First time when I heard that Manuscript is working on ‘luxury’ british-made fountain pens I was very intrigued, since I was always affiliating this company with relatively inexpensive calligraphy sets and other stationary related items you could buy here and there. Then, my curiosity raised up when I have seen first commercial pictures of the material and colours Manuscript is planning to use for these eye-candy creations. I must say – it looks very pretty.
ML 1856 is not officially released yet (May/June 2017). The retail price for fountain pen is planned to be around £ 125.0, which is not cheap but at the same time comparable with some competitor’s fountain pens in the market. There is already many discussions about this pen among fountain pen users and many of us is awaiting official release. Thanks to Manuscript I was lucky enough to put my hands on one of them before official release, test it hard and gather some ‘end user‘ thoughts.
Manuscript ML 1856 combines classic look and modern, contemporary material. ML1856 is designed for modern day-to-day penmanship.
Accordingly to Manuscript, ML 1856 pen is made from ‘Italian Resin’. I am not sure that ‘Italian raisin’ means but to me it reminds acrylics, similar to this used by few other manufacturers around. I would love to know what the difference is. Manuscript will sell these pens with different finish options. They will be available as Oyster, Red Storm, Midnight, Molten Lava, Northern Lights, Turquoise Ocean and Purple Mist. You can have a quick glimpse on those here. The pen I received for the review is in Molten Lava pattern. There are various nib options including Medium, Italic 1.1 mm and 1.5 mm.
ML 1856 is about 14.0 cm long (capped), 12.5 cm uncapped and 17.5 cm posted. This is relatively lightweight pen, especially uncapped. The overall weight (capped, with inked cartridge converter) is 24.0 g, whereas uncapped it weights 13.0 g. Cap itself is 11.0g.
Molten lava is a very bright orange/red colour resin with beautifully contrasting black swirls. Additionally, material contains pearl-like component, which at certain light conditions gives beautiful ‘shimmering’ effect. I have notice some pinkish undertones too. All these bright colours feel somehow fluorescent. If you leave this pen on the table, you won’t have any problems to find it – that’s for sure.
The body is machined well and polished to glossy finish, however some negligible rounded marks may be noticed…just. Nothing to be worried about, finish is glossy but not as great as compared to superbly well polished Edison Collier (similar price range) . Otherwise, pen itself feels nice in hand. Grip section is made from the same material as the rest and is tapered down to concave shape, which is comfortable to hold. However, there is a quite significant step between grip section and barrel which to those who like to hold pen higher this may be slightly concerning. Personally does not bother me much. Thread on the section feels smooth. With cap on, transition between barrel and the cap itself is nice and smooth and both parts are aligned well.
Grip section is directly threaded into the barrel with no additional metal adapters. In the model I received for testing it happens sporadically, that thread on the section and groves inside the barrel do not fit perfectly well at some certain position, is when you try to turn the barrel it stuck, so some position adjustment is needed. This problem may be only with this particular pen, but it should not happen. Moreover, I have noticed also quite a lot of machined dust between threads. This may be related to the issue I have just mentioned. I think Mansucript should look carefully at this and improve QC process before the official pen release. Again, this is pretty cosmetic, but it should not happen.
Otherwise, threads on the section and inside the cap work perfectly fine and turning cap on/off goes smoothly every single time. It takes approximately 1.5 turn to unscrew the cap, which seems right. The cap has a chromed clip with etched ‘1856’. Clip feels solid and works well. Initially, I was a bit concerned about clip design, but overtime I became fine with that and I do not mind the way it looks at all. The finial on the cap contains glued-in D.Leonardt & Co chromed trademark. The only thing I have noticed is a very small amount of glue sticking out from the gap between top of the cap and fitted chromed finial. Is not much, but noticeable under the finger. Again, this is is rather cosmetic.
The finial on the barrel is nicely rounded and polished and reveals beautiful pattern.
ML1856 accepts standard cartridges or standard cartridge converters (both were included in the box). Because ML 1856 does not have any metal threads, theoreticall it could be used as ‘eyedropper’, but I have not test it.
Manuscipt ML 1856 is equipped with stainless steel nib from Jowo. Manuscript managed to etch their logo on the nib itself, which is a nice touch. The pen I received came with fitted M nib, but because Manuscript uses standard Jowo nibs and housings, then it is very easy to swap units. Manuscript did a great job with nib socket, which easily accepts Jowo nib and housing, but also feels very secure once nib is mounted in place. The one I have was initially writing a bit dry, but over time ink flow improved. In general writing experience is pleasant. It starts with no problems every time now and it keeps up with the ink flow. Personally, I would probably work a little on this nib to get the best out of it, but for most it will not be necessary. This is a standard, good quality steel nib as it is and it writes well on most types of paper. Jowo nibs are generally well made and most importantly reliable. For this reasons many fountain pens manufacturers are using them in their products.
So what is my verdict?
Well, I really enjoy Manuscript ML 1856 fountain pen made by Manuscript. Interestingly, more I am using it, more I like it. It is well built with plenty of options and materials to choose. The Molten Lava pattern is beautiful and really stands out among other less colourful pens and brings attention. The Jowo nib is reliable and does the job done with no problems. Good thing about these nib units is that you can buy different types including customised and exchange them easily whenever you like.
Personally, I do not have many concerns about this pen as such, except some small glitches here and there which I mentioned above. I believe Manuscript ML 1856 will be a successful product, however before it happens Manuscript needs to address all issues reported by reviewers at this pre-release stage and make this beautiful pen worth its money when it will be officially released. There is no room for mistakes, especially when pens made by competitors are in similar price range (some even cheaper) and are very good quality too. Expectations for ML 1856 are already very high and pen is well anticipated in the fountain pen community. Avoiding unnecessary issues and attention to details will definitely improve important customer satisfaction and would allow Manuscript as a brand to become well established fountain pen company in the market too.
I like this pen and I would not mind to have one in my day-to-day carry. It feels and looks great but there is still some room for improvement.
Bottom line: I feel that suggested price of £ 125.0 may be slightly too much. With all cosmetic issues addressed it will be a fair price. Let’s wait for the official release.
- Beautiful material and overall well built fountain pen
- Various colour and pattern options available
- Easy to exchange nib units
- Comfortable to use and well balanced
- Nib does the job
- Nicely presented (box)
- Some unnecessary QC issues (cosmetic, mainly threads inside the barrel)
- Quite expensive fountain pen for average user but in line with other competitors in the market.
- F or EF nibs options would be welcome (unless I miss it).
(*) Disclaimer/ I have no affiliation with the all brands and companies mentioned above and this short review reflects only my personal views and findings about the product.