Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen
with Architect Grind Review
– Handwritten Review –
Review Ink:Sheaffer Peacock Blue
Review Paper: Rhodia No. 18 Pad
Description: Probably one of the best pens out there. No, seriously. It is.
Nib:Medium nib, ground to an architect point by Richard Binder
Filling Mechanism: Integrated vacuum plunger
Weight: ~29 grams
Measurements: 5.85″ closed, 6.37″ posted
Color Options:Amber, Smoke (Japan Market Only)
Handwritten Review Scans:
This Pilot Custom 823 with a 0.7mm architect grind was my big purchase of the 2014 Long Island Pen Show. It’s taken me a year to get around to reviewing this. Why? I don’t really know. What I do know is that it’s given me a really long time to get acquainted with the pen and provide you guys with a proper review. I knew going into the show that I wanted an architect grind, but I didn’t know what pen I wanted it on. After seeing and handling the 823 in person, it was an easy choice. I picked up the pen for $288 plus an additional $65 for the grind. The 823 is a classically cigar shaped fountain pen with a vacuum plunger filling system. The ink reservoir inside is huge and you can see the ink sloshing around thanks to the translucent demonstrator body. The main body section is clear, capped with dark brown opaque grip and section, separated by gold bands. It’s a great looking pen that is well outside of what I’d usually choose and I absolutely love it. It was great when I got it and it still remains one of my most-used pens one year later.
Appearance & Packaging:
The Custom 823 is an impressive looking pen with equally impressive packaging. The pen comes nicely displayed in a large gift box with a bottle of Namiki blue ink along side it. I would be quite happy to receive this as a gift – it really is that nice of a presentation. The pen looks really awesome too. What made me pick it out was the huge gold nib. Since I knew it was going to be a custom grind, I wanted something with a nib that I would look forward to using. The gold furnishing compliments the brown and amber resin perfectly. The cap is clear as well, but there’s a cap insert that hides the nib away. I’m on the fence about this detail – it would be nice to see the nib through the cap, but I suppose it makes taking the cap off that much more special. The gold ball-end clip is functional and the looks match the overall look of the pen well. The 823 is not something I would usually pick (all-black-everything, german design, etc.) but I really enjoy the way it looks.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
It’s not too often where both the nib and filling system on a pen are unique and special. First, let’s go through the nib. My Custom 823 started it’s life as a medium nib, but was quickly ground into a 0.7mm Architect/Hebrew Italic/Arabic Italic nib. Wow, so many names for the same thing. Richard Binder ground this nib for me at the Long Island Pen Show in 2013 (sorry, this review has taken over a year to do…) and it’s still one of the most fun to write with and unique pieces in my collection.
The architect grind is a nib grind almost like a stub, but flipped on the side. There’s a broad cross stroke and a narrow down stroke. It has a bit of feedback, but it’s still quite smooth for a fountain pen. I was told by Richard that the mild scratchiness is just the nature of the beast, but it is in no way unpleasant to write with. I think the grind suits my style of handwriting extremely well, it gives it a great look. The nib puts down a nice amount of ink, not too much, and not too little. It’s fun to see the ink level depleting in the clear reservoir. I really love this grind…
Pilot’s Custom 823 comes with an integrated plunger powered vacuum filling system. It’s very similar to TWSBI’s VAC700. To fill the pen, unscrew the tailcap, pull the plunger all the way out, submerge the nib fully, and press the plunger down. Once the internal vacuum seal behind the plunger is broken, the pen sucks ink through the feed and into the pen. It’s fun to use and extremely efficient. The pen holds a ton of ink, I find myself getting bored with the color before I run out of ink!
The pen is pretty large, there’s no getting around that. However, it is very well balanced and has a comfortable amount of heft. The grip section is comfortable and the step down and threads are barely noticeable. The cap posts pretty far down on the pen, making it usable, but it does throw the balance heavily towards the back of the pen. My preference is to write with the cap unposted, as it’s long enough and weighty enough to be comfortable. The fit and finish of the pen are top-notch. I’ve found Pilot to have some of the best quality control out there, especially in terms of fit an finish. You won’t be disappointed in how the pen looks and feels.
Awesome custom nib
Solid feel and build quality
Awesome filling system
None for me!
I love this pen, I really do. I’ve had it for a LONG time now, and it’s still great every time I pick it up. I thought the pen was too far outside of my comfort zone (never thought I would have bought an amber and gold pen) but it’s grown on me a lot. The solid feel, attention to detail, vintage feel, and excellent custom nib result in a pen that will always be in my collection!
Brad and Myke brought me back on the podcast to discuss the new J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor ink, my refined fountain pen loadout, and much more. It was great to be back, always a pleasure speaking with Brad and Myke. Having a proper microphone helped too, Enjoy!
“Brad and Myke are joined by Ed Jelley to discuss one thing, and one thing only: J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor. This ink has us all captivated, and they went straight to the man who got the first bottle in the US. Discussion also focuses on Ed’s current loadout and favorite everyday inks, plus Brad’s recap of the week in pen news.”
Notes: So, I’ve found my new favorite ink…this one. J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor is an awesome shade of teal with the signature 1670 gold flakes. In addition to the gold, there’s an incredible red sheen seen around the edges of each letter and where the ink pools – resulting in an ink with intense depth. The ink flows well, if anything a bit on the wet side in my Lamy 2000’s broad nib. There’s so much depth to this interesting ink and I absolutely love it. Even my friends who have seen it (who couldn’t care less about fountain pens and ink) commented on how cool it looked. I think the ink looks best in a broad nib, and even better in a folded nib dip pen. On top of the gold flakes, the red sheen, and the high saturation, the ink has a nice degree of shading. J. Herbin really hit it out of the park with this intensely complex ink!
Be on the lookout for Emerald of Chivor in stores later this summer!
Check out this video I produced for J. Herbin for the new ink:
All photos are uploaded in hi-res, click to enlarge!
OMG GOLD FLAKE
Disclaimer: I received this bottle of ink pre-release for purposes of product photography and video production. I was not compensated for this post – all opinions are my own.
There are hundreds of inks out there from dozens of different brands. There is sure to be a color already made to suit everyone’s individual tastes. Different brands have different characteristics and properties, including dry time, flow, smoothness, saturation and the ability to shade. While an ink like Noodler’s Apache Sunset is fun to write with an stunning to look at when in a flex nib, it’s not overly practical. I’ve put together a short list of my top 5 favorite inks for every day use. In the list, you’ll see a blue, a black, a blue-black, a red and a green. Read on to find out what made the list!
1. Diamine Asa Blue Even though I’ve only recently acquired a bottle of this ink, it’s fast becoming one of my favorites. I have had great experiences with Diamine ink in the past – it’s easy enough to clean out, no staining, it’s well behaved on a lot of different paper types, and it’s reliable. This ink is a lovely shade of medium blue. It reminds me of Iroshizuku’s Kon-Peki, an ink I also love. I think the Asa Blue slightly edges it out of the top list because it is slightly more appropriate for everyday use due to the more subdued color.
2. Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black Sailor’s Kiwa Guro Nano Black is one of my favorite inks. When I first got into fountain pens, I set out on the quest to find the perfect black. In my opinion, Sailor really did an excellent job with this ink. The color is super dark and it’s glassy smooth to write with. This is a pigmented ink, meaning that it will have a higher permanence than other inks, but be careful about leaving in a pen for extended periods of time. I’ve never had an issue with the ink, but it’s still worth a mention. Kiwa Guro is great for everyday use because it performs well on both regular copy paper and more premium pads like Rhodia. If you’re looking for the darkest, smoothest black ink out there, definitely consider giving this one a try!
3. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai Not quite blue, not quite black, Shin-Kai is an excellent ink for those who can’t make up their minds. While regular black ink can get boring, this cross between blue and black adds a bit of color to the page while still maintaining a serious, professional look. If the bright blue color of Asa Blue is inappropriate for your line of work, consider going for a blue black like Shin-Kai. In case you were unaware, Iroshizuku is Pilot’s premium line of inks. They all perform very well on a wide range of papers and come packaged in a beautiful glass bottle that will look great on any desk.
4. Diamine Matador For the teachers and editors out there, this list had to include a red ink. This offering from Diamine is as bright as they come. The vibrant red ink goes on the page without any shading, which helps increase legibility. Load it up in a 1.1mm stub for bold lines that will stand out amongst an entire page of words with ease. While it may not be the best for regular writing (imagine trying to read a whole page of red ink!), it’s great for pointing out something that needs to be seen.
5. J. Herbin Vert Empire Sometimes blue, black, blue-black, and red just don’t cut it. I like to keep a pen loaded up with a dark green ink to add some diversity to my notes. J. Herbin’s Vert Empire is a perfect green ink that’s both dark enough to read and colorful enough to be different.The color is easy on the eyes and a pleasure to write with!
I’ve given some suggestions on what inks make great daily drivers. Leave a comment below with your go-to everyday ink!
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