julesjones: (Default)
[personal profile] julesjones
It is possible that I have too many fountain pens. I did not, however, until very recently own a pocket fountain pen; and that one is sufficiently expensive that I'm a little reluctant to take it out of the house. So when I was browsing the clearance section at Cult Pens and saw an Ohto pocket pen at £6 I decided that I Wanted That.

Ohto Rook fountain pen in green and black colorway, capped

This thing is tiny. According to the info at Cult Pens, it's 93 mm long when closed, and expands to 142 mm long when you remove the cap and put it on the other end. As for the width, it's a snug fit around a short international cartridge. It's much more like putting a nib on a cartridge than putting a cartridge in a pen. It's so tiny it will even fit in the #pockets in women's clothing with room to spare. If you're really in a hurry and can't be bothered to post the cap, you have around 86 mm of pen, which is getting a bit small even for my small hands, but is usable for scribbling a few words. Cap and barrel are aluminium, making it very light for a metal pen; only 11 g.

Ohto Rook fountain pens, one posted and one capped.

So, the scribbling words bit. I'd poked around the internet for reviews, and one thing that bugged several people was the cartridge that comes with it; apparently a black ink but more like grey. I have plenty of quality international cartridges knocking around so fed it with a Graf von Faber-Castell deep sea green instead. I did not wash the pen through and dry it first, which has a bearing on the writing feel when I first started using it. It was skipping a lot and feeling very scratchy, with a distinct and tiny sweet spot. I did wonder was it a bad nib or was it just manufacturing oils, but after a week or so of occasional use it smoothed out quite a lot - still a bit scratchy but no skipping.

It would probably have helped to prime it properly rather than running the nib under water and then scribbling for a couple of pages, but to do that I would have had to fill a thin convertor and stick it in the back of the barrel, push through some ink, and then take the convertor out again, because this thing is far too short to take a convertor as its actual ink supply. I did not think of the "and take it out again" bit until afterwards, but may try that on the second pen I bought.

Detail of Ohto Rook fountain pen nib

The pen comes from Japan but the nib is unbranded and marked "iridium point" on the green/black one I bought and "iridium point Germany" on the orange/silver, along with a simple but pretty engraved pattern. It's apparently a Japanese medium or European fine, so it's going to be inclined to scratchiness anyway. I can live with it, and it still manages a little line variation. I can't tell how easy it would be to swap it out, but at that price you're not losing a lot of money if you mangle it. Ditto if you feel like adjusting the nib.

Ohto Rook fountain pen, disassembled to show the parts

It's a snap cap and very much designed to be posted, so it's unlikely to scratch the barrel. When snapped closed it's solidly seated and needs a good tug to get it off again, but not so for posting. It turns out that you need to post the cap firmly. If you do not it will fly off the barrel at the slightest provocation. You also need to make sure the little piece at the end of the barrel that unscrews to allow you to change the cartridge is screwed on very firmly, because otherwise it will unscrew itself and go for a flying lesson along with the main cap. Ask me how I know...

It has a clip. I generally don't have a use for clips, but this one seems tight and springy.

One thing that I suspect is going to get really irritating is that Ohto miniaturised it by having the lower barrel almost the length of the cartridge, which means only the bottom 6 mm or so of the cartridge is visible once seated. Which makes it very difficult to tell when it's near to empty. And you can't carry a spare cartridge in the barrel...


  • It's tiny. Tiny enough for #pockets. And yet big enough to write with comfortably.
  • It's very pretty.
  • The nib's not great but is usable.
  • You need to be careful about posting.
  • Better not care about knowing how much ink is left.

I'd have been unimpressed with this at the RRP of £13, but like it enough at £6 that I went and got the orange and silver colourway a few days after buying the green and black version. They're both pretty. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-11 09:02 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
I gave up on fountain pens years ago when I no longer handwrote enough to make the maintenance worthwhile, but this review tempted me a little anyway.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-12 01:33 am (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
I had a thing for ink reservoir pens, and went from ~daily journaling to not at all and would go to write a letter and find a sticky mess. (It having been three to six months.) And there are darn few handwritten letters nowadays.

The RSI motivation makes perfect sense; fountain pens are lovely to write with. (I think it was a Sayers article that pointed out fountain pens weren't necessarily or perhaps commonly carried full in Victorian or Edwardian times; you sat down, filled your pen, did the writing, emptied the pen, and put it away. Which seems very reasonable compared to dip pens and really awful compared to the modern options.)

I still have a weakness for fancy titanium body pens that take a broad range of refills, in my case nigh-always Fisher space pens. I tell myself that this is so I have a robust writing implement for birding, but there's a lot of shiny involved.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-12 04:56 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
That website is nearly as dangerous as www.jetpens.com!

I use a pencil pretty much always for taking scribbled-notes-to-myself when programming, which is often. I think the Promecha OP-1007P is amazing value. (The birding notes have Big Idea Design kickstarter pencils, which are amazing enough to get relegated to winter bird count uses.)

(Squeeze-bulb converters are of the devil's party. No argument from this quarter.)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-15 09:42 am (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
I've got one that I use reasonably regularly. I tend to use it for taking notes at festival committee meetings.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-11 09:02 pm (UTC)
jhall1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jhall1
It looks mighty fine. I have to confess that, being a left-hander, I was relieved when I reached the point in school when fountain pens became no longer obligatory and I was able to switch to ballpoints exclusively. If only we wrote from right to left I'd have had no problem. A special left-hander's nib partially counteracted my tendency to dig the point into the paper as I pushed it across the page. But it didn't help with the contortions of my hand needed so as not to blot what I had just written.

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-11 09:52 pm (UTC)
hairmonger: engraving of Brown Leghorns (Default)
From: [personal profile] hairmonger
Really? As a left-hander I find ball-points impossible. Fountains produce SMEAR, and aching wrist from the contortion, but ball-points produce SMUDGE and completely refuse to go where I want them to. Nowadays I mostly use gel-pens, because the ink dries fast enough that my hand doesn't turn black. (Yes, learning Hebrew was freeing. Too bad I've forgotten it all.)

Mary Anne in Kentucky

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-12 08:09 am (UTC)
jhall1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jhall1
Perhaps I'm stuck in the past, but I confess I don't know what a gel-pen is. I've never been aware of any difficulty using a ball-point, but it might help to explain why my handwriting is atrocious. Nowadays I write very little by hand, other than my signature and names and addresses on envelopes (which I print in block capitals to ensure they are legible).

It probably didn't help my handwriting that, having initially been taught copperplate at the age of eight or so, when I started grammar school at age eleven they decided that my class's handwriting was atrocious and taught us all italic, so that now my writing is a confused mish-mash of the two.
Edited Date: 2018-08-12 08:09 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-12 04:52 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Fountain pens use liquid ink. Ball points use printer's ink, which is naturally viscous goo and gets sheer-thinned by the ball to be transferred to the paper. It is generally also (unlike the liquid ink) not water-based.

Gel pens are mechanically like ball points but they're using ink that's pigment particles suspended in a water-based gel which is even more viscous than regular ballpoint ink. The result is more opaque colour that shows better on a wider range of surfaces and a larger range of ink features. (E.g., glitter pens.) Many people don't care about all that and are much happier with the quality of the writing experience; all the convenience of a ball-point and (very nearly) the low-pressure gliding writing experience of a fountain pen.
Edited Date: 2018-08-12 04:57 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2018-08-12 08:51 pm (UTC)
jhall1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jhall1


julesjones: (Default)

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