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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.