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Brian Gray, Edison Pens


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#1 Mike S.

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 16:29

I recently heard about Brian Gray's pens on FPN (it was the thread about peoples' wish lists for 2008). Never having heard of him before, I checked out the Edison Pen website (formerly Pencraft) and thought the pens on offer looked really interesting and the prices seemed reasonable (the other time I ordered a "custom" acrylic pen, it was over $400, and with upgrades, these were under $300). On a whim, I ordered one (a Herald model in red and black ebonite with the 14k Bock nib and the "premium" converter for $265, all in). Here are pictures, stolen (without permission -- sorry Brian) from his website:







The pen arrived safely the following week encased in a simple plastic tube with red rubber ends wrapped in copious amounts of bubble wrap and taped tightly inside a small cardboard shipping box. Not a fancy Montblanc or Montegrappa box, but certainly a protective shipping box that served its primary purpose of getting the pen to me safely. I flushed out the pen with soapy water and filled it -- what a pleasant surprise! The pen is a wonderful weight and size for the way I write (I have not posted it because it is plenty long even without posting the cap), and the curved grip section is very comfortable to hold. The best part is the nib -- the letter enclosed with the pen says he has set up the nib to be just a bit on the wet side and "buttery smooth." I have to agree -- this is the smoothest writing nib I have ever used straight out of the box. I am a smoothness nut, and I have never written with a pen that is this smooth. The tines were perfectly aligned and the nib was seated correctly on the feed (not always the case with new pens -- even much more expensive pens).

CAUTION: If you like "feedback" or "control" in your nibs, you should mention this to Brian when ordering, because this nib will feel way too smooth for you. It even feels smooth on my scratchy office paper. Also, if you like your nibs on the dry side, mention this when ordering, too. I would say mine is a 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. (I generally prefer a 7, so this is just a bit on the wet side of "perfect" for me, but within reasonable tolerances.)

According to his website, the style of the Herald is inspired by (but is not an exact copy of) the Sailor King of Pen. I would say it's what you'd get if you took a King of Pen and pulled it at each end -- the subjective impression is that it's just a bit longer and not as big around in the middle. Like the King of Pen, it's a cartridge/converter filler (though unlike the K of P, this one takes a standard international converter and not Sailor's proprietary one).

So far, I have had extremely even flow and no skipping or start-up problems. I have used the pen for several days without any issues. The only suggestion for improvement I have made to Brian is that there was still some manufacturing dust inside the pen barrel and cap that I had to rinse out. That could have been done for me, I guess -- but I'd rather have a pen that writes this well out of the box and needs to be "dusted" than a pristine new pen from a big-name manufacturer that doesn't write well at all (my most recent bad experience was an Aurora).

In fact, I was so pleased with the ebonite pen that I ordered a flat-topped Beaumont in black and gray acrylic. It arrived on Friday, and I filled it up Friday evening and have been writing with it this weekend. The nib (also a plain 14K Bock nib) is just as good on this one. The pen is quite large -- it's hard to tell exactly how big they are from the photos on the website -- both in length and girth, but it is not overly heavy and the balance is great unposted. The grip section is the same as the Herald (I believe the grip sections are the same on all of his body styles), so the feel in the hand and writing comfort are basically identical.





Downsides (other than the dust issue mentioned above)? There are no piston fill options, so you are "stuck" with a cartridge or converter. For most of us, that's fine -- just not ideal. Also, if you like smaller pens (Pelikan 200/400 size), you may find these to be too long (especially posted), though as I say, the gripping section is quite comfortable and they are not overly heavy (nor are they especially light).

Here are the specs for the two pens I purchased, lifted once again from Brian's website:

Herald:

Weight w/ Cap 29g
Weight w/o Cap 14g
Cap Diameter .595"
Body Diamater .575"
Length Capped 6"
Length Uncapped 5 1/8"

Beaumont:

Weight w/ Cap 32g
Weight w/o Cap 16g
Cap Diameter .595"
Body Diamater .575"
Length Capped 6"
Length Uncapped 5 1/4"

What about the buying experience? There are lots of options and upgrades to choose from and you have to be sure you get everything you want into the shopping cart. For example, the basic price of the pen includes a Schmidt steel nib but no converter. If you want a converter, you have to buy one (standard or premium) separately. If you want to upgrade the nib, you have several options -- Taccia steel nibs, plan 14k Bock nibs, and two-tone Bexley nibs. You can also purchase customized nibs through a partnership between Brian and John Mottishaw -- you pay Brian's price for the nib and John's price for the customization. I have many custom nibs made by John, and although I didn't order a customized nib for either of these pens, I can say that John's customized nibs are marvelous, and although this is not a "deal" compared to John's regular pricing, it's certainly a nice convenience. In addition, Brian recently announced an ebonite grip section as a $30 upgrade (the standard grip sections, identical on all of the pens, are injection-molded plastic). The nib units just screw right into the section, like a Bexley.

Note that, if you upgrade the nib, you don't get both (at least I didn't) -- you just get the pen with the nib you asked (and paid) for. I assume there's a credit for the cost of the steel nib you're not getting built into the upgrade price for the gold nibs (though this is not expressly stated). I also think the basic converter should be included (frankly, for nearly $300 with all the upgrades, the premium converter should probably be included -- but it's only a $5 upcharge, $2 for the standard converter, which has no metal trim). By the way, though the premium converter on the website is shown with gold-colored trim, the ones in my pens were silver (I'm not complaining -- I rarely look at the converter -- just pointing it out).

Brian's communication is good -- very prompt and thorough -- and the PayPal checkout is typical PayPal. You can tell that Brian takes this venture very seriously. I guess this sort of thing is very subjective, but I think Brian has a nice website. It's relatively easy to navigate with plenty of information about the pens. He also sells Private Reserve ink and an interesting-looking Bubinga one-pen box for $25.

I am very pleased with these two pens and with each purchase, I feel I have received a very solid pen value for my money. You will have to decide for yourself whether you like the way the pens look (I do), but in terms of writing comfort and performance, I think the pens are real winners. I would buy them again.

Mike S.


Edited by wimg, 21 February 2014 - 02:14.


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#2 bgray

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 16:39

I will jump in with one correction, Mike.

All of my pens come with a standard converter as part of the price. The premium converter is an upgrade.

So if you order a pen and don't specify any converter, you will still get one.

Now I see how this is an easy mistake to make. I will put some verbiage on the website.

Thanks

#3 cmenice

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 16:48

Very good review. I like to see these very honest reviews, that tell of good things and bad things about the pens and experience. Not that anything is bad. Honesty is great.

I've been wanting one of these pens for a while myself, but I just can't get myself to dish out the money. Maybe someday if they ever get a piston filler, or become eyedropper filled as options. I can only hope!

Also wanted to mention that the ebonite sections look great. Good work on that to Brian!

#4 fatehbajwa

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 16:57

QUOTE(cmenice @ Jan 27 2008, 10:18 PM) View Post
Very good review. I like to see these very honest reviews, that tell of good things and bad things about the pens and experience. Not that anything is bad. Honesty is great.

I've been wanting one of these pens for a while myself, but I just can't get myself to dish out the money. Maybe someday if they ever get a piston filler, or become eyedropper filled as options. I can only hope!

Also wanted to mention that the ebonite sections look great. Good work on that to Brian!



I second the Eyedropper part, Brian.
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#5 bgray

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 19:53

QUOTE(fatehbajwa @ Jan 27 2008, 04:57 PM) View Post
QUOTE(cmenice @ Jan 27 2008, 10:18 PM) View Post
Very good review. I like to see these very honest reviews, that tell of good things and bad things about the pens and experience. Not that anything is bad. Honesty is great.

I've been wanting one of these pens for a while myself, but I just can't get myself to dish out the money. Maybe someday if they ever get a piston filler, or become eyedropper filled as options. I can only hope!

Also wanted to mention that the ebonite sections look great. Good work on that to Brian!



I second the Eyedropper part, Brian.
If you can make one, you have a ready customer here.


Understood. An eyedropper is on the horizon for me, but not anytime soon.

That being said, if the sole reason for the eyedropper or piston-filled preference is ink capacity, I do offer an aerometric/converter hybrid.
ae.jpg

This converter has the same nipple as an international converter/cartridge. However, it's ink capacity spans it's entire length, so it probably has more than double the capacity of the converters.

I don't have them on the website yet, but they will be soon. They will be priced around $5.

Thanks.

#6 AndyHayes

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 19:59

Excellent review. I too appreciate the honesty. The greatest drawback with Pencraft is too much choice!! I have sat there for ages trying to work out what I should get and I am no further forward. Money is a bit tighter than it was due to a son in university so I want to get it right, especially as this is not the only pen that I want to get at the moment.
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#7 andyk

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 22:24

Nice review and a couple of great looking pens. I have also looked at the site a few times, but still not committed to buying anything, as something els always crops up.

Andy

#8 blak000

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 22:42

*sigh* I wish I wasn't so BROKE. Every single time a new review of Brian's pens pops up, I just sit there and drool. I already know what I want, too... a black Herald with a Bexley nib.

As soon as I deal with all my other financial responsibilities, I'm jumping on one of these pens. They're absolutely gorgeous, and you know from the get-go that they'll work absolutely perfectly. I'm also impressed by how past customer's praise of Brian's service. It seems like he really goes the extra mile to make sure his customers are satisfied.
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#9 Aslan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 22:46

Nice review. Very complete. Thanks.

Buying a "customized" pen is a lot like going to someone new to get a haircut... you don't KNOW exactly what you're going to get. You don't know if you can trust the new service provider yet. We all have certain brands of FPs that we like and prefer... we "trust" them in that we know what they are going to provide.

After a buying experience with Brian at Pencraft, I trust him, but for what? Great customer service and a fine FP. Those two attributes together say "good value" to me. I got a Herald right after Christmas and have used it every day since. I talked with Brian several times before the actual purchase to "get it right." With Brian you have options! It worked. The Herald is my most used pen today (including a Pel M1000, MB 149, Bexley Poseidon, Sailor 1911, and a couple of Lamys, to name a few). As another reviewer of Brian's pens stated, "... with Pencraft, you not only get a fine pen, but you also get Brian." Very true.

BTW, usual disclaimer. I'm just a very satisfied Pencraft customer who is contemplating another pen or two from Brian.

John



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#10 CharlieB

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 00:44

Beautiful, beautiful pens. I think I see one in my future.....
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#11 lovemy51

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:47

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#12 southpaw

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:33

Yet another excellent review of a Pencraft pen. I'm noticing a trend here. wink.gif

On the eye dropper pen, I've got a thought, but Brian would have to comment. An ebonite pen made with an ebonite feed would be, in essence, an ED filler provided there was no metal that would come in contact with the ink other than the nib. Brian?
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#13 bgray

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:08

QUOTE(southpaw @ Jan 28 2008, 03:33 AM) View Post
Yet another excellent review of a Pencraft pen. I'm noticing a trend here. wink.gif

On the eye dropper pen, I've got a thought, but Brian would have to comment. An ebonite pen made with an ebonite feed would be, in essence, an ED filler provided there was no metal that would come in contact with the ink other than the nib. Brian?


You are correct. And you are also going down the exact same path that I am in my pursuit in offering this pen or a similar design as an eyedropper.

The problem is leaks. I need to engineer some kind of a seal.

Presently, I'm looking into all the early pen patents on eyedroppers for ideas and inspiration.

Now that being said, I'm really only in the homework stage with this.

Don't expect eyedroppers in the next few months. I have a lot of plates spinning, and sometimes I can just keep my head above water with pen orders coming in.

I have some new machinery coming in this week, so I need to fill time getting that broken in and part of my pen process.

I also have a new design idea that has materialized.

I also have broken ground on a new 1000 sq ft shop. Once the concrete is poured, then it's time to frame. I won't be building the entire thing myself, but the contractor is a friend of mine, and is allowing me to do all the work that I want to cut costs.

And then I have my real job, and a two year old to keep me busy!

So eyedroppers take a backseat to all of this.

But it will happen!

Remember that you can always subscribe to my blog to get all the Pencraft updates.

In the upper right hand side of my website, you'll see a spot to insert your email.

I won't spam or share your email, and you can always unsubscribe.

When eyedroppers happen, it will certainly be a blog entry!

Thanks.

#14 Sno

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:19

I noticed that Yard O Led (YOL) pens have a rubber seal between the body and the section. I couldn't figure out why they would do that (the YOL is a converter pen) until the converter/nib assembly started leaking inside the pen. Heh heh, now I know.

#15 michael_s

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 05:00

Thanks for the informative review!

QUOTE(Mike S. @ Jan 27 2008, 06:29 AM) View Post
(I have not posted it because it is plenty long even without posting the cap)


I thought a previous review mentioned that one cannot post the cap on this pen? Or perhaps I'm confusing it with a different pen unsure.gif

-Mike

#16 Sno

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 06:27

The cap cannot be posted on the Herald.

#17 michael_s

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 11:19

QUOTE(Sno @ Jan 28 2008, 08:27 PM) View Post
The cap cannot be posted on the Herald.


Thanks for the clarification!

-Mike

#18 scogre

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 20:46

A nice review of some great pens! I am going to have to get my act in gear and write a review of my Herald!

One thing to mention, Brian is now offering matching sections in the material that the rest of the pen is made from! I've seen pictures of three ebonite ones that are just amazing! They are the same size and shape as the ones that come on the pens, just made from matching (or whatever) material!

Brian just keeps getting better!

Scott.

#19 cmenice

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 00:53

Can anyone post a comparison photo say against a Pelikan M800 series. I'm trying to get a handle on how big the Herald is. Thanks!

#20 jmkeuning

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 01:28

QUOTE(cmenice @ Jan 29 2008, 06:53 PM) View Post
Can anyone post a comparison photo say against a Pelikan M800 series. I'm trying to get a handle on how big the Herald is. Thanks!


I have both. I'll try to get some pics.
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