Saturday, July 25, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 49

The Laban Pen Corporation was founded in Taipei, Taiwan in 1981 by John Hu and his brother Charles. Almost exactly a year ago (July 29, 2019), the company released their Laban '325' "Sun" fountain pen, which I purchased in May 2020 as a self-gift for my birthday :)

(all photos by Maja ~ please click on images to enlarge)

I ordered the pen from Goldspot Pens in the U.S.A, and it came in simple-but-elegant packaging-- a nice blue cardboard box with a pullout drawer and a satiny "pillow". Goldspot's regular retail price for the '325' was $111.95 USD (not including shipping) but I got it for 15% off during their "Laban Week" (which essentially paid for the shipping to Canada).

The '325' is available in a variety of colours, including orange, green, blue, red and purple (the "Sun", "Forest", "Ocean","Flame" and "Wisteria models, respectively). I chose the "Sun" model because I love the colour orange and thought it went beautifully with the pen's ivory material and gold-plated accents. The orange material has a lovely glow with chatoyant flecks, and although it's made of acrylic, the ivory resin has a very "natural" look due to its subtle striations.

If there's one thing I could change in terms of the 325's design, it's the shape of the barrel/cap end. Most (?) fountain pens have cap tops and barrel ends that match. I find this symmetry aesthetically-pleasing, so I was disappointed that the '325' didn't have this feature. In fact, I held off on buying the pen for quite a while, just for that reason. I finally relented, though, because the pen was just too pretty to pass up...

Aside from that, I love the look of the pen and was very pleased that Laban used the ivory-coloured acrylic for the section. One small caveat: because of the section's light colour, it may be more prone to staining from fountain pen inks, so I would strongly recommend wiping the section thoroughly after each fill.

Another design feature I really like -- the double rings on the section. Double trim rings are also found near the top of the pen's cap. Also on the cap is a finial in the form of a small medallion with the Laban logo on it. With all this ornamentation, some might say the pen borders on gaudy, but I think it's tastefully done.

My 325's nib is a German-made JoWo #6 size single-tone gold-plated stainless steel Medium nib with the Laban name in cursive script, "GERMANY", and the number 3952 (the height of Mt. Yushan, Taiwan's highest mountain) laser-engraved on it. The steel nib on mine performs well and lays down a nice, smooth line. The '325' is also available with a 14K gold nib option, but costs substantially more.

The Laban '325' feels good in the hand - solid, sturdy (thanks to the thick acrylic material used in its manufacture + the metal section and barrel threads) and substantial. It's 5.9 inches capped and 5.16 inches uncapped, so it's long enough to be used uncapped comfortably. When posted, however, the pen extends to 6.81 inches and (due to the weight of the cap) becomes top-heavy. And it's not a light fountain pen either--at 34 grams capped, the '325' is heavier than a Pilot Vanishing Point (30 grams) or a Pelikan M1000 fountain pen (32.6 grams).

Overall, I think the Laban '325' is a good value for the money if you're looking for an attractive cartridge/converter-filling fountain pen that is a smooth, reliable writer.

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