The Pilot Varsity is a strange animal indeed: a so-called disposable fountain pen with a stainless steel nib that sells for a couple of bucks, which is just about what you’d pay for a decent rollerball. I came across it by chance when a pen aficionado I know (who restores vintage nibs in his spare time) gave one to me to play with; they were, he explained, a sort of guilty pleasure.
For that amount of money, you might not expect very much, but I was pleasantly surprised”to a point.
The nib is sturdy, and the ink is dark and saturated. You can’t rotate it like you can a real fountain pen to control the thickness of the line, but once you’ve got it centered, the flow is pretty steady. Here it is on a Clairefontaine “Basics” notebook:
On other notebooks, however, it didn’t perform as consistently. On a spiral bound Calligraphy pad that Karen gave me last year (90-gram Clairefontaine paper without the “velin velout” satin finish), it splattered and bled as I wrote:
In the end, I’m not sure it’s much more than a novelty item, but even so, it’s a pretty cheap thrill…