More on the proverb above, below. Not long ago, I was swapping some stuff with my friend Joe over at the Gentleman Stationer, and he sent me a brass Mechanical Pen from Inventery Co. for review. And I have mixed feelings about this pen.
The unboxing experience Inventery has created is one of my favorite unboxing experiences I've had from any company. There's a small fabric drawstring bag with their logo foil-stamped on it. It's subtle, but the fabric is a sort of microsuede material and it feels luxurious. Sliding the box out of said bag, you're presented with a dark brown matching box with more gold foil stamping including their website and Instagram information and the pen specifications right down to the length and weight, refill and nock mechanism. There's a fabric ribbon pull tab that slides an interior box out of the sleeve. Pulling up on this tab lifts the upper dense foam insert out, revealing the pen tucked neatly in a perfectly-cut lower foam insert.
It all feels really good and makes for a nice experience befitting a pen in this price point.
Because this pen uses the Schmidt P8126 refill (one of my favorites for its reliability and rich, dark lines in both blue and black), it's very short, but fits well in the hand. The brass material adds weight, which further enhances the in-hand experience. A lot of machined pens are made in aluminum which I find to be a bit lighter than I'd prefer for many pens.
The pen itself is machined from a single piece of brass and they milled a flat spot in one side which, ideally, would prevent the pen from rolling. I say 'ideally' because due to the heavy weight of the brass and the small size of the milled flat portion, if you bump the pen, it will roll and the flat isn't large enough to stop it once it gets going unless the pen slows down. On a slanted surface like a drafting table, I would think this pen would just hit the floor.
I do find that in use, I rather like the flat portion because I can rest my thumb on it and it creates a nice grip for my hands. Being that the pen is otherwise smooth, it can get a little slick, but they did give this pen a little more girth than some others I've seen, which makes it a little easier to wield, despite it's weight and smooth barrel.
The retractable mechanism is the Schmidt SKM88, which is similar to the one seen on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and EDK and the original Mover and Shaker pens from Tactile Turn. Many folks have a love-hate relationship with these mechanisms because they have been known to fail, but if used properly (i.e., not "flicking" the mechanism, aggressively retracting and extending the mechanism, etc.), they will last and I have yet to have one fail on any of the pens I've used that utilizes this mechanism. Basically, treat your pen like a pen and not like a fidget spinner or kubotan and it will likely outlast you. But, should your mechanism fail for whatever reason, they're cheap and easy to replace.
The excellent Schmidt P8126 refill is inserted by removing the nock mechanism and sliding the refill in from the back.
The pen operates smoothly and there's really not a whole lot to say about it. It's essentially a tube of solid brass with a flat spot milled out of it. They're using an out-of-the-box mechanism and spring with a readily-available refill. Each pen is individually numbered and is offered in three colors: brass, chrome and black. The base of all three pens is still brass so they'll all feel the same. One issue I have with brass is that it has a metallic smell and after using the pen, my hands smell like brass. Basically, dig around in your change bucket and then sniff your hand. It's gross and it's the reason I don't usually purchase brass pens. Give me stainless any day. It's about the same weight but doesn't have the smell or corrosion and patina issues that brass presents.
All that being said, I find that this pen is way overpriced. At $90 for a tube of brass using off-the-shelf parts, this pen is hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 more than I think it's actually worth. Fancy packaging and design isn't enough to make this pen worth more than something like the Tactile Turn Shaker, which is only $99 for a solid Titanium pen using and in-house mechanism and clip or the Karas Kustoms EDK which comes in at $85 for the full brass version or just $60 in aluminum (and some variant of pricing if you mix-and-match) and it's using an in-house clip design with the same Schmidt mechanism.
And back to that shame on you, shame on me thing. I have ruined two pairs of pants with this pen. Because of its short size, the mechanism has a tendency to deploy in my pocket when I sit down, exposing the tip and bleeding ink into my pocket and, eventually, to the outside of my pants. I couldn't figure out why this pen kept doing this and my other pens from Karas Kustoms (EDK and Retrakt) weren't. But while perusing the Inventery Co. website, I saw that they advise against using this pen in a pocket without a sleeve and that sleeves are coming soon. Um, what? This would have been AWESOME to know beforehand. The problem is, even if I wanted a sleeve, there are no sleeves that I could find so I'm not sure if they scrapped that idea or ran out or just haven't gotten around to it. Their website isn't particularly user friendly with very tiny type and difficult-to-use navigation..
What irks me is that they took the time to print all of the technical stuff on their packaging in gold foil, but they couldn't take the time to put a clever warning inside the box about not carrying the pen in a pocket? Maybe something like, "This writing instrument is designed for desk use and should not be carried in a pocket without an Inventery Sleeve." They had plenty of room to do so. Telling folks on your website isn't good enough. What if I gave this as a gift? What if I received it as a gift? Come on, guys... I should have learned the first time not to pocket-carry this pen, but I figured maybe I just forgot to retract it and gave the pen the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, this pen is not pocketable, despite it's diminutive size.
I've talked before about my dislike for brands that have a tendency to put more focus on their marketing and branding than they do on their actual product and I feel like Inventery Co. is a little bit guilty of this. The packaging and unboxing experience is beautiful, but I'm not carrying the box around with me so it's drawer fodder once the pen is opened and out.
Given that this pen is significantly more expensive than similarly-sized counterparts from other manufacturers and considering they are using more in-house parts and also taking into account that this pen can't be carried in a pocket but is designed for "desk use," I can't recommend this pen at all. It's jewelry for your desk more so than a pen that's made to be used the way a pen is made to be used. There are a lot of desk pen options out there so at $90, this one is a no-go.
Thanks for reading,