Sailor Lecoule

The Sailor Lecoule has been around for seven years or so. It’s a handsome small pen in the traditional style, quite reminiscent of the Pilot Prera which costs about a third more. Some people describe this as a “starter” or “entry-level” pen. I’ve never really understood that. Starter motor bikes, yeah, but I’ve never known a pen to be so powerful that it runs away with you and you end up wrapped around a tree. A pen’s a pen. It’s either good or it isn’t.

This one is good. I become ever more impressed with Japanese steel nibs. It wrote perfectly out of the box. The nib is said to be medium fine – a Western fine, in fact. The pen itself is quite small, 12.3 cm capped. I never post a pen but I might need to post this one. It weighs 13 g – next to nothing.

It came in the usual box with a slip cover, just the pen and two Sailor cartridges. No converter but at £24.60 I can hardly complain. The nib bears the Sailor anchor logo.

The Lecoules came in a variety of liveries, many transparent. Then they brought out the Power Stone range, of which this is one. The idea is that the plastic looks like various stones which have characteristics like good fortune, strength and so on. I don’t know whether these attributes transfer from the stone to the plastic. In any case mine is Garnet. There are also Lapis Lazuli, Rose Quartz, Pearl (which isn’t a stone) and Merion, which I’d never heard of but it seems it’s a dark quartz. The pen is slate grey. They’re all quite attractive.

This is a good pen, as modern pens go. It has a very precise nib and an efficient feed and the ink delivery is perfect. I’ve had a Sailor pen that cost five times as much as this one. This one writes every bit as well.


20 thoughts on “Sailor Lecoule

  1. I think there are a couple of ideas in “starter pen” that are worth unpacking. First, it needs to be inexpensive – it’s a pen for people who may not be sure they really, really need a fountain pen, but want to try one out. So Sailor King of Pen isn’t an option.

    Secondly, while as we continue with fountain pens we build up our own likes and dislikes, we might learn to write with extreme flex, we might prefer broad nibs or UEFs, most newbies want an experience that’s middle-of-the-road fountain pen. Rather like not starting a tour of Indian food with a vindaloo!

    The biggest danger with fountain pens is of course not that the pen runs away from you… but that the collecting habit gets a hold of your bank account!

    1. Yes, I understand that thinking – I just don’t agree with it. It’s a commercial concept, based on the idea that you start cheap and will spend much more moeney on a supposedly “better” pen later. It’s hogwash. Why would I want to spend £300 on that “better” pen when the under £30 one I have suits my hand very well. I’m hardly a newbie, after a lifetime of fountain pen use and ten years as a pen seller. I love pens and sometimes will buy an expensive pen but not as a result of moving up from “starter” pens. I’m immune to the collecting bug.

  2. Deb. A colleague of mine approached me saying that his daughter of 11 (?) was really interested in getting a fountain pen.
    So I offered her a choice of some of my cheaper but still nice ones, and she chose a jinhao 601 which I have several of, as IMO they are an astoundingly good pen.
    I would consider this pen in this situation to be a ‘starter pen’, as it would have been folly to offer a person of that age an expensive pen that may very well have been discarded through …maybe disinterest ?

    I did give her a Rhodia pad to practice on, and an assurance that I would be happy to be a mentor at any level for as long as she needed one.

    This would probably fit into the category of ‘starter’, wouldn’t you say ?

    1. Hi Rob,

      I would accept it in that situation. After all, British kids had Platignums and Osmiroid and we Americans had a variety of cheap fountain pens for our parents to choose among. Of course many of those pens were perfectly useful for adult business use as well, in which case they were not starter pens. Indeed, it is the individual, not the pen, that is the starter.

      The 601 looks rather Sonnet-like. Is it brass barreled?

      1. Oh, I think you hit the nail -or the thumb!- squarely with the hammer when you wrote, “[i]ndeed, it is the individual, not the pen, the is the starter.” Yes, yes, yes. Well said!

        This is a critical insight. If the “starter” (as you identify her or him, correctly) is given a poor, balky, shoddy and cheap (in the wrong sense) pen to begin with, this effort is likely finished before it is given a chance. Just give them one of the better gel pens, instead, like a G2 and prevent unnecessary suffering.

        But the “write” choice should be adequate in all important respects as a functional representative of what fp are about. It should, one hopes, have some attractive features as well. If the starter outgrows it in many respects, with time, we’d call that success, correct? But one might hope the first pen would be good enough to be kept, perhaps even used with some fondness.

        I give out Preppys with extra cartridges to those of my college students who show real interest in fp. (In part, it keeps the gift in the range of the cost of a cup,of good coffee, which I am always willing to,buy as I hold my Office Hours at Starbucks; one must be sure that gifts are not misinterpreted these days!). They immediately grasp the quality and economy. For one of my grandkids, I’d spend $20 or more after they have a kid’s fp to play withplay with. Right now, I like Online pens a lot, and Lamy Safaris. Maybe this Sailor would be another good choice.So the right choice depends on the situation.

      2. Hi Brian,
        I hadn’t seen Online Pens but they appear good. There are a lot of good quality, low price pens around at the moment but the difficulty is sifting the good out from the not so good. Most of the pens I use are older but I like some of the new ones too. Always good to bring a new generation into contact with fountain pens.

  3. well, I’m with podtourz on this one, and whilst I don’t write, I seem to have first hand experience of he sentiment …….
    quote “The biggest danger with fountain pens is of course not that the pen runs away from you… but that the collecting habit gets a hold of your bank account!”
    No idea who first coined the expression ‘starter pen’ – but whomsoever it was, the idea probably holds good for many collectibles where going in shallow might be better than going in deep, and in principle is generally good sense for writers – if only the heeded the warning.
    With some experience, writers hopefully become aware that not all that glisters is gold, and the law of diminishing returns is a maxim worth remembering.
    On the other hand collectors are really unable to heed the warning – they’re not buying to write, and high end M.B. and early M.T. lizards and snakeskins will never be inexpensive.

    Deborah might not want to spend many shekels on high end – the lady is savvy and has been around pens for long enough to remain very practicable about buying and using, but ………… there are a lot of folk who do get the hand writing bug via an inexpensive pen, and then like most of us whose eyes are bigger than our wallets, go on to spend big money on something that is perceived to be much better. Perhaps it takes some burned fingers to become wise. Human nature can be very vain and inexperienced especially when we’re young.

    Thinking of like for like etc., am I correct in suggesting that the intervening half century and the development of superior materials means that a cheap pen now – the equivalent of mid C20 Platignum and Osmiroid – are now better value for money, pound for pound so to speak?

    1. Taking your last point the short answer is yes. I wouldn’t want to discredit the Osmiroid which is a wonderful concerpt, quite well carried out, but some of the low-cost “entry-level” if you must, Japanese steel nib pens are very good indeed and many Chinese pens are more than acceptable now.

      Of course, we see Osmiroids and Platignums when they are past OAP age. Will these Far Eastern pens last so well? I don’t know.

  4. Deb, and Paul.
    To comment on both of your last paragraphs ; yes the 601 has a fairly light brass barrel with a lacquer overlay, but it is nowhere near the weight of say their x450 which could double as a paperweight !

    And I would like say, that I have a few , in this case Jinhao 601s and , yes definitely Paul, modern manufacturing technology can produce pens at extremely competitive prices , that equal, and in the case of the 601, surpass the quality of pens many times their cost. (Many many times !!)
    In fact speaking as objectively as I can, and leaving aside for the moment the politics of how they can make these pens that cheap (!!!) , it is almost embarrassing that in a point for point comparison, one could easily wonder why one had spent so much on one’s .. much more expensive modern pen. 🤔

    But don’t get me wrong, I still want to be buried, like dignitaries of Egyptian times , with my Swan SF230 and my red ripple Watermans across my chest.
    And you can use the 601s as nails for the lid of the coffin , because they’re probably cheaper.

    1. I agree with what you say except the bit about burying the pens with you. There are few enough good pens without sending them six feet under!

      But yeah! I love cheap modern pens that outshine the expensive ones!

  5. :-):-) – I don’t think you should be buried with those pens Rob – far better you give them to me – fortunately I have both already.

    I know I’m always banging on about M.T./Swan – I had an L212/66 in green swirl arrive yesterday – another nib to die for.

    Apologies I’m unable to join the conversation regarding the Chinese pens – I have enough trouble keeping up with collecting ………… Mentmore, Parker, M.T., Waterman, Burnham, C.S., Wyvern and Misc.
    If only the bank manager knew what he was funding.

    Sorry for going off-topic, but what is the current thinking on Mark Hoover’s de-oxidation product – is it still the best product for treating BHR pens, or are then alternatives available does anyone know?

    1. The hoover product works very well, I am told by someone who uses it. It’s very expensive to import. I am unaware of any alternative but as this is not something I would do, I may not be the best informed.

  6. thanks Deborah – normally I too am one of the ‘leave well alone brigade’ – I prefer to see a pen with some patina and signs of age – all part of the antique/vintage process – so much history, which you’d never be aware of if we make it shine like it left the factory yesterday. Just that sometimes the ‘browning’ is a bit excessive.
    I’ve had good results via fine grades of w.&d. followed by cream polishes, but that is tedious and messy and of course abrasives no matter how fine always reduce chasing and imprints.
    Shame – it seems you can’t source the product – or similar – here in the U.K.

    1. I actually considered getting some of thew Hoover liquid at one point. I’m not in favour of reblacking usually but there are instances where it would be useful – a faded clip screw on an otherwise good-looking pen, or a pen that has gone that hideous yellow colour, but postage and customs made it far too expensive. It would be nice if he got a UK distributor but I don’t get the impression that he’s interested in that.

  7. Well, if you do decide to buy from Mark, let me know some time and I’ll always go halves with you on the entire cost. Come to that if anyone else here is thinking of buying this product, I’d be happy to do the same cost-sharing.

  8. In fact I’m taking the plunge and am in conversation with Mark Hoover presently, so will hopefully report back when I’ve had a go with his product. Shipping costs from the States are always a pain, but we’re caught on this and no other option I’m afraid, so must grit out teeth and get on with it.

  9. Deborah,
    While I love my Esties (the ones with the better nibs) and more costly pilots and Platinums, this posting of yours convinced me to try a Lecoule. Given that I am in agreement with you that the common concept of “starter pens” is an error, that we should be talking about good or bad pens and not price, I was open to fairly forming my own opinion of the Lecoule. Let me just say that after loading it with ink, this pen has now been always close at hand for the past several months.

    To some degree, aren’t relatively-low priced fountain pens such as the Lecoule or Pilot Metro an embarrassment for many pen people and large segments of the fountain pen industry? I think the Lecoule is an especially good example, because it is not only a fine writer, but also a fairly attractive pen, something which cannot be said of some other very good budget writers such as the Platinum Preppy. The Lecoule might be viewed in some quarters as an example of too much success at too low a price. (I don’t think so, myself; it only increased my interest in Sailor pens.)

    1. The Lecoule, like many other Japanese pens, raises the old issue of cost/quality. It’s a great writer for very little money. This used to be the case with German school pens too. Sadly it no longer is – there is no low cost German pen of the quality of the Lecoule. In fact, I struggle to find a good German pen at a price I would pay.

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