Thursday, January 25, 2018

Review: @Wancher Red Urushi Ebonite Dream Pen Fountain Pen

Thanks to Wancher for loaning me this pen for a review! I am not skilled enough to capture the real beauty of Urushi, unfortunately. Urushi is a beautiful material that glows. There is a lot going for this pen but I have a few hesitations which I will address below.
Review: @Wancher Red Urushi Ebonite Dream Pen Fountain Pen

Body material: Ebonite & Japanese Urushi Lacquer
Trim: None
Cap: Screw on
Posts: No
Nib material: Two-tone 18kt gold
Filling system: Standard international cartridge/converter
Length (capped): 153.16 mm/6.03"
Length (uncapped): 132.33 mm/5.21"
Length (posted): N/A
Length (section): 19.09 mm/0.75"
Diameter (barrel): 9.29 - 15.36 mm/0.36" - 0.60"
Diameter (section): 10.69 - 11.77 mm/0.42" - 0.46"
Weight (all): 25 g
Weight (cap): 8 g
Weight (body): 17 g
Price: Pledges start at US$175 for Ebonite fountain pens, Urushi at $350 USD
Where to buy: Wancher on Kickstarter

No packaging aside from bubble wrap for this loaner piece. The Kickstarter shows a traditional Japanese wooden box with a cartridge, converter, and a fabric pen sleeve. This is a very Nakaya-esque presentation. When I think of a Japanese urushi pen, I also picture a lightweight box and a pen kimono because that's what Nakaya does and that was my first Japanese urushi pen. It suits the pen but it's not a departure from what Nakaya already does. I'm leaning towards this being too similar, though.


The Wancher Red Urushi Ebonite fountain pen is quite attractive and it has a simple design that appeals to me. It is a round pen with a cigar shape - widest at the cap and tapering slightly towards the ends, with rounded off ends. There are no markings on the cap, barrel, or section of the pen. The cap is shorter than the barrel but it is also wider so I think it looks decent overall.
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There is nothing on the finial. The section is short and round, tapering slightly towards the nib before flaring out slightly into a ridge. The back of the section connects to the cap threads on the barrel, which are black. The entire pen, aside from the cap threads, is a gorgeous Red Urushi that borders on a deep orange-red that makes me think of the Namiki Vermillion color. I love the color and the shape of this pen. The only real downside to me is the black threads. I think it would look even better if the entire pen was complete in the Red Urushi.
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The cap, section, and barrel are all this rich deep orange-red color that I love. It's such a simple pen - uniform color with understated elegance. It has a depth and richness that doesn't show in glitter or chatoyance; rather a full, fully polished way. Impossible to capture in pictures and (obviously) rather difficult to describe properly. It is best described as a glowing pen. I love it.


The nib is a #6 two-tone 18 kt gold nib. It has a single slit, a round breather hole, and is engraved with 18K-759 and M for the medium nib size. One of my favorite parts of this pen is the red ebonite feed that matches the Red Ursuhi of the body. The medium nib is smooth with medium wet ink flow. It is well adjusted and tuned - no skips or hard starts, offers a firm writing experience, and dries quickly. You can squeeze out some line variation with pressure but for the most part, the writing experience is a firm one. It works well for fast and long writing sessions, it passes the free weight test, and it can be used for reverse writing. It's a perfectly well-rounded medium gold nib. No complaints here.
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The converter provided with the pen was a standard international but it actually did not fit - the nipple was not long enough to hold in place. I selected another standard international I have here at home with a longer nipple and it fits fine. This is not uncommon - surprisingly, standard international converters are just not the same. I actually appreciate the cartridge/converter system here because it means quick and easy cleaning, which I prefer for relatively delicate material.

There is a double-sealed airtight insert in the cap that helps to prevent ink from drying out. Having left the pen sitting around for days, I did find it helpful. The nib picked up immediately after sitting around.


There is no clip on this model. The section, although on the short side, is quite comfortable to hold. It's not slippery and the shape holds my grip well. The cap threads at the back of the section are not sharp, nor is the step up to the barrel. If you have larger hands, you might find the section on the small side.
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Top to bottom: Namiki Emperor, Wancher Red Urushi Ebonite, Lamy Safari, Nakaya Cigar.
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Unposted, the pen is lightweight and comfortable. My hand doesn't tire out using this pen for long writing sessions. It's just an easy writer. The cap cannot be posted.
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The only "in hand" issue I have with this pen is the smell. It doesn't smell like the rubbery ebonite smell I am used to. It has a bit of a funky smell to it that I can smell on my hands, inside the cap, and while using it. I don't care for this and I'm not sure if it'll go away quickly. It's not the Noodler's vegetal resin type smell (which I actually like...) but more of a funky...weird smell. I cannot describe it and have not really smelled anything like it before. I just know it's not the smell of ebonite I am used to. I contacted Wancher about this and they explained that it is indeed the lacquer but production models will not have this. It takes about a month for the smell to go away but because I have a prototype, it was sent out sooner for reviewing and the urushi is quite new. Long story short, you won't have to worry about this.
Review: @Wancher Red Urushi Ebonite Dream Pen Fountain Pen

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If you're a fan of minimal designs in a pen, this pen might attract your attention. I absolutely love the shape and the glowing color. The nib performs well and it's a great writer - not unusual in its nib, but a reliable, solid performer. It's very comfortable, so it has many things going for it. The finish is where it's at, though. The pen takes about four to six months to complete from start to finish, which is not unusual for a handwork pen, but imagine the time and effort it takes to complete! The downside to this is you're in for a fairly long wait if you pledge on Kickstarter. I think the current Kickstarter prices are really fair. The only things that I really question are the choice of presentation/packaging, and not lacquering the threads to match the rest of the pen. Given the price Wancher is asking for pledges, I'm not sure the threads are a big enough deal to turn me away from it. The packaging feels like a copy, unfortunately. I think Wancher could have offered something different, and perhaps they will with enough feedback.

I was loaned this item free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion.


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