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I have a sour cherry tree in my back yard. I think the variety is Montmorency. This spring, I noticed a large number of strange growths forming at the ends of the twigs. It looks like someone took a small handful of brown mud (or worse) and molded it around the ends of the smallest twigs. The growths are not brown inside; they are green and grainy in texture and have a strong odor of cherry. I can only guess that they are galls of some sort. Does anybody know what these are? Has anybody tried to make ink with them?
Introduction This is a review of the Desiderata Mercury flex pen. After seeing a couple of photos on FPN about a year ago, I knew I’d be getting one someday. When I saw that only one or two pieces were available on the website and no new products were in the works, I decided now was the time. After just a few days with the pen, I am really happy with it. Hopefully you’ll find this useful if you’ve considered one of these great pens. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6507.jpg Desiderata Mercury pen, Purple Heart and Cherry woods First Impressions I’m sorry to start off on a low note, but here we are. Customer service and product presentation are definitely the low point in what is ultimately a great buy. Pierre ships once per week on Fridays, which I understood when I made my order. Pierre emailed me a week later stating he was unable to ship my pen until the next Tuesday as he was preparing for a pen show. When Wednesday rolled around, I emailed Pierre for an update. He responded that he was too busy to ship it and would send it as soon as he could. It suffices to say I was not impressed. In the end, it took two delays and 16 days to receive my order, though it was sent Priority 2-Day Mail. When the package arrived I (mostly) forgot about all that, so you’ll forgive the lack of a proper unboxing photo. Product presentation is a divisive subject. Some people like lots of heavy packaging, wrapped in tape and plastic. Personally I don’t see the need for a pricey box I’m going to stick in a closet or throw away. Still, while not necessarily indicative of high quality, great packaging suggests such. My pen arrived unceremoniously wrapped in brown kraft paper. I’m glad Pierre didn’t go overboard with the packaging, but some people might prefer some kind of presentation. Design and Construction What Pierre has done here is to construct a feed/section assembly that makes it possible to use (disposable) calligraphic dip nibs in a fountain pen body. His design works very well, and in normal (slow) flexed writing, performance is very good. Occasional railroading will occur when writing too fast or at the wrong angle. This is not a fault of the pen, however. Calligraphy is meant to be written slowly. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6512.jpg Desiderata Mercury pen, parts exposed The Desiderata Mercury fills with a simple but effective sac. To fill, one must remove the body from the section, exposing the sac. Depressing the sac to create a vacuum, submerging in ink, then releasing will give a 3/4 fill. Pierre provides instructions via a YouTube link on how to get a complete fill, if that is important to you. The pen holds about 3.0ml of ink. Overall, I find that the relatively crude filling system does not detract from the experience of using the pen. While I would balk at any other pen filling in this way, in a calligraphy-cum-fountain-pen, I find it more than appropriate and actually prefer it over a converter setup. Although Pierre does pens of other materials, the Mercury turned from wood. Mine is Purple Heart and Cherry wood with (I believe) an ebonite feed and section. The quality of the wood is very nice. While the color combination of Purple Heart and Cherry would not be my first pick (it was the only option when I purchased mine), woodwork is well done and the pen is beautiful in its simplicity. If scrutinized, I can see the lathing marks, but for me, this says handmade and not low quality. The wood is well-sealed against staining and the hand-cut feed on my pen looks the part and keeps up with the high flow requirement of the Zebra G nib. The nib/feed fits precisely into the section with high tolerance. As another reviewer pointed out, the major failing of the Mercury is in the finishing. When unscrewing the pen for the first time, the threads between the cap and the body showed fine curls of ebonite left over from the cutting of the threads. This causes resistance when replacing the cap. The same is true of the threads between the section and the body. These could have been easily removed and this finishing would improve the apparent value of the pen. Nibs The Mercury is designed around the Zebra G comic nib, which is a good, solid nib that is well-suited for calligraphy and drawing. The standard nib is chrome-coated and a titanium-coated nib is available. If you are unfamiliar with calligraphy dip nibs, I suggest you buy a few G nibs and a suitable straight holder and see if this is something you are interested in before you purchase a Desiderata pen. The experience is very different from using a standard, modern fountain pen nib or even a vintage super flex nib. Fountain pen nibs, even those capable of a great deal of flex, are much, much smoother than writing with a true calligraphy nib. The Zebra G, like all other nibs of this type, will seem very scratchy to the uninitiated. Some tinkering with the nib/feed assembly and insertion depth may be required before you get the perfect flow for flexed writing. The pen is compatible with a number of other nibs, including the Goulet, Pilot and Nemosine nibs. I purchased a Nemosine Broad nib with my pen and it wrote a very wet line when tested with a notably dry ink, Rohrer und Klingner’s Scabiosa. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6514%20copy.jpg Desiderata Mercury pen with titanium Zebra G (left) and Nemosine broad (right) nibs Cost and Availability I purchased my pen at www.desideratapens.com. Pierre is a one-man show and his website is the only place you can get his pens. My pen cost $100 and was a “second.” The regular price for these pens is $120. That is, when you can get one. Like any hand-made item, manufacturing is slow and these sell out fast. Ask Pierre when he’ll be making new pens and he’ll happily point you to his extensive FAQ, which basically states, “who knows.” At the time of this writing, there are no pens available. However, you can sign up for the mailing list if you want to be apprised of new stock availability in the future. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6519.jpg Copperplate sample with Rohrer and Klingner Scabiosa ink Conclusion Aside from initial hiccups with the ordering process, I’m very impressed. The pen does exactly what it is supposed to do, which is provide a dip-free calligraphy experience. This will not be a pen for everybody, or even for most people. It is finicky, requiring a precise positioning of nib/feed for proper flow, and I’m not sure I’d trust it in my pocket. But for carrying in a bag to the coffee shop for a little copperplate practice, I could not be happier. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ6520-1.jpg Get Well Card, drawn with Desiderata Mercury pen, Parker Quink Black and Iroshizuku Chiku-rin inks on Original Crown Mill Pure Cotton paper
I came across Franklin Christoph when there was a review here about another FC beauty, Model 02 Intrinsic. After checking up Franklin Christoph website for a while, I have settled for the 1901 model as I prefer big pens. I placed an order for the model 1901 Black with creme bands and a pen tray but the pen was out of stock. I was promptly informed by the sale department there would be a delay of 7 days before the pen was available again in all three colours. It was then I decided to go for the one with cherry ice bands. I ordered the 18K Masuyama medium italic nib to go with the pen. The pen arrived to my work place three days later by Fed Ex after I received the dispatch notice from FC. I opened the package and the pen box… Appearance (9/10) OMG…. Am I impressed by its look and quality… The barrel is made of acrylic and not celluloid. It is smooth with a gloss shine. The two bands are not as bright as illustrated on FC website. Yes, the pen may look bland without the bands. The pen comes with a clip with four small diamonds imprinted on it. The clip is stiff. The top of the cap is flat and has the FP logo embossed on it. There is also the name Franklin Christoph imprinted on the cap. It takes three quarter turn to unscrew the cap. This pen may not attract a lot of attention like a colourful celluloid pen but that is never my concern. Weight and dimension (10/10) I like to write without posting the cap. This is a pen that is not designed to be posted while writing. The barrel tapers towards the end. I have large hands (size 8 gloves) and this pen sits comfortably in my hand. It is a light pen and weighing in at 28.3g. You can get the pen dimensions here: http://www.franklin-christoph.com/model-19-1901.html The pen section is tapered towards the nib and makes it easy to hold and write for long hours. The filling system (10/10): The piston lovers may not agree with me… The filling system is a cartridge converter. I have been a piston filler ‘fanboy’ for years until I have tried to clean my piston fillers recently and after watching a few youtube clips about replacing parts for piston filler. In general, it is easier to clean a pen with cartridge converter. With a piston filler, I have to remove the nib and feed before flushing the ink chamber with water. That is not possible with all my piston fillers such as Montblanc or Montegrappa 1930. If the cartridge converter malfunctions, I can easily replace it with another. The 1901 model has a good ink capacity and has a volume similar to a Pilot con 70. (As seen with a pilot Justus 95 in the photo below). The nib (10/10) …talking about the joy of writing. The nib is a Jowo with FC logo on it. This nib produces a crisp italic. It is not a cursive italic. It has a smooth, medium flow. The italic nib is position sensitive and can catch the paper if I am holding the pen at an angle. This is typical of italic nib and makes it harder to use comparing to a stub or round nib. There is a bit of flex with this gold nib. This pen with the gold nib costs US100 more than the version with the steel nib. The nib unit can be easily replaced with another one. It also means cleaning of this pen is extremely easy. The medium italic writes a line width of 0.8mm down stroke… You may have seen my overview of stock 1.1 italic but this nib is in a different class of its own. I have many pens with round nibs. This pen has instantly become my favourite daily writing pen. Cost and value (10/10) I paid US$300 including postage for this pen. This is perhaps the cheapest flagship model among many other flagship models in my collection. This pen however, comes with a customized nib as an option. That is just ‘icing on the cake’. I have to admit, it writes and feels better than a lot of other pens which cost twice as much as this pen. The pen fits my hand perfectly and I do prefer the line width from this pen over my other pens with 1.1 italic. Conclusion: This is my first FC pen and won’t be the last. As I write this review, this model with cherry ice bands is out of stock. My suggestion for those who are strictly devoted to piston fillers, your option is to get a piston filler with broad nib (like a Sailor Realo) before sending it to Mike for customization. I am very happy with this pen. Do I recommend it? 110% Thank you for reading… Enjoy!