Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies






Photo

Hi-End Pens Are A Lot Of Trouble


  • Please log in to reply
108 replies to this topic

#1 Precise

Precise

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 560 posts
  • Location:Silicon Valley California
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 06:03

My high-end pens account for the majority of my pen problems.  Conversely, my more "ordinary" pens, in the $100 to $200 range, write smoothest and most reliably. 

 

I've had three Visconti Power Filler pens, all priced over $500, which didn't fill according to Visconti instructions.  One was replaced three times and still didn't fill properly.

 

My Conid bulkfiller went back to Europe with a leaky crack in the section.  And since it came back it has never swallowed the claimed amount of ink.  And the so called "easy" fill procedure is anything but easy.

 

I've cleaned all of the above and put them away, probably never to write again.  I can't sell them because they don't work right.

 

Several of my beloved Omas piston fillers have leaked around the piston rod, including one brand-new (before Omas closed).  

 

And of course, low-end, cartridge-converter pens are usually fixed with a new $8 converter.  I also like the visual check on ink level.

 

In addition to the filling issues, many of my gold, high-end nibs arrived (brand new) with defects in the nib settings, such as misalignment, excess gaps, etc.  But my steel Bexley and Delta nibs have been perfect as delivered. 

 

I also find steel nibs write smoother on the upstroke than gold.  That's the opposite of what most people think, but there's a scientific reason for that.  Here it is:

 

When you stroke upwards and the nib encounters a bit of roughness in the paper, it bends downwards.  That causes it to dig in harder.  The more flexible the nib, the greater this tendency.  Thus gold strokes rougher than steel.   We're talking about ordinary nibs here, not vintage flexers.

 

Cheers,

 

Alan


Edited by Precise, 06 November 2017 - 06:07.


Sponsored Content

#2 calvin_0

calvin_0

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 165 posts

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:18

wow, that kinda sucks...



#3 Mew

Mew

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,030 posts
  • Location:Kyoto/Tokyo, Japan

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:28

Visconti teaches you that there is no difference between higher end and medium range pens in terms of quality, sometimes medium range delivering better pens than their higher end counterparts.
Many thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to receive a dud nib on $500 pen which can be fixed by sending to a nibmeister. Not acceptable to me. If a pen comes to me in that condition, it will be returned.

If I may, I would recommend trying a Japanese pen. Say, Pilot Custom 823 or 845. Nib would be perfect and filling system in 823 is same as Visconti power filler, without any of the issues given by Visconti.

I can't say anything about Conid. I have one which I bought 2 months ago and have been used for 3 fills only. Nib is #8 titanium and is smooth and wet. Only issue with it is that the orange ebonite section absorbs ink, but all ebonites do that so can't really blame them.

#4 Venemo

Venemo

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 548 posts
  • Location:Budapest, Hungary
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:28

I would think that for such a price they must surely write better than that, maybe you just had (very) bad luck with them. If I spent that amount on a pen, I wouldn't stop bugging the manufacturer (or the seller) until they either fix it, replace it or offer a refund. I'm especially surprised about your experience with Conid because so far on this forum I haven't heard anything bad about them. Maybe this really is just an honest mistake on their part.



#5 Precise

Precise

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 560 posts
  • Location:Silicon Valley California
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:37

Perhaps my original post was taken as more manufacturer-specific than I intended.  I gave some specific examples, but my thought is that in general more sophisticated pens are also more trouble.  That's probably true when comparing products in general, such as a Ferrari is likely more trouble than a Ford.

 

Alan



#6 SoulSamurai

SoulSamurai

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 625 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 08:00

$100+ is ordinary? The most I've spent on a pen for myself was just about $100, and I consider that my upper price limit (which I don't even want to get close to too often). I think of $20-$50 to be "mid-range". Maybe this is the wrong hobby for a man of my income...

 

All joking aside, one of my best pens is a $10 Sheaffer VFM. If I paid over $100 dollars for a brand new big-name pen, only to find that it didn't work well, I would be furious. Perhaps that's part of the issue though? When a $2 pen doesn't work, we chuck it without comment (and probably forget about it a day later), but when a $200 pen doesn't work, we complain vigorously on forums (and bear the scars of disappointment with us till our dying days), thus making expensive pens seem less reliable than they actually are? I dunno, just a theory, like I said I don't have experience with that section of the market.

 

Also, you make a very interesting point about stiff nibs being smoother on the upstroke. I never thought about it that way before. I imagine the angle you hold the pen at has a significant effect on how pronounced the issue is?



#7 Bo Bo Olson

Bo Bo Olson

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,441 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 06 November 2017 - 08:40

One's borders of what is a lot of money changes...for us ordinary folks over time.

When I was in the Pen of the Week in the Mail Club.....$20-30 was high; under 20 was looked for..

In Pen of the Month, 50-70.....and that E70 was once or twice a year.

 

 Out side of one new pen on sale for 1/3 off, E450 for a MB Woolf, my wife bought me for my birthday.....how odd; I couldn't afford a pen, a bottle of ink or a bit of good paper for some 9 months. :rolleyes:.......I guess I missed that 'our' money small print on the contract.

 

I sometimes pay out E150 for live auction pens every 3-4-6 months, and have put out that much on a good buy on German Ebay.............A Pelikan tortoise 500, with a OBBB maxi-semi-flex nib; 30 degree grind....rolled gold cap and piston cap....sigh cubed, and I have nothing at all to sign. :(

I still think E100 as money....and try to stay near that. And it takes luck. I got a '54 transition tortoise 400 for E105.

 

I don't buy new pens, the nibs are substandard compared to vintage German semi-flex of the '50-65 era....in fact modern fat and blobby stiffer nibs at least European are now substandard  for semi-vintage regular flex....'70's-97.

 

A good used vintage or semi-vintage top of the line pen can be had for 1/3-1/2 of the cost of a new middle class pen.

I find if one don't buy....'Buy now idiot', one can get a good pen on German Ebay for 1/3 to 1/2 cheaper than US Ebay. I'd not dream of selling in Germany for a fair price when I can get so much more on the inflated US market.

 

Some German Pirates, will sell a polished Geha School pen for only $89.00 in the States. I can get them still...unpolished for E12-19 on German Ebay.....one should have a tube of Semi-Chrome for finger polishing....if one buys old pens. I don't go OCD with it to make it look brand new, but am lazy so well maintained is good enough for me. A tube can last years.

I have no reason to sell either of my two (one is the normal regular flex....the other has an unexpected semi-flex nib) Geha school pens...they do match the regular flex vintage Pelikan 120 school pen.

 

I do find regular flex pens to be good for shading inks, they are dryer than semi-flex which can swallow shading. The match of paper and ink has to be closer.

They still have a nice springy nib, for a comfortable ride, and being older have a nice clean line. ...............on the whole vintage and semi-vintage are not butter smooth, nor do they have baby bottom from over polishing.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 06 November 2017 - 08:54.

Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also, can still buy prints of his famous Scottish drawings in Scotland.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

Pens/inks/paper on hold for a year....new addiction pocket watch chains. :happyberet:


#8 praxim

praxim

    On twig

  • FPN Supporter - Rhodium

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,354 posts
  • Location:Not upon the peneplain
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 08:50

I've cleaned all of the above and put them away, probably never to write again.  I can't sell them because they don't work right.

 

If you can not sell them, feel free to give them to me; I will pay shipping :). I guess I am biassed in favour of the pens because over 30 post-1990 pens (13 brand new) costing over your threshhold amount have caused me zero problems. Coincidentally, I have bought no Visconti.

 


I also find steel nibs write smoother on the upstroke than gold.  That's the opposite of what most people think, but there's a scientific reason for that.  Here it is:

 

When you stroke upwards and the nib encounters a bit of roughness in the paper, it bends downwards.  That causes it to dig in harder.  The more flexible the nib, the greater this tendency.  Thus gold strokes rougher than steel.   We're talking about ordinary nibs here, not vintage flexers.

I could observe merely that I have not encountered this problem on any pen let alone as a difference between steel and gold nibs but, really? What do you use for "paper"?


Anyone owning three or more working pens is in no position to disparage choices by others.

#9 Chrissy

Chrissy

    Ancient Artifact

  • Away
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,301 posts

Posted 06 November 2017 - 09:09

 

 

If you can not sell them, feel free to give them to me; I will pay shipping :). I guess I am biassed in favour of the pens because over 30 post-1990 pens (13 brand new) costing over your threshhold amount have caused me zero problems. Coincidentally, I have bought no Visconti.

 


I could observe merely that I have not encountered this problem on any pen let alone as a difference between steel and gold nibs but, really? What do you use for "paper"?

 

 

:D

 

I haven't encountered these problems on any of my 'high end' pens either, but I've never owned a Visconti or a Conid.

 

I love my gold nibs.  :wub:



#10 fountainbel

fountainbel

    fountainbel

  • Premium - Emerald

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,678 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 09:25

My high-end pens account for the majority of my pen problems.  Conversely, my more "ordinary" pens, in the $100 to $200 range, write smoothest and most reliably. 

 

My Conid bulkfiller went back to Europe with a leaky crack in the section.  And since it came back it has never swallowed the claimed amount of ink.  And the so called "easy" fill procedure is anything but easy.

 

I've cleaned all of the above and put them away, probably never to write again.  I can't sell them because they don't work right.

 

Cheers,

 

Alan

 

Hi Alan,

Sorry reading on the problems you experience  with you Bulkfiller.

Did you already contact Conid mentioning the problem? 

If not, please don't hesitate, I'm sure Conid would help you out !

Regards,

Francis



#11 Rose Nibs

Rose Nibs

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 253 posts
  • Location:Melbourne, Australia

Posted 06 November 2017 - 10:55

Many contributors to FPN seem to agree that Visconti pens are beautiful junk. That's not my experience, but maybe I've been lucky. I like my modern pens, I like the vintage pens more. There are caveats that buyers should be aware of. In matters concerning the nib, there is the particular grind, the writer's hand and the paper. If you don't like your nib digging into the paper, get a big fat kugel tip and a glossy coated paper. No more scratchiness and no more variation ever again. Or you can learn how to write gently, feeling the paper with a sharp italic or a flex nib. It's down to you. For me it is no virtue for a nib to be wet or for a pen to have large ink capacity. My Homo Sapiens holds not much ink at all. It looks like it should hold a lot but it doesn't. That's okay, I like to change inks. I don't mean to be dismissive, but it is possible that we sometimes get a different pen from the one we expected and we find fault with it. Of course, that doesn't excuse leaks and misalignments.



#12 jar

jar

    A Vintage Pen has to be older than me.

  • Premium - Ruby

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,413 posts
  • Location:From Deep South Texas
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 13:16

Sorry you are having such issues.  Maybe choosing better companies might help.  So far I haven't had any issues with my ST Duponts, Graf von Faber Castels, Caran d'Ache, Platinum Izumos, Sailor King of Pen, Nakaya, Danitrio, Eboya, Pilot Custom 845 (one came with a nib I found too wet but that was simply my preference not a problem), Ferrari da Varese, Montegrappas, Auroras (except one old DuoCart that had a crack in the feeder case), Sheaffer, high end Waterman or high end Parker fountain pens.

 

Good luck with future pens but enjoyment should always come first.


My Sister's website :  Rose Hill Studios

My Website


#13 cunim

cunim

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 222 posts
  • Location:Niagara
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 15:27

Sorry you are having such issues.  Maybe choosing better companies might help.  So far I haven't had any issues with my ST Duponts, Graf von Faber Castels, Caran d'Ache, Platinum Izumos, Sailor King of Pen, Nakaya, Danitrio, Eboya, Pilot Custom 845 (one came with a nib I found too wet but that was simply my preference not a problem), Ferrari da Varese, Montegrappas, Auroras (except one old DuoCart that had a crack in the feeder case), Sheaffer, high end Waterman or high end Parker fountain pens.

 

Good luck with future pens but enjoyment should always come first.

Interesting.  A lesson in variability.  I have had technical problems with two Danitrio MIkados and I regret that because I love urushi.  Mid-level Japanese pens are great -I have never had a bad one.  However, my Sailor KOP has that tiny converter and dries down pretty quick if unused.  Another regret.  On the other hand, I just don't care about the cheapies.  If a TWSB cracks (mine haven't), so what.  Half my chinese pens and about the same proportion of my Indians are utter rubbish.  What, me worry?  The ones that do work can be really good.  Luck of the draw, though the cards do seem stacked for the house in Italy.  After owning Italian cars and light fixtures - la bella figura is hard to resist - I won't buy anything with moving parts from that country.

 

I don't think any greater proportion of expensive pens are bad.  It is just that we care more when they are.



#14 Bo Bo Olson

Bo Bo Olson

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,441 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 06 November 2017 - 16:13

Visconti...is pretty has an interesting clip. Has very good ink, and a great inkwell I can't afford. Couldn't afford the pens as is. And troubles kept me from thinking too much about saving up for one.

 

I've nothing against Bock nibs, I've some old Semi-flex and regular flex from the '50-60's. The nibs are made to Visconti standards....  If someone wants best level nibs, they can be bought from Bock. Other 'major' pen companies order from Bock and don't have problems enough to make constant headlines here on the com, like Viscont........................even if Delta did go broke again. Delta used Bock nibs and I've not heard bad words about Delta nibs.

 

I do know Visconti is a major trouble pen...where it's beauty just don't over come the problems many have had with them.

I'd best lay hands on some of that ink before Visconti goes broke too.


Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also, can still buy prints of his famous Scottish drawings in Scotland.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

Pens/inks/paper on hold for a year....new addiction pocket watch chains. :happyberet:


#15 OMASsimo

OMASsimo

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 419 posts
  • Location:Ink Blue Planet
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 19:32

How come that some people seem to have always bad luck with high-priced pens and others never? Also, how can a company survive that seems to produce mostly overpriced rubbish? I kind of have the feeling that those who are disappointed about a defective high-end pen tend to vent here while those who are very happy with a properly functioning one keep silent.

 

I don't own a Visconti or Conid but I have a substantial number of OMAS and other high-end Italian pens. Non of them ever leaked at the piston. I also definitely don't share your experience with gold nibs. Your "scientific" explanation would require that you ram the nib into the paper at the upstroke. Well, that's not the way I or most fountain pen users write. And steel nibs feeling smooth are nails. Gold nibs which are nails do have the same characteristics and are certainly not less smooth. You will feel the huge difference between gold and steel once a nib has some flexibility. Such steel nibs have a lot more feedback because they resonate with the oscillations from the slightly rough paper surface. Comparable gold nibs don't and feel much smoother.

 

Just my 2 cents.



#16 TheRealMikeDr

TheRealMikeDr

    The Great Schnauzer King

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,078 posts
  • Location:Northeast Ohio - US

Posted 06 November 2017 - 20:20

I think mass produced products like low end Pilot or Platinum pens will have the best overall QC - simply because they have to have a fairly precise process in place due to the low margin on those items - otherwise it doesn't make financial sense for them to manufacture and sell them. I don't know how many Pilot Metro's are sold a year vs Visconti Homo Sapiens, but I'm guessing the ratio is pretty large.

 

 



#17 rochester21

rochester21

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,345 posts
  • Location:Bucharest, Romania
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2017 - 22:42

People who buy italian fountain pens know what to expect, you shouldn`t complain. 

 

But it is also true that today one can pay 1000 dollars or more on any fountain pen and even then there is no guarantee that there will be no issues with it. 

 

Luxury fountain pens are starting to be more and more like decorative art work and less like tools for everyday writing. It`s almost embarrassing. It shouldn`t be this complicated: a 500 dollar pen should be better than a 50 dollar pen in every respect. Is that true though? NO. Maybe it used to be like that, but not anymore. 

 

In most cases, the 450 dollar price difference is simply profit for the company(you pay for the design), there is nothing in the way the product is being built or the materials used that represent additional costs in the manufacturing process. I guess this is one way of surviving on a ever-shrinking market, but i`m sick of it.  Price should reflect quality period. 


Edited by rochester21, 06 November 2017 - 22:50.


#18 Bo Bo Olson

Bo Bo Olson

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,441 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 06 November 2017 - 23:06

Some times I think folks with 'soft' gold nibs have semi-nails in gold and nails in steel.

 

I've had gold nails just as nailish as a steel nail.....a nail's a nail, and the only difference is the bling price.

 

There are not enough regular flex nibs made any more to worry about them in new pen gold and steel. The 200's nib is a good regular steel nib....as good as my Pelikan 'pre'97 gold semi-vintage nibs.

Is a Regular flex in gold softer than the same companies steel regular flex?....not that I noticed, in my semi-vintage pens.  My Osmia grand steel nibs are only as good as the gold ones....both grand. Same with a steel nibbed Geha I have...the other 4 are gold.

 

 

I don't waste my money much on new pens.....mostly the modern nibs are not worth it...to many nails and semi-nails.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 06 November 2017 - 23:07.

Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also, can still buy prints of his famous Scottish drawings in Scotland.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

Pens/inks/paper on hold for a year....new addiction pocket watch chains. :happyberet:


#19 OMASsimo

OMASsimo

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 419 posts
  • Location:Ink Blue Planet
  • Flag:

Posted 07 November 2017 - 00:01

In most cases, the 450 dollar price difference is simply profit for the company(you pay for the design), there is nothing in the way the product is being built or the materials used that represent additional costs in the manufacturing process. I guess this is one way of surviving on a ever-shrinking market, but i`m sick of it.  Price should reflect quality period. 

 

If that was true, why are companies like OMAS and Delta are going belly up? Could it be that their hand crafted products, requiring tens of hours of skilled workmanship, simply can't be sold with a profit even though they cost $500? Think twice, please. And yes, some companies I won't name do mass produce pens sold for very profitable prices.

 

 

Is a Regular flex in gold softer than the same companies steel regular flex?....not that I noticed, in my semi-vintage pens.  My Osmia grand steel nibs are only as good as the gold ones....both grand. Same with a steel nibbed Geha I have...the other 4 are gold.

 

That's not my experience. Osmia probably made some of the best nibs ever (as did Mabie Todd and Pelikan). Yes, their steel nibs from the 40s are extremely good but their comparable gold nibs of the 30s and even 50s are way superior, at least in my opinion. My Supra 34G with #3 gold nib still puts  every other pen in my collection to shame. By contrast, my steel nibbed Gehas are rather mediocre writers while the gold nibbed one is very decent. All my Gehas have cracks, though that's a different issue. I could go on with other brands I collect but the message is always the same. Steel nibs of top producers are very good but at least to my taste the gold nibs of the same producer always feel nicer.



#20 praxim

praxim

    On twig

  • FPN Supporter - Rhodium

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,354 posts
  • Location:Not upon the peneplain
  • Flag:

Posted 07 November 2017 - 00:02

People who buy italian fountain pens know what to expect, you shouldn`t complain. 

I expect great pens that look good and work well, so no complaints here at all. :thumbup:
Anyone owning three or more working pens is in no position to disparage choices by others.






Sponsored Content




|