It’s new pen day! Well, technically speaking it was new pen day on Tuesday, and I’ve had the pen in my possession – packed away so as to not tempt fate – since July 13th. However, this is its first official outing, so it counts as new pen day in my books.
This latest addition to my stable of fountain pens is the Traveller model from the German brand Diplomat, who were established in 1922 and specialise in metal-bodied pens, which we all know are my preference. This is one step up from their entry-level, plastic Magnum design, and retails in the UK in the £40-£55 price band, depending on which finish you choose. The Flame finish is at the higher end of the scale, but I timed my purchase to take advantage of a little discount offer. I’ve been aware of Diplomat for a while, noticing that they generally garner good reviews, but always seem to be one of the also-ran brands: not quite trendy enough despite turning in a good, solid performance. This only adds to their appeal as I am partial to the lesser-hyped brands. That being said, their Aero model, in particular, has a respectable following and many enthusiasts enjoy the design of that pen, based as it is on the iconic profile of old airships.
I first came across pens with this “blued steel” finish during the course of last year and was so taken with the effect that I decided this would be my treat to myself as soon as I secured a job. In the meantime, I wrote this pen into my novel just to keep the dream alive.
I find my new pen to be incredibly slender and lightweight and I think this is completely in keeping with its designation as the “Traveller”. Whilst other brands have taken the concept of a travel pen and moved in the direction of the pocket pen, retaining a decent girth and putting the focus on reducing the length, Diplomat have taken the other route. The slim profile retains the classic proportions seen in fountain pens of old. Whilst the pocket pens rely on posting the cap onto the end of the short body to provide an acceptable length whilst writing, the Traveller is actually better suited to being used unposted, which leads me to my only criticism of the design.
For my taste, the pen could do to be just a little heavier and I find it perfect when I post the cap. However, the cap has a surprisingly strong snap closure and this makes it rather less easy to push onto the back end of the pen, so much so that I am reluctant to force it. To counteract this, I have to say the pen seems to stay nicely primed and writes without any hard starts, so that tight snap when you cap it is probably reducing any ink evaporation and helping the nib to stay good and wet. Also, I find the pen unposted is a very nice length in my hand.
As to the nib, this is the Fine version in Steel – I have found it to have a nice ink flow, not stingy but not by any means a gusher. Being steel, there’s nothing too fancy going on in the way of line variation, but that’s not the point of a pen like this. The nib is smooth and pleasant to use and it wrote perfectly out of the box. I did give it a quick flush through with water before the first fill. I’ve chosen to christen it with a cartridge of Diamine’s Burgundy Royale ink which I think pleasantly flatters the warm tones in the pen’s finish.
I must point out that this pen isn’t suited to the use of converters, you’re pretty much limited to using plastic cartridges. It takes the Standard International cartridges which are readily available in the UK and I’ve certainly got no shortage of possible inks to try with it from brands such as Diamine, Graf von Faber-Castell, Waterman and Caran d’Ache.
Comparing the Traveller to some of my existing pens shows that it is by far the slimmest, even managing to out-slim my Cross Century II. I wondered if this would be a drawback, if I would find the pen comfortable enough for longer writing sessions, so I was pleased to find that I can happily do a full journal entry of 2-3 A5 pages without my hand tiring or aching. This model is actually very happy slotting into the pen loop on a Filofax. It is a frequent complaint in the planner community that manufacturers provide pen loops which hardly any pen will actually slot into and this could be a contender. It also wins out as part of an everyday carry on the weight front, and the ease of carrying an extra ink cartridge or two to slip in whilst on the go.
I was initially baffled when I noticed the pen magically rearranging itself after I slotted it into my three-pen case. I soon realised that the clip is attracted to the magnet that secures the flap of the pen case and I now have a whole new game of ‘test the pen clip’ to see if any others share this trait.
The main thing I’ve got to say about this pen is that it really is all about the play of colours, reminiscent of oil on water or, as I like to think of it, angry alien skies. I am pleased with the balance of the colours in the pen I received – enough purply-blues to fit in with Clan Bluepen, but the added warmth of the bronze and copper shades. I like the fact that there is minimal branding on the pen, with just the company’s stylised logo and name appearing on the ‘jewel’ that tops the cap and engraved on the nib. I prefer pens that don’t scream their provenance to everyone who sees them.
Overall, I think this is a very strong new member of my fountain pen team and I’m glad that I found a good excuse to treat myself to it. I’m looking forward to trying out a variety of inks with it to see how the different formulas play with this nib. I’m sure there will be plenty of times when it is my choice for an everyday carry pen within my Filofax.
When is a sweet box not a sweet box? I realised that my interpretation of a sweet box is not the only one when I read in the e-mail newsletter from The Nanosphere that a new set of pencils from Nero’s Notes is packaged in a sweet box. I clicked the link to see what sort of sweets the box had originally contained only to find that it was not a sweet box at all, only a box which could be described as sweet. Personally, I think they’ve missed a trick there. In case you’re wondering, a sweet box is not a sweet box when you’ve eaten all the sweets. The best possible use for such an object is to fill it up with sweets again, but if you absolutely have to put pencils in it, so be it.