Super huge thank you to Massdrop for offering up over $300 worth of prizes for you to win! Great timing for those who have just read why you should be writing with a fountain penand want to jump into the hobby. The Pilot Vanishing Point is one of my go-to pens, and the Pilot medium nibs are just great. Read on to see how to enter!
Massdrop offered up not one, but TWO Pilot Vanishing Point prize packs. Each package includes:
- 1 Pilot Vanishing Point – Carbon Black – Medium Nib - 1 Bottle of Iroshizuku (Shin-Kai or Ama-Iro) - 1 Rhodia pad
If you already have a Massdrop account, you can enter by leaving a comment on this post letting us know you already have an account and which ink you’d want in the prize pack!
The giveaway will start on Monday, March 23rd and run until the following Monday, March 30th at midnight EST. One entry per person please! Massdrop will be selecting the winners randomly and shipping the prize packs. Giveaway is open worldwide! Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the giveaway! Here’s some more info on how Massdrop works too.
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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!
I had a lot of fun doing the year-end roundup last year, so I figured I would do it again. Some pens have maintained their presence in the top 10 list and with good reason. Each of these posts got the most page views out of all of the posts I’ve made this year. The blog has continued to grow, and there were twice as many visitors and twice as many page views as there were last year. There were well over HALF A MILLION PAGE VIEWS and I want to thank you guys so much for checking out the site! Don’t forget to subscribe to the site using the “subscribe” box located in the right hand menu to get emailed every time I make a post!
So here we go, the Top 10 posts of 2014:
10. Buying a Grail Pen
One of my favorite posts, this guide to buying a “grail pen” ended up being very popular. I go through my system of deciding what the right pen is, the process of freeing up some funds, slimming down my collection and obtaining the pen.
9. and 8. Rotring Rapid Pro Ballpoint / 800 Pencil
This is the first of three Rotring posts that made the top ten list. The Rapid Pro Ballpoint is a slimline pen with a metal body and a knurled grip that looks and feels great. Admittedly, it didn’t see too much use following the review. The pen takes a Parker style cartridge and uses a click mechanism to deploy the writing point. The number 8 spot went to the Rotring 800 mechanical pencil. It’s of very high quality, also features a knurled grip – but has a retractable tip and gold accents.
The Lamy Safari was my first fountain pen, and it is still one of my favorites. It makes a great starter pen and really helped me in narrowing down what nib size I like due to the relatively inexpensive swappable nibs. The modern design still resonates with me and there is usually at least one inked up Safari in my arsenal. I picked up this discontinued Griso Grey model at the DC show for only $15!
The Mover and Shaker are two of my favorite machined pens. They take a huge range of refills and I love the grip pattern machined into the pen. They look and feel great, and they’re now available in a ton of different colors and materials.
The Rotring 600 Lava was an awesome looking pen. I say was, because I no longer have it. It wasn’t seeing as much use as it should and I’m more of a user than a collector. The pen was sold to help fund my Nakaya purchase and while it was nice, I don’t miss it one bit. The pen is long-discontinued and can be found on eBay.
The Seven Seas Tomoe pad remains on the list, and for good reason. The silky smooth, fountain pen friendly paper is some of the best out there. It’s impossibly thin and is a pleasure to write with. I photographed the Seven Seas Writer journal instead of the pad again. Both are full of the same paper, but this one has ruling and is bound like a book. Check them out at Nanami Paper.
3. Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen
The stealthiest pen of all. When this was announced I knew I needed to have one. Don’t feel like spending $400? Do some homework and find a retailer in Japan. I got the pen for much less off of eBay straight from Japan than I would have had I purchased it from the States. I haven’t been using this pen as much, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. I got the fine nib adjusted at the Long Island Pen show to slightly increase the ink flow and smoothness. It’s a great writer, and this post makes me want to go ink it up now.
This post was another fun one to write and I’m glad it made it onto the top 10 list. The post outlines what “fountain pen friendly” really means when dealing with pocket notebooks. Check the post out to see the differences!
Once again, the top post is the Lamy 2000. It’s still my favorite pen and it is still always inked and within reach. I absolutely love the design and writing experience. The 2000 is one of the first “expensive” pens people buy and I’m not surprised that the review is as popular as it is. Look for an updated review of the 2000 in the coming months!
This was another great year for the blog. Thank you all for your continuing support and readership, it means the world. Even with a lower post count this year, the blog has still grown and continues to do so. I’d also like to thank the sponsors of the site – JetPens, Pen Chalet, and all of the independent retailers and companies that have sent me products to review for providing me with a steady stream of goods to review! I have a lot of great content in the pipeline, so make sure to come back and check it out!
The Karas Kustoms Render K is filled with a Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4mm black refill. These two have been hanging out in my pocket an awful lot lately. The Hi-Tec-C plays nicely with the paper in the Field Notes pretty well. I’ve been enjoying my time with the Render K as well. It’s built like a tank and I never have to worry about bending the wrong way or sitting on it when pocket carrying the pen. The knurled grip part is addictingly fun to play with. I like to spin the cap and see how tight I can get it on there, once you try it, I’m sure you’ll find yourself doing so more often.
I’m going to be doing a new series of follow up reviews here on the site that you will continue to see more and more of down the line. I think it’s really important to follow up on reviews, especially the popular ones. Often there’s a “Honeymoon Phase” where there’s excitement for a new pen, and it soon wears off. Please let me know in the comments if there is anything else you would like to know about how the pen is holding up, how much usage it gets, or anything else you may want to know! I have had two Vanishing Points before, and they’re a great versatile pen.
To promote the new range of metallic colors, Deborah over at Pilot graciously sent over a new Vanishing Point in Desert Orange. Thank you Deborah! Instead of simply reviewing the pen again and showing some pictures of the color, I’ve decided to also let you know how my old Vanishing Point is holding up, if any initial praise has worn off, and how much real use mine has gotten. Once again, huge thanks to my friends over at Pilot, and enjoy the update!
How It’s Holding Up:
The VP is definitely a durable pen that is meant to be carried and used. I’ve owned the matte black version since June of 2012. The nib (ordered “Binderized” from Richard’s Pens) is still great and buttery smooth. I haven’t used the original fine nib that I purchased the pen with because I wasn’t thrilled with its performance. It was dry and scratchy and just not that pleasant to write with. I’m happy to report that the medium nib that Pilot sent with the orange VP is great. No scratchiness, great flow, and it starts up every time. The finish on the matte black version of the pen has started to show some wear.
There were complaints about the pens finish chipping away, exposing the brass underneath. Mine’s not thrashed, but I quite like the character that the pen has developed from being carried over time. The new Metallic VP has a clear coat that appears to be much more durable than the matte finish. I had a gun metal grey version of the pen (that I sold to fund my Nakaya) that I had carried for a bit with no issues at all. Overall, the VP is holding up very well, especially when considering the amount of usage it has gotten and the numerous amount of times I’ve carried it in-pocket, sans-case.
Getting a new pen is always fun. It’s hard to not love a new pen, and you may be more inclined to use it, take pictures of it, show it off, and love it to pieces – all because it’s new. I’m happy to report that my love for the Pilot Vanishing Point has not worn off. After my initial purchase two years ago, I had bought another one a year later at the LI Pen Show. I recently sold the gun metal version to fund my Nakaya, but it wasn’t easy to part with it. I’m glad that there are two Vanishing Points back in my collection with the addition of the Orange Metallic. I absolutely love the design and utility of the pen, coupled with the excellent performance of the black-plated 18k gold nib. Also, a retractable clicky fountain pen? Can’t really get much cooler or convenient than that…
Have you ever gotten a nice new pen, inked it up, used it for a week straight, the shelved it for the foreseeable future? I have. Several times. Once again, this isn’t the case with the Vanishing Point. The VP is a great pen for both quick notes and longer writing sessions. The pen was absolutely perfect for college lecture notes. Not having to worry about keeping track of a pen cap is more convenient than you may think. Especially so when moving between classes – there’s nothing to leave behind or drop on the floor. There’s a very good chance that I have a VP inked at all times, and when I don’t, I wish that I did. The pen definitely gets enough usage to justify the ~$140 price tag!
The Vanishing Point is a solid addition to any pen collection that I will continue to use and love. I have no doubts that my 2.5 year old VP will continue to serve me well for many more years to come. I’m also happy to report that the new stock medium nib is a much better performer than my old fine nib too. I’ve had 3 VPs in my collection, but only two remain. Like I said before, the only reason I parted with one was to fund a larger pen purchase, and it wasn’t easy parting ways. I would love to hear your feedback on these new follow up reviews as well! Thanks again to Deborah over at Pilot Pens for sending me over this awesome new VP!
Recommendation: Yes! The Vanishing Point has held up to years of heavy use, and continues to be one of my most reached for pens.
Disclaimer: I received this pen free of charge from Pilot for review purposes. However, it does not have any effect on my feelings and thoughts about the pen.
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