17 July 2007

Bargain fountain pen from Charles Hubert, Paris

I've always been a lover of fountain pens, and seem to take greater pride and care in what I write when holding one. Of course, it sometimes bumps into the keyboard when I'm typing, but that's the price I pay. Bad jokes aside (they'll be back later, I'm sure), my increasing computer use over a decade has tended to mean I write less with my hand, and my handwriting tends to reflect. But very few things match the feeling of writing on good paper with a substantial fountain pen. Over the years I've had (and lost) several Parkers and Lamys, and a lovely silver Shaeffer with inlaid gold nib (the best pen I've ever written with—I hope the person who pinched it from the Adelaide Uni games room in the mid 90s has made good use of it).

My current FP is a magnificent titanium-barrelled Cross Townsend, with the top of the line gold Extra Fine point. It's long and weighty, with a mirror-like finish that demands constant polishing. With that XF nib, it's not the smoothest writer ever, and it also tends to leak just a little. But it is a thing of elegance and beauty, which, because of my predilection for losing pens, has only left the house once in the dozen years I've owned it.

Not the most useful day-to-day pen, then. That tasks falls to a stylish red lacquer Parker Sonnet II ball pen (my second, of course) which I like very much, but I've been in a nib and ink mood recently, which has sent me to the web looking for FPs once again.

Following in the tradition of great pens such as Parker and Waterman, which hail from France, I came across a good looking fountain pen on eBay the other day called Charles Hubert, Paris. At the price it was clear that we weren't talking Paris, France, but Paris, China, but in the seller pictures as well as those at isellpens.com the entire range looked very well made. So I spent my $40 Australian plus P&P and acquired this little beastie, its finish reminiscent of the Sterling Silver Parkers, only in turned stainless steel:

It looks pretty well-finished in the pictures, doesn't it? That's because it is. Everything lines up nicely, the chroming is excellent and the cap clicks on and off very nicely at both ends. Clips are often a tell-tale sign of cost cutting, but even this is stylish and neatly finished. The nib, labelled 'Iridium Point Germany' looks good quality, and whilst its thickness is not labelled, I'd call it a Medium point towards the narrower end of that continuum.

In the hand it feels very solid, although the centre of gravity is a little high up the shaft for my liking with cap unposted, more than 8 cm away from the nib out of a barrel length of 12 cm. By contrast, my slightly longer Cross has a lower centre, and therefore just seems to take a fraction less effort to direct across the page. But I'm splitting hairs here, even if the price differential (which is almost ten-fold) were not taken into account. When I first picked up the pen, the black part of the barrel also seemed a little short, so that my fingers were riding up onto the fatter stainless steel section. This was a little uncomfortable, but I've quickly become used to it.

The nib is reasonably stiff and still a little scratchy having only been used for a week, but with the standard un-marked ink cartridge that came with it, it's a nice writer, with good, even inkflow and solid colour. When I get a higher quality cartridge in it things can only improve. And so far there has been no leakage or ink build-up on nib, finger-wrest or inside the cap, a problem which has always quietly afflicted my Cross.

Overall, the pen oozes quality, is fun to write with and I can afford to take it out of the house. At the price it is an absolute bargain, and I suspect the same could be said of others in the range, which I will explore further. Highly recommended!

You can source these pens from my Australian eBay seller, Selectview, who offers good prices and service or at www.isellpens.com.
Go to eebahgum!


Maria said...

All I can say is, I looked at these pens on ebay, and I thought "How nice!"

Then I saw Isellpens, and I thought - wow, they're cheaper here.

I'm not an ebay veteran. I guess I always had the misguided view that ebay waws like an e-garage sale, and everything there was meant to be so much cheaper than anywhere else, except maybe when you traded with your little sister, and I got disappointed.

eebahgum! said...

Hi Maria,

Thanks for dropping by. Yes, many of us have probably had that view of eBay. And I guess the truth is that there are still plenty of bargains, but increasingly I find myself buying from online shops who just use eBay as their shopfront, so won't necessarily be any cheaper than other on-line shops.

So perhaps rather than the garage sale metaphor, it may be better to think of eBay as more like a giant bazaar. Almost everything is on sale there, but it pays to have done your homework and found out what an item will cost by other means.

And you're right, although I have not personally dealt with Isellpens, they do appear to be very cheap and I have heard good reports about them. I guess they are doing more volume specifically in pens than the eBay sellers. That said, the eBay seller I recommended is still good value, especially if you are in Australia, as I am.

Stay tuned for a couple of other pen reviews coming very soon. I have a new Picasso and Waterman, both very attractive and good value, and will also be reviewing a couple of Hero pens shortly. After all, you can never have to many fountain pens, can you? :-)

Anonymous said...

Seasons Greetings to ALL . I have a Charlie from Paris haha . The nib tip of the r h side tine broke off whilst writing . I never bothered to fix , as it only cost $40 on eBay some years ago . I see them on isellpens for $30 posted in USA .Posting them to Australia costs another $40 . I will have to go back to eBay and see if they are still available all these years later . Thanks for the info . McMillan .