Finally, I am here to review the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Solid Emerald I bought during the past Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show. This pen came with an HP Steel Medium Nib in Solid Black.
First, I must concede when I was new to this hobby, I was a Gold+Piston fundamentalist. Why there should be a TWSBI in the market (Steel nib? What a pity for the piston!), or what’s the point for a premium gold nib pen has a cartridge/converter system (please, I AM a piston person!). I don’t know how many of you may have had the same stereotype like me in your earlier days into the pendom, but I do know I began to regret a lot the moment I was intrigued by my first TWSBI. Therefore, even if you are not that into either eyedroppers or steel nibs, I suggest you stay here a little before closing the tab.
Part1 | Basic Design
When I came in the states, a friend from China once strongly suggested Franklin-Christoph to me via her friend. In her initial message, she misspelled the brand name into Franklin-Christopher, which is quite an anecdote. Anyway, I got sucked directly into its products after some simple searches. However, I didn’t add Franklin-Christoph into my collection until well into 2017. The main reason for my procrastination is due to the high learning curve before making the final purchasing action: I simply couldn’t make up my mind among all the forty plus choices of nib style offered by the company, even with previous reviews in hand.
The turning point happened days before the last Christmas. I was sitting in the library preparing for the final exams when somehow I hit the landing page of the Model 66 Stabilis Solid Emerald. I was gasping, screen-sucked, desperately wanting it. Later, this green pen leads me to the Philly Pen Show, which was partly owned and sponsored by the Franklin-Christoph.
Anyhow, I have been indulging myself using this green eyedropper for note-taking for nearly two months so far. Even a whole barrel of ink has been used up, my heart is still screaming deeply every time I see him: how can one make a masterpiece like this? And in a dark green like this!
Size wise, the Model 66 Stabilis Solid Emerald is an oversize pen, having the same eye-catching presence as a Pelikan M1000. Usually, a pen of such a significant physical dimension could easily arise a sense of solemnity, but the Model 66 here is less aggressive than the M1000 thanks to its streamlined build which is longer and slimmer.
The Model 66 has a pragmatic background: it was not designed to be an item for sale, but rather a desk pen that rests in the corresponding block, letting customers try out the nib it holds during a pen show. Later, finding this gigantic nib-holder appreciated by the customers, Franklin-Christoph derived the Model 66 from those test pens, and since then the Model 66 Stabilis has been a thing in the pen world and won the design award by PenWorld Magazine Readers for Distinctive Daily Writer in 2015.
Styling wise, the Model 66 opted for a streamlined design which unlike any other ones, i.e., the submarine-shaped ones from Sheaffer’s, the torpedo-shaped pens from Mont-Blanc, or the jet-fighter shape from a Parker. The curve this pen has achieved is actually a composite of pairs of different curves, resulting in a feeling of extreme dynamic and underlying tension. The cap is a small cone, and the barrel, much bigger, is shaped like a particular part of an old spindle; with the platform carved out on one side of the main barrel, the whole pen is just manipulating the refraction of lights and the depth of shadow like a master of the art.
Somehow this very shape reminds me of a spacecraft from the future.Uncap it, and you will see a big black #6 nib along with a section which got a concave shape, not only saluting to the early days of fountain pens but also implying its full intention to be a decent writer at the same time.
Details wise, it is my first pen that goes without any trim: no jewelry at either end of the pen, not a single ring inside or outside the body, and of course, no clip. Literally, this pen is a sculpture made from high-standard acrylic with the greatest level of precision. All the threads are carved directly into the acrylic barrel without any help from a rubber or metal ring to cope with the stress. Among them, the proprietary Franklin-Christoph’s block thread (which resonates with the thread from Visconti Homo Sapiens) was positioned at the end of the grip section so that not only your fingertip will benefit it but also the dry out rate of ink from the nib. Finally, as you can see in the picture, the branding job is neatly done through the engravement on the flat surface on the pen cap and the main barrel, and all the engraving is plain in decoration.
Material side, as I have just put, this pen is made from semi-transparent acrylic primarily, and the way they treat the acrylic (without any extra trim) conveys the confidence Franklin-Christoph is having in their choice of material. The outfacing surface of the Model 66 is glossy, while the inner barrel of this pen is processed in another style. If you have seen the icicle under the roof you may find the treatment of its inner barrel achieve a similar surface effect: uneven, not smooth, but hardly containing dust; transparent, while hard to see through because it is twisting the lights in a dramatic way.
A surface treatment like this could easily break the surface of a drop of ink and mobilize it while keeping an equally spread color of ink across the surface. If Franklin-Christoph just applied the same treatment to the outer surface to the inside surface, the final product could look quite plastic and cheap when the ink stored becomes not full. Just image a picture of a test tube with some colorful water swirling in it.
The right sweet point of your color preference for a pen could be a sheer issue of subjectivity, and if you happened to be the ones who are dying for something green, you must have been seduced into this article the moment you saw the title picture. I know some more transparent variations of this pen, such as Solid Ice or Antique Glass, could bring more fun to play with, but the rationale of using jade-like acrylic here in the Model 66 Stabilis may be a private way of being fun.
Currently, I fill it with black ink, which results in a mysteriously deep feeling of green and black. During my daily usage in a well-lit environment, I hardly get bored thanks to the subtle while constant shifting of green highlights and shadows; when you are out, pulling it out in public occasion won’t be obtrusive cause people would take it as a black pen. But once a shaft of sunlight shot through, or I have been sitting there for a while, the person next to me would realize how unassumingly beautiful this thing is. (That’s what happened to the flight attendants sitting next to me during my spring break.) If I rather pick an Antique Glass version of the Model 66, I must feel a lit bit embarrassing when I set in the first roll of the classroom while taking the notes.
For the nib, I chose an M nib made from High-Performance Steel, which according to Franklin-Christoph’s site “is more like gold today than most nib you’ll find through pen history.” To make the nib’s looking in line with the solemn green in the rest of the pen, I picked up the solid black version of the nib. Since every purchase of Franklin-Christoph’s pen during a pen show offers a chance of customization by default, this pen benefits quite a lot from the expertise of the in-house nib meister, Jim Rouse. He asked me what’s my intention regarding the customization, and I told him I want it to be able to write both English and Chinese daily. After three rounds of adjustment, observation of my writing, and communication, he made my blueprint come true! Jim told me he had produced two sweet points on the nib at the same time.
But it is noteworthy here that initially I went directly to the 14K gold nibs because I thought it would be in the same style as a 14K nib from Meisterstuck 146 or an Aurora 88, and ended up in nowhere. It is hard to describe what cause my issue with those 14k nibs, especially after having test almost all the grindings in the testing kit. The needle points from Michael Masuyama were surely an eye-opener, but since I want this pen to be a daily workhorse, maybe next time… Then, randomly I picked up a testing pen andit worked! The sturdy and stable reaction from this nib along its versatile style of grinding fall directly into the center of my sweet point, and most ironically, it is a steel nib.
“Could I have this nib in black?”
“Yes, of course!”
Part2 |The Philosophy of being an Eyedropper
There are two ways for you to fill this Model 66, one is the normal converter/cartridge way, which is foolproof, and the other way is to fill it with an eyedropper filler, the way that can bring much more charisma from this pen and is also highly recommended and marketed.
As I have told you, in the beginning, I didn’t own an eyedropper for years. My story with eyedropper pens is like the Pride and Prejudice. Since I can’t afford a Namiki Emperor (whose eyedropper mechanism is one of a kind) or a vintage eyedropper pen, I should opt for something practical. But theI just refused to give those cheap Chinese eyedroppers or a Pilot PF-50R a trial. My stubbornness over the value proposition indeed eclipses all my salute to the eyedropper filling style itself. Then it came the last year’s Pelikan Hub, where I began to realize how eye-catching an eye dropper pen is. In summary, if it was built in a qualified way, it could be a salvage for pen addict who cannot focus too much when writing with a fountain pen for its simplicity, pragmatism and flirt-resistant gene.
Almost all the filling systems of fountain pens are leveraging the air pressure to get the ink inside the pen. Piston filler, plunger filler, converter, Vacumatic filler, and Crescent filler…you name it, no matter how fancy a filling system looks, it may still rely on the process of balancing air pressure to suck ink. However, the eyedropper pens just choose to go rogue by having no filling system within the pen! And the underlying scientific explanation of its way get inky? The gravity. You only drop the ink drops into the open barrel of it through an injector, medicine dropper, cosmetic dropper or even a wood stick.
Such an upfront or even somehow Stone Age way of filling makes an eyedropper a pragmatist. Using an eyedropper, you would never care about the malfunctioning of a piston knob, the hardening of its ink sac, or even running out of ink if you are having a fanatic week of note-taking. The trick here is its enormous ink capacity is enabled by carefully applying a layer of silicon grease into the thread after dropping ink into the barrel, a practice which is ceremonial or even self-suggestive: OK, since it is always a hustle to wash and drop ink into the barrel, I must drain it out. This feature reminds me of some saying that four or five years ago, it would be a rare thing to see an eyedropper got popular. Thanks to the pen brands such as Franklin-Christoph and Edison, now eyedropper is actually resurrecting and becomes a thing in the community.
Back to my Stabilis, it fenced off my inner pluses to entertain with it using its eyedropper gene. Every time I want to change the ink into something new, or I want to take a lovely photograph of its inner barrel, I was friendly reminded by the thick silicon grease surrounding the central nib unit and filling all the lines of thread. It can’t be easy to get the colored silicon oil out from the channels and corners, not to mention the fractional works needed to relocate the ink remained and clean the feed. “Just forget the fun part, and write on!”
Now I am using the second round of ink, which is the Noodler’s Ink’s American Eel Black, in this Model 66 Stabilis, and it adds a butter-soft reaction among all the firmness needed for my scribbling.
And that’s good.