Yard-O-Led Viceroy Standard

I’m reviewing this pen through the lens of its current price for the sake of people considering purchasing it. This review would read much differently if YOL’s fountain pen prices hadn’t tripled over the past three years.

See my YOL Viceroy Grand Post for more information on the company. I gushed over YOL, how neat the company is, and how cool the Viceroy Grand is.

First, the good: the Standard is a classy pen and it’s a much more usable size than the Viceroy Grand. To me, this is the most practically sized fountain pen in YOL’s lineup. The Barleycorn finish is very nice and pleasant to the touch without being garish like the Victorian finish. I really like this pen.

It’s ridiculously skinny but long enough to accept standard international cartridges and converters–the user can even piggyback two short cartridges or utilize long international cartridges for maximum ink capacity in a relatively compact package. The pen works posted or unposted, but I like to post mine.

Standard international converter, long cartridge, or short cartridge. The user may place a second short cartridge tandem in the pen’s barrel. I added the o-ring on the converter’s knob just so it doesn’t make click on the inside of the barrel.

Unfortunately, I had issues with the pen. The nib, for starters, was a mess out of the box–over-polished to the point of barely working. It was a skippy, unpleasant disaster. I eventually sent it off to a nibmeister because of how awful it was. Bock strikes again. Also the cap is weirdly loose and the o-ring that prevents the section from unscrewing from the pen was absent. Those last two points are a bit nit-picky, and had the nib not been a disgrace out of the box, I may very well have overlooked them.

Technically, the nib on this pen didn’t come on the Standard out of the box–I switched my Standard’s nib with my Pocket model’s nib. Fear not, dear reader, for Bock had messed both of the nibs up, requiring professional help and marring my opinion of both pens forevermore. The Bock nibs on this pen and its little cousin were the final straw for me: I no longer buy pens with Bock nibs on them with rare exceptions and tell anyone who will listen that Bock nibs have serious quality control problems. Lamy, Pelikan, Montblanc, Aurora, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Ancora, Santini, Waterman, and Parker have figured out how to make nibs. Bock’s main competitor JoWo makes nibs that work. It’s pretty easy to get a $2 pen from China or India that works out of the box. Yet Bock nibs don’t, even on pens that cost hundreds of dollars.

YOL does have a great warranty and good customer service, in their defense, but I didn’t want to pay shipping back to the U.K. when there are great nibmeisters here in the U.S.

This brings me to the price of the Standard. When I bought mine in 2017, it cost right around £320, or around $400. That’s an acceptable price to me–if the pen worked–we are talking about handmade, sterling silver pens with 18k gold nibs, after all. But as of this writing, the Standard’s MSRP is well over £800, or around $1100. One may be able to shop around a bit and get it a bit cheaper–maybe even under $1000.

edit: Looks like Fahrney’s is carrying some YOL pens again for a much fairer price–no affiliation. That’s probably where USA customers will need to go for a YOL pen.

Hallmarks, left to right: YOL maker’s mark, 925 Sterling, 925 Sterling, Birmingham Assay Office, England, 2017 date code.

I mean, this pen is fantastic. $400 plus maybe $50 for nib work is pretty tolerable, especially considering YOL’s reputation, history, and eye for detail. But for $1100? No way in hell. Well, maybe if it wrote flawlessly out of the box, but that’s a very, very big maybe. This isn’t even the model that is chased by hand–the Victorian finish is more expensive. Even the price of the YOL Viceroy Grand has gone up by £77 from a year ago. For the record, YOL’s ballpoints and pencils, which I assume are their bread and butter, have not really increased in price to match their fountain pens, and Bock nibs surely don’t justify a 500 pounds sterling increase in price, so I don’t actually know what their deal is. Weirdly, the YOL pens exclusive to Smythson of Bond Street are significantly cheaper than their other finishes. Who’s coming up with these prices?

I really didn’t like writing this review. I hated it. I don’t want to slam YOL because I think the company is charming and making works of art. Yard-O-Led is still in my top five favorite pen makers. But I really, truly cannot recommend the Standard in good faith at its current price–and I’m quite fond of it.

Pros:

  • Very pretty.
  • Nice size, well balanced.

Cons:

  • Too expensive, for what it is.
  • The cap is loose.
  • The thing barely wrote out of the box.

Specs:

Nib:

  • Small 18k YOL-branded Bock nib.
  • Fine, Medium, and Broad available.
  • Writing sample done with a nib that was originally a Medium but ground to a Fine.

Body:

  • Hallmarked Sterling Silver.
  • This pen is the Barleycorn finish.
  • Plain, Victorian, and (Smythson of Bond Street exclusive) Pinstriped finishes are available.

Filling system:

  • Standard international cartridge converter.
  • The pen has enough room to perfectly piggyback two short cartridges or accept a long international cartridge.

Length:

  • Capped: 141mm
  • Uncapped: 124mm
  • Posted: 156mm

Weight:

  • Total: 31g
  • Pen: 20g
  • Cap: 11g

Section diameter:

  • 8-9mm
Top to bottom: Pocket, Standard, Grand, capped.
Top to bottom: Pocket, Standard, Grand, uncapped.
Top to bottom: Pocket, Standard, Grand, posted.

Published by

MatB

I am a fountain pen enthusiast.

One thought on “Yard-O-Led Viceroy Standard”

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