Ever since August 2019, when I was first given an Online College fountain pen, I have been on the look-out for another with the same 0.8mm stub nib. It is a great nib size for me. I am told that these German pens are readily available for around ten euros from the Müller chain of drugstores in Germany but hard to find in the UK.
I reviewed my Online College pen here. The Bachelor which I just found on Amazon for a modest £11.66 is a similar pen, and mine is the clear plastic demonstrator version. That price included a Schmidt converter, usually about £3.99 on its own.
I ordered two of them, just in case one of them had a poor nib. Alternatively, if both were satisfactory, I could use them with different inks or maybe given one away. I worried a little in case the nibs turned out to be too sharp sided, as inexpensive italic, calligraphy nibs can often be. These produce crisp edges to your letters if handled carefully but can be challenging for cursive writing, when the corners of the nib can dig into the paper.
I need not have worried: when they arrived by post from Germany four days later, both nibs looked in great shape, with even tines and with a narrow tine gap visible under the loupe, which promised a nice easy ink flow. They were also smooth and nicely rounded.
I particularly like the 0.8mm stub nib, which is unusual and gives a finer line than a 1.1 or 1.4 stub, but still allows for a bolder and more characterful line than a round-tipped broad nib. It is good for scanning, if you plan to send your handwritten letters by email. You get some lovely line variation between the down strokes and the cross strokes.
The pens arrive with stickers on the cap and on the barrel, identifying the nib as the 0.8mm, with a bar code and address for Online Schreibgeräte at Moosweg 8, D-92318, Neumarkt. I have not yet removed these.
Aside from the nib, this is a plastic pen. The cap and pocket clip all seem to be molded as a single piece. The clip is quite flexy, and would probably work even on thicker fabric like a coat pocket. There is a gap down the middle of the clip and I have only now spotted that the name ONLINE is visible through the gap. With plastic innards and an apparently sealed barrel, it looks as though it could be eye-droppered, which is an exciting prospect although I have not tried it.
The cap sits flush with the barrel when closed. I had a brief scare when I thought that the patterned rows of dimples might actually be holes, so that the cap would not be airtight, but they are just decorative dimples, a pattern echoed in the black rubber grip section. The cap pulls off with some force required but is very secure when capped. The section is of a black, rubbery finish, pleasant to the touch and not sticky. There are two slight facets for a symmetrical grip, but they are not too pronounced or sharp ridged and so can be ignored if you wish to hold the pen differently.
Between the rubber grip area and the step up to the barrel, is an ink window. This is probably of more use in the opaque barrelled versions but since this pen is a demonstrator, you can see the entire cartridge or converter through the barrel.
At the back end of barrel, there is a step down to a narrower area enabling the cap to be posted, securely and flush with the barrel. This makes the length about 162mm. Unposted, it is about 126mm.
I filled up the first of my two pens with Waterman Serenity blue. It wrote nicely, the nib having a little bit of give but best of all, having an effortless flow, lubricating the nib well without being overly wet. I tried the pen on a Rymans journal, then some file paper and finally on my smooth Basildon Bond letter writing paper which it liked best of all: so much so that I went on writing for two full pages just to practice my handwriting.
The main key to this, in my case, is to make a conscious effort to slow down. Try to write at a steady and even pace, not in bursts. (Imagine practising with a metronome, like a musician). Try to keep the letters rounded, of even height and evenly spaced. Try to keep on the lines. Try to keep the ascenders and descenders parallel and the tail loops consistent (mine never are). I remember the advice when I was learning to touch-type, that you should type at a steady speed, rather than speeding up and slowing down. It is easier said than done but fun to practice and you soon start to see the benefits. When people say that a fountain pen will help improve your handwriting, it will – provided that you remember to do all the above!
I have since inked up the second Bachelor with Rohrer and Klingner Salix, the blue-black iron gall ink which is a useful ink to have in a pen, plus it needs using up.
That will probably be my last new pen purchase of the year. Having risen to the dizzy heights of an Aurora Optima in the summer, it is good to return to basics with some well chosen cheap pens and to see what we can accomplish together. A Merry Christmas to all.