Franklin Christoph was founded in 1901 producing ceramic products, it was not until 2001 when they changed direction to become a designer and manufacturer of fine writing instruments such as the one featured here today.
Whilst other pen companies have innovated with different materials and colours, Franklin Christoph have stuck with a relatively tame colour palette. Where their innovation shines through is in the subtle and beautifully designed pen shapes and features. Secondly they have partnered up with Mike Masuyama to provide a selection of beautifully tuned and shaped nibs made from both gold and steel.
The Model 20 Marietta is their first slip cap pen made out of acrylic. It is similar in profile to the Model 03 Iterum but with some fine details that really help it stand out. The cap doesn't close with a click, this is by design, but instead closes via friction. It is easy to remove and replace the cap and Franklin Christoph claim to have designed it so that the cap doesn't crack (after a month of daily use there is no indication that they would be wrong, this pen feels of a very high quality); the friction cap is faster to remove than even the excellent screw threads used on the other Franklin Christoph pens I have (Model 02 & Model 03).
A beautifully turned cap is enhanced by a simple clip with 4 diamond shapes from the logo engraved on the flat surface. Above the clip the cap has two rings turned into the acrylic, a detail that is mirrored on the end of the barrel. Below the clip 'Franklin Christoph' is engraved in a way that makes it barely visible, sometimes looking more like a blemish until you look a bit closer.
A FC branded JoWo steel nib is recessed slightly into the grip section of the pen, this one tuned to a fine cursive italic nib by Masuyama. The grip section has a slight lip that stops your fingers from shooting forward and the grip blends nicely into the barrel without a step up or screw threads making this a really comfortable pen to hold whilst writing. The join is visible but never gets in the way even if you grip over it.
There is a slight reduction to the barrel diameter towards the end to help posting of the cap and when in place it fits snugly and doesn't wobble or come loose whilst writing. The balance of the pen is excellent without posting and the pen is long enough to use like this; when posted the length increases as expected but the lightness of the cap means that the balance is still good. This is not a heavy pen which is unsurprising when you consider the main material used in construction of the pen is acrylic, this ensures that arm ache is minimised.
The nib grind by Masuyama is excellent, it definitely feels like a cursive italic nib rather than a stub. Even though this is a fine cursive there is plenty of line width variation between the down and side strokes. It is very smooth on the down strokes with almost no feedback on Rhodia paper, the cross strokes have a significantly more feedback but this doesn't impact negatively when writing. The pen leaves a nice wet line on the page enabling good shading to occur if the ink permits.
The pen can be used with standard international cartridges (it comes with a couple if I remember properly), using the high quality converter supplied or with a bit of silicon grease as an Eyedropper. I have stuck to using the converter as the barrel isn't really transparent enough to get a colour benefit from the ink and I don't need a massive fill capacity for how I have been using this pen.
From a distance the Tiger Red acrylic is subtle and doesn't look out of place on an office desk. On my version the tiger stripe pattern is only really visible on the cap section and even then unless you look closely you could miss it. Put a bit more light onto the pen though and the magic really starts with this pen. The colours pop, the pattern becomes obvious as the less opaque sections let the light through. It is a stunning colour with so much depth and flavour whilst not being in your face garish.
Purchasing this pen from the Franklin Christoph website was simple and quick. I chose my nib/colour combination, added it to my basket and paid via PayPal. Within minutes I received a dispatch notification, tracking ID and despite being based in another continent the pen showed up only two days later. This colour wasn't in stock when I first chose to purchase the pen, but a quick email later and I was informed when production would be completed and right on schedule stock became available on the website. The service was very efficient, I didn't have to pay separately for postage to England (P&P must be built into the cost) and it arrived packaged excellently against rough handling.
The pen was supplied in a rather simple white box (recyclable), inside was a little leather pen pouch (which I now use to store my spare converters and a few cartridges, whilst the pen is carried in a pen case) containing the pen, a converter and a cartridge (or two). I have a severe dislike when pens of any price but especially expensive ones come with fancy packaging, I know this is used to show that the pen is of a high quality and worth the money but I just don't get this approach. I would rather that expensive pens came in a pen pouch in a simple cardboard box like the Franklin Christoph pens do (LAMY also package their pens in simple fully recyclable boxes) as all I do is check the pen writes to my expectations and then lob the packaging in the bin.
For me this pen ticks all the boxes. It writes brilliantly, looks amazing (especially with a bit of light) and the sales service is superb. I would highly recommend that if you don't have a pen by Franklin Christoph that you should go out and buy one, they make great pens for every day use. I do however have two other pens by FC and right now this is not my favourite design of the three (more reviews will follow), but perhaps my favourite colour. I look forward to using this for years and years to come, this will not be leaving my collection.
Franklin Christoph pens can be found for sale at www.franklin-christoph.com. I purchased this pen without discount from Franklin Christoph.