Caran D’Ache 849 Brut Rosé (Rose Gold)

I’ve been on a Caran d’Ache 849 swing ever since I discovered that they can accept Ohto Flash Dry and Parker gel ink refills, and though I usually shy away from “blingy” pens, I was drawn to the 849 Brut Rosé (rose gold) . It is one of the few 849 pens that have a “rough”/ grippy texture.

The box.

The Brut Rosé Caran d’Ache 849 is part of “Celebratory” series that includes Sparkle Gold and Black Code pens. They all come in metal presentation boxes with fabric lining, magnetic closure, and what appears to be the tagline of this edition: “We write the 849 Legend, with added sparkle”.

The box is clearly meant to evoke a jewelry box, and it does so well. The pen itself has the added weight that the Caran d’Ache Nespresso 849 editions have (and the same texture) but is still not a heavy pen. The clip and nock appear in pictures to be gold and not rose gold, but that is only because this is an incredibly difficult pen to photograph. In reality the pen is entirely a warm rose gold.

The clip and nock are a slightly more coppery rose gold than the body, but they are still clearly rose gold.

In terms of branding, this pen didn’t receive any special treatment (unlike the Nespresso pens). There’s no indication that this is a “special edition”: it has the same Caran d’Ache etching on the cap, a white “Swiss Made” screen print above the clip, and “849 Caran d’Ache” screen printed in white under the clip.

Swiss Made.

You can just about see the print under the clip here:

Thus the only indication that this is a more expensive “special edition” is the box.

The Caran d’Ache 849 Brut Rosé comes with the Caran d’Ache Goliath blue ballpoint refill. It is an excellent ballpoint refill, but as I’m not a fan of ballpoints, I’ll be switching it out for either the Parker gel 0.7 refill or the Ohto Flash Dry 0.5 refill.

The pen looks plain gold here, but that’s just the fault of the lighting.

The Caran d’Ache 849 Brut Rosé will make for a fantastic gift pen, whether for yourself or for someone you like. It’s on the more expensive side of 849 special editions, but I think that it makes a more subtle and sophisticated impression than the similarly priced “Claim Your Style” 849s.

Caran D’Ache 849 Brut Rosé (Rose Gold)

Retro 51 Blue Acrylic Tornado

The Retro 51 Blue Acrylic is the last Retro 51 that I have yet to review as part of my Retro 51 challenge (minus the Retro 51 Flower and Retro 51 Coffee which are quarantined in my office). I bought this pen years ago in the Latin Quarter in Paris, in a little store on Boulevard Saint-Michel. The store had a few Retro 51 tornados in their dusty window display, and after some hemming and hawing I went in and asked about the pens. The proprietor had no idea what I wanted to buy from, but after some pointing he brought out his Retro 51 tray. The moment I saw this pen, I knew that I had to have it:

Is it not pretty?

The Retro 51 Blue Acrylic features chatoyant acrylic swirls in blue and navy, and it’s somewhat transparent, which means that you can see glints of the metal refill tube below the material. Like the Pelikan M800 Ocean Swirl there’s a dark side to the material, and a light side.

The dark side of the pen.

The hardware is chrome, and so very bright. This works well with the overall colour scheme. The acrylic body does pick up lint in a way that Retro 51’s metal-bodied pens do not.  I’m not sure this would make for a good pocket carry pen because of that.

Between light and dark.

Weight wise it doesn’t feel significantly lighter than Retro 51’s metal-bodied pens. If that’s you’re draw to this pen, then you’ll be disappointed. But how can you be disappointed in a pen that looks like this?

Look at that!

The finial features a dark navy blue, almost black, disc. I kind of wish that Retro 51 had made the finial out of the swirly acrylic material, but I guess that would have hiked up the price significantly.

The finial/top disc.

I changed out the refill for my favourite Ohto FlashDry refill, mostly because the old refill dried out. I used to use the semi-dried out old Schmidt refill for sketching, as it was pretty perfect for that.

The above drawing was drawn with the Retro 51 Blue Acrylic and the Ohto FlashDry 0.5 gel ink refill, plus some Faber-Castell PITT brush pens. My parents’ cats have ideas about my dad’s laptop that don’t coincide with his.

If you stumble upon one of these Retro 51 Acrylic Tornado pens, snap them up. They’re gorgeous, and life is too short to carry an ugly pen.

Retro 51 Blue Acrylic Tornado

Retro 51 Buzz Review: The Bee Rescue Tornado

The Retro 51 Buzz bee rescue tornado is probably the Retro 51 I eyed the most before buying. I loved the honeycomb design, but not so much the bees, and when it came out I still hadn’t found a replacement for the Schmidt refill. I solved the refill issue with the Ohto FlashDry, and once Retro51 announced that they’re closing, I decided to finally buy this pen.

I love that Buzz logo and I kind of wish that it was featured on the pen, even though I know that it would have just cluttered it.

The Buzz pen is part of Retro 51’s rescue series, which means that there’s a small donation given to NW Honey Bee Habitat Restoration for every pen sold. It comes in a beautiful pen tube (which makes it, like all Retro 51s, a great gift pen to give), and is a very well designed pen.

Let’s start with the finial/top disc, which is featured in the Pen Addict Podcast Retro 51 Celebration pen. How could it not be? It’s a honeybee themed pen and it features a bear – a classic Retro 51 move.

One of the best top discs that Retro 51 has ever designed.

The pen itself features an acid-etched honeycomb texture with printed honeybees and brushed copper hardware. Some of the honeycombs are filled, and the bees… Well, I think that they come off as a little bit tacky in photos, but they somehow “work” in person. They blend in better with the rest of the design, and actually help tone down its shininess.

The copper hardware fits this pen like a glove. 

The best thing about this pen is the honeycomb etching on it. It glows and really makes the pen pop, with the added benefit of making the Retro 51 Buzz easy and nice to grip.

Look at that glow:

Check out that shiny, shiny glow.

The only nit-picky thing I didn’t like is the finish level. The filled honeycombs aren’t always painted within the lines. If that’s on purpose, I find that it detracts from the pen, and doesn’t add anything. If it’s not, it’s a shame:

Can you see where the brown paint doesn’t go all the way to the edge? 

I still love this pen, and I’m so glad that I bought it while it’s still to be had. The Retro 51 Buzz is not only a beautiful and well designed pen, it’s a pen that only Retro 51 could have designed.

Buzz!

Retro 51 Buzz Review: The Bee Rescue Tornado

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 3 Review

The last Retro 51 of the three that bought once I heard that they were retiring arrived: the Cat Rescue 3. I gave it a try as  part of my Retro 51 Challenge, and so far I’m utterly enamoured with it.

The Cat Rescue 3 shares a similar design and illustration style as the Dog Rescue 3. The illustrations on both pens are wonderful: adorable, full of humour and love for their subject.

Beyond cool cats in sunglasses (that go well with pirate dogs with eyepatches) the Cat Rescue 3 pen also has a hidden drawing of a mouse (the dog one had a hidden squirrel). That just makes this pen 1000% more likeable in my eyes.

The tube the Cat and Dog rescue is similar, as both donate 5% of proceeding to the same animal shelter, Operation Kindness. Unfortunately the cardboard tube mine came it was utterly crushed by the mail service, so I won’t be photographing its ruins.

The finial/top disc features the Operation Kindness logo, and I’m not bothering with a writing sample because there are only so many times you can read about me raving how great the Ohto FlashDry gel refill is.

As a bonus, here are a picture of my cats (brother and sister, both rescues) to make you smile. If you can donate or help your local shelter in any way, please do.

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 3 Review

Retro 51 Dino Fossil Review

My Retro 51 Dino Fossil arrived in the mail, and I’ve been using it throughout the weekend. It was a completeimpulse buy, and I kind of regretted it once I bought it and before I got it. I thought that I’d never use a pen with bones on it, fossilized dinosaur bones or not.

It turns out I was wrong.

I don’t care much for packaging, but this packaging was cool. The gold embossing really adds a classy touch to it, and the Smithsonian logo pops on the background of the black tube.

That same logo also appears, in full colour, on the finial/top disk of the pen, and it adds a welcome bit of colour to it.

The pen is copper, much like the Retro 51 vintage metalsmith Lincoln, but there’s a lot of added texture to that copper. There’s brushed copper on the pen hardware, a dark matte copper on the pen body, and embossed dinosaur fossils that are partially painted.

The result could have been busy, but ends up working phenomenally well, while at same time making it almost impossible to properly photograph. The copper glows with warmth that makes the pen come to life.

It somehow doesn’t look tacky in person, but rather classy and somehow understated. The pen’s copper body draws more attention to itself that the bones do, because of their muted off-white colour.

The other thing that surprised me is that the Dino Fossil is numbered. I wasn’t expecting that, and the seller I got it from didn’t mention it, but just in case you care, on the band below the twist mechanism there’s a number, and “Smithsonian” where there usually is “Tornado” etched in. The number also appears on the cardboard tube the pen comes in.

The dinosaur fossil embossing makes this pen really easy to grip, and pretty enjoyable to write with. As usual I swapped out the Schmidt refill it comes with, replacing it with an Ohto FlashDry 0.5 gel refill.

The Retro 51 Dino Fossil was a pleasant surprise: a pen that I thought I bought for gifting, and turns out to be one of my favourite Retro 51s to date. I’m likely going to say goodbye to my Lincoln before this, and I recommend it if you have even the slightest affinity to dinosaurs, natural history, archeology, the Smithsonian or beautiful copper pens.

Retro 51 Dino Fossil Review

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 2

An utterly non-Instagram ready journal entry about this pen, including my terrible handwriting. 

In November 2017 I went to a business convention in Washington DC, and while there I stumbled upon a tiny stationery store that had some Retro 51’s for sale. I liked the red colour of this pen, and some (not all) of the cat illustrations on it, and so I bought it. It was an utterly unreasonable impulse buy, because at the time I already knew that the Schmidt refill rendered my Retros virtually unusable for me, and I was years from finding a suitable replacement refill. The pen gathered dust in a pen cup on my desk for the past two years, until this week.

The finial/top disc is one of Retro 51’s best designs.

As part of my decision to use my Retro 51s more, I replaced the (dried out) Schmidt refill in this pen with an Ohto FlashDry gel ink one, and I’ve been using it pretty regularly for the past few days. It’s a bright and cheerful pen that writes like a dream now, even though in a quiet room you can definitely hear the tip rattle a bit as you write.

There’s no texture to this pen, the rescue cats are just printing on it, and I wish Lucy Kinsley had drawn them. So I’m not yet sure if this pen stays with me or I’m going to gift it to a cat loving friend, but for now I’m enjoying giving it a spin.

Retro 51 Cat Rescue 2