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Namiki Sterling Dragon


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20 replies to this topic

#1 zaqrack

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 22:32

This is my first pen review, and from the three pens I own, I chose the Namiki Sterling, as I think it's a really unique pen, and I found no review of it yet on FPN. You can also find some comparisons with my two other pens (Namiki VP, Rotring Initial) on the pictures. So, off we go!



First Impressions 5/5

It all began with my graduation from college, my birthday nearby and the death of my Parker Insignia (broken in half at the neck, awful) around the same time. I decided to ask for a pen as a birthday and graduation present from my family - a pen which I will keep for all my life. It had to represent value, had to be a unique and of course a pen which I like. The first dream was the Sailor Hanzi Special Edition, but I just found it too expensive even for a present, so asked for another silver pen - the Namiki Sterling with the dragon design. I'm learning Chinese and my job is also related to China, I found the design appropriate to these and my taste. The sterling silver gives the unique value for me, and last but not least - it gives a decent weight, and I like heavy pens.
The pen arrived in a beautiful black leather box, with warranty card, a converter, a cartridge and a fine polishing cloth. Very exclusive.



Apperance and design 5/5

Two detailed dragons rest on the shining silver body. The neck is more polished with the text: "sterling silver" on it. The cap is a perfect fit, and the clip gives some dynamism to the pen. It makes the dragons seem more alive. Sure this pen is an eye-catcher and a true piece of art and workmanship, even tough some probably don't like the design.
Uncapped, the long, integrated golden nib continues the dynamism set by the clip. The nib is really long, occupies almost half f the grip. The pens looks like a deadly poisonous arrow - or rather the claw of a dragon? Your choice smile.gif



Size and weight 5/5

I don't have much experience, but the pen is probably close to standard size, but weighs considerably more than most of the pens. I like the balance posted and unposted too, but as the nib forces you to move your grip up (explained later), I prefer to use it posted.



Nib design and performance 3/5

I asked for a fine nib, but due to an error I received a medium. Guarantee exchange was offered, but as I live in Europe and bought the pen from the USA, I would have to pay the custom fees again - and I could buy an additional nib from that amount. So I settled with the medium for now, and found a good use for it.
The nib is made of 18K gold, single tone, and as stated earlier, really drawn up on the grip. The nib is very flexible, and needs to be flexible, as surprisingly it needs to be pushed slightly to the paper, when starting writing, else it won't draw a line for the first millimeters with most of the inks - on some papers. The supplied Namiki ink is very fluid, and doesn't produce such problems on any paper.
I was really surprised by this behavior, and it makes the pen completely unsuitable for writing Chinese characters, as they need lots of interruptions between the strokes. For Western writing, the pen is great. The line and flow is usually smooth and continuous, but when you stop for some seconds, when re-starting writing, you have to press the nib down again, else it'll skip the beginning of the line. You have to get used to this!
The line width is very dependent on the quality of the paper, but not that much on the ink. Bad quality papers make the pen almost unusable, and you almost faint by the beauty of the lines produced on good papers.
Another interesting thing is the long nib. I tend to hold my pens quite close to the nib - here it results in lots of ink on my hand, as where I usually hold the pen, here you can still find the nib itself. smile.gif With red ink, this becomes especially funny, as the dragon is bleeding on you. But at least now I'll learn how to hold a pen correctly! smile.gif



Filling 4/5

The pen is a cartridge/converter, which suits me fine. The twisting converter supplied holds only a little ink, so better be prepared with some excess ink or a spare cartridge all the time.

Value and cost 4/5

This pen was brand new, and a present, but I happen to know that it was 320$ + custom fees from eBay, which is on the upper borderline of what I would pay for a pen myself. Retail price is around 480$ as I know.
I believe that even when mass produced, the silver body represents a long-term value, which is worth the price. Definitely wouldn't buy it as an everyday writer, but it can be a proud part of any collection. Given the excess value, that it was given to me by my whole family, whom I love, this pen - even when not the best value for the price when talking about it as "only a pen" - has a huge value for me, and I don't consider it as a pen only, but also as a piece of art.



Conclusion 26/30

It is really hard to get well along with a dragon. It is really sensible, and very erratic. You have to give it the paper it wants, the ink it wants, and yet, if you don't hold it as it wants, it will bleed all over your hands.
You can't only grab this pen and "just write". You have to give in and adapt yourself completely. But if you do that, this pen will be your true companion.
This pen has a really unique character. Don't buy it -at least with not this nib- if you only want a good pen for daily writing. Buy it, if you want a pen for unique and important occasions: signatures, love letters, diaries. Sit down to the desk at home, adapt yourself the dragon, and feel your joint power.

I wanted to use it for completely different things and reasons, but this pen converted me and changed my plans. And I don't mind at all.


Edited by zaqrack, 17 January 2008 - 23:05.

my beauties:
Namiki Sterling Dragon M
Namiki Vanishing Point F - Slate Gray
Rotring Initial F - Electric Blue
Pilot 78g - F, B Stub

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#2 Brian

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 22:42

A very nice and thoughtful review. Thank you. I've seen a number of these pens over the years and have always wanted pilot/namiki to make one in a solid color or even in a plain or patterned finish. No luck. I found the ones I tried to have great nibs and like most pilot/namiki pens, great construction and balance.

Maybe someone from pilot is listening. How about a simple laquered or smooth or patterned model for those of us who recognize the greatness in this pen but want something a little more understated?

#3 savarez

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 23:02

The initial skipping could well mean that the nib is slightly out of alignment, and it seems you have some preference for a slightly finer line, especially for writing the Chinese characters. You may consider having one one of the nib meisters adjust this for you, and possibly reduce the nib size.

For such a lovely pen, the skipping is unacceptable. This is one of those special pens that will last you forever, and a little investment now to get the nib perfectly tuned for you will certainly pay off in your use and enjoyment of the pen in the long run.


Currently Inked: Visconti Pericle EF : Aurora Black; Pilot VP-F (Gunmetal): X-Feather; Pilot VP-F (LE Orange): Kiowa Pecan; Lamy Safari EF: Legal Lapis
Wishlist (WTB/T) - Pelikan "San Francisco"

#4 Jinnayah

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 23:25

I think you can mark a package "temporary export for repair" to avoid the repeat customs fees. It might be worth looking into. Beautiful pen, but it sounds like it could use a nib swap and maybe a little work to make it perfect for you.

#5 gary

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 05:07

Thanks for the review. It was very well done, summarizing some of the compromises we make to use a pen we love.

Makes me wonder if the pen is writing with us, instead of us using the pen.

gary

#6 alvarez57

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 05:23

Beautiful pen, I like how you made the Dragon come alive with the descrptions. My congratulations to you on your graduation/birthday AND in learning Chinese which is NOT easy and needs a lot of dedication!

sonia alvarez

 

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#7 sandeep108

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 07:20

Congrats on a nice and unique pen. As savarez pointed out, if you were able to get the nib sorted out, I am sure this would almost be a 29 or 30/30.

#8 DRP

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 07:57

Excellent review. Thanks for presenting it.

#9 Nikolaos

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 08:53

Great review! Thank you!

I have a Pilot custom Silvern pen but the one made in the 1960s. Here is a link to a couple of photos of it
http://www.fountainp...showtopic=34553

i also recently bought a custom dragon, but this one is made in Korea. It is slightly smaller and executed in steel instead of sterling. It is a nice writer and you don't see them everyday. I will try to take a couple of photos of it.

Enjoy your pen!

Nikolaos


#10 zaqrack

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 21:01

thank you for all your comments, you encouraged me a lot to write more reviews soon smile.gif

As for the skipping, I was thinking... can improper converter use be an issue? I never used a converter before, and maybe I fill it the wrong way, and there is no vacuum, so the ink doesnt get to the nib, and skips until I press it carefully a bit and let some air inside.

Just popped in my mind as a possible solution, as the Namiki ink - which has no problems - is in a cartridge...



my beauties:
Namiki Sterling Dragon M
Namiki Vanishing Point F - Slate Gray
Rotring Initial F - Electric Blue
Pilot 78g - F, B Stub

#11 Neill78

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:21

QUOTE(zaqrack @ Jan 18 2008, 02:01 PM) View Post
As for the skipping, I was thinking... can improper converter use be an issue? I never used a converter before, and maybe I fill it the wrong way, and there is no vacuum, so the ink doesnt get to the nib, and skips until I press it carefully a bit and let some air inside.


Beautiful pen! I'm often writing Japanese so I run into the same issues with fountain pens.. some are better than others for sure. But I'm surprised a Japanese pen like this wouldn't be good for writing Chinese characters!

With the converter, put the plunger all the way down, draw in the ink slowly. If you seem to be sucking air or getting bubbles in the converter, squeeze the ink back out and put the nib in deeper. When it's full, draw the nib out of the ink and slowly push the plunger back down until 3 drops drip back into the bottle. Then with the nib still out of the ink, draw the plunger up all the way.

I think the 3 drops thing equalizes the pressure a bit and provides a path for air to move into the converter. If I forget to do this, some of my pens start slow or the ink stops flowing.

#12 mallory

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:49

Congrads on the Graduation, Happy belated Birthday, and acquiring the Namiki Sterling Dragon.
the pen certainly seems to be an eye catcher. I am sorry on the loss of your Parker Insignia.
May you have a much good fortune in your future endeavors,
Mallory
P.S. I really enjoyed your review.

#13 artaddict

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 03:03

Let me add my thanks for your very readable review. I enjoyed it very much.
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#14 blak000

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 03:36

QUOTE(savarez @ Jan 17 2008, 03:02 PM) View Post
The initial skipping could well mean that the nib is slightly out of alignment, and it seems you have some preference for a slightly finer line, especially for writing the Chinese characters. You may consider having one one of the nib meisters adjust this for you, and possibly reduce the nib size.

For such a lovely pen, the skipping is unacceptable. This is one of those special pens that will last you forever, and a little investment now to get the nib perfectly tuned for you will certainly pay off in your use and enjoyment of the pen in the long run.


Great review!

... however, I second savarez's post. Your pen doesn't seem to be writing properly. You should send it to either Namiki or a nibmeister to get the nib adjusted. Otherwise, it is a beautiful pen. Hope it brings you many years of joy.
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#15 Taki

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 17:37

Thank you very much for your great review of a beautiful pen! I like the combination of the silver pen and red ink.

I agree with above, the pen should not skip. We use a lot of Chinese characters in Japanese, so it should write Chinese characters properly. I would contact Pilot in Hungary. Since the pen was a gift for significant milestones in your life, I think you should get the problem corrected.

Pilot Corporation of Europe Magyarországi Fióktelepe
H-1117 Budapest Budafoki út 111 Hungary
Tel.: 0036-1-371-16-96
Fax.: 0036-1-371-16-97
Mobile: 0036-70-315-16-62

(their e-mail address is provided in Pilot web page)

Good luck!!

Edited by Taki, 19 January 2008 - 21:26.


#16 FrankB

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 21:15

Thank you for your insightful review. You do have a way with words.

I have also seen this pen for a number of years, and I have been particularly attracted to the nib. I generally do not like metal pens because of the feel of the section, but this one has a (plastic) section that I would not mind holding. I have never taken the plunge, but I will consider it after this review.

For the pen's price, it should be a great performer. In addition, Namiki makes very good to excellent pens, and the skipping issue just should not exist. I would also suggest that you have the issue examined by a warranty person and consider a nib swap to F. For your using the pen for Chinese characters, I would further consider sending the pen to a nib meister for customization (maybe to a true EF or EXF point) and an ink flow check.

Also, congrats on your multiple milestones.

#17 zaqrack

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 22:19

I'm trying to contact Namiki, once I get my sent registration cards back and am already waiting for an email reply from Namiki USA. We'll see what they'll reply... Will try contacting the Hungarian department as well.

As for the change to a fine / extra fine nib: On one side I would like to do it, so I could use my pen more, but on the other side I like the M nib's width too, and it's really great for writing letters and such - makes the pen suitable for special occasions.

If Namiki can't sort out a warranty replacement/fix, the solution could also be ordering a spare fine nib - Office1000.com has it on sale.


my beauties:
Namiki Sterling Dragon M
Namiki Vanishing Point F - Slate Gray
Rotring Initial F - Electric Blue
Pilot 78g - F, B Stub

#18 dashboi666

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 07:09

Hi there,

Thanks for a great review! I like this pen alot, and am thinking of getting it too (maybe the shogan one).
Can I ask you whats the approximate weight of this pen? Because I prefer light pens with a good grip but this Namiki is gorgeous!

#19 zaqrack

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 18:01

I measured it on a kitchen scale, it's 33g with the converter halfway full.
my beauties:
Namiki Sterling Dragon M
Namiki Vanishing Point F - Slate Gray
Rotring Initial F - Electric Blue
Pilot 78g - F, B Stub

#20 dashboi666

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 18:05

thanks for that! quite a hefty pen, but its handsome. Once again, congrats!






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