Spectrecle // Baron Fig Squire and Confidant [REVIEW]

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a pen and notebook duo

Baron Fig Squire Pen and Confidant Notebook
Limited Edition Squire – The Insightful Spectre w/ Squire Ink Refill
$60USD (https://www.baronfig.com/pages/spectre)
Charcoal – Flagship size (5.4″ x 7.7″), Dot grid
$18USD (https://www.baronfig.com/products/shopconfidant)

Hello!! I am back. I had grand plans to finally review one of my pens I’ve had for some time, but what is self control, I went and bought some new things and I wanted to show them off right away. This is my first non-fountain pen review! So that’s something. Plus a combined pen and notebook review! That’s another thing. Anyway, there are some great reviews already out there that look at the Squire, this new Squire as well as plenty of looks at the Confidant notebook since their release. So I’ll be reviewing by sharing some of my thoughts and doodles with these products that are pretty much brand new to me.

I’ve heard and read about the baron fig and the squire pen in the past, but I hadn’t thought to buy one then because I have a lot of regular pens already. And while I have read that the pen is really great, I figure for 60 dollars, I could spend it on a fountain pen instead. But here I am, writing about a squire that I decided to buy in the end. And I did it for these reasons:

  1. Limited Edition – as long as something is in an affordable price range, I’m always down to get my hands on something that’s limited edition. And I sure am glad I did, because it is now sold out on the website.
  2. Colour – This pen has a brilliant mystical ghostly dark shimmer to it that just looks really fascinating, especially compared to the base colours Baron Fig was offering at the time. My judgement was based on review photographs as well as the images on their website, and I have to say, it’s even more brilliant and fascinating in person. I am not disappointed.
  3. Engraving – This little ghost engraving is super cute!
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Shiny and spooky squire

You may notice that none of those reasons have anything to do with the pen mechanics and writing/drawing ability at all. That is to say, not that I didn’t care for whether the pen could perform or not, it just wasn’t on the priority list (surprising…) for me when I made the purchase. Suffice to say, I had no expectations for how well the pen would perform or whether I was planning to use it as an everyday writer. And since I was paying for shipping anyway, I threw in a Confidant notebook that I’ve been wanting to try for sometime now.

Here we go!

Look
Does this pen look super awesome? You bet.

There are a few things I could start with about the look of the pen, but I think I’ll start with what was most striking for me. I said this above, and I’ll say it again, the colour on this pen is very magical. The description of the pen says it’s “phantom black”, but it’s closer to a purple grey hue, and when light hits the pen, there’s a bit of a dark pink sheen that reflects off the round barrel. I really can’t tell if I’m giving a proper description or not, but I hope my photos can do some of the explaining for me. In a way, the adverting for a ‘phantom black’ pen is actually misleading, but since I perused through some early reviews pre-purchase, I knew what I was going to get.

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The packaging is quite impressive, despite it being so simple. A cylindrical paper tube case houses the pen, fit snugly in a foam insert. The top of the box has the name of the pen ‘The Insightful Spectre’ while a full scale illustration shows the pen, complete with engraving, on the front.

Moving on to the shape and size, it’s a relatively small pen, but not quite as small as a capped pocket pen. It measures just about 5″ long, and a diameter of about 3/8″ or 1cm wide. I have small hands, so I can easily say that this size works well for me!  There is also a very ever so slight taper out towards the pen tip, designed to prevent the pen from slipping in use. More on how it feels in hand later. There isn’t much more to say about the overall looks of the pen. It’s clean, minimal and elegantly designed. The top of the pen features a little ‘knob’ with a twist mechanism that ‘clicks’ in place when the tip is out, and releases easily with a slight flick. One more thing I will add is that the aluminum surface finish of the pen is also quite nice. It’s not super smooth, and has a really nice subtle brushed finish that helps with that shimmery sheen under the right lighting.

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fits nicely in my small hand

Finally, the little signature engraving near the top. The standard squire pen features a sword illustration, a visual representation of BF’s tagline, “the pen is a mighty sword.” But this limited edition features a little ghost outline engraved into the metal with two little white eyes. Really adorable. Opposite the little ghost is the company name/logo in thin block letters, also engraved, but in white, so it stands out against the dark pen colour. I have a habit now of placing the pen in my pencil case with the little ghost face up, so the eyes are always looking out at me whenever I open my case. It’s the little things that count.

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sitting snugly among my other treasures

Feel
So, as I said above, since I didn’t get the pen for it’s writing/drawing ability, I really had no expectations going in. I will have to say though, that I was not disappointed, but also not pleasantly surprised. The pen works wonderfully, but I also expected it to, given how much I paid for it. The inset is a BF branded Schmidt P8127 roller ball refill (from what I have read on the internets), and draws about a 0.6mm medium sized line, super smooth and a little on the wet side. Because the ink is so watery though, I have found that depending on what paper you use, it tends to feather very minimally, because the ink comes out so gushfully. I have noticed some very slight feathering on the Confidant (and also a leuchtturm1917), but only when I’m drawing slower and letting the tip sit on the page for longer than a split second. It doesn’t seem to consistently feather though, so my eyes might just need to get checked.

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click to enlarge!

I have also noticed some slight wiggling when I’m drawing, in the tip. I say slight, because it really depends how I’m holding the pen. When I’m fist gripping it to death while trying to draw more defined lines, I don’t feel it at all. When I’m loosely pinch gripping it and writing, I notice a little wiggle. But overall the pen is incredibly sturdy, especially the twist cap top that ‘clicks’ when you snap it in place. A solid piece of work. I feel like this pen can last forever. The pen is made up of four parts, the barrel, the twist top, the pen refill, and a spring. Easy to take apart, easy to put back together.

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the four parts to the pen

The feel in hand is also pretty nice. For a metal pen, usually you’d expect some heft to it, but because of the smaller size and I imagine thickness of the metal, the pen doesn’t feel heavy at all. On the other end, it doesn’t feel cheap or too light either. In fact, as advertised, it has incredibly comfortable balance — front heavy so writing and drawing feels good and sturdy when the pen hits paper. The wonderful balance is not just for one off signatures or jotting down quick notes. I genuinely feel like I could use this pen for extended periods of time and not feel much resistance or tiredness. I’ve been using the pen at work, where I do a lot of writing notes and sketching and can safely say the pen has been comfortable and hassle free for at least a week!

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Finally, I have noticed, on occasion, that the pen can skip. It doesn’t happen often, and could also depend on the angle that I’m using it at. But for sure, if I put enough weight while writing or drawing, the ink comes out buttery smooth without a problem.

Value
This is where I may end up making a more subjective opinion than an objective one than usual. Because my past reviews have been on relatively quality entry level pens (except the TWSBI 580), it has been hard not to vouch for their value in terms of quality to price paid. Here we have a quality regular pen with a decently hefty price tag. It’s a beautiful pen, with subtle but clear design intentions — including the engraving logo, twist mechanic, shape and size, and there are some standard non-limited edition colour options too (The wine red looks pretty snazzy). But it’s not cheap, and for $60, there are a lot of alternate and equally nice options. But for a limited edition pen of this quality that I thoroughly enjoy using? It was certainly worth it for me.

Conclusion
Pros/

  • Limited Edition for all you collectors out there
  • Beautiful shimmering colour – phantom black but really slate dark grey w/ purple tint
  • Well balanced feeling metal all-round pen
  • Smooth rollerball fill with solid and dark black ink
  • Build of the pen is sturdy and well made, mechanics feel like they will last forever
  • Engraving is super cute

Cons/

  • Small size, no clip — potentially easier to lose
  • The ink is a little too watery and I already have plans to replace it with something less gushy
  • Round barrel can roll off tables
  • A little on the expensive side

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Confidant
I had a feeling when I started writing that I might have second thoughts about combining a pen AND notebook review in one go. But I also disclaimed that I was merely going to share thoughts and doodles, and also that the blog is still, at present, primarily pen-reviewing focused. So just as I like to give a little snippet section at the end of reviews with my thoughts on the ink, so this will be a quick snippets of my thoughts on the notebook.

I really like this notebook! For a variety of reasons, but first and foremost, the size is very comfortable for me. Something about this slightly smaller than A5 size fits well in my hand when I hold it. To add to that, the canvas per page isn’t too large like an A5 or too small like a pocket notebook. I find that leuchttrum1917’s are great for writing, but that I now really like this size for drawing. Next up, the dot grid is really neat. It’s light enough that it doesn’t really get in the way but also provides some rigidity if I wanted some notation to guide me. On top of that, though this may not appeal to everyone, the dots seem to have a coating on it that makes it show up even when brush markers, inks or pen goes over it. So you can see in my header doodle, that the black hair has little dots on it. It’s a little strange, but I think it’s a neat feature.

 

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nice box for the book

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The paper is commendable, feels well made and can handle most fountain pen inks and also doesn’t fail miserably when I do light watercolouring. It has a little bit of grain/tooth to it, which I tend to enjoy on my paper, especially when I plan to sketch a lot more than write. I haven’t done a full plethora of tests on the paper yet, but so far I am enjoying it enough for what I need it for. I have read that some people have a little bit of issue with the bookmark being a little too short, but I don’t mind it since I don’t use it very often. There is also no back pocket on this book, but I am also okay with this. The inner lining page of the book is really sturdy with a nice lined texture on it. Classy.

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boo

Finally, I have to say, this company really knows how to direct a magnet right at my wallet. Within a day or two of my purchase of the LE Squire, Baron Fig decides to drop new Guardian leather case colours for the Confidant notebook. Slay me; I’m not usually a fan of pastel-esque colours, but all of them look great. Of course, I’m most fond of the yellow gold one, and think it would look simply stunning with my charcoal notebook — https://www.baronfig.com/products/guardianconfidant. It’s an absolutely unnecessary upgrade for me too! The book itself imo,  is well protected in it’s hardcover cloth bound casing. I’m not a rough user of my stationaries, nor do I carry all my books with me all the time. I also am still working through my traveler’s notebook (link) which features the svelte LE olive leather cover. But if anyone is feeling generous….>:}

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That’s all for now! Thanks for tuning in and it’s great to be back after that short break. Planning the next review to be on one of my earlier pens, and possibly some musing on more notebooks I picked up for my collection. 🙂

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