In today’s post, I’ll be looking at the Italix Chaplain’s Tankard, a fountain pen provided for review by Italix Pens in the UK. In short, if you’re looking for an affordable pen with a custom nib grind and awesome writing experience, the Chaplain’s Tankard would be an outstanding purchase.
The Italix Chaplain’s Tankard has a black barrel with gold trim and uses a “flat-top” torpedo-shaped design. I typically enjoy pens with flattened ends as it gives the pen a more interesting aesthetic and often allows for the company to display a motif on the cap finial, which adds a bit of extra flair (e.g. the Sailor Pro Gear comes to mind). The Chaplain’s Tankard, however, does not use a finial motif, so I think this was a missed opportunity.
Like most of the Italix pens that I own, the Chaplain’s Tankard is made of a lacquered metal which gives it a high-gloss finish. It feels durable and robust, and the material gives it a solid heft when writing.
The cap unscrews from the barrel in 2 full turns on thick, block threads (plastic threads inside the cap screw onto metal threads on the grip section——more on this experience later). The pen fills via standard international cartridge/converter, and the barrel unscrews from the grip section on metal threads, which feels secure and durable.
One of the main features of this pen is that the barrel has a “blind-cap”—a cap at the end of the barrel that unscrews to reveal the twisting knob of the included converter. This basically lets you fill and refill the pen without needing to unscrew the entire barrel. Included is a separate plastic insert that fits onto the twisting knob of the converter.
Conceptually, I think this feature is a nice idea—it maintains the overall look of the pen when filling, and more simply, it makes it easier to fill by giving you more barrel to hold onto, essentially turning the pen into a typical piston-filler.
In practice, however, I find this to be a bit flawed. Since there is no ink window on the pen, one would likely want to unscrew the barrel to check if they are running low on ink. And if they were in need of a refilling, one could simply re-ink the pen at this point while the barrel was off, rendering the blind-cap feature unused. Additionally, I found that the separate attachment for the converter actually nests onto the converter differently depending on the type of converter used. On some standard international converters, it fits so deeply that it does not protrude far enough out of the barrel to be accessed. However, on the converter provided, it did nest well enough for the feature to be used with no issues.
In short, I think the blind cap is a feature that you will either love or just disregard. In my opinion, the blind cap is a nice addition that provides another way to fill the pen. If you don’t like the feature, you can still refill the pen as you would with other converter-fill pens—-by unscrewing the entire barrel. But if you prefer filling through a blind cap or simply enjoy the design, then this pen gives you that ability. It’s essentially a bonus feature that does not take away from the standard filling method while adding functionality for those that prefer it.
Fit & Finish (4/5):
Overall, the pen feels solidly constructed. The finish is well-done and has a high-gloss, making it look far more expensive than it actually is.
However, one small issue I have involves the cap. As I mentioned earlier, the cap unscrews from the barrel on thick, block threads (plastic on the inner cap and metal on the grip section). The connection feels tight and secure—which is overall a good thing—but I think the connection may be overly secure on my unit. Although I definitely prefer my pens to have a secure cap (e.g. this helps prevent nib dry-out and lets me throw the pen in my bag without worrying about the cap coming loose), this is by far the tightest cap of all the pens in my collection. Even more secure than the “slip & seal” spring tension used on the Platinum 3776 Century. It almost feels like the cap connection on some plastic water bottles, which (as you might imagine) is a very different feeling from many fountain pens with threaded caps.
Additionally, the connection feels a little lop-sided at times—some parts of the turn feel smooth while others feel snug, requiring additional force to continue the turn. Overall, not a deal breaker and the cap still works fine (keeps the nib from drying out). Just something to consider.
If I could give bonus points to this category, I would. This nib is fantastic, and I think it’s the main selling point for Italix pens. The pen came with a stainless steel nib (I believe made by JoWo) with “Italix” laser-engraved on the top, and it was hand-ground to a “medium italic” by the folks at mr.pen.co.uk. All five Italix pens that I own have a special grind, and all of them perform flawlessly. This medium italic writes similar to that of a 1.1 mm stub, but it’s a bit sharper at the edges. As with all italic ground nibs, it has a bit of a sweet spot, but once you hit it, the nib writes perfectly and is incredibly smooth. It’s great for calligraphy or handwritten messages in cards or letters.
I have a set of pens that I enjoy using specifically for writing cards or letters, and many of those are Italix pens. For example, I’ve attended a few weddings over the past few months, and for each of them, I’ve used this pen to write the card.
Writing Experience (5/5):
The Chaplain’s Tankard provides a superb writing experience. The metal barrel and section provide a good heft in the hand and make it well-balanced and perfectly suited for my tastes. The nib writes perfectly, and the flow is generous and consistent. I’ve had this pen for a few months now, and it has never failed to start up again after a period of non-use.
As mentioned above, my only small complaint would be the overly tight feel of the cap connection on my specific pen, which provides a bit of a challenge when capping and uncapping. Because of this, I think this pen is more suited for longer writing sessions.
Overall Impression (18/20):
The pen retails for 22 gbp (around $30 at the time of writing). For all that you get—fantastic nib, custom nib-grind, and solid construction—I think this a bargain. In the U.S. market, removable nib units alone can cost between $25 and $30, and nib units with custom grinds can cost $40 and above. Italix manages to provide a custom nib on a pen for around the same price point.
- Great nib with a classic aesthetic.
- Affordable compared to other pens that offer the same characteristics.
- Lacquer finish is well executed.
- Solid feel and weight.
- Some of the construction feels a bit rushed (e.g. at where the cap threads twist onto the barrel threads).
- Comes with a cheap converter.
Length Uncapped (nib tip to end of barrel): 122 mm
Length Capped: 137 mm
Length Posted: 155 mm
Section Diameter: 10 mm
Barrel Diameter: 13 mm
Disclaimer: This pen was provided free of charge by Italix Pens for review. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
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