Sunday, November 15, 2009

Namiki Falcon & Cross ATX

This summer I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. And my affection for fountain pens was no mystery to my family and friends. Even knowing that, I was surprised by the quality and quantity of pens that I received. So much so that it will take a few posts to describe and review them all. These are the four fountain pens that I received: Cross ATX Basalt Black XF point, Namiki Falcon soft/fine point, Taccia Portugese black & silver medium point and a Laban Mento Tiger Pearl medium point. Two of them are outstanding writers (Namiki & Taccia), one is a very pleasant writer (Laban) and the last is an adequate writer (Cross).

Namiki Falcon.
The Namiki Falcon has a "soft-fine" nib, which is nothing like any other pen that I have used. When you read reviews on blogs and the FPN where people describe the one pen that "they can't live with out", this is one of those most frequently mentioned - and I can see why. The nib is 14kt gold and has a hump or bend in the middle that increases its flexibility. Since a Japanese fine point is more like an American extra-fine point, this flexibility greatly improves the feel of writing with this pen: you receive a very fine line without the feedback or scratchiness of an XF steel nib. In addition, the pen responds well to variations in pressure, so that there is a slight brush effect when you write. Thank you to my dear friend for this marvelous gift!

Cross ATX.
By contrast, the Cross ATX with its steel XF nib is extremely rigid and not all that pleasant to write with. I specifically "requested" this pen because I love the look and design of the ATX series (and it was on sale), especially the way the clip extends from the top of the cap down. It has a simple elegance that hints of Art Deco and is made of brass and chrome with a tactile matte black finish. One of the first fountain pens I ever purchased was the same series with a medium point nib (pictured below), along with a roller ball, ball point, and pencil - all in basalt black.

I bought the XF to complete the set. All of my other Cross ATX pens were made in the USA, but this last one was manufactured in China. This was quite a disappointment - not that I have any disdain for the Chinese but one of the reasons why I liked Cross so much was that it was American made, because so many of the quality pen manufacturers are either European or Japanese. Apparently Cross was aware of this because they used to print "USA" on the pen caps. I still think the ATX series is a great design - comparable to the look of the Lamy Studio, but the writing quality does not measure up. When I want to write in fine and extra fine I will pick up the Namiki Falcon or Lamy Studio instead.


Sheila said...

Van, I had no idea about this habit of yours. I love pens, too, just can't afford them. My husband would say I'm a stationery addict, though.

And our blogs have the same template. Funny.

I just found this via what you wrote on Facebook. How funny the Internet is.


Vanrensalier said...


You can find fountain pens to fit any budget. See my write-up below on the "Pilot Petite". Trust me - I can't afford the $100 pens right now either. There are even a few $5.00 (shipping included) ft pens that you can order on EBay from China.

I am not so knowledgeable about stationary but the quality of paper and ink makes a huge difference when you are using a ft pen - they aren't as forgiving as ball pt and roller ball. Funny about the stationary comment: I just wrote to a printer last night - I'm thinking about designing some stationary to sell. I can't ever find stationary that I really like. So, figure some others feel the same . . . well maybe just men. There's plenty of feminine looking stationary, but men seem to be stuck with plain white or ivory paper. Of course, men probably don't write as much either. Thanks for the comment!

Kim said...

Oh yes - that Falcon has been on my wish list for a while now. I've never actually written with one, but I only once heard anything bad about it; at a pen show someone was sort of talking down about its flexibility. I guess it's not a true flex nib so that's fine.

Vanrensalier said...

Keep it on your wish list: I don't have very many gold-nib pens but of those I have, the Falcon is the most flexible by far.