Shortly after I read a review of the Montegrappa Desiderio here: http://www.fountainp...view/?p=3916037
I acquired one myself, in the brown/red color:
I thought it would be interesting to compare it to an original-generation Montegrappa Espressione, to which I feel it bears some resemblance.
Note that there was a later edition of the Espressione that looks somewhat different from the original, and substitutes the 18kt gold nib of the original for a steel nib (at a reduced price), but here I'm only comparing the Desiderio to the original Espressione.
Montegrappa has always had pens with resin and celluloid barrels, and for each material, pens with faceted versus circular cross-sections. To me, the (original) Espressione was meant to be the resin-bodied counterpart of the celluloid-bodied Miya. Both pens have cylindrical non-faceted caps and barrels, but otherwise both have 18kt nibs (though the Miya's is two-tone) with ebonite feeds and sterling-silver sections and trims. The Espressione's section bears the sterling silver hallmark but appears to have been further plated with rhodium in order to keep it from tarnishing, whereas the Miya's section has the characteristic matte sterling silver appearance and requires regular use of the polishing cloth that Montegrappa helpfully included in the box.
But enough about the Miya. Let's get back to the Espressione (and the Desiderio, of course). With the Espressione no longer made, I guess Montegrappa figured on filling the present opening for a resin-barreled, circular cross-section pen with 18kt nib with the new Desiderio, but built it to a price point (not the original absurd list price but the later much more reasonable one). This entailed the following compromises:
- 18kt nib on the Desiderio all right, but the tiny #4 size (top) instead of the #6 size 18kt nib on the Espressione (bottom)
- Plastic feed on the Desiderio, ebonite feed on the Espressione
- Resin section on the Desiderio, sterling silver section on the Espressione
- Little rolling ball on the sterling silver Desiderio clip is made of the resin barrel material (looks cute, though), whereas it is also sterling silver (like the rest of the clip) on the Espressione
- Espressione barrel has sterling-silver threads on bottom to post cap securely, Desiderio barrel has no threads at all. This makes the Desiderio shorter than the Espressione when posted (top), though when capped both are almost exactly the same length (bottom)
- Unkindest cut of all, in my opinion: the lovely raised "1912" (the year the company was founded) on the top of the Espressione cap (bottom), and a feature on lots of Montegrappa pens including steel-nibbed ones like the Parola, has been dropped in favor of a new abstract design on the top of the Desiderio cap (top) that means nothing and looks cheap.
On the other hand, the Desiderio nib, incongruously small though it is compared to the general dimensions of the pen, wrote smoothly and wet right out of the box. This is (unfortunately) a big deal, because both my Espressione and Miya nibs refused to write when they first came to me, and they both needed work by a nibmeister before they would write (they both write splendidly now).
If you can find an original Espressione in good condition today, you should expect to pay no more for it than for the Desiderio on clearance, but the Espressione is definitely the better-made pen. On the other hand, the Miya (which is the celluloid-bodied counterpart to the original Espressione) seems to have a true heir: the celluloid-bodied Passione, which was also initially priced just as absurdly as the Desiderio (but even more expensive), then re-priced at a slightly less ludicrous level.
Edited by ParkerBeta, 15 November 2017 - 17:18.