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