I've been sitting on this pen review for a while. Since August, actually, when I picked up this pen at last year's D.C. Pen Show. And honestly, I still don't know how I feel about it. It’s slowly growing on me, but I have to confess that I’m still at that point where I love what this object represents more than the object itself.
This pen is a standard Sailor 1911 Large, made of black resin with silver trim. There is nothing remarkable about this pen’s looks, other than it could serve as a nearly identical replacement for a Montblanc 146. I don’t mean to imply here that this pen is a “cheap alternative” to a MB, or a knockoff. First of all, it’s not cheap (around $250 at PenChalet), with certain special editions such as the “Black Lustre” model running over $400. Second, Sailor has been around for a while, and I consider Sailor pens equal to or superior in quality to Montblanc pens in most respects, especially the nibs. Of course, for most Sailor models you will have to live without the piston filler, and Sailor converters have a small ink capacity. For me, that's a positive, because I like to re-ink often.
This particular pen is special because of the nib. As you might have read in pen circles, legendary nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara recently passed away. Mr. Nagahara, the creator of Sailor’s “Specialty nibs” such as the Naginata Togi and Naginata Emperor, had not traveled or worked nib clinics for several years; his son Yukio took his place representing Sailor abroad, and it was the younger Mr. Nagahara who ground this nib in D.C. He was adjusting the nib on any Sailor pen for free, and I couldn't leave without an example of his work to take home with me.
The nib on this pen started out as a standard Sailor music nib. I have very little experience with music nib pens--this is the only such pen I've ever owned--but the hallmark of a music nib, traditionally, is that the nib has three tines and two slits, ensuring a very heavy flow of ink that would leave a very wet line when scoring music. (Hence the name.) Sailor's music nib, however, is basically just a stub. There is no second nib slit or third tine, and I sometimes wonder why they bother to call it a music nib at all.
What Sailor's music nibs are is wide. I've realized over the past few years that my ideal nib width is something on the finer side of medium, and I will go broader than that in a specialty nib such as a stub, a cursive italic, or an architect's point. But a .6mm stub is my sweet spot. Richard Binder ground a .6mm stub onto my medium Montblanc 146, and it remains, to this day, perhaps my favorite nib in my collection. My thinking was that I could take a standard Sailor music nib and have Mr. Nagahara grind it to my preferred size.
The thing with this nib is that Nagahara nailed the width of the nib but the grind is very sharp on the cross-stroke. If you look at the handwritten sample, the nib appears to be more of a true italic than a stub (which is supposed to be rounded at the edges to make it more useful for day-to-day writing). I’ve been using this nib for six months or so and it has smoothed out some, but it’s still too sharp to use at work. Between the sharp line on the cross-stroke and the wetness of the down-stroke, it doesn’t handle cheap paper well.
Despite the limited utility, my handwriting looks awesome with this pen. And I love the fact that Mr. Nagahara adjusted the nib so that I can write with an XXF point when I flip the nib over. For that reason alone, I won’t do anything drastic. But I may have Mike Masuyama smooth it out in Atlanta, just a little. I'd love to have this be my daily writer.