Pen Review: Bexley Equipoise
The pen for this review was provided to The Pen Habit by Vanness Pens free of charge in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was provided.
Nib: 18k Gold Broad Nib
Filling System: Standard International Cartridge/Converter
Length (Capped): 145mm
Length (Uncapped): 123.6mm
Length (Posted): 179.7mm
Section Diameter: 10.6mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 12.9mm
Cap Max Diameter: 15.3mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 17g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter):27g
There must be something in the water in Ohio. It seems like Ohioans just know how to build things. (I, of course, am biased when I say this, as I am the product of many generations of Ohio ancestors.) They also know how to invent things. (Like airplane flight, for instance.) Even our beloved fountain pens have a storied history in the state of Ohio. Ohio is where Conklin was headquartered in its original iteration. Edison Pen Company is based in Ohio. And, since 1993, a lesser-known boutique pen brand called Bexley has been creating pens in Colombus.
Founded by vintage pen collector Howard Levy, Bexley makes (according to their website) a wide variety of pens with an eye toward vintage designs, but using modern equipment, techniques, and materials. Many of their pens have a timeless, classic, vintage designs (and in some case, even vintage names) that have a timeless feel, but are made with brighter or more vivid acrylics than you would have found seventy or eighty years ago. In addition to their own models, Bexley also manufactures limited edition pens for individuals and companies worldwide. One of those individuals was collector and pen show fixture, Jim Gaston, who sadly passed away last year. Prior to his death, Jim sold most of his inventory to Vanness Pens, the pen shop local to him, who then provided this particular pen for review purposes. Along with Jim’s wide collection of pens, he also provided Vanness with a huge cache of Bexley nibs in 14k and 18k gold. (He was an especial fan of broad and stub nibs). This would prove fortuitous because Bexley would eventually stop handling gold nibs in toward the beginning of the current decade, switching to steel nibs only. It was through the good folks at Vanness Pens that I was able to get ahold of this Bexley Equipoise, Bexley’s first open edition pen, with a lovely 18k broad nib.
The Equipoise, which was named after the old Wahl Equi-Poised pen, comes in three colors: a dark blue semi-translucent acrylic highlighted with teal and silver accents (called Empire Blue), a teal green with dark blue and gold accents (called Colorado Green), and a butterscotch color with blue and gold access that looks like a Werther’s Toffee (called “Sierra Sand.”) Released in 1996, this pen originally came with a button-filler mechanism, but later iterations were switched to cartridge/converter fillers. Bexley also manufactured several special editions made in other colors.
Design-wise, the Equipoise is an understated, classic design—a flat-topped middle-sized pen in which the flat tops have been tapered to a very slight point. Aside from the material, this is a design that would have sat quite comfortably under the display case at any pen shop in the 1930s or 1940s. The cap’s finial is separated from the main cap by a silver washer and a band of teal acrylic. The clip attaches internally to the cap and features a streamlined design of stiff, folded metal. The cap is otherwise plain except for a decoration of a silver-colored cap band featuring a geometric design and the Bexley name. The barrel of the pen is mostly cylindrical, but with a bit of a swell toward the end. Another teal and silver accent appears before the closing finial.
The cap unscrews from the barrel in 1.75 turns on tight, smooth threads. (Sometimes have a hard time getting the thread starting points to mesh properly; it can take two or three approaches when I attempt to re-cap the pen. Once they mesh, the threads are perfectly smooth, however). Under the cap is a small, contoured section with a hint of a flare before the nib. The section’s tenon is made of acrylic so, in theory, this pen could be used as an eyedropper as well as a standard international cartridge/converter filling mechanism.
My Equipoise came with an 18k Broad #6 bi-color nib. The pen is also available with a steel nib, but I must say that I think the upgrade to the gold nib is very worth it. The Bexley 18k broad nib is pretty close to perfect: a broad, juicy line, a smoothness that is supple and buttery, and a feed that is fully capable of keeping up with even fast, long-form writing…until you run out of ink. In fact, the only down side to this nib is that, with such a broad, juicy, and consistently flowing line, you’ll run out of ink fairly quickly. (I, for instance, went through 1/3rd of the ink in my converter just by the three A4 pages of writing I’ve done on this review.)
My experience with the incredible nib on this pen isn’t singular, either. I took the Bexley Equipoise with me to the most recent Seattle-ish Pen Posse meeting. I passed it around the table for people to use, and watched their reactions as they put pen to paper. The reactions of each person were so similar it was nearly comical. Each would uncap the pen, put the nib on the paper, make the first downstroke, stop, then snap their eyes to mine, a look of disbelief etched across their face. It was usually followed with something like, “Oh wow…,” or, “Are you kidding me?) This Bexley nib really is that good.
Visually, the Equipoise doesn’t do a whole lot for me. It’s a well-made pen, but the color selections aren’t really up my alley, and the design is a little understated. Nevertheless, I found myself returning to the Equipoise again and again, because the nib is just so smooth and wonderful. It floats across the paper, laying down enough ink to bring out shading and sheen, but not so much that it becomes obnoxious. If you’re a fan of juicy, broad nibs, I suspect you’d love these gold Bexley nibs.
The Equipoise isn’t available in a lot of places anymore, as it’s been out of production for a while. Vanessa Pens, who provided me with this pen for review purposes, does have several in stock (in each of the colors), with both steel and gold nibs. At the time of this writing, they only had the steel-nibbed versions available on their website, so if you want a gold nib, you may have to reach out to them via email or phone. The steel-nibbed version sells for $125. I consider this a reasonable price for a well-made, steel-nibbed pen. It’s in keeping with the prices of (and in some cases, is less expensive than) other American-made pens like Edison or Franklin-Christoph. The Equipoise is not in production any longer, however. The gold-nibbed version of the pen sells for (I think) $225, which I would be willing to pay in a heartbeat. Considering how well this nib writes, I would even be willing to pay more. It’s just that good of a writer.