With the Visconti TITANIC fountain pen deriving its name from a very famous, and very large, 1912 British passenger liner one would expect this pen to be BIG. Just how big can a pen get though before it becomes a paintbrush? Is it going to give you that DiCaprio & Winslet flying feeling? Read on and find out…
When I first got into fountain pens, the brand Visconti was the one I most aspired to own. Clever designs, flair that evoked emotion and a subtle elegance could be found in a number of different pens and at a number of different prices. Of course, Visconti is also no stranger to producing some rather tasteless varieties too and it seems that their strategy of having a small core range and producing a large number of ‘limited editions’ is one which has merit yet can lead to these abominations. And so I basked in this Visconti glow for about a year, finally coming across a one very special limited edition pen which was long sold out; the Titanic LE. To be honest I thought the motif of the pen worked really well, but the combination of proportion, materials and clip just worked so harmoniously. I remember wondering if I would ever obtain such a popular limited edition at a price that wouldn’t have me selling off my cat to fund the acquisition.
And then one day, I was browsing the ‘bay minding my own business and WHAM! There she was with a no reserve auction. Browsing it over the week like an 18 year old boy walking the streets looking for Pokemon, it came down to the crunch and a combination of a weird ending time plus an Italian seller made me come off the victor. The last thing I was going to do was sell kitty, and luckily these factors meant I walked away with a very nice pen for a very, very reasonable sum. Happy kitty.
I’ll say out the outset that I am biased as to how this pen looks as my personal taste extends as far as the flamboyance on show in this pen. That being said, I will not be immune to some obvious shortcomings. Read on…
Name: Visconti Titanic Limited Edition Fountain Pen
Colour: Blue and brown/gold spotted celluloid. Available as a limited edition fountain pen (1,912 produced). A non limited edition Titanic is also available that is made from resin, although at a smaller size, what’s the point really? I also hear there is another LE (100 produced) that was made in even more limited quantities but I am yet to come across one.
Materials: Celluloid barrel and cap, gold plated trim, frosty ‘iceberg’ rolling ball on end of clip.
Nib Size & Material: Fine 18 karat 750 gold nib. Standard in the Visconti line of the time and I will not spend any time covering it.
Filling Mechanism: Visconti power filler.
Measurements: Wait for it.. 160mm capped, 142mm uncapped, 204mm posted!!! Though it does not post securely. Weighs 48grams.
Price: Unsure of original price – Circa $800-1,000 USD when new.
Available: Long since sold out, held on to tightly by collectors and not readily available on eBay. People ask over $1,000AUD for them these days.
What Makes It
The titanic size makes a statement. For reasons of complete insanity (pens in general really), you would only consider buying this pen to have as a collectible or desk pen. And for those two jobs, the sheer size of this pen (>200mm posted!) means every time you have or handle the pen it feels special. There is no denying the pen is long, maybe a little overly long, and it simply dwarfs every other large pen I own. If you are brave enough to take this one outside of the house expect others to notice the object in your hand and wonder whether you are intending to hit them over the head or write down some notes. It is that big. With all things considered though, that insane size was a wonderful design choice from Visconti.
Fabulous clip aesthetics – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but who can honestly say they aren’t attracted to or at least interested in the clip design? A truly stunning effort to not only come up with something new and different, but also not scream Titanic out loud so there is no doubt what the pen is.
Gorgeous celluloid. One of the real stars of the pens execution is that gorgeous celluloid. A sea blue with golden patches work well together, along with a clear and unpainted imprint. The blue has quite a flat depth to it in reality, with the golden patches providing sparkle, volume and visual interest to the pen. In the natural light this material is beautifully balanced and pleasing to the eye. Some say the material is supposed to represent the ocean and continents, but since we are looking at a Titanic tribute pen, I’m going to go with the Jack Dawson ‘there’s only room for one on the floating door’ theory. See, there are heaps of doors/debris floating to cling onto…
Feels special – You have to give Visconti credit for its efforts here. Not only did they make a pen which looks and feels special to hold, they did not spare much thought for tooling and reducing manufacturing costs. The pen comes in its own special blue felt lined box, complete with the R.M.S Titanic on the inside of the lid, as well as its own faux newspaper article. At initial glance I thought it was just a reproduction of the headline of a popular newspaper. Not so, as Visconti has actually made this the instruction manual complete with the pens details and filling system. Really nice touch there, full points.
What Breaks It
Not so fabulous clip function. Oh the irony of such a beautiful looking clip actually about as useful as the ship close to and heading straight for the iceberg. Sure, the clip functionality when brand spanking new would have been as good as any other Visconti clip (and that’s not saying much) however with age a flaw has come to the surface. The metal spring which sits underneath the top of the clip has become unreliable. At times it will stick in the depressed position meaning the clip operates freely and without the ability to serve it’s primary function. A little bit of oil may fix this issue, but since I won’t be using it it doesn’t bother me. I also hear on good authority this is not specific to my pen and rather common on these Titanic LE’s. Note to self – don’t think about clipping this pen to my shirt for fear of unidentified flying baseball bat.
Size is a hindrance to being useful. If you didn’t notice, this is a ‘girthy’ and super long pen. Massive in fact, and easily comparable to The Mountain from Game of Thrones if you lined it up with its fellow Kingsguard, (i.e. regular large size pen) like the Montblanc 146. And whilst this is great and all from a visual standpoint, the usefulness of this pen is compromised. The barrel also has a very plain shape with no tapering or change to lighten the pen or assist in hiding the long cylindrical shape. That’s a real shame I think as it would be great to feel more confident using this pen without the thought of your hand cramping up (luckily mine is and will remain uninked). Oversize hands need only apply here unfortunately.
Sentimentality. If you’re rather morbid, owning a pen named after a ship which epitomizes bad luck and misfortune may bug you. It’s one of those emotional connections you make with collectables and especially fountain pens and therefore it may not be for everyone. Take that for what it is, but I on the other hand, have absolutely no issues with a beautifully crafted object that carries a reminder of humility. It’s just a pen people, remember that!
Oh Visconti, where art thou QC? I don’t mean to go on about it, but Visconti QC has never been a strong point. Check out the gap in the blind cap/knob and the barrel. Annoying!
As a writing instrument, it’s clear that the Visconti Titanic LE is really only going to appeal to those who are trying to make a statement about their, ahem, shortcomings or those who climbed down from the beanstalk the last few days.
It’s likely that group is relatively small (no pun intended) and this means that the Titanic LE really only has collector appeal as a pen. That’s a real shame in my opinion as the combination of a stunning celluloid pattern, interesting clip design and somewhat annoying but interesting power filler system could be a real winner as a user pen. That’s right, this one is for collectors only and in that regard I am happy to have secured my very own.
For cheaper or more usable alternatives check out the Visconti Didgeridoo, Chatterley Luxuries Visconti Opera LE pens or the cheaper, non LE Visconti Titanic fountain pen if you love the clip over a blue barel.
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