Just over a month ago, on August 25, I received a notification in my email inbox that a new fountain pen was being released by the folks at Fountain Pen Revolution – the first pen in their line-up to take advantage of their #6 nibs. If you trawl through the Fountain Pen Reviews sub-forum here you’ll see that I’ve reviewed a number of his pens before – I’m an unabashed fan of most of the pens these guys release (the Dilli being the one real exception). What attracted me to this pen was the larger nib, the aesthetic (it’s pretty similar in appearance to the Jaipur, albeit larger), and the capacity to swap nibs in and out – not to mention the very competitive price tag! – so I placed an order, pretty much immediately, for two pens: a ‘solid’ coloured teal, and a clear plastic demonstrator.
Discerning viewers will notice a distinct resemblance between this pen and the Click Aristocrat – that’s no coincidence. I’ve confirmed with Kevin from FPR that this pen is the product of a collaboration between the two companies – based on an original pen design from the folks at Click.
1. Appearance & Design
The Darjeeling is currently available in 6 solid colours (teal, red, blue, white, black and green) – I opted for the teal – or as a clear demonstrator. I’m not sure what material the pens are made from, but they look and feel like some kind of plastic, and have the distinctive smell of products made from vegetal resin. The clear demonstrator especially has a noticeable odour attached to it – which doesn’t bother me at all (in fact I quite like it!), but may be an issue for some people. If you’ve ever purchased a Noodler’s pen (or certain other Indian-made brands), you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The first thing I noticed about the pen when I looked at the photos – and confirmed when I had one in hand – was the similarity of design to the Jaipur: a fairly straight pen that terminates on a shallow ‘conical’ bottom end, with a cap that screws over the top of the grip section and has a similar conical ‘top end’. The barrel tapers slightly towards the bottom, to allow the cap to post deeply on the pen.
The main difference between the two pens, visually speaking, is the fact that the Darjeeling is a cartridge converter pen, so there’s no piston knob at the bottom of the barrel. The ‘accents’ on the pen (i.e. cap ring and clip) are ‘chrome’-coloured stainless steel.
Comparison of several FPR pens - from top to bottom: the Jaipur, Darjeeling (solid teal), Darjeeling (demonstrator), Himalay, and Triveni Junior
2. Construction & Quality
The Darjeeling appears to be moulded (primarily) from the same vegetal resin as the Jaipur and Guru – the solid pens are relatively glossy, and the demonstrator pen is nice and see-through. The fit and finish on these pens is pretty good – especially considering the price tag.
One of the new design features of this pen is the capacity to screw the entire nib assembly in and out – previous pens from FPR tend to be designed so that only the nib and feed are easily replaceable. You can still buy replacement nibs and do a swap – but it’s now possible to buy entire nib assemblies for a few dollars extra, to simplify the process of changing over nib sizes.
3. Weight & Dimensions
I’m away on holiday as I write this review, and I forgot to bring my scale with me (!) – but the FPR website says this pen weighs around 16g, and from memory that seems about right. It’s a very lightweight pen, especially given its size – which means it sits equally comfortably in the hand either posted or unposted.
The grip section on the pen is 25cm long (including threads), with a diameter of 11-11.5mm, depending on where you hold it. The cap band, the widest part of the pen, has a 15.5mm diameter, while the barrel sits around 13mm. Lengthwise, the pen is 140mm long capped, 130mm uncapped, and extends to ~170mm posted.
4. Nib & Performance
The Darjeeling is the first pen designed by FPR to take its #6 nibs – and, as mentioned above, it’s now possible to buy a nib assembly that simply screws into the grip section. I haven’t had much exposure to FPR’s #6 nibs prior to this, as they’re a little wider at the base than JoWo, Bock or Jinhao nibs, and don’t fit as easily into my other pens (e.g. the Jinhao 159). I’ve been very happy with the nibs I purchased, though – a flex nib purchased for another Indian pen, the M and 1.0mm stub nibs that came with this pens, and the EF nib I swapped into the teal pen.
It’s worth pointing out that these pens seem to write very wet, despite the fact that they use a plastic feed (as opposed to the ebonite feed in the Jaipur). As with the #5.5 nibs, I find the stub nib doesn’t provide the greatest amount of line variation – but it writes very smoothly, as do the rounded tip nibs.
5. Filling System & Maintenance
The Darjeeling is a cartridge converter pen, that will take standard international converters, and comes with a simple push-pull-type converter (rather than a screw-type). I find these a little fiddly, but they work perfectly well – and you can always swap in a better converter if you prefer. The pens are also designed to work as eyedropper pens, and will accommodate an impressive amount of ink (I’d guess 4-5ml or more?). I’ve eyedroppered the demonstrator pen, and it’s been hassle-free. The only downside doing this with the solid coloured pens would be the lack of an ink window.
6. Cost & Value
The Darjeeling is excellent value for money, starting at $15 per unit (add $4 if you want a B, stub or flex nib). Since FPR’s base of operations relocated to the US, postage is higher for international buyers – but still pretty competitive compared to other US retailers.
I’ve once again been really pleased with FPR’s offerings – I wish I could say this was my favourite so far, but honestly, I still really like the Jaipur, the Himalaya, and my collection of Trivenis (the Gurus and Induses are pretty good too, but for different reasons are a bit lower down my list). If you like piston filler pens, I’d go with the Jaipur or the Himalaya; if you prefer the greater convenience of a cartridge converter pen, this is a great pen for an amazing price.
Happy to answer any questions you may have – though my internet access is going to be very patchy for the next few days.