(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 London Fog is another pen in the Homo Sapiens series that came out earlier this year. Originally, I had no plans to purchase one – I like the Crystal Swirls model better, but it is no longer available. Still, the more photographs I saw of the London Fog, the more it grew on me. So, I decided to pull the trigger.
The pen comes packaged in a large Visconti box. They are masters of ornate pens and flashy boxes. I never quite know what to do with such large, heavy boxes, so I just stow them in my office closet in case I decide to sell my pens later.
This pen is, to put it mildly, majestic. It is large (146mm capped, 130mm uncapped, 170mm posted) and weighty (40 grams), but I have come to love big pens. My right hand doesn't get cramps when I write with a pen like the London Fog.
The cap, grip, and piston knob are made of acrylic that is mostly silver/grey with dark blue swirls. The material sparkles in the sunshine.
The barrel is made of clear acrylic with celluloid ribbons of silver/grey and blue. Acryloid is Visconti's name for this special material that is a mix of acrylic and celluloid in microscopically thin strips. Whatever it's called, it really is fantastic. The layers swim like tropical fish through the clear acrylic. The combination of demonstrator with beautiful artistic swirls makes for a stunning pen.
The cap is quite heavy due to the sterling silver clip, rings, and finial. I do not recommend posting it because it throws the balance of the pen off, but to each his/her own. As with other Visconti pens, the finial is removable. You can replace it with the Visconti "My Pen" system. I think this pen would look gorgeous with a lapis lazuli stone, but that will have to wait for a day when I have money again.
The cap is also adorned with two silver rings and the iconic Visconti clip which is spring loaded.
Visconti's special "Hook Safe Lock" system is how the cap attaches to the barrel. I really like this system because the cap is so easy to get off and on. It is much easier than a thread system that requires multiple turns. The Visconti "hooks" are smooth and do not interfere with one's grip on the pen.
The barrel is adorned with a large silver ring engraved with "Homo Sapiens." It is simple and beautiful.
A plain silver ring connects the barrel to the piston knob. The piston unscrews to allow the user to pull the vacuum seal out to fill the pen. I haven't been able to get a complete fill on this pen, despite the "power filler" name. I don't know if I just need to practice more or if the system is not meant to fill the barrel completely with ink. I noticed that when the ink in the barrel got low, no ink went into the feed. I had to pull the piston out to let ink into the lower barrel. This got messy. I'll have to work with the system more to see if there's a problem with my pen or if you simply need to keep the barrel filled with ink for the feed to remain saturated.
I ordered my London Fog with a fine, 23K Palladium nib. The nib is springy and slightly flexible if you press into it. It is a joy to write with.
The nib is beautiful with Visconti's lovely scrolling and the moon-shaped breather hole.
When I ordered my London Fog, I requested two things. First, I wanted the pen to have lots of swirls. Some versions of these Visconti pens are mostly acrylic with just a few swirls. If you're going to pay this much for a pen, get as many swirls as you can! I strongly recommend that, if you can't purchase the London Fog at a physical store, you contact your online dealer and request photos of the pens in stock. That way you can choose the pen that has the look you want. The swirl factor was important to me.
Second, the other issue when ordering a Visconti is the nib. Almost every Visconti fountain pen I've purchased has had a bum nib. Maybe I've just been unlucky, but I have had to send all my Viscontis in for nib work. Not this time. When I placed my order with Bryant at Chatterly Luxuries, I asked him to make sure the nib was smooth and trouble-free. I am happy to say this is the first Visconti pen that I've received that has written well straight out of the box. Thank you, Bryant!
At a retail cost of $995, the London Fog is quite an investment. You can purchase this pen at a lower cost through Chatterly Luxuries (they can't advertise their price), but regardless, if you buy this pen, expect to pay a good amount for it. I am very happy with my purchase because this pen writes like a dream and is absolutely spectacular in appearance. Still, if I ever find a Crystal Swirls Visconti, I might just trade my London Fog for it.
- The London Fog is a truly spectacular pen.
- If you get a good nib, the Visconti really is a dream to write with. They aren't kidding with the "Dreamtouch" label! But make sure you have it tested before it is shipped.
- I find the vacuum filling system to be adequate. I honestly prefer piston fillers. But, the pen holds a huge amount of ink (1.51 ml) if you can get a good fill.
- The pen feels wonderful in the hand. It is hefty and large, but I've found pens like this reduce hand fatigue. I love writing with this pen.
- The capping system is quick and effective.
- The London Fog is an expensive pen, no doubt about that.
- Vacuum fillers are notoriously difficult to clean.
- Visconti nibs are hit or miss in my experience. If you get a good nib, it is truly a great writing experience. But, if you get a nib with the tines out of alignment or is dry or has baby's bottom, you are stuck with paying more for a nibmeister to adjust it. Visconti really needs to do a better job of quality control.
(I purchased this pen with my own funds and was not compensated for this review.)
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