A beautiful acrylic pocket pen that is a joy to write with
Franklin-Christoph fountain pens get a lot of love in the online stationery community. Unfortunately, their pens are not sold locally, and I have never tried one out in person before. They do look nice and have some interesting design features - including tuned nib options, but they sell at a price point which I wasn’t comfortable investing in sight unseen. I recently saw an opportunity to purchase an affordably priced used Franklin-Christoph pen from a trusted seller on the Pen Addict Slack channel and jumped on it.
My first Franklin-Christoph is a model 45 in the Ghost colour. The 45 is a pocket-sized pen and the shortest that Franklin-Christoph makes. The Ghost colour is a semi-transparent white coloured acrylic and is, ironically, my second white pen purchase in a row. It is an attractive, subtle colour and part of the reason I jumped on this pen.
As I purchased the pen used, I am unable to comment on Franklin-Christoph’s packaging as mine only came in a padded envelope and didn’t have the pen sleeve, which was okay with me.
The Model 45 Fountain Pen
I was surprised when I opened the envelope - the pen was much shorter than I expected and I immediately had concerns of how it would fit in my hand, especially when I uncapped the pen as the body is very short. Luckily the cap posts nicely which extends the pen to a comfortable length. I should know better and do more research before buying an unknown pen, but this opportunity came up while I was at my jobby job and I jumped on it without performing any due diligence. Luckily it all turned out great, but my heart skipped a beat when I opened the package!
Despite the short length, the width of the pen is a relatively typical size. The grip is similar in size to a Kaweco Sport but contours more to fit a variety of finger positions comfortably. There is not a significant step up to the body, which allows for a higher grip without having a hard edge dig into your fingers. Franklin-Christoph accomplishes this with the creative implementation of the cap threads at the end of the grip closest to the nib, rather than the traditional location placing threads at the grip section to body joint. This detail makes this pen very comfortable to hold and write with using a variety of finger grips and hand positions, and I believe allows for a comfortable grip for all sizes of hands.
The body of the pen is a straight cylinder, tapered at the end to match a taper on the cap end. The cap is clip-less which I feel adds to the minimalist, sleek design. The cap threads onto the section in only about 3/4 of a full revolution making it quick to access and posts quite securely on the back of the pen body. The feed is black plastic, and the pen came equipped with silver steel nib - the only metal on this pen.
The Model 45 fits a #5 nib. The pen is too short for a converter though will fit a standard cartridge. But looking at the pen, you can see that Franklin-Christoph designed it for eye-dropper ink filling. With the semi-transparent white body, this was the only way I could go with my pen. I used a syringe to fill the body cavity of my pen with Diamine Prussian Blue - an interesting grey/green/blue shade of ink. The ink looks very pretty as it filled up the body and feed section. I did not use silicone on the body threads, as I hate silicone contamination and like to live dangerously! So far, I have not regretted this decision.
My only concern with eyedropper filling this pen with ink is the material stains very easily. I went to refill my pen after only a week or so of use and found the body was already stained. I didn’t do much more than water flush the pen, as I was refilling with the same colour, but I do caution you to choose your ink colour wisely as it could easily be a permanent addition. A bleach solution may clean more of the stain out, but I didn’t try it yet.
Franklin-Christoph offers a wide selection of nibs on their website - including nibs customized by the famed nibmeister Mike Masuyama. The nibs on the FC website vary in price.
My Model 45 came fitted with a standard Franklin-Christoph steel nib in a fine line width. A disclaimer though: this pen came from another fountain pen user, and I don’t know if any adjustments have been made to the nib. I don’t believe the previous owner modified this nib, but I didn't specifically ask. However, I have heard nothing but good things about Franklin-Christoph nibs in general. This nib is perfect. It lays down a clean, consistent line, while still writing a fine line. I have had no hard starts or skipping. There is a tiny amount of feedback when writing on an ordinary paper (such as Apica), which leads me to conclude that the nib is an untuned stock nib that hasn’t been adjusted by its previous owner. The feedback is acceptable (comparable to a soft pencil) though I am sure it could be reduced with a few minutes tuning with some micromesh, if you prefer a perfectly smooth nib.
This nib is a joy to write with. It is pretty firm with little flex, as expected for a steel nib.
My first Franklin-Christoph fountain pen is excellent, despite being a little smaller than I had anticipated. I like the semi-transparent body, fantastic nib and the innovative design features, such as the cap screwing mechanism, that makes this pen unique.
I had a severe case of FOMO for Franklin-Christoph before I purchased this pen, but couldn’t bring myself to invest in something new and unseen. I am thrilled that I took a chance with this pen. It has been part of my daily carry from the day I first inked it.
If you are sitting on the fence, like I was, I do now recommend Franklin-Christoph fountain pens, even if you buy blind as I did. I am so impressed with this pen that I put my name onto the recent Franklin-Christoph lottery to purchase a larger pen in the equally beautiful Antique Glass finish - without having seen the larger pen either!