Sunday, March 17, 2019

REVIEW: ENSSO XS POCKET FOUNTAIN PEN

Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
As you might well know, I've become a huge fan of metal fountain pens over the years, and the Ensso Piuma (review HERE) is easily one of my personal favorites. This relatively young US-based brand launched a new fountain pen model about a year ago on Kickstarter: the pocket-sized Ensso XS. Even though I'm usually not that into pocket pens, I didn't hesitate long before placing my order.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
top to bottom: brass, black annodized aluminium, 'raw' aluminium
The Kickstarter took quite a while from launch to delivery: a recurring theme with fountain pen projects (more often than not due to nib manufacturers not being able to deliver in time) that you won't hear me complain about. I kind of forgot about it, until a package arrived at my doorstep a few months ago. Along with the brass model I backed, Ensso also sent me the two aluminium finishes and add-on clips to review, so big thanks to them for making it possible to compare the different finishes!

The XS is Ensso's first throw at a pocket pen, and they really didn't mess around - this thing is TINY! Roughly equivalent to a Kaweco Lilliput, the XS is about as pocketable as it gets, but it has a few distinct characteristics that actually make it a better pen than the Lilliput - with respect to being an EDC type pocket pen, that is.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
The XS is a compact and thin flattop pen with dodecagonal profile on both cap and barrel. The design is simple and minimalist as I'd expect from Ensso, but it's immediately noticeable that this is a very well-made product. The design is very angular and facetted, but all parts are cleanly machined and polished so it feels smooth and well-built in the hand. Branding is very subtle at the back of the barrel. The overall quality is very much in line with my previous experience with their products.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
Of course, the main use for pocket pens is taking quick notes and scribbles, and that's where the well-thought out design of the XS shines. The XS has a snap cap that is held in place by rubber o-rings on the section and barrel. The inside of the cap has a machined groove that securely snaps over the rubber o-rings, which makes for a quick and easy uncapping and posting. The O-rings actually do a very decent job keeping the cap in place than I first expected. It's not as secure as a threaded cap, but it sure is a lot faster and less fiddly to use, especially on the go. There has been some talk about the O-rings wearing down faster on the brass version, and I had the same experience. Apparently it has to do with tighter machining tolerances on this metal. They do include a spare O-ring with the pen though, and they are supposedly available from any old hardware store, should you need a replacement.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
The facetted design also serves its purpose, preventing the pen from rolling all over the place. You can buy an add-on clip separately for 5$ if you want the additional portability, but as always I'm somewhat skeptical about removable clips, and I don't find it adds much value on this particular pen - since you'll mostly want to carry it in your (pants) pocket anyway.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
L to R: Inventery Pocket fountain pen, Milim fountain pen, Kaweco Lilliput brass, Ensso XS, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
At a measly 9,5 cm (3,74") capped, it's effectively the shortest fountain pen I can possibly think of. Posting the cap, it transforms into a very decently sized writer, at 13 cm (5,12"). It's not a very thick pen at 1 cm (0,4"), and it's extremely light at just 10 g for the aluminium version. I personally prefer the brass XS, which is considerably heavier at 30 g total. The section isn't huge, but it's certainly long enough to grip comfortably. The O-ring on the section is hardly noticeable, and the step is small and not sharp in the hand. I feel like Ensso  did a remarkably good job combining comfort and a small pocketable form factor. While obviously this would never be the first choice in terms of comfort, it's certainly usable even for longer writing sessions.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
The nib is a stock Bock #5 steel nib, and due to the size of the pen you'll have to stick to standard international cartridges. Bock's smaller nibs aren't my absolute favorite, but they usually work just fine. The writing experience is nothing out of the ordinary, but the nib is certainly decent. I was most impressed by the 1.1 mm stub nib, which is surprisingly pleasant to use. It's smooth, offers crisp line variation, and the flow keeps up perfectly.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen
The Ensso XS is a very decent all-around pen despite its impressively small footprint. It's well-built and sturdy, and the O-ring system for capping and posting is a major practical benefit over threaded caps that you'll usually find on pocket pens. If you often find yourself needing a small pen to jot down notes on the fly, the Ensso XS is definitely worth a look. At 59$ for the aluminium and 69$ for the brass version, it's in line with pricing of other pocket fountain pens like the Kaweco Lilliput. 

Some of these products were sent to me by Ensso 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 affilate links.
Review: Ensso XS pocket fountain pen

Sunday, March 10, 2019

PEN SALE UPDATE!


The pen sale continues! I've lowered prices across the board, and added a couple interesting new items. Go take a look HERE!

If you're interested, or have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

REVIEW: FRANKLIN-CHRISTOPH PENVELOPE SIX PEN CASE

Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
Franklin-Christoph is one of those Jack-of-all-trades brand that has more than just pens up for offer. From specialty nibs and custom nib grinds, to inks, notebooks and all kinds of leather goods. Of course they are best known for their great fountain pens, but the product I was actually most eager to try from them is this one: the Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six! My thanks to FC for sending one of their latest itterations of their custom pen case over for review.
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
One thing I admire about Franklin-Christoph is how consistent their designs are. Their aesthetic is simple, yet unmistakable: straight lines, minimal decoration, no fuzz. A distinct design element in all their products are the chamfered edges: it makes up their four-diamond logo, it comes back in almost every one of their pens and accessories, including the Penvelope cases. 

As I said, Franklin-Christoph generally likes to keep their designs simple, and the Penvelope is no different. If it weren't for the chamfered edges, this case would just be a big fat leather square. Look at it from a distance though, and those chamfered edges fit right into the design you'll see an envelope to carry your pens - a Penvelope - clever! The entire case keeps its clean and minimal appearance by being unadorned, except for a hot-stamped FC logo on the back.
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
New in this instance of the Penvelope cases - which have been around for years now and have become a staple in the pen community - is this 'Boot Brown' leather finish. The matte, distressed leather offers a bit more character than the Fxcell leather they normally use, and ages rapidly with use. It starts out as a fairly pristine, matte leather, but with use it becomes a bit shinier and picks up scuffs and scratches. 
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
Fit and finish is excellent, as I would expect from a premium pen case. The leather is folded all the way around the edges for a neat look, and all the edges are stitched through with beige thread. The front flap of the penvelope is held shut by a magnet that is neatly concealed. The interior is lined with black ribbed fabric that feels very stiff to the touch. The pen slots itself are also made from this fabric. I suppose the entire case - including the pen slots - are lined with a stiff cardboard or plastic material, making the entire construction is very rigid. For the outside 'shell', that rigidity offers protection to your pens, but the pen slots are perhaps a bit too stiff for my liking. Despite being rigid, the fabric of the slots doesn't scuff or damage your pens.
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
The only part of the case that isn't rigid are the sides, which are made up of a pliable layer of leather. This allows the entire case to stretch a bit, for example when you put a small notebook, cleaning cloth or additional pens in between the front of the case and the pen slots (as you can see in the photo above, I like to keep a cleaning cloth handy in there!). 
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
As the name suggests, the Penvelope 6 case can hold 6 pens (there's also a 'Lucky thirteen' version that holds - you guessed it - 13 pens!). It's an obvious comparison to my staple pen case: the Visconti Dreamtouch 6 pen case (reviewed HERE). Putting them side by side brings up an obvious difference: Measuring 6" x 7" x 1.25", it's a substantial chunk of leather compared to the Visconti, even though both carry the exact same amount of pens. 
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
The FC website claims pens up to 17.8 cm (7") tall, and 1.9 cm (0.75") in diameter. While it certainly does hold very tall pens, I wouldn't suggest it for really wide and oversized pens. In practice, most pens will be just fine, even a Montblanc 149, Pelikan Souverän M1000 or equivalent fit perfectly. Anything wider (Like the Delta Dolcevita Oversize) would be a bit too snug for the stiff pen slots. For really tall or really short pens, the Penvelope case actually has the upper hand over the Visconti case. Especially small pens can be clipped to the slots to keep them aligned nice and tidy, whereas in the Visconti case they fall all the way to the bottom. 
Review: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case
Because the front flap can be opened flat or even fold all the way back, you can display your pens visible and easy to reach on your desk. This is something I really appreciate, and its an area where the Visconti Dreamtouch cases lack because their lid can't stay open by itself. 

For 65$, the Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six offers excellent value for the money. It's a sturdy and well-built case that does a great job protecting your pens. On top of that, it's quite versatile due to the large pen slots and extra space for small items. The design is quite bulky to carry around, and perhaps not as elegant as the ones Visconti makes. But the fact that it's less than half the price of the Dreamtouch case, makes for a very compelling argument in favor of the Penvelope.

This product was provided by Franklin-Christoph, 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: Franklin-Christoph Penvelope six pen case