Pen Review: Dryden Designs Modern Classic

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic

The one I have is metallic silver, with gold-colored accents, and a medium nib, that comes with a converter for bottled ink or takes a standard international cartridge of ink. They sent me the $27.95 version, with the gift box — you can buy the pen without box for $25.95 or with box for $2 more.

I’ll start with looks. It’s traditional, obviously. I’d call it conservative, classic and business-like. If you were trying to dream up an “appropriate business gift fountain pen,” this might just be it.

Now, Dryden Designs may have gone too far in that direction for some of us. My fellow pen clubbers mostly didn’t love the looks, honestly. To them it was so traditional as to be ho-hum, so business-like as to look like “something your company would buy 100 of to hand out.”

I think that’s fair. But, also, note that this is coming from experienced and sophisticated fountain pen users. All of us have used, seen and owned a lot of fountain pens, including some of the expensive vintage models the Modern Classic is based on.

I’ve also run across a whole lot of other folks who literally only want fountain pens that look traditional and business-like. So for them, it’s perfect.

The Modern Classic’s shape is drawn from very familiar, even expensive pens. It’s like a Sheaffer Targa, except with little dollops on the ends. It also reminds me of the Parker 75, and even an S.T. Dupont in Chinese lacquer. Here’s a photo of the Dryden Designs Modern Classic in that array.

Parker 75, Sheaffer Targa, Dryden Designs Modern Classic, S.T. Dupont Laque de Chine

Top to bottom are the Dupont, the Dryden Designs, the Sheaffer and the Parker. Now, the finishes and the fittings of the Modern Classic aren’t at the level of those vintage models, but it’s a more budget-priced option than the others, all of which were sold as higher-tier pens. The Modern Classic still looks serious and grown-up.

You can also get away from the business-like finish of the metallic silver, and add some verve, since the Modern Classic is offered in other colors, too. Looking on Amazon, I actually see a fair amount of choices for the Modern Classic. You can choose the pen with the gift box, at $27.95, or a pouch, at $25.95. You can also choose the medium nib, which I have, or a fine nib, which looks … different, and not nearly as classic, but much more shark-like.

So here’s what the box and contents look like.

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic

In addition to the pen, you get a converter, some directions, which are helpful for beginners, and documentation of a one-year warranty.

If you’re buying for yourself, or are okay wrapping the gift yourself, I’d recommend saving the $2 and not getting the box. It’s cardboard, and it’s nice enough, but also pretty basic.

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic with box

But I don’t use boxes, and also, I am cheap.

Let’s talk about the good stuff: using the pen.

The Modern Classic uses standard international ink cartridges, or you can use the included converter to use bottled ink. That’s my favorite filling system, because it’s easy to use, easy to clean and offers a lot of options.

I love that the pen comes with a converter — a lot of beginner pens don’t. Mine worked just fine, but it did feel slightly flimsy, so I wondered if I could swap in another brand if it ever broke. After a little experimenting, I found it would take the Jinhao 992 converter, too, which is convenient.

As for the writing experience, that was the best part. Everyone at my club who used it agreed: the pen writes very nicely.

Let’s start with the nib. The medium nib is a German “genuine iridium” nib.

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic nib

It wrote perfectly out of the box. Nothing sours a new user on fountain pens quicker than getting a nib with a scratchy point or one starved for ink flow. I always think it’s worth it to spend a bit more for a fountain pen that will actually … you know, write.

The nib has a typical medium width, not too wide, with good ink flow. What’s especially nice is that it writes with just a bit of give — it’s not flexy, or soft, but it’s also not quite as nail-like as a Safari nib, for example. That’s another feature that might make this a nice choice for beginners, who don’t always start out knowing they should write with a very light hand with fountain pens.

We all liked writing with it. You know who else liked it? Those who sketched with it. My friend Mary Jo, who is a very experienced fountain pen user, loved drawing with it. Here’s a quick sketch she did at the meetup.

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic

It was also a good size and weight. If you write with it unposted, as I do, it weighs 14.6 grams filled. If you like a longer or heavier pen, you can post this cap, and the weight with cap is 26.7 grams filled. You can hold the pen with comfort either at the plastic section or on the metal pen body, because it happily lacks the sort of sharp, uncomfortable step-down that fatally mars some pens.

The Modern Classic just feels solid. It feels heavy enough that you expect it to survive a fall or two, but not so heavy as to become clunky or hard to use. I really like the cap action: it’s a pull-on, pull-off, cap, and nicely calibrated. You can push it off with just your thumb, but you get a nice, firm feeling of engagement when you click the cap back on.

The only reservation I have is the clip, which isn’t quite so well-finished, and also seems slightly tough to pull up and actually use.

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic cap and clip

In terms of sourcing, it seems like the Modern Classic is made in China, and Donna tells me the parts are sourced from around the world, like Germany for the nibs. Dryden’s offices are in Albany, New York, and the pens are designed in London, England. All that probably contributes to the universal sense of the design.

All in all, it’s easy to recommend the Modern Classic to those who like the looks. The nib is very nice to use. It seems fairly priced: the price isn’t rock-bottom low, but it’s affordable. It’s easy to purchase on Amazon, and the build quality of the pen gives me the feeling it will outlast most of the rock-bottom-low cheapies you can buy on there, too. I liked it. I am giving mine to Mary Jo, who absolutely loves it for sketching.

16 thoughts on “Pen Review: Dryden Designs Modern Classic

  1. I purchased the black and silver modern classics Dryden pen you talked about, as well as the blue one, red one, green one, purple one a pink one as well as a brown barreled Jinhao, and a turquoise barreled pen whose manufacturer i’ve forgotten the name of right now. I’m still waiting for the turquoise on to come in, but I’ve gotten the rest of them all to work and I love them.
    I mis-clicked when I ordered some of them and three of them are medium nib which I find I do not care for as well as I do the fine nib. I honestly cannot say enough about the quality and smooth writing these pens produce. As far as the fountain pen users who already have a base knowledge, It would seem to me the important thing would be performance over looks.I understand it has to look nice,but in the end as long as the novel gets finished and the pens write smoothly that would be the talking point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for chiming in! Great comment. So glad you are happy with yours. As to the question of whether a pen’s looks are worth discussing, or considering, well, I think so, but that’s sort of a version of an eternal debate, isn’t it? 🙂 “Just a tool” or “something more”? I have found that the majority of experienced users have to like the looks of a new pen, before buying it, since they already have pens that work, and don’t need more. A lot of people do feel more inspired to use a particular pen when the pen is attractive to them. But there are also plenty of users who really don’t care about the looks, as long as the price is right and the nib is good. Both ways are fine, it seems to me. I’d wager most of us buy some things one way (focusing on the aesthetics) and some things the other (focusing on price or convenience or dozens of other factors).


  2. This is so nice! It’s got a vibe like a lower-end Cross, with that easy availability and that ‘works for anyone and anytime’ design, but more…honest? (Ie because it’s so much cheaper). Am I making sense? lol. But yeah: can really see this as a first FP purchase for people, so it’s great that it’s so nice to write with!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got the black and gold medium nib for Christmas two years ago from my father-in-law and it’s never worked. Tried both converter and cartridge, no go. Not to mention, I think it’s hideous. There is no color combo I dislike more than black and gold. I also think it’s far too heavy for how skinny it is.
    I don’t know how new the company is, but they are definitely making boring corporate gift pens and I am not the target audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s terrible!

      The corporate gift pen look is strong with this one — and I think you hit on it, that more in-the-know fountain pen fans aren’t necessarily the target. 🙂 But mine is a nice writer, and I think it would be a good pen for someone who’s more fountain-pen curious and doesn’t know where to start. Only if it worked, of course. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s what I thought at first, but then I saw the other colors on Amazon, not to mention the in-laws are pretty notorious for regifting stuff they get from their works hahaha.
            I mean, if it’d worked, I’m sure I would’ve been able to find it a nice home. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi. Last week my daughter gave me a Dryden pen for my birthday! I am an experienced fountain pen person and had never heard of the brand. It has a fine hooded nib and is called Decadent Purple. I filled the converter with Monteverde Charoite. The pen writes beautifully. The nib is really smooth writing . Now I have heard of the brand twice.

    Liked by 1 person

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