Think PenBBS, think great pens and quality nibs. Even if the nibs only come in one size. 😄
Think ink too! I just got my hands on a bottle of no. 232, Ugly 丑. What a name! What a color!
More and more, think crazy-cool materials. Stunning eye-candy acrylics that make you want to collect ‘em all.
So far I have managed to resist the urge. But when I saw the 469 and heard the chatter that it might be a limited run pen, I figured I might just jump if I had the chance.
As luck would have it, the opportunity did present itself. A dozen or so of the pens appeared on Taobao. They were gone in hours but one was on its way to me.
Very nice cracked-ice acrylic sections and caps. Bright Moon over a Blue Lake (蓝湖明月). Plenty of depth to the colors. A transparent middle section with ink chambers that seemingly almost touch.
The 469 is a unique pen to say the least. It has some art in it. Dual eyedropper nibs, like a mirror image of itself.
This is a big pen. Much bigger than a 308. It’s bigger around too owing to the symmetric construction. The pen verges on massive.
Weight inked (FP + RB)
The flush cap means a significant step up from the section. The construction makes for a killer look but is less comfortable in the hand.
While the caps are in principle interchangeable - either can go on either end - with my pen they have favorites. One cap goes on both ends smoothly. The other is smooth on one end but has a little catch going onto the other. Just a bit of stiffness mid-turn as it goes on.
Aside from a couple of oversized ebonite pens that are even larger in diameter, the closest comparison in my collection is the TWSBI Vac 700, unfortunately my most seldom used TWSBI. I never really got over the big step up from the section to the barrel. Uncapped, the Vac 700 and the 469 are also almost identical in weight.
The PenBBS 469 is, of course, eyedropper-only. Also, not my comfort zone. I have several Indian eyedroppers that inevitably wind up burping. If regular ink burps were core to the fountain pen experience, I'm not sure if I'd still be involved.
So far I’m telling myself that the relatively small size of the ink chambers will offer less chance for the captured air to warm and force out a big ink puddle.
The pen comes with standard PenBBS F nibs installed. One is two-toned. The nibs write just like the others in my collection which is both good news and slightly uninspiring.
But intriguingly, there’s also a rollerball nib in the box like the one delivered with the PenBBS 350.
With the 350 I found the rollerball made the pen feel shorter than I like. The combo works much better with this pen. Now I have a pen with a nib on one end and a rollerball on the other. That’s definitely cool.
Putting Pen to Paper
So how does the pen write? It writes like a large PenBBS pen. The big step and straight barrel are impossible to ignore, but the pen is not so massive that it's uncomfortable and it is relatively light.
Both the fountain pen nib and the rollerball performed perfectly from the start. The rollerball puts down a slightly wider line than the fountain pen. I'd call it an M.
I picked Noodler's Aircorps Blue Black for the fountain pen side and SKB Ocher Plum (赭梅) for the rollerball. Both worked well. The examples below are on MiquelRuis 90g extra opaque paper but the pen was happy on everything from copy paper quality notepads to mid-range Japanese notebooks.
So after something of a unexpected start, I'm feeling better about this pen. I’m getting used to the big step up from the section. I’m also coming to be less bothered by the relatively un-ergonomic straight barrel.
I'm still drawn to the zen-like symmetry of the pen. I also like the idea of a fountain pen / rollerball combo. The 469 is definitely a better fit with the rollerball than was the 350.
So far, no burps. Fingers crossed.
My PenBBS 469 was about US$28 plus shipping from Shanghai Jindian 上海晶典文具社 on Taobao. Frankly, I was expecting it to be a little less as it doesn't have the costs of a complex filling system.
It's hard to say the 469 is a good place to start with PenBBS pens. For that, I'd recommend the 308. A 308 in basic color goes for about a third the price and you get a superb writing instrument.
This pen is for the PenBBS completest, people who appreciate esoterica or folks who just like the way it looks. Check your wallet. If you're pen budget has room, give it a whirl. You never know until you've tried.
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.