This pen, the least expensive fountain pen in the Italix line-up, is a conscious effort at harking back to pens of the 1950s, and the shape of it is quite similar to some British pens of that era. It won’t precisely fool someone who is familiar with pens actually of that age, but it is certainly evocative of nostalgia.
The main point of difference between this pen and its elders is the weight. This pen is quite heavy, with a metal barrel and cap. However, even though I generally decry excess weight in a pen, I don’t level that accusation in this case. The Parson’s Essential has weight, yes, but it is not over-weight, and the balance is such that it doesn’t oppress and the relatively broad beam of the pen helps in preventing a reactive clenching of the writing hand.
Also heavy is the lacquer finish on the pen. The feel of this finish is similar to that found on much more expensive pens, and while it is also not quite the same sensation as the celluloids one finds in vintage pens it certain isn’t unpleasant.
If there is a complaint about the writing qualities of this pen, is lies in the willingness of the feed. It inclines towards dampness, which in its advertising is promoted as “skip resistant, very free flowing ink delivery.” I know of some people who prefer a drier pen, and they likely won’t like this one. It is happier, or at least a touch more legible, on higher quality paper, although I’ve used it with good result on extremely average paper; I still recommend inks which are not noted for feathering. The points, while bearing the occasionally-damning “Iridium Point Germany” impression, are also quite good. My exemplar is one of those which are modified into an italic after initial construction; it’s not a factory-original italic, but I have no complaints whatever with the final result.
I should at this point mention that another commonality of the Parson’s Essential and the pens of the post-war era is an almost bewildering array of point options. While “flexible” is not one of them, one still has eleven variations to chose from.
One other item which may be a source of complaint is the clip. I find myself of two minds about it. It is extremely powerful, which is generally a good thing, as it means that once the pen is in a pocket, you will not lose it without bidding farewell to a pretty big chunk of shirt as well. The downside is that, despite the smooth roundness of its little gripper, it is likely to do some damage to the pocket’s fabric.
My one fear about the Parson’s Essential is that demand for it might overwhelm the powers of Italix to keep up with quality control; it’s a very good pen at its price, and as I’m not the only one saying it, there’s apt to be a lot of curious shoppers seeking it out.
Production Run: c.2009 to present.
Cost When New: £37.50 for the black; coloured models introduced in late 2012 are £35.79. One can add up to £5.00 on more decorative engraving, although block letters are free. Update: 2016 prices show £32.50 for black, £35.79 for colours, and the possibility of adding an 18K point for £75.
Size: 14.2 cm long capped, 16.1 cm posted, 12.3 cm uncapped.
Point: Plated steel or 18K gold.
Body: Lacquered brass.
Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 ml or 1.4 ml (international pattern). A converter is also supplied, capacity approx. 0.8 ml.
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