The Manuscript Master Italic Calligraphy Pen is a fountain pen that comes with a 1.1mm steel italic nib. It was sent to me to review by Cult Pens and is available from them for £14.99.
The pen is made from soft touch kind of plastic which is comfortable to hold and a nice change from hard plastic. The look and feel of this material places the pen firmly in its correct price range: not at all cheap and nasty but far from luxury.
Likewise the overall look is the classic cigar shape, with subtle branding, a plain (not very exciting) matt black colour and a cheap looking but effective clip.
The metal section is great, though, with a gentle grip and a clear collar around the nib that fill with ink and looks lovely.
The pen uses standard international cartridges. Manuscript make their own convertor, which I’ve not tried, but the pen will take some but not all other makes of standard-sized convertors. I used a Waterman one, which I’ve found is one that will fit most pens.
The Manuscript Master Italic Calligraphy Pen is by definition a pen meant for calligraphy. I am not that great at calligraphy and so will restrict my comments to the performance of the nib in general writing. It’s a very sharp italic and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the very definition of an italic nib. It does mean you need to be careful with it – I’ve dug it into the paper on a couple of occasions – but I won’t criticise an italic nib for being an italic nib.
What I will criticise it for though is that with a dry-ish ink (such as almost every J. Herbin ink) it puts down an occasionally inconsistent line. Some of the blame does need to lie with the ink but I do think a calligraphy pen ought to be quite wet and put down a good amount of ink, whatever it is.
Reviewing a pen that is either wonderful or terrible is easy. Reviewing a pen that is somewhere in the middle is harder. The Manuscript Master Italic Calligraphy Pen is perfectly fine. The nib is okay but not spectacular. The look is very safe, nothing too terrible, nothing to get your heart racing. It should never be anyone’s first pen, an italic nib is likely to put a new fountain pen user off, but it’s worth considering if you want to dip your toes into something different. I’d have a good look at the Pilot Plumix first though: the nib is a little better but the rather more eccentric style may not be for everyone.
Thank you to Cult Pens for sending me this pen to review. These are my own views and were not influenced in any way by Cult Pens.