The popular bronze arco celluloid was cut in such a manner that the layers are oblique to the axis of the pen instead of being parallel like on regular arco Paragons. By chosing the cylindrical shape of what was then the Bologna line, those oblique layers show up as curves when hitting the front and back surfaces of the pen. They are reminescent of the rippled hard rubber of the 30s. On the sides of the pen, one merely sees the dark profile of the layers, as one sees on the sides of the regular arco Paragons.
Exposing the Arco layers at an angle makes the golden component sparkle and take over the dark brown. This pen is somewhat like a tiger-eye stone, it alternates between a shimmer of gold and an earthy brown when turning it from its top, to its side, to its bottom, to its side, to its top again and so forth. It is quite mesmerizing and surprising, but it also can be a bit loud and too golden. I sometimes yearn for the more subtle hues and contrasts of the regular arco design.
As you may see in the pictures below, Omas has done a wonderful job in aligning the patterns on the different parts of the pens. It has taken this even a step further - to the virtuoso level - by making those patterns alternate differently to distinguish between the fountain pen and the rollerball. I nonetheless felt the need to tie some piece of string around the rollerball to be able to tell it apart from the fountain pen when sticking out of the pocket at work. Any recommendations for another more elegant method would be more than welcomed here.
One flaw in the design of these pens, namely the fountain pen, is that Omas has used the same section as on their regular arco pens. The section therefore has the layers parallel to the axis of the pen. It does match well the pattern at the end of the barrell without breaking the flow, but it would have been much nicer if the fountain pen section had oblique layers like on that on the rollerball. It is here I substract 1 point from the design score.
The ends of the pens are conical (like on Paragons) and the caps sport roller-type clips with three gold-plated rings, old style. Another trim ring separates the piston knob from the barrel. Was it necessary? The FP section and barrel are devoid of bands or trim rings in order to expose the celluloid. I was glad Omas resisted the temptation of adding greek-key bands on the section as they so wrongfully did on the 7-piece celluloid Paragon collectors set.
The stock nib was plain one-tone yellow 18k gold - the same somewhat boring nib they used on their contemporary 7 piece celluloid Paragon collectors set and on their Ogivas. It wrote well, without being exceptional and was not up to par in my opinion with the level of the rest of the pen. I had that nib replaced with the 14k two tone Bologna nib with the porticoes engraving. Having bought the set in Bologna on my honeymoon and the pen actually being a Bologna model, I thought this nib would be more fitting. This nib with the porticoes engraving is in my opinion by far the most beautiful and original nib designed by Omas - it is up there at the same level with some of the MB writer's series LEs. The nib was replaced by John Mottishaw, who also regrinded it to an impeccable OB. It would be pointless to score the present nib, but I will substract 2 points from the original nib design and performance.
The pens are an absolute pleasure to hold. The celluloid is somehow more smooth and shiny than the regular arcoes. I don't know whether it received a preferential polishing or if it has to do with the way the celluloid blocks were selected or cut. The fountain pen is also light - probably the same weight as the older celluloid paragons if not lighter. The rollerball on the other hand carries that heavier refill in its belly.
The caps post super-securely on both FP and RB and one barely notices their added weight. The caps are not really interchangeable although the RB will fit in the FP cap (the opposite is not true) without the patterns aligning properly.
The ink capacity on this pen seems the same as that of my Paragon Galileo. It is more often than not enough to carry me through two days at work.
A few days after it came back from nib exchange, the FP started leaking massive amounts of ink from the piston knob. This had nothing to do with John's work, mind you, but it was nonetheless a nice reminder of Omas product reliability. After a 3 month trip to Omas in Italy the pen came back in perfectly working condition, but this will cost it 2 point of performance.
The set comes in a regular (newer but not the pressure button later type) cardboard box with a leaflet (image below) mentioning that this was an experiment and that 40 sets were manufactured. The pens are not numbered. Thank goodness, because I'm starting to get tired of numbers engraved into pens. So all in all a very sober, anonymous and light-weight presentation.
This is where it hurts. The MSRP was 1100 or 1200 euros in 2006 and there wasn't much room to deal considering the number of sets available. I eventually got a better deal because I was purchasing 2 sets (one for me and another on account of my uncle). I've even heard that sales were restricted to instore customers in Italy, which I find hard to believe. Anyhow, Vecchietti had another set when I left the store and Marco at Novelli had a couple of them when I visited him later, so I guess these pens were not that much in demand and are probably not that hard to come by.
Overall the Spina di Pesce offers a very common Omas writing experience in a very unusual package. While the celluloid design effect is quite mesmerizing (tiger-eye) and sometimes reminescent of the rippled 30s, it does not beat the subtleness and the refinement of the original "longitudinal" arco pattern. It is a good thing that the regular arco Paragons were designed as they were... and probably similar modifications were tried before, with the longitudinal pattern emerging rightfully as the winner.
This being said I do confess to prefering this Spina di Pesce to my regular Arco when I'm at work. I can't think of a better honeymoon souvenir and I often find myself traveling down memory lane when using these pens.
PS. These pens are also a testimony to the ability of virtuosly aligning celluloid patterns. Omas has no excuse for the arcoes that do not align. They should strive at aligning even the marbled patterns.
Edited by RedRob, 21 April 2008 - 04:35.