Brian Gray asked if I’d review the Mina on Peaceable Writer. He set no conditions and asked for an honest review. He also offered me a discount should I decide to purchase a Mina. Any reader of Peaceable Writer knows: I like lightweight pens, am kinda obsessed about ink capacity, and most importantly have taken great pains to downsize my collection into something small, joyful and manageable for my writing life. I said yes. (Of course I said yes and I did a happy dance! Not for the discount—for a chance to see a new Edison fountain pen in-hand.) Yet I made no decision, even during the first few days with the pens, about whether to add one or more to my pen hoard. My intention is to give an honest assessment of the Mina. No doubt, though, my review will be subjective based on idiosyncratic pen principles.
My first Edison fountain pen was a prototype of the Huron. Its treasured place in my pen hoard has been chronicled in earlier posts. I’ve been slow to acquire another Edison because the Huron has been the largest pen in my collection. Many of the other Edisons have seemed rather guarantuan. The Mina finally provides a good possibility for me in the Edison line-up.
Brian sent not one Mina but two. The Mina comes in two sizes: standard and extended. The standard Mina came with an 18K gold nib, in Bedrock Flake acrylic. The extended Mina wore black acrylic and sported a 1.9 italic steel nib. My first impression of these pens was that they were sleek, elegant and made in perfect “Julie size” for my small hand. These are very handsome pens and the acrylics are beautiful.
Size and Weight
The key here is thinner not smaller. The standard Mina is bigger, or rather, longer than a vintage Pelikan 400 or a Nakaya Piccolo. Yet the Mina is not unusually thin. The Visconti Ragtime is thinner than the Mina.
Both Minas are very comfortable to hold and write with. My glove size, if this information helps give perspective, is 7. (Wanna measure your glove size?)
- Standard Mina
- Capped & inked: Weight 21grams. Length 5 1/4″.
- Uncapped & inked: Weight 15grams. Length (nib tip to barrel end): 4 3/4″.
- Extended Mina
- Capped & inked: Weight 23grams. Length 6″.
- Uncapped & inked: Weight 16grams. Length (nib tip to barrel end) 5 1/4″.
The weights are based on using the converter inside the pen. I have found that while an eyedropper pen holds more ink, the pen weighs about the same, unposted, as it does with an inked converter in the barrel. The extended Mina is so long it just fits inside my pen display box. It fits in my regular pen case except that I can’t snap it shut. A Visconti pen case closes without issue.
A happy surprise: The extended Mina allows me to hold what I call a “writing thought pause pose.” Normally I can only do this hand pose with a long pencil, or (in the old days) a Bic. None of my fountain pens allow me to hold a pen in the thought-pause-pose. This pen geek found the discovery quite exhilarating. Observe: the first photo is typical of a subverted thought-pause-pose. The second photo shows a relaxed, proper thought-pause-pose.
See the Edison Pen Mina page for all the dimensions.
The Mina Flare
I was a little concerned about the flare before the pens arrived. Would the flare mean the pen would not store properly? Would it be weird to write with? Would it be hard to carry around? Would it fit in my two pen holder? Finally seeing and holding the pens, I found the flare to be very slight causing no issue for my pen holder or storage box. (Pen length is another matter.)
A clipless pen will, of course, roll around, potentially falling to the floor if you are not careful with it. At my desk I use a pen rest. When I am a coffee house, for example, I use a piece of tiny foam as a pen rest. Once you decide you prefer clipless pens, as I have, you find ways of coping.
One of my favorite pen designs is a cap made flush with the barrel. I was extremely pleased to see the Mina with that design. Because the pen body and cap are flush with each other, the pen cannot be posted. I know there are those of you running a muck out there, posting your pens! I’m not a pen poster. It’s a lifestyle choice. I know it’s hard for some of you to understand but those of us who don’t post are a happy people.
The Mina is like other Edison pens in that it is made to use a cartridge or converter or to be filled with an eyedropper. I asked Brian about bulb fillers and ink windows for the Mina. He said that a bulb filler will definitely be available for the Mina (note that will be at extra cost). An ink window, however, poses problems and will not be a Mina feature. I’ll just quote Brian directly:
The ink windows are threaded and epoxied into the acrylic piece in front of it. I’m afraid that the barrel is so thin that the ink window joint will weaken. For now, I’m not accepting orders for bulb fillers with ink windows….only solid materials. I will prototype an ink window sometime, but my hopes are not high, and it’s not a priority. It’s possible to make then entire barrel piece translucent. In other words, the translucent part goes all the way up to the threads. But I’m not sure that this would look good. I might try it, but my hopes are not high on this as well, and this is also not a priority.
I asked Brian about ink windows because so many people seem to prefer them, especially for eyedropper pens. Out of the four pens I fill with an eyedropper, not one of them has an ink window. For me, a lack of an ink window has never been a problem. How do you tell the ink needs refilling? Uh… the pen runs dry! If you’re like me and you write a lot, you get to know your pen pretty well. I imagine the ink window could be an issue for those people who use a pen occasionally and have not mastered the art of, yes, listening to their pens.
Eyedropper Ink Capacity: Since these were not my pens, I did not fill the barrels directly with ink. I did fill them with water to see how much ink they would hold. Both the Standard and the Extended Mina hold the same amount of ink! A little over 3mls. I believe this capacity is true for most, if not all, Edison Pens. From a production standpoint I can see why the internal size of the barrels are the same. As someone who wants as much ink I can get in a good pen size for my small hand, however, an extended Mina holding an extra ml of ink would be grand as an eyedropper.
The Minas are made with smaller (#5) nibs in both steel and 18K. The steel nibs also come in italic sizes. The nibs are removable, unscrewing from the section like a Pelikan or a True Writer nib. (When you unscrew a nib, be sure to remove the converter or cartridge from the pen. Screw the section back into the barrel before you unscrew the nib. You need some leverage so that you don’t run the risk of hurting the nib.) The 18K comes in monotone, two-tone or Rhodium. The Huron’s 18K nib often feels gigantic to me. (Then again, so does the Bexley Submariner’s nib.) The Mina 18K nib feels more “vintage sized” and I like it better than the Huron nib. It may be my imagination yet the Mina 18K nib feels a bit softer or springier than the larger Huron nib. The nib was smooth and a wet writer. Like all of Edison’s steel nibs, the 18K Mina nib does not sport the Edison logo. Brian wrote me that, “There might be a smaller 18k nib with the Edison Logo eventually, but not quite yet.”
The 1.9 italic nib was crisp yet problematic. The nib would write and then the ink flow would stop, much like a car stalling out, and then flow again. [Check out the video to watch me write with it.] At first I thought it must be my inexperience with large italic nibs. I received some italic counseling from Lady Dandelion who cautioned me to write slowly with such a large nib. After all writing adjustments made, the nib finally refused to write at all. Brian thinks there may be a manufacturing defects in a small number of the italic nibs he is selling. If you have purchased one of these italics from Brian, don’t hesitate to let him know if you are having a problem. The italic did remind me there is more to fountain pens than just writing, writing, writing like I do: birthday cards, thank you notes, holiday greetings. Note to moi: an italic would be nice for those occasional greetings.
When it was clear the italic nib was kaput, I asked Brian to send me a steel nib with a fine point. I’ve always wanted to test an Edison steel nib against an Edison gold nib. Brian has made a compelling case for steel nibs in his article, “In Praise of Steel Nibs.” A couple of my pens have lovely steel nibs (the Cumlaude and the True Writer) yet I could not imagine steel being as sweet as the 18K on the Mina. Sure enough, the steel F nib he sent was smooth, wet and a good performer. Was it my imagination, however, that it lacked the personality of the 18K? What about a blind nib test? Uh….I took the pens apart, mixed up the steel and the gold, closed my eyes and screwed in the nibs. Okay, that didn’t work too well because the 18K is monotone and the steel is two-tone. I noticed which pen I was using pretty quickly. Duh. Hey, it’s the holiday season! That’s all I’m gonna say for myself. After writing for a long while, with only these two pens in rotation, I could not tell much of a difference between the two nibs. A couple of times I thought I was using the gold nib and it would turn out to be the steel. Not very scientific yet the perception or lack thereof gives me pause. A reason I got the Huron with a gold nib— the cool Edison logo on the nib. With no logo on the 18K, well, hmmmm, the gold seems less compelling. The steel nib will probably not corrode until long after I do. The smaller nibs in both metals are much to my liking.
As I was writing the text in the above photo, the small 18K nib seemed to write sharper, crisper, than the steel did. I leave you to judge that for yourself. Click on the photo for the closest look; size of the scan not altered.
An Aesthetic Issue
The Mina nibs do not sit flush in the section. This is my one nit-picky thing: The way the nib collars stick out I keep thinking they need to be turned one more time into the section. Yet, the nibs are screwed in as far as they will go. Perhaps the thin walls of the section pose a problem for setting the nibs flush. The Mina’s Got Options Like any Edison pen, you can pick the material you’d prefer in acrylic, celluloid, and ebonite. Like any Edison pen, you can ask for the rollerball treatment. Like the Huron or the Herald, you can have the standard size or the slightly bigger size. Like the others, a nib can be changed out by simply unscrewing it from the section. As of this writing, only the Mina offers a choice in italic nibs.
The Pen Box
Brian has come a long way in regards to the box he now provides for his pens. The Huron arrived in a torn cloth fragment and maybe a PVC pipe. That was fine with me. Boxes are something else to store and fuss about keeping. The Edison box is a very nice leatherette box that reminded me a great deal of a larger Visconti box I once had. The box is simple and on the small side. Small is good. Less is more. The dimensions are approximately 8 1/2″ x 2″ x 1 3/8″. Miscellaneous Uncapping the pens, they smell faintly of burnt acrylic which is a reminder that the pens are freshly turned. The smell is not noticeable when I’m writing and it fades away over time. Cost: The Mina affords a lower cost Edison by as much as $100. A Mina in either size with a steel nib costs $200. An 18K nibbed Mina is $275. Finally Am I going to add a Mina to my collection? I sure want to. I’ve given the question a lot of thought. I don’t want to add a pen or two or three just because I can. That pen path has not worked for moi. At the moment there is no pen I’m willing to re-home in order to make room for a new pen and I’m very happy with the size of the current collection. Yet the Mina’s features are compelling. I did write earlier the pen is “Julie perfect” in size, right? The Mina has even made me ponder re-homing the Huron in favor of a standard Mina in the same Yellowstone acrylic. Y’all know I love the Huron, don’t ya? [See earlier post, Fountain Pen as Muse.] Even the Bedrock Flake acrylic was handsome enough to give me the gimmies. I’m going hold out hope that the Mina might become an Urushi Project between Edison Pen and Hakiumin Urushi Kobo. The Mina was developed with Ernest Shin, after all. And so, as much as I want one, no standard Mina for me at this time. On the other hand… The fact that I can perform the writing thought-pause-pose pretty much requires that I add an extended Mina to the collection. Imagine my surprise… It is fascinating to watch how Edison Pen has evolved and continues to do so…interchangeable rollerball sections, pen rests, Urushi projects, new overlays on their way. Brian’s got his wonderful hands full. Thank you, Brian, for an opportunity to examine the Mina up-close. You’ve made yet another beautiful, writing worthy pen.
- Mar 2011: Brief Review of my Edison Mina Extended
- Jan 2011: Video of the Edison Minas
- Sep 2012 A review of a Hakumin Edison Mina on FPN by quinden
- Oct 2012: My Hakumin Edison Mina story