If you are a fountain pen enthusiast in the UK and haven’t heard of Write Here, then you really should have! The specialist fountain pen shop on the High Street in Shrewsbury (UK) is a pen heaven, stocking many tricky to source brands all curated by the knowledgeable and lovely John Hall. In addition to the many wonderful pens he sells, John has been collaborating with the extraordinary talents at Scrittura Bolognese since their inception in 2016, producing a range of limited-edition pens: the Scribo Write Here fountain pen.
His latest release, the “Mariana Deep Blue” is identical in form to the previous releases but in this version, John has taken a different approach to the choice of resin. The review that follows can be used as a fairly accurate assessment of all the pens in the range (the first Scribo Write here was released in late 2017) but the difference in resin is important. Earlier releases were notable for resins with deep pearlescent chatoyance; the Mariana uses a resin with a complexity and lustre that makes it feel special in a different way.
I received my pen (30/50) in mid-July on a stunningly hot day and decided to take it with me on a walk to a local nature reserve to take pics and get to know it a little. But, this being Devon it started raining almost immediately after I arrived at said beauty spot! Even so, I think the natural backdrop and the wonderful material of pen made for some interesting photos and I have used them throughout the review that follows. I hope you enjoy the slightly different approach.
John Hall purchased Write Here in 2004 after a long career in social care. At the point of purchase, Write Here was a shop that sold kites – the large lightweight kind that you fly in the wind – as well as a range of gift cards and pens including Lamy. John wasn’t a fountain pen enthusiast at this point, but it was through using the Lamy Safaris he sold and subsequently the Lamy 2000, that he became increasingly interested in fountain pens. As his interest developed, John followed what he loved: the outstanding nibs on Sailor pens, beautiful Visconti joined his regular sellers; the range continued to develop as John attended pens hows, met nib meisters such as John Sorowka, and over time Write Here became a specialist pen retailer, selling pens from a huge range of premium brands including adding Cleo Skribent, Pilot, TWSBI, Waterman and more to the Lamy, Sailor and Viscontis of the early days. These days all that is left of the kite selling is the reference in the web address: writeherekitenow.co.uk.
Its also worth saying, the shop is for sale at the moment – so there is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested to take the shop on (with Johns help if desired) and not only own a wonderful business in the heart of a gorgeous town, but also be part of the future of our wonderful hobby!
It was in 2011 when John began his relationship with Sribo’s forerunner – Omas. After a visit to Bologna in 2011 to meet the Omas team, John became the UK’s only stockist and soon after their UK distributor. John’s relatively frequent visits to Omas in the following years led to strong friendship with Omas’ Brand Manager, Luca Baglione so when OMAS went into liquidation in 2015, John was ideally placed to support Luca along with Elena Bettazzone (Omas Production Manager) when they co-founded Scrittura Bolognese in January 2016. John was immediately on board as Scrittura Bolognese’s UK distributor – with added excitement when they announced they had secured the rights to and machinery for legendary Omas OM81 nib.
The Scribo Write Here is was Scrittura Bolognese’s first production pen. At the point of its release in November 2017, Scribo had released only the Letteratura, a wonderful, but very specialist custom order pen. In the meantime, Scribo have become a major force in the Italian mid-high range pen market with its release of the Feel and most recently the Piuma ranges. All share a wide variety of excellent OM81 style nibs in both flexible 14kt and firmer 18kt nibs choices.
Although John is very much the driving force behind the Scribo Write Here, the pen is very much a Scrittura Bolognese pen. Johns early role was in setting a point in the market and defining the requirements: a piston filled mid-size pen in colours that (on the first edition) represented his shop. Flaminia Angelone brought Johns ideas to life in her elegant design drafts that John had final approval over. In the final steps, John travelled once more back to Bologna to meet the whole Scrittura Bolognese team and finalise the design and production processes, checking the final details of balance, weight, function and finishing. The initial pen release consisted of a deeply pearlescent resin in the Write Here shop colours; with pale fluorescent yellow bands wonderfully offsetting the deep grey of the resin. Write Here’s shop logo is also stylised and engraved on the nib, and finial button.
Subsequent versions in deep green, vibrant red, tropical blue and red onion purple, stuck to the same design as the first edition; its elegant design, outstanding balance and weight and exceptional finishing earning the pen a well-deserved following.
This brings us onto the current version: the Mariana Deep Blue. If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’ll realise it has been a very easy pen to review.
I ordered my pen via the Write Here website, which is well designed and easy to navigate. Delivery was fast and tracked. I chose the 14kt gold EF flexible nib, but there are huge options – 14kt flexible EF / F /M, 18kt EEF, EF, F, M, B, 1.1, 1.3, 1.7 stub are all options!
The pen is presented in a simple but well-made traditional pen box, with the Write Here branded sleeve complete with image of the Write Here first edition on it. Inside, the pen rests on a satin cushion; understated at this price point – but I think most of us would rather spend less on packaging and more on the pen itself!
Within the box, a leaflet detailing the some great info on the pen, the companies involved and maintenance, the 3 year guarantee, QC check and sales authorisation from John.
The pen itself is… stunning. Really stunning. The depth, movement, polish, complexity and overall beauty of the material used is difficult to convey in pictures; but it really is a glorious material that draws you into its depths.
Beyond that, the design is elegant and simple, the trim silver and clean.
In the hand, its surprisingly light for a piston filler and, unscrew the cap – there’s that wonderful OM81 style nib.
It really is a great looking pen. Not only that but even at first glance, it is clearly expertly made. All the joins are precise, tight, even, the metal work perfectly cleaned, the lines crisp and the polish deep. Scribo know what they’re doing. Really know!
Putting this all together, my first impression was excitement, deep, warm joy and a real surprise.
The overall design is elegant, unfussy and clean. The pen is polished to a flawless finish: glossy, glassy and impeccably shiny rhodium elements combine to give a pleasing and quality feel. The cap is flat cap ended with a gorgeous and meticulously made finial coin with Write here’s logo. A plain polished rhodium pocket clip is well proportioned and has a gentle curve that leads to a wide cap band featuring the Write Here name and then slight step from cap to barrel. At the piston, another rhodium trim ring and flat barrel finial, with the edition number (30/50) engraved. Wonderful quality oozes out of this pen, but if the details sound otherwise a little dull, fear not! The showstopper here is the choice of resin.
The swirling blue resin is polished to a flawless gloss that brings out the materials complexity and depth. Both pearlescent elements and much deeper blue pockets bring to mind bubbling deep-sea vents, sand swirling within the currents and lights of a bathysphere refracting through water. If this imagery is driven by the name or the name by the imagery is not important; that this material is very similar to Pelican’s M805 Ocean Swirl from 2017 suggests to me this really is a material that brings to mind the flow, turbulence and refraction of water.
I realise I am extolling the resin to an extent that seems bizarre. But the truth is my gaze is time and again drawn into this material during writing, and I just love it. Scribo and John have come across something wonderful here and I am certain this will be a centrepiece of my collection for many, many years to come.
The pen is surprisingly light – 34g capped, 19g uncapped and a little over 20g once fully inked with the vast 1.6mL it can hold. It’s a substantial pen – 15mm diameter barrel and 133.5mm in length. The section is 11mm diameter, cylindrical in shape with no flare or tapers. Although there is a 2mm step from section to barrel, the length of the section – 28mm, means that both the step and the square cut cap threads are well away from thumb, 1st webspace and index finger with a traditional grip.
My expectation was that this pen would have a very slightly neutral to back leaning balance as is commonly the case with piston fillers. In fact, the length of the section means that the pen is wonderfully neutral and balanced and supremely comfortable for long periods of writing. A daily driver, for certain.
The cap is screw closure at takes exactly one turn to open or close, and sits 1mm proud of the barrel. It feels very precise and the threads are triple start so its easy and practical for daily use. The cap feels secure when screwed on and the value of the step from section to barrel is that the whole thing seals really well. I recently left the pen in for 3 weeks on my desk while I was away. On arriving home I opened the cap and it wrote immediately with perfect flow and no hint of any change in flow or performance.The step is partially softened by the elegant cap band.
The cap cannot be posted – this is not something i worry about ever and given its 15g weight and additional length would ruin what is a finely balanced ergonomic.
The clip is curved rhodium, unsprung but does its job well – there is adequate tension on thin clothing (it passes the hospital scrubs test, while deep and flexible enough to even clip within my jeans pocket. It is in proportion to the pen and suits the simple elegant design well, wit just the faintest hint of Italian flare.
The integrated piston doesn’t add significant weight to the pen – I suspect it’s a plastic mechanism. The piston knob is smooth and of the same resin as the pen – which is grippy enough that combined with the careful design makes it easy to turn and not at all slippery. The whole mechanism feels smooth, even and well tensioned – suitable for a pen with a £550 price tag. The ink capacity is 1.6mL by my measurement – huge, in other words.
I selected the 14kt gold extra-fine flexible nib for my pen, which is matched with an ebonite feed. As we have already said, this is essentially the Omas OM81 nib and it should come as no surprise that it delivered exceptionally well. My ink choice for the review P.W. Akkerman No. 8 Diep-Duinwaterblauw – a deep blue black with hints of teal that matches the Mariana very well. It’s a nice medium wetness ink – that some feel may well be made to a Diamine recipe. (Uncorroborated!). In any event, its a great ink, reliable and safe.
Back to the nib. A light touch delivers a nice European extra fine line and the feed gives really good flow of ink – meaning the nib feels velvety smooth. Add a hint of pressure the tines open wonderfully; the feed ably keeps up to deliver a BB line. This is an intensely expressive nib that needs a careful balance of light and heavier strokes and as someone more used to firmer nibs it took a bit of getting used to. This is not a criticism as much as a warning; this is as close to vintage flex as you are likely to find in a modern pen and it takes a little time to get used to. Do NOT force it and if you have a heavier hand (mine is light) you may be better advised to look for an 18kt firm nib (which still has plenty of bounce).
I really love this nib – it is again an absolute star in my collection and brings enormous pleasure and satisfaction as you write with it. It is wet, with fantastic line variation possible and effortless. So far I have had no issues of any kind with the nib.
Taking the ergonomics and the nib together this is a pen that really delivers. Whether a brief list or taking notes for a day long webinar, this pen is easy, comfy and doesn’t fatigue. It’s a wet writer but even so, the ink capacity is huge and it just keeps going. When writing letters to friends and family, it gives character and expressiveness to my writing and it as an instrument it disappears into the background (unless staring into that material!) I can’t really add much more; it’s joyful and everything a writing experience at this price point should be.
Price & Value:
The Scribo Write Here retails at £530 making this a luxury pen. For that you are essentially getting an OMAS quality pen and OMAS nib and a pen from a brand that is already gaining a reputation for excellence. You are also getting a very unusually beautiful resin that to me feels like a classic. Like the Pelikan M805 Ocean Swirl before it, this pen has something special about it – a feeling that this resin pattern could be the arco of the future in terms of collectability.
Combining this with the brilliant service from Write Here, it feels to me like a thoroughly worthwhile investment.
The Scribo Write Here is a truly brilliant pen. It combines the wonderful skills and craftsmanship of a team who learned with Omas and have continued to progress since and combines a truly unique resin with a world class nib to deliver a simply awesome writing experience. There is literally nothing here not to like!
I am aware that some of the pens in this specific edition (the Mariane Deep Blue, specifically) have had an issue with a misfit o-ring on the nib housing. Thus far my pen appears unaffected. I becamse aware of this only when John himself emailed me to let me know of the potential problem and offered me a no quibble postage paid return for either service / resolution at Scribo, or refund. Scribo are a small production house even now, doing everything with craftsmen, so it’s a shame they have had this problem… but also you can’t fault the customer service and I am very happy that so far, my pen seems unaffected. John has reassured me that if an issue does develop, I can return the pen any time no questions asked for assessment and repair free of charge so again, he is clearly taking this very seriously and believes in the product.
To sum it up, the Mariana Deep Blue is a pen a pen that will draw you into its depths and reward you for years to come. If you get the chance to own one, go for it and don’t look back.
I have no affiliation with WriteHere or Scribo and have not received any financial advantage or payment for this review. The pen was purchased at full price and is part of my personal collection of pens.