More Fountain Pens

My Parker Sonnet is currently winding its way to the service center, where they tell me it will wait in line for approximately three weeks before being outfitted with a new EF nib. I expect said upgrade to improve the performance from lackluster to good. Even so, I have the feeling that “good” is the best I can hope for.

I really wished that I could put the nib from my Pilot 78G into the Sonnet body. Since I can’t, I went on a search for Japanese mid-level to premium fountain pens. I found three different companies with suitable offerings.

Pilot offers several choices, but only a few of their Custom models sell for less than a hundred dollars – my pain threshold. The rest, as well as the highly recommended VP, all command a C-note or three. I browsed the less expensive ones, but none had the nib I wanted in a body that I liked. I’m sure I could have found a suitable combination somewhere, but I already have a Pilot, and I wanted to try something different. And I didn’t want to wait.

Sailor has lots of choices, but all cost significantly more than I am willing to spend. No sale.

That left Platinum. Platinum makes what they call the Preppy, which is a twelve dollar model that is probably comparable to Pilot’s 78G. I probably should have bought one as a way to get a feel for the company first, but I was still feeling the disappointment from the Sonnet, and wanted something better. Sooner rather than later. Their 3776 Century caught my eye. The on real drawback for it is that it’s a resin (plastic) pen, like most from Asia. I wanted metal, or for it to at least look like metal. That’s what I like the most about the Sonnet.

Since silver/metallic is unavailable, I would have preferred a black one. I felt that black would better suit my desired conservative image, but couldn’t find one with the right nib in the country. I don’t know why this whole plain, conservative thing appeals to me so much, but it does. I like pretty things as much as anyone. Maybe there’s a homophobic part of me thinks that I shouldn’t. I don’t know.

I decided to order a burgundy one with an ultra extra fine nib, and a converter to go with it. The purchase set me back almost ninety federal reserve notes. For a pen. Yes, I am crazy. Especially since the only thing I ever write is lists. Grocery lists and to do lists. Physical letter writing is dead. The last real letter that I wrote was years ago to my incarcerated nephew. Who is still in prison. But he only wants to talk about his escape plan, which does not interest me. In fairness, though, what else is he going to talk about?

It’s very pretty. It has a deep, rich, ruby red body, with a gold clip, thin golden bands at each end (one is attached to the clip), and a wider golden band near the cap opening. Since the gold is actually metal made into the pen instead of applied directly to the pen body itself, I expect it to wear very well. It’s not flashy or gaudy, but it is slightly more ostentatious than I had hoped for. But I can live with it.


It arrived just after bedtime the other night, so I didn’t take the time to run soapy water through it like I try to do with all my new pens to flush out any manufacturing impurities. Instead, I just popped the enclosed cartridge in place and took it for a quick spin.

I like that the cap screws on. It’s a little fatter than the Sonnet, but not the fattest pen that I own. I tend to like thinner pens, for the same reasons that I like plain metallic with minimal trim, but overall, I’m happy with its appearance.

It is comfortable, and flows well. I was pleasantly surprised at how fine of a line it makes. I don’t know the exact measurement, but the nib tip is like a needle. Remember how much noise I make about my Pilot? This thing is finer than that. I love it!

Because it is so fine, you really have to fight the urge to apply pressure when writing. Those of us who didn’t grow up using fountain pens tend to press when writing, even after we convert. You can’t do that with this pen. Any pressure turns it into a scratchy monster that will poke holes in your paper. However, when using the proper technique, it glides smoothly and effortlessly across the page.

All in all, I give it 8.5/10. The loss of one and a half stars is due to its appearance, which is a highly personal criterion. Function alone rates a 10/10.

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