My biggest pet hate, the one that I have fed only the best leftovers of negativity, and nursed with negative propaganda, is that relating to my VVG.
But I digress.
Visconti Van Gogh- Firenze Midi Steel F nib
Introduction: I saw this pen seven months ago in a couple of reviews on this very site. To me it looked like everything I want in a fountain pen- a cap, barrel, and nib. In addition to that, it was very colourful, and looked expensive. I was even willing to neglect the disjunction between it being named after Van Gogh, and looking nothing like any of his painting styles. I’m now eagerly waiting to see what the Visconti Charlie Sheen will look like.
Did this pen arrive in a box? I’m not sure. It arrived in something that looked like a leather lined alligator placenta. The fake leather and fake alligator skin detract from the presentation, but answered for me a very profound philosophical question- Are you meant to combine cow hide and alligator hide in the same article? No. Nature didn’t intend it, otherwise we’d see more farmers with amputated limbs.
I fail to see the need for a fancy looking box. After all, the pen should be the main attraction. If your interested in boxes, try theboxnetwork.com
I think an unpretentious black cardboard box with an embossed image of a famous piece of Van Gogh’s would be more appropriate.Maybe I'm a minimalist. Although I doubt I can be a minimalist and own this pen.
Colour: This part of the review gets the richest description, as it is the only aspect of the pen I really like.If I can don my Oscar Wildian cape and hat for a moment-
“the colour of this instrument is cruel, with a hint of redemption. On the tired battlefield, when war has ceased, blood has soaked into the soil, and fires smoulder in the ruined earth. Semi-transparent clouds reflect the spent hatred of man, through which sunlight peers tentatively, with the promise of a new hope. And the letters VISCONTI shine, as the converter can be seen through the plastic”
(Oscar Wilde didn't write war stories. Neither did Van Gogh smear paints on pens. We live in a world of lies, do we not?)
That’s what I think when I see this pen. Of course, this only applies to the crème de la crème of VVG owners who decided to choose the transparent red one.
Personally I don’t want to see the converter through the plastic. In the same way I don’t want to not see the insides of a demonstrator. Seeing the converter just makes the pen that much cheaper.
Weight: Posted, it is as well balanced as my diet isn’t. Unposted, I feel like I’m holding a pencil that has copulated with a sharpener far too much. There is a problem with posting the cap though. It feels like it fits snugly on the end of the pen, but it shifts left and right. I can't restrain the urge to reflexively snatch at it when I'm using the pen, for fear that it will work itself loose. Once I finally overcame this impulse, the cap worked itself loose, and fell off, almost onto a tile floor.
Converter: converts ink outside the pen inside the pen. Nothing worth noting.
Awful. I could snap the clip off with one thumb pushing it sideways. It doesn’t even sit straight on the pen, but is at an angle, and very slightly rotated ( it came like that, I haven’t actually tested whether I could actually break it off). When I clip the pen onto things, the spring goes “sproingk” like any number of loony toons characters have done in the past.That sound, to me, is like a talking mime- inconsistent with quality.
Threads: They make the clip look good. They won’t do as good a job as holding the pen inside your shirt pocket though. They feel rough, and the pen doesn’t screw into them easily- I feel if I were to tighten the pen into the cap enough to stop it coming undone, I would really damage them. That, and unusually, the pen sits in the cap in two different ways when screwed on. One, the cap sits more angular to the pen, in the second, the barrel and cap line up better. I tighten the caps of my pens as gently as a woman with pelvic floor problems sneezes, so I haven’t forced the threads. It is a design flaw.
I’m not saying threading celluloid is easy, but for 100+ dollars, I wouldn’t expect my 12.50 Noodlers piston filler to have better, sturdier threads. After all, I could have bought 12 of those. And they smell nice.
Nib: Finally, onto the nib. I have avoided the nib for reasons that will soon become clear enough to let the VISCONTI lettering on the converter shine through them.
This is my grading system :
1-the pen has a bit of metal that is nib shaped, but that is where similarities to a writing tool cease
2-the nib is acceptable, but nothing on it’s own, only the rest of the pen justifies using it
3-The nib writes nicely, and contributes to the pen (all my pens are threes, bar one)
4-The nib triumphs over the pen, I don’t give a rats about the pen, but I have carnal thoughts about the nib.
5- doesn’t exist. Nothing is perfect (shouldn't the rating system only be out of four? Well, I'm optimistic
This nib get a 1/5. It is the worst nib I have ever used on a pen. It writes like a nail. EXACTLY like a nail. It scrapes the paper, and lays ink poorly. I need to resort to twisting the converter and flooding the feed every page and a half of writing. Even on good paper Clairefontain, and Rhodia, it scratches like a starving dog at my front door. Maybe I shouldn’t use the nib on my front door.
I have jumped through hoops for this nib. But it wasn’t impressed. So I had to resort to pulling out the nib and feed, cleaning the pen numerous times,using all sorts of inks, realigning the nib all kinds of ways (some not even strictly legal) but still it feels more like it belongs in a toolbox than in my pen drawer.
I’m going to send the bastardised mongrel to watch_art one day and see if he can work some magic. I got it off ebay, and not a pen seller at that (it was a once off product with the seller) so I can't send it back for another nib. But for a mint pen, it should perform better than what I have observed
I’m not going to buy a gold nib either. I don’t mind steel, , but to get a pen at a good price only to flog yourself silly with paying for a better nib doesn’t sit right with me. It doesn’t sit on the left either.
Shape is alright
The functional parts of the pen (mine anyway)
I don't dislike the pen (too much) but for what it's worth, a pen like this shouldn't have issues with simple things like threads and clips.The price comes back to me, tarnished with little factors that make the pen looks cheaper and tackier, and that is what gets to me. You wouldn't buy a car and expect to have to put up with doors that open but risk snapping off, and a windshield that rattles. All Visconti need to do is reevaluate their designs. And a customer care service that is as decent as TWSBI's.
On a side note (and indeed almost deserving of a new thread, a local pen store was broken in to the other day, and a big display of VVG's was stolen. Wonder if I could get in touch with the gentlemen who manufactured the liberation of such instruments?
Edited by bjcmatthews, 18 March 2011 - 09:56.