Classic Pens LB2 Limited Edition 2006
by Jim Mamoulides, July 20, 2006

Classic Pens LB2

Turning over a new leaf

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Shinrin 2006

This August, Classic Pens will introduce their newest Limited Edition, the LB2 Kimono, based on the Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pen, an excellent canvas for this kind of work. The LB2 Kimono is a departure from the more ornate, elaborate and more expensive LS series Maki-e pens. This new edition is a more subtle design, with a hand painted ring pattern by Maki-e artist Tatsuya Todo. It's also a different direction from the LB1, which was a turned acrylic pen based on the Sailor 80th Anniversary model.

We had the privilege of seeing and photographing the first two artist proofs and the design evokes a calming feeling of the natural world. The pen has a highly tactile feel, with the ridges of the rings being especially interesting in the hand. This edition asks not to be simply admired as a possession, but to be used every day.

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Daichi 2006

The LB2 Kimono pens are a combination of two painted designs that run the length of the cap, barrel and section in a continuous flow. The base colors are applied in wide bands that softly transition from one color to the next down the length of the pen. Then a fine gold dust is sprinkled over the cap and barrel, which gives the finish its sheen. Finally, the artist paints the raised concentric rings of alternating silver and gold. The Maki-e technique employed is called Togidashi. Every pen carries the prestigious Red Seal Signature of the artist, Tatsuya Todo, at the base of the barrel. The rings, along with the matte base coat, provide a rich combination of textures that make holding the pen a pleasure and leave none of the hot spots of more elaborate artwork.

Classic Pens commissioned four artist proofs in order to determine the best color combination for the eventual duet of pens for the edition. A number of color combinations were considered, both with and without rings. Classic Pens saw that the rings added extra visual and tactile interest to the pen and decided all proofs would have them. The first artist proof pen has a green theme that the artist has named Shinrin (Woodland), while the second pen has a brown theme with a purple overtone, named Daichi (Land or Earth). The final two proofs were not available for our session, but there is an orange one named Akebono (Sunrise) and a blue one named Mizube (Water).

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono sample color chart

The LB2 Kimono Edition will comprise 100 duets in complimentary colors. Parker are sending the first 40 Duofold pens in early August so they can be forwarded to the artist, with completion expected as early as mid-October, 2006. Another set of pens will follow for a release in December, 2006. Classic Pens selected the Duofold base pen with the 1996-2005 graphics, having the Lucky Curve banner design on the cap and nib. The full range of 14 Duofold nib choices will be available.

The new pens will be featured at the Washington DC Pen Show, August 12-13, 2006. All four artists proofs will be on display at the show. Two of these will be selected to comprise the LB2 Series. Interest in the LB2 is very encouraging, with Classic Pens getting orders from some of the top pen retailers around the world. I'll have a complete review posted hopefully later on today.

LB2 Kimono

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Shinrin 2006

The final decision on the colors for the LB2 Kimono is not yet set, but there are four artist's proof prototypes that they will be selected from. The edition is based on the full sized Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pen, a classic remake of the hugely successful and influential Duofold of the 1920s. Each pen will be fitted with the banner nib version of the solid 18 karat gold Duofold nib. All trim pieces are gold plated. The clip features the Parker Arrow design and the cap top has the banner imprint insert.

The LB2 Kimono Limited Edition will be released in 100 fountain pen duets in two color schemes at US $2,750 for each pen. The pens will be offered with the full complement of 14 Parker Duofold nib choices.

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Shinrin 2006

Identification guide and features:

  • Maki-e decorated in an alternating silver and gold ring pattern over color bands on the cap, barrel, and section

  • Cap and barrel are turned resin

  • Two gold plated engraved cap bands

  • Gold plated clip, with Parker Arrow logo design

  • Solid 18 karat gold nib with Parker Arrow and Duofold banner with "18K" and "750"

  • Available with 14 nib choices, including needle point, extra fine, fine, medium, broad, double broad, fine oblique, medium oblique, broad oblique, reverse oblique, fine stub / italic, medium stub / italic, and broad stub / italic

  • About 5 3/8 inches long capped

  • Cartridge / converter filling system

  • Full Parker warranty against factory defects, Classic Pens warranty on the Maki-e work

  • Retail price the fountain pen is US $2,750

  • Each pen includes a complimentary copy of the new Parker Duofold book, by David Shepherd and Dan Zazove


I decided rather than risk damaging the two LB2 Kimono artist proof pens loaned by Classic Pens I would do our writing tests with a standard Parker Duofold model of the same vintage. This was easy as we always have a few of them around as they are really excellent pens in their own right.

I don't have a lot of hours of personal time with Maki-e pens, mostly because I use my pens and always worried if I owned one, I would damage the delicate artwork. I may have changed my mind with these two pens. The LB2 Kimono's ring pattern is simply wonderful to hold, with the concentric rings providing positive grip and unique feel all the way up the hand. In a way, the pens have an organic feel, as if you are holding a branch with a smoothed quill at the end, enhanced by the muted green and brown primary colors of each pen.

The overall effect is captivating, but subtle. Many Maki-e pens offer a lot of dazzle, with inlays and painted scenes, mystical creatures and so on. This very simple design has a harmony that touches the same root as Bonsai and sand gardens. The rings alternate gold and silver over a multicolored stem of green, gold and silver or brown and bronze with purple undertone. This is a pen for musing, for thinking. I started calling it the "Zen pen."

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono detail of cap, nib and artist Red Seal Signature

Since these were artist proofs, I haven't yet seen the packaging, but given that these are from Classic Pens, they will undoubtedly be presented very handsomely. Each pen will be accompanied by a copy of the new Parker Duofold book by David Shepherd and Dan Zazove. An appropriate gift.

If you are familiar with the streamline version of the new Parker Duofold Centennial, you will be at home with this pen. The barrel unscrews to access the converter or to change cartridges. The large clip has enough spring to be secure in the pocket, but I would probably not pocket this pen. I'd probably keep it at my desk at home in a case. It's not a flash piece, it's a quiet time tool.

The Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pen is a large size pen at 5 3/8 inches capped. Because of the artwork, I would not post the cap. That's not a disadvantage with the Centennial, as the unposted size is plenty big for most hands. I can also say that they don't post that well anyway, and the last thing you would want to do is see the cap of this pen flying across the room.

Classic Pens LB2
Classic Pens LB2 Kimono Shinrin 2006

The two-tone nib is very bold, and was probably the only item I would change. I would prefer a plainer nib, perhaps like the one on the 1995 Parker Duofold Mandarin, that would match the subtle tone of the pen, but I am sure that it would seriously limit the nib choices. In any event, Parker Duofold nibs are very firm, but they are very smooth and wet writers. Our non-Maki-e test pen has the same nib and is wonderful to write with.

Since I've been excluding myself from the Maki-e market because I would worry about damaging the artwork, did this pen change my mind? I know Maki-e is not fragile, but I would want something that I would be happy to use daily and is not so busy that I'm constantly distracted, or so arty that I would rather have it on display. The LB2 Kimono changes my mind because it is so inviting. The price is much less than the more elaborate Maki-e pens that might give pause for a daily user. I would definitely recommend giving this edition a serious look if you want to actually use your pen. At only 100 duets, they surely won't be available for long.


This pen set was loaned by Classic Pens for this article. We would like to thank Andy Lambrou for providing the pens, graphics, and the background information for the article.

Comments on this article may be sent to the author, Jim Mamoulides Bibliography