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Kaweco Revisited

Kaweco is one of those brands that was going strong - for a long time, actually, from 1883 - and then it wasn't. Its future wasn't too bright, but then fanatical pen collector and entrepreneur Michael Gutbertlet took over the Kaweco branding and brought it back to life.

It's the sort of brand that might have passed you by, unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool collector of pens of course. So let's set the record straight!

Being a German manufacturer, Kaweco's build quality is well-respected. What's more, because Mr Gutberlet is insanely enthusiastic about all things pen, he spends a great deal of time innovating and experimenting, which results in things like this Fireblue Liliput, with its flame-tempered polychromatic steel barrel. And then there's the salty practicality of collections like the Sport, originally designed for 'ladies, officers and sportsmen'. Its abbreviated barrel and extra-long cap mean the combination of the two when posted is a normal-sized pen. But it's chunky enough to be good to hold (and presumably suited to the hands of a sportsman. And the ladies...? Hmm.)

The other good thing about Kaweco is that the fountain pens are complemented by ballpoints, and the ballpoints by rollerballs, and the rollerballs by pencils. So if you come across a fountain pen you really like, you can often complete your set with all the other types of writing instruments. And if it's fountain pens you like to stay with, the choice of nibs is extra-wide, from extra-broad to extra-fine, and some with calligraphy nibs too.

Budget-wise, you can spend as much or as little as you want on a Kaweco pen. The unusually-named Perkeo (inspired by an 18th century German court jester, Perkeo of Heidelberg) is a quality entry-level pen. You can fill it with either standard-pattern ink cartridges or fit a converter and use bottled ink. And there's a rollerball to match. At the other end of the spectrum is the aforementioned Fireblue, along with the AC Sport, which incorporates carbon fibre. These cost enough that they'll make you think carefully before taking the plunge, but still shouldn't involve existing solely on baked beans for the rest of your life.

Kaweco's sheer range is quite astonishing. There's really no style that they won't have a bash at. And their bashes are excellent. The Liliputs are just great. Little fountain pens and ballpoints made of metal; untreated so they'll age gracefully over time. The Student pens aren't so much pens for students, but a range created to honour the fact that when Kaweco first started out, in a factory near Heidelberg University, the majority of sales were to students. So the colour choices have more than a hint of nostalgia about them.

The Sport range, probably the most popular, offers lots of colours in tough 'Makrolon' plastic, from the pastel Frosted collection to the sober navy, black and red of the Classics. There's an aluminium version too, in the form of the AL Sport, plus the heavenly hefty Brass Sport and the racy AC (Aluminium/Carbon fibre) Sport. All these are nicely complemented by the likes of the Light Lavender and the Vibrant Violet, which are members of the newly-formed Kaweco Collection, where oldies but goodies are given finishes and trims uncommon for the range.

And if you're more of a pencil person than a purchaser of pens, there are the fat, chunky clutch pencils of the Sketch Up range. With a choice of chrome, acrylic and brass barrels, they're equipped with a deliciously generous 5.6mm lead, and a pointer under the push button so you'll always have access to a sharp tip.

As you might expect from such an enthusiastic pen manufacturer, Kaweco also product lots of accessories in the form of pocket clips, pen pouches and storage tins, as well as spare parts, extra leads and a range of bottled inks and cartridges. There's nothing not to like about Kaweco. The writing instruments are as well-made and tough as they are beautiful; they can be accessorised... or not; and they're constantly innovating so there's usually something new to 'ooh' over. Why not trying a bit of 'oohing' yourself?

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