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Quick Review Of Visconti Hs 18K Gold Nib

visconti homo sapiens lava bronze 18k bock nib

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10 replies to this topic

#1 TheDutchGuy


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Posted 17 May 2020 - 11:35

Visconti Homo Sapiens Lava Bronze with 18k gold nib


  Many excellent reviews of the Visconti HS Lava series can be found here on FPN so there’s not much point in doing that again. Since I purchased a brand-new HS last week, I will limit this brief review mostly to the 18k gold nib that succeeded the 23k Pd nibs, on fit and finish and on writing characteristics.



^—The HS Midi and its new companion



  When the Lava series originally came on the market there were some reports about poor quality control, such as loose cap bands. A few years ago I bought a HS Midi and found the quality of that pen to be excellent. The same is true for my new full-size pen. Every aspect of fit and finish appears to be absolutely perfect. The pen inspires total confidence. Unscrewing the blind cap and using the plunger feels like military-grade quality. We’ll see how well the pen holds up over longer periods of intensive use, but so far I would put the quality of this pen on par with other top-quality pens in this price range - and perhaps even better. When I bought it at Appelboom, I did a direct comparison with a MB 149 F, an Aurora 88 F and a Scribo Feel F and spent some time with each of these top-tier pens. All three of these have excellent nibs and are of very high quality, but the Aurora feels vulnerable in the hand (I was worried about breaking it from the moment I picked it up) and the Scribo’s material felt cheap to my hand (even though it is a truly top-notch pen). The 149 exudes quality but is too large for me. To the best of my judgement, the Visconti stood head and shoulders above these pens in terms of fit, finish and how the material feels in the hand.



^—The pen in all its glory.



  Visconti switched from their in-house 23k Pd nibs to 18k gold nibs insourced from Bock. Ever since I bought my HS Midi with 23k Pd nib, I have been deeply impressed by it. When I heard about the switch to Bock nibs, my initial response wasn’t enthousiastic. So I tested the full-size HS very thoroughly before committing to it.



^—The nib


  Normally I would have picked the EF, but since I’m currently dealing with some issues which make writing difficult I chose the F. So, how good is it...? I find it to be an utterly brilliant nib. It eclipsed the nibs on MB 149 F and the Aurora 88 F that I A/B’d it with. The Scribo Feel F also had a very, very, very impressive nib, comparable in quality and refinement to the HS. Of course I also compared it to the 23k Pd ‘Dreamtouch’ F nib on my HS Midi. Both nibs have a pencil-like feel, which is much more pronounced on the 23k Pd nib. The 18k is smoother, more refined (dare I say exquisite?) and a little bit softer. Both nibs offer wonderful tactile response and hand control, which is very important to me. The 23k Pd F writes a significantly wider line than the 18k F, the former edging towards Western M and the latter edging towards Western EF (depending on ink choice, but more on that later). I’m delighted to find a Western F that truly is an F! To summarize, this is a very impressive nib and an utter joy to write with.



^—A word about nib exchange. I’m not sure if the nib collar can be unscrewed from the section without the use of a special tool. In this photo, you can see two notches that seem to be intended for such a tool.



  Early HS pens tended to be absolute firehoses and frequently needed to be tamed. Thankfully, that’s not the case with my HS Midi nor with this brandnew full-size HS. Wetness can be generous with some ink, but read on... it can also be dry!

  I noticed that the wetness of this pen is independent of feed saturation. Visible ink between the fins doesn’t make the pen write any wetter. In other words, ink flow is regulated solely by the pressure between both tips of the tines. Contrary to most of my other modern pens, there usually is some visible ink between the fins, i.e. the feed is at least partially saturated most of the time.

  In terms of wetness on the page, this pen is all over the place depending on ink choice. It was quite wet with Edelstein Moonstone and Pelikan 4001 Turquoise yet remarkably dry with Montblanc Royal Blue. The difference in wetness between these last two inks was really striking - it’s not subtle!

  It’s interesting to combine these two observations. With every ink, the feed is at least partially saturated most of the time, so the nib always receives plenty of ink from the barrel. Therefore it is the nib itself which is sensitive to different inks, going from quite wet (P4001 Turquoise) to quite dry (MB Royal Blue).

  Whether or not this is an advantage or a disadvantage is up to you. Personally, I like it because it allows me to ‘tune’ the pen by changing inks.



^—Comparison between the HS F, the HS Midi F and a Lamy Dialog 3 F. Inks: MB Royal Blue, Edelstein Moonstone, Sailor Jentle Blue.



  If you like the design of the HS but you’re worried about QC issues and/or the 23k Pd nibs, then give this pen a try. Both on my HS Midi and the new full-size HS, the quality of the pens is excellent. And the new 18k nib is fantastic. The combination of a unique material, a striking design, top quality fit and finish and a truly wonderful nib make it worth the price of admission.

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#2 Kasyll


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Posted 17 May 2020 - 16:34

What about the size and heft of the midi vs oversize in your hands? You mentioned the first time around you went with the midsize because it melds with your hands better.

#3 Honeybadgers


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Posted 17 May 2020 - 17:13

the Pd nibs were also made by bock, fyi.


Great review though! It sounds like visconti is finally demanding bock send them some nibs with QC, or have hired a person to actually tune them by hand.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

#4 TheDutchGuy


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Posted 17 May 2020 - 17:42

What about the size and heft of the midi vs oversize in your hands? You mentioned the first time around you went with the midsize because it melds with your hands better.


That’s true. And I still cherish the Midi! There’s no way I would have bought another HS if my first one (the Midi) wasn’t such a great pen. How a pen fits and feels in my hand is my #1 selection criterium, especially now that I’m having some issues, so I spent quite a bit of time with the full-size HS before committing to it. Uncapped, the Midi is 1 cm shorter than the full-sized pen and a tiny bit narrower. These days, a year or two down the line, both pens fit my hand really well and allow me to write in a relaxed manner (which is very difficult for me at the moment). On some days, I slightly prefer the full-sized model, on other days, the Midi.



the Pd nibs were also made by bock, fyi.


I wasn’t aware of that, thank you!

#5 TheDutchGuy


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Posted 05 June 2020 - 14:46

Two-week update. No concerns to report, just joy and gladness.


Both the Midi and the new Bronze have been in constant use over the last two weeks and I’ve hardly touched any other pen. I keep going back and forth between the Midi and the Bronze and I keep wondering which one I like best. So far, the answer is ‘neither.’ The Midi is only 1 cm shorter and marginally more narrow, but in the hand it makes quite a big difference.


The 23k Pd Dreamtouch F in the Midi and the 18k gold F in the Bronze are both truly wonderful and very, very different. Again, I can’t decide which one I like best. The 23k has much larger tipping, is considerably more wet and therefore writes a wider line. The 18k puts down a very crisp, rather thin line (depending on ink). Both nibs are soft, but the 23k is noticably softer. Both have a silky, pencilly feedback and the 23k has more of that.


I really appreciate the substantial differences between both pens. For those who like their full-size HS but haven’t yet tried a Midi: if you find one, do give it a try. 

#6 TheDutchGuy


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Posted 05 July 2020 - 07:40

6-week update.

  • A video review of an 18k gold-nibbed HS shows Figboot getting line variation out of it (around the 13:30 mark). Personally, I feel no desire to put my 18k nib through this, although I’m confident the nib can handle it. I slightly prefer the 23k Pd of my Midi, with emphasis on ‘slightly’, but the 18k is one helluva nice nib.
  • Of all my modern fountain pens, this is the one that most often runs out of ink. I usually refill my pens every week or so, so I rarely run dry. The HS doesn’t last that long. That’s kind of curious. My Midi has a smaller ink reserve, is just as wet as the full-size one, is being used just as much, yet never runs out of ink. Clearly, a single stroke of the plunger doesn’t fill up the pen in its entirety.
  • I’m at a point where this pen, the Midi and the Fine Writing Bronze Age (with a super-soft 14k EF from fpnibs.com) carry almost all of my writing duties. One part of the reason is that these pens are top-notch writing instruments, are striking from an aesthetic point of view and are close to indestructible. The other part of the reason is that these three pens are shaped and sized in such a way that they allow me to write reasonably well, despite my hand issues.

#7 pensmarht


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Posted 03 September 2020 - 22:53

So the long and short of it is to buy another HS. As if I needed a reason biggrin.png. Appreciate the review though. I was curious to see how the new 18k nibs performed.

#8 KaB



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Posted 04 September 2020 - 07:35

Thanks for this 18k review!

fpn_kab_tsuki_yo_most_boring_212x150.gif  Current rotation: home: Lamy Al-star 1.5, GvFC Moss Green; Lamy Vista 1.1, Diamine Oxblood; Sheaffer Touchdown 0.6, Sailor Kin-Mokusei

Case: Visconti HS EF, Sailor Kin-Mokusei; Estie 2314M, R&K Alt-Goldgrün; Lamy Studio 1.1, Diamine Ochre 

#9 Polanova



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Posted 10 September 2020 - 19:11

My potentially last or final pen was a HS Bronze Midi (Palladium F) early this year. It was on my list for a long time until I decided on the Midi version rather than the Oversize. Don`t like the latter`s filling system & the Midi is still a big pen for medium hands.

A forum member did lend it to me for months before I finally bought it from him! 

Since then I`ve used it almost exclusively for journaling & it became in many ways my favourite pen. Not only is it one of the prettiest pen produced in the last six or so decades but it`s perhaps my sturdiest pen as well. I don`t need to baby it; it once got flung through the room, crashing on a hard floor, a landing which would seriously damage most pens. Not so with the HS - not a scratch!

I guess there are very few higher end pens about which you could say the same.

#10 sansenri



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Posted 10 September 2020 - 21:33

Thank you TheDutchGuy, I have pleasant experiences with my Visconti Pd nibs, but the experience with the previous 14k nibs on some Opera or Ragtime is even better, and the same goes for the 18k nibs on my Voyagers.

I'm really glad to hear the 18k nibs available now on the HS are high standard, which gives comfort to the eventuality of buying more Viscontis...

#11 CS58


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Posted 21 September 2020 - 04:55

Thank you TheDutchGuy...

Really interesting information on this fundamental change to gold for a HS edition.


I found my early Visconti HS Maxi 2011 nib-unit removal a relatively 'easy' task, without that special Visconti tool--though I admit to significant apprehension, but all was OK in the end.


To do it (I did this to try to make my pen write less WET): I flushed the pen clean with distilled water (demineralised water) and ensured the nib, feed and section area were carefully soaked in that for several hours. I removed the pen, blotted the nib & feed dry with pure tissue paper. Then I grasped a clean, fresh sheet of thin rubber film, gently wrapped it around the nib and feed and applied anti-clockwise turn rotation. Voila, nib unit out.


My early HS has a thin, fragile plastic ink guide protruding from the rear of the unit so be careful of severing that (if present). I then used the rubber sheet to cautiously 'wiggle' the nib out of the unit. I was always gentle because I didn't want to risk damaging the nib plating or maybe 'ruining' such an expensive pen along with that brilliant Dreamtouch smooth feel, via mis-alignment, etc.


Don't attempt this procedure, until practiced with nib/ feed positioning, tine alignment and nib-tweaking, so you can deal with any potential problems that may arise on re-assembly...


Oh! When re-assembling I apply a sparingly thin layer of pure, laboratory grade, silicone grease to the nib-unit's threads and a minute amount to the rubber O-ring at the end of the nib unit. 


Thank you and all the best with your great pens :-)

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