A few weeks ago, there was a fountain pen review at the No Excuses Art blog. It listed several entry-level fountain pens in the $6 to $32 dollar range and is a great reference if you’re looking to dip your toes into this inky pool.
This is the dollar range for the fountain pens I collect, and the first pen on the list caught my eye. The Dilli Fountain Pen from Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR). At $15, I couldn’t pass this up. I was pleased to find that the S&H was only $3 flat-rate global shipping. I ordered the red with an extra fine nib. And to my surprise there was even a free pen in the package, a Serwex 162, included. I’m not sure if that happens with every package or if I just ordered when there was a special going on.
The pens came loose in a padded envelope with no information except a flyer showing how to use the twist piston filling mechanism (a nice information piece).
The FPR Dilli Fountain Pen
Feed Mechanism: Twist Piston
Material: Translucent plastic body and cap
Other: metal clip, cap ring, screw on cap
Available Colors: Blue, Red, Green, and Clear
Length capped: 13.9cm (5.5”)
Length posted: 14.6cm (5.8”)
Section diameter: 9mm (0.35”)
Body diameter: 1.1cm (0.43”)
Weight: 14g (0.5oz)
Nib sizes Available: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub, Flex
Look and Feel
The translucent body of this pen lets you see how much ink is in the barrel (the term for this type of body is ‘demonstrator pen’).
The tip of the cap and the barrel both have black accents. The cap screws on, which is nice, but I always forget and try to slide it off.
I have a terrible habit of playing with the metal clips on a pen, flipping them up and down, and I can tell that this one is doomed. But for normal people and reasonable handling I think it is sturdy enough.
The nib is steel and has very little decoration. I can’t even quite make out what is on it. That’s fine with me–I’m more into the performance than the decoration on the nib, especially at this price level.
This is a nice-looking pen that would be at home mixed in with your ballpoints and gel pens. It won’t make you gasp or marvel at its beauty, but you certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to have it sitting on your desk.
The pen is light, which makes it nice to carry. It is plastic though, and feels as though it might crack easily, especially when empty. There is a metal cap ring to help prevent them in the cap. I think I would be sure to carry this pen in a case when traveling, though.
The fill mechanism is a twist piston, which means you twist the black tip and it sucks up the ink from the bottle. The piston is built in, so you can’t use cartridges with the pen. I like this–it makes the pen easy to fill and to flush out the last bit of ink for cleaning or refilling with another ink. It only took one twist cycle–3 or 4 twists–to fill the pen
There’s always a drawback. If you accidentally twist the piston when you don’t mean to, you’ll have ink all over.
Size-wise, this pen couldn’t be better fit for my small hand. It does feel more comfortable to me with the cap posted, so it might be too small for those with large hands.
It holds a decent amount of ink, but my similar sized Noodler’s Ahab flex holds more.
The Serwex 162 Fountain Pen
There was no information included about the Serwex 162, and there is nothing on the Fountain Pen Revolution site, so I don’t believe they actually sell the pen there, at least not regularly. This means I don’t have specs, but the pen also has a twist piston and is of a similar size and weight.
The color is a dull gray with silver accents, so like the Dilli, it will fit right in with your ballpoints and gel pens as far as looks. Most people wouldn’t give it a second look.
The nib is actually a little fancier, with deeper engraving and a more slimline shape. The barrel is clear where the ink is stored, so you can see how much ink you have. One cycle of twisting is enough to fill the pen. I think the capacity is about the same as the Dilli.
Based on the writing, I would say this is a Fine nib size,
The pen writes smoothly. Possibly more smoothly than the Dilli. Unfortunately the ink blobs.
I noticed the ink blobbed up on the nib when I filled it, so I was watchful. It’s infrequent enough that I haven’t been able to tell for sure what sets it off, or where the ink is actually coming from. (I’m definitely not a Fountain Pen guru!)
The ink I used–Noodler’s Heart of Darkness is thick and somewhat blobby in and of itself. I suspect that with a drier ink there might not even be a problem.
I can live with it. This was a free pen, and I am in no way complaining. It doesn’t happen often–twice in several hours of drawing. I’ve seen the blob forming in time to pull the pen up and not get ink on my work. My fingers got inky. I’ll be sure I’m not wearing good clothes when using the pen.
And I will continue to use it, because I love the way it draws.
Performance of the Dilli
Writing Example – Diamine Chocolate Brown Ink
Writing Example – Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses
I found the writing to be extremely smooth–as good or better as any of my other fountain pens, including a couple that were almost twice the price. There isn’t a standard for nib sizes and my other two are finer, but I was able to get a nice, thin line.
Drawing Example– Rhodia DotGrid WebNotebook with Diamine Chocolate Brown Ink
Rhodia’s Webnotebook paper is very smooth and considered fountain pen friendly. The Dilli performed excellently, which is what I would have expected.
Drawing Example– Fabriano Tizano Aqua Paper with Diamine Chocolate Brown Ink
For my second example, I chose a lightly toothed paper similar to that used for Zentangle®. The ink flow was smooth, no clogging or jamming or spitting.
Drawing Example – Textured paper with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses Ink
My third paper had more tooth and rougher texture. Still the pen performed smoothly with no skipping, clogging, spitting or feathering.
I’m not able to get too much line variation with this pen, which is to be expected with the extra fine nib. There’s no scratchiness at all. I didn’t expect to have any trouble with any of the papers I used, but one of my other extra fine nibs does. Fountain Pen Revolution sells replacement nibs, and I’m of mind to get one for that pen!
Performance of the Serwex 162
From here, I’ll let the photos speak. This Serwex 162 has a slightly thicker line than Dilli which pushes me to bolder contrasts of dark and light.
Writing Example – Noodler’s Heart of Darkness Ink
Drawing Example– Rhodia DotGrid WebNotebook with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness Ink
Drawing Example– Fabriano Tizano Aqua Paper with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness Ink
I’m impressed with both pens. I’m not a fountain pen guru. I lust after them all, but have restrained myself to pens in the starter price range, $8-$28, which gives me a good basis for evaluating both. I’d rate the Dilli’s performance as good or better than anything else I own. The Serwex 162 would rate as high if not for the blobbing.
If fountain pens appeal to you based mainly on their physical beauty (and that’s a good reason-some fountain pens are true works of art) these might not be the pens for you. If you like a larger pen or want a large ink capacity, they might not be for you.
The Dilli is an excellent fountain pen for the price. I think it would be good for either the fountain pen novice or the expert who wants a cheaper-price but good performance for testing inks.
The Serwex 162 has lovely performance except for the problem with blobs. I’ll let you know how it does with other inks.
I plan to buy another Dilli with a flex nib. I’ll let you know how it does.
Fountain Pen Revolution is based in India (where their pens are made) so shipping can take 10 days or more (more especially if Customs decides to inspect your package). If you are planning to give one of their pens as a gift, plan accordingly.
Disclaimer: I bought this FPR Dilli pen from Fountain Pen Revolution and decided to review it because I thought my readers should know about it. Fountain Pen Revolution did not ask me to review it, and I received no compensation from anyone. All opinions are my own.
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