Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rotring Lissabon

I have, of course, nothing against analogue tools. I do not just use them extensively, but I also collect them. Typewriters have little appeal to me, and not just because they are too big. But fountain pens are as fascinating to me as they were to Heidegger.

I recently acquired a Rotring Lissabon. Rotring had for a time—just before the fountain pen division was closed down—a penchant for using city names for their products. "Lissabon" is, of course, German for Lisboa. There was an "Oslo," a "Madrid," a "New Orleans," etc. The pen is very rare. It never appears to have been sold in the U.S.A., and I read on "the Internets" that it received in 2000 a prize for best fountain pen in Europe. I have not been able to find out what prize that might have been.

Nor do I understand why it would have received a prize. It looks good and, being made of brass, feels good to hold, but it is ultimately a bad pen. It seems to be an unfinished product. Not only is the nib and feed section not made by Rotring. It seems to be a rather cheap Chinese version, as evidenced by the inscription on the nib: "Iridium point, Made in Germany," but more importantly it evidently was not made for this pen. The feed is flattened on one side, so that if it is friction-fit into the proper barrel, it fits only one way. But there is no flattened side on the pen barrel. Accordingly there is very little friction to hold the nib into the pen. When I received it, the nib was very loose. I could make it sit a little tighter, but it remains loose. I would thus not advise anyone to take it on a trip. You might end up with ink all over the place.

It does not write badly—it's sort of like a Jinhao X450. But I would not spend more money on it either, unless you collect Rotring pens and therefore must have it.

There also is a Senator version of this pen in plastic:

I have not actually held this pen in my hand and do not know whether it fixes the issue I pointed out.

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