The Benu Brown Orchid fountain pen is perhaps the most over-the-top fountain pen I own.
It is amazing that it is at a reasonable price point, $132 USD. Sure, there are some crazy fountain pens studded with diamonds and in the shape of panthers that cost thousands, but most fountain pens under $1,000 are sensible, normal-loooking pens, Jinhao Dragon aside.
This one however, is completely unique, with its Art Nouveau floral motif, accents of gold, and patches of color, this one goes to eleven.
Being somewhat crazy gives this pen a unique spot in the market and a unique place in your collection. So, why not have a little fun and consider it?
The Brown Orchid is one pen out of five in the Ambrosia collection. Each is named after a flower, the others being the Blue Lotus, Persian Shield, Forget-Me-Not, and the Zinnia. These pens are representative of the boldness and flamboyance of the brand with each one being more intense than the last. The Brown Orchid may be the more restrained of the bunch, and that is saying a lot.
Let’s dive into what makes this pen so interesting and so different.
Got somewhere to be? Here’s the long and short of what you need to know.
- An excellent Schmidt nib
- An absolutely unique design
- Comes with unlimited warranty
- Fairly priced at $132 USD
- Short cartridges and limited converters
- No clip
- Difficult to store
- Sometimes hard to post
Benu was founded by Alex Semanin and Kate Dmitrieva to express their passion for design and for pens. Benu is the ancient Egyptian deity associated with the sun, creation, and rebirth. Benu was represented as a bird on ancient temple walls and Benu ties this to the fact that the quills of a bird were used as one type of pen. It’s a tenuous connection, but let’s go with it.
They launched their first collection in October of 2016 and have been offering selections of dazzling and interesting pens in grandiose color schemes, and some that even glow in the dark. They have recently moved from Russia into Armenia for obvious reasons.
So these pens do not have the lineage of the more recognizable heritage brands like Pelikan and Montblanc. They do, however, have interesting designs and tie into some niche aesthetics like Art Nouveau, Dark Academia, and Goth.
They are also made of exceptional materials with an attention to detail and very intriguing designs. Let’s take a look.
[Learn more: How to Buy Your First Fountain Pen]
This pen is a floating magic spell of wizard purple with shards of glimmering copper, the magic of gold in shimmering swirls, and specks of green reflecting like fish scales. It has a Gustave Klimt-like quality. It’s like the ingredients in a cauldron combining to form a wonderful visual alchemy.
This all made from high quality resin that is molded, lathe tuned, and ground. They are inspected and hand polished. I have found that their quality control is very high and although the look of each pen is unique based on how the mix of color and materials are in that particular iteration, the finish is uniformly well done.
The overall design is unique as well. It is quite plump in the center and tapers precipitously toward either end. It is 17mm around its ornate widest part.
This pen has an elaborate decoration around the edge of the cap, both as a strong design statement to delight your eyes and to prevent it from rolling away from you. Around the cap is a bouquet of flowers — orchids of course. They have a translucent quality that hold the light in a warm embrace and are the color of deep amber. It is a stunning effect. You may find yourself watching the light play off the edges of the flowers and glowing from deep within. This is a pen that seduces you with color.
The cap is screw on and twists on and off easily enough. It also posts, but sometimes it is a bit difficult to get it to set in there and feels a bit rickety in the hand. This is because it sits rather shallow in its cap.
This is perhaps my biggest criticism of this pen. Sometimes when writing with it, it wants to come apart into two sections. You have to ensure that you set it just right before writing.
This pen lacks a clip and so you find yourself carrying it around. You can put it in a pocket, but it had better be a large one because this pen is thick. It is so thick, in fact, that it does not fit in elastic band pen case or any designated slot in a bag that I have ever found. I would be afraid to just toss it in a bag, lest it get scratched in there. This is a pen that would be sad to mar.
This pen is fun to use, but it is difficult to find a place to put it when not in use, so you may want to hold onto the box that it comes in.
Benu Brown Orchid’s Nib
The nib units of this pen are hand assembled by Schmidt in St George’s, Germany. Schmidt is one of the world’s top suppliers of nibs. This one is a #5 size in stainless steel and comes in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, and Broad. It is elegant in size and scale, has a bit of softness, and writes magnificently, as you would expect from Schmidt.
I have always liked these nibs. I have always felt that they give me a bit of line variation in how they are cut and remind me of the medium nibs in my vintage pens. Writing with this pen is an absolute joy.
[Read more: How to Clean Your Fountain Pen]
The Writing Experience
This pen is a lot of fun to use. It’s a bit like writing with a magic wand. It has an otherworldly quality to its shape and colors. The nib is very nice, smooth, and reliable. It is similar to other pens that use Schmidt nibs. However, having it mounted to this extraordinarily beautiful object makes it a unique experience.
The pen is thick and I feel that it would benefit from being a touch thinner. It doesn’t hurt the performance, but you are aware of having more pen width resting against your hand.
Also, perhaps as a function of it being so wide, I have issues with posting this pen, so occasionally it comes apart while I write. The barrel of the pen is too short to write with solely and so I feel I need to post it — and I have to take an extra moment to set it in there properly.
As long as I have posted this correctly, the pen is very enjoyable to write with. In fact, I am willing to put up with its eccentricities for how beautiful it is. That is generally what happens with me. I am willing to put up with some issues, if I am getting something magnificent in return.
Benu Brown Orchid’s Ink
The pen comes with a short standard international ink cartridge and cannot be used with a standard size converter. I found myself refilling the original cartridge with an ink syringe. Although a mini converter of 4 centimeters, like the Kaweco Squeeze Converter that is in my Brass Kaweco Sport would work.
Amazingly, this pen may be used as an eyedropper; when you fill up the barrel of the pen with ink and use some silicon grease to prevent leaking. This may be the way to go and I am trying to work up the courage to try it.
Reassuringly, this comes with an unlimited warranty against materials and workmanship. Benu really wants you to be happy with your purchase.
So when do I reach for this pen? It certainly isn’t for when I go to work. This pen is for journaling, for personal correspondence, for writing. The look of this pen inspires creativity with its swirls of psychedelic color. It may be a pen you keep for yourself, like some sort of treasure, a talisman against all those boring black and gold pens with their ordinary shapes.
Benu Brown Orchid Price
For $132 USD, you are purchasing a unique experience with this pen. There is nothing else like this on the market. It is made of stunningly beautiful material and has a wholly unique design. It is also a pleasure to write with as long as you post it correctly.
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