Saturday, January 23, 2021

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT: PARKER IM MONOCHROMATIC GIVEAWAY

That's a wrap on the Parker IM Monochromatic (review HERE) writing set giveaway! Thanks again to Parker, for providing the pens in this giveaway! Now the question remains: who will take home a full set of Parker IM Monochromatic pens (fountain pen, ballpoint, and rollerball) in the sleek all-black colorway? Find out below...

The winner, as chosen by the Random number generator: 

Michael Henry
(@detailedsd)


Thanks again for all the support, and thanks for entering the giveaway! Didn't win this time, or missed out on the giveaway? Don't worry, there will of course be more giveaways in the future! Always stay up-to-date on current giveaways and new blog posts by following The Pencilcase Blog on INSTAGRAMTWITTERFACEBOOK or subscribe to the NEWSLETTER!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN

In my first post of 2021 - 2020's year roundup of my favorite products - I highlighted Tibaldi as one of my favorite discoveries that entered the playing field. The pens I've tried from them so far (The Perfecta I reviewed HERE, and the N.60 I reviewed HERE) have demonstrated their ability to create modern, fresh designs that still hold a strong tie with their vintage predecessors.

When I first saw product shots for their latest pen, the Tibaldi Bononia, I was very excited to get my hands on one. Although not so much for their characterful vintage reimagination, but instead for the fantastic material they put front and center with this release. My thanks go out to Tibaldi for sending this pen my way to check out!
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Left the Leonardo Furore, right the Tibaldi Bononia
The Bononia is, once again, based on a pen from one of Tibaldi's previous lifetimes, and resemblance with the original Bononia from the '90s is indeed striking. While the Bononia (which is Latin for Bologna) follows a vintage design language - especially with the triple decorative cap bands - it doesn't quite have the same distinct, and old-school looks that set the Perfecta or N.60 apart. The streamlined torpedo shape of the Bononia isn't too uncommon to see from other brands (notably, its closest competitor, the Leonardo Furore!), but that doesn't make it any less of a good-looking pen of course. With fairly little decoration, the trim on the cap edge and the tie-shaped clip are the only elements that take your eye away from the main focus of this pen: the material!
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Tibaldi chose two 'spaghetti resin' colorways that I hadn't seen before, and they're just absolutely stunning. This Martini Olive green is probably my absolute favorite of the spaghetti resins I've seen so far, even topping the - also stunning - Hawaii resins. The material is dark and subtle for the most part, with slices of bright, pearlescent green and white and some almost brown-ish hues. I'd even dare to say that the stark contrast, especially with the black acrylic layers in between the strips of green, actually comes very close to Arco celluloid. 

On the other hand, the red Seashell Mist (the name really doesn't match the material IMHO) is vibrant and bright, with an almost candy-like appearance! There's also a simple black resin version - which does align well with Tibaldi's business-chic style - but I wouldn't say it's the color I'd choose here (and that's coming from someone who does tend to more subtle color palettes!). 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The Tibaldi branding is engraved in a large, modern font above the cap bands. The engravings don't really stand out or distract from the overall clean looks of the pen.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The tie-shaped clip that we already saw on the N.60, makes a return on the Bononia. While I quite enjoy the design of the clip, functionality isn't its strong suit - as was the case on the N.60. It just sits too close against the cap to actually slide something underneath, instead, the tip of the clip will just catch on whatever fabric you'll try to attach it to (unless, perhaps, the fabric is very thin). If they made the clip a bit less low-profile, that would probably make a world of difference in terms of usability.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Edison Collier, Montblanc 149, Leonardo Furore, Tibaldi Bononia, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
Just like the Tibaldi N.60, the Bononia has all the elements to make a comfortable writer. It's a large pen on the outside. With its 14.6 cm/ 5.75" (capped), it sticks out above the Leonardo Furore and Montblanc 149 by just a few mm. While comfortable in size for my hand, the uncapped Bononia is surprisingly not quite as large as the closed dimensions might suggest, at a fairly average 12.9 cm/ 5.06". 

The design of the Bononia allows for a section that transitions almost seamlessly into the barrel, with only the threads in the way of your grip. The edge of the threads is slightly noticeable, but the threads themselves are shallow and disappear in your grip. The section itself is short but has a comfortable shape and diameter. It tapers down subtly from a generous 12.3 mm to 11.5 mm, before flaring out slightly. The Bononia is a fairly lightweight pen, just 24g in total, due to the all-acrylic construction. The metal threads of the section don't add any perceptible weight but do shift the balance slightly towards the front. The cap posts fairly well and transforms it into a large but not particularly unwieldy pen.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Build quality has been excellent on all Tibaldi pens I've tried so far, and the Bononia is no different. The entire pen feels solid and robust, fit and finish are top-notch, the cap lip is nicely rounded off, threads are smooth, etc. In this price range, there are competitors that come with more intriguing filling systems, but frankly, I have very little against the practicality of a simple cartridge/converter-filled pen like this. 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The first two Tibaldi's I tried, were both quite capable writers, so that set the bar rather high. This time, I went for the BB nib (steel) on the Bononia, since that's a size you don't often come across as a stock offering. While the ebonite feed is once again a perfectly capable piece of the puzzle, the nib itself unfortunately didn't blow me away. The tines needed some realignment, as it wrote rather scratchy out of the box. Alignment issues aside, I was most disappointed by the line width, which isn't noticeably wider than any regular western broad nib. 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
I continue to appreciate what Tibaldi is doing, faithfully reincarnating pens from their rich company history. Even though the Bononia is perhaps a bit less distinctive or recognizable (compared to the Tibaldis I previously tested) it easily manages to captivate with two stunning material options, and an overall sleek and comfortable design with a vintage flair. Tibaldi has proven by now that they know how to present a very well made and smart-looking pen, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the nib on this particular pen didn't manage to live up to the expectation. 

At 195€ (at our site sponsor Casa Della Stilografica), the Bononia hovers around the same price as the Tibaldi Perfecta and N.60, and comparable offerings from other Italian brands like Leonardo or Maiora.

Note: This product was provided by Tibaldi, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

REVIEW: GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER

REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
I first got in touch with the Turkish brand Galen leather back in 2016 as I reviewed their A5 notebook cover (reviewed HERE). In the years that followed, Galen went from being more or less the 'new kid on the block' in 2016, to one of the most well-known leather goods brands of our community, today. You'd be hard-pressed to NOT have heard of them by now. Their excellent social media activity certainly must have a play in that success, but most of all they really have a knack for bringing unique products to the market, and at reasonable prices. 

The Galen Leather product I was most interested in trying out, is a product that certainly fits the bill as being very unique, and yet it hasn't popped up on social media and in reviews at all it seems. Perhaps it's being overshadowed by the success of Galen's own Writers Medic Bags, or Zip Portfolios, two products that are very hip and trendy on the 'Gram (for good reason, they look stunning!). But let's change that, and shine some light on the Galen Zippered 10-pen case and A5 notebook holder... Not the kind of product name that rolls of the tongue, so let's call it the '10-pen+notebook case' from now on. 

Before we dive in, my thanks go out to Yunus and the Galen team, for sending over this product for review.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
So, where to start: the Galen 10-pen+notebook case is a folio-style zippered case that serves a dual purpose (despite being categorized as a normal 'pen case' on the Galen website): on the left you'll find pen loops (single, wide elastics, like on all Galen pen cases) with room for ten pens. On the right, there's room for an A5-sized notebook. The two sides are separated by a thin but very soft microfiber divider, so the pens are well-protected.

My interest was piqued for an - admittedly - very specific use case, but one that I think suits this product perfectly. Maybe it's the social distancing that makes me long for pen shows and meets more than ever, but those are the occasions I dream of, where I'd see myself packing a pen case+notebook combo like this. It's a compact - well, relatively compact - all-in-one solution if you want to bring some pens to show while also carrying something to write, swab inks, and test new pens in. 
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
The Galen 10-pen+notebook case is marketed as being suitable for an A5 notebook, but the Galen website doesn't mention exactly what type of A5 notebook. A full-fledged, hardcover notebook (like a Leuchtturm) is too much for this case, putting an uncomfortable amount of pressure on the zipper to get it closed. In my testing, I stuck with a thinner cahierGalen's own 128-page Everyday Tomoe River notebook. But you can also attach notepads (the 300-page Everyday Tomoe River pad or an A5 Rhodia pad fits fine). While that's really the thickest notebook/pad I'd recommend to still leave enough room for your pens, even a much thicker 400-page Tomoe River notebook (like Galen's leather-bound notebook) will still fit (though rather snugly).
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
The fact that it needs to make room for the footprint of an A5 notebook, also means the 10-pen/notebook case gladly accommodates quite large pens. This is noteworthy since I find that a lot of other Galen pen cases tend to be a bit more compact. I certainly think it's a welcome side-effect, as I personally tend to collect and use larger pens.

When I say this case comfortably fits ten large pens, I mean ten LARGE pens. I didn't go above and beyond to gather the ten absolute biggest pens in my collection, but I did end up with a good variety of pens, that felt like a realistic and comfortable mix for everyday use. The Montblanc 149, or Leonardo Momento Zero Grande, were some of the largest pens I could comfortably fit in here. With little room to spare, even the extremely long (17cm) Pilot Parallel Pen can fit. Though the risk with pens longer than, say 15cm/ 5.9", is that they could end up touching against the metal zipper.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
Galen 10-pen+notebook case (bottom) and 10-pen zippered case (top)
As I said, the 10-pen+notebook case is relatively small (7.3" x 9.2"/ 18.5 x 23.5 cm), considering how much it can hold, but the form factor obviously isn't as compact as Galen's 10-pen zippered case, which holds five pens on each side. The 10-pen+notebook is the same size as a typical A5 notebook folio, and of course, it is essentially just that. It's not excessively thick, but the zipper does have some slack to accommodate for thicker notebooks and larger pens, so it can bulge out if necessary.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
Build quality and construction are very good, although there are some quirks (some of which have already been improved upon since I received these samples) The 'crazy horse' leather (for the moment only offered in brown or green) is supple and smooth, and the out-of-box patina gives off a rustic look and feel (which only gets better over time). The entire inside of the case is lined with a soft microfiber fabric. Finishing and stitching are excellent for the most part, but there are a few areas where the stitching on the inside of the case is a bit wobbly. Though that's not unexpected on a handmade leather product after all, and it isn't so obvious as to be a dealbreaker for me. Especially for the price you pay, Galen manages to set a pretty high bar.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
Note how the zipper is attached differently between the 10-pen zippered case (left) and the 10-pen+notebook case (right)
One unusual quirk I found is this: the spine of the 10-pen+notebook case is finished differently than some of the other Galen products I received for review. Pictured above is the 10-pen zippered case (the grey one on the left) which has the zipper neatly tucked away into the lining of the case, while on the 10-pen+notebook case, the zipper isn't fully hidden inside the spine (the metal stopper at the end remains visible). You can even see that the zipper barely extends past the corners, making it a bit less eager to lay flat. While the weight of the pens and a notebook will force the case to open flat in most instances, this is still a minor oversight, as their other products clearly show that they DO have better methods to produce zippered cases.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
Another detail that I noticed, is that each of the zippered pen cases Galen sent me, uses a slightly different type of elastic. They've explained on their Instagram page that they changed to elastic bands produced in-house (?), and my shipment of review samples happened to coincide with this switch. The elastic used inside the 10-pen+notebook case is the one they ended up switching to, and it is the right choice in my opinion. It's supple and very soft to the touch, so it won't damage or scuff your pens. Despite being a single row of elastics, these wider bands do a great job keeping most pens securely in place.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
The heavy-duty YKK zipper gives the 10-pen+notebook a rugged EDC look, and is very smooth in use. 
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
The way the 10-pen+notebook is laid out means your notebook obviously won't be able to lay open flat due to the pens underneath. If you write on the backside of the page, you're basically using your pens as a writing surface - Not ideal in terms of ergonomics, but this is a portable solution after all, so some compromise is to be expected. Update: one thing I didn't think about, is how this layout would work for left-handed writers, it might be a bit tricky?
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER
As I said, I think one of Galen's strengths is coming up with clever and innovative leather products, and the 10-pen+notebook case is a perfect example of that. No sane person NEEDS to carry 10 pens at work, during a business meeting, or on vacation. Yet, I have no doubt that there are specific use cases and target demographics for a product like this. If you ever found that regular notebook covers can't hold enough pens, or that carrying a pen case and a notebook is inconvenient, this is it!

The Galen Zippered 10-pen case and A5 notebook holder retails for 73€ /89$, a rather fair price if you ask me (you do have to provide your own notebook, though!). It's difficult to really give a buyer's recommendation for the 10-pen+notebook case, simply because there isn't anything like this on the market to compare it to, and it fills a gap you might not even know existed... But let's be honest, it's these unusual and quirky products that often end up being the most fun!

This product was sent to me by Galen Leather, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW:  GALEN LEATHER ZIPPERED 10 SLOTS PEN CASE & A5 NOTEBOOK HOLDER