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Retro 51 Desk Set - Tortoise


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Gepzo

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 06:01

This is the first review I've done, and my first attempt at posting pics...Here goes!

Background:

I found an Esterbrook desk pen in an antique store last year, bought it, and got it home to find that it needed some work to get it back to working, and parts that I didn't have easy access to....so I disposed of it here on FPN. I did warm up to the idea of having a desk set, but didn't want to fuss with vintage pens that needed restoration. Enter the Retro 51 desk set. I looked around online, but didn't jump, mostly because I didn't see enough reviews online to give me a good idea of what to expect from Retro's fountain pens.

I decided to take a risk, and ordered the tortoise desk set a few weeks ago from <internet store that sells them>. It arrived, and I decided to create that review that I wish existed. So, here goes:

Packaging:
The set comes in a black box with a slip-on label.

box___small___cropped.JPG

Looks nice, decent construction, and the contents survived the trip. Inside the box was this:

openbox___small___cropped.JPG

A tube of three carts was secured under the tray, along with a rollerball refill. The pen had a converter inside of it, for bottled ink.

the_goods___small___cropped.JPG

Here are the goods, unpacked.

Notice that the fountain pen and rollerball have threads to screw into the base unit. The old Esterbrook had a slip-cap, so it didn't need screwing into the base. Also note that the threads are right where I grip the pen. Possible deal breaker for some people, but it didn't/doesn't bother me.

Filling System:
Typical Cart/Converter Nothing new here, you've seen one, you've seen 'em all, but just in case...

fp_and_converter___small___cropped.JPG

Performance:

I was pleasantly surprised by the fountain pen. I purchased a fine nib along with the pen, and it screwed right in (the nib comes in a single unit with the feed, etc, like an Esterbrook, only bigger), no problems. The nibs look nice, chrome with a gold-colored accent down the middle. I prefer fine nibs, so the medium review will have to wait for a bit. I filled the pen with Aurora black ink and wrote a few lines... I was surprised that the fine was actually fine, and wrote very smoothly, with even flow. I liked it, and will say that it compares with a medium pilot knight, maybe a tad bit finer.

writingsample___small___cropped.JPG

Fit/Finish/Construction:
No gaps that I could see, no blemishes, either. Everything is polished up and shiny, just as it should be.

The pens are made from three pieces. The barrel, the section, and either a rollerball refill, or the fountain pen nib. The section is threaded, unlike the Double8, which I read has the threads glued onto the section. Also, the rollerball pen has an "R" on the finial, so you can tell which is which without having to pull them out of the base unit. They're threaded the same, so they can go in either spot.

I don't know if it comes across in the pictures, but the tortoise acrylic/plastic/whatever it is does have a lot of depth to it, especially on the base unit, where you can see the cream colored splotches and brown splotches suspended in the resin, it is a neat effect, and the pens are made of the same material.

Price:
$89 from Moleskines.com, plus ~$10 shipping, and $14 for nib units (fine, med, and broad available), and roller-ball refills are available, too.

I've got more, larger pictures available, if there's sufficient interest (any), I'll post them.

Summary
I've spent more money on pens that don't write as nicely, and this is the only desk set I could find with a fountain pen in it. As such, I'm happy, and looking forward to using this at work. Would I buy more Retro 51 fountain pen products? Based on this product, yes, I would. Probably from the same place I purchased the desk set, their prices were reasonable, and the transaction went through without a problem.

Similar products/Other available colors:
The only other color I saw available was an electric blue/black pattern. There is also a very Esterbrook single fountain pen desk stand, available in tortoise, and some more rollerball sets, but this is FPN, so I won't discuss the rollerballs anymore).

Attached Images

  • writingsample___small___cropped.JPG

Edited by Gepzo, 12 April 2008 - 06:08.


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#2 Maja

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 07:54

Thanks for the excellent write-up and photographs! clap1.gif
I have a few Esterbrook desk sets---both Dip-Less and the kind that hold a lever-filler Esterbrook desk pen--- and the lever-filler pens weren't difficult to resack, so you might want to give them another shot....
I like Retro 51 pens a lot (and their rollerballs *are& cool), and I've been toying with getting one of their desk sets...but the Estie desk sets are cheaper blush.gif (however, they don't come in funky patterns wink.gif )



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#3 Shiny Pink Pens

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 20:50

Good review. I sell this desk set and have never had anybody be other than completely pleased with it. It is a very good unit, particularly for the cost. There is also another one made of the same material, cellulose acetate, that accommodates one pen, the rollerball....that is $45 in my store and this one is $82.50. Lastly, the Scriptmaster Series II Twist-Action Rollerball, with platinum coated rings and clip, is the portable version of this item. It comes in Tortoise, Berry Blue, Pink, Citron (Lemon Lime) and White. This latter pen was recently reviewed herein by another member who praised it. Retro 51 pens do write very well due to the refill system that they use (Schmidt Technologies). Thanks Again and Best Regards, Michele Roeding-Boyle (www.RetroRollers.com).

#4 LedZepGirl

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 04:49

I saw those awhile ago and was really surprised because I didn't think any one was making them any more. I have Retro 51 Scriptmaster in tortoise- pretty much the same as the deskset pen only with a smooth section and a screw on cap and it's a very nice pen too. Very smooth writer and great looking too.
I'd rather spend my money on pens instead of shoes and handbags.

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#5 punch

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 14:25

Looks like a really neat set. I have been interested in Retro 51 pens, but have not sprung for one yet. Glad to see your review.
"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional and illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end"

#6 QM2

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 14:57


Hurray for Retro 51! I love these pens and am so glad that you had a good experience as well.

I think that because of the "cool factor" too many people may dismiss them as gimicky without even trying them, but in fact these are some of the best low-priced pens available.

The regular Tornado model costs only $28 I believe, and is an excellent and very cool-looking starter pen. The nibs are huge and remind you of a very stereotypical image of what "a classic FP should be" so I think they are particularly satisfying for people who are just starting and really want to feel like they are using a FP!

I have a Tornado "Cherry Blossoms" special edition, which I got on a whim a year ago just because I am crazy about cherry blossoms. I was so amazed when it turned out to be an excellent writer. I use this pen all the time, mainly to write letter in cherry-colored inks.

And just recently, I ordered two more: a pink Tornado for a young female relative of mine whom I want to convert to FP use (pink is her favourite colour, so I thought this would encourage use), and the Seashell Cioppino for me! This company makes an LE pen crafted of real sea-shells for $75! Can't wait to get mine, does anybody have one of these?

QM2

#7 Thornton

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 16:10

I've been wanting to get one of these for a while. My mom has three Retro '51 rollerballs and one mechanical pencil and they're great to write with. I'm thinking of springing on an FP and RB in the near future. Eventually I will get one of these desk sets. Thanks for the review.
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#8 Shiny Pink Pens

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 18:00

QUOTE(QM2 @ Apr 13 2008, 10:57 AM) View Post
Hurray for Retro 51! I love these pens and am so glad that you had a good experience as well.

I think that because of the "cool factor" too many people may dismiss them as gimicky without even trying them, but in fact these are some of the best low-priced pens available.

The regular Tornado model costs only $28 I believe, and is an excellent and very cool-looking starter pen. The nibs are huge and remind you of a very stereotypical image of what "a classic FP should be" so I think they are particularly satisfying for people who are just starting and really want to feel like they are using a FP!

I have a Tornado "Cherry Blossoms" special edition, which I got on a whim a year ago just because I am crazy about cherry blossoms. I was so amazed when it turned out to be an excellent writer. I use this pen all the time, mainly to write letter in cherry-colored inks.

And just recently, I ordered two more: a pink Tornado for a young female relative of mine whom I want to convert to FP use (pink is her favourite colour, so I thought this would encourage use), and the Seashell Cioppino for me! This company makes an LE pen crafted of real sea-shells for $75! Can't wait to get mine, does anybody have one of these?

QM2




Yes, I carry the Cioppino Fountain Pen...PM me for details. I am happy that everybody is liking the Retro 51 pens. Regars, Michele www.RetroRollers.com






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