Ghosty & Smokey // Franklin Christoph Model 03 Fountain Pen [REVIEW]

Franklin Christoph Model 03 Iterum Fountain Pen
Ghost & Smoke edition
$175 USD (Franklin Christoph website)
Currently Inked: Colorverse Matter $28.80 USD (Pen Chalet)

Many fountain pen enthusiasts will not be a stranger to this pen brand. I was though, for quite a while! Slowly but surely, I started hearing and reading about F-C pens through pen blogs. In particular, Charlie Rufus’ post about his Model 02. I was pretty determined after that, to get one, but never really bit the bullet until much recently and feeling like it is finally time to find out just what is so amazing about these pens. I’ve been very excited to write this review since acquiring such pen, but of course, also wanted to spend a requisite amount of time with it before gathering up some opinions. So without further ado, here goes!

Look
Does this pen look super awesome? Simple and elegant!

This is certainly not a glam jam pen, but there is some very subtle charm to it that I personally really like. I got the “Ghost & Smoke” edition of the Model 03 Iterum. The cap and body is all made of the same white-translucent-ish plastic, with just a grey plastic finial on the top. The cap has a simple metal clip and that’s about it. No special bells and whistles.

The smokey grey plastic of my finial seemed to arrive with some cracks in it, but I can’t be certain whether that is intentional or I got a faulty version. I don’t mind it anymore and I rarely look at the top of the cap so it doesn’t bother me. The cap also has a very finely engraved ‘Franklin-Christoph’ near the base, but it’s so finely etched on this type of material it’s almost invisible.

The most unique feature of this simple pen is probably the way the cap screws into the body. Instead of the tines being at the base of the grip, it’s actually at the top, where the grip meets the nib. It took some getting used to, since my fingers were then shifted a little further down the grip, plus the added length of a #6 nib. I’m still not quite used to it, but have adapted.

The pen comes with a ‘Franklin-Christoph’ labelled international converter, and I opted for the black coated steel nib in EF size. It’s definitely a larger nib than I’m used to, given I use a pilot penmanship fairly regularly. More about those feels later!

Lastly, packaging. Simple paper box and a cloth pouch pencil case! I like this case a lot, and plan to carry it around with me when I go out and don’t have the capacity for my entire pencil case in my bag. I’ve seen photos where the pens come in a leather case, but I am quite happy with this cloth one, and it’s made really well. I’m already happy it even came with a carrying case.

Feel

The first point I have to make, is that I have bought and used F and EF Jowo nibs before, and had a fairly certain expectation of what this nib would be like. I’m super picky about EF nibs, especially because I basically compare them with my Pilot Penmanship, which has one of the finest nibs that I use so regularly and only cost me 10 bucks. I was expecting a typical western fine kind of line, but I was pleasantly surprised!

click to enlarge!

I’ve tested it multiple times and compared, and this EF nib is definitely on par in thinness with the Pilot Penmanship. Hurrah! The only thing that forms the deterrent is how much larger the nib is and the length of it takes some getting used to, especially when I’m used to the control I get for drawing with a smaller nib.

In any case, the pen is great. It’s lightweight, well balanced and easy to use. I had a bit of trouble getting the ink to flow when I first inked it up, but once I pushed the ink through, everything was running very smoothly. I’ve tried two different inks in the pen and have gotten similar results. The current ink I’m using has occasionally suffered from start/stop issues, which I didn’t have the first run through. But once I push the ink through with the converter it all seems fine again. I will have to see whether this is because the ink is particularly dry or just the feed having some issues allowing the ink to flow. I’m no expert though, so any thoughts on this would be helpful!

Ultimately, if I do want to seriously consider testing this pen as the new ‘every day’ doodler, I will have to spend more time with it. I just haven’t fully gotten used to it, but it is certainly a viable contender. The lightweight plastic body and comfort level with using the pen really is a plus. Aside from the price, which I’ll discuss next, it’s a great pen for every day use, especially writing.

Value

I think the pens I gravitate to using more often always tend to be the cheaper ones. There’s just something about using a $200 pen and banging it up for wear and tear that doesn’t sit well with me. That isn’t to say I can’t get over that, plus the longer I spend with a pen, the easier it becomes to overlook that cost. The thing that has bugged me so far is that I spend all this time and money looking and trying EF nib pens so that I can find a ‘replacement’ for my penmanship, when at the end of the day, I always gravitate back to it because it’s comfortable and I feel like there’s no loss if I ruin it.

The biggest question I ask myself when it comes to value tends to always end up being a comparison to the penmanship. It’s a strange thing really, there is clearly a big difference in quality, build, etc. to the more expensive pens and it’s not like the more expensive pens are so subpar to the penmanship that they aren’t worth using.

Anyway, so is this F-C worth it? Everyone who has ever bought one says it is. I’m inclined to agree, but I also have to spend a lot more time with it. It’s an excellent and solid pen. It is comfortable and well built and doesn’t feel cheap at all in hand. The cost is steep at first, given you’re buying a plastic pen with a steel nib, but it’s a highly engineered and designed pen, with great customer support, free shipping (and fast too!). I do think I will try to keep using it as an everyday writer, wish me luck! The next test being to use it for my planner doodles.

Conclusion

Pros

  • lightweight and comfortable
  • well built and good quality
  • unique twist mechanism for cap
  • smooth ink flow
  • EF nib is actually EF!
  • Comes with a small 2-pen cloth pencil case

Cons

  • Pricey (but free and fast shipping!)
  • Plastic can break, I guess
  • Clip is a little tight, not easy to slip into my pen roll
  • Longer distance to nib because of the cap tines

Ink

Buying this ink was a both an easy decision and also an impulse one. I am quite straightforward, I primarily use dark inks for doodles and for work, and while I collect a lot of colourful inks, I tend not to use them very often. This is a grey ink – neither dark nor colourful. So what made it so attractive? I’m not sure, maybe I just wanted to give it a try. And it’s been very fun to use! It’s kind of like using a pencil to sketch an idea down before inking, but it’s also already an ink so there’s no erasing involved. It’s also still dark enough to be legible so it doesn’t deter in that sense either.

What is this ink I am rambling about? Colorverse “Matter”, which also came with a smaller bottle of “Anti-Matter”, equally light, grey-ish and fascinating. I enjoy both very much and am considering keeping a pen inked with either regularly just to have a ‘pencil’ on hand when I feel like sketching an underlay with pen before full inking.

Thanks so much for tuning in and reading! Hope you enjoyed and found some insight into another custom pen world pen. Haven’t decided who’s next, but stay tuned next month and keep checking in to see what my monthly ink rotation is.

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