I got 99 problems, but this pen ain't one. Anymore... I'll explain below. First, an introduction: This is the Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 in Antique Glass Acrylic. I've had a few FC pens over the years, but haven't hung on to any of them for various reasons. But at the Atlanta Pen Show this year, I saw Lori from Franklin-Christoph sporting a rather lovely little "ice" demonstrator with it's little body all full of a brilliant orange ink. I learned that it was a pocket-sized version of their popular Model 66, a large desk pen, which you normally see at their pen show tables sporting all the various nibs they offer. Those pens are much too large for me, but this one... Well, I had to have it. Unfortunately, they were all sold out by the time I got to the table to get one. Bummer...
I sort of put it on the back burner until Lori informed me that they were releasing it in an Antique Glass acrylic which some pen people have lovingly dubbed "Coke Bottle Glass" for it's unique green tint. I loved the images of it and placed my preorder.
I received my pen a few short weeks later and immediately greased up the threads and filled it up with ink. These pens are too small for a converter, but they will accept a short international ink cartridge. Or, of course, you can fill the body with ink. It's a no-brainer to do that with this pen as the ink sloshes around and looks killer inside. Fast forward a few hours and I pull the pen out of my pocket to discover all of the ink in the cap. Uh-oh. I chalked it up to me not having enough silicone grease in the pen and washed it out. Re-greased everything, inked it back up, same story. Oh boy... I called FC and spoke with Jim and he agreed to send me a brand new section and nib unit. I received them in 2 days, swapped the parts, greased everything up and got to writing. So far so good... Then, a few lines in, BLOOP! A giant drop of ink bled out of the pen. It's not uncommon for an eyedropper pen to burp ink, but when held nib-down, this pen was literally dropping ink at about 1 drop per second. Again, I reached out to Franklin-Christoph who tried to troubleshoot with me via email, sending back and forth some 25 emails or so. Finally, the pen went back to them where they discovered a small issue with the threads that were not allowing the nib unit to seat properly. A couple of days later, the pen came back, reassembled, greased and ready to go. I've been carrying it, filled with various inks, for about a week now and it's absolutely perfect. While no one likes to go through the hassle of a return or repair, I understand that manufacturing problems do occur and I'm grateful to Franklin-Christoph for working through the issues. They offer an excellent warranty on all of their pens, which is just one of the reasons why I like their products.
The other big reason, aside from the fact that some of their pens are just really cool (like this one), is the opportunity to add a Masuyama nib to any of their pens for just $15 extra. Michael Masuyama is, perhaps, one of the most sought after nibmeisters in the world. At pen shows, his weekend sign-up sheet fills up instantly and there is always a crowd around his table. Passersby stopping to watch him work, pen owners remaining hopeful that a spot will open up and other nibmeisters hoping to glean just a small amount of information from his craftsmanship. If you send him a pen to have him work on it for you, the waiting list can be as much as 6 months! With Franklin-Christoph, you can grab one of his nibs at checkout for just $15 more when added to a pen purchase. This is a steal at this price and an excellent offering from FC.
For my Pocket 66, I went with a Broad Masuyama Stub. I wanted something different than anything in my current lineup. I've got plenty of fine and medium nibs and I've got plenty of cursive italics. But for this pen, I wanted something that would give me some line variation, while being forgiving enough to be used as a pocket pen often is, which is quickly and in potentially less-than-ideal circumstances. The nib did not disappoint. Not at all. It's smooth, offers plenty of variation and puts down the perfect amount of ink, in my opinion. This is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best nibs on the market, hands-down.
FC has become known for their "Ice" models, started by the introduction of the material in their Pocket 40 and Model 02. It's a clear material that is polished to a high shine, but the insides of the material are left textured, creating a frosted appearance, which we now know as "Ice." When filled as an eyedropper, the ink tends to stick to the textured surfaces inside of the pen, creating a very unique appearance. I find myself spending almost as much time looking at this pen as I do writing with it. The ends of the pen are polished perfectly clear and the edges really show off the green tint which give this material the "Coke Bottle" nickname. I'm a sucker for demonstrators, and I like them in just about any color (especially blues), but this is by far my favorite material of any demonstrator I've ever seen or used and, although the textured material "holds" the ink, this pen cleans out easily and fully with any number of inks I've tried.
The pen has a screw-on cap with the threads placed at the end of the section so as not to impede your writing grip and, despite the "pocket" size of the pen, the section is full-sized, sporting a No. 6 nib. Beautiful. There is a slight step down from the body to the section, but this does not bother my grip at all due to the "pinched" shape of the section. My fingers fall right at the bottom of the "valley" and rest there neatly and comfortably. If you grip higher, this lip may bother you as it's fairly coarse and is noticeable higher up. A light chamfered edge would take some of the abruptness out of this lip, but for my grip, it's not a bother.
Don't let the pocket sizing of this pen turn you off. This pen is sized well and works for me both posted and unposted. I think I prefer it posted, but for jotting a quick note, the chunky, short threads make uncapping and writing fast and simple. For longer writing sessions, posting the pen increases the size by about an inch or so, bringing it almost to a full-sized pen and making for an extremely comfortable writing experience.
This pen sports completely minimal branding with just a subtle logo on the flat end of the cap. On the full-size Model 66, there is a flat side of the pen (to prevent it from rolling) which sports the branding as well as the logo being engraved at the top of the cap, and on other pens, like the Model 02 and Model 20, there is an engraving of the company's name and the model number around the base of the cap roughly 1/2" from the bottom. You'll find none of this on the Pocket 66, which I love. It's clean and subtle, just like the pen itself.
Despite my issues with the pen early on, I still have to say that I rather enjoy this pen and, given the opportunity, I would purchase it again. Franklin-Christoph has a great warranty and an excellent customer service department. Problems can arise with anything you purchase from cars to computers to pens. It's how the company handles these issues that really makes the product and the company, stand out. This pen is a great pocket companion and I don't think it will be taken out of my rotation anytime soon. Be sure to check out the full Franklin-Christoph lineup and shop around while you're there. They have some great inks and pen-related products to choose from. They have a tendency to multiply, though, so be warned.
Thanks for reading,