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Visconti Van Gogh


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22 replies to this topic

#1 RichardS

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 23:12

After a lot of input from members of this board (thanks all!), I finally took the plunge and picked up a Van Gogh. In the event, it's a starkly black one as opposed to all those unusual and original colours. I had looked at these, but honestly felt they were a bit too rich for my blood - and since the shape is what attracted me most, I thought minimalist black would complement rather than distract. It rather negates the logic for the Van Gogh name, but there we are ...

Next question was the size. The Mini is delightful, but simply too small for my hand. The Midi is OK, but I really wanted a gold nib. So the Maxi it was. (And truth to tell, all my favourite pens are larger ones.)

Finally, ths is a 2nd generation pen, with screw cap rather than the clever 3-cam system on earlier models. I can't help feeling the latter may be more collectable in the long run, but I was concerned about warnings on temperature change and the pen simply pulling apart. So I went for proven, pre-classical technology: the screw!

Externals

Posted Image

The pen has a pure, uncompromising shape to which I find my eye being constantly drawn. Everyone will find their own analogies, but it reminds me of the Japanese bullet train, or perhaps more appropriately, one of those 1920s Italian Futurist posters of streamlined planes and trains.

The resin used is pitch black, glossy and flawless, as you'd expect in a higher mid-price pen. This is perfectly matched by the clip, which looks to me like highly polished alloy and is internally, smoothly sprung and adjustable via a large screw on the reverse. A post-modern touch, perhaps. The band around the base of the cap is broad, also alloy I think, and reminds me a little of a cigar band (appropriate, since you could also say the pen is shaped like ... well, you can see the picture for yourself!)

The pen is quite hefty: 33g (1 1/8 oz) on my kitchen scales. The weight distribution is interesting; the pen is cap-heavy, and when capped, rests on a table with the barrel off the surface. More on this later.

Opening up

Posted Image

5 3/4" capped, the Van Gogh becomes 6 5/8" when posted. It really is a substantial pen, just a little larger than a Parker Duofold Centennial. Filling is by converter or standard International cartridge, which is a little disappointing; imagine how much ink a pen this size could contain with a piston! Also disappointing is that if you put in a second International cartridge as backup, it will rattle around annoyingly.

Pick it up, and you find that the pen is nib-heavy because of the metal section. This will suit some and alienate others. But this is where that heavy cap comes in ... post it, and the balance becomes neutral! Personally, I prefer it like this, but then I almost always post my pen caps - much to the distress of some of the barrels. However, the Van Gogh shows no sign of posting marks after some of this treatment. Yet, at least.

I wondered why the designer should have built in this slightly odd balance to the pen. My guess is that the company had fallen in love with the clip mechanism (who wouldn't?), but found it weighty. This obliged them to use a metal section as a counterbalance. This works fine, but it does mean the pen rests entirely on its cap when closed because the section and clip are then in the same area of the pen.

All this may be entirely wrong, and if anyone knows better, please do speak up. But it does seems to me like real Italian design; beauty comes first, theoretical function second. Which seems to me the absolute best possible way of designing luxury objects (Ferrari anyone?).

Nib and section

Posted Image

Finally, the crowning glory: the nib. Immediate impression is of a beautiful object, large, elaborately engraved, ideally proportioned to the pen. Mine is an F, and the length of tine gives a pleasant springiness, though nothing that could be described as flex. It may be my imagination, but this spring in the nib gives a slight flourish to my writing (which needs all the help it can get). It certainly has a different character to my other F nibs.

The nib is nowhere near as smooth as say a Phileas or a Pelikan, but instead seems to offer a little more control. It has some 'tooth', which does help feedback from the page. I wouldn't recommend a nib like this to a fountain pen first-timer; it's designed for people who are used to FPs, can appreciate the very distinctive feel and don't mind working for their pleasures. In short, it's like a fine single malt whisky rather than a blend.

Conclusion

The Van Gogh is my first Italian pen, and has an entirely different character from any of my British, American and German pens. To my eyes, it's the best looker of the lot, not necessarily the most likeable, but probably the most individual. To say I want to explore Italian pens further is an understatement.

Which is why I've just ordered a Marlen! But more on that later ...

Edited by RichardS, 10 November 2005 - 09:36.


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#2 KCat

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 23:22

very nice! Great images and nice review. the only thing that keeps me away from these pens is the weight. otherwise I love some of the colors. The black is quite appealing even to me.

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#3 Apollo

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 23:40

Very nice review, Richard! Fantastic pics! What ink are you using in it?
Posted Image Bendita mi tierra guanche.

#4 southpaw

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 01:02

RS, great review of a great pen. I just took delivery today from Susanna at www.pens.it (no affiliation, just happy customer) of a Van Gogh Maxi in musk. It's one of the first generation pens with the 3-cam locking system. It's also in a fine nib. I'm loving it! Hopefully I'll get to do a review in the next week or so for comparision (of course, I might not since you did so well at it). Thanks again. That black does look sharp!
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#5 Roger

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 03:48

Wonderful review, Richard. I was hanging on every word. :) Aurora and the Stipula Etruria are my only Italian pens, thus far, but it's only a matter of time... :P

Hey SP, does that musk colored job have any odor to it. Well, if we can have scented inks and the smell of celluloid, why not musk? :lol:
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#6 RichardS

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 08:52

... the only thing that keeps me away from these pens is the weight. otherwise I love some of the colors. The black is quite appealing even to me.

Thanks KCat! Have you tried the mini or midi models? The mini is quite tiny, smaller than a small Pelikan as I recall. There's even a demonstrator model ...

#7 RichardS

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 08:55

Very nice review, Richard! Fantastic pics! What ink are you using in it?

Thanks Apollo. I'm using Diamine Royal Blue at the moment. It works well, with good shading for an F nib. The line is quite wet, and you have to watch what paper you use. I may try some DC Supershow Blue next, just to see what happens!

#8 RichardS

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 08:58

RS, great review of a great pen. I just took delivery today from Susanna at www.pens.it (no affiliation, just happy customer) of a Van Gogh Maxi in musk. It's one of the first generation pens with the 3-cam locking system. It's also in a fine nib. I'm loving it! Hopefully I'll get to do a review in the next week or so for comparision (of course, I might not since you did so well at it). Thanks again. That black does look sharp!

SP, please do a review if you can! I'd like to hear about the 3-cam system in practice and how you rate the F nib.

#9 Maja

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 18:35

Excellent review, Richard! I loved reading your impressions of the pen and your photos are great, too.
I never realized the pen's clip could be adjusted via the screw on back of the cap! :doh: I've seen so many photos of the pen online, but the thoroughness of your review brought that to light....Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to more of your reviews. :)
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#10 jaybrams

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 03:17

Nice review. I bought the midi in vanilla last May. I was surprised how well I liked the steel nib. very smooth, even better than most of my gold nibs. A great pen at this price.

#11 marklavar

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 08:14

I had a Van Gogh Maxi, but sold it on Ebay some time ago. It's a good pen, but not great, and there are definitely better Italian pens. I would recommend the Delta Dolcevita, Aurora Optima and anything by Omas and Stipula. Omas, in particular, produce wonderful pens; the best in the world, as far as I'm concerned.

#12 djahughes

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 19:58

I guess it's a matter of personal taste and preference...

The Delta Dolcevita is downright ugly I think.

The Stipula range does nothing for me.

Aurora Optima is OK but I think the 88 looks nicer - fancy one in black with silver cap.

Omas pens do look very nice I will agree. I don't think I'd like the 360 but the Paragon looks gorgeous. Must find a UK stockist and have a look.

Whereas my Van Gogh Maxi is the nicest pen I have owned or used...

Each to their own I guess...
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#13 _EL_

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 22:17

The Visconti Van Gogh is a nice looking pen. It is however the only pen that I ever returned, after writing for some time the ink would simply pour out (well, the ink flowed signiicantly faster as compared to when I just picked it up) which I attributed to the metal section of the pen heating up.

Apart from that the 3-cam locking mechanism is ingenious, but I did keep checking if it was still there...

E.

#14 krz

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 05:30

A stunning pen Richard! And it does have that "Streamline Modern" look to it. I'm very fond of that style. :)
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#15 theshainun

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 10:16

Great pics and a nice review. Thanks Richard!

Shaun
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#16 playpen

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 23:13

Who sells the mini?

#17 alvarez57

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 04:46

Very nice review and the pen is beautiful. I don't like either the other colors but I fell for the tortoise. I bought it with an F nib that inittially worked superb, with some nice "toothiness" but alas! I used it on a diary that apparently has ruined some of my nibs and I sent it for repair AND to be reground into an italic. Arrived today and I haven't stopped using it. I don't cap my pens, so I don't mind the heavy cap.
I'm glad you like it for it is a very good pen, IMHO.

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#18 djahughes

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 23:21

I stupidly sold my Crystal Maxi a while back and have regretted doing so ever since. However, this evening I bought one of these black beauties from eBay.

Looking forward to being a Van Gogh owner once more.
David Hughes


#19 Doug C

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 23:51

I have 3 VG's, one maxi, and two midis (one a roller, and one with the steel nib). My maxi is one of the older versions with the 3k system and a different clip, which I think is incrediblly beautiful-I'm not sure why they only produced it for a little while. Visconti has produced the most beautiful clips in pendom, so I am not sure why they tend to use the same clip on all of their pens now.

You are right about the 3K system. I love the way it works, but it is flawed. If you put the pen in your pocket, there are occasions where the body and the cap will work against each other, and when you pull the pen ouf of your pocket, all you will get is the cap. If they could perfect it, it would be a wonderful, quick way of attaching the cap to the body.


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#20 djahughes

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 20:16

Well through a PayPal fuelled (bleep) up it looks like my Van Gogh will now ultimately be a Ocean Blue one...
David Hughes







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