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Visconti Ragtimes

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17 replies to this topic

#1 jde



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Posted 22 September 2009 - 22:15

Some time ago, I began looking for my first Italian fountain pen. While curiosity lead me to the Italians, my quest for a few pens I could use every day was my impetus. I had seen and held the 20th Anniversary Ragtime and loved the look of it, but not the pen’s weight and its metal section. I write for hours a day and prefer a lightweight pen for that distance, and so the 20th lead me to seek out the earlier incarnations of Visconti’s Ragtime, which originally appeared in 1992. Delightfully I ended up with four different vintage Ragtimes plus a 20th Anniversary for good measure.

Appearance and Design
  • Ragtime (original version) in Black and Pearl, 1991.
  • Accademia Italiana a special commission for the Italian Pen Academy in Blue, Green and Black, 1990. 130 made.
  • Caravel – Santa Maria in Plum/Red, 1992. 500 made.
  • Ragtime II in Brown and Black, 1994.
  • 20th LE in Caramel, Pearl and Brown swirl, 2008. 1988 made. (The 20th anniversary honors the founding of Visconti, not the 1st Ragtime.)
The vintage Ragtunes are made of Italian celluloid (the cellulose nitrate kind). The Caravel was turned from a single celluloid rod. The other 3 Ragtimes were made from celluloid sheets, and if you look hard enough you can find their seams.

The 20th LE is made of acryloid. My 20th LE is rather pale in appearance. The luck of the draw when you don’t buy this pen in person but via mail order.

While the 20th LE sports a metal section, the vintage Ragtimes have black plastic sections.

The earliest Ragtimes have a rounded cap. Subsequent versions have a flat-top cap. What makes the Ragtime a Ragtime is the clip:
In photo left to right: Accademia Italiana, Ragtime, Caravel, Ragtime II, 20th LE
Posted Image

The Ragtime (bought used), Accademia and 20th LE all performed without flaw upon first inking. The Ragtime II and the Caravel (both NOS purchases) did not write properly until after Deb Kinney tweaked the nibs, something I was not brave enough to attempt myself. The vintage Ragtimes all perform quite well under regular rotation. The 20th LE finds use at my desk as a signature pen as I find it too heavy for long writing periods. (For an alternate 20th LE view read GoodGuy’s review.)

Dimensions (approximate)
The Ragtimes are all about the same length and size.

Ragtime, Accademia and Ragtime II
Length - 5.5” / 14.20cm
Uncapped – 5” / 12.60cm
Posted – 6.5” / 16.40cm

Caravel and 20th LE
Length – 5.4” / 13.80cm
Uncapped – 4.9” / 12.50cm
Posted – 6.4” / 16.30cm

Pen diameter: .4” / 1cm

Posted Image

Weight Inked (approximate - YMMV)
The Vintage Ragtimes are wonderfully lightweight pens!

Vintage Ragtimes: 12g unposted / 20g posted
20th LE: 20g unposted / 29g posted

Ragtime and Ragtime II: 18K single-tone
Accademia, Caravel and 20th LE: 14K two-tone (vintage) single-tone (20th LE)

Visconti nibs are smooth writers. All my pens came with the appropriate nib. Out in the wild you don’t always find the pen with the original nib. Some vintage Ragtimes can be found with glass nibs, and some with steel.

The Caravel came with a Fine nib, and the other vintage Ragtimes came with Medium nibs. The Ragtime II was modified into a fine stub by Deb Kinney when I set it to her to get the pen up and writing. The 20th LE sports a Broad Kinney stub.

Filling System
These are all piston-filling pens. With the exception of the Ragtime II, all sport a removable blind cap.

Cost and Value
For “user pens” cost and value are as subjective as a pen’s likability. Two of my pens I bought via FPN, always my first choice but not always possible. Two came off ebay (one via a friend), and one from a dealer. For some pens I paid more than I expected to because Ragtimes were in high demand earlier this year. I do not regret any of these four vintage purchases. (“Vintage” in relation to these pens is how Visconti refers to the older Ragtimes.) For the original Ragtime and Ragtime II expect to pay $200 or more. If you can find one for less--hey, let me know! Rarer Ragtimes can go for a lot more.

The 20th LE I bought when the pen was going for close-out pricing. The Kinney stub keeps this pen in my stable.

Very purposely I have a small collection of 20 pens. My Ragtimes make up ¼ of that collection. There are more colors and variants of Ragtimes out there than my lil' 5 pen sampling. Except for the heavy 20th LE, all my pens are favorites as daily writers. The Ragtimes especially are nice, easy pens to hold and write with for extended periods of time. The cap alone makes me smile for its happy countenance.

Hope they don't mind, but I have to call out eric47 and girlieg33k for their guidance and help in my hunt for “vintage” Ragtimes. They gladly fed me their impressions, experience, information and encouragement to stay the course until I found one. And then I had more than one! It’s because of Eric I have my beautiful Caravel. Thank you my wonderful pen pals!

Posted Image

Edited by jde, 23 September 2009 - 01:11.

...writing only requires focus, and something to write on. —John August
...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

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#2 dandelion


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Posted 22 September 2009 - 22:23

Great photos and great to see five versions of the Ragtime. I favour the flattops - especially the Ragtime II and the Caravel. Very nice little Ragtime family!
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#3 tres



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Posted 22 September 2009 - 22:57

Beautiful set of Ragtimes! Thanks for the review and the great pictures.

#4 Deirdre


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Posted 23 September 2009 - 00:48

That left one is OMG pretty.
"Heck we fed a thousand dollar pen to a chicken because we could." -- FarmBoy, about Pen Posse

#5 goodguy


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Posted 23 September 2009 - 01:40

I have the Regtime Aniversary LE model.
I use it as my daily user at work.
Its beautiful, light and fabolous writer.
Respect to all

#6 girlieg33k



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Posted 23 September 2009 - 08:58

Julie, thank you for the outstanding and thorough review. Your photos capture the depth and warmth of each celluloid. I logged on, just to read it. Thanks again! :)

Talking about fountain pens is like dancing about architecture.

#7 eric47


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Posted 23 September 2009 - 10:12

Great review Julie! Wonderful photos of the various Ragtimes together, with all their difference in details. :)
Anyone becomes mannered if you think too much about what other people think. (Kim Gordon)

Avatar photography by Kate

#8 montrepassion


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Posted 27 September 2009 - 18:48

Very classy collection

Edited by montrepassion, 27 September 2009 - 18:48.

As long as it is authentic it has style

#9 greencobra



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Posted 28 September 2009 - 16:36

The Ragtime is a favorite design of mine, sadly I don't own one. Well done reveiw, very informative and beautiful photos, enjoyed it a lot.

#10 Lefthander


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Posted 01 October 2009 - 03:07

You have a wonderful collection of Ragtimes. I have a Blonde Ragtime II which looks a little lighter in color than your Ragtime II, more like the color of your original Ragtime. It is one of my favorite pens. The size and weight is great for long writing and I like the piston filler. Visconti nibs are not only beautiful but wonderfully smooth.

Thanks for the review of a great pen, or set of pens! I enjoyed reading it very much.

#11 WendyNC


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Posted 01 October 2009 - 05:08

They're all beautiful and your photographs are lovely. That little Caravel is just gorgeous. [insert drooly emoticon here]
I came here for the pictures and stayed for the conversation.

#12 Pepin



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Posted 20 October 2009 - 09:39

Very distinctive clips. Thanks for sharing/
A man's real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.

#13 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 20:28

Nice collection :) , I will have to have a look at those ragtimes
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#14 ihimlen



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Posted 09 August 2010 - 21:32

number 4....ommigod!! Sooo pretty :-)

#15 sherlock_tomes



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Posted 10 August 2010 - 00:21

My wife has a Ragtime LE, and it is definitely one of the best writers in the house. For myself, because I grip fairly tightly, the threads on the body cause some discomfort after a while. But she loves it. The glitter in the translucent body is difficult to capture in photographs.
Author of "The Broken Swan's Neck," now on Amazon and www.peloriapress.com.

#16 Pepin



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Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:55

Good design. My favorite is the gold and brown, second from right.
A man's real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.

#17 breaker



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Posted 02 October 2010 - 21:17

very nice review and pics
Cogito ergo sum

#18 freewheelingvagabond



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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:35

great collection, great photos.

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