I purchased the Parson’s Essential at mrpen.co.uk, which I think is the only place online where you can buy Italix pens. The pen arrived in about a week (international shipping from the UK to the US) and came secured inside a black clamshell case. Pen came fully equipped with a Schmidt branded standard international converter.
The Italix Parson’s Essential has a standard cigar-shaped design, and is made of brass with a polished and durable piano lacquer coating (I chose “space green” but it does come in a few other colors). I find that the deep green lacquer and gold trim (particularly on the cap band and Celtic design) give the pen an attractive aesthetic to what is otherwise a rather simple and understated design.
The cap, which has a plastic inner liner, screws onto the section threads in 1 full rotation, making it relatively easy to cap and uncap. The section is made of plastic and is a bit narrower than I typically prefer, but I find it to be very comfortable. It’s not slippery and it’s long enough that you can grip it at whatever width feels most comfortable (even on the threads, which are not sharp at all). The transition from the barrel to the section is smooth (no large step), and is overall a really comfortable section to use. The barrel screws into the section on metal threads, and operates smoothly with no issues. It accepts standard international converters, which fit securely and deeply. The pen can be posted, but feels more comfortable and balanced un-posted.
Fit & Finish (5/5):
Although this isn’t “precious resin”, a rare celluloid, or a rainbow acrylic, the manufacturing of the brass and lacquer coating is very well-executed. Overall, I find it to be an attractive, streamlined, and well-made pen that punches well above it’s weight. I think Jinhao fountain pens (the x450, 159, etc.) also use the brass/lacquer manufacturing process, but the build on the Parson’s Essential feels of much higher quality.
Mr. Ford from mrpen.co.uk offers an extraordinary array of nib grinds that you can add to the pen, all for no extra cost. This, in and of itself, is very rare. I can think of just one or two small retailers in the world that offer free nib grinds with a pen purchase, so this is definitely a great value and something to consider. He starts with what appears to be a #5-sized, two-tone steel nib (I think made by JoWo) and then grinds these down to the requested widths. I opted for his “medium cursive stub” grind, which is advertised as having a 1.0-1.1 mm downstroke. Because of this process, his Italic and Stub grinds do not have iridium tipping material (as opposed to, for example, a Pelikan factory stub that adds the grind into the actual tipping material), so you are essentially just putting steel to paper. I had to do just a bit of smoothing on micromesh when I first got it due to some hard starts (just a few figures 8), but overall, I think the grind was very well done, and the nib looks really nice, with “Italix” laser-engraved on the top.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
I’ve used a few TWSBI and Goulet 1.1 mm stubs (all made by JoWo), which are all great nibs and incredibly smooth in their own right, but I can honestly say that the stub on this Parson’s Essential is one of the smoothest I’ve ever used. This specialty grind makes the pen for me and definitely elevates it into the must-buy category. The pen writes for pages without skipping, and is very well balanced in the hand. I do notice that the ink flow gets slightly drier on subsequent pages, but the feed still keeps up and works well. Additionally, after using about half of an ink-filling, I found that it’s useful to prime the feed by twisting the converter’s piston mechanism about half way down the converter. Combined with the pen’s great overall weight and balance, I find the Parson’s Essential a pleasure to use and perfect for long writing sessions.
Overall Impression (19/20):
The Parson’s Essential is an attractive pen with a classic shape and a comfortable design. The build quality is top-notch and feels like it’ll last a lifetime. It’s an incredibly smooth, consistent writer and can be customized with numerous different speciality nib grinds, all for the reasonable price of $50-$60. If you’re looking for an affordable, classic pen design with numerous nib options, give the Parson’s Essential a shot.
*Photos shot and edited on iPhone 6
Length Uncapped (nib tip to end of barrel): 124 mm
Length Capped: 140 mm
Length Posted: 160 mm
Section Diameter: 8-10.5 mm
Barrel Diameter: 11 mm
Weight Uncapped: 21 g
Total Weight: 35 g