For the uninitiated, the name Michael Hsu is not one that will ring a bell. But read on, for he is one who has, over the last three decades, almost single handed put a Nation on the global map of fine writing instruments. Yes, we are talking of Taiwan and, you guessed it, and about Michael Hsu, who is the founder of the Opus 88!
That Opus 88 has seen a meteoric rise in the last couple of years, creating in its wake a near fanatic cult of Opus 88 lovers has already been acknowledged as a fact. That it has won the admiration – however grudging – of the industry, is also well accepted. Such has been its steady rise, that it along with the other world dominating house from Taiwan – TWSBI – is today widely considered to be a major force in the industry – no mean achievement for a newbie, especially in the wake of competition from well entrenched players many of whom have been in the business for a century or more and when one has to overcome the wrongly stuck stigma of being a replica pen maker from China.
And Opus 88 has triumphed, marrying form with function in the most exquisite ways. Michael Hsu’s creations transcend beyond the written word to incorporate power and beauty in an eclectic mix. That each pen carries the stamp of painstaking attention to details and master engineering is writ large and one has to just use an Opus, even once, to fall in love.
Take my latest acquisition, the Opus 88 Fantasia, Terracotta as it is fondly called by some alluding to its rich brown demeanour. The translucent brown barrel of resin artistically balances the ebonite cap with its playful, colour rings. The chrome hardware too heightens the overall effect and the pen is an eye candy, if ever there was one. But there is more to it than the mere looks, much, much more to be precise.
The fantasia is an eyedropper built as a homage to the traditional Japanese pens of the class but thanks to Hsu’s ingenuity, incorporates a piston operated shut-off valve. The rubber gasket and the ebonite piston work like a dream to seal the feed off from the barrel when depressed, which in turn, reduces the risk of leakage and burping. A boon like no other for frequent flyers who love their pens and like to see their words dry on paper.
Hang on for there is more of Hsu’s thoughtful touches – the top of the cap can be used as a tool to unscrew the ebonite piston knob for operation. The pen features a stainless steel Jowo nib (mine is an F) which needs no elucidation. Suffice to say, it does what it is meant for – write like a dream. The threaded bottom that allows the pen to be posted is another subtle touch that adds to its popularity as does the very comfortable weight of 20.5 grams. For those with a flair for details, the length of the pen is 117 mm (unposted) and the cap diameter is 14.5 mm.
The pen came tastefully packaged in a cardboard box – nothing fancy, but sheer elegance in its simple functionality. It also included a glass eyedropper to easy the inking process. Overall, the packaging matched the pen in thought and content and I have nothing to complain about.
As usual I will spare you the mandatory scribbles and hope that you will forgive me for the deliberate lapse on my part.
I will be failing in my duties if I don’t mention the fact that the pen was purchased from thePenWorld.com who had the pen flown to my doorsteps even before the crazy smile of self-indulgence – something that all ye pen lovers know intimately – had gone from my face. Really, truly fast, hassle-free service. Kudos.