I recently had the opportunity to try the Osprey Scholar pen, which I call a “Frankenstein” dip pen/fountain pen. The Scholar is a fountain pen, but it rocks a Zebra G dip pen nib, giving it the ability to create dip pen-style calligraphy with efficiency and convenience! In this article, I’ll review the Scholar and…
For years, TPK readers have written me to ask if there’s a cartridge pen that delivers the same results as the dip pen. After all, the idea of writing calligraphy without a whole set-up (art water, ink, cleaning cloth, etc.) is appealing! Plus — let’s face it — dip pens aren’t incredibly travel-friendly. It’s kind of a whole thing to take them on the road. If a cartridge (i.e. fountain) pen can deliver stroke contrast, then why not use one of those instead of a dip pen?
While I knew that fountain pens with flexible nibs exist, I never could find one easily available online. That changed when Abhi Rao, founder of the company Osprey Pens, reached out to me. Abhi sent me an Osprey Scholar pen (fitted with a Zebra G nib) to test out, and today I’m going to share my thoughts on it with you!
When I received my Osprey Scholar, I mostly felt overwhelmed. It came with a bunch of extras that I have already lost a couple of times: a wooden dowel, a white plastic thing, and a “grip tube”. The online instruction manual advised that these items are for changing out the nib. That’s a pretty intimidating task that I still haven’t tackled, but maybe it’s not so bad once you make up your mind to do it?
I decided to fill my Scholar with Noodler’s Victory Ink, mostly because it’s one of the only fountain pen inks that I have. To accomplish this, I emptied a syringe of ink into the “ink filler” part of my pen.
The Writing Experience
Once I filled the pen, I tried to start creating calligraphy. And … I have to admit: I wasn’t impressed. The nib railroaded horribly, and it was difficult to write coherent words.
After two minutes of writing, however, the pen started to behave differently. Suddenly, the words were nice and smooth! Railroading only happened on the random odd stroke.
As much as I love using a traditional dip pen, I have to admit that it requires a fair amount of effort. First, you’ve got to gather accessories: art water, ink, a cloth, a pen, and a nib. Second, you need to constantly dip your pen in ink, which takes time. It’s not exactly a non-committal or portable activity! The pro of the Osprey Scholar is the ease and portability. You just take the cap off and start writing!
Many Learn Calligraphy worksheet owners have asked if there’s a one-stop pen that allows you to practice on the go. I believe that this is that pen! That said, Abhi cautioned that, like most dip pens, a (full) Osprey Scholar doesn’t travel well on airplanes. Second, I’d venture to guess that you’ll still need to bring ink with you. Thick downstrokes require a lot of ink, so this pen probably runs out of ink quicker than most fountain pens do!
My main frustration with using the Osprey Scholar was the intermittent railroading. (If you’re not familiar with the term, “railroading” happens when the tines of a nib write separately, resulting in parallel strokes that look like railroad tracks.) In dip pen calligraphy, railroading occurs when there’s not enough ink on your nib. In that case, you just re-dip your nib in ink! But with the Osprey Scholar, the railroading was random, intermittent, and difficult to remedy.
While I think that this pen is a good idea and a great option, I have to admit that it seems to require a fair amount of fuss. To be fair, that’s the case with most fountain pens as far as cleaning and refilling with ink goes! This pen has a five-page instruction document, which in itself is a bit intimidating.
The Zebra G nib corrodes, so eventually, you have to disassemble the pen to switch out nibs. Disassembly involves three different little tools plus a hammer. I realize how lazy I am when I consider that and shudder at the time and energy it will take! After every handful of writing sessions, you should clean the pen, which requires soaking the feed in a cleaning solution (though I believe this is typical of most fountain pens).
To sum it up, I do think that the Osprey Scholar is a good supplementary option! I would not use it to completely replace my dip pens, but I know that it will come in handy every once in a while. I can see it being useful in several scenarios! For example, if you want to practice your dip pen calligraphy on the go (e.g. at work), you could bring your Osprey Scholar and a couple of worksheet pages with you!
You also might consider using the Scholar to address envelopes for big events! I experimented with writing out an address with this pen, and it took me *very* little time to do. When you can write uninhibited, that makes a big difference! There are just two things to consider with envelopes: first, you’ll need to test if your fountain pen ink, which is traditionally more watery than dip pen ink, will bleed on your envelopes. Second, if you experience railroading, you’ll need to manually fill in a couple of downstrokes strokes.
If you’re looking to expand your calligraphy collection and you’ve got some money to spare, then I’d recommend purchasing this pen. The Osprey Scholar is undoubtedly a useful tool! However, I promise that you’re not missing much if you just stick to the supplies listed in The Ultimate DIY Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit.
I hope that this review helps you to find a new tool that you love! I appreciate the (overall) convenience of the Osprey Scholar, and I’m sure that some TPK readers will as well. Having the ability to create dip pen calligraphy with a fountain pen is pretty cool! I’d like to thank Abhi Rao for offering this solution for busy calligraphers, and if the pen can benefit you by adding convenience to your practice, I’m sure that you’ll feel the same! If you’d like to purchase one of these pens for yourself, you can do so by clicking here.