On a recent visit to our local Ryman stationer, this new cartridge pen from Manuscript, called the Clarity, caught my eye.
This is a clear demonstrator, taking standard international cartridges. The cap, section and barrel are of a clear plastic but with matching end caps in black, a sturdy metal clip finished in matte black and a black centre band bearing the words Manuscript UK, in capital letters. Yes, it is rather unusual to find a mainstream fountain pen that is made here in the UK.
It was displayed in a clear plastic clam shell type box hanging on a peg. I did not see any other colour options. Having purchased one, I took it to a nearby coffee shop to try. Here I was glad to find that the packaging could be opened without the need of scissors or sharp knife.
The pen is really very pleasing. The classic cigar shape, tapering towards the rounded ends, is attractive and comfortable. The body material appears reasonably durable although the cap would not withstand being stepped on.
I pushed in one of the supplied cartridges and the ink started to flow within a couple of strokes, which I always like.
You get a “proper” stainless steel nib, with Iridium point, in a Medium width. The tines were aligned and the nib slit tapered nicely from the breather hole to the tip. So far so good.
The pen measures 140mm capped, 125mm uncapped, or 155mm posted which is how I prefer to use it. It is very light at 14g capped or posted (including two cartridges), or just 8g unposted.
The writing experience was very pleasant, on the wet side but not a gusher, but smooth and with good lubrication of the nib. Having very often had the opposite experience of finding new pens to be very dry and stingey, this was a welcome result.
The cap is a snap on one, which feels firm and secure, although the cap does still rotate freely. There is an opaque, white inner cap, which serves well in keeping the nib from drying out. If you cap the pen and rotate it in the cap, you can observe the inner cap turning as well, although it does not unscrew so this does not seem to be a problem.
I found that the barrel end cap is threaded and can be unscrewed. This allows you to replace the spare cartridge without having to uncap the pen and then unscrew the barrel. The time saving is negligible but I rather liked this feature.
To my mind, Manuscript are a brand associated with calligraphy pen sets, whereas this model is sold as a handwriting pen with a single, standard medium nib. I have bought a few Manuscript pens in recent years in the sub-£10.00 price range but this one seems more attractive, comfortable and pleasurable to use.
In summary, my likes:-
- UK made (yay!);
- Useful size, shape and weight;
- Firm metal pocket clip;
- Firm snap-on cap;
- Cap can be posted securely to give a decent length but still light-weight pen;
- Demonstrator design, gives clear view of feed and cartridges, but there are also two round port-hole windows in the section, just above the feed, to observe your cartridge;
- Pleasant nib, particularly at this price level; Good ink flow;
- Although I have not yet tried, the nib and feed look to be friction fit. The feed also has its fins pointing inwards (up towards the nib side) rather than away from the nib, which reduces risk of damage if gripping the nib and feed to remove them for cleaning or adjustment;
- The barrel end cap unscrews, a marginal benefit but added gadgety likability!
Very little really. The clear plastic parts do have a lot of striations in the moulding, which can look like cracks at first glance but it is reassuring to find that they are repeated and form a pattern.
Overall, at £9.99 this seems to be good value and with many benefits above some lower priced models.