Franklin-Christoph Model 27 Collegia fountain pen review31 March 2014
I blame A Fool With A Pen entirely for my buying this pen. His review sold me on the quality and a brief look at the Franklin-Christoph website sold me on the colour. This is the Franklin-Christoph Model 27 ‘Collegia’ in Tennessee Orange with an extra-fine steel nib. And it is almost, but not quite, perfect.
As so often is the case, it seems, I have a tale to tell about this pen. I bought it not long after I ordered the Levenger L-Tech Stealth. Levenger wanted almost as much to post their pen to the UK as this one cost. Not only that, the Franklin-Christoph is a better pen and includes free shipping. In two working days. That is astonishing but it is not my tale.
When I received the pen it kept false-starting. I emailed back and forth with Franklin-Christoph and they suggested a few things to try. It didn’t help with this pen but did sort out another for me. When we ran out of things to try they sent me a new nib free of charge, all the way from the USA to the UK. I know that’s exactly what they ought to have done but it’s always refreshing when a company actually does something like that.
After all that, what is the Franklin-Christoph Model 27 Collegia actually like? Does the pen warrant such a long name? It does! Although there is one significant flaw. That flaw is the section, which both the cap and the barrel thread onto. This means that very often (at least half the time) when I want to undo the cap I in fact undo the barrel. If I remember to only screw the cap on loosely then I’m usually okay but that’s not ideal. I checked a bunch of other pens and all the others that I have with screw-on caps have that cap screw onto the barrel rather than the section. (It turns out there is a solution to this, which I’ve put at the end of this review.) The other big problem with the section is that the threads that the cap screws onto are big and sharp and dig into my fingers. Now my fingers are big and fat so more sensibly proportioned humans may not have that problem.
Let’s put that aside though because this pen has so many wonderful qualities that I’m more than prepared to live with the threading issues.
The nib is lovely. Franklin-Christoph sell most of their fountain pens with a choice of twenty nibs. Five factory steel nibs and five Mike Masuyama ground steel nibs, and the same again in gold. Mine has a factory extra-fine steel nib and it’s lovely. I have another Franklin-Christoph pen with a Masuyama medium stub and that is even lovelier, I must say. There is a nib for everyone, that’s for sure, and even the cheapest (such as this one) are fantastic. It’s smooth, not very wet but not too dry and the decoration is beautiful.
The barrel is a nice length and weight in the hand. The cap is heavy and doesn’t post. (You could wedge it on but you shouldn’t.) The branding on the cap is fairly subtle, sophisticated and perfectly in keeping with the classy tone of the pen. The sprung clip is good and sturdy. It comes with a converter and will take standard international cartridges.
This pen is orange, which means it is good. If for some insane reason you don’t like orange, there are six other colours available.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 27 is a pen I use very often. If it wasn’t for the issue with the threads it would almost certainly be in my top five. I love how it writes and I love how it looks and it is absolutely incredible value.
Here is a bonus photo. It’s Molly, who insisted on being part of the photoshoot. (Especially for you, Azizah!)
Franklin-Christoph got in touch shortly after I posted this review to say that the problem I’ve been experiencing with the barrel unscrewing can be solved by squeezing the barrel down tightly onto the section so that the threads can ‘bite’. Apparently they usually do this prior to shipping but it seems not sufficiently in my case. I tried this and it worked. Having done it once, the barrel now stays put when I’m unscrewing the cap and only takes a little extra effort to unscrew when I want it to.
Also, Franklin-Christoph pointed out that many people do post the cap. This is perfectly possible, as I said in the review, but what you end up with is a very unbalanced and awkward looking pen and so I still feel it’s something you shouldn’t do.
Update 17 June 2014
I bought a Masuyama medium stub nib for this from Franklin-Christoph and it’s wonderful. This beautiful nib along with the solution to the barrel unscrewing issue has resulted in this pen becoming one of my most favourites.
I’m not suggesting that you should have to do this to make a pen work correctly, but you could try putting Teflon tape on the section to barrel threads (not sure if you call it the same stuff in the UK). This white filmy plastic is use in threaded pluming connections and would likely make the treads tight enough that they wouldn’t back out of the barrel when the cap was removed.
Thanks Paul I think that might have worked. (It’s called PTFE tape here in the UK.) Fortunately Franklin-Christoph contacted me to tell me how to solve this and I’ve updated the review to explain how.
Oh, so this is the fourth one from your Instagram photo. Lovely thing, however, I like the other three pens more 😉
They’re all excellent pens. Of the four (this, Retro 51, Sailor Reglus and A G Spalding) this and the Reglus are my favourites. I think this one just edges out the Reglus now that I’ve fixed the barrel-unscrewing issue. Also I have a new Masuyama medium stub nib hopefully arriving for this one today. I think that’ll push this into my Top 5.
Well done for naming the other three!
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My wife gave me one in this color for our anniversary. (We’re alumni of the University of Tennessee, the origin of the color and name.) My graduating seniors also gave me the Carolina Blue (sadly discontinued; I’m also an alum of the University of North Carolina). I love them both.
I’m actually curious about the ink you are using. It is almost a Carolina blue. What is it?
Thanks for stopping by Mark. The ink is Organics Studio Copper Turquoise.
I’ll check it out. Thanks.