As promised, a full review of the latest acquisition; Visconti Van Gogh Maxi Fountain Pen in Musk Green.
OK, anyone new to the world of fountain pens won’t appreciate what I am about to say. Different writing preferences lead you to worship one type of nib, and subsequently, specific brands.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am Visconti fan-boy. I love the brand, its innovative filling mechanisms and the style many of its models ooze. That out of the way (phew!) lets get into why I decided to buy the pen.
It was a cold and grey Autumn morning in Sydney. I decided to swing past one of my favourite stores who happens to have a rather wide variety of fountain pens. I will not get into names, but suffice to say, they are located in Sydney and stock a range of homewares.
From the outset I did not intend to purchase a pen. Foolishly, I adventured out to have a browse through their collection of pens and maybe handle a few Visconti’s, Pelikan’s and Omas’. So whilst at one of the counters, I spy an older style Visconti Opera and motion to arouse the interests of the clerk. He happily obliges to pull out a few trays of Visconti’s and by this stage I am praying for some left over older models to peruse.
As luck would have it, he presents me with several older style Visconti Van Gogh Maxi’s and a few Midi’s. My heart quickens, this is rare indeed to see so many in the same place. I untwist the cap of the first pen and pray like nothing else that a 14K nib resides underneath and hope it is not a medium (Visconti fans will know what I’m talking about). It’s a 14K 585 broad nib! My mouth starts to salivate. Final test, I undo the gorgeous resin body and check to see if the original screw in converter is still in place. It is!
By this stage the clerk is looking at me in a peculiar way and I tell him of my love for these pens. I pick up a very interesting looking Musk Green with a Fine nib and fall in deep rapture with the finish. I’d not handled one in this colour before and it’s character becomes clear. The price tag is surprisingly good and with that I’m sold, and so begins this review.
Name – Visconti Van Gogh Maxi Musk Green
Nib Size & Material – Fine, 14 Karat Gold 585, Single Tone
Filling Mechanism – Screw-in Converter
Measurements – 130mm uncapped, 145mm capped, 165mm posted
Price – RRP $595 Actual $208
Available – Out of production
What Makes It
The looks. The beautiful body ranges from dark green to a golden sheen. Best viewed in light it is a sight to behold.
The nib. Oh my, the nib. If you haven’t tried a Visconti 14k you should definately resist buying lesser pens to save your pennies to do so. The smoothness, spring, line variation and wetness is excellent. The sizes are typical European so if you are used to Japanese fines you should look for an extra-fine. The detail around on the nib is intricate and beautiful. The section, whilst metal, is also gorgeously detailed.
Clip and cap. Well executed heft and detail on the gap. The metal is beautiful to the touch and the clip works well. Tension can be adjusted via the screw on the back of the cap. The arched design is the Visconti trademark and represents the bridge in Florence.
Presence & soul. This pen oozes character all day, every day. I own a lot of pens, yet I often find myself pondering deep thoughts whilst admiring the finish. The size is large and it makes for quite an impact when held (if that’s your thing). You won’t lack a point of interest with this pen.
What Breaks It
Alas, it is not perfect:
The screw turn cap mechanism. It might be an example of Italian pen quality control, but mine requires an extra little bit of effort for the last thread when tightening the cap. Disconcerting and you must be careful so as not to overtension it. I expect much more from a $500+ pen.
The nib. Whilst it writes beautifully each nib has it’s own personality. This can be both attractive and annoying, as the exact same pen and nib (different finish) write very differently. Some tweaking was required out of the box to get the best feel from the nib. Again, if this was a $150 pen I would understand, but with the RRP and competitors standards, this is not acceptable. Make sure you dip test before purchase if at all possible.
The tension screw on the cap. Argh! Why oh why could they not have hidden this?! To me, and yes I am aware it is subjective, that it ruins the lines of the pen. That may be fine if you are looking at a purely practical instrument but obviously, in a fountain pen at least, you are paying for beauty and craftsmanship too.
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