This review is proof that, sometimes, you need to give things a second chance.
This is not my first Pilot 91. After falling in love with my 912 FA, I ordered a black 91 with soft fine nib. I ended up finding it a bit dry, and in pursuit of the soft nib’s line variation, I pressed harder than was natural for me. In combination with the relatively narrow section, this resulted in hand cramp during longer writing sessions. So, I was happy to swap it with my brother, who I’m pleased to say gave it a good home and loves it to bits. Proof that some pens are just not right for everyone.
So why did I get another one?
Two reasons. First, the colour of this special Tsuki-Yo version, available only on the 91 model. Tsuki-Yo is one of my favourite Iroshizuku inks, and on the pen it’s a dusty, retro blue-green, which neatly sets off the rhodium trim. Second, I was curious to try the fine-medium (FM) nib, only available in Japan. When I saw it on J-Subculture for about £60, I couldn’t resist.
In person, the Tsuki-Yo colour is even lovelier than I expected. It looks more or less green, darker or lighter, depending on the colour temperature and brightness of the room you’re in. Either way, it doesn’t match the Tsuki-Yo ink very well in my opinion, but that’s no problem for me. And the rest of the 91’s design still impresses. The clip is unadorned but has a subtle sword shape; the cap and barrel are flat ended and each has a narrow silver ring. There’s a narrow double cap band, and another silver ring at the base of the section, next to the threads.
The #5 nib is small but elegant.
Initially, I found the writing experience OK, but if you can read the original draft of this review in the photos, you’ll see that I found it a bit dry and a bit temperamental. I was having to apply pressure to get decent flow, and that was making my hand cramped and tired, just like on my first 91. But I’m a bit more confident about adjusting nibs than I was. I pulled the shoulders of the nib back slightly, and that opened up the flow. It’s now beautifully smooth and just the right level of wetness. There’s still some line variation, but I don’t feel the need to use it.
The 91 came in the usual Pilot box, with a single cartridge — but unusually, no converter. I used a CON-40 with agitator that I had lying around, and inked it with Herbin’s Bleu Pervenche; not as dark an ink as Tsuki-Yo, but actually an OK match for the barrel and a lovely ink in its own right.
I still think that the 91 is an inferior pen compared to the 912, its bigger brother. The #10 nib in the 912 is more striking, and the 912’s greater weight and wider section I find more comfortable.
But the 91 has nonetheless leapt quickly into my list of favourite pens, now that I’ve given it a bit of adjustment. The Tsuki-Yo colour is just stunning, and the FM nib line is perfect for my writing — it’s quite similar to my Pelikan fine. The bottom line is that, for £60, you get a classic design with a gold nib. It’s great value, about half the price of the 912. Of course for a similar price, you could choose a Platinum 3776, which has a larger nib, and a more classically styled cigar design (and if you like that, check out Pilot’s 74). In other words, you’re spoiled for choice. It’s a good time to be a pen addict.