2009/10/13

Pen Review: Libelle Season Collection

Here is a short review of the three pens from the Libelle's Seasons collection: Autumn Leaves, Summer Breeze, and Winter Storm. This is also posted at the FPN.

0. Background.
Well, it's not that I have never splurged on 3 pens at a time, but this is definitely a rare event. The main culprit of this crazy-impulse-purchase, although much delayed, is the Autumn Leaves, so I figured that I'd start with a background story.

I first saw the pen about an year and a half ago. My second daughter, Vivian, just started school that year. The first song she learned at her school is called "When the leaves are red and yellow in the fall", which is to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain". The lyric goes like:

When the leaves are red and yellow in the fall, (clap, clap)
When the leaves are red and yellow in the fall, (clap, clap)
When the leaves are red and yellow, then the apples taste so mellow,
When the leaves are red and yellow in the fall. (clap, clap)

She enjoys singing the song at home all the time, and she looks so cute when she does that it melts my heart every single time. She kindly agreed to sing the song again for me today, but she is very shy this time:

Note: I believe that having a song as a part of a pen review is never done before at FPN. :)

One day, I had a chance to stop-by the Artlite pen store in Atlanta, and saw the Libelle Autumn Leaves there. The beautiful color combination of green/yellow/orange quickly caught my eyes, and when I learned about the name, I instantly thought of Vivian and her song. I almost bought the pen on the spot, but refrained from doing so because I really have too many pens and we were about to move all the way from Georgia to Arizona at that time. However, the image of this pen etched deeply into my mind, along with Vivian's song. For this reason, I simply can't shake the pen out of my mind. As I followed the pen, I noticed the subsequent release of Summer Breeze and Winter Storm in the Libelle Seasons collection, which are also quite stunningly beautiful. I keep telling myself that I really don't need another pen, but well, you know how that goes.

1. Appearance & Design
Each pen arrived in a nice cardboard/faux leather box. The black/white combination of the box did a good job to showcase the brilliant colors of the pens.


Inside the box, there is the pen (of course), a converter (with a bead in it), an international cartridge, and a small instruction card.

I've only seen the Autumn Leaves in person before I ordered the pens, and its colors are as wonderful as I remembered. The name pretty much said it all about what you can expect.


The Summer Breeze is a combination of white and blue with pearly irradiance, which reminded me of those wonderful times we had at beaches in summer. The Winter Storm is a very powerful/striking combination of black and white. I am very happy with the appearance of all three pens, and they are much better looking in person than any of the photos that I've seen on the web. Here's a shot of all three pens together.


Initially I thought that I wouldn't like the black part used for the cap/barrel ends because I always like pens that use the same material through out. However, this design feature makes the three pens look really great together, and I have learned to appreciate it on each individual pen.

To match up with the pen, I have PR Orange Crush for the Autumn Leaves, Pelikan Turquoise for the Summer Breeze, and Visconti Black for the Winter Storm. All three pen-ink combos look great for the moment.

2. Construction & Quality
The cap/barrel are thick in these pens, which makes them feel quite substantial. The construction quality is pretty good. I would prefer the barrel to be made thinner, such that (1) the pen can be lighter, and (2) the fit of converter wouldn't be so tight (you can feel a vacuum when you pull the barrel up and down, but this is a pretty minor issue). BTW, because the threads are on a metal part, eye-dropper (ED) conversion is out of the question with these pens.

3. Weight & Dimensions
I don't know the exact weight, but these pens feel heavier than my Bexley Americana and are similar to my Pelikan M800. These are definately full-sized pens, here is a shot with a Pelikan M800 (top) and a M200 (bottom) for comparison:


I like the balance of the pen when un-posted. The cap can be posted, but I don't do that for any of my pens except for Pilot M90.

4. Nib & Performance
The pen comes with a standard stainless steel Iridium Point Germany (IPG) nib, with M-nib as the only available option. All three pens that I got worked well right out of the box. They are all smooth writers with a medium ink flow (5 out of 10).
Although I probably should be happy with how well they write, I do have some complaints about the nibs that are not related to their writing performance. First, at this price point, Libelle could have use a nib that carry their own logo (the dragonfly should look pretty good on a nib). Second, the nib feels too small for the pen. It probably will look more balanced if a larger nib is used. Third, given that a generic IPG nib is used, they should have make it a screwed-out so that user could replace/upgrade the nib. Last, more nib size options should be available.

5. Filling System & Maintenance
These pens are standard CC fillers. Not much to add here.

6. Cost & Value
The MSRP is $80, and I bought them new for $56 each from TheInkFlow.com (standard disclaimer here). To me these pens are in the same category as the Levenger TrueWriters, so I think they will be a good benchmark to determine the "value". The Libelle pens look much nicer than the TrueWriters so they win hands down in the appearance part. The build qualities are similar. However, I am not so happy with the Libelle nibs, plus the Levenger TrueWriter can be had for a touch cheaper (or much cheaper if you go with the Levenger Ebay outlet), so it all depends on how much you like the look. Rationally, I think the Levenger TrueWriter has a much better "value", but then again, the reason I bought these Libelle pens are not entirely rational, and I am quite happy with the pens that I got for the price.

7. Conclusion
Overall I am pretty happy with these pens. To me the most important value of these pens are not how good they write or how good they looks, after all, it is difficult to put a price on the good memories from my daughter's 4-year-old days (yeah I know that this sounds like those cheesy credit card ads, but it's true). Now if Libelle come out with a Spring one with some cheerful colors, I would not hesitate to add that to my collection.
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