I received the Esterbrook Tuxedo Black JR fountain pen in my Collector's Inkredible Box for Dec of 2022. It is a quality pen, but not a brand that I would buy again. Here is my breakdown, fwiw:
Very nicely manufactured and assembled pen. The color of the resin is lovely with a shimmering silvery swirl throughout the black. Fit, finish, and attention to detail are on par with other premium pens. Pen comes with converter installed, and a couple ink cartridges in the box.
Excellent. The packaging quality is very nice - a fabric covered box with magnetic close. Soft velvet and polishing cloth included, along with 2 ink cartridges. Would make for a very lux gift experience for a pen lover.
Nice but familiar. The pen shape is comfortable and has some similarities to my vintage Esterbrook pens, the clip is very similar to my vintage models but with obviously higher quality presented in the modern version. Cartridge converter pen with a Jowo #6 nib does not scream ingenious - there are a TON of pens out there from a bunch of manufacturers that follow this same format because it works well. I am not hating on cartridge converter pens, but they aren't as interesting as pump/vac/piston fillers that some other brands offer in this same price point. I am also not hating on Jowo nibs. I think they are great! I also think there are brands out there in this price point offering in-house nibs made of 14k gold, so this is a bit pricey for what you get. Overall it is good, but not terribly interesting or unique, nothing to set it apart from other brands at this price point.
Marketing/Origin of Manufacture/Value
This is what kills the modern Esterbrook pens for me. Headquartered in the USA with marketing geared towards making the end-user believe this is a USA made pen like the vintage versions, this pen is made in Taiwan. Nothing on the box indicates where the pen is made, and it would be easy for the non-neurotic to assume Esterbrook resumed manufacturing in the USA based on the "America's Original, Reborn" printed prominently on the inside of the box. To be clear, I think there are excellent pens manufactured in Taiwan - TWSBI and Opus come to mind right away. But those companies don't hide the fact they are made there, and they don't have marketing pumping the nostalgia of America's pen. They are also priced significantly lower than the Esterbrook while also using quality Jowo nibs and offering unique filling systems that Esterbrook does not. At this price point, I'd go for an Edison pen with similar features actually made in Ohio, an Opus 88 for an excellent quality but cheaper alternative, or a handful of vintage Esterbrook pens to feed the nostaligia.
The pictures online of these pens definitely don’t do them justice. I bought the tuxedo black version and it arrived today. I opened up the package and my jaw dropped! I thought I was receiving a marbled white/black/grayish pen. I was wrong. Turns out it’s a black or dark dark grey pen with an amazing, surprisingly gorgeous body that has an iridescent almost fiber optic silky marbled finish to it. I purchased the broad nib size and it’s my first broad nib. I was nervous but knew the Esterbrook pen brand is highly regarded and reliable and has incredible attention to detail and quality. The broad nib is just as I pictured it! Nice and juicy wet, writes a broad line, continuously reliable, and super smooth. Pick one of these up. You won’t be disappointed! A truly well-made pen.