I like their slightly eccentric distinctiveness, so when one came up relatively inexpensively, I went for it.
This model is called the "(dot) com", produced I imagine to cash in on the dotcomedy of the 1999/2000. I also guess that this title was an afterthought, since the pen itself shows not the remotest connection to anything hi-tech! The material is a handsome green cracked-ice marble acrylic with silver accents. The clip has a stylised Ionian capital at the top, some engraved lines beneath and culminates in one of those pocket-friendly little wheels. There's also a silver band around the base of the cap engraved with the brand and model name. The whole effect is nicely archaic and artisan-based, as though some gnarled old craftsman in a Venetian palazzo had engraved and assembled it all by hand. At this price level, that's clearly unlikely - but Marlen have worked hard to achieve the effect.
The pen weighs 23g (3/4 oz), and measures 135 mm (5 1/4") capped. It's a fraction larger than a Pelikan 600, and at its widest point, a little wider.
In keeping with its traditional style, the Marlen cap unscrews to reveal a barrel-coloured section. This is nicely curved in an hour-glass style, and if you hold the pen this close to the nib, you'll find it extremely comfortable. If you prefer to hold pens a little higher, you'll be on the cap threads, which is no fun at all. But, if you're prepared to hold it higher still (as I've learnt to, after exactly the same problem with my Pelikan Berlin), you'll find an extremely comfortable gripping place in the black band that finishes the barrel. Here the pen feels nicely chunky and easy to control. The barrel is finished with a matching black twist-action knob to control the piston-based filling.
Nib & section
Another idiosyncrasy is in Marlen's nib design. Unlike most manufacturers who seem to think size is everything, Marlen use a smallish nib that to my eyes is extremely attractive. It's a delicate shape, almost following the outline of a paintbrush, and it fits perfectly with the subtle hourglass shape of the section. It's made from 18kt gold, and it seems even Marlen couldn't resist the trend to make it two-tone!
How does it write? The short answer is, "well, but not perfectly". I've filled it with Diamine Prussian Blue, Herbin Vert Reseda, PR Tanzanite and now Diamine Royal Blue. All of these flow extremely well, and the nib lays down a nice fairly wet line with all of them, but it does tend to hesitate on downstrokes. The size is "M" and the nib's class is apparent in its ability to create very pleasant shading. But the occasional skip is annoying, and I hope to have it seen to soon. The problem is, as with any intermittent fault, is that it won't show up when I'm trying to demonstrate it! (Anybody ever find this problem at the dentist - which tooth?)
Apart from this, it's a great pen, and all the nicer for its distinctiveness. Once the nib is sorted out, I believe I will be using it a great deal.
Edit: to restore pics
Edited by RichardS, 10 November 2005 - 09:50.