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A New Hard Rubber (ebonite) FP


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#1 John Cullen

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 18:35

About two weeks ago, someone reviewed an ebonite pen purchased from edisonpen.com. Brian Gray makes these pens, and when I went to his site I was impressed with his work and so I purchased a red and black ebonite Herald fountain pen. I thought I would offer some comments here for people to consider regarding these pens.

The Herald is a large pen, somewhat similar in design to the Sailor King of Pens. For those of you who do not know the KOP, imagine a MB 149 that is a little thinner and a little longer. Or imagine a modern Balance made a bit bigger and longer. There is a definite "long" rather than "stubby" look and feel to the pen.

The pen, when capped, is a full six inches long, so it may well be a shade long for that slot in your pen case. Personally, I find this shape very pleasing. Uncapped, the pen is 5 and 1/8 inches long from nib tip to end of the barrel. I do not have a scale, but hefting the pen with ink in its converter I found it to be perhaps a shade heavier than an unfilled MB 149 but if so not by much. I found the pen very comfortable to write with. The cap does not post on the back, which is fine by me, but may be an issue for some people.

As for the general look of the pen, I rate it highly. The ebonite is nicely polished. The clip is a long thin gold clip. I never use clips so I am hard pressed to rate it. It is not one of those spring loaded deals.

One feature a person may or may not like is the fact that the barrel and cap themselves are not threaded. Rather there is a black insert into the barrel that has a gold colored ring and then some black threads sticking up. When the section is screwed into the pen, the threads just look like they are part of the section.

The cap is not threaded either. Instead, there is a black plastic part that is inserted snuggly into the cap. When you look at the cap, you can see a black cap band and if you look inside the cap you can see where the threading is on the part of the black plastic that inserts into the cap. When the pen is closed, all you see is the thin black cap, which is a nice touch between the barrel and the cap. I like the look. If you wanted ebonite on ebonite without any cap band, you may not like this.

The pen turns about one full turn to close the cap on the barrel. Closed, it seems snug and unlikely to open up.

Some people may wonder about this threading. It is very clearly secure, and I like the idea in that there is no risk at all of the cap or barrel cracking. If you cranked the cap down too hard, the worst that would probably happen is that the plastic part would snap and you would replace it. I like this idea. My wife has cracked two very nice roller ball pens from cranking down the cap, and if those pens had been made this way I think they would not be sitting useless on the shelf right now..

As for the nib, you can order the standard generic steel nib, a Taccia steel nib, a Bock made gold nib, or a Bexley nib. Price varies depending on the nib. I went for the cheap, standard steel nib. I figured I could always replace it, and I wanted to see what it would be like. I have to say it is very nice. It reminds me of a Laban steel nib. It was nicely smoothed and setup with an average flow. The nib certainly does not have the character of a soft Omas nib, but it is almost as nice as the steel nib on my Phileas.

I find it hard to imagine anyone would write with this nib and be disappointed. But given the beauty of the pen, I think when I order my next one I will get the Taccia nib. I have a Taccia steel nib in a Staccato and it is a little smoother than this nib. However, the basic steel nib is nicely prepared and ready to roll when you get this pen, so if getting the pen with the steel nib makes it affordable to you, get the steel nib. The steel nib can easily be pulled out and you can replace it if you wish.

The pen is a cartridge/convert pen and a nice converter comes with the pen. If you are a box and packaging nut, you may be disappointed that there is no huge box and bottle of ink. That was no big deal to me. In fact, I prefer things basic and do not want to pay extra for a box. So I am good with it.

I am not sure what else I can say. For $160 dollars, I am satisfied. Brian Gray also comes across as a very nice guy who is interested in making sure you are happy. He wrote me a letter with the pen and told me if anything happened to it he would buff out the mark. He also offered to reset the nib if I found it too wet or dry. As I said, the pen was a nice medium with good flow and I would bet you ten dollars he smoothed the nib before he sent it out. As I said, I got the basic steel nib and it is nice, not one of those scratchy cheapo jobs you sometimes get on a pen.

What else can I say? I paid with PayPal and the pen went out the next day!

I am a computer dinosaur with three legs stuck in the tar pit of the past and so I will try to add on a picture stolen from Brian Gray's website but can't promise anything and can't really say I care to spend any time fiddling with such things.

If you really dig ebonite, I think this pen is very nice and worth looking into. I plan to get another one in the blue and black ebonite. I also notice that Brian Gray works with other materials, such as wood, acrylic and something called Trustone. If you check out his site, check out these materials. I would like a lapis Trustone flattop of some sort. The material looks pretty cool.

In case anyone wonders, I do not know Brian Gray and I do not play Brian Gray on a television show. I just like the pen and found him very easy to work with. I would recommend taking a spin through his website.

Conclusion: beautiful pen and nice writer even with the most basic nib.

John Cullen

Edited by MYU, 13 October 2008 - 14:17.


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#2 John Cullen

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 19:31

[attachment=14241:Herald_i..._Ebonite.htm]

#3 yarek

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 20:24

Hi,

Thanks for the info. I was looking at that pen recently and wondering how it is. After your review I will have to place the pen on my wish list wink.gif Great looking pen, only thing I don't like about it is the gold clip. BTW. Because of FPN, my wish list is getting longer and longer... wink.gif

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#4 MikeW

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 20:46

John,

Thanks for your review, particularly your comments on the nib offerings. There was another post on FPN about this site that had me checking out these pens. The ebonite is fabulous looking and I have been agonizing over the red-black KOP. I just can't justify the cost of a KOP but you have darn near convinced me of this one.

I also looked at the Trustone material. It looks very interesting. I am also a lapis fan so I guess I will have to decide which way to go - pretty sure that it will be the red-black.

I just need to contact Brian about shipping to Canada. Some dealers have been charging excessive amounts for shipping to Canada - I hope Brian doesn't. I don't think he will based on your description of him.

TTG email Brian.

MikeW

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#5 scubie02

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 21:22

I will add to this review to say that I just received a "Beaumont" model from Brian in black ebonite (the one pictured on his site actually) and you couldn't deal with a nicer fellow. If you wish to add an ebonite pen to your collection, you can do so from Pencraft for a fraction of the price of entry from any of the more "mainstream" pen companies. I got my pen with the two-tone Taccia nib the thread starter mentioned, and find it to be very comparable to something like a Visconti Van Gogh Maxi--very smooth. Actually, for comparison's sake I took a pic to demonstrate size with some of my other pens--the Beaumont is on the far right next to my Van Gogh (maxi) just mentioned.


Edited by scubie02, 05 October 2007 - 21:24.

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#6 MikeW

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 21:34

Well, he must be busy making pens. I sent him an email, just waiting to hear back.

I also noticed that we have a very similar interest in pens, I have two Van Goghs - the blue one and the turtle demo. If the Van Gogh is a good comparable, then I am in for sure.

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#7 PaulK

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 01:49

I also contacted Brian to have him make a Menlo model pen. However, I decided to go with a Bexley nib. Wonderful communications all through the the process and a great pen overall.

Paul

P.S. this picture is Brian's; sent at completion of his work prior to mailing.

Edited by PaulK, 10 October 2007 - 01:50.

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#8 John Cullen

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 14:22

paul, nice choice! I keep looking at the Lapis trustone material too. enjoy.

#9 Keng

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 15:04

Nice pen, am trying to imagine it without the clip....

Mike
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#10 skipwilliams

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 15:43

He mentions that the clips are "24 caret gold". I'm assuming that these are metal with gold wash overlay. If that's so, then that would be a deal breaker for me. Those pen kits with gold-washed clips quickly rub off, revealing silvery metal underneath.


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#11 PaulK

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 15:56

QUOTE(John Cullen @ Oct 10 2007, 09:22 AM) View Post
paul, nice choice! I keep looking at the Lapis trustone material too. enjoy.



Thanks John! You did a great review of the pen. I couldn't have thought of anything to add, including the part regarding the barrel threading (thread insert). Also agree that Brian must have tweaked the nib because it worked **perfectly** from initial load; starting immediately.

I've been using the c/c filler; however, I would have liked to have used my long Levenger cartridges instead (travel frequently: cartridges are convenient). Amazing enough, while the pen is longer than my CS Duro (almost identical to the Danitrio Densho in length), the Levenger cartridge is just a tad bit too long so the nib section doesn't screw-in all the way. I imagine if I returned the pen to Brian, he could fix this pretty easily but I'm not ready to relinquish the pen.

I also agree that I've revisited his 'site to see if there's any others I just can't live without. That Lapis pen is beautiful.

My best,

Paul

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#12 bgray

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 18:18

QUOTE(skipwilliams @ Oct 10 2007, 03:43 PM) View Post
He mentions that the clips are "24 caret gold". I'm assuming that these are metal with gold wash overlay. If that's so, then that would be a deal breaker for me. Those pen kits with gold-washed clips quickly rub off, revealing silvery metal underneath.


Skip


You are correct on the Herald clips...they are 24 karat gold.

The clips with the Menlo and Beaumont pens, however, are either gold titanium or sterling silver.

I am currently working with a jeweler who is casting clips for the Heralds. These will also be gold titanium and sterling silver.

When these arrive, all of the Herald pens will be made with titanium or silver, and all of the current owners of Herald pens will receive a little care package with their new clips in the mail.

Thanks.


#13 Cloud

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 04:03

puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif

Hmmm, I really like these models.

What are the nib comparison between the: steel nib VS Taccia steel nib VS Bexley nib VS Bock

Any comment on the nibs would be great. I am starting to have itchy fingers.
Commit to be fit
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#14 bgray

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 04:20

QUOTE(Cloud @ Oct 13 2007, 04:03 AM) View Post
puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif puddle.gif

Hmmm, I really like these models.

What are the nib comparison between the: steel nib VS Taccia steel nib VS Bexley nib VS Bock

Any comment on the nibs would be great. I am starting to have itchy fingers.


Generally, all four nibs write as you would expect a westen nib to write.

There's little difference in the line width laid down by the medium standard, Taccia, Bexley, or Bock.

Let me know which tip you are interested in, and I can email a writing sample.

Edited by bgray, 13 October 2007 - 15:45.


#15 sam

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 13:22

can you get the pen (or any of the pens) without a clip?
actually, the herald's shape is more to my liking...
so was wondering if that could be made without a clip.

#16 John Cullen

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 14:06

I recently ordered one of the Heralds and purposely ordered the basic steel nib.

My experience with steel nibs-----and this is just my limited experience with basic modern steel nibs------is that there are huge differences in quality.

I have had some of the inexpensive 3 dollar steel nibs used for kit pens that were really really bad.

I think that the Danitrio medium steel nib and the Taccia medium steel nib are wonderfully smooth, as good as or better than the Phileas.

So when I got the basic steel nib on my pen, I did not know what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth it was. I would say the nib Brian sent me was better than the last two nibs I got on Laban pens when I bought a Scepter and the largest Mento. I think he smoothed the nib. The line it produces does not have any variation, so for some people this nib and others like it lack character. Of course, the steel nib is very firm.

I have used Bexley fine nibs and generally found them very nice, nicer generally than the inexpensive steel nib.

I just ordered another pen from Brian and got the Taccia steel nib. I have tried that on a Staccato and found it a little nicer than the basic steel nib.

All of the above was a very long way for me to say that the basic steel nib is very nice and works great but I think the Taccia and Bexley nibs I have used are a little nicer.

Remember that you can always yank out the steel nib down the road and replace it. It simply pulls from the section. Or get the nonbranded Bock gold nib that Brian sells----same one I think that MOttishaw sells. Getting the nonbranded gold nib and having it modified would be a good choice too. You could get the nonbranded gold nib and have it modified by Richard Binder or someone else for less than you would pay for the Bexley nib. Ask Brian but I think you could get a new section too and easily have more than one nib for the same pen.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to comment on the taccia steel nib that will come on my new pen. I should have it next week.



#17 bgray

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 14:29

QUOTE(sam @ Oct 13 2007, 01:22 PM) View Post
can you get the pen (or any of the pens) without a clip?
actually, the herald's shape is more to my liking...
so was wondering if that could be made without a clip.


Absolutely. Poses no problem.

#18 bgray

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 14:37

QUOTE(John Cullen @ Oct 13 2007, 02:06 PM) View Post
I recently ordered one of the Heralds and purposely ordered the basic steel nib.

My experience with steel nibs-----and this is just my limited experience with basic modern steel nibs------is that there are huge differences in quality.

I have had some of the inexpensive 3 dollar steel nibs used for kit pens that were really really bad.

I think that the Danitrio medium steel nib and the Taccia medium steel nib are wonderfully smooth, as good as or better than the Phileas.

So when I got the basic steel nib on my pen, I did not know what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth it was. I would say the nib Brian sent me was better than the last two nibs I got on Laban pens when I bought a Scepter and the largest Mento. I think he smoothed the nib. The line it produces does not have any variation, so for some people this nib and others like it lack character. Of course, the steel nib is very firm.

I have used Bexley fine nibs and generally found them very nice, nicer generally than the inexpensive steel nib.

I just ordered another pen from Brian and got the Taccia steel nib. I have tried that on a Staccato and found it a little nicer than the basic steel nib.

All of the above was a very long way for me to say that the basic steel nib is very nice and works great but I think the Taccia and Bexley nibs I have used are a little nicer.

Remember that you can always yank out the steel nib down the road and replace it. It simply pulls from the section. Or get the nonbranded Bock gold nib that Brian sells----same one I think that MOttishaw sells. Getting the nonbranded gold nib and having it modified would be a good choice too. You could get the nonbranded gold nib and have it modified by Richard Binder or someone else for less than you would pay for the Bexley nib. Ask Brian but I think you could get a new section too and easily have more than one nib for the same pen.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to comment on the taccia steel nib that will come on my new pen. I should have it next week.


You are right about the steel nibs. Some of them are downright awful...not even polished, let alone writable.

It's unfortunate, because most fountain pen guys experience with people that handcraft pens are with these awful nibs, because the penmaker hasn't taken the time to learn about nibs and doesn't know the difference.

My steel nibs are picked carefully. One supplier has good nibs, one has awful nibs. After finding a good one, then it gets smoothed and adjusted for flow.

And you are right, the Taccia and Bexley are even better than the regular steel nibs, hence the extra cost.

And your most recent pen just shipped this morning, John. Be sure to let me know how you like the Taccia compared to the standard steel nib! When I sent it out, it was just a touch on the drier side, but still wet. This is usually what I shoot for, as it's easier for me to make the pen wetter than drier.

Edited by bgray, 13 October 2007 - 14:40.


#19 John Cullen

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 15:42

HI Brian, I figured you polished it. You are right. My limited experience the handcrafted pen I purchased before purchasing one from you was with someone who did a nice job on the pen but clearly was not a nib person. To his credit, he sent me three more nibs when I mentioned that the one was scratchy. One of the three was pretty good. The other two were the same as the original. I appreciate your care with the nib on my last pen.

I look forward to my new Herald. JOHN

#20 MYU

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 19:56

Brian, WONDERFUL looking pens you have there! I really like the Herald Red and Black Ebonite and the Churchill in Black Rose Acrylic is beautifully done.

I have been lusting after the Sailor KOP, but balking at the very high price point to obtain one. Seeing how close it looks to your interpretation, I'd have no problem going with one of your pens. smile.gif

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