Updated 2/22/16, 2/27/16
Appearance & construction:
I haven’t been happy with the nib that came with the Monteverde Artista Crystal. It was a hard starter and a wet medium. The tip skipped and felt scratchy. It seemed to drag on the paper, and writing felt like pushing through molasses. This nib must have been defective.
I didn’t have any decent #5 replacements handy, so I swapped in one of the Jinhaos that I had ordered earlier. It wrote a little drier, but it wasn’t enough of an improvement.
I decided to order the Knox #5 F and EF replacement nibs from xFountainPens. I preferred the chrome, but they only had goldplated. I chose the full gold over the two-toned because it seemed plainer and less blingy. They arrived this afternoon.
I tried the F first and found the flow too wet. I tried the EF next with the same result. Disappointed, I left the pen capped and standing in my desktop pen jar, convinced that the Knox nibs were crap.
After about an hour, I returned for a second test. And voilà, the Artista had transformed into an ideal F. The EF seemed more like an F, but it was definitely not an M and it was no longer too wet.
My reference for an F are the Pilot pens: Metropolitan, Petit1, Custom 74, Prera. Their lines are thin yet wet, and the points give a pleasant feedback. Based on this standard, the Knox EF is more like a lean M.
The lesson here for me is don’t judge a new nib — or probably a new pen — on its first writing sample. Let it stand upright for a while before testing again. For the Artista with a new nib, the second test was a charm.
Another caveat is that nibs behave differently on different paper stock. On steno tablet paper, which is slightly glossy, the Knox wrote like a wet M. However, on letter paper, it was a slightly wet F.
I have to admit that the gold nib clashes with the rest of the chrome and crystal pen, but I’m not convinced that it’s necessarily a bad clash. If there’s such a thing as a good clash, then this might be it. I’m glad that I now have an Artista that writes the way I want it to.
As I said in my initial review, this pen is gorgeous. It’s good to look at and to touch and hold. However, good looks isn’t enough. The pen has to perform. And the Artista now does.
2/22/16: Hardstarting and skipping problem. I removed the nib/feed and ran the edge of a brass sheet through the channel. It was jammed. Made a huge difference in flow and consistency. However, the next time I picked up the pen, it hardtstarted again. Eliminating the channel problem meant that the gap between the bottom of the nib and the top of the feed might be too tight. One way to address this problem is to press the point gently down on the paper to open up the gap a bit. Works like a charm, but for the first few lines, the flow is very thick and wet. Then it returns to a line that’s F. The Knox is an EF but writes like an F-M.
2/27/16: I’ve had a chance to live and work with this pen for a week, and I really like its looks and performance — with one exception. It’s a hardstarter. To address the problem, I tried different solutions and found the best to be standing it upside down when not in use. With this fix, the pen writes immediately even after a day. However, I’ll need to continue to monitor this situation. In the end, a hardstarter that requires special handling is unacceptable. I’ll be trying some different nibs to see if it’ll make a difference. However, my guess is that the feed is at fault. More specifically, the design. The feed may need to be angled downward a smidgen to create a slightly larger gap between feed and nib. I may decide to carefully shave it down with fine grit sandpaper. Sandpaper may be too rough. I’ll need to think of something.