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Asa Santulan With Bock Stahl Rot Nib Review



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Prithwijit

Introduction

The cigar shape has been an all-time fountain pen classic. Whether it is the Sheaffer Balance of 1920s or modern Meisterstruck or KOP, the shape has an enduring appeal and is often the signature design for top of the line pens from their respective pen marques. The shape and form have morphed into being a hallmark of quality exemplified by such storied models such as MB 149, Sailor KOP, Namiki Emperor or even the platinum president line. Not all cigar shapes however are created equal and there are many variations within the broader design. Intrigued, I dug a bit deeper and this source provided an enlightening education on the topic.

To summarize, there are two basic cigar shapes: "parejo" and "figurado."

  • A parejo is a cigar that has straight sides and a rounded head.
  • A figurado is any shape other than a parejo.

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We can further classify figurados into

  • Belicoso: A figurado shaped cigar that tapers sharply at the head like some kind of munition.
  • Pyramid: A pyramid starts tapering right at the foot of the cigar.
  • Torpedo: A torpedo has a longer and more gradual taper than other figurado designs.

 

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There are many torpedo shaped fountain pens. These tend to be cylindrical in shape with smooth tapering towards rounded ends. Nothing exemplifies the genesis of this shape than the classic torpedo shaped Sheaffer’s pens such as the Balance and the Sovereign series.

There are many contemporary pen makers who are churning out excellent torpedo shaped pens. From top of the mind recall, a few like Ranga, Edison and Guider come to mind. I wanted a few such pens to be made from different materials and requested Mr. Subramaniam of ASApens to make a variant of the torpedo shape. This was the genesis of the pen I am about to review. Fellow FPNers Kapil (@springrainbow) and Pradeep (@pdg84) christened the pen “Santulan” which means “Balance” in Hindi and is an obvious homage to the pioneering model of this design language.

Design

In case my rather lengthy and rambling introduction doesn’t make it clear enough, the Santulan is a cigar shaped pen. To be a bit more pedantic it is a cigar shaped pen with a torpedo like barrel and a pyramid like cap. There is a discernible step between the barrel and the section with a fairly large area where you have the threading for the cap. The section itself is long and comfortable. It is a new design by ASA and is mildly concave with the diameter at the barrel side being just a tad larger than the diameter near the nib, thus allowing for a gentle inward slope.

The material used is the Conway Stewart Red Whirl acrylic. It’s a beautiful shade of emerald green with hues of pearlescent effect. The red swirly patterns add to the mystique and brilliantly complement the Stahl Rot (“Red Steel”) nib that has been used with this pen. The entire pen has been buffed smooth and gives off a nice shine. Trims have been kept deliberately to a minimum and there is just a clip for utility purposes. It’s a beautiful regular sized, light and robust pen that is meant to be used daily.

 

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Size and Balance

At 153mm capped, the specifications may indicate that this is a heavy oversized pen. Nothing can be further from the truth. This is one of the lightest, slimmest and most comfortable ASA pen that I have ever used. Partly the reason for it’s lengths is the inherent length required of torpedo and missile like shape at the two finials. But a very slim barrel width of 10mm and section width of 8mm should leave no doubt about the fact that this is firmly an EDC (Every Day Carry) pen. This is the slimmest section in an ASA pen that I have ever used and should put to rest any concerns that anyone might have with regards to the thicker than normal girth of Indian handmade pens. Not only the thickness, but also the shape of the section is meant to accentuate the feeling of comfort. Nothing beats the feeling in hand once you start writing with it and realise feather-light weight and the comfort. Needless to say, the pen is well balanced and provides comfortable writing for extended periods.

 

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Nib

Lately I have developed a fascination for experiencing nibs made of different materials. Given that The Bock 250 triple system seems to have the widest range of conceivable material options, its hardly surprising that I have embarked on developing a collection of different Bock 250 nibs. For the Santulan I had opted to use the “Bock 250 Stahl Rot” unit in medium width. This is essentially a steel nib with an anodized red coating. The coating process gives the nib a matte red outer appearance. The nib colour brilliantly complements the red whirl finish of the material. A big thank goes out to fellow FPNer Tervinder (@romee_win) and his brother Rajdilawar who took great pains and got it for me from Germany.

Filling Mechanism

Like most pens that I order, the Santulan too comes in a Cartridge-Converter system and accepts standard international cartridges and compatible convertors. In my opinion this provides the the optimum combination of value, system longevity, convenience and widespread compatibility. The pen comes with a Schmidt K5 convertor out of the box.

Build Quality

The Santulan exhibits the standard ASA quality attributes. As usual, the fit, finish and the tolerances are excellent and the joints are seamless. A lot of attention and care has been put into polishing and buffing to ensure a very high quality of the finish. However one has to keep in mind that it is an entirely hand-made pen and there is likely to be some fine trace marks under minute inspections.

Writing Experience

Bock is one of the most (if not the most) renowned independent manufacturer of nibs in Europe and worldwide. Their clientele include who’s who of leading pen brands in the world. Naturally expectations were very high from the nib. Unfortunately, out of the box the nib was extremely dry and maybe even a bit scratchy. While the initial experience was underwhelming, Mr. Subramaniam assured me that once properly tuned, this nib would be a joy to use. True to his words, he has done magic with this nib. Post tuning, the nib is smooth and glides over the paper. There is just a hint of feedback and that too the sort that is usually so enjoyable and adds character to the writing experience. I am very happy with how the pen writes now and can heartily recommend a tuned Bock to all. The only additional ask if I may add would be a slightly increased ink flow which would make things perfect. The nib does not have any softness or flexing characteristics and can be considered a nail. Overall, a great nib and a wonderful writing experience.

There has been one major drawback of the tuning process which I feel compelled to highlight. While flossing the nib and adjusting it, the nib started to loose its red anodized coating and some flakes of paint have chipped off revealing the steel nib underneath. This is a big disappointment and severely undermines the aesthetics of the finished pen.


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Price and Value

The Santulan was a limited run based on orders given by myself and a few other group members. While we each paid a premium for our pens, much of that premium went towards the special material and the nibs that we had ordered. ASA however made it easy thanks to the affordable pricing for making the pens. The price reflects the price of components and the effort that goes into making each pen. To summarize, the pen represents good value at an affordable price point.

Specifications

The measurements shared below have been taken with a simple ruler and my bare eyes. While they may lack precision, they should still be adequate to give you an overall picture of the size of the instrument.

Length (capped) – 153 mm
Length (uncapped) – 137 mm
Length (cap) – 71.5 mm
Length (section) – 23 mm
Maximum width (cap) – 11 mm
Maximum width (barrel) – 10 mm
Maximum section width – 8 mm
Minimum section width – 7 mm

Conclusion

Mr Subramaniam of ASA pens has been very gracious in entertaining the Santulan order even though it is not part of the standard line. The very few who have owned or used this pen, have appreciated it’s balance, comfort and overall writing experience. It is an elegant pen oversized pen this is still lightweight. The design lends itself to using most #6 nibs that are available. With the risk of inherent bias clouding my judgement, I would still have little hesitation in recommending this pen to others. I am sure all of you would enjoy it too. The only caveat I would add is to opt for other standard Bock or Jowo nibs and not the Stahl Rot colour due to the fact that it’s a poor performer out of the box and while tuning it is likely to suffer flaking or loss of coating during tuning.

Useful Links

Conway Stewart Red Whirl blanks from www.theturnersworkshop.co.uk
Bock 250 Stahl Rot nib from www.starbond-europa.de
Bock nibs are also available at www.beaufortink.co.uk
Pen made by www.asapens.in


Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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Sanjay13leo

Great pictures

Very informative

Like the cigar description

Honesty of the nib is commendable

Nice review and educational too.

Congratulations on a lovely custom made great looking pen.

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All of us are probably obsessive enough to be fascinated by the history of cigar shapes and their translation into pen design. The red whirl material is a stunning match for this design, and there is just enough red in the field of green to make it visually interesting and not overpowering -- a bit like wisps of smoke. Nicely detailed review, and beautiful photographs as always, Prithwijit.

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

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gudasrinivas

Great pen and an equally superb review.

 

Regards

Srinivas

Regards

Srinivas

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Sanjay13leo

My ASA santulan got delivered today and the joy could not be controlled. Here are a few pictures attached.

post-122910-0-79339100-1462381984_thumb.jpeg

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Darnit, Sanjay! That pen is spectacular. Wow! What is the material?

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter | Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers

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My ASA santulan got delivered today and the joy could not be controlled. Here are a few pictures attached.

What a pen!!!!!!! Stunning....absolutely stunning.. :yikes:

Sagar Bhowmick

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Prithwijit

Great pictures

Very informative

Like the cigar description

Honesty of the nib is commendable

Nice review and educational too.

Congratulations on a lovely custom made great looking pen.

 

 

All of us are probably obsessive enough to be fascinated by the history of cigar shapes and their translation into pen design. The red whirl material is a stunning match for this design, and there is just enough red in the field of green to make it visually interesting and not overpowering -- a bit like wisps of smoke. Nicely detailed review, and beautiful photographs as always, Prithwijit.

 

 

Great pen and an equally superb review.

 

Regards

Srinivas

 

Hi Sanjay/Bob and Srinivas,

 

Thank you for dropping by to check out my review and for your encouraging comments. I really appreciate those.

 

Regards,

 

Prithwijit

Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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Prithwijit

My ASA santulan got delivered today and the joy could not be controlled. Here are a few pictures attached.

 

Hi Sanjay,

 

Now that pen is a true stunner. It reminds me of Jennifer Lopez's famous Green dress at the Grammy awards. That Versace dress was such a show stealer than you didn't notice anyone around her. Similarly, your Santulan is so stunning that it would be a challenge to observe any pen that may be there in its vicinity.

 

Regards,

 

Prithwijit

Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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mehandiratta

My ASA santulan got delivered today and the joy could not be controlled. Here are a few pictures attached.

Now this is a beauty... Lovely material..

vaibhav mehandiratta

architect & fountain pen connoisseur

 

blog | instagram | twitter

 

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anjan_sarkar

My ASA santulan got delivered today and the joy could not be controlled. Here are a few pictures attached.

 

This is absolutely stunning! ... :rolleyes:

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Prithwijit, Sanjay, Subbu,

this is amusing -- Prithwijit designs a pen with Subramaniam, reviews it, and then designs another pen with Sanjay and Subramaniam that upstages the first one.

Bob

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter | Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers

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Prithwijit

Prithwijit, Sanjay, Subbu,

this is amusing -- Prithwijit designs a pen with Subramaniam, reviews it, and then designs another pen with Sanjay and Subramaniam that upstages the first one.

Bob

 

LOL !!!

 

Well to be honest, designing was a one time effort. Sourcing the materials was also done independently. Sanjay the smart cookie put two and two together and opted to get a Santulan done with the material I had helped him procure before.

 

The net result is "Jennifer Lopez's Green Dress" !!!!

 

Regards,

 

Prithwijit

Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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gudasrinivas

Sanjay,

 

The pen is stunning. Congratulations!!!. Taking the cue from you and Prithvijit, I have also ordered a few pen blanks from the Turners Workshop. Waiting patiently for them to be delivered so that I can also send them to be made into fine pens.

 

Regards

Srinivas

Regards

Srinivas

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Thanks for the lovely review PC dada, enjoyed the pics as well. (The only part I dislike is the nib)

Sanjay has got a lovely pen too.. Congrats :)

You have come to earth to entertain and to be entertained - P.Y

 

Some Pen & Paraphernalia Reviews

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Prithwijit

Sanjay,

 

The pen is stunning. Congratulations!!!. Taking the cue from you and Prithvijit, I have also ordered a few pen blanks from the Turners Workshop. Waiting patiently for them to be delivered so that I can also send them to be made into fine pens.

 

Regards

Srinivas

 

 

Thanks for the lovely review PC dada, enjoyed the pics as well. (The only part I dislike is the nib)

Sanjay has got a lovely pen too.. Congrats :)

 

Thank you Srinivas and Sonik for your kind comments.

 

Regards,

 

Prithwijit

Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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I love the design. Too bad about the nib coating.

Fountain pens forever and forever a hundred years fountain pens, all day long forever, forever a hundred times, over and over Fountain Pen Network Adventures dot com!

 

- Joe

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Jobesmirage

Oh man... these acrylics... such beautiful pens... if I wanted to have one of these made, what would I need to do?

 

Are there particular materials that wont work such as lucite or kirinite?

 

1. Contact

2. Choose Pen design?

3. Buy my own ebonite/acrylic?

4. Ship him the ebonite and acrylic?

5. Pay

6. Beautiful pen?

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