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Retro 51 Double Eight


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20 replies to this topic

#1 Hennypenny

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 19:51

This is my first fountain pen review. This pen is a recent impulse purchase, and I noted that it hasn't been reviewed since 2005 -- since I was pleasantly surprised by it, I thought it would be a fitting subject for a quick review.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS 5/5

The Double Eight comes in a very handsome eight-sided box -- sort of a tube -- you pull on one end, and the pen and its "tray" slide out. The tray is covered in black velvet plush -- underneath is a compartment holding the Warranty & Instruction booklet, and a tube containing 3 ink cartridges. A very nice presentation indeed! Even the outer box is handsome and well-designed.

APPEARANCE 4/5

I'll post a picture, but this is a large pen in a rich brown/gold/orange/black cellulose acetate, with silver trim. I was very pleased with the rich colors and material -- reminiscent of the Tibaldi Iride, if not quite as translucent. The clip is "spring activated" and has a black stone embedded in it (in the fashion of the Mont Blanc Boheme). It measures 5 1/2" closed, and 6 3/4" inches posted. The cap is quite weighty, so I don't post it when writing. There is a silver-colored cap band that I initially didn't like -- it reminded me of a hex nut and seemed kind of clunky. It has grown on me, however, and I'm now rather fond of it. [BTW, I see that there'll soon be a "Granite" version of this pen.]

DESIGN 5/5

Nice, eight-sided classic design with nice girth and heft. Very comfortable and well-balanced in the hand. The threads are not as smooth and well-turned as those on more expensive pens, but they are certainly adequate.

NIB 5/5

I opted for a Fine "iridium" nib. This is what I would consider a true "fine" -- not an "EF-type" Fine like a Sailor or Namiki. It's a large, lovely two-tone nib with engraved lines running toward the tip -- I find myself quite taken with watching it as I write -- it catches the light in an intriguing way. I filled the converter with Noodlers Sequoia and found it to be a perfect complement to the pen and nib -- the nib was smooth and silky right out of the box. I like my nibs to be a 3-4 in terms of wetness (10 being Niagara Falls), and this nib is PERFECT !!!

FILLING SYSTEM 5/5

C/C system -- you either love them or hate them. I like the smaller capacity of a c/c because I don't write lengthy pieces and I like to change ink colors.

COST/VALUE 5/5

I got this for $49.95 on Super Special at Fountain Pen Hospital. I think it's a GREAT VALUE !! It's a substantial, well-made, super writer that has quickly found a place in my daily pen pack. It's far more impressive than its modest price would suggest -- and it's a pen I don't worry about losing or damaging when I take it out of the house. People regularly ooh and ahh over it, and think it's one of my expensive pens.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend the Retro 51 Double-Eight -- it's a delightful performer, good-looking, and a great value! What more could be fairer?!!

Edited by Hennypenny, 04 October 2007 - 19:54.

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#2 rroossinck

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 20:34

Those sure are pretty. I've got a blue one that's currently a little under the weather with a cracked nib sleeve. Just heard from Retro about a half hour ago though, and they'll be dropping a new one in the mail to me tomorrow. Good thing, because it's nearly brand new to me and I can't wait to start using it!

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#3 Shelley

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 21:16

Very pretty material-I think I just prefer round pens though...not that I have ever tried another shape besides my Rotring 600 pencil, actually that was quite comfortable...
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#4 jlepens

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 21:49

Not fair, I jsut bought the Retro and their Banknote green to load it with. I need to stop reading this forum. I had been looking at the LE jade green Double 8 but at this price, who could pass it up.


Thanks for the info.

Joi
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#5 Hennypenny

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 21:59

This is one of the few faceted pens I own -- I, too, prefer round pens, but the facets work on this pen -- I really don't even notice them when writing, and I absolutely LOVE them when taking photographs (they keep the pen from rolling around)!!

And, yes, the Super Special price makes this pen pretty attractive -- the next decision will be whether to pay full price for the upcoming Granite version!! Decisions, decisions ... HP
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#6 Hennypenny

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 22:05

Opps !! Hit the "Reply" button twice by mistake ... my bad!!

Edited by Hennypenny, 04 October 2007 - 22:07.

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#7 adair

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 22:55

I've seen this lovely pen at Paradise Pen Company for a relatively modest price, but I've resisted buying it because, if I recall correctly, the quality behind the superficial good looks hasn't always been everything it should be. I 've read of these pens just falling apart. However, I hope that your ongoing experience with this pen disproves this! Keep us posted!

#8 Fazby

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 23:05

Please let us know how it holds up after a year of reasonable use.

I have an old Ghost Writer by Retro 51 and it has not held up well. It was one of my favorites. (And I can't find a mention of that model anywhere. Maybe I have the only one.) So, I am reluctant to buy any more of their product although they are nice looking pens.

#9 Hennypenny

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 15:17

OK, I smell a challenge here -- Apollo's original review (which, I think, is the basis for many of the concerns about quality) and the comments here gave me second thoughts about this pen. But then I used it again all day yesterday and I just LIKE this pen!! So ... I will commit to using it regularly and seeing if it holds up!! I note there's a good warranty with it, so I will test Retro's warranty and service if necessary. And I'll post my results and impressions here. Hopefully, this is a pen company that has resolved previous quality issues.

I realize it might be silly to invest time and band-width on such a modest pen, but a good-looking, daily-user pen that's also a good value is worth the effort!

HP (who is in no way affilitated with the Retro 51 company)

BTW, I'm LOVING the facets -- this pen stays PUT when I set it down -- doesn't roll around the desk! The grip is round, so the facets don't affect the feel of the pen when using it.
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#10 southpaw

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 17:57

Excellent review and a very beautiful pen! I've had my eye on one for some time now (the blue one), and I just haven't pulled the trigger . . . yet. Maybe the granite version . . . hmmm.

Enjoy the pen!
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#11 Celticshaman

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 06:18

Sure is pretty!!!

Jim

#12 rroossinck

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 15:57

HP, have you had any problems with yours drying out if you let it sit?

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#13 Alriel

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 16:11

Thanks for the review, Hennypenny!
I have the blue and green sets. The tortoise looks really nice.

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Oct 4 2007, 03:34 PM) View Post
Those sure are pretty. I've got a blue one that's currently a little under the weather with a cracked nib sleeve. Just heard from Retro about a half hour ago though, and they'll be dropping a new one in the mail to me tomorrow. Good thing, because it's nearly brand new to me and I can't wait to start using it!


That's funny you mentioned this. My blue also has a cracked nib sleeve. Was there any charge for the replacement?

I also had some issues with it drying out with the cap on, but I solved that by cutting a flexible pastic material (stuff used for fake leather folios) to the diameter of the cap opening. I pushed the circle into the cap after a little more cutting and tested for air leaks by blowing into the cap. It does not have to be air tight, just enough to impeded air flow significantly. No glue needed and it can be removed later rather easily.

-Al

Edited by Alriel, 27 November 2007 - 16:19.

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#14 rroossinck

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 16:40

No charge on the nib replacement.

Re: the cap - It sounds like you basically cut a disc out of it and put it in there and that did the trick? Hmmm...might need to try that one. Thanks for the tip!

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#15 Alriel

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 16:53

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Nov 27 2007, 11:40 AM) View Post
No charge on the nib replacement.

Re: the cap - It sounds like you basically cut a disc out of it and put it in there and that did the trick? Hmmm...might need to try that one. Thanks for the tip!


Yup, that's pretty much my solution. The cap tapers somewhat the deeper you go, so I had to test for air leaks a couple of times. Don't want the circle to be too large to allow for folds to form to allow air through nor too small that it falls out. smile.gif

Good Luck!

Al
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#16 FrankB

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 19:26

This is a good review. Thanks.

I have two Double 8's, a tortoise shell like yours and a green LE. These pens have a lot going for the - looks, comfortable size, light weight and balanced, good writing nib, etc. For their modest price, they are an excellent buy.

I have had my green LE for four years. I got it right after they came out. I think I have had the tortoise shell for two years. Thus far I have had no problems with either pen.

#17 Hennypenny

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 14:58

I haven't had a problem with ink drying out -- beyond what I'm beginning to perceive as an issue with Noodler's inks becoming "tacky" fairly quickly. So -- I've filled the Retro 51 with Sailor's ink (a lovely red/brown), and am putting the Noodler's in my more effusive pens, where it's stickiness helps slow down the flow. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has noted this about Noodler's. HP
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#18 fpfanatic5

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 20:26

Does the Double-Eight include a converter when bought, or do you have to buy one separately. I've been eyeing this pen for a while, so I was just wondering. Also, does it take standard international size converters and carts, or something else?

Edited by fpfanatic5, 06 December 2007 - 20:26.

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#19 Pengrump

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 20:29

Mine came in a humungous big box with a converter. Never used a cartridge in it, but I believe it takes international cartridges the way other Retro 51 pens do.

#20 fpfanatic5

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 23:28

Thanks, Pengrump.

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