in Pens

The Pilot Pluminix

I recently ordered a new OHTO Tasche from Cult Pens, and while I was there, thought that I could possibly stretch to splashing out an extra £4.50 on a Pilot Pluminix pen.

“That is a cute little pen,” I thought, “and I am trying out compact pens to see which ones I prefer so this is worth a go, and I don’t have any italic pens apart from a 1.1mm Lamy nib which is too wide for general use, and also I have a hundred or so short international cartridges which I’m not using and which I should put to some purpose.”

General build and feel

It is a fairly tiny thing, around 12cm long. The first thing that I noticed was that it doesn’t have a clip, which surprised me at first, but really, there isn’t much reason to have clips on pocket pens. The second thing was that it has a screw cap rather than the usual clicky cap, which I approve of – clicky caps on pocket pens often come off if one is not careful, or at least loosen, which is bad for any pen and particularly fountain pens. The cap has two fins on the side, which makes it quick and easy to unscrew, and it seals tightly. Thumbs up there – a good piece of design.

(I did notice that after a while of casual moving-it-about, there were drops of ink on the inside of the cap, which were quite obvious given that it’s transparent, so a slight thumbs down.)

It’s a very light pen. Given that, it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy though – it has quite tough plastic and I reckon could survive in a bag or pocket easily.

There are depressions just before the nib meant for your fingers, much like the Lamy Safari’s – some people hate these, but I quite like them myself.

The nib

The third thing I noticed was that it had an italic nib, which surprised me. I have very little experience of italic nibs – I have never written normally with one, though I have used them occasionally for calligraphy. It is a straight nib, I estimate around 0.8mm wide, quite stiff steel without much flex to it – not rounded either, this isn’t an italic stub, the sideways line is sharp. I find it hard to judge, not having any great experience, but it seems decent, certainly for £4.50. Ink flow is on the dry side but generally fine; the only trouble I have had is a slight dryness on starting up sometimes, which goes away after a stroke or two, and it has not skipped.

What I am really not sure of, though, is the level of demand for a pocket italic pen. If you are not familiar with italic nibs they can be messy and annoying to write with, and you do need to hold the pen in a particular way, whereas a round nib is more forgiving of angle and grip. A pocket pen will likely end up being used in less-than-perfect writing situations. Furthermore it is less practical for drawing impromptu diagrams, maps and sketches of kittens. I tried to use it for a while for journalling, but rapidly switched to something else I must confess. Still, if you do like italic nibs, this may be something you would be interested in.

Ink

As mentioned, the Pluminix takes Short International cartridges as standard, and probably only short ones; there is a little extra room in the barrel but not enough to store two back-to-back. Thus no convertor either, or only one of the particularly compact international convertors.

On the other hand, the barrel does screw on tightly which means that it can be used as an “eyedropper” pen (I only heard this term recently – it simply means using no cartridge and filling the barrel of the pen with ink using an eyedropper or, in my case, a small syringe). While this does seem to work from my brief tests, I would be just a bit wary of carrying a pen filled in Eyedropper Style around with me casually. It strikes me that just a slight accidental twist of the barrel would result in catastrophic ink leakage, probably indelibly staining something particularly valuable and/or volatile. I think that I would stick to cartridges.

Overall

A well-made little pen, with the distinctive feature of having a proper italic nib. That will either annoy you or please you – if you aren’t sure, well, it is probably one of the least expensive ways to discover whether you are an italic sort of person.