PenBBS makes great pens with quality nibs. Even if the nibs only come in one size. 😄
More and more, they're known for stunning eye-candy acrylics - which can lead to the temptation to get multiple copies of a given model.
So far I have managed to resist that urge. But when I saw the 469 it sounded like a chance to get a new pen and something in one of the marquee colors.
As luck would have it, the opportunity did present itself. A dozen or so of the pens appeared on Taobao. They were gone in hours but one was on its way to me.
Very nice cracked-ice acrylic sections and caps. Bright Moon over a Blue Lake (蓝湖明月). Plenty of depth to the colors. A transparent middle section with ink chambers that seemingly almost touch.
The 469 is a unique pen to say the least. It has some art in it. Dual eyedropper nibs, like a mirror image of itself.
This is a big pen. Much bigger than a PenBBS 308. It’s bigger around too owing to the symmetric construction. The pen verges on massive.
- Capped length: 149mm
- Uncapped (FP nib)145
- Uncapped (RB nib) 139mm
Weight inked (FP + RB)
- Capped: 23.85g
- Uncapped: 19.15g
The flush cap means a significant step up from the section. The construction makes for a killer look but is not as comfortable in the hand.
While the caps are in principle interchangeable - either can go on either end - with my pen they have favorites. One cap goes on both ends smoothly. The other is smooth on one end but has a little catch going onto the other. Just a bit of stiffness mid-turn as it goes on.
Aside from a couple of oversized ebonite pens that are even larger in diameter, the closest comparison in my collection is the TWSBI Vac 700. Uncapped, the Vac 700 and the 469 are also almost identical in weight.
The PenBBS 469 is, of course, eyedropper-only. So far I’m telling myself that the relatively small size of the ink chambers will offer less chance for the captured air to warm and force out a big ink puddle.
The pen comes with standard PenBBS F nibs installed. One is two-toned. The nibs write just like the others in my collection which is both good news and slightly uninspiring. The nibs and feeds are standard PenBBS nib units that screw into the section for easy swapping.
But intriguingly, there’s also a rollerball nib in the box like the one delivered with the PenBBS 350.
So I have a pen with a nib on one end and a rollerball on the other. That’s definitely cool.
Putting Pen to Paper
So how does the pen write? It writes like a large PenBBS pen. The big step and straight barrel are impossible to ignore, but the pen is not so massive that it's uncomfortable and it is relatively light.
Both the fountain pen nib and the rollerball performed perfectly from the start. The rollerball puts down a slightly wider line than the fountain pen. I'd call it an M.
I picked Noodler's Aircorps Blue Black for the fountain pen side and SKB Ocher Plum (赭梅) for the rollerball. Both worked well.
So after something of a shaky start, I'm feeling better about this pen. I’m getting used to the big step up from the section. I’m also coming to be less bothered by the relatively un-ergonomic straight barrel.
I'm still drawn to the zen-like symmetrical quality of the pen. I also like the idea of a fountain pen / rollerball combo.
So far, no burbs. Fingers crossed.
My PenBBS 469 was about US$28 plus shipping from Shanghai Jindian 上海晶典文具社 on Taobao.
More photos and comments here.