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  1. Along with 5 other members of the FPN ‘fraternity’, I was sent a complimentary prototype of the Blackstone Axiom – a new pen design from the JustWrite Pen Company based in Queensland, Australia. It’s taken me a few months to get around to this review – mostly because of the ‘busyness’ produced by moving house in the lead up to the Christmas-New Year season – but the upside of this is that I’ve had quite a bit of time with this pen – and I have to say up-front, my appreciation for the pen has only grown in the time I’ve been using it. There are a couple of issues I think Kevin and the JustWrite crew may want to give attention to (remembering this is an advanced prototype, but not necessarily the final product), but on the whole I’d call myself a fan of this pen. In the interests of full disclosure, this is not the first pen I’ve received from JustWrite, in return for an impartial review – you can search FPN for the others if you wish – and I received a much earlier (much uglier!) prototype of this pen, some months ago now, before most of the development work had gone into it.. I won’t be ‘scoring’ the pen out of 10 – I’ll save that for the final product – but will do my best to outline what I find appealing about the pen, and any design improvements I think the pen would benefit from. ______________________________________________________________________ 1. Appearance & Design As @mehandiratta pointed out in his recent review (https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/302314-pen-review-blackstone-axiom/), the Axiom was not designed completely from scratch: the finial, cap ring, barrel ‘blind cap’, grip section and clip all bear a striking resemblance to the Churchill Fountain Pen Kits available from www.beartoothwoods.com. Having seen an earlier prototype, though, I can tell you that a lot of thought and care has gone into the construction of the pen, appropriate selection and incorporation of materials for the barrel and cap, and finding the best nib option. The version of the pen I received came with silver-coloured ‘furniture’ and a carbon fibre finish. The ‘kit pen’ elements of the pen – that is, the black domed finial and the ‘blind cap’ – neither excite nor repel me. They’re quite functional, and appear to be made of solid brass, so I expect they’ll also be durable. I’d probably prefer a little less silver (three rings around the blind cap is one or two rings too many, in my view!), but that’s only a minor quibble. Apart from the curved endings, the pen is pretty straight up and down – with a slight ‘step up’ from the barrel to the cap. http://i.imgur.com/gYBGb58.jpg What I really love about this pen is the carbon fibre weave that covers and encases the barrel and cap. It’s dark and reflective at the same time, and has a kind of three-dimensional look to it (though it’s perfectly smooth to the touch). I could stare at the finish all day, if I didn’t have other things to do (like work, for example, and spending time with my family…). 2. Construction & Quality The Axiom is well-constructed from good quality materials. Not only the finial and blind cap but also the inner tube for the barrel and cap are made of solid brass, giving the pen a real heft (see below for weights and measures!), not to mention the feeling of durability. In the nearly 3 months I’ve had this pen in my possession, it hasn’t picked up any appreciable bumps or scratches (except perhaps on the silver-coloured clip and rings?). The cap screws on to the barrel behind the grip section – if you prefer to hold your pen further back, neither the threads nor the slight step up to the barrel should cause you any difficulty. The grip section is made of plastic, but beautifully moulded – functionally, it’s one of the things I like most about the pen, as it enables me to grip it securely and with real comfort. The clip is slightly springy, but holds securely in my pocket – and I found the shape appealing. http://i.imgur.com/9pqsl54.jpg My only gripes in terms of the construction (and these are minor) are that the chrome finish seems a little less durable than the rest of the pen, and that there was a bit of glue visible (purely cosmetic) where the threads for the blind cap have been glued in to the end of the barrel. Again, this is a prototype, and I’d expect that these minor blemishes will be dealt with in the final product. I’m also not sure whether I’d prefer to be able to completely disassemble the pen, or whether I’d prefer the finial and blind cap to be glued together. The tinkerer in me likes being able to pull my pens apart – but there’s always a risk of not being able to put them back together properly! 3. Weight & Dimensions There’s no doubt about it, this is a fairly substantial pen – especially in terms of its weight. The capped length of the pen is 140 mm; uncapped it’s around 120mm, and posted it’s around 160mm. I had no trouble posting my pen securely (I think DCWaites had some difficulty with this), but I normally wouldn’t bother – it makes the pen long and unwieldly, and it’s already a little too heavily weighted towards the back. The pen cap has a consistent diameter along its length of 15mm, compared with 13.5mm for the barrel. The hourglass shaped grip section is ~10mm at its narrowest, and ~11mm at either end. Its shape encourages the user to hold it at the narrowest point, and with a #6 nib I find that very comfortable. http://i.imgur.com/klcOaZ8.jpg http://i.imgur.com/X7MU7HA.jpg [From top to bottom: Diplomat Excellence A, Blackstone Axiom, Jinhao 159] In terms of weight, I appear to have lost my scaled, but the official figures from Kevin are as follows: weight capped = 50g; weight uncapped = 30g; from memory (when I weighed them previously) that’s about right. 4. Nib & PerformanceThe Axiom came fitted with a ruthenium-coated stainless steel #6 JoWo nib – with a second (1.1mm stub) nib thrown in for good measure. Apart from their size designation and some scrollwork near the tip, the nibs are unmarked. I’d never seen a ruthenium-coated nib before – I found the dark (but not black) coating very appealing. My experience with the B nib was absolutely glorious – one of the smoothest nibs I’ve ever written with, producing a generous flow of ink. The 1.1mm stub nib offered a little more feedback than I’d expected, but otherwise also performed extremely well. The nib and feed are friction fit into the grip section, making them easy to swap in and out – but the spare nib came as a ‘nib assembly’, including nib, feed and grip section, and I believe this is how Kevin intends to sell replacements when the pen is released. My only concern here was that in swapping over nibs, the ring that sits between the grip section and the barrel threads needs to be swapped over too – I think I’d be happier if each grip section came with its own ring. http://i.imgur.com/yFbbyoI.jpg http://i.imgur.com/FZSqOCM.jpg I made the decision fairly early on to ink this pen up with J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor – an ink that contains gold particles, and doesn’t flow so well in some of my other pens. The pen handled this with ease. If left unused for more than a few days, I had the occasional hard start – but again, I’d blame that on the ink rather than the nib. I had no difficulties at all when I first inked the pen up with Blackstone Sydney Harbour Blue! Other reviewers have noted that the pen is somewhat back-weighted, even when uncapped. I found this a bit disconcerting at first – and it’s still probably my main criticism of the pen – bearing in mind that it’s not a light pen, so that the ‘imbalance’ was a little off-putting at first. Removing the brass finial made a bit of a difference – the pen’s centre of gravity shifted from 2/3 towards the end of the pen barrel, to about halfway along – but it was still noticeably back-weighted. I suspect that the threads that are glued into the back of the barrel (into which the blind cap screws) are the other part of the equation – and the relatively lighter weight of the plastic grip section. All of that said, I have to admit, after 3 months I no longer notice the back-heaviness of the pen – I just enjoy the experience of writing with it, especially with the B nib! 5. Filling System & MaintenanceThe Axiom will take standard international cartridges (short or long, I think!) – the supplied cartridge converter was nice enough (plastic and metal construction), and worked for me with no hassles. Maintenance with this pen is very straightforward – as mentioned above, it’s pretty easy to pull apart and put back together. http://i.imgur.com/8czUQ8x.jpg 6. Cost & ValueI’m not sure that the final price for this pen has yet been determined – but assuming a retail value of AU$100 / US$73ish, I’d say the value for money is pretty reasonable, especially given the quality of the materials that have gone into the manufacture of the pen, and the magnificent JoWo nib. 7. ConclusionAesthetically, this pen is going to appeal to some people and not to others – and likewise the weight. I’m quite happy to wield a heavier pen (I have quite a growing assortment of heavy Chinese pens, and the Karas Kustoms INK is up there too), but I know some pen users prefer to stick to pens made from ‘precious resin’ and/or cheap plastic. I’m really happy with this pen, though, and it’s spent the last 3 months inked up and ready to go. I’d like to see the back-weighting issue addressed if possible – I’m not sure whether that’s straightforward, or a massive headache – but apart from that, I’m pretty impressed with the Axiom. Congratulations to Kevin and the JustWrite team – here’s hoping the final product is ready to go soon!
  2. Like a number of other FPN members, I was given a Blackstone Axiom Model fountain pen (prototype) by Kevin Watson of the JustWrite Pen Company, Australia in exchange for agreeing to review and comment on the pen in accordance with FPN guidelines. The particular pen that I was given had a black carbon fibre finish with titanium trim with a medium and 1.1 stub nib assemblies. In addition to using the pen myself, I brought the pen and nibs to my Saturday morning pen club meeting to see what others thought. I also found that some of my comments overlap the FPN categories for such reviews and that will be apparent as you read this review. Accordingly, the comments that follow are a compendium of my thoughts and other members of the London Pen Club. Appearance and Design – 7/10 Rather than attempting to photograph the pen with my limited skills at such things, I suggest that you look at the “much better than I could ever do” photos posted here – https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/298253-new-australian-made-fountain-pens-available-for-review/?hl=justwrite The pen is very attractive and eye-catching, in a black carbon fibre finish with a rounded black cap top, central (cap) ring and bullet-shaped barrel top. The trim is titanium – clip and clip ring, two cap rings and three barrel rings. The imprint “BLACKSTONE” in small but readable letters can be seen on the black cap ring, just beneath the two titanium cap rings. In my opinion, I think that the Axiom is very similar in shape to an Aurora 88. Almost every member of my pen club who saw the Axiom were immediately attracted to its attractive finish and wanted to write with it. Standing back and looking at the pen, the carbon fibre finish gives the impression that the Axiom is lighter than average. Similarly, the bullet-shape of the barrel top gives one the impression that the cap of the pen will post easily and snugly – if one needs to post it. Unfortunately, neither impression is correct. It is for those reasons that I have reduced the rating of the Appearance and Design of the Axiom. Construction and Quality – 7/10 I found the construction and quality of the pen to be very good. I mention these next few points for greater certainty, as I expect that they were the result of Kevin’s intention to get the prototype to me quickly and thus would otherwise be prevented by “stricter” QC. For example, I did note the presence of what I assumed were manufacturing oils in the pen and also that the black resin barrel top was loose enough to come unscrewed when I tested the construction and fit of the pen with my hands. Finally, I found the quality of the converter to be sub-par, even for a pen selling in this price range. Weight and Dimensions – 5/10 Weight Capped 51 gm Uncapped 29 gm Length Capped 140 mm Uncapped 122 mm Diameter Cap 13 mm Barrel 12 mm Section 11 → 9 mm The pen is much heavier than it should be, especially if it is to be used for any significant period of time, as one would expect from a pen that is in the “affordable user” category (where I would put this pen). If I was customizing this pen to suit my hand, I would have the length of the barrel increased somewhere between 10 – 20 mm – because I prefer to write with an unposted pen. While I could get the cap to post on the end of the barrel, I simply could not get it to remain posted. Perhaps threads should be added to the barrel top so that the cap can screw on to it. Before that is done, the weight of the cap and barrel need to be reduced in such proportions that when the cap is posted, the pen is balance. The pen given to me simply has too much weight in the cap, i.e., the balance point is about 2/3 of the length toward the back of the posted pen whereas most people like it to be the reverse of this - about 1/3 of the length of the posted pen from the front. The weight and the balance of the prototype are by far the most serious concerns that I have with the pen. Nib and Performance – 9/10 I was provided with a Medium and 1.1 Stub Jowo nibs. Both nibs are stainless steel and ruthenium coated. These nibs were both a delight to write with and the feeds kept the nibs ready to write with – even after putting the pen down and capping it for over 2 weeks! I love these nibs and the ability to change them easily because they simply screw in and out, like Pelikan nibs. Filling System and Maintenance – 7/10 The Axiom is a Cartridge/Converter filler, taking standard international cartridges, and it came with a standard screw-piston converter. As I mentioned above, the converter is sub-par and everyone at my pen club commented on it when they examined the pen. If you don’t own many fountain pens, like many people who will buy this pen, you may not recognize this to be a problem. Nevertheless, the pen deserves to have a quality converter to go along with the high quality Jowo feed/nib. As I mentioned under the Nib and Performance section, I was given two nib/feed/section assemblies, a Medium and a 1.1 Stub. It is very easy to change nib assemblies. Like Pelikan pens, it is simply a matter of unscrewing the barrel, removing the converter/attaching the converter to the nib/feed/section assemblies, replace the barrel and proceed. When the nib is unprimed, especially with cartridges, I like to squeeze the cartridge so that the ink “floods” the feed and the nib. Cost and Value – 8/10 It is my understanding that these pens will retail for about AU$100 or US$75. I think this price is more than fair, especially once the weight/balance issues are addressed – then the pen will be the perfect gift for those professionals looking to add a bit of flair to their writing! Conclusion – 43/60 I was pleased to be given this opportunity to review this Blackstone Axiom fountain pen. I am a sucker for carbon fibre and ruthenium/gun metal so I would buy this pen in a heartbeat – once the three key problem areas – weight, balance, and converter – have been addressed. JustWrite Pen Company can be reached as follows: http://justwrite.com.au/ info@justwrite.com.au kevin@justwrite.com.au

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