Platinum Century with SF and UEF nibs

I have always wondered how similar are the Pilot Falcon and Platinum Century soft fine (SF) nibs. This curiosity was left on the back burner for several years because many fountain pen enthusiasts commented on how Platinum’s SF nib does not flex as much compared to Falcon. Curiosity kills a cat. More than a year ago I purchased a Platinum Century with SF nib on Amazon on a whim and it is a road with no return.

Both Platinum Century SF and Pilot Namiki Falcon have 14K gold nibs and they do shape slightly different. Falcon, as its name indicates, resembles a falcon’s beak, while Platinum Century has a rather normal looking nib, sweetened by a heart-shaped breather hole. The Platinum SF works right out of the box and seems to be easier to use compared to Falcon. This perception can be skewed since I have more exposure to flex nib now than five years ago, but it is amazing how easy it is to achieve line variation with Platinum SF than Pilot SF, probably because the Platinum nib is stiffer. In my opinion, the Platinum SF nib is more beginner friendly, since users can easily control a hard nib than a soft one. The hardness of the nib also discourages one to press down further. It is significantly easier to write normally, without flexing, with a Platinum Century than a Faclon. When I used Falcon for the first time, it took me awhile to print or write cursive normally without flexing; in fact, I adjusted how I hold the pen and slow down significantly to get a hang of the pen. In contrast, I can write with a Platinum SF nib at a normal speed without skipping and with a finer line.  In this light, Platinum SF nib is a bit more versatile if your end goal is to be able to print normally and add a bit of flourish from time to time.

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Platinum Century on the left and Pilot Falcon on the right. Century is definitely bit chubbier in comparison but still comfortable to hold
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Side-by-side comparison of Platinum Century and Pilot Falcon (Paper: Brownie planner)

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Nib choices with the Platinum Century series also make the pen a salient choice. The body shape may remain the same, but one can choose from UEF (ultra extra fine) to Music. It also comes in a variety of standard as well as limited edition colors (Have you seen the newest release?) Because I had such a great experience with Platinum Century (and because I am such a sucker for colors), I picked up another Century with a UEF nib while going home in 2016. With the exchange rate at the time, the pen cost roughly $84 USD and it came with a cartridge, a converter, as well as a complimentary One over One Studio ippitsu-sen (short correspondent paper; Sola has written a post about this uniquely Japanese stationery here) made with bank paper. UEF is favored by many artists and illustrators for its crisp and delicate line. In addition, the UEF nib allows one to write legibly in a small space. One note of caution, finer the nib, scratchier it may feel on paper because the point of contact between the nib and paper is minuscule. The nib also picks up paper fiber easier given how sharp it is, so when using a UEF nib (or a finer size for that matter), use smoother paper to be on the safe side.

When I first picked up the UEF, I was afraid that I have fallen into the pitfall of “the finest nib quest” but my doubt was quickly dispelled. Compare to other Japanese F or EF nib, UEF feels significantly firmer. Since it is a harder nib, when writing quickly, you can hear the sound of nib gliding over the paper surface.  A notable concern for a fine nib is that it is prone to clogging, especially when one uses a metallic ink (J. Herbin 1670 series, for example). Though I have not yet inked the UEF with any shimmering ink since Platinum’s nib can be easily removed in the same fashion as a Lamy (with a piece of tape), deep cleaning would be a non-issue.

From the pictures below, one can observe the similarities among Platinum Century UEF, Preppy .2, and Pilot Kaküno EF. I would recommend a Preppy .2 if UEF has been on the wanted list, but you are unsure whether you would love it. The downside of Preppy is its flawed body material; the plastic seemed very brittle that cracks start to show even though the pen has never been dropped. Kaküno is far more superior in terms of material, but the nib can be dry because Pilot does not have the famed slip and seal mechanism. UEF has the most feedback among the three and pair with paper such as Midori or Tomoe, is a heavenly experience.

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What is the finest nib of all?

While I have picked up standard black for SEF, I opted for Chartres blue for the UEF. As its name suggested the material is translucent and when one holds it to the light, it evokes images of the stained glass from Chartres Cathedral.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Platinum Century, and you can definitely call it “love at first write.” For the combination of price, nib options, and performance, it can easily fit the criteria of a grail pen for enthusiasts with a budget in mind.

What is your recommendation for the next-step pen?

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Perhaps I should add more to the color spectrum? 🙂
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Friday Read

I came across an older article that analyzes how ballpoint lens has runes cursive writing. It reminds me of my own schooling; younger grade students (first and second) were disallowed to use ballpoint pens, for the reason that ink was too smooth. Writing itself consisted of many fine motor skills and requires more developed muscles to exert control.

Do you agree with the article?

A quick note on Kaweco Perkeo

My one gripe about Kaweco is that almost all models come with stock stainless steel nibs.* Do not get me wrong, I am a proud owner of Lilliput and Ice Sport, but I just wish that some of the “higher” models are differentiated with a nib in different material. Last week, Goulet Pens has a buy one get one 50% off offer on Kaweco Perkeo, which I could not resist. Against my better judgement, I got two in Cotton Candy, a soft pink and warm taupe gray combination. Besides Cotton Candy, other color choices are: Chambray (white and teal), Bad Taste (black and hot pink; is it not a wonderful name? :)), and Indian Summer (mustard yellow and black).

I notice some subtle differences between Perkeo and Ice Sport. Even though both pens are made of plastic, Perkeo’s material is matte. Instead of a screw-on cap, Perkeo has a snap-on one. The faceted cap facilitates removal of the cap, as one can get a better grip on it than a round and smooth one. On Perkeo, the brand name is not stamped on like the one for Ice Sport, but probably done by injection molding. The raised lettering can withstand further wear and tear. As you can see in the picture below, the the imprinted brand is rubbed off on Ice Sport because of time. Another noticeable difference is the barrel. Perkeo, on one hand, has a faceted body similar to the cap, but with more facets. Ice Sport, on the other hand, has a cylindrical body. Personally I prefer the faceted one because it does not roll off the table as easily as the cylindrical one (can you tell I am accident prone?)

The grip section of Perkeo is very similar to Lamy Safari and Al-Star, where the two concaved sections on the side is where one can rest the thumb and index finger. This set-up can seem unnatural to some, depending on how one holds the pen, but it feels pretty comfortable. It is evident that Perkeo is full-size pen; hence the longer grip section, but it also means that this pen can be comfortable for those with larger hands as well. While using it, I also feel that it could be a suitable first pen for youngsters who start dabbling in fountain pen, as the pen body seems to be sturdy to withand any roughing.

Another difference that I have observe is the tip of the nib. It seems that Ice Sport has more tipping material than Perkeo, as seen in the picture below:

So far, the less is doing more. Perkeo writes smoother than Ice Sport and needless to say, I am please with my acquisition.

Some may not think much of the aesthetic of Perkeo, but I have found this chubby pen endearing. Girth wise, it is wider than Ice Sport but it is not so cumbersome to small hands. It may be too “plasticky” for some, but I can see that this pen will be one of my daily go-to.

You can purchase Perkeo at the following fine stores:

I am not affiliated with any of the stores listed above. Only recommending them as a satisfied customer!

Have you made any new discovery recently?

 

*Kaweco does have replacement nibs in 14K gold, but I believe all stock nibs are in steel.

 

Super5 Fountain Pen

Super5 Fountain pen first came to my attention by way of its waterproof ink. It was adored especially by artists since the ink is also extremely lightfast (fade resistance to light) and very close to PH neutral. To complement this seemingly amazing line of ink, the pen should not be too shabby, right? Last Christmas I joined one of the Massdrop offers on Super5 Fountain pens and purchased one with .5mm calligraphy nib.

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Schneider 670 Fountain Pen

While I may hanker after specialty nibs and gorgeous fountain pens, I enjoy simple, economic beginner fountain pens just as much. They are great to carry around and my heart will not skip a beat if they are cosmetically marred. In my past experience, they are more reliable than luxury fountain pens at times because they are marketed for children and students, who probably have less patience for finicky pens.

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