An Unlikely Love, the Kaweco Liliput Brass Wave

My housemate likes to give me a hard time over how much I love small versions of things. I've purchased produce I don't think I'll like just because of it's size, pins and miniature models of stuff just because it's small. Hell, I have a small collection of sake cups, and I have had sake maybe five times IN MY LIFE.  It makes sense that I’d like pocket pens, then, right? They're fountain pens, but small!

Except after buying four or five pocket-sized fountain pens I finally admitted that even if the pocket pens were smaller and more portable, I just didn’t enjoy using them. I’ve reviewed a pocket pen before, and even gave it a glowing review. I admittedly rushed into the review, but I just loved how it wrote, and the form and was so excited to talk about it. Now it’s been over a year and after my initial love I realized I just didn’t want to write with the Passaporto. I always missed the feel of a full pen, and almost all pocket pens are uncomfortable if you don’t post them. Given that my normal habit isn’t to post pens, I routinely would forget and try to start writing unposted, leading to cramping. Which isn’t really the fault of pocket pens! It's just a mismatch of how I use my pens and how pocket pens demand to be used.

All of that goes to why I've held off on this pen for over a year. I saw it here and there, and Brad's review (and Mikes review and other Mike's review) almost tipped me over to ordering it, but I kept waiting, and waffling, and convincing myself that it makes no sense to drop ~90 dollars on a pen I probably wouldn't like. Yet my desire just wouldn't go away. Something about the brass, and the wave pattern’s vintage feel kept it on my radar. So when it popped up on Massdrop, I went ahead and bit the bullet. I got a good, not great, deal on this pen, which is pretty normal for Massdrop. A month or two later my package arrived, a Kaweco Liliput Brass Wave with a steel EF nib.

Hoo boy have I been taken with this thing. I’ve had it for over a month now and from the moment it arrived until today as I wrap up this draft this pen has been inked and on my desk or on my person. I flat out love this pen.

It’s definitely small, even smaller than i had anticipated, honestly. Under 4” capped, and only a whopping 5” when posted. But it’s got *heft*. The brass means that even if it’s short, it weighs almost 25 grams when inked. That weight makes it feel solid in my hand, nixing the complaint above about missing a fuller pen. For comparison, the weight of a Lamy Safari unlinked is usually listed around 17 grams on most websites. And when posted, the length starts to feel more normal as well. I’ve definitely written with it not posted, but not for longer than a sentence or two, and it’s hard to recommend that as a normal practice.

Even my habit of not posting seems to not be a problem with the Lilliput, I think because it’s so small my normal habit of setting the cap aside is short-circuited. And posting this thing feels great. For a person who doesn’t post his pens, I’ve come to really enjoy the feeling of screwing the top onto the back. The threads feel solid, and I don’t mind the two turns it takes in part because of smoothly it all fits together. And on top of all of that, the balance feels perfect to my hand. Front-heavy in a way that feels right and again, makes it feel like a much more substantial pen.

I got it with an EF steel nib, which is solid as you’d expect from Kaweco. I’m thinking of getting a cheap Sport with a broader nib to have some more options, but for now the EF is a nice fit. I do tend to like really thin lines, and Kaweco isn’t known for that, but as a general purpose writer it’s working really well.

For the first few weeks I carried this with me in my Nock Co Sinclair tk, so it was with me at work, out for drinks with friends, out writing, and at home. I ran into one spate of weirdness while carrying it around, where the nib creep teetered over the edge into leakage, but it happened only once in three weeks of carrying it around. I carry my Sinclair with me everywhere at work (Coworker: Do you have a little bag for your notebook and pens, BW? Me: Why yes, yes I do, and it is cool.) and it gets swung around quite a bit so I’m chalking up that one experience to a new pen perhaps, or some violent encounter/drop I’ve forgotten. Otherwise it’s performed very well as a portable pen. Even so, the last few weeks it’s lived on my desk. I’ve missed it at work, but the combination of it and Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses has become a favorite for my twice daily Hobinichi habit (or my attempted twice daily Hobinichi habit). I also noticed I’d written through a lot of the cartridge and didn’t want to run out while at work, so it will stay at home until I’ve refilled and then go back to the office with me.

All of that praise said, I do have one complaint, which was not a surprise but is still the only downside in my eyes. There’s not a converter option for this thing. I have a few Kaweco cartridges and it came with a blue one that lived in it for about a week. I didn’t love the blue though, and as soon as I knew I was smitten I flushed the pen, cleaned out the cartridge and refilled with the Noodler’s. It’s a compromise I’m willing to accept, and it gives me an excuse to order more Kaweco cartridges to try more of their inks. But I do wish that wasn’t the only option. Even as I type that there’s a voice in my head pointing all the obvious reasons why it’s a silly complaint given the size of the thing. But hey, we all have our things to complain about.


I’ve been shocked by how much I like using this little guy, and it’s easily rocketed up my list of favorite writing tools. I don’t know if there’s a lesson there about following my guts, really, but I’m glad I finally hit purchase on one of these.

(P.S. the Writing Pad seen throughout is from one of the best little bookstores in all of the Bay Area, Book/Shop in Temescal Alley here in Oakland. Small, perfectly curated, with a killer selection of home goods and sundry book-related items, including their Writing Pad and my Read Instead keytag seen below.)

Stipula Passaporto

I heard about Massdrop (full disclosure, if you sign up with that link and 5 or more of you end up buying a drop, I will at some nebulous future point get a box of free things) a few months ago when I saw they had an EDC section, and while in general I don't keep up with the knife/leather goods/etc part of the EDC world (a vegan who is clumsy is a bad fit for that particular set of interests) I immediately noticed some pen drops. As addicts are wont to do, I signed up to keep tabs on what they're offering. The site is a managed group buy venture, to simplify it a bunch. You can join and vote in polls for new drops, but the Massdrop buyers are the ones who manage the price negotiation and then Massdrop takes care of the logistics and shipping. You can save anywhere from 10% to in some cases up to 50% (maybe more to be honest) on things. I've done two, getting a $100 water kettle for 65 bucks, and relevant to this blog, getting a new Stipula Passaporto demonstrator for over 50% off!

I signed up maybe a month ago and got my pen last week. It does require some patience, but the savings have been so substantial each time that it's definitely worth it. As for the pen? The pictures don't do justice to just how SMALL this thing is.

Capped, it's barely longer than a credit card, 3.5 inches. I immediately disassembled it, and while it came with a cartridge, I got the demonstrator version to use as an eyedropper. Filling it was straightforward using the eyedropper in the box, which is nice and made out of glass. I had just so happened to bring in a bunch of Bernanke Blue I'm gifting to a friend at work, so in it went. I didn't use silicone grease because unscrewing it I could feel some tension that made me not worry about leaking, in the future I may add some. In about 20 seconds I had my first eyedropper fountain pen, and immediately knew I'd be bumping some full size clear pens that can be converted to the top of the list. It's unbelievably satisfying watching the ink slosh around in the barrel. There's a bit of ornamentation, a small leaf on the silver band on the cap that can act as a roll stopper, and a subtle branding on the body, but otherwise is a very simple demonstrator.

I'll be honest, I bought this because I liked the idea of a small eyedropper and thought it was a weird little pen, but was skeptical about how much use I'd get out of it. However, if the last 48+ hours are any indication, I'm going to use this A LOT. I don't normally think to write reviews this quickly after acquiring something, but I really have been bowled over. It's not perfect, and it has its quirks, but I really love this pen. 

I opted for the .9mm stub nib. It's a stainless steel nib, and is pretty stiff, but you get line variation thanks to the stub. If you apply pressure you can get slightly more width on the downstroke, but I don't see myself ever doing that beyond the testing for the review. I've liked the stubs I've tried, but my writing is atrocious, and small, so the normal 1.1 and 1.5 options make my writing a jumbled run together mess. This .9mm is a dream. It's still a little wider than is ideal for my handwriting, I think, but I can't stop writing with it. (it's convinced me to send off this and a Kaweco nib to get ground down to a .5mm cursive italic, which I have a hunch will be perfect) It's a wet writer, but not overly so, and has just a touch of feedback so I don't feel like the pen is sliding out of control. No skips the entire time, beautiful line width variation and starts up everytime I pull it out. The one minor thing is that it can sometimes have trouble keeping up with me, but it's infrequent and honestly is more on me than on it, since I sometimes write way too fast. And even when it's struggling to keep up, it puts down a solid line, just not quite as wide as when I'm slowing down. 

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Writing with it unposted is possible, but not very comfortable. It's TINY and way too light for me. It does sit in my hand without too much trouble unposted, but beyond testing it for the review, I'll never write with it like that. Which brings me to my one true complaint. The cap posts, but not easily. When you get it posted securely, it stays and I have no worries about it wiggling off or moving, but getting it wedged on is, well, literally just a matter of wiggling it around to wedge it on. There's a newer version of this pen that has threads on the back for ideal posting ease I believe, but the one I received doesn't. It takes some force, and some wiggling to get it fully locked in place. I can always get it posted, but it's really not ideal.

Even with that complaint, I love this pen. In the last few days I've reached for it more than almost anything else (save the Edison Hudson). It's so tiny, but when posted is surprisingly substantial and satisfying to hold. I've written the entire first draft of this review and multiple pages of journaling the last few days without any noticeable fatigue. I got mine at a deep discount, but I wouldn't hesitate to get another at full price if something happens to this down the road. It's not a pen for everybody, and not perfect, but so far it's been pretty perfect for me.

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Edison Hudson

Sometimes the simplest things are the most impressive.

It's been a hard few months! But this is a pen blog, so I won't bore you with the details. I mention it because it both explains the lack of updates as well as this entire post. There's been a lot of change this year, and most of it is good, but the bumps along the way mean that the pens have taken a backseat to my other love. I've been slowing down the purchasing as well, and while I'm still writing at least a page or two nearly every day by hand, the updates to the blog just haven't quite come together. (As you'll notice below, I'm having some issues with my camera work as well. My new phone can't seem to decide if it wants to take clear photos or not, I'm looking into getting an older dedicated digital camera to try and make the images better quality going forward, sorry about that!)

With that in mind, a few weekends ago finally did a long overdue count of how many pens I had inked. I ended up with 13 pens in front of me with ink in them! Way way too many for me, so I emptied, wrote some dry over the next few days and cleaned a lot of pens. I'm down to about 8 now, which is still more than I need, but the number is moving in the right direction now! 

I also realized in my purchases over the last year I've ended up with some pens I never intend to ink up again. They're the minority, but it made me want to buy with a bit more purpose. I started thinking about why I like the pens that stay inked and why some of the newer purchases aren't getting the same attention. There's the common stuff we all talk about, pen weight, nib width, etc. but it's more than that. I just like classic lines and classic colors. I've been consciously branching out a bit, focusing on new colors and different forms, but in my heart of hearts the pens I love most are simple and classic.

Which leads me to the point of this post. Anyone who pays attention to fountain pens knows the name Edison Pen Co. I've spent a fair amount of time looking at the Edison site and coming up with my perfect custom pen, but realistically knew my first Edison would be a production line model. Of the production models I kept waffling, one week obsessing over the Pearlette, the next over the Edison Nouveau Premiere, etc. The model I weirdly didn't spend much time thinking about was the Hudson. 

So of course, on a particularly trying day, I was grabbing a few Esterbrook nibs from Anderson Pens and decided to browse around a bit to see if I wanted to add a pen to my little collection. With this new mindset and this new admission, the Hudson Black jumped out at me, and a few minutes later, it was on its way. It was an impulse buy, but a semi-calculated one. I've been setting aside money the past few months for some bigger purchases, knowing I wanted to get an Edison and knowing I want one of those beautiful Franklin Christoph pens among others, so a good chunk of the money was already there. A few days later I had it in hand.

The Hudson is a gorgeous, gorgeous pen. It's a BIG pen, but light in the hand. I went with the black because the simplicity of the design called out for a simple color. But like I say up at the top, this seemingly simple pen is incredibly impressive. From the flat top to the subtle shaping at the bottom of the cap, to the elegant taper at the bottom, this thing screams classy (would a classy thing scream? I guess not.) I don't usually care about the clips on my pens, I rarely clip them to a pocket really, but in the case of the Hudson, the clip is one of my favorite parts. The curves are exaggerated, which plays off the subtle silhouette of the pen itself, and it's ended up being the thing I stare at most. It also does it's job very well, holding my pen snugly in my Nock Co. Hightower. The only branding is a subtle "Edison Pen Co Hudson" on the body. You can tell Brian lets his pens do the talking, no need for a ton of branding or excess ornamentation.

I inked it up with Noodler's Black because it's an ink I know really well. Currently I'm using the convertor, although I plan to convert it to an eyedropper once I write this dry. The convertor is great, and I had no trouble getting the F steel nib to write immediately. And oh how nice it writes! The steel nib is definitely stiff, but if you're heavy handed you can get some slight line variation. It's a German nib so the F is a bit broader than my other mostly Japanese F's, but it lays down a beautiful line, just right amount of ink, and smooth but a touch of feedback, perfect for my preferences. And I've had ZERO issues with the nib the entire time. Flawlessly starts each time I uncap it and haven't had even a single skip.

You can post the cap, although I rarely post caps, and for my hands if I post it I end up wanting to hold it on the threads, so I leave the cap off and it fits my hand perfectly. I started writing just to test, and no joke, an hour later I stopped my "testing", having seamlessly segued into my daily journal writing. 

I really can't say enough good things about this pen. It's my first Edison Pen Co. pen, and I can assure you it will not be my last. I'm keeping an eye on those limited edition seasonal colors the Goulet Pens folks are putting out for instance, and I still have my perfect custom Edison pen in mind for the future. If you like a classic pen, with clean, subtle lines that writes like a dream and is comfortable for hours, you can't go wrong with the Hudson.

Oh, Micarta

Sometimes you splurge, and regret it. Other times…

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I have been eyeing this beautiful thing for months. It’s over my normal per pen allotment, and I am trying to rein in my spending, not just on pens. But a week or two ago something clicked and I found myself realizing I’d dropped a little over a hundred dollars for the TWSBI Micarta, clipless, with an EF Nib. I half expected, once I’d ordered it, to have the excitement wear off, but instead I watched the UPS site shift my delivery date, moving it closer and closer, obsessively checking multiple times a day. I was excited for this pen.

It’s a simple silhouette, and the TWSBI nibs are good, but not life changing in my limited experience. But even so, there was something about the material, and the overall look that stuck with me. The roughness of the threading, the variations in texture and finish all over, and the material telegraphing it’s construction in the final form. Everyone who sees this, in pictures or in person, immediately asks what it’s made of, and half the time guess something along the lines of its actual construction. That clarity, from material to manufactured product, is beautiful.

TWSBI package it up in a notebook. The paper is nice, too. Perforated sheets, leaving a permanent nook for the Micarta, and it takes fountain pen inks well. I opened the notebook and there it was.

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Now, as much as I love fountain pens, at work I tend to switch between my Monteverde Artista Crystal and a couple of rollerballs. The rollerballs are easy, fast writers, good for notes and quick scribbled things. This means I don’t keep ink at work, and in general when I get a new pen I’ll open it at work, but it sits uninked till I get home, and sometimes it’ll sit for a few days before its first time. But not the Micarta.

I brought a syringe and some Noodler’s Burma Road Brown (adding in a few "surprise me" ink samples on every Goulet Pens order is a gift that keeps on giving) with me to work, and as soon as I had the pen out set to work filling the converter. It took a bit to get the ink through the feed. Long enough that I was starting to worry I’d gotten a bum feed, but a bit of patience and some gentle pressure via the plunger solved it. In hindsight I should have probably flushed the nib and feed to be safe, but I just couldn’t wait. And after that initial delay it was writing beautifully. And still is writing beautifully.

As much as I love how this pen looks, it writes like a dream. If I leave it uncapped for a few minutes it’ll take a bit of nudging, but otherwise it’s smooth and consistent. The EF was wider than I expected at first, too, but over the course of the first couple days it was worn in a bit. Now it writes a clear, consistent, thin line every time. There’s not much flex at all, but you can get a tiny bit of variation with some pressure, in practice I don’t do that though.

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It’s rocketed to the top of my list. Just right to the very top. It’s not an every day carry. I take it with me to work some days, always living in the Micarta notebook, but for me this is a pen for longer writing. I love it most when I can take the time to write more than some meeting notes or an offhand thought. Letters, journaling, those times when I want to really enjoy the experience and the utility is somewhat beside the point. It’s an incredibly useful, and usable pen, don’t get me wrong. But the material feels so good in your hand that I am happiest when I can stretch out the experience. The last week and a half it’s become the go-to for letter writing (something I am finally doing with some regularity after years of talking about getting back to it).

It’s a splurge, and not even the splurgiest pen on my wishlist, but a splurge nonetheless. But this one, I don’t regret at all.