Note: Shawn Newton sponsors a terrific scholarship program that comes with postcards and a chance to win a free pen.
Part of the problem of reviewing things you own is that you have to look back and remember prices. This can dredge up any buyer’s remorse that has long been suppressed. This is especially true when you’re reviewing a custom pen and begin second-guessing your choices.
Luckily the Moody I purchased from pen maker Shawn Newton has been worth every penny, including the cost of shipping.
I ordered the Moody right after Newton became a full time pen maker. I like ordering things from new makers and then ordering something new a few years later to see how the maker has improved and/or changed.
The ordering process involved searching the photographs on his website and selecting the basic design, materials and nib material. After that we worked out details like actual size, width, and nib grind.
I chose a largish version of Newton’s Moody design which is a cigar shape with a long section. I chose red and blue swirl ebonite (more on that in a minute) and a gold nib (which contributed substantially to the price). Although Newton offers custom grinds, I chose a basic M nib with basic tuning.
The pen arrived in a handmade pen “kimono” tucked inside what was, at the time, Newton’s new “pen coffin”: a thermal cup with the Newton logo stenciled on the side. This was a nice touch as pen coffins/boxes often end up as trash or as useless drawer filler. Mine is now in use at the school where I work. It’s the pen kimono that I don’t use.
The Moody and everything that arrived with it. (Note: Newton has changed his logo since this picture was taken.)
I was a bit surprised at the pen’s color. Based on photos of the material I had chosen, I’d expected something more blue with swirls of red, but ended up with something more pink with swirls of blue. The blue, however, made terrific blue patterns on both ends that are better than a maker’s logo. Over time the ebonite (hard rubber) has begun to darken to a more coral red/pink.
Capped the pen is 5 11/16” (14.45 cm) long. Uncapped it is 5 1/4” (13.35 cm). It is 11mm at it’s narrowest point and the shape of the section makes it comfortable to use. It has a large drop off where the cap meets the body, but the long section pushes that back away from your hands. Although it’s a very large pen, it’s light and fits my hands well.
The Newton Moody next to a JinHao 159, which is roughly the same size as a Montblanc 149.
Both pens uncapped. The Moody has a better section and is much more comfortable to use. You can see how the pen has darkened by noticing the places on the section where it hasn’t.
The main fit and finish issues are mostly my fault. Because I chose a version with a clip, Newton had to do some extra work on the end and the only real flaw in his work is some uneven grinding around the end cap that houses the clip. It’s not bad, and Newton does an excellent job of matching the pattern, but there’s an obvious seam and I can feel where it wasn’t ground evenly on one side. I wish I had gotten a clipless version or had chosen a silver clip.
The clip and the seam. If you look closely, you can see it’s uneven.
Also, because I requested that I be able to use the pen as an eyedropper rather than with just a cartridge or converter, the threads connecting the ink chamber and the section take quite a lot of twisting to open.
However, these are minor complaints and mostly the consequences of my decisions and subsequent changes in taste. Every fellow pen addict who’s handled it has commented on how much they like the color and how comfortable it feels in the hand. One even based his own custom design on mine.
The gold M nib is extremely well tuned and the pen quickly became part of my daily rotation. Although it’s the most expensive pen I own, I’m not afraid to carry it around in my pocket. This is partly because the ebonite gets better the more it is used.
Now I’m thinking about what my next Newton pen will look like. Luckily, it will have to wait a while so I have lots of time to think about it.