In this video I review the TWSBI Diamond 580 AL R Fountain Pen. This is a demonstrator fountain pen with a piston filling system. This is one of the best fountain pens on the market under $100 as well as on of the best fountain pens on Amazon.
In this video I review the Wing Sung 601 Fountain Pen. This pen is a Parker 51 homage. This is one of the best Chinese fountain pens on the market as well as on of the best fountain pens on Amazon for under $50.
Gmund is one of the best paper manufacturers in Europe and while I don’t see many “Gmund” branded products, their paper is often a top choice for use in custom stationery and correspondence as well as high end business brochures and packaging.
Gmund is based in Gmund am Tegernsee, Germany and can trace it’s roots back to 1829. With over thirty product lines (each with numerous variations) there is a wide variety of offerings, everything from the high-tech to the traditional.
The book I am reviewing today is the Bavarian Book with the Vichy-Deer pattern. The linen fabric on the cover is supposed to resemble a fabric that would be used on a Dirndl (a traditional Bavarian dress).
The notebook is an A5 size with 120 blank pages (60 leafs) that are held together with a sewn binding. The softcover is flexible and the linen fabric provides a nice tactile feel.
The Gmund logo is debossed on the back of the cover.
The bright white pages are pretty thick (thicker than 80 GSM Rhodia paper) and hold fountain pen ink well with almost no ghosting. I did notice a hint of bleed-through with the ultra wide 2.4mm Pilot Parallel but for any normal point you should be just fine.
The binding is quite good and with a little use lies flat (as you can see in the pictures).
The design and feel of this notebook are standouts for me and a welcome change from the wonderful Japanese books I have been using a lot lately. The neon green deers, bookmark, and pastedown are great accents to the grey vichy (gingham) cover and bright white pages.
The Bavaria Book costs about $14 and can be purchased at Gmund’s website. Shipping is from Germany and although it isn’t too expensive, it did persuade me to order a few extra things that I will be reviewing in the coming weeks.
Kaweco is famous for its pocket-size pens but they also make a number of nice full-size pens including the Elite I am reviewing today.
I was drawn to the Elite’s large nib, that Kaweco refers to as a size 250 (Bock #6). Most Kaweco pens including many of their other full-size models use a much smaller nib that Kaweco calls size 060, similar to a Bock #5. Kaweco also makes a 14kt solid gold 250 nib but it is not sold with any of their standard pens. You have to buy this nib separately and unlike the steel version, you only get one nib grade, medium.
You may have noticed that my review title says 18kt gold, this is because I ordered a 14kt nib and received an 18kt nib instead. This particular nib is not listed in their parts catalog. From what I can tell the nib I received is an 18kt gold stub nib from the beautiful $1,500 Kaweco King Limited Edition fountain pen. Now that we have sorted out what I am reviewing here, let’s get to the pen.
The Elite features a hand-polished faceted black piano lacquer acrylic body. The acrylic is turned from a single block. I imagine that “black piano lacquer” refers only to the color and high gloss and not the actual use of lacquer. The cap is is chrome and features a black finial with a silver Kaweco “jewel”. This same jewel is also found on the end of the barrel. “Kaweco Elite GERMANY” is printed on the cap in black letters.
I like the design of this pen; it looks modern and professional. The high gloss acrylic feels silky smooth to the touch. The clip is high quality with a clean imprint and no rough areas.
Even under the clip the finish is flawless. I also like the knurling on the bottom of the barrel.
The Kaweco logo “jewels” on the top of the cap and end of the barrel are not as crisp as I would like and when I compared it to my vintage Kaweco Sport there was a noticeable difference; a small gripe but none-the-less worth pointing out.
The Elite weighs approximately 39 grams with the cap responsible for 18.5 of them; this makes the Elite on the heavy side. To use this pen comfortably I had to write with the cap off.
Posting the cap makes the pen very top heavy and the cap does not sit very far down the barrel, so it’s length exacerbates the balance problem.
With the cap off the Elite is very comfortable with its long acrylic grip section. The Elite measures 13.8mm long capped and about 13.4mm uncapped.
The 18kt gold nib is writes smoothly and is a good performer. I find that it does write on the drier side (something I will likely adjust later) and that it can take a bit of work to get the ink flowing when a new cartridge is inserted. Once it starts flowing the nib works great and is a pleasure to write with. The 18kt gold nib has some spring but I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly soft.
The nib shares the same plastic feeder as the steel nib. The nibs are threaded like those from Pelikan and Aurora, making nib swaps a breeze.
The Elite can hold two short international cartridges and interestingly there is a spring inside the barrel, something I haven’t seen on any other fountain pen. This spring is useful in getting the second cartridge out of the barrel.
The Elite is not sold with a converter. I tried a standard Bock converter which fit onto the section but was too fat for the barrel. Luckily I have a Kaweco converter and surprise, surprise, it fit. I did find that the converter regularly removed the spring when I unscrewed the section. I would recommend removing the spring if you use a converter.
The Elite fountain pen has a street price of $150, while the 14kt gold nib (again, only sold separately) costs about $200. In the $150 price bracket there are lots of excellent pens, like the Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Vanishing Point. I find that Kaweco Elite stands up to these pens nicely. It really comes down to preference.
But what about the $200 gold nib? The problem for me is that the steel nib is really good. If we were talking an extra $50 then I would go for the gold but from a writing perspective the gold nib isn’t enough of an improvement to justify it’s high price.
Please note: this pen was provided to me by Kaweco at a subsidized cost for purposes of this review.
Here are some other great reviews of the Kaweco Elite fountain pen:
(I have no affiliation with any of the sites linked below)
Stálogy is a stationery brand that isn’t particularly well known outside of Japan. They have only been around for a few years and while their line is small, they produce unusually well-executed products.
The #018 Editor’s Series 365 Days Notebook (yes, that’s a mouthful) caught my attention with it’s detailed half jacket that highlights its unique features.
When I picked up the sample notebook the first thing I noticed was how thin the pages were. Packing 368 pages (184 sheets) into a 14mm thick notebook is impressive. For comparison, my favorite Kokuyo Century Edition notebook only fits 140 pages (70 sheets) into 11mm and with a little bit of math at 14mm the Kokuyo would only hold 178 pages; that’s less than half the Stálogy.
The next thing I noticed was the thirty dollar price tag, yikes! Naturally I convinced myself into buying it; I mean, it has double the pages so really thirty bucks isn’t that bad…right?
Apart from the thin pages this notebook features a free daily dairy. The top of each page lists months, days of the week, and numbers 1-31 so that you can highlight or circle the appropriate date. The 4mm grey grid has the numbers 0-24 printed on every other line; this is a 24 hour timeline.
I found the calendar to be unobtrusive when I just wanted to take notes but also quite useful when I wanted to keep track of my day.
The paper’s performance was very good but being so thin there are some limitations. I would consider this to be fountain pen friendly paper though with my wider nibs I did notice some bleeding and on the really wide 2.4mm nib on my Pilot Parallel there was feathering.
There is also some show through. It’s not as bad as you get on Tomoe River paper but it’s noticeable.
With the stitched binding, flexible spine and tiny signatures there is no denying that this is a very high quality notebook, one that warrants its high price.
Would I buy another one? For home use there are other notebooks I like better (like the Kokuyo I mentioned above) but if I wanted to carry a lot of pages in a small package this could be a very good choice.
I am currently on a month-long trip to South East Asia.
I am bringing my OMAS Ogiva Guilloche fountain pen filled with Sailor Souten ink and carrying it in a black leather Kingsley pen pouch. LIFE Air Mail stationery as well as one of Word. Notebooks’ new “The Adventure Log” journal. As always, I am bringing my travel documents in a Midori Traverler’s Notebook; this time I will have a Cartier Pasha rollerball in the pen loop.
Lastly, the non-pen items: Fujifilm GA645i medium format camera, Breitling Superocean watch, and two Rimowa Limbo cases.