Pen Pit Stop : Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night
Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way - no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let's find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.
The fountain pen that arrives at the pit stop today is the "Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night". Visconti is an Italian company, that was founded in 1988 in Florence by Dante Del Vecchio and Luigi Poli, collectors of fountain pens for many years. Their products represented the rediscovery and relaunch of celluloid as the material for fountain pens (from Wikipedia).
I bought this pen in August 2014, in the early days of my fountain pen hobby. This was my first "expensive" pen, that exceeded the 100 EUR barrier. But I liked the looks of it, and took the jump. The pen has been in use for several years now. Let's have a closer look at it.
Pen Look & Feel
The pen uses a beautiful "swirly" material, that takes its colour palette from the Vincent Van Gogh painting "Starry Night" (1889, oil on canvas). This work depicts the view outside Van Gogh's room window at the village of Saint-Remy de Provence, France. The name of the painting and artist are engraved around the pen's cap band. The pen body utilizes Visconti's unique eighteen-faceted design. It also features the famous Visconti clip, which represents the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
The pen cap uses a magnetic click-on system, that attaches securely to the pen body. I've read about potential problems with the magnets detaching. But no worries, my magnetic cap is still in pristine condition. Fountain pens like this one are meant to be treated gently, in which case they will last for years. Uncapping the pen reveals a metal grip section. This is one aspect of the pen that I'm not fond of. I would have preferred a grip section in the same swirly material as the rest of the body.
My original pen came with a fine nib... that didn't work: scratchy, ink just stopped flowing. A really, really bad nib. Could have been just bad luck, but I had the same problem with a Visconti Rembrandt, also with an F-nib. I replaced the nib with a broader M-nib, that is barely tolerable. Still on the scratchy side, but at least the ink flow is ok. Quality control on the steel Visconti nibs seems sub-par, at least in my personal experience (50% failure rate, and the other 50% is only just so-so).
The pictures above illustrate the size of my Starry Night pen in comparison with a standard Lamy AL-star. Capped and uncapped, both pens are roughly equal in size. Posted, the Visconti is definitely smaller than the Lamy pen - the Van Gogh posts deeply. The pen is certainly big enough to be handled unposted, which is how I personally use it.
- Build Quality : the pen is well-built, and shows little wear after several years of (admittedly intermittent) use. A pity about the metal grip section, which looks a bit cheap. This should have been made from the same "swirly" material as the rest of the pen body.
- Weight & Dimensions : the pen uses metal parts in its construction, which give it extra weight. The weight is concentrated in the cap and grip section. The pen feels rather heavy, especially when you are used to light-weight pens like the Lamy Safari/AL-star or Pelikan M200/M400. Being about as big as a Lamy Safari, this is a good-sized pen that fits comfortably in any hand.
- Filling System : this is a cartridge convertor pen, that uses standard international cartridges. The pen body unscrews from the grip section - the threading parts are from metal, so there is little risk for wear & tear.
- Nib & Performance : the nib looks beautiful with its fine scrollwork and crescent-moon shaped breathing hole. But as I stated above, the nibs on my pen are not great writers. The initial F-nib didn't work, and the replacement M-nib is only so-so. A plus is that you can buy individual steel nibs as a replacement in sizes F-M-B at a reasonable price (about 20 EUR). I must admit that I was really disappointed about the bad nib performance - fountain pens are first-and-foremost writing instruments, and as such should write well, out-of-the-box.
- Price : about 195 EUR, including taxes. That's on the expensive side for a steel-nib, cartridge convertor pen.
The Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night is a great-looking pen with a beautiful "swirly" finish. But it is marred by a not-so-nice-looking metal grip section, and - in my case - sub-par nibs. The pen aged well, and still looks good as new today.
The big question is: would I buy this pen again? To this, my answer is: NO. In hindsight, the metal grip section is not my thing. And I was really disappointed by the lack of quality control for the nib - it really sucks when you get a shiny new pen, admire its lines, then ink it up, put the nib on the paper and then... it refuses to write. Bummer!
Edited by namrehsnoom, 10 January 2019 - 21:12.