Pen Review: Classic Pens LB5

Material: Diffusion-bonded acrylic
Nib: 21k Gold – Broad and Medium
Appointments: Gold
Filling System: Sailor Proprietary Cartridge/Converter
Length (Capped): 157.5mm
Length (Uncapped): 136.4mm
Length (Posted): 173mm
Section Diameter: 13mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 15.5mm
Cap Max Diameter: 18.1mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 24g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter):42g

If you collect pens, every once in a while you will come across a special one: the pen that is such a perfect fit for your hand, your writing style, and your aesthetic sensibilities that you wonder if you will ever again feel the need to purchase another pen. In the last three years of collecting and using fountain pens, I have had an opportunity to buy or use hundreds of pens. These pens have ranged from disposables costing a dollar or two to those costing upwards of $1,000. Some I have hated, others I have loved. But of all the pens I have ever used, the Classic Pens LB5 is my perfect pen. So much so, in fact, that I have not purchased a single pen for myself in the six months since purchasing my last LB5.


Classic Pens is a U.S.-based company located in El Paso, Texas, and run by renowned fountain pen author and collector, Andreas Lambrou. “Andy” has literally written the book on fountain pens (several of them, in fact). He and his co-authors have written a series of well-respected, exhaustive, and beautifully-photographed books including Fountain Pens of the World, Fountain Pens of the United States and United Kingdom, and Fountain Pens of Japan. Under his leadership, Classic Pens contracts with major pen manufacturers (like Sailor of Japan) or master craftsmen (like Paul Rossi) to manufacture extremely high-end pens out of beautiful and unique materials. Most of Classic Pens’ models are made in extremely limited quantities and with a level of craftsmanship that simply can not be surpassed. And they have a price tag to prove it.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: The Classic Pens LB5 is an extremely expensive pen. At $1,250+ per pen, the LB5 really can’t be justified as anything other than a high-end status symbol in a luxury writing instrument. It is a work of art in pen form that is designed to capture peoples attention and make a statement. Nobody needs a pen that costs that much money. However, with that in mind, I can still honestly say that the LB5 is the best pen I have ever used. It is just that good.


The LB5 is manufactured by Sailor of Japan and is modeled on the company’s flagship King of Pen/King Profit model. Made 5mm longer than the standard Sailor KOP, the LB5 is manufactured out of a material called diffusion-bonded acrylic. This material is made by casting several different 3mm sheets of colored acrylic, each with its own color and pearlescent swirl pattern. Those sheets are then stacked atop each other and bonded together, then the blanks for the pen are cut against the grain of those layers.


The pen has been manufactured in five colors named after nature: Kaen Red (Violent Flames), Tensui Raindrops (Space Blue), Kouseki Brown (Metal Ore), Midorigi Green (New Green Trees) and Tairiku Continent in either Amethyst Mauve or Continent White. Each model is limited to a numbered run of 50 pens.

I purchased my first LB5 in person at the DC Show in 2015 when I spied the Midorigi Green on Andy’s table. After a bit of hemming and hawing over the price (and losing out on the floor model to someone else), I decided to go all in and purchased it. I was completely entranced by the pen, and used it daily for about a month. I was so entranced, in fact, that I began research online to learn more about the other colors of the pen and stumbled across the Tairiku Amethyst Mauve version of the pen. I’ve often said that there aren’t enough purple pens, and most of the purple pens out there are light lilac purple that look like unicorn farts. The Tairiku was deep and rich, like a vein of Blue John Quartz. It was stunning.


It turns out that these purple LB5s are, to put it in the words of one of my pen friends, “rare as hen’s teeth.” I did, at last, manage to find one through Bert Oser of Bertam’s Inkwell in Maryland, who put me in touch with Andy directly and I managed to snag “the last available Amethyst Mauve at present.”


Being based on Sailor’s King Profit model, the LB5 is admittedly a large pen. It has a relatively standard cigar shape that is a touch more slender and streamlined than, say, a Montblanc 149, although they are of a similar size. The cap has a tapered-but-rounded finial which holds on the large, standard-design Sailor clip which is somewhat stingy and very solid. The wide metal cap band has two knurled ridges in between which are stamped “Sailor LB5” and either “Tairiku” or “Midorigi.” The Edition number (22/50 on the Tairiku, 15/50 on the Midorigi) is engraved rather than stamped into the metal. The cap requires 1.5 rotations to remove it from the body of the pen, and it glides on perfectly tight and smooth threads.


The barrel is largely unadorned, save but for a single gold washer to separate the finial from the barrel. The finial is completely unnecessary from a functionality standpoint (this is a cartridge/converter pen, not a piston-filler), but it balances out the finial on the top nicely. I am also glad that Sailor/Classic Pens chose not to imprint anything on the barrel, as to do so would only detract from the incredible color and depth of the diffusion-bonded acrylic.

Under the cap you have a black acrylic section separated from the barrel with another gold washer. The section is rather on the thick side (not unlike a Pelikan M1000 or MB 149) but has a slight taper that makes it more comfortable to hold than most oversized section. It also ends in a nice light flare right before the nib.


The nib itself is a massive 21k gold monstrosity—and I mean that in the best possible way. This nib is huge. You would expect a nib this size with such a high gold content to be somewhat soft. It is, surprisingly, rather rigid. And the fact that the nib is 21k gold means that this is not a nib out of which you can “push” a bit of line variation. Without the stabilizing snapback of the other metals in the alloy, pushing this nib means you run a greatly increased risk of springing the tines.


What the nib lacks in bounce, it more than makes up for in its absolutely perfect tuning. Sailor’s nibs are among some of the most highly-respected in the business. Even retailers say that Sailor’s nibs basically never need to be tuned. They come from the factory with absolutely perfect adjustment. The nib on the LB5 floats across the page, writing with no pressure, with an even and consistent ink flow, page after page. The medium (on the Midorigi) and the broad (on the Tairiku) are very similar in line width, and much narrower than their European counterparts. (Japanese broad nibs are a bit of a black box to me. Sometimes, they’re narrower than a European medium, other times they’re just as large as a European Broad. Unlike the Medium and Fine nib gauges, it seems the Japanese haven’t really agreed that their Broads should be similarly narrower.)

As well-tuned as they are (and they are exceptionally well-tuned), I find the polish on the nib tip to be inadequate. Sailor, across their entire line of pens and nibs, chooses to polish their nibs to a rougher, more feedback-prone finish. (This is similar to the way that Italian maker Aurora finishes its nibs.) I wish that Sailor would offer a smoother, less feedback-prone, nib, but running one of their nibs over a bit of 12000 grit MicroMesh™ can get me to my desired smoothness quickly. Once that’s done, I’m 100% in love with this nib.


I should also spend a bit of time on the filling system for the Classic Pens LB5. Most pens in this price range eschew the more “pedestrian” cartridge/converter filling system for something more “high-end.” Sailor, in both the King Profit and the Classic Pens LB5, chooses to stick with the ease and convenience of cartridge/converter filling. This does feel a little cheap on such an expensive pen, especially as Sailor’s converters are on the flimsy side.

Upon removing the section from the barrel, you find a huge gold-plated tenon which serves almost like a throne for the proprietary cartridges or converters. The converter, when firmly seated in the pen, is nearly completely covered by the metal collar which contains cutouts allowing you to monitor ink levels. It would have been nice to if the LB5 had opted for a piston or vac-filling system instead (giving you a larger ink capacity and something that felt a little more robust), but the C/C filling system doesn’t bother me. And it does make cleaning the pen significantly easier. Fortunately, the converter/feed system on the LB5 is well-designed enough that the pen exhibits none of the ink starvation or flow issues you often find with other C/C pens.


Writing with the Classic Pens LB5 is a true joy. The fit in my hand is nothing short of miraculous; the pen feeling like it is an extension of your arm. Even people who prefer smaller pens have told me they find it surprisingly comfortable. It is long enough that posting is unnecessary. If you do like writing with a baseball bat, though, you can post the pen.

Is the LB5 worth the steep price of $1250? Well, like most things, it is only worth the price if you are willing or able to pay it. I found enough value in this pen (both utilitarian and aesthetic value) to warrant paying that price not only once, but twice. In the end, it has probably saved me money because I am so happy with these pens I have not purchased another one (to keep for myself) since. I just love them that much.

Spoiler Alert: You can expect to see this one at the top of my Top 5 or Top 10 pens list at the end of the season.

  • Colin Taylor

    Didn’t i read last week that you were giving up because of serious case of ‘pen addiction’ which was having a negative effect on your life [not to mention, financial situation]?
    Evidently a quick recovery………………………and most welcome.

  • Gordon Tillman

    Oh Matt. Just when I don’t think I need any more fountain pens, you go and post something like this…

  • Mikey Mazur

    When I looked up the name classic pens on google it still says they are in Los Angles. The main I looked that up when I heard El Paso I thought nooooo way that is 50 miles away from me. They do have 2 authorized dealers in EL PASO. 1 of them I need to visit just so I drool and pass out. From what I hear Halper’s Pens is an amazing store, but they don’t have much of a online presence but I seen on fountain pen network many people talk about how great the store is.

    • That’s Classic Fountain Pens (also known as They’re in LA. Classic Pens (a different company) is in El Paso.

      • Mikey Mazur

        Gotcha. When I looked at the website it said started in LA so thought maybe the same. All good now. Who knew I had all this cool stuff close to me haha

    • skindoc

      I grew up in El Paso and both Halper’s Pens and Andy’s Classic Pens are within walking distance of my old high school. When my parents still lived there, I would drop by and see Steve Halper every time I was home for a visit. Now I see him at the Dallas Pen Show. He’s a great guy, as is Andy, of course.

      I own the amethyst LB5, which I bought direct from Andy at the Dallas show a couple of years ago. Everything Matt’s review says about this pen is true. It’s magnificent.

    • Rosy Fraire

      Hello Mikey,

      Classic Pens Inc., is located in El Paso, 250 Thunderbird Drive Suite 5. Contact email is

      LB5 finishes Diamond Brown, Forest Green,Amethyst Mauve and Marble White.

  • Tor Arne Larsen

    I´m happy that you have a new top pen! 😀 Between getting my long awaited Nakaya Naka-ai and two Pilot 823, i´ve pretty much stopped buying pens. Hard to even imagine pens i would like more than those three, and thus its been about 6 months since i bought pen or ink.

  • Jan Scott

    Lovely review and no wonder you love them. The green is especially beautiful.

  • Thecla

    Great review!

    I really enjoy your reviews of the more high end pens. I probably will never get one (not so much because of the price but more because I like small pens and high end pens tend to be either big or huge) but that doesn’t prevent me from feasting on the eye candy. And the excellent quality of your videos truly does justice to these beautiful pens.

    In my opinion the cigar shape of Sailor pens is the most perfect and elegant shape. In fact, I have a custom pen in the works that combines the shape of KOP, the nib and size of 1911 Standard, and beautiful CS Dartmoor as the material. It’ll be kind of like a very mini KOP Mosaic. The material choise is totally your fault. I fell in love with it watching your reviews of CS Wellington and Marlborough. Just a few more weeks of waiting to get through 🙂

    • That should be a beautiful pen. I love the Dartmoor acrylic.

  • Andrew Camacho

    Great review of some stunning pens! Congratulations Matt. Are you familiar with Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey by Perri Knize? It chronicles the quest to find that perfect instrument. I think you would enjoy it.

    • Thanks! That’s looks great. I’ve added it to my Kindle wishlist. 😀

  • Richard Kirton

    Truly wonderful pens. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lez Cartwright

    Thank you for another excellent review. It must be wonderful to find ‘The Pen’ Like most of the folks the price is out of our range to get something like this, but I’m pleased you can and that you share your experience and joy of having a fantastic limited edition piece of perfection. The converter doesn’t seem right in such a pen although I accept your point of it being easier to maintain. I felt it should have been different though, bigger maybe, it just seemed something more special was in keeping with this pen, something along the lines of the Con 70 would have looked classier. It’s only my opinion.
    The LB5 is a stunning pen.
    Are you doing InCoWriMo this time around ???
    Can I have your Decoband please.

    • I’m trying to write more letters this month, but I’m not officially doing InCoWriMo. It’s just too much time for me right now. I did it in 2014, but I haven’t been able to participate again. I don’t really like writing short letters. I’m more of a 5-7 page letter kind of guy. So doing that 28 times in 28 days will always be a bit tough for me. Especially since I’m still in the middle of my season. But I do eventually try to reply to every letter I get.

      As for the Decoband…HAHAHAHAHAH!!!

  • Darin Robson

    Purple all the way, Stunning

  • Marc Florent

    You are a bad man Matt Armstrong. Putting temptation in my path like that.
    Have just ordered an LB5. Gulp….

    • YAAAAAY! What color did you go for?

      • Marc Florent

        I agonised between the Amethyst, the Space Blue with rhodium trim and the Space Blue with gold trim. After much soul searching, I went for the Gold Space Blue. I will let you know if it lives up to the dream! Meantime, thanks for all the great and entertaining reviews. Keep ’em coming!

        • Pascal Leers

          Thank God, not the green one. I want a green one. But I’,m afraid it will be sold out before the penshow in September.

  • Pascal Leers

    I have my eye on that pen since I saw it about 2 years ago. But the price is just too high. So when I watched your review of it, it was with mixed feelings. (70 % envy and 30 % excitement, I guess.) I especially like the green one.

  • Matt, I would like to let you know that We (my husband and I) watch every little video you make. We love them, and your style of presentation and the true, wonderful passion in your words and eyes. All the best for you; greetings from Poland.

  • Please don’t purchase any more pens you like – you’re costing me a fortune!!!!

    • Mwahahaha. I’m actually so happy with the pens in my collection, I’m actually mostly only looking to buy pens for review purposes now, rather than pens for my own personal collection. I’m sure if the right pen comes along, I may jump in, but I’m not really going out of my way to find personal pens anymore.

      • That’s where I would like to be; but I may need to sell a few pens to get there! 😊

  • Neutral

    Excellent video Matt. I could really feel your passion for these two pens coming through here. I’m glad you got these pens since you enjoy them so much. Someone was telling me the other day about this book called “the regrets of the dying”, and every regret was about NOT doing something. No one had regretted doing something.

    Regarding the Diamine shimmer ink. I have found that the ink does not flow well in open feeds like your Sailor nib, possibly due to air exposure. So far as I have experienced, they seem to perform well in closed feeds similar to what Lamy has or Sheaffer’s inlaid nibs. I know you love green, you may enjoy Diamine Shimmer Magical Forest; a lovely luscious green with silver shimmer; it is my favourite shimmer ink so far, out of Shimmering Seas, Blue Lightning and Brandy Dazzle.

  • Rosy Fraire


    Thank you for the lovely review of these two wonderful fountain pens. Regrettably, for your review, we didn’t provide you with the matching Fountain Pens of Japan book, which captures all six finishes on the front cover. Will rectify and send you one. Thank you again.

  • Monty Martins

    Beautiful pens Matt, wish I could afford it.

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  • Abdullah

    Hello .. Matt, Thanks for the great video .. I liked the green pen, and looked him in the Amazon and eBay, and did not find him at these sites .. How can I get a green pen? Thank you.

    • Hi Abdullah. There were only 50 of them made, and they sold out a while ago, so you’d have to find one from someone who already owns one of them and would be willing to sell. Sorry!


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