I’ve wanted an Edison Pen for quite some time. Not only does Brian Grey have a reputation as an excellent craftsman, but to my eyes his designs are quite beautiful. But I had a good bit of trouble finding the Edison pen that was for me. A couple of years ago I got one of the first seasonal editions of the Nouveau Premiere; and while I liked the pen quite a lot, it smelt of burnt plastic and it never seemed to dissipate (I still don’t know if the smell was specific to that one pen or to that particular material). I was able to recoup almost all of what I paid for it, but I was still left without an Edison.
I used the money from the sale of that pen to commission a custom Extended Mina, but during the long wait I read some online reviews and found a small aspect of the pen that soured it for me (most people don’t seem to care much about the feature, but the pen world is full of people who are OCD about their pens, and I’m no exception) so I converted my custom order into an outright purchase–an Edison Menlo.
I reeeeeeeeeally wanted to like the Menlo, but that one just wasn’t the pen for me. I’m not sure if the pen was defective or if my warm hands just aren’t compatible with eye-dropper or large capacity fill systems. But Brian let me return the pen for a refund/credit, and I was back to trying to find the right pen for me. Ultimately I decided on the Collier, in part because of it’s large size, but also because I liked the shape. After picking my material Brian graciously put me at the front of the design queue, so it wasn’t too long until I had the pen in my hands.
Here are my thoughts on the Edison Collier in Translucent Mint Swirl with a steel 1.1mm stub nib.
Note: for the first 2 sections, which concern the Edison Pen Company and not the pen, I will provide comment but not a score, as only the pen categories are scored.
Design/Ordering Process: Not scored
The website is good, not great. It’s a clunkier experience than most pen sites you’re used to. If you’re ordering a custom pen, that’s fine, because you probably don’t want to build your pen through a series of dropdowns–you want to talk to the guy who’s going to put it on the lathe. But for the person who sees what he wants while scrolling through the inventory, they’s probably want to just drop that in their cart and checkout.
Also, the site is divided up onto different domains, which ads to the clunky feel. It’s definitely nice to able to scroll through all those pictures of current pens, past pens, pen materials, etc, but if you’re deciding what you want that can mean a lot of jumping back and forth between the main site and the picture album site.
However, it’s a huge plus to be able to see all those pen pictures. Without them I never would have landed on this model or this material. None of this was enough of a bother to stop me from ordering a pen, and truthfully I think we’d all rather Brian spend his time making pens instead of working on his website, but if he’s got someone to do his website for him, it could use some updating.
Customer Service: Not scored
If you read the intro above, you’ll know that I had a lot of communication with Brian during the months that I was in the queue for a custom pen, then waiting for my Menlo, then waiting for a repair, then back in the queue. During this time, Brian was always ready to assure me that he wouldn’t be happy until I was happy. And based on the time he spent on my problems, I believe him.
If I had one knock in this area it’s that communication can sometimes take a while. Edison Pens isn’t a one man operation, but it all revolves around Brian making a custom item in a niche market. So when he goes on vacation, production basically stops. When he’s out email doesn’t necessarily stop, but you’re likely to get a personal response that tells you Brian’s on vacation, and you’ll get an answer when he’s back. Likewise, if he’s headed to a pen show you may have to wait a few days as well. I don’t begrudge Brian these breaks, but if you’re going to order from him you’ll need to understand that when you want something from a craftsman you can’t expect factory-like production times.
This is a seriously sexy pen. Part of that stems from the material I picked, and I’ll get to that, but it’s the shape of the pen I like best. This is not a small pen, and many of the oversize pens I’ve used either make the barrel straight, or go a little overboard with giving it some curves. I like the gentle lines of this giant. And yes, the material is awesome. It’s a little frustrating to look at the pictures because I just don’t have the photography skills to show off this material; but my wife hit the nail on the head when she said it looks like the glassy-swirl marbles so many of us has when we were kids. It looks so nice my other pens are getting jealous–I haven’t touched another pen since I first inked this one.
There is part of me that wants to score this an 11, but I respect math too much to do that. Instead I’ll give it a 10 with a bang (that’s an exclamation point for you non-programmer/not grammar nerds). There are essentially two aspects to the construction score–there’s the design and then the execution of the design.
With the Collier, as good the execution of the design is, it’s the design itself that makes this pen so special. The seam at the clip, where the cap meets the finial, is so smooth I can only detect it with my fingernail when carefully looking for it. The finished surfaces are smooth, inside and out, I can see through the pen with no distortion.
But as I said, the design is what makes this pen special. It’s a pretty big pen–bordering on huge. It’s longer than my Homo Sapiens, Cosmos, Al-Star, Van Gogh Maxi, Franklin-Christoph 02, and even my Newton Gibby; and as thick or thicker than all of them. But even with all that size, it has a relatively normal-sized grip, and it’s fairly light (30g overall, 20g without the cap). The curves help give the pen a great balance–a tiny bit front heavy.
One note about the design: The pen does not post. At all. Once upon a time this would have been a deal-breaker for me, but in the last couple of years I’ve completely stopped posting my pens.
8 is my default score for a Cartridge/Converter system, where the end of the section is smooth, making it easy to wipe off after filling. The converter is the default system for this design. You can pay extra to switch to a bulb filler, or pump system, but I stuck with the converter–I might have paid extra for a piston fill, but that wasn’t offered.
I went with the steel 1.1mm stub. I like this nib, I don’t love it. It’s a little too rounded for my taste–generally I lean toward a slightly rounder stub, rather than crisp, but even for me this one is too rounded. I’m not sure how much control Brian has over that, as he gets his nibs from JoWo. Brian does tune the nibs he sells, and this nib is certainly smooth and wet enough for my taste.
As nice as it is, it’s nothing special, and I’ll be looking to upgrade this nib soon. I might send this one off to a nibmeister for some shaping and a little added flex, or I might try to source a higher quality #6 nib to replace this one. I wonder if Visconti makes any steel #6 nibs.
Gold nibs are available from Edison, but I’m less enamored of gold nibs than the fountain pen population at large.
Test Drive: 9/10
The whole point of a pen is how it writes. Everything else is prologue. Can I write with the damned thing? Can I write for hours? When I clean out my pens and decide to ink up 3 of them, will my heart reach for the Edison Collier?
This pen has been constantly inked since it came in the mail. I’ve filled it will Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki, and Caran d’Ache Vibrant Green, two inks I use often and am very familiar with. I’ve burned through at least 15 full pages with each ink, and the thickness combined with the light weight results in remarkably little hand fatigue. I enjoy writing with this pen a lot.
8.8. That’s a bit lower than I expected going in. But if I’m able to source a high-quality replacement nib, or get my nib-guy to work his magic, the score could come all the way up to 9.6.
I have a feeling the Edison Collier will get a lot of use.