Posts filed under Visconti

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Review

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)

I'm usually pretty well behaved, so it's no surprise when Santa brings me stationery. I must have been REALLY good last year, though, because Santa did surprise me with my very first Visconti pen—the Mirage, in a lovely Evergreen color.

I've admired Viscontis before, but their high price points mixed with rumors of dodgy quality control have always put me off. I was very excited to finally get a chance to try one.

The Mirage is a new entry-level Visconti pen to celebrate the company's 30th anniversary. Their previous entry-level offerings have often been priced higher than many folks' upper limits, so adding a new tier was, I think, a great idea. I did worry, though, that if the quality of their expensive pens varied so much, what sort of pen would be on offer for 1/5 the price?

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen

Well, apart from an introductory hiccup, I think they've offered a very decent pen. The hiccup, though, required some resources that many new pen buyers won't have.

My first impression of the pen was good--it's beautiful. The body is a rich, shimmery, swirly vegetal resin that catches the light like magic. The body has fluted grooves and a decorative palladium-plated cap band that give the piece a very Art Deco look. It has the signature arched clip with the Visconti name engraved in it. The bottom finial has a metal Visconti logo that can be removed with a magnet and replaced with your initials or a gemstone. The grip section is smooth and round, in the same material as the body. The nib is a new steel design, with more Art Deco-styled etching.

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Nib

Maybe it's because I associate that clip with high prices, but this pen looks more expensive than it is. With the lower price, as one might expect, it doesn't have a lot of the fancy Visconti features, but it does have a few. That magnetic finial is one, another is the spring-loaded clip, and there's also the self-aligning magnetic cap. The cap holds securely and closes with a satisfying self-propelled click. It's almost too fun, and between that and the springy clip, the cap is a meeting-fidgeter's delight.

The steel nib writes smoothly and with the perfect amount of wetness. It's very pleasant to write with.

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Converter

My hiccup with the pen had to do with the converter. The converter included with the pen does not actually fit in the pen. It kind of, almost, sort of fits--just well enough that you can tell something is wrong. You can use it, but it doesn't get a good seal, so it's difficult to fill and tends to leak. The metal band at the neck of the section is too narrow for the plastic body of the converter, so you have to wrestle it in place. Mine did not stay in place.

The good news is, Visconti does make a converter that fits. You need to get the threaded piston converter. But that's not the one they included, because--well, because Visconti. Fortunately, I (I mean Santa!) purchased the pen from Anderson Pens, so I was able to bring the pen in, show them the issue, they swapped the converters, and I walked out a few minutes later with a pen that functions beautifully.

Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Nib

Most customers, though, would be purchasing the pen online and having it shipped to a pen-store desert. If you're doing this, be sure to request that the shop swap the converters for you. My worry is more for the casual shopper or inexperienced pen buyer who may pick one of these up, thanks to the accessible price. They're going to struggle to assemble and fill the pen, then get a lot of ink on their hands. If they're not tenacious enough to contact the shop, they may decide that fountain pens are fiddly and messy and nope right out of the hobby.

So, mostly bravo to Visconti for creating a new port of entry into their brand and fountain pens in general, but I hope they'll note this converter issue and start packing them with the proper accessories. If you're going to launch a product priced to attract new customers, you've got to make that first impression perfect. Especially when the product is otherwise so excellent.


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Visconti Mirage Fountain Pen Writing
Posted on February 7, 2019 and filed under Visconti, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Elegance: A Review

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(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Visconti Homo Sapiens Elegance is an over-sized pen made of black resin with silver trim. It is meant as a less-expensive option for those who like the Visconti Homo Sapiens style. Thus, the pen is made of resin instead of lava or special acriloid and it utilizes a screw-in converter rather than Visconti’s high-capacity power filler.

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The Homo Sapiens Elegance comes in a standard Visconti clamshell box with cream interior.

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The pen is trimmed with shiny silver rings on the cap and barrel, a silver Visconti finial, and Visconti’s signature arched clip.

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However, the large ring on the barrel sports a matte look with “Homo Sapiens” engraved in shiny silver.

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The cap uses Visconti’s hook safe lock system which makes it easy to get on and off and makes the cap secure.

Over-sized means that this is an extra large pen, measuring 145mm capped, 170mm posted, and 132mm unposted. At 43 grams, the Elegance is just as heavy as the Homo Sapiens Bronze Age which surprised me considering that one pen is made of lava and the other of resin.

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The converter is a nice screw-in model with metal trim. It holds 1.03 ml of ink and is much easier to clean than the power filler pens.

My loaner pen came with the 1.3mm 23k Palladium stub nib. It’s a beautiful nib with Visconti’s classic scroll work.

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Unfortunately, this nib is not a smooth writer. There’s a small sweet spot, but even when you’ve got the pen positioned correctly, you can hear it scratch the paper as you write (and not in a pleasant way). I found myself having to hold the pen at an awkward angle in order to maintain some semblance of consistent writing.

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My experience with Visconti nibs is not positive. Out of all the Viscontis I’ve owned (and I’ve owned at least eight), only two wrote well out of the box. My Homo Sapiens Bronze Age with a 1.3mm stub had to go to two different nibmeisters before it started writing reasonably well.

The nib on this pen is inconsistent and skips often. As I wrote with it over the past three weeks, I had hard starts that required pushing ink into the nib using the converter. For my handwritten review, I refilled the converter and started fresh. Even with that, I experienced lots of skipping and rough writing.

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Although I like the resin version of the Visconti Homo Sapiens Elegance, I think it is still priced too high at $595.00 retail. And, at this price you should get a perfect nib right out of the box. Honestly, if you want a Visconti, I’d suggest saving up for a Bronze Age (which is $200 more) or one of the more colorful versions. And I would make sure that your retailer tests the nib before shipping it to you.

Left to right: Visconti London Fog, Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, Homo Sapiens Elegance, and Divina Elegance

Left to right: Visconti London Fog, Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, Homo Sapiens Elegance, and Divina Elegance

You can purchase the Visconti Homo Sapiens Elegance from Goldspot Pens. Their retail price is $595, but if you log in and add the pen to your cart you’ll see a significantly reduced price.

Pros

  • The Visconti Homo Sapiens Elegance is a nice alternative for anyone who finds the Homo Sapiens Bronze Age to be too expensive at $795 retail.
  • The Elegance uses a cartridge/converter filling system that is much easier to use and clean than the power filler system used by more expensive Visconti models. Even though the power-fillers hold more ink, I like the convenience of a converter filling system.
  • Visconti offers their premium 23k Palladium nib with this pen.

Cons

  • Although the Homo Sapiens Elegance is $200 less than the Bronze Age, it is still an expensive pen.
  • The nib on my loaner pen was finicky and an unpleasant, scratchy writer. Unfortunately, this is typical of my experiences with Visconti nibs, and I always think very hard before purchasing this brand because of it. I recommend asking your retailer to check your nib before shipping.

(Goldspot provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Posted on January 5, 2018 and filed under Visconti, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Visconti Rembrandt Silver Shadow Fountain Pen: A Review

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(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

The Visconti Rembrandt Silver Shadow is a variegated resin pen in a silver/grey color. The resin is meant to evoke Rembrandt’s use of chiaroscuro (tonal contrasts that create a 3-D effect) in his paintings. You can see that effect in the photo of the resin below:

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The pen comes in a large Visconti clamshell box in brown with a soft cream interior. A Visconti booklet is enclosed. My loaner pen came with two different converters, but I’m sure it normally arrives with just one.

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The Rembrandt is one of the smaller Visconti pens. It is 140mm capped, 160mm posted, and 125mm unposted. It weighs 33 grams.

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The cap is adorned with the Visconti finial (and you can replace this with Visconti’s “My Pen” system), the arched Visconti spring clip, and a beautiful cap ring engraved with Rembrandt’s name and etchings that are based on the artist’s work. The cap snaps on using a magnetic system that is rather unique.

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Unfortunately, my Rembrandt came with a faulty finial. It fell off the moment I removed the pen from its cellophane wrapper. It looks as though the glue that holds the magnetic base for the finial came loose. This is one of those things that could be a fluke, or it could be an indication of quality control issues that seem to be common with Visconti pens

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In addition to that issue, I noticed what might be a flaw in the resin. It’s tiny, but noticeable and looks like a crack in the resin. It feels smooth to the touch, however, so it may simply be a place where darker resin pooled.

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One beautiful detail that I almost didn’t notice is a ruthenium (I think) bottom finial. It is barely noticeable from the side, but from the bottom, it shines like a mirror. It provides a nice balance to the cap finial.

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The nib is a fine stainless steel coated in black with Visconti’s lovely scroll work. It is really quite beautiful and goes well with the grey color of the pen.

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The grip is ruthenium-coated. As with most metal grips, it can become slippery if you have sweaty fingers. But, because this pen is light, I found it easy to write with in spite of the fact that I normally don’t like metal grips.

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The pen fills with either short international cartridges or the enclosed converter.

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I found the Rembrandt to be quite comfortable for writing. The pen is a little small, but not so much that I found my hand cramping. The stainless steel nib was smooth and exhibited no problems like hard starting or skipping. It is, however, a very stiff nib and offers absolutely no flex or give. Although the nib is labeled a fine, it wrote more like a medium with Iroshizuku Take-Sumi ink.

Midori MD Notebook

Midori MD Notebook

I wrote a portion of the first chapter of The Hobbit in my Clairefontaine French-ruled notebook to put the pen through its paces. It wrote flawlessly, and by the end of the page my hand was not fatigued.

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You can purchase the Visconti Rembrandt fountain pen in Silver Shadow from Goldspot Pens for $175. I found the Rembrandt to be a sweet smaller pen that wrote well and looks quite classy, but I think $175 is rather expensive for this pen, considering that it is plastic, has a steel nib, and is not a piston filler. The Rembrandt comes in other colors as well: red, purple, blue, and black. Not all have the black nib, however.

Pros

  • I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this little Visconti. I love the grey/silver color and the black nib.
  • The nib on this pen is unyielding but smooth. The fine wrote more like a medium, so if you like a finer line, you might see if you can get the nib in extra fine.
  • The pen is comfortable in the hand, and, despite the metal finial, I didn’t have trouble holding the pen even when my fingers got sweaty.

Cons

  • My pen arrived with two flaws: a faulty finial that fell off the pen upon removal from the cellophane and a possible small flaw in the resin (which could just be where a darker portion of resin pooled).
  • This is not a pen for people who have large hands or who like large, hefty pens.
  • Visconti pens can be hit or miss in terms of nib quality out of the box. I was pleased that this steel nib wrote smoothly. But if you can, have your retailer test the nib and tune it before shipping.
  • For a plastic pen with a steel nib and converter system, $175 seems too high pricewise.

(Goldspot loaned this product to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on September 8, 2017 and filed under Visconti, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.