PEN REVIEW: Monteverde Limonada

When Margaret from Goulet Pens asked if I’d like to review the Monteverde Limonada and a Visconti ink, I replied with this:

I have zero experience with either the pen or ink and would love to review them. For the pen – I’m totally open on color – send me your favorite!   For the ink – any of the colors is fine with me – except the brown – because, you know, it’s brown 😉

Let’s look at the pen in detail today and save the ink for another day.

The Monteverde Limonada in Roma Gold is a rich satin-finished champagne color and it’s easy to see why it’s Margaret’s favorite color. It is only available with a medium nib. The pen arrives clipped to a detailed instructional sheet inside the thick paper/board box shown above. It also comes with an converter and two standard international short cartridges – one blue, one black.

I love the detailed instructions.


The Limonada is definitely on the slender side. The grip/section is shaped similarly to the Lamy Safari / Al-Star. These two things make me think this pen isn’t for everyone – especially those with larger hands. I didn’t find it uncomfortable, but it was perhaps a bit unbalanced when the cap was posted.

The clip is flexible and positioned quite high on the cap. When clipped in a shirt pocket, it rides low rather than poking up out of the pocket. The clip is also flared at the end – making it easy to slide onto a stack of papers.

Clairefontaine ends with an “e” – everyon knows that.

But how does it write?

Pretty good! It’s not the smoothest pen I own, but it’s not even a little scratchy. I definitely think the writing looks more like a western fine nib than a medium. There were no writing issues at all and the pen started right up – just the way it’s supposed to work. (This writing is done with Visconti Purple.)

Final thoughts . . .

At $28, the Limonada is a good value. I love that the converter and two cartridges are included. It writes well and I like that it comes in several different colors.

Having said that, this pen won’t replace my inexpensive pen of choice –  Lamy Safari. The Safari is $29.60 at Goulet Pens and does not include the converter. My other low-cost pick is the Pilot Metropolitan at just $15 (converter included).

Thanks to Goulet Pens for the opportunity to try the Limonada. They sent it free of charge and I promised to give my honest opinions.

Keep an eye out on Instagram for more pictures of this pen and ink in use.


The Jinhao 159 is a Chinese-made pen that is available from a variety of sources at pretty incredible prices. I tossed one in my Goulet Pens cart earlier this year as an impulse purchase. Let’s dive in . . .

The Jinhao 159 is BIG. Big, shiny, and big.

The body is painted metal. The trim is chrome. The nib is steel. It weighs a whopping 50g. The Lamy Al-Star weighs in at 22g. Did I mentioned the Jinhao 159 is big?

I didn’t have high expectations.

I was pleasantly surprised.


It started right up and wrote like a champ. The nib is smooth with no scratchiness and just a bit of pleasant feedback. The cap posts deep and securely.

Given the Jinhao’s heft, it’s not an every day pen for me. Someone with larger hands, however, could enjoy it on the regular.

The Jinhao 150 comes with a converter and will also accept standard international cartridges.

If bright orange isn’t your thing, this pen comes in a multitude of other colors at Goulet Pens.

I bought and paid for this pen with my own hard-earned pennies – though even if I hadn’t, I’d still give you my honest opinions. 

FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW: TWSBI Diamond 580 and INK REVIEW: Pelikan Edelstein Jade


TWSBI fountain pens show up on all sorts of Best Fountain Pen Ever lists. To me, TWSBI is to pens what Fields Notes is to paper. That is, TWSBI and Field Notes get it right just enough to keep my coming back for more, but neither would appear on my Best Ever list.

My biggest issues with TWSBI have been nib (and maybe feed) related – hard starts and some skipping. Others have had some serious issues with cracking (though I understand TWSBI has worked through this issue).

That aside, let’s take a closer look at the TWSBI Diamond 580. IMG_3711.JPG

I love the faceted clear barrel of the pen. IMG_3712.JPG Mine has a broad nib. And while I don’t have pictures here, TWSBI pens are designed to be fully disassembled. Cleaning them is a breeze.


Pelikan Edelstein inks have a good reputation of working well in most pens and Jade seemed to closely match the color of the pen.IMG_3707.JPG

How does it write? Wonderfully! Perfectly!  Look . . .

IMG_3804.JPG IMG_3805.JPG IMG_3803.JPG Seriously, this was my best TWSBI experience ever. No piddling around, no ink changes, just sit down and write.  Annnnnd! In my Will It Write experiment, you can see that even after this pen sat unused for more than two weeks, it picked up right where it left off.

The 580 is super comfortable to hold. The writing experience was smooth with very little feedback. I only experienced one hard start (probably due to a weird hand position on my part). I’m truly impressed with this pen. I do wish the nib was a bit more broad and it’s not the best pen to post (put the cap on the back end while writing).


What about Pelikan Edelstein Jade?




It’s a nice enough color – leans a little too blue for me. It writes wonderfully and flow from the pen is good. It’s well-saturated and there is some shading.

BOTTOM LINE – TWSBI Diamond 580: I love this pen. Your mileage may vary due to inconsistencies with TWSBI in general.

BOTTOM LINE – Pelikan Edelstein Jade: You might love this ink! The color isn’t a favorite of mine, but everything else about the ink is wonderful.

So…TWSBI….tell me your experiences? Am I alone in my Field Notes comparison?

FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW: Monteverde Artista Crystal


The Monteverde Crystal Artista is one of the pens that I’d had for awhile, but never inked. Shortly after receiving it, I realized that I didn’t enjoy pens with metal sections (the part of the pen you grip). Generally speaking, they feel hard, can be slippery, and are just not as comfortable to me as resin/plastic sections.


There is no denying that this is a pretty pen and at just $36 from Goulet Pens, it’s also quite affordable. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I paid for the pen from my own piggy bank.)


Bits and bobs . . .


But how does it write?

I inked it up with Pilot Iroshizuku’s Fuyu-gaki.  Complimentary colors, you know.



Other than the anticipated slippery grip, I really like the Artista.

The weight and balance of the pen are right on for me. The cap is easily posted and writing while posted is comfortable. Once inked, it started right up. I experienced no problems with skipping or hard starts. The nib is smooth (though not buttery – and that’s ok with me). A very good pen in terms of ease of use and value for the money spent.

Here’s the downside – I read the reviews of this pen. Not everyone is loving it – or even liking it. Inconsistent nib issues and problems with the converter staying seated in place seem to be the biggest complaints. While I experienced none of those issues, I would say that my bottom line is:   Proceed with Caution.


Do you have this pen? Love demonstrators? Hate demonstrators? Tell me all about it in the comments.

FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW: Franklin Christoph Model 20 – Marietta


I have a bunnnnch of pens that I’ve been meaning to review here. The Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta is one of those pens.

Franklin-Christoph is a brand that I respect. They truly stand behind the products they sell and they offer amazing customer service. I own a few of their pens and several pen cases. I’m definitely a satisfied customer.

Let’s have a look at the Model 20 . . .IMG_3763.JPG

Such a simple and sleek design. The cap slips onto the body of the pen and posts nicely when writing.IMG_3762.JPG

Oh, and I had mine sent with a music nib . . .IMG_3764.JPG IMG_3765.JPG IMG_3766.JPG

But how does it write . . . IMG_3768.JPG

Like, OMG, that’s how it writes. I knew I wanted to use an ink known for shading and chose Noodler’s Habanero. IMG_3760.JPG

A closer look . . .IMG_3773.JPG IMG_3770.JPG

I’m not sure how practical this nib is. It’s so wide that my writing needs to be quite large for it to be legible. I’ve also noticed that unless I’m holding the pen just right, I end up with the the “streaks” that are visible below in the words “dude” (haha) and “the.” This is probably an issue specific to me – I notice that I tend to write more on an edge of a nib rather than on the direct center (is it just me?).IMG_3771.JPG IMG_3769.JPG

I also found that I was squeezing the heck out of the pen and perhaps pressing harder than I normally would. I lightened my grip and tried again . . .IMG_3772.JPGA light touch is definitely all that is needed.

Final Words:  I’m really into this pen. I’d like to review it again with a “normal” nib at some point. The Model 20 writes wonderfully and looks great. It would be terrific in a professional setting with a different nib. Visit Franklin-Christoph for pricing and technical specs.


FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW: Jinhao Birthday Pen


Yesterday was my birthday! I love birthdays – it’s the one day reserved just for you and everyone deserves to have a special day on his/her birthday.

Among the phat pile of prezzies was this pen from my son and his wife. It’s a Jinhao, but I don’t know the name of the pen.

Let’s have a closer look . . . IMG_4226.JPG

Heeeey, dragon eyes.IMG_4225.JPG IMG_4227.JPG

Great looking pen. The body is slightly textured (dragon scales, yo), the nib is two-toned steel. Lots of bling.

But how does it write . . . IMG_4231.JPG

I inked it up with Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun. Fuyu-syogun is one of my favorite inks for fountain pens. It works well with most pens and cleans up easily. Great for testing new pens.IMG_4230.JPG

I’m impressed with how this Jinhao writes. The nib is smooth with a little feedback. Flow from the pen is consistent with no hard starts, skipping, or other issues.  (I usually test on Clairefontaine 80gsm, this is Tomoe River Paper.)IMG_4229.JPG


Bottom Line:   I’m digging it and I love that it was chosen especially for me by people who know and love me.

Do you love birthdays as much as I? Do you have and love any Jinhao pens?

FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW: Parker Duofold Demi

I first saw this pen on the Instagram feed of my friend @mycoffeepot and knew I had to have it.

The incredible sheen and depth of color (chatoyance!), the organized geometric design of the resin, and the mini size was just too much to pass up. I hopped right over to eBay to find my own Parker Duofold (this one is the demi/mini/small version).  

The arrow clip is so iconic!


The pen arrived in a luxury box and included a 6-pack of Parker mini cartridges. I quickly popped one into the pen was excited to start writing. It started out great! The nib was smooth, but not slippery. Flow was great. It was everything I expected – as indicated by the sweet heart I drew. Ha.

And then this happened . . .  Yikes.

I even tried another paper brand . . . 

I really thought this was heading for Major Trouble and started going through my checklist of possible issues/solutions. And that’s when I realized – in my excitement to start writing, I hadn’t cleaned the pen first and we’re supposed to always, always, always clean new pens before we use them. (Except I never do because I’m Pentulant like that.)

I gave it a good cleaning, let it (mostly) dry, and started again . . .

Nice! Let’s see what else it can do . . .

Whew!  Cleaning is just what the nibmeister ordered for this pen!  I’ve since written with it a bunch and haven’t seen even a hint of the problems shown above.

MyCoffeePot mentioned on Instagram and his blog that this is one of the best fine nibs he’s written with. I’m going to agree.

Some thoughts . . .

I would say that the Parker Duofold Demi is a terrific pen. It’s beautiful, writes great, is comfortable in the hand, and I love the size (thought some may find it too small).

But…and this is a Big But…the pen only uses cartridges. Proprietary cartridges. The ink isn’t bad – Parker inks are classic and known for being “well-behaved.” The issue is that the user is definitely limited in terms of ink options. Others have tried to find a converter that will work, but none have been successful. There is the option of emptying the Parker cartridge and filling with another ink using a syringe. When this blue cartridge is empty, that’s probably what I’ll be doing. Not a huge thing – not something that would make me unlove this pen – but something to be aware of.

Bottom Line:  I real dig this pen despite the issue of proprietary cartridges!

So tell me….do you clean your pens before using them the first time? ..would you buy a pen that only takes proprietary cartridges?


PEN REVIEW: Pelikan M805 (Broad Nib)

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Pelikan M805 – Broad Nib

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know how much I love this pen. It’s big love. Major Big Love. The love I feel for this pen may rival my Montblanc Heritage 1912. It’s serious.

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I received this pen as a Christmas gift from Mr. Pentulant last year and I’m pretty sure I squeeeeeeeeed when I saw it.

It’s a beauty. Dark blue and black stripes, shiny palladium platings, two-toned 18 carat gold nib with rhodium.

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More than just a pretty face, though, the Pelikan M805 is a solid and iconic pen with a long history. In fact, the Souveran line from Pelikan was launched in the 1950s (the green 400-size was the first).

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This pen uses a differential piston fill system. The one thing spins faster than the other thing (read about that here). I’m not sure if that’s why – but I can tell you the mechanism is the smoothest I have experienced. It feels like things are gliding along during the fill process.

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The caps screws on and can be posted. I’d say that the posting isn’t as deep as I’d like, but I feel confident that it’s not going to slip off the end. While perfect for me, I wonder if the section is long enough on this model for very large hands.

How Does The Pelikan M805 Write?

Like, omg. That’s how it writes. Seriously. I am not kidding you.

The nib is smooth without skating across the paper. I have a broad nib and it’s definitely a western broad. It’s juicy wet without laying down too much ink. I may be crazy, but I think my handwriting is improved by this pen.

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Based on my experiences, I would say that if you’re a serious pen lover and you have the budget, the Pelikan M805 should be on your wish list. I know I already have my eye on another!


PEN REVIEW: Pilot Custom 912 – Music Nib

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Pilot Custom 912 – Music Nib

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The Pilot Custom 912 is a nice looking pen with classic styling. The body is black resin and the trim is shiny and silver in color.

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The cap screws on and posts easily to the back of the pen. The section is a bit shorter than average and this could present an issue for people with larger hands.

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Fill using the included Pilot CON-70 converter or Pilot’s proprietary cartridges. The CON-70 is unique in that it is a push-button / pump converter and it holds a bunch of ink (around 1 ml). I love it, but there are varying viewpoints out there.  The good news is that if a user hates it, one of the other Pilot converters can apparently be swapped in easily enough.

To learn more about the CON-70 pump converter, I suggest watching Brian Goulet’s video. Informative and entertaining:  “You have to really want it.”  “You have to attack it!” “BAM! BAM!”

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Music nibs are sometimes referred to as trident nibs because they have three tines. That is to say that this nib has two slits through which the ink flows. Lines drawn vertically are thicker with this kind of nib than lines horizontal lines.

Pilot Custom 912 Writing Samples

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With cursive writing, the pen writes wonderfully. But with printing I’m having some hard starts on some downstrokes. Arrgh.

The trouble can be seen in the image below. See where the M in “Music” and the I in “Nib” look a little off? It looks like there’s an issue with the left side of the nib.

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Now what?  Well, I love the pen and I’m not going to return it, but I will be looking for someone to tune the nib. Do you know a nibmeister with expertise making music nibs sing?

Also, if you have this pen, I’d love to hear what you think of it. Did you get the music nib, too?

PEN REVIEW: Delta Unica (Limited Edition)

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Delta Unica

Blue with Gold Trim

Limited Edition

Before we get started – I’ll be back this afternoon to announce the winner of the Stateside Notebook giveaway!

The Delta Unica is a gorgeous pen. Deep blue swirls that vary from almost white to almost black, but mostly velvety blue. In a word: chatoyance.

Let’s have a look under the hood . . .

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The trim (or furniture, if you prefer) is gold-plated. The cap screws on and can be posted (placed on the back of the pen) easily.

The clip has one of those rolly things that (in theory) makes it easy to clip to a pocket. I’m generally not a fan of this feature, but that is definitely a matter of personal taste.

The nib has a matte finish (it’s brushed gold-plated steel). It’s an interesting look that may not be for everyone. The nib features a wonderfully scrolly design that I quite like.

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The section of the Unica is sized well and comfortable.

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The pen takes international short cartridges or fills with the included converter. Fittings are deep (a good thing) and appear to be brass (another good thing).

How does it write?

A photo posted by Christine Darling (@pentulant) on

I inked it with J. Herbin’s Ocean Bleu and found them to be a perfect pairing. The pen wrote perfectly out of the box. No skipping, no hard starts. Flow was perfect.

The nib offers some feedback. Some writers prefer and are accustomed to a perfectly buttery smooth writing experience and anything other than that may feel scratchy at first glance. This nib doesn’t catch on the paper nor is it difficult to write – rather, I can feel the paper beneath the pen. I like this, but it may be a deal breaker for some.

This version of the Unica is limited to 100 pens and is available exclusively at Goulet Pens. I wasn’t compensated in any way for this review and spent my own hard-earned $76 on it. The pen is available from other places and in other colors.