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Thread: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

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    Default Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    I'm Hidden I'm hidden
    where nobody knows
    Cause all you can see
    are my nose and my toes.

    Abbey Road died about a week before her first birthday from feline leukemia. She was an amazing kitty and loved putting on her vest and going for walks around the neighborhood and hiding in boxes.

    A month or two after she died my vet called. One of their clients cats had kittens and they needed homes.They sent pictures of them taken when the kittens came in for their very first check up and they were tiny little fuzzy things. So my sister and I drove over to the vet's office to find six kittens in a pile, all climbing over each other, eyes open and amazed by the big world.

    Suddenly two fuzzballs broke out of the pile and headed our way, one straight to me and then up my shirt to my shoulder, the second not far behind. The other four kittens simply went on with their game attacking those strange things that grew out of the end of the other kittens and was perfect to pounce on.

    All the kittens were perfect, lovable, wonderful, cute, fascinating but two chose me.




    So far this comparison has been like that. All of the pens are perfect, lovable, wonderful, beautiful and fascinating but two ended up choosing me.

    The comparison begins with six Japanese fountain pens with medium nibs. To keep things simple, each is filled using a cartridge from the manufacturer. Three are from Pilot, two from Sailor and one from Platinum. I don't remember where I bought them but all except two came with a converter; the two exceptions were the Pilot Custom 74 and the Sailor 1911L. Fortunately I am not converter poor so that was not an issue for me. All of the pens have a monotone gold nib in 14K except the Sailor 1911L which has a 21K nib. The largest nibs are on the Pilot Custom 743 and the Platinum #3776 Century. The smallest nibs are the Pilot Custom 74 and the Sailor 1911S.

    And so ... the Boring Details:



    and the pens:



    All of the pens were like the kittens, all near perfect and it would be hard to go wrong with any one of them. All had unique strengths and all had certain weaknesses. It really will come down to which chooses you; which most closely fits your needs. All cap or uncap in under two turns.

    They all felt better in hand when posted...




    ... but they were all also long enough to use un-posted if that is your preference...




    ... and each of the pens had nibs that were tastefully done without being gaudy.



    The six pens have far more in common than they have differences. All follow the basic Sheaffer Balance profile and all have the wide raised cap band popularized by Montblanc but of course with only two bands not three. All are moderately to very wet writers with the three Pilot pens the wettest, then the two Sailors and the Platinum while wet, not as gushing as the others.

    Here are writing samples of all six pens on Clairefontaine notebook paper.




    As expected, the actual lines are also pretty similar. In addition, all were very smooth writers.

    So what were the differences?

    As mentioned by me in the past, I find Pilot pens as shipped almost too wet. If you read my review of the Custom 845 I found it so wet I had to switch to a drier ink (Pelikan 4001) to make it even usable. These pens are not as wet as the BB nib on the 845 but were still the wettest of the Japanese pens in this comparison. All three, even the little #5 nib on the Custom 74 were wetter than the Sailors or the Platinum. They were not so wet I would feel the need to switch to something like Pelikan 4001 but they were wet enough that I never really felt I was in full control of the pens.

    The Pilot Custom 743 was the largest pen in the comparison (actually the Pilot trio were all the longest in every measurement) and it also has he fanciest furniture with a raised section on the cap and body end bands and the writing on the wide cap band filled in to make it stand out.

    The place the Pilot pens did all fall down is in the pocket clips. The Pilot pens have the most pocket unfriendly clips of the six pens.

    The Sailor pens tested were both plain black and gold, the most tapered in looks and simply traditional. They were not quite as wet writers as the three from Pilot but still slightly more than moderately wet. The 1911L had the only non-14K nib of the group with a nice large 21K beauty. The 1911S had the smallest nib of the group, just a hair smaller than the #5 nib on the Pilot Custom 74. In use I always felt in total control with either of the Sailors.

    Where Sailor really stood out is in their pocket clips. The two Sailor pens had by far the most pocket friendly easy to use pocket clips.

    The Platinum #3776 Century had the biggest nib of the group with wider shoulders than even the big #15 Pilot Custom 743 nib. It also was available in the widest selection of colors but also had the smallest selection of possible nib widths and styles. Like the others it is moderately wet, smooth but with the most feedback of any of the six nibs. Platinum is also the only one of the three makers that offers an adapter that allows using Standard International cartridges in their pens. Since I have lots of them that is something I like.



    Where the Platinum #3776 Century really stands out is in the nib. It really offers the best feedback of all of the pens in this comparison. It, like all the Platinum and Nakaya nibs I've tried simply feels like it was created just for me; not a separate object but rather an extension of my thoughts.

    I said that Sunshine and Princess picked me. So which of these pens also seemed to choose me?

    Surprisingly to me, the two smallest. The Sailor 1911S and the Platinum #3776 Century just feel the best of all six in my hand.
    Last edited by jar; January 2nd, 2017 at 09:56 AM.
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    What a lovely way to start a review. Those two little furballs are gorgeous. Hope they helped take the edge off grieving for your lost kitten.

    Nice fountain pens too. :-)

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    Senior Member RocketRyan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    What a great and informative piece. The 3776 is high on my to buy list, and this may have just convinced me.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    I loved your segue from kittens who chose you to pens that chose you. There's something just right about that.
    Lady Onogaro

    "Be yourself--everybody else is already taken." --Oscar Wilde

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Thank you for sharing the story of the three kittens. It's such a lovely opening to a pen review. To some of us, pens are not unlike pets.

    I have a Sailor Sapporo Raspberry with a Fine nib, which uses the same nib as a 1911s; I also had a Platinum 3766 Bourgogne in Fine that I eventually let go.

    The two nibs offer similar feedback in my hand. Both are fairly rigid. While I love the Sapporo, the #3776 and I for some reason never clicked and I moved it on.

    Actually I also had a Sailor 1911s navy colour in Fine that I liked, but apparently not liked enough to keep.

    It probably came down to aesthetics and other personal preferences. Thank you Jar for sharing yours with such deta. Nice pics too!


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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Beautiful kittens and pens.....

    I actually would have guessed the 3776 Century. (love mine) But the second pen I didn't have a clue..... Very nice review, jar.
    Brad "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling

    "None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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    Senior Member jar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    On Part two of the comparison. Over the next few days I will prepare the second part of the comparison that will include six medium nib pens from outside Japan; pens from the USA, France, Germany, Italy, England and Switzerland.

    Coming to this thread soon.
    Last edited by jar; January 2nd, 2017 at 03:09 PM. Reason: appalin spallin
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Thanks for the adorable kitten intro to the pens. I love kitties and I love my pens; they're almost like pets to me, although nothing compares to a warm fuzzy kitten! I also love my Platinum 3776s; I have the Bourgogne and just had to get the Blue Chartres, too. They do have absolutely the best feedback, and a nice little spring to their nibs. And I have just recently bought a couple of Pilot Custom 74s and Custom 92s, and I love their medium nibs. To me, their M nibs write kinda like a European FM. They're not too fat, but they still lay down enough ink to let inks (that are so inclined) shade. And I love shading. So many pens, so many reasons to like them! I'm not quite a novice anymore, but I have an idea of how much I don't know. But I have learned enough to really enjoy some different pens now for different reasons (instead of just, "oh, smooth!"). It's starting to get REALLY fun now! Thanks for the great comparisons.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Great comparison, Jar! Can't wait for the other ones! Tks!
    "The pen is mightier than the sword"
    Edward Bulwer-Lytton


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    Senior Member jar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Long long ago in a land far far away, when I was child and ate as a child Round Robin dinners were popular.

    For those who may not be familiar with the torture it is where you have to get dressed up, drive to someones house in a caravan of cars to eat one part of a dinner that big folks loved but were never hot dogs or hamburgers or fried chicken. Instead it would be quiche or cucumber sandwiches or stuff. Then you all got back into your cars and drove to another house where they would have something you liked only to get a bowl of cauliflower soup. And you had to sit with your family and all the kids couldn't sit together but then you all got back into the cars and drove to another house where they would have some really good food; it would be chicken...chicken stuffed with asparagus and covered in lemons.

    Fortunately this Round Robin dinner has been a lot more fun.

    For this part of the comparison I picked a pen from England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the US. All are medium nibs and as with the first comparison the paper used is from a Clairefontaine notebook. As before I also used only cartridges and for those that use the short International Standard cartridges I weighed them with two cartridges, the heir and a spare concept.

    And so ... the Boring Details:



    and the pens:



    There was no quiche or chicken stuffed with asparagus in this group; instead these were all near perfect. As with the Japanese pens it would be hard to not like any one of these. From left to right they are my Caran d'Ache Geneve, an Aurora Talentum Duetto, a first generation Sheaffer Cartridge pen, my Graf von Faber Castell Guilloche, a modern Conway Stewart #58 and a Parker France "75".

    The first difference from the earlier group is that while all the Japanese pens were comfortable posted or unposted the Aurora Talentum and the Caran d'Ache Geneve (it was the predecessor of today's LeMan) felt better unposted.



    They were all long enough though to use either posted or unposted...



    ... but the nibs were quite different than the Japanese ones.



    Four of the nibs were 18K, one 14K and the Sheaffer is untipped steel.

    Here is the writing samples:



    Surprisingly there is simply no large width difference between the medium Japanese pens and the ones in this sample. More on that in part three.

    So what are these pens like?

    The Caran d' Ache epitomizes Swiss made. Everything about it is refined and finished inside and out. It is by far the heaviest of any pens in the comparison, even heavier than the Aurora Talentum Duetto with it's heavy metal cap.

    The Aurora Talentum is as wet as the Pilots and maybe even smoother. It's a cartridge converter pen that uses either Parker or Aurora cartridges or converters but seemed to offer more control than any of the Pilots.

    The little Sheaffer cartridge pen surprised me the most. I had forgotten just how nice these little $1.00 pen and six cartridge packages were. It was also the finest line of any of the pens tested but reminded me it would not tolerate rotating the nib on the paper. Try that and that little steel nib just digs its heals in and says "Not doing that bro!".

    The GvFC Guilloche is an interesting contrast between the steel section and the rubber like body cover. It's also one of the three pens (Sheaffer and Parker were the others) that used a slip on cap arrangement. It also posted the most securely of all the pens.

    The Conway Stewart #58 was unique in having all the furniture, cap bands, clip, nib made from 18C gold.



    That doesn't change the writing characteristics but is somewhat unusual.

    Finally, the Parker France "75" is (need I say it?) classic Parker pens at their best. It and the Sheaffer cartridge pen were the smallest of the pens, even smaller than the Sailor 1911S.

    Did any of this batch pick me? Kinda. The Aurora Talentum certainly is fantastic, as wet as the Pilots but with the control of the Platinum. And I was reminded of just what fantastic school pens Sheaffer was making.
    Last edited by jar; January 3rd, 2017 at 02:35 PM. Reason: appalin spallin
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Another excellent comparison, thank you. Very jealous of your collection.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Quote Originally Posted by RocketRyan View Post
    Another excellent comparison, thank you. Very jealous of your collection.
    Just do what Commander Spock advised and you too will have such an accumulation.
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Ha ha, pretty sure my (very) misspent youth may prevent that, but I can but try.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Love the eye candy! Especially the Conway Stewart, soooo pretty.

    I should use my CdA Leman more often. With a metal section, it's even heavier than the Geneva, I reckon.

    Also reminded me that I need a Parker 75.

    Can't wait for part 3 of the comparison. Thank you Jar.



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    Senior Member jar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    As a warm up for Part 3...


    These are all pens from the earlier posts. I removed color information to make it fun. Three are from the Japanese pens, three from the US & Eur group.
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Fountain pen lore is filled with many myths and truisms; the story of Waterman and the Contract, that Japanese nibs run one size finer that European or US nibs.

    'aint necessarily so.

    If you look at the writing sample below maybe I can make things clearer.


    Remember I mentioned I used cartridges in all the pens and when possible used the manufacturers cartridges since it's likely the maker tuned their pens to work with their ink. Using their own ink should give us an idea of how the maker expected the pen to perform.

    So which pens were used in the above writing sample?

    The first group of lines is the Pilot 743 with the medium nib.

    The second group were from the Aurora Talentum with an Aurora cartridge. BUT ... while the box the pen came in is marked medium, it is actually an Aurora Factory stub tuned by Richard Binder to be slightly more than moderately wet. Notice there is far less than the expected line width difference.

    The next pair starts with the Sheaffer cartridge pen compared to the Platinum #3776 Century. Both of those pens are mediums yet the Sheaffer puts down a finer line than the Platinum.

    The last group is the Parker France "75" over the Sailor 1911L. Again, both nibs were mediums.

    I've posted other similar examples over the years.



    While some Japanese pen nibs might run finer than some US or European nib that is certainly not always true. In fact many of my US made pens have nibs that put down a finer line than any Japanese pen I've ever come across.

    In addition, I have found that simply changing the ink used can have a greater effect than found with the variation between the nibs themselves.
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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Interesting Jar. And yet the St Dupont looks like a fine to me, but is really a broad.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Certainly some food for thought here, I quite fancy a pilot and another platinum pen this year but both will need to be on the lower end of the budget, mainly due to another baby being imminent. So likely a metropolitan and a 3776. both medium of course.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Sasami the cat has just crept into the kitchen and hopped onto my lap for a cheeky cuddle while the puppy and the other cats aren't watching.

    image.jpeg

    Likewise, I am sneaking into jar's thread to cheekily add a few more medium nib pens into the comparison. Let's start as he did, with the boring details:

    image.jpeg

    and then the pens (from L to R, Pilot V-Pen, Pilot Kaküno, Sailor PG Slim, Sailor Lecoule):

    image.jpeg

    The Sailors both have screw caps, and clips that function sensibly. The Pilots both have click caps, with the Kaküno having no clip and the V-Pen having a flimsy plastic clip I wouldn't trust. The Sailors are small and I have to use them posted. The V-Pen feels better posted, probably because it's so light. The Kaküno is huge when posted, I find it better balanced un-posted.

    image.jpeg
    image.jpeg

    All four pens write smoothly. All write moderately wetly, the PG Slim being wetter than the others. I was surprised that the V-Pro nib was rather noticeably broader than the others. The V-Pro is a disposable pen, though I expect clever folks have worked out how to refill it. The other three are cartridge/convertor fillers.

    image.jpeg

    I doubt it will surprise anyone that my favourite pen here is the Sailor PG Slim. Its nib is so much nicer than the others, and it is just the right weight. On the other hand, it is also considerably more expensive than the other three pens here. My second favourite is the Pilot Kaküno. It writes well, it's comfortable, and unlike many cheap fountain pens, it works perfectly with a convertor. I like it well enough to have purchased three, they all performed identically well out of the box. If you want to try out a fountain pen without spending much money, or if you want to buy a fountain pen for a younger person, I can recommend a Kaküno. The Sailor will be there when you're ready for the next step up.

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    Default Re: Comparing medium nib fountain pens.

    Quote Originally Posted by RocketRyan View Post
    Ha ha, pretty sure my (very) misspent youth may prevent that, but I can but try.
    Having come of age in the 1960's, I expect that my misspent youth was worse than yours.
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