An affordable flexible gold nib fountain pen
The Platinum 3776 is an affordable fountain pen that should be a staple in the collection of any enthusiast. The pen is classically designed, comes in a variety of colours and trim levels which do including some exotic and more expensive special editions. This fountain pen is equipped with a standard 14k gold nib, which makes it an excellent choice for a next-level pen.
I became aware of a newer nib option that Platinum offers on the 3776 line of pens last year and was interested to try it. This specific nib is a soft-fine 14k gold nib. I was intrigued - but not because my poor handwriting can do justice to the line variation possible from a flexible nib, but because I enjoy a softer writing experience for my handwriting. Line variation would be a bonus. I made a failed purchase of a flexible nibbed pen with a Noodler's Ahab, but that didn't work well at all for me as the steel nib required a lot of pressure to utilize the flex. And I am trying to avoid the deep, dark, rabbit hole of vintage flex pens.
Chartres Blue Platinum 3776 Century
I found the attractive Chartres Blue 3776 Century with the soft-fine nib on Amazon Canada, shipping directly from Japan. The listed price was a significant enough discount from regular Canadian pricing that I gambled on the nib and ordered sight unseen even though I have never tested this nib. Shipping, as expected, was relatively slow, but about a month after placing the order, a pen box showed up in my mailbox.
The Platinum 3776 Century has been around since 1978, and the 3776 moniker is the height of Mount Fuji in meters. Given the conservative styling and height reference, you can easily see the inspiration from Montblanc pens.
The pen is packaged in a traditional clamshell pen case and included one black cartridge but no converter. The lack of converter was disappointing as I had not thought to purchase one separately, but I plugged in the black ink cartridge and went back online to order a converter. When you order the pen, be sure to order both pen and converter at the same time, and consider that the affordable pen price, maybe about $10 higher to be usable with bottled ink. I am sure if I had purchased from a pen store, this would have been less of a problem, but I am not aware of any of my local bricks and mortar stores that carry the Platinum line.
Fountain Pen Appearance
The Chartres Blue is a dark, transparent acrylic material. On a desk, it appears to be a solid blue, but when held up, particularly to a light source, you can see the transparency. With a separate rear cap, it would be hard to eyedropper this pen to get the full benefit from the semi-transparent acrylic, but I think it is pretty anyway. The trim work on my pen is gold, leaving the pen with an elegant and somewhat traditional design. It looks at home next to a Montblanc. The length of the pen closed is 138mm while posted is 154mm The balance is perfect when posted and the lightweight acrylic material helps to keep the weight down so that you can write for a long time. I haven't penned a lot of extended writing sprints with this pen, but it works perfectly for my daily pages in my journal, which I cannot say for other fountain pens in my collection.
14k Gold Nib
The 14K gold soft-fine nib is the best point of this pen (pun intended). But be warned that Platinum nibs tend to be scratchy, and this nib is no exception. There is a lot of tactile feeling provided by this nib. It feels more like a 2H pencil than a buttery smooth fountain pen nib! I haven't found this to be a problem and haven't yet decided to try to smooth the nib with micro-mesh, as I have some concerns with getting the smoothing right for a flexible nib that writes correctly, though scratchy. If this type of nib feedback bothers you, this may not be the right nib for you. In all truth, Platinum may not be the right brand unless you are willing to have the nibs worked on.
As expected with the designation soft-fine, the nib does have some flex to it. Adding a little pressure on the downstroke opens up the tines and allows for thicker lines on the page. I was surprised at how little pressure was needed to open the tines, and I have been a little careful with flexing the nib to avoid springing the tines, as I can have a heavy hand at times.
The nib is approximately a number 6 sized nib, which looks bigger in the pen than I expected. I am used to my similarly-sized and designed Pilot Custom 74 which has a noticeably smaller nib. The nib remains gold coloured to match the trim.
Despite the tactile feedback from the nib, the writing experience is pleasant from the Platinum 3776. I find that in daily use, I get little use from the flexible nib; I tend to write faster and less deliberately than I think would be needed to bring in the best use of the line variation. My handwriting is more practical and less decorative (read my writing is crappy), and this may have something to do with the final results.
I do recommend this pen and nib combination for someone looking to experiment with modern flex nib pens, even though modern pens are significantly less flexible than vintage wet noodle nibs. I only paid around $100 Canadian for the pen, but that was grey market. This soft-fine nib is similar to the Pilot Falcon, which is another recommended modern more flexible nib, but the Platinum is almost half the price. The Platinum 3776 is available in many body colours at varying price points. The basic black, Chartres blue and Bourgogne red/brown are the most affordable. More beautiful colours like the Nice Lilas, a transparent pink, or Nice Lavende, a transparent purple, and several ebonite versions quickly increase the price. Given the feedback from the nib, I am not sure I would recommend the higher priced variants without trying it out and making sure it is for you.
I will likely work on the nib or send to a nib meister to smooth out. It is a pretty pen, and the soft-fine nib is fun, but I do prefer a smoother writing experience, such my Lamy 2000.