I have really been impressed with the older Tibaldi pens, especially since they went from a semi affordable pen to pocket jewelry that will set you back a few thousand dollars. The celluloid on the Tibaldi pens is very impressive and that has been the most appealing thing for me, as far as I'm concerned!!! The Impero that I am reviewing did not come with the glass case or the extravagant packaging to include the paperwork. What I bought is strictly the pen only, and for me, that's perfect because 99% of all the boxes and packaging material that I get with my pens end up in either my closet or in a box that I store in the garage. The Tibaldi pens that I want are the Modello 60 (the different colors), the Impero and the Iride. So far I have the Modello 60 in the Ivory/Blue celluloid and the Impero in the Silver/Black and blue colors.
When I bought my Modello 60 at the 2006 LA Pen Show, the person selling the Tibaldi pens had all of the models at a very impressive price and if I had the money, I would have bought all the models. The unfortunate thing is that When Tibaldi went out of business, I believe in the Late 1990's to early 2000's, most of the pens that flooded the market had limited nib widths in the XF. For me, that is way too fine and also this particular seller bought all the remaining Tibaldi pens and they had no packaging and the selection of nibs were extremely slim. Regardless, the prices were very nice and it allowed the average fountain pen collector/user to get their hands on these pens at a price that was 50 %to 60% less than what other sellers were selling them at. The flooding of these pens from this particular dealer drastically lowered the going price of the Tibaldi pens in general!!
I have been looking for a Tibaldi Impero at a good price with a nib width that allows me to either get it stubbed or broad enough to use on a daily basis. For me, XF will just not cut it!!! This particular pen I bought off of the Pentrace Green Board and the previous owner was Howard Levy, the owner of Bexley Pens. I am pretty sure of this but I cannot prove it. Supposedly, the pen was sold to Pooh Corner Pens and in turn sold to me. This is not a stock pen and it was customized, this is something that I will get further into as the review progresses.
Appearance/ Finish 5 out of 5
The Impero is made out of Celluloid Nitrate, the classic celluloid of the days of past. You can tell by the camphor smell, especially inside of the cap. This is my favorite kind of celluloid; you just cannot beat the colors and designs of Celluloid Nitrate. Just make sure you don't have this pen close to open flame, you can cause a serious fire let alone destroy your pen. The color of this pen is what is generally called silver. Well, it is so much more than just silver IMHO. It is silver, grey, pearl, black and bits of blue, it is very impressive looking AFAIC. This is the same material as what was used on the Limited Edition Bexley 2006 Owners Club fountain pens. I am under the understanding that the Tibaldi Impero is a Limited Edition pen and made in smaller numbers than the Modello 60. There is a serial number on the section, I212. I just don't know what the total production numbers are on this pen, maybe someone can enlighten me on that, I would appreciate it!!!
The pen is a high gloss finish that is extremely classy looking. The look of the celluloid is kind of a cracked ice design but instead of a standard looking cracked ice you would expect on most acrylic resin pens, this is multi-colored and looks like it has a lot of depth to it. It is extremely unique and you have to see it in person to really appreciate the material. Celluloid is really a fascinating material that cannot be replicated by acrylic. Yes, you can come close and have some gorgeous looking materials and designs with acrylic resin but you just cannot beat the look, feel and smell of Celluloid Nitrate IMHO.
Design/Size/Weight 5 out of 5
This pen measures in roughly at over 5 ½ inches in length capped while with the cap posted, it is roughly 6 ¾ inches in length. I don't have the diameter but it is thicker than the old full sized OMAS Paragon. I would have to say that this pen is in the large category!! It is not as small as a standard sized and not as large as an oversize pen. This pen looks extremely similar to the 2006 Limited Edition Bexley Owners Club and it looks impressive right next to each other IMO. As for the weight, I don't have an exact weight at all but I can compare it to a Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 and the Impero is a bit lighter than the 149. Celluloid is generally a pretty light weight material and the Impero is really no different. One of the really cool standout features of the Impero is that it is faceted, like an OMAS Paragon. If my calculations are correct, this is a 10 sided pen that fits very comfortably in the hands. The Impero has a threaded cap so removing the cap is a breeze. All it takes is one complete turn and the cap is either removed or tightened. So removing the cap or tightening it is easily done with one hand, if you choose to do that.
The cap is also faceted and when it is tightened down to attach the cap to the section, the facets are aligned perfectly. That makes the pen look symmetrical and perfect; nothing is out of place at all!!! The clip on the cap is spring loaded, this makes clipping on or removal from a shirt pocket a breeze. The tension is perfect and does not take much effort to clip or remove the pen from a shirt pocket. The trim on this pen is silver/Rhodium and that matches the silver celluloid. There are 3 very thin cap bands and NO TRIM RINGS on this pen. I was very happy to see that there are no trim rings on this pen. IMHO, trim rings are really asking for trouble!!! IMHO, trim rings look nice but they are susceptible to corrosion due to ink and what not. This is a very nice looking pen and engineered with the user in mind!!
Nib Design and Performance 5 out of 5
This pen is extremely unique because the nib is NOT a Tibaldi nib. The nib which is supposed to be on the Impero is an 18kt gold rhodium plated. It was removed and in its place, there is a Bexley 2 tone Stub nib installed. This was one of the main reasons why I bought this pen in the first place!! The Bexley Stub nibs are among my favorite nibs made today. Bexley nibs are made by the Bock Nib Works of Germany; they seem to make nibs for about 70% of all the gold nibs on the market today. The line width of the Bexley Stub is right around or comparable to 1.3mm. They are identical to the width and feel of the Stipula 1.3mm italic nibs. This is a nice juicy nib that performs flawlessly, no problems at all with this nib, that's for sure!!! I am 100% sure that the feed is a Bexley feed; it holds and feeds plenty of ink to this pen. The feed is made out of plastic, which I don't think is the ideal feed material but these days, you have really very little choice since most feeds today are made out of plastic, not the superior ebonite feeds.
Instead of the standard Bexley nib/feed unit that screws into the section, this is friction fit. That is very unusual for Bexley nibs to be this way, but then again, the pen is a Tibaldi, not a Bexley. So to make the nib swap work, then pulled the nib and feed from the ring that screws into the section and then friction fit the nib and feed into the section. It seems to fit very snug and the flow is quite generous IMHO. This is a perfect combination of a killer Italian fountain pen design with a German Bock Nib to top it off. Since Bexley Stub Nibs are among my favorite, it makes this pen that much sweeter!!!
The Filling System 5 out of 5
This pen uses a piston filler which is among my favorite filling systems. The piston holds a lot more ink than the Tibaldi Modello 60 and as far as I am concerned, this is a true piston and not a glorified piston converter that is on the Tibaldi Modello 60. Not much more to say about this other than I am extremely happy that they used a filling system that rates as among my favorite and for that, it will get the highest marks!!
Cost 4 out of 5
Since these pens are no longer made and have not been made for over 10 years, they are getting harder and harder to find. This one was not cheap at all; in fact it was in the high $300.00 range. I think some of the cost is due to the replacement nib but the pen is in next to perfect condition, I cannot complain. At the 2006 Los Angeles Pen Show, a brand new Impero was around $350.00 to $375.00 price range. So it seems that the price I paid was somewhat close to what the pen is actually going for. Jim Sanders of PoohCorner Pens gave me a pretty good deal and super quick shipping. I have always been extremely happy with Jim Sanders customer service; he is an excellent person to do business with!! The price of this pen is out of reach for some pen enthusiasts and they will pass up on this pen. It is all based on personal tastes and budget, regardless; I couldn't pass up on this pen!! I have been wanting this pen for quite sometime and was willing to pay a reasonable price for an Impero in excellent shape. Thankfully, I jumped on this one and pulled the trigger on the deal!!
This pen has been in constant use and inked with Waterman Florida Blue, Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue or Private Reserve American Blue. Whatever ink I use, the pen writes flawlessly. The next pen I hope to buy will be a Tibaldi Iride, I have been extremely happy with the quality of these pens. The Celluloid Nitrate material that is used looks extremely classy and I get a lot of compliments. It is a shame that Tibaldi no longer makes practical pens; it seems that when they were bought out and reintroduced to the market, they went straight into the Gaudy high dollar pocket jewelry market. With pens that go for a minimum of $1000.00+, there is NO WAY I will ever buy one. Tibaldi of past did extremely well will the celluloid pens before they went bankrupt. There are very few fountain pen companies that produce celluloid nitrate pens on a regular basis and Tibaldi was one of the last companies that made them on a consistent basis. Now, that is no more and since they initially went out of business before being bought out, the fantastic looking celluloid is slowly being harder to find. What a shame!!! Oh well, this is a great pen and if you want an excellent pen that is created out of celluloid nitrate, look no further. The prices are not totally outrageous either, especially compared with other manufacturers that put out limited edition celluloid pens at a premium price. I highly recommend this pen!!!
Edited by The Noble Savage, 14 August 2007 - 16:09.