In my review of Doane Paper, I mentioned that I had been using Doane Paper for years, but that I hadn't reviewed it sooner because it just fit so seamlessly into my workflow that it was easy to overlook. These pens from Chris Williams at Ateleia Craft + Design are similar in that I've been using a brass one for at least two years — rather extensively, I might add — and it just fits. It's so unobtrusive and simple that it's easy to take for granted. But they're totally worth your time and money. So read on...
The pens come in five finishes (Brass, Copper, Stainless Steel and Raw or Black Anodized Aluminum) and are machined perfectly with smooth threads, clean lines and a near seamless cap-to-barrel fit. There is no clip, no set screw, no mechanism, no grip rings or dimples. Just a clean, smooth barrel — the epitome of "minimalist pen." As stated above, I've had the brass version for at least a couple of years and Chris was kind enough to send over a stainless version for me to check out for the purposes of this review. And it. is. a. stunner.
Ateleia pens are made of just three parts (not including the refill): Barrel, Cap and Threaded Tip Insert. The threaded tip insert is offered in two proprietary sizes — one size fits the Hi-Tec C, Pilot G2, or Fisher Space Pen Refill and the other fits the Energel and Signo refills — and requires a tool to remove and replace. The tip is cleverly designed with a "flat" on opposing sides to allow said tool to grip the insert without damaging the threads. Chris thoughtfully provides a rather nice little wrench with your pen to make refill swaps a breeze. I've got one of each and both perform flawlessly and are otherwise identical.
Some folks will balk at a pen that requires tooling to change refills, but I find that I change refills so infrequently that it's not an issue. Further, I'm rarely without more than one pen so on the off-chance that my pen ran out while I was away from a tool to change it, I'd just switch pens. Even further still, I rarely carry extra refills on me so I'd never be able to change a refill on the fly anyway.
The Ateleia Pens are slim, being a bit thicker than a standard wood-cased pencil and about on-par with many mechanical drafting pencils in terms of girth. The Ateleia Pen hits the webbing of my hand with some length to spare and I found both the brass and stainless versions to be weighty and comfortable for even longer writing or drawing sessions.
The first Ateleia Pen I received was the brass pen with one of Chris' well-designed leather sleeves. I found that the sleeve was a welcome addition to the pen as it added a little substance when the pen was in a pants pocket and also protected the finish when tossing it in a bag or briefcase. I'd completely recommend adding one to your cart when you order your pen. You'll want to have it.
My brass pen has developed a patina over the few years that I've owned it, something common with most brass and copper pens. The patina doesn't bother me, but my hands do get the "brass" smell after extended use with the pen, which may be bothersome. The stainless pen is almost identical in weight (being just a tenth of an ounce heavier by my scale) and eliminates the metallic smell as well as any potential patina (other than scuffs and scratches to the surface).
I prefer the stainless over the brass as I think it fits my aesthetic a little better and has just a little cleaner look overall. I haven't used the aluminum version, but I'd be inclined to think it might be a great lightweight option if you're sensitive to heavier pens. And, again, the stainless doesn't pass along that metallic smell common with brass and copper pens.
Because of the minimalist design, the Ateleia pen doesn't post, meaning you need to find a place for your cap when you uncap the pen. I find that this limits my "on-the-go" use of the Ateleia pen, but when I'm at my desk or a meeting at work or in my office at home, the Ateleia pen is one of the first non-fountain pens I reach for when writing notes or sketching.
All-in-all, I think the Ateleia Pens are well worth the price of admission. They're well-made right here in America by a really great guy. Chris' attention to detail and thoughtful inclusion of a wrench are icing on the cake for what is a beautifully functional product. My preference goes to the stainless version for it's clean look and lack of patina, but the brass and copper options are sure to develop some character over time and the aluminum would make a great lightweight carry option. Ateleia pens are slim enough for the tightest of pockets, purses and bags and will slip easily into most pen loops on your favorite EDC notebooks and planners. Make sure to add a sleeve to your order as it'll provide a comfy home for your pen while on-the-go and give it a little more substance in your pocket or bag.
If you want to pick up your own pen (and I know you do), head over to Ateleia.com/shop and use the code NIBANDINK at checkout for a 15% discount through December 10, 2017. Thanks to Chris for partnering with me on this discount and for sending the stainless version over for review. I'm enjoying it very much.
Thanks for reading,