It feels like a few years back, custom made pens were all the rage and all the pen blogs were talking about everyone’s bespoke pens made by a different penmaker. I had purchased a few bespoke pens by this stage from Edison pen company and Newton Pens, but they were all relatively modern styles and I was aching for something more traditional to change it up a bit.
I had read about Scriptorium pens, run by Renee Meeks and had been following them on Instagram for a while, but it wasn’t until I saw her work replicating a Conway Stewart Wellington that I found a model I really liked. She also had a stock of the Conway Stewart acrylics available for use and one day, after having my wisdom teeth taken out, I decided that buying pens was the way to work through the pain.
I ordered two pens at the time – one in Conway Stewart Classic Red and one in the Conway Stewart Azure (a beautiful blue, purple, green acrylic seen here). The red, reviewed here, is based off the Conway Stewart Wellington pen, but unlike the Wellington I asked for it to be kept straight (the original has slight curves to the pen and body, like a Coca Cola bottle).
The ordering process was reasonably simple and straight forward, Renee has a spreadsheet on her site that details the cost of every addition or change to her designs. After I made the order and paid for it, it was a long wait. I made the order in January and was notified that the pens were in production in October of that year. It took slightly longer than usual as Renee had informed me that the cap had snapped during lathing and so she had to purchase a replacement blank and remake the pen.
As a result of shipping times, it was about November of the same year before I had the pen in my hand (shipping takes about 4-6 weeks from the US to Australia as standard). The pens were packed in some plastic shipping tubes in a little velour pouch, so the packaging wasn’t anything spectacular, but I’m not at all bothered by pen boxes, so long as the pen is fine.
When I received this pen, I was a little disappointed. The finial holding the pen clip to the cap was wobbly and the brass finishes were pitted and not polished. I was initially impressed with Renee’s work because the polishing on her pens looked to be the best in the custom pen market at the time. The finial wobbling was easily fixed with a bit of rubber band to act as an o-ring, but it did change the first impression of the pen. The step down from cap to the pen body (by that I mean the circumference between the two) is quite large so its feels a little homemade. As a result, the cap is quite heavy and the pen can’t really be used posted. While I don’t post my pens, the look of it is a bit off. I asked Renee about this at the time and she mentioned that to go any thinner would compromise the structure of the cap, which I can understand. Although, I noticed that the Edison Beaumont, Bexley Americana and Franklin Christoph Marietta all seem to have a gentler step down. Maybe the Conway Stewart acrylic makes it more difficult?
The pen writes well and is well balanced in the hand (without posting). Scriptorium pens uses a standard Jowo nib which Renee tunes before shipping. The pen also uses a standard cartridge converter and can be converted to an eyedropper.
Overall, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the outcome. Given that the pen costs in the same ballpark as a Pelikan M800, I don't love it as much as I do my Pelikan. You also get a little less, given that the Pelikan would have an 18K nib and a piston filling mechanism, while this is a steel nib, with cartridge converter (you can upgrade the nib to gold, but that would increase the price once again). The process is fun and its nice being able to choose exactly what you want, but the downside is that there is variation between creations and its difficult to know exactly what the pen will look like after its made.
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