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Marlen Basilea


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24 replies to this topic

#1 RichardS

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 10:33

Marlen Basilea

I had been considering buying one of these Italian pens for a while, but a less-than-perfect experience with a Marlen dotcom (see previous review) had held me back. Although Marlen do make pens at the high end that seem to me are 'more show than go', some of their less pricey models have genuinely interesting designs. The Basilea, although hardly a cheap pen, seems like one of these. So when I saw one on the Green Board and had checked that the nib had no skipping tendencies (a problem that's said to plague Marlen pens), I went for it. And I should say straight away that I'm very pleased that I did!

Externals

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The Basilea is a chunky pen, measuring 5 3/8 inches capped, 4 7/8 inches uncapped and 6 3/8 inches posted. It's just over 1/2 inch at the widest point of the barrel, which adds to the feeling of heft - something the weight at 1 oz (30 g) does little to reduce. The pen is available in black with red highlights, red with black highlights and a combination of the two, which is what you see here. Because I own it, I'd say that this particular model offers the best of both worlds. The truth is, I'd be happy with any of them!

What I find most appealing about the pen is the combination of colours - red, black and silver. The metal is genuine silver incidentally - and its slightly matt surface complements the red and black beautifully. I have not seen a pen with this colour/metal combination before. It's a typically innovative piece of Italian design, and I like the fact that it's difficult to say whether it's truly traditional or modern. Neither and both perhaps ...

As on my other Marlen, the clip is very noticeable - a little rococo for some tastes maybe, but remaining true to Marlen's mission to remain distinctive.

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The barrel is nicely engraved with details of the pen, and reminds you that this is a Limited Edition (though at pen no 4,063, it's hardly hyper-exclusive!). The pen was designed to celebrate the Swiss city of Basel, and as usual in such cases there's some slightly purple blather about the city being a centre for printing, having a university and buying a Picasso or two. You can take all this seriously or not (does anyone?). But it has given the designers an excuse to create an extremely interesting and unusual pen.

Internals

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Unscrew the rear blind cap on the Basilea, and you'll be confronted with a nurled metal knob. The Basilea is a piston filler. I believe the piston system is the 'captive converter' type, in that the ink is held within a fixed, internal converter rather than inside the barrel itself. In practice, it works extremely well and holds far more ink than a conventional c/c system. The assembly is beautifully made with the cap unscrewing smoothly and the filler knob rotating easily, and with no lost motion. I would guess that the blind cap is made simultaneously with the barrel as the fit is so perfect.

Moving to the business end, the section is slightly waisted for a perfect grip. This is thoughtful design as it makes an otherwise bulky pen very manageable in the hand. I find the Basilea very comfortable to write with for long periods, posted or not. The only minor design glitch is that if you do post, you can find yourself unscrewing the blind cap as you twist to unpost the cap itself. Just remember to twist clockwise when you unpost the cap!

The Nib

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The Basilea's nib is a large duotone 18 kt unit that's in perfect proportion to the pen. It shares the Marlen family look with the Marlen dotcom's nib, but is significantly larger. I should say straightaway that it's a fantastic writer.

The nib is notionally an "F", but writes very much more like an "M". It's a wonderful wet nib that flows beautifully. It's smooth, certainly, but not like those glassy smooth nibs that feel great but are almost totally uncontrollable. This nib has enough grip (I hesitate to call it tooth) to allow you to write the way you want rather than the way the pen does. So far the pen has been inked with Aurora Black, Diamine Royal Blue and Ottoman Azure. And if ever there were a nib designed for Ottoman Azure, this is it! It shades beautifully, and the high flow pulls out all the saturated colour to show this ink at its very best. Fantastic!

How firm? Well, it's not flexy by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn't Duofold-firm either. It's slightly springy, as on a Visconti Van Gogh, which I think is about as good as you can get on a modern pen. The spring adds some "suspension" as you write, somewhat like a car on the road; I find it gives my writing more character - a little more dash and style, if you like.

Size Comparison

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L-R: Pelikan Berlin (M620), Pelikan M800, Marlen Basilea, Montblanc 146

Conclusion

This is a pen with looks that will perplex many people. It's not really executive chic, it's certainly not bling, it won't intimidate MB-toting lawyers, and casual observers are unlikely to say "Gosh, what a beautiful pen." This is a pity, because the design issue obscures the pen's real appeal, which is that fabulous nib. That said, I could see this pen in the pocket of a creative type in an ad agency or design group. But he/she would know that more than owning a nice design statement, they also owned a secret: one of the nicest-writing modern fountain pens around!

Posted Image

Edit: didn't know how to spell 'knurl' ...

Edited by RichardS, 08 April 2006 - 14:42.


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#2 Blade Runner

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 15:01

I haven't seen Marlens in brick and mortar shops here, so I appreciate the
review. I love the color combination too, and its size: thick but not too long.
Congratulations! Beautiful photos as always.
J

#3 Matt

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 19:26

Wow! Great photography and a nice review. Someday I'll get an Italian pen.

Matt C.

#4 southpaw

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 22:06

Nice review. Thanks for the time and effort. Great pics. We don't hear much about Marlen on this board.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#5 Escribiente

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 22:19

Thanks for the review. I have two Marlen Basilea, and both wrote perfectly out of the box. And the nibs are first rank.

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#6 DrPJM1

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 23:13

Thanks for a great review. I have never seen one in person.
Pedro

Looking for interesting Sheaffer OS Balance pens

#7 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 23:23

Never owned a Marlen but I have seen plenty and they are really nice looking pens. One thing that I notice is that there are very few that are OS pen but a lot of them are in the midrange size and extremely stout :D

That is extremely appealing to me!!!

Great review BTW, enjoy your pen!!!

TNS
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#8 wimg

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 00:52

Hi Richard,

Well I found your review, and I really like it, including the wonderful pictures.

Thank you very much for sharing!

Warm regards, Wim
(who still is wondering :doh:)

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#9 maryannemoll

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 03:49

Hi. Thanks for the thorough review. I am thinking of buying the Marlen Aderl (red pens are just not for me, though the Basilea does look gorgeous.) and it has the same filling type as the Basilea.

How is the ink capacity as compared with the Pelikan M400 or M600? With a fine nib and with your usage of the ink, how long does one filling last? I write a great deal, and ink capacity is an issue for me. I have been to Richard Binder's very helpful site and have also read reviews of the vacumatic, which has the same filling system, but it's still unclear to me how much ink it holds comparerd to the Pelikan.

Thanks in advance. smile.gif

#10 alvarez57

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 05:52

QUOTE (RichardS @ Apr 8 2006, 10:33 AM)
[
This is a pen with looks that will perplex many people. It's not really executive chic, it's certainly not bling, it won't intimidate MB-toting lawyers, and casual observers are unlikely to say "Gosh, what a beautiful pen." This is a pity, because the design issue obscures the pen's real appeal, which is that fabulous nib. That said, I could see this pen in the pocket of a creative type in an ad agency or design group. But he/she would know that more than owning a nice design statement, they also owned a secret: one of the nicest-writing modern fountain pens around!

user posted image

Edit: didn't know how to spell 'knurl' ...

wink.gif How about in a Female Physician's hands!?!?! wink.gif
I have the all black instead and BOTH are gorgeous pens...mine is still in the break-in period, but I love it.

http://www.fountainp...showtopic=25362

Very, very nice review and excellent photos! enjoy! laugh.gif

Edited by alvarez57, 07 March 2007 - 05:55.

sonia alvarez

 

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#11 RichardS

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 19:13

QUOTE (maryannemoll @ Mar 7 2007, 03:49 AM)
How is the ink capacity as compared with the Pelikan M400 or M600? With a fine nib and with your usage of the ink, how long does one filling last? I write a great deal, and ink capacity is an issue for me. I have been to Richard Binder's very helpful site and have also read reviews of the vacumatic, which has the same filling system, but it's still unclear to me how much ink it holds comparerd to the Pelikan.

Hi Maryanne,

The Basilea has a 'captive conveter' piston filling system. So it's similar to the Pelikans in the way that it draws in ink, but different in that it's not the pen's barrel that is filled, but a converter within it.

As a result it holds less ink than you might think. I have a Pelikan M600 (Berlin) and I'd say the Pelikan certainly holds more. I'm not sure about the M400 - about the same perhaps? However. the Basilea does seem to hold more ink than an ordinary cartridge/converter pen.

(BTW, the Parker Vacumatic has a totally different filling system from the Marlens and Pelikans. It involvies a rubber diapahragm that create a vacuum. Properly maintained or restored, Vacs hold a huge amount of ink as, like the Pelikans, they use their barrels to hold the ink. But unlike the Pelikans, they don't have to accommodate the piston mechanism.)

Hope this helps
Richard



#12 RichardS

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 23:59

QUOTE (alvarez57 @ Mar 7 2007, 05:52 AM)
wink.gif  How about in a Female Physician's hands!?!?! wink.gif
I have the all black instead and BOTH are gorgeous pens...mine is still in the break-in period, but I  love it.

Very, very nice review and excellent photos! enjoy! laugh.gif

Thanks! Glad to hear you're enjoying it. But have you checked out those Limited Edition Conway Stewart Doctor's pens? Also black, also veeery nice. wink.gif

#13 Judybug

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 00:57

What a beautiful pen! I like the design on the clip. Thanks for the very informative review.

Judybug
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#14 alvarez57

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 03:19

QUOTE (RichardS @ Mar 8 2007, 11:59 PM)
QUOTE (alvarez57 @ Mar 7 2007, 05:52 AM)
wink.gif  How about in a Female Physician's hands!?!?! wink.gif
I have the all black instead and BOTH are gorgeous pens...mine is still in the break-in period, but I  love it.

Very, very nice review and excellent photos! enjoy! laugh.gif

Thanks! Glad to hear you're enjoying it. But have you checked out those Limited Edition Conway Stewart Doctor's pens? Also black, also veeery nice. wink.gif

huh.gif
Where can you find the price for this pen? I'm so sorry, but I had such a bad experience with Conway Stewart and the shop I bought it from, that I'm not still out of the "trauma" of just throwing, literally throwing away 223$ on a pen that never reached me after sending it TWICE to CS for repair (at the 1rst repair they cracked the barrel and sent it like that! mad.gif )
But I love the Basilea even if it still squeaks blink.gif ! It grips well the paper and I love that feedback I get from it... I do not classify it as "Omas/Pelikan smooth" but it is not scratchy.

sonia alvarez

 

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#15 alvarez57

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 03:27

Here is my hand to compare sizes: the other pen is a M600.

sonia alvarez

 

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#16 alvarez57

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 03:28

Then posted. No, I'm not a lefty....I took the pic with my dominant hand. wink.gif

sonia alvarez

 

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#17 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 07:33

very nice pen and great nib as well smile.gif
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#18 RichardS

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 09:38

QUOTE (alvarez57 @ Mar 9 2007, 03:19 AM)
Where can you find the price for this pen? I'm so sorry, but I had such a bad experience with Conway Stewart and the shop I bought it from, that I'm not still out of the "trauma" of just throwing, literally throwing away 223$ on a pen that never reached me after sending it TWICE to CS for repair (at the 1rst repair they cracked the barrel and sent it like that! mad.gif )

Sonia, you can find details of the CS Doctor pen HERE. They were available from Winedoc who sometimes posts here.

I'm sorry to hear about your Conway Stewart experiences. I tend to stick with the vintage type. But you can find Mary Burke of the modern Conway Stewart company in the Conway Stewart forum here - perhpas she can help?

#19 maia

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 18:49

Nice review, especially the pictures wink.gif
And yes, definately not a highly restricted production, but seems like a great pen nonetheless.

#20 alvarez57

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 01:38

QUOTE (RichardS @ Mar 9 2007, 09:38 AM)
QUOTE (alvarez57 @ Mar 9 2007, 03:19 AM)
Where can you find the price for this pen? I'm so sorry, but I had such a bad experience with Conway Stewart and the shop I bought it from, that I'm not still out of the "trauma" of just throwing, literally throwing away 223$ on a pen that never reached me after sending it TWICE to CS for repair (at the 1rst repair they cracked the barrel and sent it like that! mad.gif )

Sonia, you can find details of the CS Doctor pen HERE. They were available from Winedoc who sometimes posts here.

I'm sorry to hear about your Conway Stewart experiences. I tend to stick with the vintage type. But you can find Mary Burke of the modern Conway Stewart company in the Conway Stewart forum here - perhpas she can help?

wink.gif

sonia alvarez

 

fpn_1379481230__chinkinreduced.jpg

 

 







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