Fountain Pen Reviews – Comprehensive reviews of fountain pens from beginner class to high-end. Each review includes sections for Appearance and Packaging, Nib and Performance, the Feel, Pros and Cons, and a Wrap-up. Each image is clickable, and you are able to enlarge it to see all the small details.
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!
Lamy has taken their iconic 2000 design and crafted a version made from stainless steel. It’s significantly heavier than the makrolon version, but much about the two versions are the same. I opted for the broad nib (what is going on with me, last two pens I bought were broad-nibbed!?) and so far so good. The original Lamy 2000 is my all time favorite pen, read on to see how the stainless steel version holds up!
Make sure to check out the gallery at the bottom of the review, featuring several full-sized photos of the Lamy 2000 Stainless!
Appearance & Packaging:
The 2000SS comes in a minimalistic cardboard box. It looks cool and suits the design of the pen quite well. The pen itself looks sleek, streamlined, and even more unified than the orginal two-tone makrolon version. The brushed stainless steel body really suits the shape of the 2000 well, resulting in a handsome writing instrument. The gentle curves of the pen are pleasing to both the eye and the hand. The clip on the SS version is high polish steel, unlike the brushed version on the makrolon.
The mirror finish nicely compliments the brushed surface of the pen, but watch out as it does tend to pick up scratches easily. Unlike the nearly invisible seams on the original, those on the stainless steel version are slightly more visible. It’s completely understandable, as stainless is notorious for it’s difficulty to be machined. The 2000 is one of my favorite designs out there, and not just for pens. I’m happy to have both the stainless and original version in my collection. I can’t say which one I prefer because they’re both great in their own ways.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
I absolutely love the broad nib in my Lamy 2000. It’s known that they tend to be finicky, but I have had no problems with this one. It has excellent ink flow and it is glassy smooth on paper. The pen does have a little bit of a sweet spot, but the broad size makes it easy to find. The smoothness and flow are almost like a marker. The pen writes wet and that definitely contributes to the smooth writing experience. I think this is my favorite broad nib, edging out even the Pelikan M805 Stresemann I reviewed a few weeks back.
The Lamy 2000 SS employs a piston filling mechanism like it’s counterpart. The piston knob is smooth and the pen easily draws up around 2ml of ink. This does tend to go a little fast in the broad nib. The fact that the nib is mostly hidden by the grip actually makes it easier to fill the pen fully and without mess. My one gripe with the pen is that there’s no ink window to see what you have in there. Should I have opted for a fine or extra fine nib, I wouldn’t worry, but the ink-thirsty broad nib drains the pen pretty quickly. In terms of overall aesthetic of the pen, and ink window would be out of place. I don’t mind that it’s not there, but maybe fill it up before you head out to an important meeting or long class.
The Lamy 2000 fits my hand like a glove. The contoured shape is comfortable and the tapered grip allows the writer to either choke up or grip further back depending on preference. I write with the makrolon version posted, but the stainless is WAY more comfortable to me when uncapped. The 54g weight is a bit much when you’re holding the body and cap, but is much more manageable unposted. The cap throws off the balance considerably.
I’ve also found the body to be a bit slippery, despite the fact that the grips are both stainless steel in both models. The makrolon body coupled with the lighter weight helps keep the pen in hand a bit better. I’ve also found myself gripping this pen a little bit harder than I may with others, perhaps because of the weight. Also worth noting is the presence of the seams between the grip section and body. They’re slightly more pronounced than I’d like. A small, yet still bothersome detail is the vertical play in the clip. The makrolon version has zero and this has a distinct wiggle. For a pen of this price I would definitely like to see the fit and finish taken up another notch.
– Best broad nib I’ve used
– Great flow
– Iconic design
– Large ink capacity
– Finishing could be better
– No ink window
The original Lamy 2000 is my favorite pen. At this point, I’m pretty sure I could sell off my entire collection, save the Lamy, and be completely content. The SS version is definitely a great compliment to the original, but it’s not a replacement. The SS 2000 is not without faults, but I’m still a huge fan of the pen. If you’re like me and love the makrolon version, the stainless would definitely make a great addition to your collection. The broad nib was great straight out of the box, putting down a ton of ink. I’ve been drooling over this pen for what feels like years, and it’s definitely not a let down.
I used to have a Pelikan M605 that I got rid of because it wasn’t seeing as much use as I would have liked. As soon as I saw the announcement of the Stresemann, I knew I had to once again add a a Pelikan to the flock. The M805 Stresemann is an anthracite grey striated M805 with silver trim and an entirely rhodium-plated nib. The M8XX series is Pelikan’s second largest pen, right under the M1000 and right above the M600. The size and weight are ideal for me. Many thanks to Ron over at Pen Chalet for sponsoring this review! Read on to see how the M805 held up to regular use!
Make sure to check out the gallery at the bottom of the review, featuring 20 full-sized photos of the Pelikan M805 Stresemann!
Appearance & Packaging:
The Stresemann comes in the standard Pelikan packaging. A faux wood and white box. Inside is a nice leather pouch, held closed by an elastic band bearing a plastic Pelikan logo emblem. Packaging doesn’t mean a whole lot to be, but the Stresemann is nicely presented. Inside the box is what really matters. The pen is absolutely stunning. The grey striated barrel has a deep shine and is transparent between the stripes. This allows you to see the ink level remaining.
Since the ink level is visible through the body, there is no need for Pelikan’s signature green ink window on the black pen bodies.The lack of ink window streamlines the body and results in a cleaner look overall. The pen is large, and posting the cap makes the pen larger. Usually Pelikan uses a dual-tone nib, but the Stresemann is unique in that they have implemented an entirely silver, rhodium-plated nib. The large size nib looks wonderful and matches the aesthetic of the pen perfectly. I love the shape of Pelikan nibs and it is accented in this larger pen. The silver trim nicely compliments the grey body and silver nib on the pen.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
I opted for a broad nib, which is quite out of character for me. Admittedly, the tines were ever-so-slightly misaligned out of the box. A quick adjustment and everything was fine. The nib is super smooth and in the middle of the wetness scale. The broad nib is a bit narrower than the Lamy 2000 broad nib I also recently picked up. I’m happy with it, but I’d prefer a bit more ink flow.
The M805 employs a massive piston filler. Ink capacity is great, especially given the amount of ink a broad nib goes through. The piston is buttery smooth and there’s no play in the knob. The brass components inside add some heft to the pen, but it stays balanced. Unscrew the knob, submerge the nib, screw the knob back in, and you’re ready to write. No complaints here!
The M805 isn’t nearly as heavy as I was expecting it to be. For some reason, I had it in my head that this thing was going to weigh me down. It’s quite comfortable in hand, especially when writing with the cap off, unposted. Posting the cap makes the pen a bit unwieldy. The added length and weight towards the back are not the best for my hand / writing style, but for those with larger hands it just might be.
The body of the pen is smooth and without faults. The resin is particularly sleek to the touch. Be careful, as the black is particularly prone to micro scratches. The cap threads are small and unobtrusive, meaning that those who grip higher up on the pen shouldn’t be bothered. The width of the grip section is very comfortable and the gentle taper keeps inky fingers at bay. For long writing sessions, I’ve found no fatigue or cramping due to the shape and weight of the pen.
– Looks extremely classy
– Broad nib is silky smooth
– Weight, balance and shape are comfortable in hand
– Nib tines were slightly misaligned out of the box
At around $640, the Stresemann is most certainly a luxury. It performs well, and the price isn’t simply just for the brand. The components and construction match up to the price tag and it will last a lifetime. Pelikan is a highly-regarded brand and there is tons of heritage and history behind this M805. This pen is not an impulse buy for most, but if you’re in the market for a Pelikan, the Stresemann should definitely be considered!
Notes: Kaweco has recently added 14k gold nibs to their lineup and they are great! I’m a fan of their steel nibs (EF, F, and M – nothing bigger) but this gold nib is on a whole new level. It’s got great ink flow and it is silky smooth. It starts right up, even after being unused for weeks. Retailing at around $100, it makes a great upgrade for an AL or ART Sport – adding a premium look, feel, and writing experience. This is definitely one of the better stock gold nibs I’ve used. If you’re a Kaweco fan, consider adding one to your collection. The newest Kawecos all have easily interchangeable nibs, so you can swap this one in and out easily. Thank you to Sebastian over at Kawecofor sending the nib to check out!
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