Sorbetto, per favore!

by Scribble Monboddo

Now like most fountain pen fans, I have a few Kaweco Sports kicking around. All the best people do. But there's more to the story than meets the eye...

A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to drop in at Kaweco HQ on Max Brod Strasse - and yes, if the name sounds familiar, he was Franz Kafka's literary executor who, by ignoring the author's request for all his work to be destroyed, saved such gems as The Trial and Metamorphosis for posterity. Since you probably like writers if you're reading about stationery, let's have a brief diversion for a moment. Remember the Nuremberg rallies? Yes, those gatherings filmed by Leni Riefenstahl - not exactly the city's finest moment, but they've been making up for it ever since. The marshalling grounds previously employed for the polishing of jack-boots have been consciously put to positive uses ever since, from social housing projects to creative industries, and all the roads are named after liberal writers who that regime disapproved of. Stroll out of Max Brod Strasse and a short way down Thomas Mann Strasse, and you can turn left into Kafkastrasse itself. It makes you just a little more proud to get a writing implement from there, doesn't it?

Anyway, back to the present-day HQ of this nineteenth-century brand, now safely in the hands of the Gutberlet family who, it's safe to say, are penthusiasts. I have seen the Chief Exec's historical pen collection, and it's way better than Aladdin's cave - with, as you might expect, more than a few Sports. Encountering an original Sport from 1911 is a bit of a shock, because it's well, round. The purpose was just to have a small pen which would fit in the pocket of a 'sports jacket' at first, and it did that well enough to sell in decent volumes but it wasn't until the German design hey-day of Bauhaus and their like in the 1930s that the octagonal format we all know and love came along. It's certainly here to stay now. 

Manufacturing techniques have come and gone since then, and frustratingly there is as yet no sign of a return to the piston-filling Sport mechanism available in the mid-twentieth century, but by golly is there plenty of variety when it comes to materials. I love my brass, steel and aluminium Sports, of course, but the affordable plastic version is a great place to start, and my plain black version is still in use and a bit of a favourite, if truth be told.

Boring black isn't everyone's cup of tea, though, so it's good to have some variety at the affordable end of the range. The new 'Frosted' series delivers this in spades, with a finish which really does look for all the world like a highly creative sorbet serving suggestion. The Blueberry version stood out for me, but the fruity menu also includes Lime, creamy white Coconut, soft pink Blush Pitaya, orange Mandarin and even, bravely, Banana. If nothing appeals there I can only conclude that you're not getting your recommended Five A Day yet!

So aside from the fruity looks, how does this pen write? Really rather well, as it happens. This is a fairly plain Bock steel nib of the short #5 variety, and although there have been occasional quality control inconsistencies in the past these appear to be long gone now (although it's always wise to buy from a reputable dealer which provides decent after-care just in case). It's an every-day note-taking nib rather than a calligraphy tool, but let's face it; how many of us really seek to go full-on copper-plate more than once in a blue moon? For a mere £20, this is very decent value for a reliable daily driver.

A note on filling, finally. The piston mechanism is probably not coming back soon, so most users just use small international cartridges (e.g. Kaweco's own), or refill these with bottled ink using a syringe. There is a tiny pump-piston converter available, which looks good in photographs and does work, but the ink volume it provides can be infuriatingly restrictive. Right, I'm off for a fruit smoothie!