Friday, July 30, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 232

Inspired by the beautiful Benu fountain pens acquired by my fellow VPCers over the past few years (most recently, Jessica and Jaime), I finally decided to purchase one for myself. I looked up the different Benu models (and their eye-catching finishes) online, and chose the lovely clipless Benu 'Briolette' fountain pen in "Luminous Amber". I didn't see it in stock on any local pen shop websites, so I ordered mine from Inky Paw's online store. It arrived from Ajax, Ontario in a few short days, safe and sound.

About the company....

Benu was co-founded by Alex Semanin (who is also the Chief Designer) and Kate Dmitrieva, and its head office is located in Moscow, Russia. The first series of BENU pens was launched in October 2016.

From the Benu website: "Each and every BENU product is one of a kind. Handmade production and our proprietary methodologies and processes ensure that every single item has unique patterns and colour combinations that can never be repeated.

We produce the material for our products in-house, creating it from scratch. Unlike many other manufactures, we neither sell our material nor buy it from third parties. This means that you won’t find such finish and material in any other brand except BENU."

(to see their design process and production methods, check out this page on their website) 

Where did the company name come from?

"The Benu is an ancient Egyptian deity associated with the sun, creation and rebirth. The Benu bird is also one of the oldest known names of the phoenix, a majestic and divine creature that dies and is reborn throughout time." 

The company's reasons for choosing the name "Benu" are three-fold---its affiliation with birds and thus quills (symbolic of writing instruments), its relation to the verb "weben" (wbn) which means “rise in brilliance”, and the bird's association with "constant change, recurrence, and renovation."

Ok, enough background material---let's see the actual fountain pen! 

(~please click on images to enlarge~)

          

The name "Briolette" refers to a teardrop-shaped gemstone cut with elongated facets, typically triangular or hexagonal. The facets on a 'Briolette' writing instrument serve the dual purpose of showing off the colour(s) and brilliance of the materials, and -more practically- helping to prevent the pen from rolling off a desk or table. The facets on my fountain pen are very smooth (and nice to the touch :), line up perfectly when its cap is screwed on, and definitely show the "Luminous Amber" material (an off-white-to-amber gradient resin embedded with sparkly gold-coloured particles) to its best effect.
 
I fell in love with this material as soon as I saw photos of it online... and when two online reviewers compared its colour to coffee with as-yet-unstirred cream, I was sold...and I didn't even know the pen also glowed in the dark! Not all of the 'Briolettes' have this neat feature, but the six "Luminous" ones do. They will glow in the dark (and semi-dark) with a light orange glow for up to 12 hours, after being exposed to light for an hour. Sunlight and incandescent bulbs produce the strongest glow, but the heat generated by these sources could damage and/or degrade the resin material, depending on the amount of exposure.

At 13.8 cm/5.4 inches capped and 19.5 grams in weight, the 'Briolette' fountain pen is a nice size and weight---it's light, but not unsubstantial.

I knew its uncapped length (12.7 cm/5 inches from nib tip to barrel end) and also that the pen wasn't postable, so I did some "pre-purchase" research at the University of YouTube to see if it would be suitable for my hand and grip. Several YT reviewers remarked on how comfortable the pen was to hold, but I was still a bit concerned because (a) there *is* a significant drop-off from the barrel to the black resin section and (b) I tend to hold my fountain pens a little higher up the barrel. I decided to take a chance on the pen, though, because I loved the material so much....and oddly enough, it turned out to be perfect for my grip when I held it a bit closer to the nib end! (I'm wondering if the subtle lip at the end of the section is the reason for this). It's also a very well-balanced fountain pen, although that really wasn't a surprise, given its light weight.

The pen comes with a gold-plated #5 size steel Schmidt nib that is available in several nib widths; mine is a Broad that writes super-smoothly. The only thing I'd change in terms of the pen's design would be to put a slightly larger nib on it (for aesthetic reasons); I know the black resin cap band is a deal-breaker for some, but I'm fine with it. The 'Briolette' fountain pen takes either long or short international ink cartridges, or a standard international converter (mine came with a converter). If you like the look of the pen, but don't like fountain pens, it comes in rollerball form as well.

If you wish, you can get a cool-looking crystal-shaped glow-in-the-dark Benu pen stand for your 'Briolette' ; they come in two different colours and actually fit all Benu pens. They're usually sold separately, although some Benu dealers have sold the stand & 'Briolette' pen together for a discounted price (the official Benu online store currently has a store-exclusive pen stand & matching 'Briolette' pen).

The tiny-but-mighty crab holding my new Benu pen was also purchased from The Inky Paw's online store. It was designed by a Mr. Tanaka, a Japanese artist who originally designed the crabs to hold drawing tablet pens. According to the Inky Paw, they're made of PVC plastic and hand-painted, so no two are alike. I chose the so-called "Horror" crab, named so because of the human eyes painted on it (which make it sound really spooky, but it's actually not).

All in all, I'm very happy with my first Benu fountain pen...and I don't think it'll be my last :)

One last thing I forgot to mention earlier -- all of the packaging the pen came in is recyclable, which is welcome news for those who don't keep their pen boxes. Many thanks to InkyPaw.ca for the Benu pen and the adorable crab pen holder!

~Photos & review by Maja ~

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