It’s a fountain pen. No, wait. It’s a dip pen. Hang on a minute. Ah, nuts! It’s both.
By now many people will have heard of or seen the Desiderata Daedalus, conceived of and brought into existence by Mr. Pierre Miller of The Desiderata Pen Co., Chicago, Illinois.
The pen is a hybrid. It is essentially a fountain pen sporting a dip nib. In this case the nib is the Comic Zebra G, much favoured by manga artists and a solid performer – which we will come to in due course. In the early history of this one-man company there were many and varied models made from a number of interesting and exotic woods, and even a part acrylic version. Sadly, for most of us, and for one reason or another, these wood versions are no longer available. We can only hope they may re-emerge later.
What we have left is a pen made from Delrin. This is a versatile plastic that is used in a wide range of applications, from precision engineering components to furniture parts and much else. Perhaps most people will be familiar with it in its use in knife handles. Anyway, the Delrin here is cool, smooth and very, very black. The shape of the pen is in the guise of a three stepped telescoping rod. In fact, on the day it arrived at work a colleague asked if it was a pocket tool – which it is, only not quite what they expected!
The reason for the small step toward the end of the barrel is to accommodate the cap if one should wish to post it. Frankly speaking the pen does benefit from being posted, in terms of its perceived weight and balance, but naturally this will be a personal choice. The ends of the barrel and cap have some neat chamfering, and overall the pen is well-turned. There are some turning marks on it, though they seem quite in keeping with its industrial demeanour.
Capped: 153 mm
Uncapped: 115 mm (not including the nib)
Posted: 144 mm (not including the nib)
The nib adds about 24 mm
Barrel (main) diameter is 11 mm, section is 10 mm.
(Bear in mind that these pens are individually made and so measurements may very slightly)
The pen is an eyedropper. Open that sucker up and slop your favourite writing juices in there! I haven't measured this yet but at a guess I would say the barrel takes between 2 and 3 ml of ink.
The main draw here, and the raison d’etre for the pen’s existence, is the nib. This is a pen that offers the full flexibility of a steel (or titanium) dip pen, but without the very high price tag that often accompanies vintage pens with gold nibs. And that is exactly what it does.
Familiarity with dip pens is useful, though this is also an excellent tool for those who are new to this sort of thing. The nib is sharp, flexible and, unlike a lot of dip nibs, quite user friendly. In other words, it will take a reasonable amount of abuse from the ham-fisted among us (author included).
So, to shamelessly borrow from Dr. SBRE Brown, what do I like and what do I not like?
Likes (in no particular order)
Price – well under $100, makes this a most affordable alternative to vintage flex pens.
Durability – the Delrin looks like it would survive the apocalypse.
Nib – the zebra G is a first rate entry into flexible dip pens. It is also quite cheap to buy and easily available from all the usual sources.
Machining – good finishing and precision threading give lots of confidence.
Feed – hand cut ebonite feed that serves the nib well.
Size - it’s a thin pen. A little more girth would be nice. Subjective yes, but noted nonetheless.
Delrin – It’s a good functional material, but does not ring my bell for aesthetics. Other material options would be nice to explore.
Maintenance – the trade-offs with using a steel dip nib are the need to keep it clean and the understanding that it will wear out and need replacing. Meaning a lot of nib pulling.
No roll-stop – some may like the cool and vast expanses of darkness. I am not one of them. The earlier pens had a neat little stop. Pierre, please bring back this option!
This is a good fountain pen and a very neat way for those of us on a budget to have a go at writing with a flexible nib. The need to change the nib relatively regularly, and to keep it clean in between changes, can be seen as both good and bad. Good in that it encourages good pen housekeeping habits, bad because it may be a tad annoying to have to do it so often.
The pen is certainly different from anything else out there. Pierre has improved the feed from the earlier models and it works very well. I haven’t had any noticeable railroading yet. At this point I have only tried Diamine Teal and ESSRI iron gall ink. Both worked well, but there may be other inks that do not. Discovery is part of the fun, they say!
Also worth noting, I tried some frankenpen set-ups using the same nib in Chinese pen bodies. While this worked tolerably well, the feeds on those pens did not work anywhere near as well as the Daedalus.
Would I recommend it? Yes, I would, but with the caveat that the pen will not magically make your writing better. It still takes practice and patience.
Will I keep mine? Debatable. I like using an oblique dip pen holder for this kind of writing. And yet the Daedalus is certainly a lot of fun. Time will tell.
Disclaimer: this review represents my personal opinion. The pen was purchased at full price by me.