Today, I am reviewing the Marlen Aderl. This fountain pen from Marlen bears the name of the currency used in Atella, an ancient Oscan city in the southern part of Italy. Marlen is an Italian brand, maker of collectibles, artisan-crafted luxury writing instruments.
The Aderl is a large and relatively short fountain pen, which shares some similarities with other cigar-shaped Italian pens like the Delta Dolce Vita. It is made of resin and features engraved trims made of sterling silver. The nib is a single-tone 14k nib. The model that I am reviewing features a medium sized nib (which is the same size as on all my other pens).
The resin has two distinct colors. The barrel sports a nice light-and-dark brown gradient, whose tones and variations remind of wood. The cap and and the finial at the end of the barrel use a dark brown/black resin.
The bottom of the barrel and of the cap have some nice antique accents that consist of an engraved sterling silver trim (thin at the end of the barrel, thicker at the end of the cap). The sterling silver trim on the cap is engraved with the latin words “ordo populesque atellarus” and is followed by four alternating dark brown-light brown thin rings that repeat the tones of the pen. Just above are marked “Marlen Italy Aderl” and the pen serial number. The silver clip has a very art deco style. It is thick, short and has an original shape. The clip is sturdy and offers some resistance but given its short length, I am not sure if it is really usable.
The nib (medium size) is a little longer than what I have seen on my other pens. I think this is actually a good thing since it adds a bit of length to the pen. The pen I received sports a single-tone nib, which differs from the two-tone nib shown on most pictures that I found online for this pen. The nib is engraved with “Marlen, Italy”, “14 k” and the size “M”.
Overall, the pen looks stunning. It is curvy and the brown colors mix well with the numerous silver trims. The resin is top quality and the patterns created by the light-brown color on the barrel can be mistaken for wood.
The pen gives an impression of solidity and high-quality craftsmanship. The cap screws on the barrel. The threads on the dark brown resin are thick and well machined, making the screwing/unscrewing a very smooth experience. The same applies to the threads machined on the finial, at the end of the barrel.
The piston filling mechanism offers little resistance but does not feel cheap. While I have only inked the pen once, the reservoir seems to hold a relatively large volume of ink (not as much as in a TWSBI 580, but more than in a standard converter).
I have only used the pen for a few hours. What I can say is that in every situations so far, the ink just flows in a consistent manner. For this review, I inked the pen with J Herbin “Lie de Thé”, which is known to be a very fluid ink and which may have helped getting this consistent thick stream. Nevertheless, I feel that this pen will stay well lubricated and will perform in a similar manner regardless of the ink consistency. The nib, at least in this size (M), is a real pleasure to handle.
Among what I would consider the “fat” pens in my collection (e.g., Delta Fusion One, ST Dupont Olympio), the Aderl is at least as comfortable. It is lighter than the Dupont and shorter than the Delta. I love the way the nib just slides on the paper with the slightest pressure. Since I do not post my pens, I will not comment on this but given how light the pen feels in the hand, I believe that posting would not be an issue. The threads on the barrel do not interfere with the holding position. Overall, the grip is pretty comfortable, especially if you favor pens with large diameters. However, I found it a little tiring to handle this pen after long periods of writing, probably because of the aspect ratio.
Did I mention how smooth the writing experience was? The pen produces a very consistent stream of ink that is hardly impacted by the pen holding position and the writing speed. The nib is not a flex nib but responds a bit to the amount of pressure applied. This was somewhat visible based on the nice shading obtained with Lie de Thé.
Even at full retail price (~$375), I would consider this pen a great value. At $175 (from an ebay seller), it was a no brainer. The quality of the craftsmanship combined with the unique look and the piston mechanism completely justify the price.
Conclusion and scores
The Marlen Aderl is an impressive pen from an Italian brand which, in my opinion, deserves more consideration than what it actually receives. The pen has a superb look and provides a great writing experience. Through this purchase, I am very happy to have discovered a new brand and I highly recommend this pen to any enthusiast.
Appearance: 5 / 5
Build quality: 4.5 / 5
Dependability: 5 / 5
Comfort: 4 / 5
Writing experience: 5 / 5
Value: 5 / 5