Newell Brands got back to me earlier this morning, apologised for "the mix up ... and lack of communication", and issued me with an RMA number so I could send the pen back at my expense to let their technicians examine the pen.
What's sad about it is:
- They still can't (or won't) tell me, by looking at the company's records, which nib is now fitted on my pen — so how can they claim there was a "mix up", instead of actually having fitted a nib of the "required" type that just happened to be incompetently made?
- They still can't tell me whether Parker produces, and/or has the capability and willingness to produce, 18K gold Fine Italic nibs for the Duofold "hand-made in France on demand" at all.
- I have to wear the return postage yet again because, "Parker normally uses UPS and will send the customer a prepaid shipping label, but UPS does not offer domestic delivery service in Australia." Other companies that operate here (e.g. Under Armour, New Balance) has no issue with organising Reply Paid returns through Australia Post for their customers.
... Wancher may (I'm actually confirming this right now) be fitting their pens with an 18k nib that's in-house made (or made custom for them). They also offer standard JoWo 18k nibs.
I would have a lot more "respect" for Wancher if it had been fitting its fountain pens with Sailor or Pilot nibs all along, in the absence of an in-house nib production capability. Some other Japanese boutique pen manufacturers offer exactly that, and Wancher has worked with Sailor on "collaborations", so there must be some sort of established business relationship that can be leveraged. I'm sure Taizo has good business reasons for not going down that path and I don't question his judgment on that at all, but from my perspective as a fountain pen enthusiast Wancher products are downgraded for prospective purchase. The only Wancher product I have bought — from Engeika way back — is a leather pen case that didn't feel premium to begin with, and held up pretty poorly over time, so that hasn't helped raise my esteem for the brand either.
I wish you luck with the Wancher nib. I asked for a Fine 18K, and while it said that on the nib, it wrote like a Western medium or broader (along with hard starts and skipping).
That's a worry. Even though every company may produce dud nibs as anomalies for their brands, this sort of thing just raises red flags in my mind. There should be "nothing easier" than to produce a nib at the factory, test it (i.e. write with it), and start grinding it down to become finer if it isn't quite there — then rinse and repeat. It's not as if they made the nib too fine upfront and the only way to remedy involves re-tipping it. For a company that seems to have pretty labour-intensive production processes and close attention by expert workmen as its chic, failing to deliver a fine enough nib befitting the (Japanese?) Fine nib width grade is a poor showing.
I ordered a broad (they're currently out of stock in F and M) so If I don't love it, I'll just have it custom ground.
That's absolutely your prerogative. It just isn't my approach to buying fountain pens. Even if I never expected to like, or want to keep, the Fine nib that came originally fitted on my Parker Duofold Centennial Big Red Vintage, I still expected it to write like a (Western) Fine leaving lines that look sharp and crisp; and I would send it back to Parker in good condition, in exchange for an Extra Extra Fine nib that is two width grades finer; or, better still, a Fine Italic that writes no wider than the original Fine nib for downstrokes, but produces hairlines for cross-strokes.
Anyway, I'm not entirely against giving small, boutique pen manufacturers a go, so I've ordered a pen from Santini Italia. What I ordered is a piston-filler made of ebonite with an ebonite feed, but frankly none of those things earn extra points with me. That the company makes its gold nibs in-house, and is prepared to customise the nib on request prior to dispatch, is what sealed the deal. I've sent then writing samples produced with very narrow italic nibs that Dan Smith customised for me, to make sure my expectations are well understood. We'll see how that goes.
As always: 1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment. 2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published. 3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.