Edison Pen Company is something of a darling in the Pen World. Its hard to find an exact equivalent in the knife world, but the best I can think of is Millit Knives. Like Millit, Edison produces very fine pens in smallish batches, released to enthusiast retailers. Like Millit, they make 101 variations on their designs. And like Millit, they have an excellent track record of picking solid designs to put into production. After a dreadful experience with a TWSBI, I decided it was time to pay a few bucks and try on the Edison Pearlette in a stub nib.
Over the 10 or so months I have had the pen I can tell you that it is worth every penny, every tweet of hype, and is a true sensory pleasure. This is a pen that I cannot put down. After months of use I have come to one inescapable conclusion--this is a pen that is inordinately fun to use. Brian Gray and his folks, who recently moved into a larger space to meet demand and expand their offerings, make amazing pens. I love the Pearlette. The only question I have as I start the process of writing this review is just how high it will score. As a pen person's pen, this is an amazing tool. As an EDC pen its still pretty good, but go into this review knowing that the Pearlette can't pull double duty as a kubaton. If you are okay with that limitation and don't want to waste time reading the whole write up, I can summarize it for you thusly: Buy this pen.
And here is the review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: Traditional design, resplendent beauty, beguiling performance
This is a pretty classic design in the pen world, similar to one made by the fountain pen deities at Nakaya and found in many other companies' line up. Here, in acrylic, the effect is a pleasing one--it is beautiful, complex in appearance, and still light in the hand. I have become less militant about my anti-cap stance after a few nearly ruined shirts thanks to rear clickies, so even the cap doesn't bother me. The friction between the two pieces is very minimal and they twist into place with not so much as a squeak. Overall, I can't complain about any of the design choices here.
Fit and Finish: 2
The pen is not as complex as something like the Vanishing Point and so high marks for fit and finish, like with all products, must be judge both in terms of execution and in terms of level of difficulty. Here execution is extremely high, while level of difficulty is only so so. Compared to my other stub nib pen, the Exxon Valdez-level leaker the TWSBI Classic, the Pearlette is a bank vault of solidity. If I had a gripe, and it is as minor as I care to mention, it would be the fact that the clip has a bit of wiggle in it. I imagine that is a natural occurrence given the materials used. I am spoiled by the clips on my machined pens--what with their bolts and screws.
Because the Pearlette is so light and the shape so clean (no ridiculous crenellations or sharp points) , the pen is a joy to carry around. Clipped to the breast pocket of my dress shirts, it is weighty enough to know it is there, but not so weighty as to pull you down. I really enjoy carrying the Pearlette.
Arcylic is not my favorite material. It feels a bit, well, cheap and can get a tad creaky, but here I had none of those issues. The deep glossy polish made the Pearlette feel like it was made of marble, sans the cool-to-the-touch feel. And the flakes in the material were so fascinating--hidden in indoor light and gleaming in the sun. I would imagine that no one that saw me use the pen inside even noticed it was something other than dark blue. But as you can see, in the right light, this pen is a resplendent flash of brilliant colors. And even the direct sunlight pictures above do little to highlight how cool this pen looks. Moving it around in the sun gives you a sense that the pen is actually a deep three dimensional object, even if it is not. Wonderful material and gorgeous stately appearance indoors and a sparkling gem outdoors.
This pen rode shotgun quite a bit, but it wasn't as dainty as I expected. In fact, over a lot of in and out of court use it has held up nicely. This isn't the Tuff Writer Clicky, but then again few things are. It is tough enough for someone that works in an office to use everyday. I wouldn't recommend it, or any fountain pen for that matter, for use on the side of the road writing out tickets (which, surprisingly enough, is probably my second most asked question re: pen recommendations--the answer is the aforementioned Tuff Writer or a modded F-701 Zebra with a fine blue Fisher refill).
Writing Performance/Refill: 2
Remember the experiment with TWSBI? Remember how I said I would put up with a lot of BS for a good nib. Well, I found an even better nib and I don't have to put up with the BS. Seems like a sure winner to me.
When the paper is right and not some recycled junk (I hate recycled paper, and yes, I eat baby seals...), the nib is splendid, just enough feedback to let you know that your writing, avoiding the ice skate feel of some roller balls, but nothing like resistance. This is a superb writing experience and the stub nib, boy am I in love. I even went so far as to get one for my Vanishing Point. And out of the box, this nib crushed that one. Now, a few months later, the VP's stub nib is only a bit behind. Simply put, this is an amazing writing experience, one that is addicting, so much so that I took to writing out the alphabet when doodling.
Balance/In-hand Feel: 2
With some of the "tactical" pens out there, they are so heavy and bulky that the mere notion of writing anything beyond a signature is painful. One of the benefits of acrylic is that it is super lightweight and so balance is not so important. If your "pen" weighs a pound, it needs to be finely tuned. If it weighs 2 ounce, balance isn't a bit deal. But here with the Pearlette, even that minimal weight is well distributed.
The grip here is very nice on the fingers, no weird machining and no artificial grip enhancement. In reality, like jimping, most of these things make the grip worse. A good shape is more important than doodads. And here the Pearlette has a great grip section. It is welcomes your fingertips. As is always, simple is best. The threads for the cap are out of the way for everyone that doesn't have plump Italian sausages for fingers. If you do, you might run into them.
The barrel here is solid, doesn't interfere with writing and looks amazing. The classic shape is a classic for a reason.
Consider this review an announcement--well done caps are no longer a negative. Sure, most caps are still clunky, especially on machined metal pens, but here, where the cap is quiet and light, the decision to use a cap is the right one. I can only ignore the value of a cap in light of a few ruined dress shirts. Now, I am grateful this pen has a cap as tucking it into the shirt, nib exposed is almost impossible to conceive happening.
Overall Score: 19 out of 20
The Pearlette is a gorgeous, well-built pen. It has a writing experience that, frankly, is better than any pen I have ever used. The nib is amazingly smooth, offering a perfect amount of feedback without any scratchiness or resistance. Trying to analogize this to another sensory experience is difficult. Here is my best shot: If you have ever experienced the simple joy of a finely tuned handplane slicing beautiful curls off a nice piece of straight-grained wood, then this is close. There is just enough effort there to make the process rewarding.
The Pearlette has held up surprisingly well over many months of extensive, daily use. Its comfortable barrel and grip let you take notes for hours. I used this at a recent trial and it was not just painless to take notes, it was a joy. That joy made the notes neater and more comprehensive. And that is true added value--this pen will make your writing cleaner and more useful. And that, in the end, is the highest complement you can pay a tool.
This is an amazing pen.
Compared to the Vanishing Point (which I know would be question I get asked if I didn't address it), this is better writer, but not as cool a gadget. The VP is also a bit heartier thanks to the retracting nib. If you simply want the best writer between the two, go with the Pearlette. If you want the fountain pen experience but a slightly tougher package go for the VP. Both are amazing and neither will disappoint. Its worth noting that the VP, which can be found for around $110 online, is significantly cheaper (almost $40 less).