I should begin this review by acknowledging the elephant in the room; I was (and still am) an Omas fan. There are two aspects of Omas that I really enjoy. The first, most practical, is the nibs. They are truly in a class of their own, right up with custom work I’ve had the pleasure to receive from Oxonian. They just suit my hand and my writing “style.” The second aspect is the relatively small company behind them. I never really got into the fancy pens produced during the LVMH years, though I understand why a small company had to make the decisions it did. But Omas always produced a line of relatively affordable and beautifully crafted pens.
So when considering what might make for a “new Omas” I was looking for great nibs and the sense of a small company/workshop; who doesn’t love the romance of a pen made by an atelier in Bologna, just round the corner from the oldest university in Europe?
So it’s fair to say I have been a little hesitant to explore some of the claimants to the Omas crown. They either were producing different nibs or were aiming to create companies that would fill the same space in the market and allude to their Italian roots, sometimes when their claim to being related in any real way to Omas was perhaps a little thin. For example, I am not completely sure that simply using the same body materials really establishes a line of descent.
Scribo (Scrittura Bolognese) was created by folk who actually worked at Omas. They claimed to be using the same nib manufacturing jigs used for Omas, and they certainly count as a small atelier. The central team is Luca, Elena, and Flaminia! Luca is an excellent, funny, and warm correspondent whom I knew slightly from Omas days, and so I decided to give their first production (as opposed to custom) pen a go. That pen is the Feel.
I will not be referring to Omas again in this review (except for once). This review is an assessment of the first real product of a small shop in Italy, created by a new design and marketing team and, perhaps, destined to take its place among the legendary European manufacturers.
I really like to support start-ups, so when the pen became available for purchase in Fall 2018 I held my breath and ordered two, one for myself and one for my long-suffering partner to acknowledge an anniversary and her patience. We received them early in December 2018 and saved opening them until 25 December.
I really enjoyed the experience of opening the big white boxes. The packing was simple but lovely, and ALL RECYCLABLE! That’s wonderful. As you can see below, the pens come in a leather and fabric wrap. Now, usually I’m not a fan of such things, but this one has a sort of mediaeval vibe that I quite enjoy. There is room for two pens and a pocket for a cleaning cloth. I’m going to try slipping the back cover of a midori travel notebook into that pocket and see if I can make it up a handy travelling kit.
My partner, for whom I will use the pseudonym Her Majesty (HM), thought that the experience of unwrapping her pen was “really luxurious.” I think this is absolutely accurate. Despite the simplicity of the packaging, there is a Mont Blanc-like satisfaction of unwrapping the pen. I’m not a big fan of MB as a brand, but they do make their pens feel special in a way I believe only Nakaya really match. Scribo is right up there in terms of the “this feels special” factor.
I'm sorry for the photos, but I'm not Christof! Still, they do give a "real-world" feel for the pens :-)
I’m not going to give ratings out of ten for the factors below, since they are really just a form of disguised subjectivity. But you’ll know what I think!
- Appearance & Design
The pen is available in two colour ways, and we received one of each. Mine is grey-blue with ruthenium trim, while HM’s is dark blue with rhodium trim. Both are very attractive, and we each prefer our own! The plating on both is flawless, with the ruthenium seeming perhaps a tone or two darker than I’ve seen it in other applications. The ruthenium works beautifully with the grey-blue, and the dark blue and rhodium is a classic combination. Both versions would work well in a professional environment, with the grey-blue being perhaps more quirky/designy in appearance.
The pen, as should be obvious from the pictures, has two unusual design features. The first is the swells, giving it a Mae West sort of look. HM calls my PFMs Rita MacNeil after a well-endowed Canadian songstress, but considers the Feel much more like Claudia Cardinale- a compliment indeed!
The curves have a practical purpose. The Feel is a big pen, about MB149 size (see comparison shot below, with a Parker 51 and M805). It does not feel too big in the hand though, because the section is narrow. The wide part of the barrel sits in the web of the thumb, and balance the pen very nicely. It’s an interesting and unusual approach.
The other design feature is the facets, of which there are 12. They are rounded but obvious on the body and cap, and fall away to a gentle ridged effect on the section. They improve grip and angle unobtrusively. They also align from one end of the pen to the other, not an easy feat with 12 facets and two screw threads to get right.
As seen in the photos, the cap finial has the Scribo logo (a quill) set into it. The cap does not post. The cap band says “SCRIBO Feel the writing”
Overall, this is a lovely full-sized to large pen with lots of presence and terrific manufacturing standards. There is literally nothing to complain about here.
- Construction & Quality
This is an expensive pen, so it’s fair to expect great construction and quality, and the Feel delivers. It’s not a super fancy pen, it hits the point where the curves of utility and luxury cross. My view is that it’s better put together than an M800 (or M1000 in strict terms of size) with better flow in the design and absolutely perfect execution. This pen really does feel special. I cannot see where a single corner has been cut.
HM says that the pen gives the exact opposite feeling from renting a cheap car!
- Weight & Dimensions
This is a big pen. Weight capped is 36g, and uncapped but full of ink it’s 21g (This is the same as a M800 posted, for easy reference). Length is 147mm capped, and around 136mm uncapped. Due to the design it’s surprisingly easy to handle. I’m not usually a fan of huge pens, but as dapprman says on his video, this one just seems to work very nicely.
- Nib & Performance
This is where it all gets interesting. The Feel comes equipped with a very nice ebonite feed. I know the science that says it doesn’t make a difference, but I have to admit in my experience I’ve often perceived that it does. My Feel has an EF Flessibile (bearing the phrase “Feel the flex”) and HM’s has a regular F (“Feel the writing”). Both are very, very good nibs indeed. The flessible has a slightly wetter flow, and provides plenty of character to one’s writing without trying at all, even for those of us with a very light touch. The regular fine nib is a little drier but works extremely nicely. HM gets some line variation from this nib (it is a soft nib) but has less of a light touch than I do.
This is where the final Omas reference comes in. It’s just unavoidable. These pens write just like my Omas when the Omas are properly set up. They have that indefinable feel of a “real” nib, not too smooth, not scratchy at all, but just the presence of the nib on the paper. They were both absolutely perfect out of the box, no baby bottom silliness or mis-aligned tines. If you told me these nibs were just back from a nibmeister, I would believe you. I’m really impressed.
Line width is slightly thinner than Pelikan using the included ink sample, in my opinion. Fine is a good all around width a tiny bit thinner than a Lamy 2000 Fine, while ExtraFine is visibly thinner than a Pelikan M120 EF.
To be honest, though, I’ve only used the included ink in the pen. It’s a cool misty grey-blue-black which is lovely, both vintage and ultra-modern, somehow. However, the nib widths should be treated with a slight pinch of salt since I don’t know how dry this ink is. I expect that nib widths will be consistent with Omas, if folks need a reliable reference.
So which nib to choose? I’d say the EF is a great nib, and not at all temperamental. The regular Fine is a terrific nib with quite different characteristics. I don’t think you can really go wrong, it comes down to use. If you have a heavier hand, it might be too much for the flessibile, but you’ll see some nice variation from the regular nib and I suspect you won’t miss the flessibile.
The top sample is the EF Flessibile, the bottom is the Fine Regular. You may note that HM and I do not spend our spare time in calligraphy classes . . .
- Filling System & Maintenance
This is a really nice smooth piston. No problems whatsoever and a pleasure to use.
- Cost & Value
These are not cheap pens, being €530 to those of us living outside Europe (just over $600US). But that tells us very little about value. For me, I feel (heh) they give good value. I got to know Luca a little better and felt that I was supporting a small scale start-up, and in return I got an excellent product with an outstanding writing experience. I can compare this with buying Nakayas and Pelikans. Nakaya produce pens for the same price (and way, way up) that feel more personalised, but the overall experience doesn’t give you a story, and they are part of a corporation. Pelikan M1000s are around €100 cheaper right now on Amazon.de, but again no story, and no personalisation at all. Taking these prices into account, my personal view is that the Feel hits a sweet spot where you are getting a great experience and a terrific, beautifully-made pen for a small price premium. For somebody like me, who enjoys a bit of “special-ness” in the tools of everyday life, and who is lucky enough to have the choice, this is an easy decision. Also worth noting-- a three year guarantee . . .
I really like this pen, and look forward to using it for years to come. The fact that HM has its sister in memory of a special event, and that it does feel like an artisanal product, just add to that. It is going to take me a couple of weeks to adjust to the size, but I’m up for the challenge. HM is very happy with hers, which makes me happier still.
This is a terrific first pen for the general market, easily placing among the best European pens available, and suggesting that there really is a small new Italian company with all the history and values we associate with that beautiful part of the world. Thanks to the Scribo team for giving this venture a go, and good luck to them!
- Presentation is outstanding
- The writing experience is superb
- It’s a big, comfortable pen
- Flawless construction and set-up
- It is expensive for a new brand
- It may be too big for the smallest hands
Edited by ralfstc, 01 January 2019 - 23:18.