. This gives the pen some real panache and flair. It is another small aspect that really drove home the special nature of this pen and the thoughtfulness of the design. It really plays well with the red tone in the ebonite. Someone even said (I think it was Syd’s wife) that it was reminiscent of the red underside of Louboutin heels! It is just another bit of eye candy to admire when waiting for writing inspiration.
The new Decoband in rosewood ebonite with a 14K Superflex nib is the best of both worlds; vintage style and flex with modern reliability and size. This well put together pen will give you a substantial feel in the hand with a generous amount of ink for your writing. The flex allows you to add character to your script and the bits of flash will ensure you never treat this pen like a utilitarian tool. Buying one also means supporting a fellow pen enthusiast and encourages the creation of more modern marvels with style to spare. At $850 this is not an inexpensive pen, but I have paid more for much less writing pleasure. I would recommend this over many other high end pens, especially of you like a real oversized experience.
A Few Bonus Comparison Shots
Here are a few comparison shots to a 90th anniversary Montblanc 149 with an 0BBB nib.
Thanks for reading.
Edited by zaddick, 13 December 2015 - 23:22.