We very much live in an instant, throwaway age… In fact after the first decade or so of the 21st century it can be realistically argued that more can be learned about us from what we throw away than from what we prize. So what about throwaway pens? We’re all used to them, the mind numbing boredom associated with the contents of many of our workplace stationery cupboards. Many of us have embraced the fountain pen precisely because we wish to shun this decidedly wide road for more discerning, narrower way.
But then we are presented with certain pens that seek to bridge the gap, throwaway fountain pens no less. I have to be honest and say I was predisposed to scorn this genre and bought a Pilot Vpen (aka Varsity in the US and other places) ready to proudly consign it forever to the waste bin. Or so I thought before I began to review it. Note: I bought the Vpen with ‘erasable’ ink, I havent tested this claim as yet.
Description: To my eye this pen won’t win any beauty competitions but I guess it’s not really meant to. It is the epitome of a plastic pen. The white plastic cap and barrel are contrasted with the coloured base cap and finial. The section forms a sealed whole with the barrel with the ink already loaded straight into the barrel, complete with a viewer window so you can see how much ink remains, which is handy. The pen is boldly labelled and has the look of many other throwaway pens. The design isn’t ugly, indeed there is the option of a nice silver coloured barrel but it doesn’t shout classy fountain pen either
On Test: I have picked up many a fountain pen and found the experience a let down. Nail hard and scratchy was all I expected of this pen. The truth is that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The medium, intentionally rounded, nib was smooth, remarkably smooth and the ink flowed across the page like newborn stream trying to find its way to the sea. The nib doesn’t allow any line variation, but again that’s not its purpose. It is designed to be what it is, a smooth introduction.
The pen felt somewhat insubstantial to be sure, lacking any real sense of gravity but it was usable. I preferred the pen unposted as the cap made the balance shift slightly to the rear. The lightness of the pen meant it had the tendency to run away with itself a little and the temptation to write fast is difficult to temper with such a pen. But once adjusted to the sensibility of the pen everything was well. In fact I found the Vpen coming out of my pocket more than I envisaged especially to pass around for others to use and comment on.
Summary: First the good. A surprisingly pleasurable writing experience was had throughout the review. This wasn’t expected but it was welcomed as at the end of the day for me its all about the writing experience. The fact that you can have as much pleasure writing with the Vpen as you can with many a much more expensive pen shows the scope and variety of this hobby to the full.
Now the bad, this is truly fountain pen lite. The avowed move away from “messy cartridges and blotting paper” may be a way to encourage some into using other more permanent instances but the Vpen will always be a way station on the journey to somewhere else. If you’re in the market for one of these, you might be wanting something to introduce a young person to fountain pens and not even want to stretch to something like a Kakuno with the accompanying cartridges, then I’m happy to say that I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was, but I’ll warrant that it won’t be long before you’ll move on to something else. Though in a sense the Vpen for me has already found a niche in my EDC. I’ll be happy to lend this one out, confident that it will surprise the borrower sufficiently.
(BTW happy new year!)
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