Opus 88 is a fountain pen brand from Taiwan. Whereas TWSBI is known for its piston fill demonstrator pens, Opus 88 is for eyedropper pens, where ink is transferred to the barrel by a pipette. Some cartridge-converter pens can be adapted for eyedropper filling but the Opus 88 range are “true” eyedroppers, having no other filling options.
The expanding range now includes such models as the Koloro, Omar, Picnic, Fantasia and a recent model called the Flora shaped like a tall narrow vase. My model is simply called the Demonstrator and is the clear version, although also available in translucent smoke, red or orange. I bought mine from John Hall of Write Here at the London Pen Show in October 2018 and first mentioned this in my post My haul from the London Pen Show, 2018.
I have since enjoyed using it from time to time in my rotation. Recently, I was inspired to ink it up again after seeing a post on Instagram from Kimberly of @allthehobbies showing extracts of her transcription of Marcus Aurelius in a print style like a type face. She had used a pretty purple Opus 88 Picnic with a steel medium nib and the ink was Kobe #57 Himeajisai “Hydrangea”. Whilst I did not have that precise pen or ink, I went for my Waterman Tender Purple, (or Encre Violet Tendresse for added glamour).
This is a large pen, by usual standards, cylindrical with flat ends in a clear acrylic. The cap finial and the piston turning knob (more of which later) are particularly clear and create an interesting distortion of your lined paper or writing below when the pen is put down. The lower half of the cap is frosted. The cap has a matte black metal pocket clip which is firm and springy with a ball at the end. There is no cap ring but the name Opus 88 is on the cap in black lettering.
Unscrewing the cap requires four complete revolutions, which is off-putting for some. The grip section, also clear, tapers slightly but has a generous girth of around 13mm towards the top end near the cap threads.
The barrel unscrews from the section for filling. At the end of the barrel, the 14mm long turning knob can be unscrewed to lift a piston rod which runs down the centre of the ink reservoir, to open the channel between the reservoir and the feed. Screwing this down again, cuts off the ink supply, converting your pen to a travelling ink well, to protect from leaks when the pen is carried around. The ink remaining in the feed may be enough to enable you to write for a few more pages but if more is needed, the cut off valve can simply be opened to recharge the feed, or left open if preferred, for a long uninterrupted writing session.
To fill the pen, remove the barrel and drop ink directly into the reservoir. An eyedropper is included in the box for this purpose although I use longer ones, from an art shop. A syringe could instead be used. The reservoir holds a massive amount of ink. I have not measured the capacity but Goulet Pens describe it as 3.56ml. This would be equivalent to around 4 standard international short cartridges!
My pen came with a Broad nib. I believe it to be a Jowo No. 6 steel nib. My nib was extremely smooth and wrote like a western broad. I found it great for laid paper, as it would glide over the ridges with ease. However, I found the lack of feedback from the nib to be disconcerting.
However, I had a suitable donor for a nib transplant, namely a Manuscript ML 1856 fountain pen which had an identical nib and feed unit but in a Medium. The nib and feed units are easily unscrewed. Just remember that in the Opus 88, the small chubby O-ring must be placed over the nipple of the feed, before it is screwed into the section. Be careful not to lose this when removing the nib and feed unit for washing, since it is not attached.
When re-assembling the pen, I took the opportunity to apply a little silicone grease at various points, being the threads of the nib and feed housing, the threads between section and barrel, the threads of the piston knob and the piston shaft itself. This should keep everything working nicely.
Size and weight.
This is one of my largest pens, at 147mm closed and 137mm uncapped. (A Lamy Safari is around 130mm uncapped). The cap does not post but the length is ample.
My pen, currently around half full, weighs 29g, of which 19g is the pen uncapped and 10g for the cap alone. The weight is enough to feel substantial without being burdensome.
Likes, dislikes and conclusion.
I find little to dislike about this pen. I have mentioned that the original broad nib was a bit too smooth and lacking in feedback for me although it wrote very well and was good for laid paper. Also I know that some people dislike caps that require more than one or two turns to be unscrewed.
On the plus side, this is a big comfortable pen. There is a certain joy to be had in using a pen which is unashamedly a pure eyedropper, and with a massive ink capacity. I know that access to ink is not an issue for most of us but it is nice to be able to go travelling without needing to bring a bottle of ink, because basically your pen is one. The demonstrator body means there is no risk of being taken by surprise by your pen running dry. The pen looks great with a bright colour ink inside. Also an eyedropper pen is well suited to using up random small ink samples: just pour one in!
The piston rod with its shut-off mechanism is a very useful feature, so that the pen can be carried around with less risk of leaking. Also it reduces the risk of blobbing or burping.
I have a long way to go before I can come near to Kimberly’s neat printing. But with this ink capacity I am ready for a long haul.