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Review: Custom ground italic Pilot Varsity

Did you read that title and say “What? Who grinds disposable pens?” Good, that was the point. I myself had never considered messing with the Pilot Varsity but if you think about it, what better pen to practice on? They’re only a couple bucks a piece and if you ruin one, who cares?

But this isn’t about me trying my hand at grinding, this is a plug for the work of Dan Smith. You may know him as @mr_maxim on twitter or by his website, dannzeman.com. He’s been doing pen repair for a while and when he offered me a custom ground Varsity to try, I jumped at it.

Why would I be excited about such a lowly pen? If you’ve never used a Varsity, you’re missing out. It’s the poster child for how great fountain pens can be without costing a fortune. I absolutely love the blue ink color and when I opened the package from Dan and saw that he had ground a blue one, I was elated. I’d keep blathering on about it, but I already sat down and did a mini-review with my chicken scratch. Click the below picture to see a much larger version.

As you can see, the line variation is just about perfect. In fact, I think it has inspired me to get something a bit more expensive ground in the same fashion. As noted in the written part, I’m sending him a Vacumatic to repair after the holidays so I’ll have more info on Dan’s work very soon.

As a disclaimer, I never checked with Dan to see if he sold these. I know he gifts them to some of his customers, but don’t be offended if he won’t sell you one. I’m just giving him props for a job well done, I don’t want to put words in his mouth.