Sometimes a pen comes along that makes you stop and think about what kind of pens you like and maybe even remember what fun it was when all you knew was that you loved a good pen -- no matter how much it cost and what company made it. Well, I discovered just such a pen at the 2003 Great Southeastern Pen Show in Atlanta in the form of the new Tukano (Toucan) from Filcao.
Filcao is familiar to those who haunt the pen bulletin boards on Pen Lovers and Pen Trace as well as the Zoss list. The reason Filcao is familiar is through the one-man evangelism movement of Giovanni Abrate, who imports this fun line of pens from Italy. Mr. Abrate grew up in the region near Filcao's factory in Settimo. Filcao is a giant manufacturer of inexpensive pens much like the all-too familiar Bic pens we see here in the U.S. But the company's owner has a passion for pens that shows itself with a small but distinctive line of fountain pens and fun ballpoints (how about one with a perpetual calendar built in?). Away from Italy, it is this line of pens that is known among pen lovers who hear the Filcao name.
Through his connections with the family that owns this company, Mr. Abrate brings to the United States a line of pens that features a large pen in colorful plastics and indestructible looking stainless steel in the Leader 1918 series; a group of small pens -- some so tiny they can't hold a cartridge even and use a bulb filler system; some great novelty pens and now the new Tukano.
The Tukano is a mid-sized pen that is similar in size to a Sheaffer Targa or Pelikan 400. The barrel is slim but not overly so and the texture of the sterling silver feels good in the hand, as does the faceted sides of the barrel. There is laser engraving on every other facet to add visual interest and a neat stylized "F" is also engraved in the barrel. The Sterling work is nice and smooth and polishes nicely with a soft cloth after handling. The finish is somewhere between hubcap chrome shiny and satin, giving it a nice glow that is just right.
The section is plastic, giving a warm feel to the hand and the resin cap posts by threading onto the end of the barrel around the exposed button filler mechanism.
That's right, this modern pen uses a button filler mechanism like that of the old Duofolds. In fact, Mr. Abrate says the same pressure bar is used as that in the old senior size Duofolds. The bar presses against an authentic rubber bladder for filling the pen.
The large button for filling is exposed and anodized for long wear. Going without a blind cap is a neat innovation. The button has enough resistance to avoid accidental emptying of the pen, but works as slick as the convertible top mechanism on a Mercedes when it comes time to fill the pen. The pen flushes a large burst of bubbles into the ink bottle when the button is depressed and you can hear the ink being sucked into the bladder when it fills. All around, this is a stylish and efficient interpretation of this classic filler mechanism.
The acrylic cap comes in three colors -- a deep marbled red color with burgundy overtones, a bright matte finished cardinal red and an elegant satin black. The cap screws on nicely on both ends of the barrel. It has a nice taper to it -- somewhat reminiscent of the Toucan's beak, I suppose? The clip is secured to the cap by a black end cap in the Duofold style. The clip and other trim are stainless to blend with the sterling barrel.
Well, as with all pens, the question is: "How does it write?" In this case, the answer is "Pretty darn good." Which, for those of you who know Minnesotan from Garrison Keillor, means this is a good writer and a great pen for use in the daily rotation.
The Schmidt nib is a smooth writer and the feed is positioned well to ensure that the pen starts quickly even after being in the pocket for awhile. The nib writes a fine to medium line that is just wet enough to give your writing a good look without leaving a slow drying line of words on the page. The nib is stainless steel that is unplated to match the sterling of the barrel.
While I usualy prefer large nibs that leave a wide swath of wet ink behind, this nib reminded me of just how much fun it is to write with a good fine to medium nib. It makes a great pen for taking quick notes and writing the usual daily notes, memos and reminders that we all do. Just load it up with ink and write. This is a pen for using and it should be a constant companion.
As with all Filcao's the Tukano has some fun touches. The box is a large one that includes a little bottle of indigo blue ink with a Filcao label on it and the pen rests on a little high point in the box iteself surrounded by the typical gray mouse fur lining. Overall, it's a beautiful presentation. The pens with the red caps have, just for fun, red filler buttons. A nice little touch that makes the pen even more fun.
And, as is often the case, we've saved the best part for last. The price. The Tukano will compete very well with the Aurora Ipsilon Sterling and others in it's class with a list price of $129 and a typical street price of $99 to $109. It's hard to beat this pen at that price and the blend of faceted sterling barrel and acrylic cap makes this a pen with cool visual textures and an elegant look in the hand.
What a delightful pen and one that is
well recommended to those looking for smaller daily writer with some
style and a little bit of difference from the everyday brands.