Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln


We fountain pen users can be a picky bunch and spending a fair amount of money on a variety of pens only exasperates that pickiness.  Now, I’m going to have a few picky things to say about Retro 51’s Tornado Lincoln fountain pen, but don’t let these little issues dissuade you.  If you can find a Lincoln for $50 or less, buy one.  It’s a unique looking pen and it writes very, very well for a moderately priced pen.  Pair it up with a uniquely colored ink like Diamine Ancient Copper and you’ve got yourself a fun and classy combination.


Let me get my three points of pickiness, in descending order of annoyance, out of the way.  (1)  The metal body, which looks fantastic, gives way to a somewhat inexpensive-feeling plastic grip section.  The section is a touch slippery, although not discouragingly so, and doesn’t seem to hold its own with the stunning body and cap.  (2)  When posted, the pen is a tad too long for my taste and the balance is a bit top heavy.  Also, you have to push the cap on firmly to get an adequate post.  (3)  The converter doesn’t fit into the grip section as firmly as it should.  As you can see from the picture below, there is a step down from the main compartment of the converter to the portion that sits inside the grip section resulting in a bit of wiggle.  It does stay put, but you’ll want to be cognizant of the wiggle when separating the grip and body sections to avoid any ink accidents.  One the positive side, the available volume is somewhat larger than your average converter.


Persnicketiness out of the way, let’s get to the many good points of this fine pen.  The color.  My goodness the color.  Maybe it’s kitschy to make a pen look like a penny and name it Lincoln, but it works for me.  Importantly, the finish is not purely copper as there is a brush effect that blends the copper color with wisps of black giving the Lincoln a rich appearance.  The iconic Retro 51 knurling at the top of the cap provides a nice contrast against the smooth, brushed look of the rest of the pen.  I expect the finish will oxidize with time.  That’s fine with me; it will just make the pen more mine.


Now, it’s obvious why I decided to put Diamine Ancient Copper in the Lincoln.  However, it seems like I stumbled into a fantastic match as the nib has performed like a dream from the first stroke.  There hasn’t been a hint of skipping and the ride produced from this steel fine nib is generally smooth with a bit of feedback.  As you can see, I’m reviewing the pen using Rhodia which gives the smoothest feel you can expect; there definitely was more feedback on Field Notes.  Check it out.  Field Notes Drink Local and the Lincoln work well together don’t you think?  The nib was able to generate a bit of shading with this beautiful ink revealing colors ranging from a light copper to a deeper brown.


It’s a unique looking pen and writing with copper/brown colors may not be the most practical for every day use, but screw it, the Retro 51 and Ancient Copper combo rocks and should be within close reach at all times.  It’s a “Carry It” pen.  The slightly awkward length when posted might make it cumbersome to use for quick note taking, but the positives easily overcome this mild inconvenience.  Again, if you can find this pen with the nib size you want for under $50, it’s a no-brainer purchase.

The Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln is like a US penny.  Okay, that’s too easy.  How about this?  The Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln is like a good pair of casual brown leather shoes.  Both the Lincoln and a good pair of brown shoes look good from day one and neither really needs any break-in time.  Also, both should develop a character of their own over time.


What have others thought about this solid pen?
FP Quest
Pencil Case Blog
The Pen Habit

Once again…a gratuitous collage of pen and ink.


3 thoughts on “Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln

  1. Very few reviews of Retro 51 fountain pens on the interwebs, thanks. I have a Lincoln and enjoy it tremendously with a few reservations. All of my other pens are NOS Sheaffers and they tend to go from pen body/section to nib tip in a very short distance. The Shmidt nib units that Retro 51 uses are quite l-o-n-g and, as noted, slippery. These features make writing tricky for me. The factory medium nib is wet so the shading from certain inks can be lovely. Other users say they have removed the shiny lacquer coating with acetone, exposing the raw copper patina. (The pen barrel is not made of copper!) I will probalby do that in a few months. I concur posting the pen can make it awkward to manuever. But it’s a great looking pen; copper is an unusual aand attractive finish. The Tornado Lincoln series includes a ball or roller and, I think, a mechanical pencil. A full set would be fun to have.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and adding your comments David. I never thought of removing the coating to get to the raw copper. Interesting idea. I probably won’t do it, but it’s interesting.

  2. I found one at a market place in Hong Kong for 50 HKD (6.25 USD). I didn’t know it was a Retro 51, even the seller didn’t know its origin. I WALKED AWAY. Now I just found that it was a 50 USD Retro 51 and I wanna cry. Sob…

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