Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tea Time

Looking at one of my bookmarked websites a couple of years back, I saw this inviting description of a particular time in the workday…

‘Here at the nib works around three thirty each afternoon, we set aside all the focus and diligence required to outfit or restore pens and nibs. The sound of the tea kettle announces a time to slow down, and once the tea has brewed, we settle into conversation, discussing everything from books to politics, movies, friendship. Tea Time is the opposite of coffee time, it is the time to take time, not to regret its passing. The Tea Time fountain pen is an ideal pen with which to slow down, to allow thoughts to steep. A steaming cup of tea, a piece of good paper, your favorite ink and who knows what good ideas will flow from your hand.’

It felt almost as though the writer of these lines had me in mind while composing an effective introduction and stirring interest in a new fountain pen. The pen being introduced was a collaborative effort by Bexley Pens and Classic Fountain Pens, Inc of Los Angeles, a limited edition model named the Tea Time Limited Edition 2008.

The idea behind the design harkened back to the look of the 1920s and 30s, namely simple, clean lines in a hefty size. Bexley and CFP together settled on an odd number of pens produced, fifty-one of them with gold trim, twenty-nine with silver trim. Both models have a barrel of terracotta red, with black tip and cap. Apart from the trim, the pens are the same.

Interaction with, and feedback from customers led CFP to ask Bexley to give the pen a thick gripping section, and the result is a large grip 11.9 mm in diameter. The pen weighs 21.8 grams and is 5.17 inches long closed, and 6.69 inches posted. You might have seen another Bexley, the Poseidon with these same measurements.

Each pen is engraved with ‘Classic Fountain Pens 2008 Tea Time 09/29’ (the 09/29 is the number on my own pen). CFP offered the full range of Bexley nibs with this design, including fine, medium, broad and stub.

On what is a less than positive note, I have never felt completely satisfied with either nib (broad) or converter, both of which John Mottishaw at CFP would likely be happy to adjust, I’m sure. The broad nib writes dry with one ink and wet with another. The feeling is that this nib is especially sensitive to ink and reacts differently depending on the ink. We expect this in some degree in some of our pens, but there’s too much of it in my Bexley Tea Time 2008.

The converter that came with my pen is defective. It doesn’t take a firm bite or grip on the injection valve above the nib, and this makes drawing ink up into the converter troublesome. I usually opt for filling the converter manually with a small syringe.

But the pen is a good-looking one, and feels comfortable in the hand. I do enjoy using it from time to time, and always enjoy looking at it on a table, or laying atop a book. If I had it to do over, I would choose a medium nib. Bexley and CFP have collaborated on subsequent limited edition designs since release of the now sold out Tea Time, each bearing strong resemblance to their initial 2008 release. You might want to take a look at the White Tea, the Green Tea and Mandarin Tea designs, all on view at the CFP website link above.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America