I have added a review index to the menubar (Found at the top of the page) at the behest of a reader. I hope the index would be useful for people browsing the site. I will be keeping it up to date. Now back to the regularly scheduled pen review.
Length (capped): 137.8mm
Length (uncapped): 122.8mm
Length of cap: 64mm
Price: 7350 Yen from Amazon Japan
Body Material: Resin
Nib Material: 14k Gold nib
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and Converter (CON-20, CON-50, CON-70)
Colours: Black, Red, Blue, Brown.
I have purchased this pen from Amazon Japan when I found out that the Japanese Yen is low agianst the Singapore dollar. (By the time this review is out, this is probably no longer the case.) I have intended this pen to replace my vintage flex nib pens like the Waterman 32 and the Weidlich that I have purchased previous. Why the shift from vintage to modern you might wonder? For one, I realised I hated cleaning vintage pens. It isn't as easy to flush the pen. For another, I can't have a pen with a flex or even a soft nib as an everyday writer. Thus, the two vintage fountain pens have gone onto a better home. I am a proud owner of a Pilot Custom Heritage 91 with a soft fine nib.
Pilot has a number of pens under the Custom Heritage name. Their number naming convention can be a little confusing at times. Check out this page to have a better idea what's the difference between the different pen models.
Pilot Custom Heritage comes in a standard clamshell box with faux leather like texture on the exterior. The box opens and the pen is nestled gently in the middle along with all the care guide and warranty card. The Pilot Custom Heritage 91 comes with a single black cartridge but it doesn't come with a converter. I was a little disappointed that for a pen of this price doesn't automatically just come with a converter.
I had opted to go for the black version with silver accents. Yes it does look extremely traditional and a little corporate-ish but this is still a classic design. The flat top cap is accented by the silver clip. The shape of the clip reminds me very much the Pelikan M205's clip that I have previously reviewed. It feels just right in terms of the spring - stiff index for pen clips. Near the end of the cap, there is a silver band with "Custom Heritage 91 Pilot Japan" engraved on it. The cap is a simple push to post type.
The Pilot Custom Heritage 91 has a cartridge converter filling system. It takes all the converters that Pilot makes including the CON-70 which has the highest ink capacity. The cartridge converter system makes for easy cleaning but the CON-70 is a troublesome converter to clean. It requires a lot of shaking to get all the ink out.
The entire body of the pen is made of a black resin. It is the same material from the grip section to the barrell. The grip section isn't very long and there isn't much of a step between the grip and the barrell. The threads on the barrel feels smooth and well filed so it doesn't bite my fingers.
Finally, the flat top cap unscrews off easily to reveal the main attraction of this pen. The Pilot Custom Heritage 91 comes with a 14k nib #5 nib. I had opted for the SF nib because I had intended to replace my vintage flex nib fountain pens. The SF nib that came with the pen delivered on that score. Though it isn't the softest nib option that Pilot has (The falcon nib is much softer. It is a modern equiavalent for vintage flex nibs but nothing beats the flexibility of the vintage nibs.), the SF nib is plenty soft for me. I had intended to use the pen regularly even when I am not intending to flex the nib all that much.
Sadly, I realised my writing angle makes it hard for me to use the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 as an everyday writer. However, the nib writes flawlessly and smoothly. It neither is scratchy nor is the feed unable to keep up with me as I attempt some horrible Copperplate calligraphy. My issue with the nib is it tends to dig into the paper when I do regular writing with it. When I hold the pen, the nib is parallel to the line so when I write from left to right the nib drags across the paper. This is especially bad on lousy paper.
I am sad that the SF nib has relegated the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 into a pen I only use when I want to do some bad Copperplate script and I wasn't able to use it as an eveyday writer. However, that's just me and not the pen or the nib. For right handed writers, this would be an excellent pen in anyone's collection. For lefties I would think this would work best for under writers, all other types I suggest you try the pen before buying. Now I am eyeing a regular 14k F nib from Pilot!
* Soft nib
* Classic design