Tag Archives: fountain pen

Sailor Desk Fountain Pen (Extra Fine)

8 Apr

Sailor’s desk pen was my first purchase from the old Japanese pen company.  According to the stamp on the metal, this is an EF (extra-fine) nib.  Like most Japanese companies, Sailor is not joking around when they say ‘extra-fine’–this thing is needle-fine.  Behind the Pilot Penmanship, this is the finest-tipped fountain pen I own.  Unlike the Penmanship, however, the desk pen’s tip is not flexible and lays down a very consistant, extra-fine line.

Launch sequence initiated.

You may look at a tip like this and think: scratchy.  After all, fountain pens have no rolling parts at their point to ease contact with the paper.  Here is where I give Sailor the most credit.  The pen does not feel like dragging a hypodermic needle over sandpaper.  Sure, the tip is no broad-nib floater and won’t win any smoothness competitions over a wide, 14k-gold music nib, but I have to tell you that it’s still damn smooth for a nib this size.  Changing direction is a breeze and the Sailor never feels like it is catching on smoother papers.

Uncomfortably pointy.

Now for the unavoidable part of this review.  This is a Sailor desk fountain pen, meaning it was designed to be kept exclusively in those fancy, old-fashioned desk stands that you see on lawyers’ desks.  What does this mean?  Well, the pen is very long and slender.  Combined with the plastic barrel, the pen is featherlight and perfectly balanced for quick writing.  While I do like heavy fountain pens, I tend to lean towards lighter barrels when dealing with a nib of this fineness (tip stays smoother because I am not tempted to apply too much force and dig into the paper). It also doesn’t come with a real cap because the desk stand doubles as a cap.

Sleek and shiny.

Ok so it is a little long if you need to carry it around with you...

At least it comes with some sort of capping-device.

I do not own a fancy-shmancy desk stand.  I have carried this pen around in my backpack and kept it in my desk drawer and the pen has yet to leak on me.  The cap-like piece of plastic that comes with the pen serves very well as a cap even though it does look a bit awkward.  It hasn’t come off on its own or fallen apart.  One thing you cannot do, unfortunately, is post it on the back.

Thin plastic makes the entire pen extremely light.

I have thus far only attempted to use Sailor’s black ink cartridge so I couldn’t speak much about converters or the pen’s performance with other inks.  What I can say is that Sailor’s black ink is no short of incredible.  It is extremely dark, dries very quickly on Rhodia paper, and does not feather or bleed in the slightest.

If you happen to own a desk stand (I’m looking at you, lawyers) or can deal with owning a desk pen without a desk stand, I highly recommend the Sailor desk pen.  It is very inexpensive for such a wonderful writing device.  If, however, you cannot deal with owning something with an awkward shape to carry around, or do not like ultra-light, slender pens, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Pentel PulaMan (fountain-felt hybrid)

3 Apr

Even though I had read about the PulaMan online many times prior to purchasing one, I never felt reassured that I knew what it was exactly or how its bizarre looking tip worked.  Many people seem to agree that the pen feels like a cross between a fountain pen and a felt or plastic-tipped pen.  In fact, Pentel sells the PulaMan under the name ‘Fountain’ in European markets.  Giving in to the power of curiosity, I picked one up.

Bare boned. Classic Pentel looks.

I opted for the standard disposable PulaMan instead of the Tradio version that I see more frequently online.  I tend to lean towards straightforward, simple, and utilitarian designs instead of bulbous, overgrown ones.  This pen looks straight out of 1970’s Japan (or at least what I imagine 1970’s Japan would be).  The body is incredibly spartan: there are no variations along the entire length of its smooth cylinder except for a slow taper in hand area.  The deep burgundy/brown plastic is light but never feels fragile.

Alien pen technology.

The pen is quite handsome, but I did not purchase it because I liked the way it looked–I bought it for the PulaMan’s very unfamiliar looking tip structure shown in the picture above.  First of all, this is clearly not a fountain pen in the classic sense.  There is no metal nib and no tines (the characteristic prongs at the business end of fountain pens).  Instead, the PulaMan uses a fin-shaped plastic nib with two support beams running down the center.  I must admit that I was a bit wary about this tip design but I am so glad that I gave it a try.

Notice how the top support beam is shorter than the bottom one.

Well, it turns out that Pentel has actually created a cheap, plastic-tipped pen that behaves very much like a semi-flex-nib fountain pen.  It is a joy to write with too!  The flexible plastic of the fin bends and quickly snaps back to its original position just like steel tines.  The whole experience is incredibly springy and I find myself bouncing from one line to the next with ease.

Different strokes for different folks.

Additionally, the pen is fitted with support beams of different lengths on each side of the nib.  This allows the user to quickly switch between two levels of flex.  Simply flip the softer, broader side over and the pen suddenly becomes snappier and leaves a finer line.

Ink flipping.

So much irony.

The only issue I have run into with the PulaMan is that the tip will sometimes catch the paper at a weird angle and snap back so abruptly that a small barrage of ink is sent flying across your page.  This may also be due to the fact that I have yet to fully break in the plastic nib and get it accustomed to my writing style.  PulaMan fans claim that the pen only gets better with age, as the tip wears in a way that is specific to the user (just like a fountain pen!).

I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the performance of this pen and I can see why it has gathered somewhat of a cult following.  The PulaMan is somehow at once both familiar and alien–plus, it is very enjoyable to use.

I have not been able to find this specific version online, so please let me know if you come across it!  Tiger Pens carries the European ‘fountain’ version here and JetPens carries the more substantial (and refillable) Tradio version here.