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Visconti Voyager Anniversary


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21 replies to this topic

#1 errantmarginalia

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 15:48

I'm usually reluctant to write reviews of pens that are difficult to find, simply because it feels a lot like teasing, but I think this pen deserves one, in part because of the manner in which it became a part of my collection.

Background

I have a fairly ambiguous relationship with Visconti; with a couple of notable exceptions, most of their models simply leave me cold. However, the Voyager Anniversary series has always appealed to me, and as a collector of blue celluloid pens, it was only a matter of time before I started actively seeking this pen out.

However, I don't buy pens I won't use, and so I wanted to have some idea of the pen prior to trying to find one. I therefore contacted a dear FPN friend, whom I knew had this pen, and asked her what she thought of it. With her customary generosity, she offered to send me the pen, so that I could handle it and draw my own conclusions.
We exchanged pens for a while (so that she could try the Minuskin stub I had on one of my Paragons), and I quickly decided that I wanted the Voyager Anniversary in my collection. Upon telling her so, she asked me to keep the pen she had sent me, and in the process refused to consider any sort of trade, asking only that I send both the lapis and her matching coral Anniversary to Greg Minuskin for regrinding.

So, this pen is not only a beautiful object, but a reminder of this friend's kindness and generosity.

First Impressions/Appearance and Finish

The pen comes in an imposing wooden box. In terms of accessories, the pen comes with a "rollerball" unit, which can replace the nib unit and still work with fountain pen ink. There's also some literature.

Beyond that, the pen just looks well-made. The sterling silver trim is lovely, and the lapis celluloid--a base of blue, with black, white, and gold flecks--is absolutely gorgeous (and, to my eye, more interesting than the material used in the Pelikan 1935 re-edition). The older clip on this pen is also very nice, and I much prefer it to the newer "bow" clips Visconti has been putting on many of its pens. Finally, I'm particularly fond of pens that feature three slim cap-bands, as this one does.

In terms of fit and finish, the pen appears to have been made to very close tolerances. The clip is tight, and the cap screws onto the barrel securely. Moreover, the power-filling system feels quite smooth, and the end of the barrel screws into the rest of the pen seamlessly.


(With apologies for the awful cellphone pics...)



Design/Size/Weight

The pen is fairly large (cf. comparison picture), and is also heavier than many of my other pens, due largely to the power-filling system.

It is large enough to use unposted, which is what I do: unposted, the balance on the pen is just about perfect. Also nice is the slightly curved section, which allows for a relaxed grip on the pen. All in all, the pen is quite comfortable to use for extended writing sessions, though the weight does become noticeable after some time.

As I mentioned before, the weight is in large part attributable to Visconti's choice of a power-filling system, as there's a fair amount of metal in that system. I'll return to the filling system later, but let me mention that one very nice aspect of the design of this pen--and I wish more Italian companies would follow suit--is the inclusion of an ink-view window. It's (obviously) very convenient to know how much ink remains in the pen, but I also find that it adds a nice aesthetic element to the line of the pen.

Finally, I find the girth to be about average, which is to say slimmer than my Stipula Etrurias and thicker than my Pelikan M215.


Between a Pelikan M215 and a Stipula Etruria.

Nib

I originally had the B 18K nib ground by Greg Minsukin to a M stub. That was a lovely nib, but I found myself wanting to use the Voyager for more mundane takss, like writing my lecture notes, for which I only use F nibs. I also find myself leaning toward monotone nibs these days. So, I set out to find one of Visconti's rhodium-plated 14K nib units. I found what I was looking for on eBay, and I currently use a 14K F in the pen.

I should say that I am still getting used to the nib. More often than not, it's a pleasure to use. But it's a little drier than I'd like, and I'm waiting to see if the problem will resolve itself with use, or if I'm going to have to send the pen to a meister for adjustment. Probably because of the somewhat stingy flow, the nib can also feel a little toothy. However, this varies, depending on the paper (and even on the side of the paper) on which I'm writing. I should also say that the nib has proven quite reliable so far, and I hope that it's simply a question of my getting used to it.

Here's a writing sample:



Filling System

In all honesty, Visconti's power-filling system is not my favorite filling mechanism, mainly because of the weight it adds to the pen. But I also like having a diversity of filling mechanisms in my collection, and this system certainly fits the bill as an unusual modern mechanism. All in all, the added weight is a very minor quibble, and doesn't at all affect one's enjoyment of the pen.

In terms of operation, the system works flawlessly: the rod ascends and descends very smoothly, and the pen fills completely. In this respect, there's very little room for complaint. I should also mention that I'm happy about the fact that this is the single reservoir version of the system, and not the two-reservoir version, which I had on a Wall Street LE and which drove me nuts...

One last minor quibble: the size of the mechanism means that the pen's ink capacity is slightly reduced in comparison to pens like the Paragon or the Etruria. But as is the case with the weight, this in no way affects my enjoyment of the pen, as I use it exclusively at home anyway.

Conclusion

This pen is very special to me, not only because it fits in my perfection of Italian blue celluloids perfectly, but because it always reminds of how truly kind and generous people can be to one another. I knew that I wanted this pen for my collection, but was dubious about whether or not I'd be able to find one, due both to scarcity and cost. Thanks to a friend I've never met in person, I'm now able to enjoy this wonderful pen.

I mentioned earlier that I'm usually reluctant to review scarce pens, as they're by definition difficult to find and that makes me question the usefulness of the review. However, I think these reviews are also a way for us to share communally in the excitement and pleasure of the hobby. With that being said, these pens (not only the lapis, but also the coral and demonstrator iterations) do come up for sale every once in a while. Should you want to add it to your collection, I hope this review will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Thanks,
David

Edited by cellulophile, 18 January 2009 - 15:55.


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#2 QM2

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 16:37

That is a very, very nice pen! The shape, the material, the simple trim consisting of triple bands and Visconti's old-style clip -- they are all beautiful. Personally, I think that it is useful to review rare pens -- for the very reason that you are providing the only chance some of us will ever have to see and study this pen. So thank you for the review.

I hadn't noticed that the power filler ads weight to the pens, but that is probably because mine is silver overlay. I would like to handle a non-metal power filler pen now to experience how it feels with this system. The filler mechanism itself I like very much, and find easier to use than I had expected.

Sorry that your nib is not ideal and hope this gets resolved in the future. With a nice, smooth EF/F, the pen should be the perfect daily writer.



#3 Kamiyashi

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 21:02

What a wonderful story! We should all be so lucky~~~. bunny01.gif

It's a beautiful pen and I hope that you enjoy it for many years to come! Although having the nib reground might be a possible solution to the dry problems?

QUOTE
QM2 said:

Personally, I think that it is useful to review rare pens -- for the very reason that you are providing the only chance some of us will ever have to see and study this pen. So thank you for the review.


I agree! Thank you so much!
Visconti: Aida 0/1871, Amigdala, Black Ripple 4/199, Black Storm 8/88, Blue Ripple 870/999, Blue Symphony 88/208, Carbon Dream 4/993, Chatterley Ripple^3 4/25, Custom Ripple 4/4, D'Essai, Gulliver, Homo Sapien, Metropolis 64/288, Millennium Arc 2/1000, Opera Aqua, Opera Demo 547/888, Opera Nordic^2, Opera Water^2, Pericle^2, Ponte Vecchio^2, Ragtime, Ragtime 1174/1988, Replica, VG Custom^8, VG Demo^2, VG Green^2, VG Red, VG Vanilla^3, Versailles 317/365, Viscontina 39/188, Voyager^2

#4 bugmd

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 21:50

David, thanks for the wonderful review. In the years that I have been consumed by this habit, this pen is the one that I always come back to. I have and use the Lapis, Coral and demo versions. In fact I have a NIB Lapis as a spare and a second demo that is also a daily user. I did have the green version, which in a psychotic break sold to another pen lover. This pen fits my hand perfectly in size, weight and balance. I love the high vac filler system because I use the Visconti "Ink Thingie" to fill it ( aka - traveling inkpot). I nvver cared for the stylo nibs and either gave mine away or sold them. I prefer these over the original Voyager series because of the silver trim.

No doubt, this is the one that started my love affair with Italian pens in general and Visconti specifically.
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#5 goodguy

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 23:35

Thank you for the review David.Visconti pens are among my favorite pens and since it was given as a gift this pen becomes even more precious.
Enjoy it thumbup.gif
Respect to all

#6 girlieg33k

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 02:37

David,
Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful review. It's a classic pen for a classy person who also happens to have exceptionally good taste. smile.gif
K.
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#7 Brian

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:52

Nice review. I have the earlier first generation lapis with gold trim and no ink view window. This pen has had quite a life since about 1994 when I got it. I accept that some things in life just need a little more TLC just because they are either objets d'art or perhaps because they are Italian (don't flame me this is just my experience having owned Omas, Nettuno, Delta, Montegrappa and Visconti and comparing that experience against MB, Pelikan, Namiki, Sailor, Parker, and Waterman):

The Voyager worked well but eventually succumbed to a clogged feed perhaps due to the ink I used in it. Up until then the medium tubular nib was wonderful. Upon return from its first visit to the repair center I received a new nib that was no longer the earlier tubular nib. I got too busy then to complain about it and used what worked out to be a not bad replacement even though that was not the purpose for the repair.

Repair center Trip No. 2 was due to the clip falling off from corrosion of the spring steel. Upon return I found I now had a new cap. This cap was different and now that I see your review it had the same three sterling rings and medallion at the top of the cap. The medallion was poorly attached so that it didn't really fit. I fixed this myself by enlarging the recess into which the medallion fit securing it with epoxy. All went well for the next few years.

Repair center Trip No. 3 some years later was due to the vacuum power filler losing suction and then the clip falling off yet again. These things were fixed and the pen worked fine for about the next 2-3 years until the clip fell off again. I used the pen on and off without the clip because I was tired of sending it in. When I think about how I babied that clip never applying force to it....really.

To put this into perspective each time I sent the pen in all work was done free of charge. Today it sits in my pen case without its clip waiting to be fixed. In reflection it is a beautiful writing instrument that demands attention and perhaps a little more TLC than might be expected. I hope this will not be your experience and that you will have a reliable and robust writing servant.

Edited by Brian, 20 January 2009 - 08:00.


#8 heywoodf

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 04:51

Thanks to all contributors. This is an interesting thread.

My Visconti Voyager experience covers the original Lapis Voyager with the vacuum filler that has no secondary reservoir and a Lapis Anniversary Voyager. I also have a spare section with broad nib for the original Voyager which allows for convenient unscrew and change nibs when desired.

In terms of aesthetics and to my eye both these pens are pleasing especially in sunlight where the rich and subtlety different lapis blue celluloids make there complete presence visible.

Although from a silhouette perspective both pens are very similar their construction differs significantly.

Being able to unscrew the section from an original Voyager is convenient to change the nib but also allows for easy cleaning and silicon grease lubrication of the piston and cylinder. A small amount of SG lube makes a big difference to operation. This procedure is more complicated with the later anniversary Voyager. The pen body is completely different and includes, as earlier writers have noted, a neat ink window. I’ve not found a convenient way to disassemble the anniversary version so have to remove the nib and feed to gain access. Using a thin wire one can get SG to the piston and cylinder.

The writing experience for both pens is very similar. I write without posting the cap as it makes too much inertia for my preference. However, from a general use perspective the pens are very different indeed.

The original Voyager has a large internal volume for ink which on the face of it sounds good but unfortunately not all of the volume can be reliably used. When the reservoir includes some air space from diminished ink supply the user’s contact heat slightly expands internal air to push or burp ink out of the feed. The only reliable remedy is to keep the reservoir relatively full, hence the inability to conveniently use all the reservoir ink.

The Visconti Calamaio di Viaggio or Travelling Ink Pots work very well for each Voyager. The TIPs are different for each Voyager version (caps not interchangeable) but allow a complete ink fill.

The anniversary Voyager with secondary reservoir has proven to be a boon. It allows me to effectively and reliably use all the reservoir ink by progressively feeding ink from the main reservoir to the one behind the feed. Another very neat application it to drain ink from the secondary reservoir back into the main one. This makes leakage or splatter when moving or changing altitude less likely. So one can easily just adjust the ink position and go ahead with aircraft travel without any other special considerations.

The anniversary Voyager clip broke at he spring assembly shortly after purchase. This was fixed by Visconti at no charge and it has been fine for years since. By accounts this seems to have been bit of an Achilles heel.

Cellulophile mentioned having the Voyager anniversary version without the second reservoir. I didn’t know these existed. My version has the two reservoirs as mentioned above.

Cheers HF

#9 jde

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 21:05

QUOTE (QM2 @ Jan 18 2009, 12:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Personally, I think that it is useful to review rare pens -- for the very reason that you are providing the only chance some of us will ever have to see and study this pen. So thank you for the review.


I'm another that agrees with the value of reviews on rare pens.

Beautiful pen and lovely review!

Cheers.
 
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...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

#10 errantmarginalia

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 21:13

QUOTE (heywoodf @ Mar 17 2009, 12:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Cellulophile mentioned having the Voyager anniversary version without the second reservoir. I didn’t know these existed. My version has the two reservoirs as mentioned above.

Cheers HF


I was actually mistaken. The Anniversary does indeed have the double reservoir power-filler. Best,
David

#11 I am not a number

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 15:29

David has excellently done the words but here are some pics of mine (predictably with a Stub Nib).

Capped


Uncapped


The pointy end


The sumptuous nib

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#12 Ghost Plane

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 15:37

Happy sigh.... I do love a stub. And that is one pretty pen!

#13 errantmarginalia

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 15:40

QUOTE (I am not a number @ Aug 26 2009, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
David has excellently done the words but here are some pics of mine (predictably with a Stub Nib).


Very nice! Those factory stubs look luscious... Thanks,
David

PS I should correct my own review, since my complaint concerning ink capacity was entirely due to my misunderstanding the double-reservoir system.

#14 eric47

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 15:50

QUOTE (I am not a number @ Aug 26 2009, 05:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
David has excellently done the words but here are some pics of mine (predictably with a Stub Nib).

Capped

Excellent photos.

Did you add some color to the engraving? I have a Lapis but there's nothing in the engraving. I bought it NOS in terrible condition from a store; it needed an extended stay at the Tuscan villa before it came home good as new.
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#15 I am not a number

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 16:03

QUOTE (eric47 @ Aug 26 2009, 04:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Excellent photos.

Did you add some color to the engraving?

Many thanks for the kind words and there was no adjustment, the pen is exactly as it has been since I bought it about 18 months ago from the FPN Marketplace.
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#16 eric47

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 16:13

QUOTE (cellulophile @ Aug 26 2009, 05:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (I am not a number @ Aug 26 2009, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
David has excellently done the words but here are some pics of mine (predictably with a Stub Nib).


Very nice! Those factory stubs look luscious... Thanks,
David

PS I should correct my own review, since my complaint concerning ink capacity was entirely due to my misunderstanding the double-reservoir system.

I should thank you too David for not wanting the fountain roller/stylograph/rapidograph tip for your Lapis. biggrin.gif

The same gracious and generous person who sent you the pen, offered and sent the tip to me after I mentioned how much I liked it on my Lapis and wanted one for my Coral.
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#17 I am not a number

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 18:49

Another gratuitous nib shot.

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#18 errantmarginalia

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 19:08

QUOTE (eric47 @ Aug 26 2009, 12:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The same gracious and generous person who sent you the pen, offered and sent the tip to me after I mentioned how much I liked it on my Lapis and wanted one for my Coral.


That doesn't surprise me one bit, Eric :-).

#19 eric47

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 14:32

QUOTE (cellulophile @ Aug 26 2009, 09:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (eric47 @ Aug 26 2009, 12:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The same gracious and generous person who sent you the pen, offered and sent the tip to me after I mentioned how much I liked it on my Lapis and wanted one for my Coral.


That doesn't surprise me one bit, Eric :-).

I figured. You got a pen, I "only" got a roller tip. biggrin.gif

Seriously, a thanks again to you and a warm thanks to her.

Edited by eric47, 27 August 2009 - 14:32.

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#20 errantmarginalia

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 14:44

QUOTE (eric47 @ Aug 27 2009, 10:32 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (cellulophile @ Aug 26 2009, 09:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (eric47 @ Aug 26 2009, 12:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The same gracious and generous person who sent you the pen, offered and sent the tip to me after I mentioned how much I liked it on my Lapis and wanted one for my Coral.


That doesn't surprise me one bit, Eric :-).

I figured. You got a pen, I "only" got a roller tip. biggrin.gif

Seriously, a thanks again to you and a warm thanks to her.


It would have been my pleasure, Eric, but going through a box yesterday, I actually found a roller attachment that could only have come from the lapis. So, I think the one you received was hers and all thanks should be directed at her :-). Let me know if you'd like the one I found yesterday, however, as I don't anticipate ever using it.

Edited by cellulophile, 27 August 2009 - 14:44.







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