Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rosetta North Star - Sedona

So far my reviews have been very arbitrary and undisciplined, so I have decided to adopt the format used on the Fountain Pen Network - a format that I wish the marketers of fountain pens would adopt. It is very frustrating to try and find some basic data about a fountain pen that you are considering ordering when even the web site selling it does not post that information.

1. First Impressions: I admit to being a little disappointed at first. This is because the way the photo of the pen appeared online, it seemed to have this amber iridescence to it which it does not have so much in real life. Once I got over that, I think it is a handsome pen - nothing to ooh and awe over but nice. I purchased this pen for $40 as a pen that could go anywhere: One that if it got dropped or lost, it wouldn't devastate me. I have a toddler, who occasionally pulls my pen out of my pocket. So, for the price and the purpose, I am pleased. My numerical ratings throughout will based with that goal in mind and compared to other steel-nibbed pens (not gold). [5/10]

2. Appearance and Design: The barrel has a warm reddish amber appearance that compliments the large gold plated Schmidt nib. I am guessing the cap was designed to be a universal cap for a number of different pen colors because the chrome and black don't look like a planned match for this barrel color to me. But I am pleased with that because I prefer chrome details over gold, even if it means bad color co-ordination. For those of you who want the nib and clip color to match, or want a consistent warm theme from top to bottom, this is not the pen for you. One small detail that I really like is the Northstar compass logo on the top of the cap. The clip on the cap is well designed. It has just the right amount of tension to go easily into your shirt pocket securely without shredding the fabric. The clip is solid - not fold over metal, so ther are no sharp edges and the clip "hinge" is flexible. Nicely done for an inexpensive pen. The cap is threaded and seats firmly and stays put. This is a difficult rating because I wouldn't give it much for appearance but for design function, it is well done. The pragmatist wins: [7/10]

3. Weight and Dimensions: The cap is heavy with a lot of chrome. The pen is very top-heavy and uncomfortable with the cap posted. However, the barrel is long enough to write with very comfortably without the cap. Length: [capped] 5 7/16"; [w/o cap] 5"; [posted] 6 3/8" Diameter: [below cap] 9/16" and tapers down to 3/8" at the tip. Weight: Sorry I can't list the actual weight but apart from the heavy cap, the North Star is comparable to any average resin/celluloid pen: a comfortable medium-light weight. The barrel is longer than most and has a fairly thick wall - that combined with a converter gives it a solid feel - not flimsy at all. The only pen that I prefer writing with the cap posted is a Lamy Studio, but that is because the cap snaps on securely, never gets in my way and the balance is perfect. Apart from that I avoid writing with caps posted. So, I am very pleased with the weight and dimension of the Rosetta North Star (sans cap). [8/10]

4. Nib Performance: The nib is a gold plated Schmidt iridium fine point and I am very pleased with the one I have now. The first one was terrible. (More on that below.) It is a very wet writer, and is always ready to write without skipping at a moments notice. It never dries out. (In fact it is one of the few pens that I have that writes well Noodler's Burma Road Brown, which dries out quickly in most of my other pens.) It writes smoothly with a light hand. It has some flex to it with pressure but then you get considerable feedback. For overall readiness to write, I tend to pick it up when I am in a hurry and don't have time to coax one of my other nicer pens. For convenience and reliability it fullfills my goal (listed under #1) perfectly. So, for steel nibs in this price range: [8/10]

5. Filling System: One of the features of this pen that I love is the fact that the barrel is long enough to easily accept the long Waterman cartridges, which is great when you are travelling and you don't want to mess with bottles. The pen comes with a nice universal full size converter that seats firmly into the nib's receiver. The only way to get more ink into this pen would be to convert it into a dropper fill. Considering the size and length of the barrel, that's not a bad idea. (If you were interested in doing that, the barrel is somewhat transluscent so the ink color would effect the amber coloring.) [10/10]

6. Cost and Value: I purchased this on eBay from Streetfair for $40.00. I don't think you are going to find very many pens in this price range that function as well as this one does. The only exception would be Levenger's Truewriters when they are on sale. [9/10]

7. Customer Service: The first nib on the pen that I got was terrible, and scratched horribly. I hated writing with it. I emailed Street Fair and they sent me a replacement nib right away, no charge and no questions asked, with a postage paid envelope to send back the faulty nib. Customer service doesn't get any better than that: [10/10]

8. Conclusion - Final Score: I am surprised; I ended up rating the North Star pen higher by writing out all of the individual features and benefits, then I would have had I just given a gut rating based on my feelings about the pen. For a reliable pen that you don't have to worry about his is a great choice - not quite as nice as a Levenger Truewriter but still a good buy. [8/10]

Note: Detail photos are from Street Fair


Anonymous said...

What a thorough review! BTW True Writers have chrome as well even on the retired yellow and brown models. It's a very clean look that has really caught on in the last few years.

Vanrensalier said...

Thanks! That is very true. I have a Kyoto TW with chrome and I think it looks great. On the other hand, Levenger's "Golden Tortoise" with gold band and clip doesn't appeal to me at all. And, I like the Tiger Pearl Laban Mento with silver clip and band.

Anonymous said...

That's funny. I have a Kyoto on my desk but sold my Golden Tortoise. The chrome looks so much more appealing to me. The gold color looks almost tacky in comparison.