Saturday, December 5, 2009

Laban Mento Tiger Pearl

Soon after I started collecting fountain pens, I bid on but lost a beautiful striped Sheaffer Balance Over Size. In fact, I told the sad story here, two years ago. Since then, I have had my eye out for a good pen with a wide girth.

Back in July my mom gave me cash for my birthday, so that I could find my own present - $1 for each year, or $50. Thanks, mom!

As I am sure you know, the $50 range is where you can start to find some nice pens if you are patient and look for sales. Many of the second tier fountain pens can be found for nearly half off, if there is a closeout or a line is being discontinued. So, getting a $100 fountain pen for $50 or $60 is not very difficult. (I still regret not getting another Libelle Ivory Swirl when they were selling for $50 each!)

Case in point, the Swisher Attic had a number of Laban Mento's in all colors and nib sizes this summer for less than $50. Before I could get my order in my first color choice was already gone. Good thing, too. Because it couldn't have been as nice as my second choice: Tiger Pearl. The photos can't do it justice. The depth of color and iridescence is stunning. The Laban Mento is by far the largest fountain pen that I have. It is the size of a large cigar. While it is not a Shaeffer Balance OS, it certainly qualifies as an OS pen.

Before I bought it, I noted two complaints on FPN about the Mento: (1) scratchy nibs, unless you bought the gold nib version, which I didn't; (2) the nib dries out because of holes where the clip mounts.

I had to gamble on the fine point steel nib because the gold nib doubled the price. However, I was not disappointed. I find it to be a very pleasant pen to write with. In fact, it is considerably less scratchy than some other steel fine points that I have. The light weight, wide girth and quality of the nib induce me to use this pen on a very regular basis. On the second point, the critics are right. The clip on the cap is poorly done. The clip is assembled onto the cap by two tabs bent back into the cap through two slits in the cap. This places two holes right at the tip of the nib of the pen and the nib dries out almost as rapidly as if you had no cap at all. However, I live in one of the most arid regions of California, so maybe it would be less of a problem in more humid regions. Even with the bad clip design, it has become one of my favorite pens, and I highly recommend it.

Upcoming reviews: Taccia Portuguese medium nib & Rosetta North Star Sedona fine nib