New Pen Day: Urushi Charleston from Jonathan Brooks of Carolina Pen Company

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

This is the first pen I bought this year at the Chicago Pen Show. It’s from Jonathon Brooks, it is urushi with gold flakes, and it is something.

Jonathon makes gorgeous resins for penmakers like Kanilea Pen Co. and Franklin-Christoph, but he also makes his own pens, from various materials, through his Carolina Pen Company. This is the Charleston model, which he finished in tamenuri urushi with gold flake.

I really like the pen design. Barrel and cap are tapered, and a little curvy, with pointed ends. The Charleston’s shape calls to mind the Nakaya Piccolo and the Edison Pearl, though unlike those pens, the Charleston cap is slightly wider than the pen body.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

And there are the gold flakes.

I just like looking at the finish.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

It’s so nice-looking.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The gold flakes are subtle, with colors ranging from reddish to yellow.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

But, we can also talk about practicality. Because as nice as this pen looks, it actually is just as comfortable to use. It’s lightweight, with a relatively long pen body, and a long section, and a nice girth. Because the cap is a little wider, there is only a tiny step down to the threads and section. And the long section is easy to hold.

In fact, the pen’s size and weight is one reason I picked this one instead of a urushi pen one from bigger, better-known brand. Another reason is the personal touch. I like that Jonathon makes his pens on a smaller scale. He only had four urushi pens on his table, all different. And as much as I like traditional urushi, raden and makie pens, it’s also nice to see innovation. This pen isn’t exactly traditional. And I like that about it.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The nib is a #6  Jowo 14k gold nib, marked with the Carolina Pen Company logo. Mine is a fine, but you can swap in any other #6 Jowo nib, even those made by Franklin-Christoph or Edison or after-market sellers of interesting nibs.

The Jowo fine gold nib is a standard Jowo fine, slightly on the finer side, which is exactly how I like it. It writes well. Jonathon filled mine with Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue, which I’d never used before, and really like.

The pen came with a pen rest and a pen sleeve; I picked pink for the sleeve.


It’s a cartridge-converter pen and uses international cartridges, which is an easy-to-clean filling system allowing a lot of flexibility.

And, again, the pen’s size really works for me. Here’s a comparison to other well-known pens — from left to right, a Montblanc LeGrand (146), a Lamy Vista, the Charleston, an Aurora Optima and a Pelikan 400.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

Here are the pens uncapped. Notice the Charleston’s nice long section.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

I find the pen perfectly comfortable to use unposted. Though I have smaller hands it seems large enough for people with larger hands, too.

Despite the gold flakes, the pen isn’t really blingy. It catches your eye, and invites you to look closely to discover why.


It’s a lovely pen. It’s another pen I just love to look at, even when I’m not writing with it.

I really have nothing that isn’t positive to say. The craftsmanship is flawless. The finish looks beautiful and the cap screws on well. I like writing with it. I like seeing it. And I like having a pen by Jonathon Brooks: he’s a first-rate pen and materials maker, but he seems like an even better person. And I feel very lucky to have this beautiful pen.


12 thoughts on “New Pen Day: Urushi Charleston from Jonathan Brooks of Carolina Pen Company

  1. Oh.


    That is an object of beauty. Congratulations on an absolutely wonderful purchase. There’s a thrill to even picking up a pen that’s also a work of art, and you can feel that through the review. What a great job from purchase to post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As soon as I saw the email of the new blog post, I rushed to click on it so I could see the photos. All I can say is that is one handsome-ass pen. Absolutely perfect for you, and well-deserved. Yay!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I looked at the first picture and immediately thought….. Nakaya Piccolo. What a surprise you and I would have similar reactions to anything!

    But as you point out, this one has so much more to bring to the table. First off, it’s gorgeous. Buying it at the show from Jonathan, the person that he is, etc. are special. I hope it will be a “feel good” pen for you for many years and bring a smile to your face every time you pick it up..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right: this is a feel-good pen. 🙂

      You’ll understand this, I bet: I spend a long time at the Classic Pens table, and over a few visits I figured out the urushi pen I’m eventually going to save the money to order. I hope. But none of those gorgeous pens leapt off the table as perfect, for me. And I’ve spend years looking at Pilot and Platinum usushi pens, too, only to think, but which, if any? Going back and forth. With this one, I saw it, and even at that price I deliberated for about 10 seconds, just to add up what I’d sold to make sure I could pay for it. This one was perfect, for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This one looks to be a really great find, at the pen show. The urushi lacquer is very special and the size and design look to be well thought out and comfortable. The dark colour means it is suitable for business, whilst the gold nib and sparkles show that it is ready to party too. Enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, it’s really a thing to buy one of these. 🙂 Which is why I think you’re very smart to wait, save, and be sure. Hopefully you’ve seen them first, too. (Those were at the show, by the way — very beautiful. Classic Pens had a ton of Nakaya, as well as a nib testing station. I really liked trying all the nibs, trying all the pen models and looking at so many different finishes.)

          Liked by 1 person

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