Pilot Custom 74 demonstrator

Another gold-nibbed Pilot has joined the family and it is just as amazing as its dark blue counterpart. Pilot nibs are great and prove that you do not need to spend that much money to get into the gold-class. These pens can be had for under 100 dollars at your doorstep shipped from Japan, even including customs fees and taxes. This is a demonstrator transparent model. Granted, there is not much happening in a cartridge/converter FP and it looks a bit silly with the cartridge in it, so I will set this one up for a converter. As it is, there is almost enough room for an emergency cash bill in the clear plastic barrel 😉

Faber Castell LOOM fountain pen

When I first saw pictures of the F.C. Loom on the web, it did not strike me as especially beautiful. Most versions have somewhat garish colors for their caps and the shiny barrel did not look so appealing. I had read good things about their steel nibs, though.

One day a matted “Metallic” look version (i.e. adult variant) was available for a very good price (well below 20 Euros including shipping) and I wanted to give it a try.

The section and cap of the Loom, which is probably made in China, are plastic, only the barrel is metal. Some owners say the cap is fitted super-tightly. Not so on my sample. It is merely a secure fit. The clip is spring loaded, as all clips under the sun should be.

PROS : The B nib that I chose is really butter-smooth and puts down a fat and wet line. Quality control on these nibs must be great, as users make the same experience all over the world. The Loom takes standard international cartridges or converters and is really not an expensive FP. It is super reliable, skip-free, does not dry out easily.

CONS : I find the section to be a bit on the slippery side. The barrel will scratch easily if you use the Loom in the posted mode. Though it is not a light pen (32 grams with converter), it has a somewhat cheap feel to it.

I think the F.C. Loom´s aesthetics and ergonomics are splitting the crowd. It is probably in direct competition with the Lamy Safari. A tough job. I do not find myself using it for extended periods of time, so it remains to be seen if it will find a permanent home with me.



Pilot Custom Heritage 91 & Custom 74

Black with silver accents and a broad 14K nib and dark blue with golden accents and a 14K medium nib, these Japanese pens produce a nice subtle line variation, but they lust for high quality paper. Rhodia is always a good bet. Also, their nibs can be removed for cleaning (something a Montblanc FP will not allow…), though I would not recommend ripping them out whenever you change inks, as they are only press-fitted. On a Pelikan Souverän, they can be unscrewed and screwed back in all day long.


Lamy AL-Star “keeper” fountain pen

Frankly, my feelings about the Safari are mixed. First, I do not see it as a particularly pretty pen. Second, it is the most popular FP in German schools and therefore has a puerile image for me. Third, and most important, I do not respect the “ergonomic” section that forces you to hold it the way the Lamy designers thought would be most comfortable.

For these reasons, all my Safaris eventually got sold again. It must have happened two or three times. You might know this “give it another chance because everybody says it is so great”-voice in your head.

During a recent flea market visit, there was a seller with a whole cardboard box full of Safaris in all colors. They all seemed barely used, probably former display models and I found an aluminium version that does not make the owner seem to be 11 years old. The price was 5 €, about a quarter of retail. My intention : Buy it to keep me from buying Safaris ever again. That is creepy thinking, ain´t it ?

Back home, I flushed it well and found … the greatest medium steel nib I have had in some time ! I do think it is on par with my beloved Pilot Lucina or a Pelikan 200, maybe even a tad wetter. I still do not enjoy how the pen feels in my fingers, but at least it is the best writer in the Safaris I have tried. So this will be a keeper that keeps me from buying any more. Mission accomplished.