The Eye of Sauron acrylic pen
The Birmingham Pens Model A is a hand-made, acrylic, cartridge/converter fountain pen that comes with a wide choice of steel nibs. The “Eye of Sauron” version of this pen is a beautiful shimmering red colour, and I chose the Nemosine 0.6mm stub nib. This was an excellent choice as the finished pen is both beautiful and a fantastic writing pen.
Birmingham Pens is an online stationery retailer from the Pittsburg area. I read that they used to have a brick and mortar store, but they now focus on offering an exciting selection of artisanal products to the stationery community. I have heard good things about their self-branded ink, and I subscribed to their email list some time ago. Birmingham Pens inks include a wide selection of colours inspired by Pittsburg history. The colours look good online, and the prices are affordable - though shipping costs to Canada on their recent ink subscription service prevented me from participating.
Earlier this year, Birmingham announced the release of hand-made acrylic fountain pens. These look good and have been on my radar. I almost purchased the first pen they released (which reminds me of the Nockco Unicorn Barf pen case), but the initial release was already sold out by the time I got home from my jobby job. A blog post on Birmingham Pens website suggests that they refined some small details of the Model A pen early in the production run and the pen I received was of the new design.
I was excited by a recent email from Birmingham Pens showing their latest Model A fountain pen. I liked the fiery red colour and the name - the Eye of Sauron, as I am a long time Tolkien fan and enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies (but I won't get into my thoughts on the Hobbit movies here!). I ordered the pen as soon as I got home and added some ink and a hand-made Tomoe River notebooks to justify the shipping cost - which was still very reasonable for a large international shipment. Shipping was fast - Birmingham emailed me a shipping notification on Friday, a couple of days after placing the order, and the package was in my mailbox the following Wednesday. Impressive! Luckily, I avoided any Imperial Entanglements from Canada Customs and the unwanted and expensive tax bill that usually comes with it!
The Eye of Sauron
The Birmingham Model A fountain pen is a cigar-shaped, acrylic, hand-turned and polished fountain pen. The cigar shape is tapered towards the ends of the body and cap, though the slope is very mild. At first glance, I thought the pen was straight cut. The ends of the pen are a rounded cigar shape, and the section is the same acrylic material as the body - a nice touch.
I love the red coloured body and think it is beautiful. The acrylic displays some transparency, some swirls, and some shimmer in an attractive design that makes the material appear different from every angle. I don’t know if Birmingham makes the acrylic rods or if they purchase them, but this material is both beautiful and intricate.
The cap is clipless, giving the pen a very sleek look. You can post the cap, but I find the balance of the pen better if left unposted. Plus, I feel that there is less risk of scratching the body of the pen from the threads on the cap if I don’t post the cap. The pen has proper proportions - it is 5-1/8” long uncapped (and 5-1/2” capped). While that may not sound very long, this pen fits nicely in my larger hands and feels right when writing.
Nib and Feed
The Model A is a cartridge/converter system. It comes with a standard converter with black trim that you can see through the semi-translucent pen body. This detail is the only less than positive comment I can make about the pen! I did a simple air test and found the body to be air-tight so that this pen may be a good candidate for eye-dropper conversion; however, as the body threads are just an average length, I think you would need to silicone grease the threads to avoid leaks. I did not leak test an eyedropper fill though, so I would advise you to proceed cautiously, using water first to identify any leaks.
I appreciated the full range of nibs that Birmingham Pens offers on their pens. I chose a 0.6mm stub nib from Nemosine. Birmingham choices include Nemosine and Knox nibs from extra fine (EF) to a 1.9mm stub, with every option in between, including a rare lefty fine. I have not seen Nemosine nibs offered on many pens, and this wide choice of nibs was yet another reason I was excited to try this pen.
The nib, with a black feed, was set up well out of the box. The nib wrote perfectly without any adjustment. I find it slightly wet, but perfect for the narrow stub nib. The nib is a #6 size, which works well with the dimensions of the pen.
Fred Rogers Cardigan Red Ink
Birmingham Pens includes a free bottle of their ink with each pen purchase (which is a nice touch), and they paired the Eye of Sauron pen with a bright red ink with the delicious name of Fred Rogers Cardigan Red.
I don’t use a lot of red ink in my daily writing, perhaps because of childhood trauma in seeing so much red ink on my homework assignments, but I couldn’t resist filling up the Eye of Sauron pen (conjuring images of poor hobbits hiding from the evil forces of Mordor) with the wholesome and safe Mister Rogers ink. The combination is a little wrong and yet wholly delightful. Nick must have a great sense of humour to think of this combination of products.
I was delighted with the ink. Besides being a lovely, bright shade of red that matches the colour of the pen, it performed nicely. It was wet enough to write perfectly in the 0.6mm stub nib, yet still dried quickly, and I had no noticeable smudging. The ink behaved well. I did get a single large droplet of ink dumped on the page immediately after filling up, but I put this down to me not wiping the nib properly after filling. I will be more careful next time. This was my first time using Birmingham Pen inks, and I was thrilled with them.
I love this pen. The colour, size and style are right on point for me. And I feel that the pen price of USD $99 is extremely fair for a hand-made pen of this high-quality. It is much more cost effective than other custom pen manufacturers, and I would think only go up as demand increases.
The choice of nibs is impressive and appreciated, and the colour choices of the limited-run pens are attractive and appealing to a wide variety of acrylic pen lovers. The customer service was seamless and well done. All in all, this was one of the nicest vendor-based pen purchases I have made in a while. I recommend that you check out the different materials on Birmingham’s website and give one a try. They have nibs for everyone!