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Arbutus Harlequinn


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#1 wobbuffet

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 06:32

I bought this pen on Ebay for about $30 AU (20 + 10 shipping fee). It was a bargain in my opinion since other sellers were selling it for about 80 without shipping so I snapped it up at once. A watch company sold it and I consider myself relatively lucky to be able to buy it at a pretty decent price. As for the pen, it wasn't so decent in my opinion but I'm just going to be as impartial as I can in describing to you what I got.

First Impressions
It came in a small black cardboard box and I was really surprised by how small it was. Inside the cardboard box was a rather tidy little leatherette case. And inside was the Arbutus Harlequin. I was surprised by how light it was and I was quite excited. The pen lid is actually heavier than the rest of the pen. It was smooth to hold and very light. I was really excited by how light it was. It uses the same cartridge as my Monteverde uses. I later found out that it will take all Rotring, Pelikan and Elysee converters.

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Appearance and Design
Something heavy is in the pen lid. That's all I can say in ignorance. Probably a bit of brass. The rest of the pen is made from acrylic. Although the seller said the body of the pen was constructed from mother of pearl, it feels to be a bit too light. Maybe it is simply a mother of pearl design encasing the acrylic. I have no clue why it is called 'Harlequin'... I guess it was a bit more noble-sounding that 'Chess Board Design'. In any case, it is a very light pen. It has quite a slim barrel about an inch wide and 7 inches long. And as I said before, very light.

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Nib & Performance
The nib is somewhat disappointing. It's a very thin piece of metal stretched agonisingly taut. The edges are pretty thin and sharp. You can pretty much scratch someone with just the side of the nib. When you write with it, it is very scratchy even when you put very little pressure on the page. The ink stream is irregular and it can form little blobs sometimes. Fibers can get caught in the nib and it happens so often I have to scratch it on another piece of paper or it'll simply make my writing all thready. I really hate the nib. If they could have made it a bit more smooth, it would have been lovely as a fine. I'm probably going to limit its use to less fibrous types of paper.

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Filling
Takes what they call a delta ink cartridge. I fitted it with an ink converter from my Monteverde. I really wish they would actually provide me with a converter, they just threw in a free cartridge. I use my Monteverde an awful lot and the ink runs out pretty quickly but because of the uneven ink flow of the Harlequinn, it runs out even quicker.

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Value
I love the leather case. I really wished that the nib was a little smoother. I read from another post that it can be quite smooth and perhaps I'm just unlucky. I'll try the micromesh treatment but in my opinion, this watch company Arbutus should stick to watches.

Conclusions
I can't really speak for the brand's other pens but if it weren't as inexpensive, I would not have bought it. If I had bought it for 80 AU from the other merchants and got this scratchy pen, I would have cried. But I would give it a 5/10 for the 30 AU I spent for it. And tell others not to take the chance... even if you like chessboard patterns....

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#2 Maja

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 07:39

Thanks for the review and for your honesty; not every pen is a winner, unfortunately, and it's important to read reviews about the not-so-good pens as well as the great pens smile.gif

I myself recently acquired an Arbutus Galatea fountain pen and it has a decent nib, nothing great, but it is a stunning looking fountain pen. You can probably find a few photos of it on eBay since that's where I got mine (for 10 GBP + shipping to Canada).

Now.......I know it's a bit of an odd question, but does your "Harlequin" pen have a very strong plasticky odour to it? Mine does, so I have to use it either posted (it's a large pen so it doesn't really have to be posted) or unposted, but with the cap placed on a table, inverted, to prevent the smell coming from the cap material from making me sick.gif
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#3 excarnate

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 23:34

QUOTE (wobbuffet @ Feb 11 2009, 12:32 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I really wished that the nib was a little smoother. I read from another post that it can be quite smooth and perhaps I'm just unlucky. I'll try the micromesh treatment but in my opinion, this watch company Arbutus should stick to watches.

See (using a loupe) if the 2 sides of the nib are aligned where the nib meets the paper. If not, see other posts here for how to adjust it. You might be pleasantly surprised. There are also posts on how to adjust flow.

#4 wobbuffet

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 04:01

I got my hobby magnifying glass and yup the nib tines were slightly misaligned. Perhaps that's what was also causing the pen to pick up paper fibers so I pushed one of the tines a little bit. Wrote with it and Wow! it got a little less scratchy. But after about a page its scratchiness got worse and I could see that the nib tines got out of alignment again. Pulled out the paper fiber that got caught and kept writing with it. Had to realign the nib after another page. Arghh... any ideas on how to make the nib alignment stick? :S

Hey Maja, I love my Sheaffer Prelude smile.gif the Harlequin doesnt smell but then again I read that the Galatea was made from some celluloid material. But I'm pretty sure the smell will go away in time tongue.gif

#5 DRP

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 06:08

Great review. Please write more.

#6 Maja

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 22:50

QUOTE (wobbuffet @ Feb 11 2009, 08:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I got my hobby magnifying glass and yup the nib tines were slightly misaligned. Perhaps that's what was also causing the pen to pick up paper fibers so I pushed one of the tines a little bit. Wrote with it and Wow! it got a little less scratchy. But after about a page its scratchiness got worse and I could see that the nib tines got out of alignment again. Pulled out the paper fiber that got caught and kept writing with it. Had to realign the nib after another page. Arghh... any ideas on how to make the nib alignment stick? :S

I'm not an expert, but possibly doing a few figure 8's on some very fine Micromesh paper....or in pinch, one of those tongue-depressor-shaped nail buffers (***not an emery board!***) with 3 different smoothing surfaces; use the smoothest of the 3 surfaces. It might be that one of the tines has a sharp edge and is being caught on the paper, thus throwing the tine alignment off.

QUOTE (wobbuffet @ Feb 11 2009, 08:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hey Maja, I love my Sheaffer Prelude smile.gif the Harlequin doesnt smell but then again I read that the Galatea was made from some celluloid material. But I'm pretty sure the smell will go away in time tongue.gif

Glad to hear your enjoying the Prelude (you said that because I'm a Sheaffer fan, right? wink.gif ).
Thanks for the "olfactory info" laugh.gif on your Harlequin. Yes, I did read that the Galatea was made of some kind of celluloid (it was in the eBay auction description, I think)...so that might explain the plasticky smell. I should probably let it just air out.


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#7 FrankB

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 01:29

I also have an Arbutus Galatea . It is a good looking pen and I am sure the manufacturer uses looks to sell. But my pen refused to flow ink. I used one of the ink cartrigdes included with the pen, and it was awful. I also experienced the horrid stink that Maja mentions and I wondered if it were the pen or the ink.

After several unsuccessful tries with the included ink cartridge, I removed said cartridge and completely cleaned the pen. I then used a converter with Waterman South Seas Blue. After some tries with SSB, the pen finally started to flow ink. At that point the pen started to write with a nice, consistent M line. The stench was also gone, so (in my case) it was no doubt the ink.

I can now use the pen, but it took a lot of effort. I also will not recommend Arbutus pens. Quality control on the pens could improve, but I await furture reviews to see how the pens progress - or not.

Edited by FrankB, 15 February 2009 - 01:30.


#8 Maja

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 07:51

QUOTE (FrankB @ Feb 14 2009, 05:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also have an Arbutus Galatea . It is a good looking pen and I am sure the manufacturer uses looks to sell. But my pen refused to flow ink. I used one of the ink cartrigdes included with the pen, and it was awful. I also experienced the horrid stink that Maja mentions and I wondered if it were the pen or the ink.

After several unsuccessful tries with the included ink cartridge, I removed said cartridge and completely cleaned the pen. I then used a converter with Waterman South Seas Blue. After some tries with SSB, the pen finally started to flow ink. At that point the pen started to write with a nice, consistent M line. The stench was also gone, so (in my case) it was no doubt the ink.

I can now use the pen, but it took a lot of effort. I also will not recommend Arbutus pens. Quality control on the pens could improve, but I await furture reviews to see how the pens progress - or not.

Frank, you're going to laugh but it was partially your own comments on your Galatea (here on FPN, way back in March 2008) that prompted me to bid on the pen! laugh.gif
You mentioned that it was an attractive pen and about the size of a Pelikan M800; I was looking for a fountain pen of that size that I could use unposted, so I bid on it....and won it.

Thanks for the tip re: the changing the ink. I think I did use the cartridge that came with the pen, initially, but then I refilled said cartridge with some Sheaffer Skrip Blue-Black (modern ink) without cleaning out the old ink beforehand.

I think I will throw out the partially-filled cartridge (it's almost all gone anyway), completely clean the pen, dry it with some tissues and Q-tips and then let it air out (hopefully until most of the smell is gone). Then I will use the Waterman South Seas Blue ink (in cartridge form) that I bought a couple of years ago, but haven't used yet. If this does the trick, I will post about it in this thread.

Edited by Maja, 15 February 2009 - 07:52.

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#9 FrankB

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 14:05

Maja wrote:

"Frank, you're going to laugh but it was partially your own comments on your Galatea (here on FPN, way back in March 2008) that prompted me to bid on the pen!
You mentioned that it was an attractive pen and about the size of a Pelikan M800; I was looking for a fountain pen of that size that I could use unposted, so I bid on it....and won it."


Thanks, Maja. That is a hoot! The pens is attractive, isn't it? And it is a good size. Once you can get the thing writing, it will be a pretty good pen. It is the getting it writing part that is the bummer.

Good luck. I am interested in how it turns out.

Edited by FrankB, 16 February 2009 - 14:05.


#10 Maja

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 16:50

QUOTE (FrankB @ Feb 16 2009, 06:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Maja wrote:

"Frank, you're going to laugh but it was partially your own comments on your Galatea (here on FPN, way back in March 2008) that prompted me to bid on the pen!
You mentioned that it was an attractive pen and about the size of a Pelikan M800; I was looking for a fountain pen of that size that I could use unposted, so I bid on it....and won it."


Thanks, Maja. That is a hoot! The pens is attractive, isn't it? And it is a good size. Once you can get the thing writing, it will be a pretty good pen. It is the getting it writing part that is the bummer.

Good luck. I am interested in how it turns out.

I'm back smile.gif
I cleaned out the pen, threw out the old ink and refilled the cartridge with some Waterman Florida Blue and it still has some residual plasticky smell. It's not nearly as bad as it was in the beginning so it's getting better. The pen, however, has never had a problem with its flow-----it is a good, wet writer and lays down a fairly nice line. I did a bit of a regrind on the nib to give it some italic character, but it wrote well OOTB (out of the box).

Another thought: I think I'll chuck out the cartridge that came with the pen (the one I refilled) and use a *new* cartridge; some of the smell might be coming from the old cart... eureka.gif

Edited by Maja, 25 February 2009 - 16:52.

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#11 age

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 06:25

Sounds like you got a bad nib, I have had 3 Arbutus pass through my hands.

A sportster, and 2 Galatea's.

The second because my boss kept stealing mine, so I bought her one.
The sportster I gave as a gift.

All have written well straight out of the box. The Galatea still smells - it is definitely the pen itself. The second G took a bit of effort to get started.

The beauty of these pens are they are attractive and cheap - that means I can have a nice pen at work and dont have to hunt down the culprit and ... crybaby.gif if it goes missing.

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#12 Maja

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 07:03

QUOTE (age @ Feb 25 2009, 10:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
<snip>
The Galatea still smells - it is definitely the pen itself.


Ok, so I'm not going crazy.....I thought it might be the plastic material that the pen is made of...The cartridges look like ordinary cartridges and I can't imagine the ink being the smelly culprit (but you never know, I guess).

Well, I will just have to keep airing it out the best I can. I'll be darned if I can figure out what kind of material they used. I have come across vintage pens that smelled bad (whether it was the plastic or the decaying rubber sac or old ink, I don't know) but I've never had a modern FP smell like this. It is a lovely pen and I will keep it, but it's good to know that I'm not alone.
Thanks for the info, AGE!
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#13 wobbuffet

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 03:59

Mmmm... I actually mustered some German courage and bought two more Arbutus pens. bunny01.gif

Age, I bought a sportster too for the same price as the Harlequinn. The medium nib is very smooth but I started getting ink flow problems later on. I had to pull out the cartridge/ converter and poke out either an air bubble or twist the converter so that the ink would move up a little bit in the converter.

The other one was an Artemis and the nib on that was superb. Ink flow problems tho from blotting to similar problems with the sportster.

I've gotten used to the scratchy Harlequin nib. Perhaps I've just been spoilt by the Monteverde Invincia that I have thumbup.gif

They look nice though and are great for 'patient people', people patient enough to stop in the middle of a college exam and tap that converter roflmho.gif






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