The Needle and the Damage Done: Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen With Ergonomic Grip

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Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen / Demonstrator
+ Extra Fine Nib
+ Pilot CON-50 converter
+ Hey ho, Tsuki-Yo! (Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo ink)

Dimensions: 14.8cm capped, 14.4cm uncapped, 14.9cm posted, 11.2mm grip diameter

The Damage Done: $6.95 per unit at JStationery.com, or $8.25 at JetPens.com

The Pilot Penmanship is not quite the most inexpensive fountain pen I’ve ever purchased, but it’s still low enough that I expected a certain corresponding degree of quality. But when I slid it out of its little plastic sleeve into my hands, I noted that its design and weight were those of a higher grade than its price tag would seem to suggest.

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I got the demonstrator version of this pen, a crystal-clear plastic that has a definite bluish tint in the grip and feed area. (It also comes in matte black — interestingly, on the black version, the little wings on the sides of the cap are a bright red.) The pen is marketed as ergonomic, and indeed, the broad grip, molded with grooves for one’s thumb and forefinger, is very comfortable to hold; the sharp tapering-off of the barrel reduces the pen’s weight substantially as well to help prevent fatigue. The down-side to this is that the grip will most likely make it difficult for lefties to use comfortably.

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The cap is tiny, a clear knob only about an inch long that screws down just over the nib. It posts without unbalancing it, but posting does disrupt the elegant lines of the stylus, if that’s something you care about. You could easily convert this to an eyedropper with an o-ring and a little silicone grease on the threads, as the pen’s barrel is all plastic and free of holes. I’m pretty excited about this possibility — I’m not a huge fan of Pilot’s converter, and I like the way demonstrator pens change character depending on the color of ink you put into them. Plus, there’s something inspiring about seeing a barrel full of ink freely sloshing about. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

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The long, extra-fine steel nib is a real needle-point and didn’t feel great on my Rhodia tablet — it felt like the tip was actually digging into the paper despite my fine touch and there seemed to be a problem with the ink flow. This worried me at first — I mean, it was less than $7, but Pilot generally isn’t known for making junk. However, I decided to try it on Tomoe River paper before writing it off completely, and I was pleased to find that it performed much more smoothly. It’s almost too fine for my taste, but there was actually some nice line variation with varying degrees of pressure. I think with extended use the scratchiness might wear down a bit. And I’m sure someone experienced in modifying their own nibs could work wonders with a bit of fine-grit sandpaper. On the other hand, it will swap out easily with other Pilot products — the Plumix and the Prera, for example — so if you’d prefer a medium flat italic nib in your Penmanship stylus, have at it.

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5 thoughts on “The Needle and the Damage Done: Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen With Ergonomic Grip

  1. Great review! I just realized that your including pictures of the handwritten draft of your review isn’t just an aesthetic touch, but showing how the pen writes. And I love your sketch at the bottom, who is it?

    • Hey, thanks! Yeah, I want to show how the pen writes, and also it’s an excuse to play with my favorite toys. 🙂 Not sure who the guy at the bottom is. A Hogwarts student, judging by the sweater, and probably from Slytherin, but I’ve not a clue past that….

  2. highlowpen says:

    a very nice write up on the penmanship. heard tons of good review and definitely a plus about the smooth nib. May i ask, since i intend to buy this pen as a gift, does it crack anywhere on the body or the cap? The demonstrator definitely look more convenient to hold compare to it’s black/red.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for commenting! I’ve had no problems with it cracking, nor with the Plumix (which is practically the same pen and indeed all the parts are interchangeable iirc). The grips are the same, actually, it’s just that the demonstrator is transparent! But I ended up kind of hating the look of the black Penmanship — the cap looks especially dorky with the little red fins. Definitely go for the demonstrator.

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