Meisenbach COMPACT Fountain/Roller Ball Pen – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This pen, the Compact, is available as a Roller Ball pen or with a fountain pen nib. In fact, they are interchangeable, and it is powered, so to speak, not by a refill as Roller Ball pens normally are but by a standard cheap fountain pen cartridge, available for little money per box of five or ten.

Meisenbach-Compact-mit-Gummigriffmanschette_b2Not only are those ink cartridges cheaper compared to, say, a Parker or Shaeffer pen refill, they are also greener as they are fully recyclable being made entirely and purely of polyethylene.

Today you do not even have the little “pearl” in the cartridge anymore as you did in my childhood and thus it is all polyethylene and this can be made into polyethylene again.

Yes, it is probably true that several cartridges will run out in this pen before a Parker or Shaeffer refill will but it still is going to be cheaper and definitely greener as, so far, none of those other pen refills are recycled anywhere.

Now a little to the pen itself. The Meisenbach COMPACT comes as a Fountain Pen with steel nib, a Fountain Pen with iridium point nib or as an Ink Liner (Roller Ball Pen) with tungsten carbide tip. All have a plastic body and a metal clip.

There is one drawback with this pen as with all wet ink pens and that is that much of the paper we find today, even in most notebooks, is not suitable for this kind of ink and will bleed through.

One slight disadvantage of the Compact to the cartridge fountain pens many may remember from their schooldays, if they are old enough to have used a fountain pen, is the fact that the size of this pen does not allow for a spare cartridge to be carried in the barrel. But that is only a minor inconvenience as one can always have one or two spare cartridges in one's pocket.

The pen is best used with the cap placed at the non-working end of the pen's barrel as it gives a better balance this way.

The best part, aside from writing well, is the fact that the cartridges (refills) are very cheap indeed and fully recyclable unlike, as already indicated, general ballpoint and Roller Ball pen refills.

The Meisenbach fountain pen/Roller Ball pen is not just a new concept but also a fairly green one at that.

OK, someone may say: “It's a pen. What's special about it and green as it is made of plastic, etc.?” What is special and green on this pen is the fact that, as mentioned more than once, it has a fully recyclable refill cartridge and thus is a very sustainable writing instrument, despite the fact that it is made of plastic, with some metal for the clip.

It is true that there are many other pens, ballpoint pens and ink liners, aka Roller Balls, that have refills but – one – most of them are rather expensive and – two – the great majority of those refills, if any, are not being recycled and may not even be recyclable as they are at present.

The only other kind of pen that has probably better green credentials is the true fountain pan, refillable from an ink bottle, or the dip pen.

Karl Meisenbach GmbH & Co. KG has been producing writing utensils since 1880 at their factory in Fischbachtal, an idyllic village of 2700 souls in the Odenwald, ca. 50km south of Frankfurt/Main and thus has a long tradition in making pens.

All plastic components are manufactured in the Meisenbach factory in Germany. Metal components and accessories are bought in addition. However, each piece is „made in Germany“ or „made in Europe“.

© 2014