Carolina Pen Company Georgetown Review
Dabble long enough in the fountain pen hobby and you will inevitably hear it: the siren’s call of the custom pen. Sure, mass-produced pens can be nice, but for many, nothing will compare to the prospect of owning something truly one of a kind.
Materials & Construction
Carolina Pen Company is a small pen manufacturer based out of South Carolina and operated by Jonathan Brooks. Jon is renowned in the fountain pen community for creating pens out of an impressive array of materials, including celluloid, ebonite, wood, and resin, many of which he showcases in his Instagram profile.
The Georgetown is one of several custom pen models offered by CPC. Their pens come in a variety of styles and designs, but I was particularly taken with the Georgetown because of its svelte, cigar-shaped profile and long, spacious section.
Deciding on a material was a challenge, however. After browsing Jon’s Instagram, I finally became inspired to use his “Primary Manipulation 3.0” material for my pen. When I placed my order, my only real instruction was to use a dark mix of colors to give the pen a sort of “outer space” vibe, and boy did he deliver.
I simply cannot say enough to describe the sheer beauty of this material. It’s a mesmerizing mix of purples and reds, with subtle hints of blue, green, and white woven in. Every time I rotate this pen or view it from a different angle, I see new details I hadn’t noticed before. It’s like discovering tiny new galaxies in this swirling cosmic soup of color. Look closely and you’ll notice that certain parts of the material give off a pearlescence and chatoyance that practically makes the pen glimmer.
In addition to their unique materials, Carolina Pen Company also offers a variety of specialty finishes that can be applied to your pen for an additional cost. My Georgetown has the “Solar Dust” finish, a speckled pattern of metallic flakes in kaleidoscopic colors that serves as the perfect analogy for "stars" in my tiny fountain pen universe. The finish is audacious in the best possible way, and reminds me of the “chameleon” paint jobs I used to see at custom car shows I attended when I was a kid.
Build quality on this pen is exceptional. All parts of the pen fasten cleanly and tightly. There are no unsightly gaps where the components meet, and no part ever feels loose or flimsy. Considering this is a hand-made pen, the level of precision demonstrated in the fit and finish is truly impressive.
The Georgetown's classic, cigar-shaped profile is a great canvas for the unique material and finish. One thing I particularly enjoy is the elegant rounding of the ends of the cap and barrel. Some other pens I’ve seen from small manufacturers often have less graceful, more aggressive rounding on these components, but I prefer the gentler, sloping approach taken here. The cap twists off in two turns and posts securely, though I prefer to use it unposted as I’m concerned about scratching the finish unnecessarily.
I went with a clipless design for this pen, and I have mixed feelings about that. My reasoning behind skipping the clip was that I didn’t want it to distract from the material and finish. On one hand, I’m happy I took that approach; the material is as attractive as I’d envisioned, and I’m glad I have “as much pen as possible” to show it off. On the other hand, being unable to stop the pen from rolling is more annoying than I’d predicted.
The barrel tapers elegantly from around 10 mm at the end to approximately 15 mm where it meets the section. Speaking of that section: it’s a gift from heaven. At 30 mm long, there’s plenty of room to find a comfortable grip. There are no sharp threads, dramatic step-downs, or other issues that might negatively affect grip. The section flares ever so slightly toward the nib end, which I find useful for keeping my fingers from slipping onto the nib.
In the Hand
As much as I enjoy the material and design of this pen, its ergonomics are what really send me over the moon. At the risk of sounding cliché, the Georgetown really feels like an extension of my hand. The ample section allows me to hold the pen comfortably in any position, which consistently provides for a balanced writing experience.
Those of you paying attention to the pictures may notice a few different nibs. I ordered my Georgetown with a 14K gold semi-flex Jowo nib, but also tested it with other nibs. The Jowo semi-flex nib was a bit of a disappointment (more on that in a future post). It railroaded more than I was expecting; the tines easily became misaligned after light flex; and the nib was generally not that usable for non-flex writing.
Ordinarily, I would take greater issue with an included nib not performing up to my expectation, but part of the attraction of custom pens in the first place is that the nibs can easily be swapped out. I threw in some spare Goulet Pens #6 steel nibs I had lying around and tried a different feed and they instantly made the writing experience much more enjoyable than what I was getting with the semi-flex nib. Ink now flows more consistently, and the pen doesn’t dry out or have hard starts like it did before with the semi-flex nib. Also, even though I tend to prefer rigid nibs, it’s nice to know that I can put a softer gold nib in this pen if I ever want a different writing experience.
As with several other custom pen makers, Carolina Pen Company has a base rate for custom pens with steel nibs, with upcharges for specialty finishes and gold nibs. Ultimately my Georgetown with the Solar Dust finish and 14K gold semi-flex nib totaled a little over $500. Though the price of entry is high, this pen is worth every penny and for me, its smile-to-dollar ratio just can’t be beat. For those who may be put off by the price tag, note that the pen would have been considerably cheaper had I not opted for the specialty finish and gold nib.
Would I Buy It Again?
Absolutely. The Georgetown instantly became my favorite pen in my collection, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t purchase it sooner. I’m already thinking about my next CPC commission, and I’m excited to try a new model and material. If I do place another order, I’ll probably go with a steel nib and skip the specialty finish as they do add significant cost, and CPC materials are beautiful enough to stand on their own merit.
Final Thoughts & Score
Having a say in the design of your pen
Eye-catching materials and impeccable craftsmanship
Satisfaction of owning something unique
Price can escalate quickly with optional finishes and nibs
Wait time can be long, especially for specialty finishes (8 months for mine)