Those of us who make a habit of checking out products on the Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) website (fountainpenrevolution.com) will know that things have been fairly quiet there for a while – pens for sale as per usual, but no new updates of their product line. All of that changed in late July when they announced on their Facebook page that they were launching a new, US-based website (fprevolutionusa.com), and a brand new pen – the ‘Himalaya’.
I don’t know how I missed this announcement, but when a newsletter arrived in my inbox, advising that the website was now up and running – and offering a 15% discount on all purchases – I was off the mark and running. At the time of writing this review, the Himalaya is only available from the US site, not the India-based site (which still offers cheaper postage to international customers), but I didn’t want to wait, so I ordered – and the pen arrived on 5 September 2016, a little over a week ago.
Disclaimer: though I have received free review pens from FPR in the past, this pen was purchased with my own money – in either case, the views expressed in this review are entirely my own.
1. Appearance & Design
The Himalaya is available in four colours (and two materials): Saffron Acrylic, Taj Mahal White Acrylic, Green Ebonite or Brown Ebonite. I liked the look of the Saffron Acrylic, and ordered a Medium nib with monochrome (stainless steel) finish.
Colour aside, the Himalaya is a fairly ‘standard’ looking fountain pen - not too dissimilar in shape and size from the FPR Jaipur, although the cap ‘finial’ is more curved, and the pen body is missing the ‘step-down’ effect produced on the Jaipur by the piston knob. The clip and centre band on the cap look much the same on these two pen models, too. There’s nothing ‘original’ about the Himalaya’s appearance – but (to my eyes) it’s an attractive pen.
Can I put in a word here also for the material this pen is made from? I don’t own a lot of acrylic pens (just this one, and two FPR Trivenis), but I find the combination of translucence and pearlescence quite mesmerising. The ‘Saffron’ acrylic used for this pen, especially, is beautiful – I can’t believe it only cost me $29 (plus postage, minus 15% discount…)!
2. Construction & Quality
Despite the delicate appearance of the acrylic material, the pen feels quite sturdy in the hand – as far as I can tell (thus far), it’s neither brittle nor likely to crack any time soon. Everything seems well-finished; the tolerances on the threads are excellent; the finish on the acrylic and chrome accents are all well-finished – no rough edges or discolouration. The clip seems sturdy, and is tight enough to hold the pen firmly in a pocket, but springy enough to be flexible. All in all, a very well made pen.
3. Weight & Dimensions
I think I’d classify the Himalaya as a ‘Medium’ sized pen – longer than my pocket pens (the TWSBI Diamond Mini, Kaweco Sports etc), but a little shorter than a “full-length” pen like the TWSBI Diamond 580 or Eco, the Lamy 2000 or Diplomat Excellence A. It’s very comfortable in the hand, though, and long enough to write with either posted or unposted.
Lengthwise, the pen is 134mm long capped, 121mm uncapped, and extends to 152mm when posted. It weighs in at 16g (10.3g uncapped), which makes it one of my lightest pens. The cap diameter (not including clip) is 14.5mm at its widest point, the barrel diameter sits around 12mm, while the grip section (18mm long) tapers down from 11mm diameter near the cap threads, to 9mm at its narrowest… before flaring out at the end to 11mm at the lip. This again compares very favourably with the Jaipur (though the latter’s grip section is less tapered), and sits very well within my ‘comfort zone’.
4. Nib & Performance
Like almost every other pen made by FPR, the Himalaya takes a #5.5 nib, available either in stainless steel or ‘two-tone’ finish, paired with a 5.1mm ebonite feed. This makes the Himalaya extremely versatile – nibs can be easily swapped between FPR pens, and/or you can buy extras.
I ordered this pen with a stainless steel M nib, and inked it up with Diamine Pumpkin. The writing experience was fantastic – beautifully smooth, laying down a fairly wet line on the page, with no skipping or other problems. I’ve almost always been happy with the nibs on my FPR pens (the EF and flex nibs occasionally need a little smoothing), and this nib was an absolute dream. If I was allocating points out of 10, I’d give this a 10.
5. Filling System & Maintenance
The Himalaya’s filling system is the main ‘point of difference’ that sets it apart from other FPR pens. Most previous designs either used a screw-type piston filler mechanism (Dilli, Guru, Indus, Jaipur) or were cartridge/converter pens that could be eyedroppered (Triveni and Trivine Junior). On opening the body of the Himalaya I found a push-type piston filling mechanism, similar to (but smaller than) the system Nathan Tardif uses in his Noodler’s Ahab. As with the Ahab, this can be removed to convert the pen to an eyedropper – but as far as I’m aware, it’s not possible to use standard international (or other) cartridges with the pen.
The push-piston mechanism is simple but highly functional, and worked well to get a full fill. I haven’t measured this, but would guess it can hold somewhere around 1ml. I expect the mechanism will prove to be more durable than for the Indus and Jaipur – though I understand the design of these has improved since I had a problem with the piston seal in an early model Jaipur.
6. Cost & Value
At US$29 (plus postage), the Himalaya is one of FPR’s more expensive pens – it sits between the Jaipur and Indus (~$18-19) and the Triveni ($39-45) – but for the price, it’s excellent value. I have trouble thinking of any other brand that would sell an acrylic pen of this quality for under $50.
In my books, the FPR people have hardly put a foot wrong with their product line. This is not their largest pen (that honour goes to the full-sized Triveni), but it’s a beauty to look at, and *extremely* pleasant to write with. I feel like I could be tempted to order another in the Taj Mahal White Acrylic – but am going to try and resist this temptation. Congratulations again to Kevin and the FPR team for another fantastic product!