Pen Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 19-“1901”
Nib: 18k Gold Medium Italic (Masuyama-ground)
Appointments: Chrome / Steel colored
Filling System: Cartridge / Converter (International Standard)
Length (Capped): 138mm
Length (Uncapped): 127mm
Length (Posted): 170mm
Section Diameter: 10.1mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 15.4mm
Cap Max Diameter: 16.7mm
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 16g
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 26g
I’m not going to keep you in suspense on this review. The Franklin-Christoph Model 19 is one hell of a pen and, in my not-so-humble opinion, worth every penny.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 19 “1901” is one of the larger pens in the F-C line. The glossy, piano-black body is accented, once in the cap and once in the barrel, with a color band. As of the time of this writing, options included Cremé, Cherry Ice, King’s Gold, or Smoke. I opted for the King’s Gold, which came a touch darker in color than the photos on the F-C website, but still quite lovely.
The pen has clean, classic lines. The rounded-edge flat top of the pen is decorated with an engraved gothic letter “F” and four small diamonds (the F-C Logo). The rhodium plated clip has four small diamond shapes engraved on it as well. The clip, while classy, does feel just a touch flimsy for pen of this size and build quality. The end of the barrel tapers slightly toward the end of the pen, with another flat end with rounded edges.
The cap fits onto the barrel by the way of a rather unusual block thread (a single large thread) rather than the more standard set of smaller, parallel threads. These unusual threads work well, but they feel a bit less secure and a little less airtight than the standard threads you are used to seeing on fountain pens. The very comfortable section screws into the body of the barrel using the more tradition threads, which leads me to believe that this pen could potentially be used as an eyedropper pen. (There are no metal parts in the barrel that would prevent it, as far as I am able to tell. The pen comes with a standard international converter.
Despite the pen’s size (and it is a big pen), it is still rather light, and very comfortable in the hands. The pen’s clean lines swoop gently in all the right places, and the section narrows down to a usable width for my hands (unlike, for instance, a Montblanc 149, whose section is gargantuan by comparison.) I find it to be exceptionally comfortable to hold.
Franklin-Christoph has the standard compliment of nib sizes in both steel and 18k gold. However, in addition to the standard sizes of Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.1mm and 1.5mm “Cursive Calligraphy” nibs, F-C has partnered with Master Nib Genius, Mike Masuyama, who provides several custom-ground nibs for the line. These nibs come in Needlepoint (for which Mr. Masuyama is well-known), and Medium and Broad Italic and Stub nibs. The Italics, according to the F-C website are ground to more of a cursive italic than a “true” italic.
I ordered the 18K Medium Italic nib on my pen. I have one other pen in my collection that has been worked on by Mr. Masuyama: my Conway Stewart Wellington with a Fine Italic Nib. Up until this Model 19 showed up in my mailbox, the CS Wellington was my favorite pen, largely due to the work done on the nib by Mr. Masuyama. With the F-C Model 19, I am once again floored by what he is able to do with gold and “iridium.” The ink flow in the nib is perfect: wet but not overly so. When coupled with the light springiness of the 18k nib, the ink flow can really be used to show off the shading properties of your ink. The italic grind is sharp, but not so sharp that the pen can’t be used for cursive writing fairly comfortably. It provides a very nice line variation between cross-strokes and down strokes, but can still be used as a “regular” writer.
A couple of quick things to point out, however: If you are not used to writing with an italic nib, you should be aware that the way you hold your pen and the angle of the pen to the paper make a big difference in how this nib works. If you are the kind of person who “rolls” your pen as you write, italic nibs may not be the best option for you. Additionally, my experience has shown that this pen really doesn’t like textured or laid papers. I attempted to use this pen to write a letter on G. Lalo Verge de France stationery, and had to give up after a paragraph. The texture of the paper made for a rather unpleasant experience. On standard paper, or even better, on smooth, premium paper however? This nib just sings; hand me a sheet of Tomoe River and get out of my way!
The Writing Experience:
Overall, I find the writing experience on this pen to be nothing short of angelic. The pen, despite its size, is exceptionally comfortable to hold. The section and threads are positioned in such a way that I never once noticed the threads getting in the way of my grip. The lighter weight meant that maneuvering the pen around the paper was a delight, and never got tiring.
I will say that, on a couple of occasions, I did find that I had to saturate the feed a bit by twisting the converter down a bit. I mostly noticed this when I first started writing after not using the pen for a couple of days. This is, I am postulating, due to the fact that the larger block thread isn’t as airtight as other thread types may have been. Once the ink got flowing, however, I never really experienced any issues with the pen not being able to keep up with my writing.
I did also find a couple of instances of hard starts or skips when I was writing, but almost every single one of those was due to my not holding the pen and paper in proper alignment. This is my first experience with an italic nib of this width, and it took me just a bit of time to get used to the “sweet spot” on the nib. Once I did, I fell right into the swing of things, and I haven’t looked back.
As I said at the beginning of this review, the Franklin-Christoph Model 19 “1901” is one hell of pen. It hits all the right buttons for me: well made, comfortable to hold, great aesthetics, and a killer nib from one of the best nibmeisters in the world. To get all of this for $300 is, in my mind, a great value. The only downside I see to this pen is that it may be still a bit too big for folks with smaller hands. But if that’s the case, I’d recommend you check out one of their other models of pens and try one of these spectacular nibs. (I’ll be back to order more F-C pens in the future, that’s for sure!)