Sunday, December 20, 2015

Product Review: Sailor 1911 with Cross Point Nib

11/24/15 The Sailor 1911 with Cross Point nib.
I’ve been back from Japan for four weeks now, and I’m finally ready to reveal my one extravagant splurge (which I alluded to discreetly in my Tokyo shopping post . . . did you catch it?): the Sailor 1911 with a Cross Point nib!

You may recall that I attended the L.A. International Pen Show last February, where I spent quite a bit of time at John Mottishaw’s ( booth trying out Sailor’s specialty nibs. I was 95 percent sure I wanted the Sailor Naginata fude, which I had been thinking about for a long time. But I wanted to try all the other Sailor nibs anyway, just in case something else turned my crank.

Line-width variation of the Cross Point compared to the fude. (Stillman & Birn
Epsilon paper)
Indeed, a few other nibs caught my attention, and one in particular was a strong contender to the fude: Sailor’s Cross Point. While similar to the fude in operation, which requires tilting at various angles to the paper to achieve a varying line width, the Cross Point doesn’t have to be tilted at quite the extreme angles as the fude – but also doesn’t have quite as wide a line range. Its finest point isn’t as fine as the fude’s, but turned upside-down, it’s comparable. What attracted me the most, though? The Cross Point was even smoother than the fude! In fact, John’s sample fude seemed downright scratchy by comparison. (The fude I ended up purchasing, however, was as smooth as glass.)

Ultimately, the Naginata fude’s remarkable line range still impressed me more, and that’s the pen I finally bought from a few week later. But I never forgot about that Cross Point.

Itoya's fountain pen store.
Fast-forward to several months later when we began planning our fall trip to Japan. I contacted sketcher Mike Daikubara (my original fude inspiration) to find out where I’d have the best luck shopping for Sailors in Tokyo. (Check out his recent blog post about his own Sailor shopping adventures! Have a drool at all the pens he got to test!) He recommended Itoya, an elegant, 12-story stationery and design store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district. Fountain pens are such an important part of Itoya’s inventory that they were recently moved to a separate building around the corner. My pulse already raced – and I still had several months to wait before our trip!

As I waited, the Sailor Cross Point was still on my mind. At Itoya, I intended to try out several other nibs, but the one I really wanted to re-test was the Cross Point. Would it still strike me as a special nib? Or had that been nothing more than a momentary distraction in the fervor of the L.A. Pen Show?

Sometimes when I think about something I want (or might want) for too long, once I get my hands on it, I can’t test it objectively – I’ve already decided I’m going to buy it. Fortunately, in this case, despite the very favorable yen/dollar exchange rate, the Cross Point’s price made it a serious purchase, so I was still thinking fairly clearly. In addition, my life got so busy in the ensuing months that I nearly forgot about the pen (I said nearly, not completely).

Jewelry does nothing for me. . .but this pen case at Itoya?
Be still my heart!
Testing the Cross Point.
By the time I got to Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district in November, I was excited about the prospect of seeing all those pens at Itoya, but I felt I was objective enough to make a sound decision. I tested the Cross Point at the counter in several ways – writing, scribbles and especially a few quick sketches – and it quickened my pulse as much as it had in L.A. I think it’s the combination of smoothness along with line variation – the two attributes in any fountain pen that get my attention – that makes it special.

My camera wasn't able to capture the color accurately.
It's not black -- it's burgundy red.
The pen body is the 1911 “full size” – exactly the same body as my Naginata fude, except in a shiny burgundy red color instead of matte black. A matching leather pen case came with it, but I don’t baby any of my pens, so I dropped the naked pen into my bag right next to all the rest of my pens on the trip.

The nib’s face is attractive enough, but it’s not until you turn it to its profile that you see what makes it distinctive and unique. Unlike the fude, which is curved on both the top and bottom, the Cross Point is flat on top but anvil-shaped on the surface that meets the paper.  
Top of Cross Point nib

The Cross Point's distinctive profile

Inked with a blue-black Sailor cartridge that also came with the pen, it got a good workout at Ueno Park the next day and sporadically the rest of the trip. After I got home, I put it to work at Drawing Jam. Like the Naginata fude, the Cross Point puts out a heavy stream of ink, so I especially like using it with water-soluble ink that I intend to wash for shading. And as I had intended all along, the nib’s variable line is especially conducive to sketching people, animals and other subject matter with more fluid, organic lines. That said, it also gave me a strong, inorganic line on the utility pole I sketched in the Asakusa neighborhood.

A tiny bag from the Itoya store!
During my “honeymoon” with the new Cross Point, I started wondering if I love this nib even more than the fude. But then I’ll use the fude, and I realize that each has different, unique attributes. You can’t ask me to choose which child I love more.

12/3/15 inks, Stillman & Birn Epsilon (from photo)
12/5/15 ink, 140 lb. watercolor paper
11/27/15 ink, 140 lb. watercolor paper
12/5/15 ink, 140 lb. watercolor paper
11/11/15 ink, colored pencils, 140 lb. watercolor paper
11/10/15 inks, colored pencil, 140 lb. watercolor paper
11/11/15 inks, colored pencil, 140 lb. watercolor paper


  1. thank you...interesting and beautiful.

  2. Wonderful review and a lovely pen. I was wondering if you have ever tested a Sailor Zoom nib and if so, how the crosspoint nib compares to it. I have a zoom in a 1911 body that I break out every now and again, and I am curious if the two nibs are similar. Thanks Nd Happy New Year!!

    1. Thank you, RaSonya! Yes, I do have a Sailor Zoom (here's my review of it: ). I enjoy using the Zoom, but I find the two nibs to be very different in operation, so it's awkward to switch back and forth. I find the Cross Point to be more intuitive for my hand. The Zoom takes more conscious effort to get the line variation.

    2. Why didn't I think to search your site😜, duh! Being more intuitive to use, the crosspoint sounds like a nib well worth looking into and trying out. Thank you!!!!!!💐


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