Notes: Thanks to the Baron Figcrew for sending out a notebook for review! I heard a lot about the book when they were successfully Kickstarted last year. The book comes nicely presented in a plum (fig?) – colored box that is loaded with a quite a bit of marketing fluff. I’m not entirely sure that a notebook is really that capable of inspiring me or making me more creative, but it’s a nicely constructed notebook full of quality paper.
The 7.75″ x 5.50″ size (they refer to it as “smart dimensions”) is actually pretty smart. It’s not too large, but theres more than enough room for notes. The acid-free paper holds up pretty well to fountain pen use and has the slightest bit of tooth it it, assuring the fact that you’re writing on paper. The small details are great, especially the perforation on the last 12 pages.
I love carrying a notebook where I can remove pages without damaging the entire thing. Kudos to Baron Fig for the great idea. I opted for the dot grid ruling, and for my personal taste, the dots are just a little bit too large. They’re very light grey, but if they were a bit smaller in size, I think it would be perfect.
The construction of the book is nice, and the cloth cover is unique. The book also has a yellow ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding. I like the light grey / yellow colorway – understated with a pop of color. The book also lays nice and flat, probably one of the flatter notebooks I have used. With each notebook,the company donates a tree to be planted, so you can sleep easy at night knowing that the trees used to make your book are being replaced. Overall, it’s a nice looking book with a solid construction and good design. Grab one here!
What is Massdrop you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple. Massdrop is a community of people that vote on what products they want to buy. Massdrop contacts the companies, sets the sale up, and the more people that commit, the better the pricing for you. Simple as that. Continuing with their premium writing selections, they are offering up the Lanier Classic Elite Fountain Pen in Yellow Box Elder with gunmetal trim. I’ve been a member of Massdrop for a while now, I’ve purchased a few things and it’s been a great retail experience so far.
The Lanier Elite is a great looking fountain pen, being offered at a discount by Massdrop. I really like how the cap screws on both the grip and tail sections – making for a secure post. The medium nib looks to lay down a nice line with some slight variation as shown in Massdrop’s photos. The Box Elder Wood looks great against the gunmetal trim. Unfortunately at the time of posting, I was unable to have a pen in hand because they are being custom made for the drop. I can’t wait to get my hands on one to put it through its paces!
A few weeks ago I was playing around with the double exposure feature in camera. Luckily we are getting through winter pretty unscathed, but it’s still too cold to go outside and take pictures all day. I have yet to use the double exposure feature in my camera and dedicated an afternoon to trying it out. My personal favorite is the shot of the Nakaya overlaid with its box. It was a fun little photo project and I liked the results, so here they are!
Andrew over at Modern Fuel Design got in touch a few months back about an exciting new pencil project. I’m not huge on mechanical pencils, but this one sounded interesting and I happily agreed to check out the project. The pencil is machined out of brass or aluminum, made in the United States, and perfectly weighed and balanced. The 0.5mm lead advances through the solid brass conical tip with precision. There is not an ounce of wiggle to be found or felt. I thought it was one of the coolest parts of the design because the tapered tip comes to a nice point and has a very small, 0.5mm hole drilled in the end.
The pencil looks a lot like a classic mechanical pencil, and I think that’s why I like it. It’s very simple, no knurling, grips, plastic colored pieces, or crazy lines. It’s a clean, simple pencil that is brass, rubber and steel. I think it looks great, but most importantly, it feels great in hand. The brass adds a nice amount of weight that I am not used to in a pencil. It practically disappears in hand during longer writing sessions, and it’s not so heavy that fatigue sets in. When speaking to Mike Dudek about the pencil, he had mentioned that the internal tube a few other pieces inside are plastic. I was slightly upset at first, but then I realized that the plastic internals are dead silent and do not rattle around like the Kaweco Special mechanical pencil, which I have since retired because of the annoying sound. I’m sure the plastic will hold up to daily use and abuse.
What I initially thought could have been a weak point may have actually contributed to why I like the pencil so much. Admittedly, I’m not thrilled with the click mechanism. I like more of a tactile click, and the knock is a bit mushy. The lead extends easily with every click, but it’s just not that satisfying. Perhaps a strong spring in there would make for a more solid “click”? Other than that, I love the pencils slimline design and how it feels in hand.
I’ve been interested in the Custom 74 for quite some time now. The $150(ish) price range has a ton of options, and it’s always good to try out another pen in the range. I feel as though $150 is the middle ground in the fountain pen world and some of the best pens are around that price. I have a Custom 823 with an architect grind that cost around double the 74, so I was very happy to check its little sibling out when Pen Chalet offered one up for review. The Custom 74 is a gold-nibbed demonstrator style fountain pen that fills via Pilot’s high quality pump converter – the CON70. The pen is a great looking work horse, and at $160 it makes a great entry into the mid-level price tier.
Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Pilot Custom Heritage 74 over for review. I’ve had the Custom 823 for a while now (and love it), and I am happy to report that the Custom 74 is just as great!
Appearance & Packaging:
The Custom 74’s packaging leaves something to be desired for those who want a really nice presentation. It’s a cheaply-made box with a viewing window in it, displaying the pen. It’s not nearly as ornate as the fabric-lined box that came with my Custom 823, but it gets the job done. Personally, I file away packaging should I want to sell the pen so the smaller, the better. The pen itself looks great. The translucent blue resin has a smoke-colored grip and tail cap. The silver trim nicely compliments the rest of the pen. The clear body allows you to see the premium CON-70 converter inside which has nice chrome accents. The large chrome portion of the converter adds a nice pop to the pen, better showing off the brilliant blue color of the pen. Overall, it’s a classically inspired design that looks great.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
I opted for a fine nib on my Custom 74. Being Japanese, the nibs tend to run a size finer than Western Pens. The fine nib on this pen is very, very fine. It has a fair amount of feedback, but it’s not scratchy or annoying. The ink flow is generous and consistent. If you push the gold nib a bit, there’s some nice cushion. It is by no means a flex pen, and line variation is slim-to-none. The pen will put down more ink when pushed slightly harder though. I actually prefer to write with a little more pressure with this pen. Ink flow, as mentioned before is pretty much middle ground. Even though the line it lays down is very fine, you can still see some shading. Overall, I’m happy with how it writes. Especially the fact that the fine nib can be used on cheaper paper due to its fine-ness.
As for filling, the CON-70 is a pump style converter that holds a fair amount of ink. It feels substantial and adds a nice amount of weight to the pen. Considering it is inside the pen, it adds a great balance. To fill the CON-70, you submerge the nib into the ink, and repeatedly press the button on top of the converter. The ink draws up easily and quickly. It’s reminiscent of how the old Parker Vacumatics fill with a button.
The Custom 74 is nicely sized. It’s a perfect medium – nicely weighted and nicely sized. The plastic is high quality and I have no worries of the pen cracking. The injection molding is nicely finished too. There are no visible seams and the construction and fit of the parts are all top-notch. The pen really feels like it is worth the price. I think Pilot consistently nails it in quality and construction of their pens, from the $5 Metropolitan to the near-$400 Custom 823. The 74 fits nicely in the middle. The cap is capable of posting, but it makes the pen a bit too long for my liking. The pen practically disappears in hand. I definitely like how it feels.
Great 14k nib
Demonstrator doesn’t look cheap
The Custom 74 is a solid workhorse pen. It’s priced right, at $160. I really like the CON-70 converter – it holds a ton of ink and looks great through the transparent body of the pen. The 14k gold nib lays down a very fine line with a bit of nice feedback. I’ve used the word “middle” a lot in this review, and I feel like it’s been appropriate. The Custom 74 would make a great alternative for those looking at a Lamy 2000 or Vanishing Point, but want something that looks a bit different. In my opinion, it would be just as great of a choice as either pen. You won’t be disappointed if you chose to get one!
Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by Pen Chalet. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!
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