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Hakase African Ebony Fountain Pen (F/m Stub Nib)

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#1 hawpunch

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:09

This is my first review on the Fountain Pen Network and I still consider myself a fountain pen notice since I have only been using them for a little over a year.  So please bear with me as I stumble through this review.

 

I received my Hakase fountain pen on or about April 27, 2016.  I ordered the pen in early July 2015.  So its taken approximately ten months for me to receive my pen.  I believe that this wait time is standard for a Hakase.  That didn't make the amount of time I had to wait any less excruciating as all I could do was fantasize about my pen.  I am not a patient man.

 

My Hakase order started off as an order for a torpedo ebonite pen with a fine nib.  I really wanted to order one of the more "exotic" materials, but couldn't bring myself to seriously contemplate paying close to an extra $1,000 on top of the cost of my present order (approximately $800).  I sent in my order to Mr. Yamamoto, the current owner (and as I understand it, the only maker) of Hakase, and then proceeded to watch the time slowly, slowly pass.

 

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I am not a patient man.  I fretted about my choice in material for months.  I already had pens made of ebonite (I have several Nakayas with urushi lacquer) and could not justify waiting such a long period of time for a pen that wasn't "special" or distinct in some manner.  I looked at my budget again, sold some pens and then made the decision to change my order to one of the more exotic materials that Hakase offered.  The hard part was choosing which one was exotic enough for me.  I thought about going with water buffalo horn, but didn't like the fact that it came from a previously living animal (I'm not a pacifist, vegan or card-carrying member of PETA).  This also ruled out tortoise shell (I didn't like the pattern any way).  This left one of the wood offerings from Hakase:  African Ebony, Cocobolo or Rosewood.

 

Eventually, I "settled" on African Ebony as I liked the fact that the wood was dense and had substance.  The dark aesthetic of the wood also appealed to me.  After resolving most of my questions and concerns through weeks of research, I emailed Mr. Yamamoto to let him know that I wanted to change the material for y pen to African Ebony and the nib to a fine-medium stub with flex.  After verifying the price difference, Mr. Yamamoto confirmed the change to my order. 

 

In early March 2016, I received an email from Mr. Yamamoto letting me know that he would be starting on my pen in April 2016 and that I should pay the remaining amount due.  With my PayPal account sadly depleted, I patiently waited.

 

In late April 2016, I received an email that my pen had shipped!  My major concern now was whether the pen would make it through customs and if I would have to pay any customs.  After a couple of stressful days waiting, I found a package waiting on my work desk.

 

My Hakase came in a plain cardboard box with the word "Hakase" on it.  I opened the box to find a smaller box wrapped in a grey Hakase gift wrap.  The box was expertly wrapped and I thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping my "gift" (coincidentally my birthday is in April, so I considered this my birthday gift).  

 

Inside the gift wrap was a beautiful wooden presentation box with Japanese writing.  My Japanese is rather rusty so I couldn't decipher the writing, but I imagine it says "Hakase" and "fountain pen" somewhere in there.  It should also mention something about master pen craftsman somewhere in the writing, but I doubt it since the Japanese tend to be rather humble.  

 

Inside the wooden box was what I initially felt was a rather small pen.  For some odd reason, I was expecting a pen about the same size as a Montblanc 149.  A feeling of disappointment washed over me and intensified given the long wait period.  The pen looked insignificant on first glance.  I forced myself to set aside the feeling and reached inside for the pen.  The pen felt small at first, especially for the amount of money I paid for it.  But there is absolute truth in the old adage "bigger is not better."  

 

Once I took the time to examine my pen at length, I was pleasantly surprised by how the pen seemed to just "fit" into my hand.  I've owned a lot of fountain pens and some of them have been really uncomfortable to hold and use for long periods of time (I'm looking at your Montblanc 149).  The Hakase just fit and is extremely comfortable to use.  The African Ebony adds heft and density, but the pen is magically light.  The pen looks uniformly solid black, but when you look closely, you can see the wood grain which adds character and personality to the pen.  It's rustic and modern, and the pen begs to be handled.

 

I elected to have solid gold furniture on mine and it complements the dark African Ebony.  The gold furniture is unique and emphasized the uniqueness of this pen.  People who are not even pen enthusiasts understand that this pen is custom and special.  The workmanship is expertly done.  I'm not a craftsman, but even if I were, I think I would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this pen.  Everything has been shaped perfectly and all the parts fit together.

 

The pen body and cap are made of African Ebony, while the section is highly polished ebonite.  The ebonite matches well with the African Ebony wood.  The nib and converter are from Pilot.  The nib has minimal etching (the word Hakase and their logo) but its simple design conforms with the rest of the pen.  I ran Bung Box Ink of the Witch through my pen and the fine-medium nib glided smoothly across my Tomoe River paper like a seasoned figure skater on ice.  There was minimal feedback, but it was not unpleasant.  

 

The only issue I would have with this pen is that the nib does not flex much.  I'm not sure if its because Mr. Yamamoto forgot to add flex, or if the nib only supports minimal flex.  It doesn't bother me at all, but it is something I wanted to ask Mr. Yamamoto at a later date.

 

I have no regrets about purchasing this pen and I love, love using it.  I find myself reaching for it all the time and I can't believe I own a Hakase.  I am actually looking to get another Hakase, this one in Rosewood with a flat-top design.  I have two kids, and it feels fundamentally unfair to bequeath one with a Hakase, and leave the other without.  Or at least this is what I tell myself as I find myself reaching for my wallet to put in the order.  I can unequivocally recommend getting a Hakase if you are a fountain pen enthusiast.  I am not responsible for the sizeable dent it will put in your wallet and bank account :).

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Edited by hawpunch, 16 May 2016 - 08:47.


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#2 Bobje

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:28

Delightful review, hawpunch. This section is droll and hilarious.

 

"My Japanese is rather rusty so I couldn't decipher the writing, but I imagine it says "Hakase" and "fountain pen" somewhere in there.  It should also mention something about master pen craftsman somewhere in the writing, but I doubt it since the Japanese tend to be rather humble."


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#3 ak2k5

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 04:06

thats one beautiful pen. how often u use it?do u get the tendency to safely store it away as "my precious" ?

wish i could get one of those... :)


There's no such thing as perfect writing, just like there's no such thing as perfect despair : Haruki Murakami


#4 hawpunch

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 04:42

Delightful review, hawpunch. This section is droll and hilarious.

 

"My Japanese is rather rusty so I couldn't decipher the writing, but I imagine it says "Hakase" and "fountain pen" somewhere in there.  It should also mention something about master pen craftsman somewhere in the writing, but I doubt it since the Japanese tend to be rather humble."

Thank you for your gracious comments bobjpage :).



#5 hawpunch

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 04:43

thats one beautiful pen. how often u use it?do u get the tendency to safely store it away as "my precious" ?

wish i could get one of those... :)

I use it every day :). It comes with me everywhere I go.  I usually get my pens with the commitment that I will be using them and not storing them away.  It definitely is my "precious" though :).  You can definitely get one also...just save up :).



#6 zaddick

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 07:45

The horn is sustainably harvested and animals are not killed for the horn, unlike ivory. I am also pretty sure you cannot import tortoise shell into the US.

I am glad you like your pen and find it suitable. It is probably a blessing that it was not 149 sized. Use it in good health.

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#7 hawpunch

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 08:03

The horn is sustainably harvested and animals are not killed for the horn, unlike ivory. I am also pretty sure you cannot import tortoise shell into the US.

I am glad you like your pen and find it suitable. It is probably a blessing that it was not 149 sized. Use it in good health.

Thank you zaddick for your information and your good wishes :).



#8 katanankes

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 10:08

You got a terrific pen there! Congratulations and thank you for sharing. When I ordered my Hakase I specified the exact length of the body and Mr Yamamoto delivered exactly what I requested. 



#9 AlexW

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 19:07

Very nice! Which do you like better? Your hakase or romillo?



#10 Mew

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 19:52

The horn is sustainably harvested and animals are not killed for the horn, unlike ivory. I am also pretty sure you cannot import tortoise shell into the US.

I am glad you like your pen and find it suitable. It is probably a blessing that it was not 149 sized. Use it in good health.


Mr. Yamamoto will not ship it out Japan. You will have to pick it up yourself from the shop, or arrange domestic delivery if you are visiting and not going to meet him, or have it shipped to a friend and ask him to forward to you via Japan post.

Last method violates whatever treaty that is, but hey, not illegal unless someone gets to know about it.

#11 Mew

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 19:58

@hawpunch: congratulations on getting that pen which is considered as grail for many and thank you for reinvigorating my quest to finally go to Tottori and place an order. :)

Hope you enjoy it in good health.

*waits for mongrelnomad to appear and comment.

#12 rpsyed

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 02:09

Thanks Hawpunch for a great review and great pictures!

I also originally ordered a Hakase is a more common material, green celluloid, in a JG15G model, which is a flat-top with pyramid barrel band and mini scroll clip. I recently changed it to a CW15C, which is a cocobolo flat-top with just the pyramid barrel band. I don't have a wooden pen yet so I'm super excited and your review makes me feel like I made the right decision.

I hope your new pen serves you well for years to come =]

Edited by rpsyed, 17 May 2016 - 02:09.


#13 da vinci

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:11

Great review thank you :)

I too am agonising as to what material I want my Hakase pen to be made from. Like you I was thinking non wood but also that this may not be special enough.

It's great to have these choices to make.

#14 hawpunch

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:26

You got a terrific pen there! Congratulations and thank you for sharing. When I ordered my Hakase I specified the exact length of the body and Mr Yamamoto delivered exactly what I requested. 

Thank you katanankes! That's good to know and something I should have done.  I'm guessing he just used the default measurements since I didn't specify anything.  To tell you the truth, it worked out perfectly.  Never had a pen that fit so well into my hand like this one :).



#15 hawpunch

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:29

Very nice! Which do you like better? Your hakase or romillo?

Thanks AlexW!  I definitely like the Hakase more than my Romillo.  The Romillo is really nice, but I have to get the nib ground again.  I have a .8mm stub right now and the giant piece of iridium tipping is making it hard to write with the line variation I was hoping for.  Thinking it might be better after being modified as a .6mm cursive italic through Mr. Mottishaw.  

 

The Hakase also has the advantage made of a material that begs to be touched.  The African Ebony wood feels so delightful when I use it. 



#16 hawpunch

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:30

@hawpunch: congratulations on getting that pen which is considered as grail for many and thank you for reinvigorating my quest to finally go to Tottori and place an order. :)

Hope you enjoy it in good health.

*waits for mongrelnomad to appear and comment.

Thank you Mew!  This is definitely a grail pen for me, as are my Nakayas and my Romillo.  Didn't realize how far deep this rabbit hole is and it only seems to get deeper the more I delve into this hobby :).



#17 hawpunch

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:32

Thanks Hawpunch for a great review and great pictures!

I also originally ordered a Hakase is a more common material, green celluloid, in a JG15G model, which is a flat-top with pyramid barrel band and mini scroll clip. I recently changed it to a CW15C, which is a cocobolo flat-top with just the pyramid barrel band. I don't have a wooden pen yet so I'm super excited and your review makes me feel like I made the right decision.

I hope your new pen serves you well for years to come =]

You're welcome rpsyed :)! I know you've been through a similar debate regarding the crafting material and am glad to see that you decided to get something that you will treasure even more.  I love the look of the cocobolo and my next pen from Hakase would be either rosewood or cocobolo.  I think you will love your pen, and look forward to hearing your review of it.  Time passes, although not quickly enough when waiting for a Hakase :).


Edited by hawpunch, 17 May 2016 - 07:32.


#18 hawpunch

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 07:35

Great review thank you :)

I too am agonising as to what material I want my Hakase pen to be made from. Like you I was thinking non wood but also that this may not be special enough.

It's great to have these choices to make.

You're welcome da vinci and thank you.  The material to use is a difficult choice, but you're right, I'm glad the choice was laid before me and I wasn't left to just ebonite.  Given the long wait period, I would encourage you to just pay a little more and get a material that you will be really happy with and that you will enjoy handling.  A Hakase is special and the material its made of should reflect that specialness and your personality :).



#19 FrankB

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 17:14

The Hakase also has the advantage made of a material that begs to be touched.  The African Ebony wood feels so delightful when I use it. 

 

Thank you for a very good review.  I am so intrigued by Hakase pens and I appreciate honest reviews like this one.

 

The tactile sensation of wood is something I have enjoyed all my life, and I think it is especially enjoyable as a material for writing instruments.  Unfortunately, there are simply too few options for pens made of wood.  I have only three, one being a Nakaya made of burl.  Custom pens seem to be the only viable way to obtain pens made of wood, and Hakase is one of the best sources.  I probably have a Hakase on my future as well. 

 

Pen size is important to me.  I am a disabled veteran and one of my disabilities is my writing hand.  I still have my hand and all five digits, but they are stiff and do not work completely well.  Oversized pens like the MontyB 149 and Delta's Dolce Vita oversized really are very comfortable for me to use, in fact I prefer them.  I would have to see and handle a pen the size of your Hakase to discern if it would be a responsible option for me.  But, I guess the point of custom pens is to talk to the artist and negotiate an appropriate size. :)

 

By the way, for a fountain pen novice you sure have one heck of a quality collection.  I suppose if you are going to go down the rabbit hole, you might as well do it in style.  :P



#20 rwilsonedn

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 19:18

 

(snip)

 

Pen size is important to me.  I am a disabled veteran and one of my disabilities is my writing hand.  I still have my hand and all five digits, but they are stiff and do not work completely well.  Oversized pens like the MontyB 149 and Delta's Dolce Vita oversized really are very comfortable for me to use, in fact I prefer them.  (snip)

 

 

Sorry to sidetrack the thread, but if that is the case, have you explored the oversize ebonite pens available from Indian custom pen makers, available in such as ASA pens on the Web, Fountain Pen Revolution, or the Ranga eBay store? The largest are actually larger than a 149, quite light, and wonderful writers, as well as being hand-crafted instead of injection-molded.

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