Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

REVIEW: Visconti Alhambra


  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#1 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 14:13



VISCONTI ALHAMBRA
Black lucite with 18K White Gold Overlay


As I shamelessly posted on the Italian forum last month, this pen was a gift on the occasion of my 30th(!) Birthday.
Released in 1998, the white gold Alhambra is a rare pen, with only 88 having been made as part of the Limited Edition.

The initial excitement I experienced upon receiving the Alhambra was evident. But now a month has passed and it is time for
a lucid review. Is this pen worth it? Now that I have it, is it everything I had imagined it to be? The short answer is: Yes.
Considering my tastes and preferences, the Alhambra is nearly perfect -- not just in looks, but also in its various attributes,
user-friendliness, and performance. It is my singlemost favourite pen without a doubt. Read on to learn the details, and I
appologise for the cheesy photos -- they looked romantic at the time : )



Looks and Design

This Alhambra is made of black lucite and has a classic flat-top form. It is overlaid with solid 18K white gold. The trim (including
the clip) is likewise 18K. Several versions of the Alhambra were released. Here is the complete list of editions:

Alhambra:
- 888 RHR with silver overlay
- 288 RHR with 18K yellow gold overlay
- 88 black lucite with 18K yellow gold overlay
- 88 black lucite with 18K white gold overlay (mine)
Alhambra HRH:
- 38 black lucite with 18K yellow gold overlay and diamonds
- 38 black lucite with 18K white gold overlay and diamonds

In the course of the past year, I had studied the looks of the Visconti Alhambra for many an hour in every online image I was
able to find. But what makes this pen special does not come across well in photographs.



The overlay technique is of course exquisitely executed. But further, it is unique in that it does not just cover the pen, but is
actually embedded into the body at the time of casting. The gold latticework is fused with the lucite, which I imagine was done
similarly to the process used to make Sheaffer inlaid nibs. According to Visconti's literature, the Alhambra is the only pen with
overlay done using this method. This is the second Visconti overlay pen to use a unique technique (the first being the Taj Mahal,
in which the overlay is woven using the wire filigree method).



The close-up photos show that the overlay is so intricately etched and raised, that it is distinctly textured, curling up at the edges
like lace. There are no sharp points (the lattice edging is finely finished), but the repeating raised surfaces can create a tactile
overload if you run your finger along the overlay back and forth (which I've compulsively done!).

Being a 1998 release, the Alhambra is fitted with the graceful old-style Visconti clip, cast in solid 18K white gold and hallmarked
as such. I must admit that I have not yet gotten used to a pen with "18K" stamped on the clip. Don't know if I ever will!

The long section of the Alhambra gives it a resemblance to the early overlay eyedroppers. The section is curved at the lip.



Size, Weight, Comfort

For an LE of its caliber, the Alhambra is a "smallish" pen. That is to say, it is a standard full-size pen, but not a glamazon of
monstrous proportions like, for instance, the Taj Mahal. The standard size, combined with the medium weight and perfect balance
created through the pairing of lucite with evenly distributed gold overlay, makes it amazingly comfortable in the hand. The size,
weight, proportions, and the curved lip of the section, create an absolutely ideal writing experience, while the sturdy clip ensures
practicality and ease of transport.

For all these reasons, once I received and used the Alhambra, there was no question of this pen staying home under carefully
guarded conditions. It was clearly designed to be a "daily user," and amazingly, seems to be particularly suited to my preferences.
So yes, I use it daily and carry it around in my pen pouch at all times. It is just too comfortable and convenient not to.




Filling System

The Visconti Alhambra fills via the proprietary "power vac" system. My camera is not good enough at macro to capture this, but
basically, the cap unscrews and a rod is then pulled out which is used to pump ink into the pen from the bottle. The mechanism is
smooth and easy to operate. The ink capacity is quite large, as the ink fills directly into the barrel like in a piston-filling pen.

Nib and Writing Performance

The nib is the large, elegant 2-tone nib that Visconti typically uses on its LE pens. Amazingly, my pen came with an EF nib, which
even more amazingly, felt delightful out of the box. It is a true extra-fine, but is very wet -- I would say 8.5/10. For that reason it
runs a bit wide, but the line is still narrow enough for me to use it as is. I will not be regrinding this one!

The nib is smooth as can be, and oddly, seems to adapt to different papers. It provides just the right amount of "feedback" so as
not to veer out of control on super-smooth paper such as Clairefontaine, but then seems to become smoother when writing on
slightly rougher papers such as Moleskine and Cranes. Don't know how to explain this, but I notice it repeatedly when using the
pen on different papers. Can it be... magical?

There have been no problems at all with flow. I have tried the pen with Noodler's, Private Reserve, Herbin, and Montblanc inks
so far, and it likes them all. Noodler's Squeteague and MB Violet seem to be its favourite colours.



Cost and Value

The Alhambra's retail price is prohibitive, but occasionally deals can be found. Even with the deals, the price is (by my standards)
too high. This is the only pen I own that exceeds my per-pen spending limit, so I would not have bought it for myself. You will
only be comfortable with buying this pen, if you play at the level of Visconti LEs, Montblanc WEs, and maybe even the "cheaper"
POAs. If you do buy pens in this price category, than the Visconti Alhambra is a superb value, due to its abundant precious metal
content, its rarity, and its usability.

Conclusions

I am lucky enough to have many beautiful and special pens, but none that combine all the elements that are important to me so
perfectly. The Visconti Alhambra is a flat-top, with filigree overlay, an internal filling system, and an Extra Fine nib, that feels as if
it were made especially for my hand in form, weight and balance. The special overlay technique, the white gold, and the truly limited
edition number of 88 pens, of course make it extra special. It is safe to say that my 30th birthday gift will be eternally memorable!


Edited by QM2, 08 March 2009 - 21:16.


Sponsored Content

#2 dannyboy

dannyboy

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,133 posts

Posted 08 March 2009 - 15:08

What a fantastic way to commemorate you 30th birthday! Your review is very thorough and supplies for us what photos cannot convey--bravo! I especially appreciated your description of the way the filigree is embedded into the material of the body of the pen, a fact that all the photos of this pen that I've seen, ads and otherwise, do not convey. And I'm pleased to hear that you USE this pen on a daily basis and that it performs beautifully. Congratulations!

#3 goodguy

goodguy

    Fountain pens and watches collector

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,534 posts
  • Location:Toronto Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 15:14

I think you forgot to emphasis the best feature of the pen at your conclusion that its a gift from your husband.
A loving gift like that makes every part of this pen ever so special.
You are lucky to have such an amazing husband and amazing pen (something tells me your husband is pretty lucky to have you too smile.gif ).

Beautiful pen and lovely review.
I wish you many year of joy having both (husband and pen thumbup.gif )
Respect to all

#4 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 15:29

QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 04:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think you forgot to emphasis the best feature of the pen at your conclusion that its a gift from your husband.
A loving gift like that makes every part of this pen ever so special.
You are lucky to have such an amazing husband and amazing pen (something tells me your husband is pretty lucky to have you too smile.gif ).

Beautiful pen and lovely review.
I wish you many year of joy having both (husband and pen thumbup.gif )


Thank you Amir, you are right : ) I was trying to be very objective, but in fact this is an extremely sentimental pen. My husband is so cool! He even hand-decorated a mini carrot cake for me in a pattern to match the Alhambra overlay. We had a wonderful time on my birthday, starting with the Alhambra "still-life" at midnight and ending the day at an absolutely superb restaurant. What can I say, I have a crush on him!

Oh yes, and he is a pen collector too (though God only knows why he insists on focusing on those silly Meisterstuecks!) : ))

#5 goodguy

goodguy

    Fountain pens and watches collector

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,534 posts
  • Location:Toronto Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 19:57

QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 03:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh yes, and he is a pen collector too (though God only knows why he insists on focusing on those silly Meisterstuecks!) : ))

I know your husband is into pens too. It looks like he has a good taste in woman and pens happyberet.gif

Who would you say is a more obssesed pen collector you or him ?

Edited by goodguy, 08 March 2009 - 19:58.

Respect to all

#6 Iskender

Iskender

    Mint (flavored)

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 206 posts

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:06

QUOTE (dannyboy @ Mar 8 2009, 05:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What a fantastic way to commemorate you 30th birthday! Your review is very thorough and supplies for us what photos cannot convey--bravo! I especially appreciated your description of the way the filigree is embedded into the material of the body of the pen, a fact that all the photos of this pen that I've seen, ads and otherwise, do not convey. And I'm pleased to hear that you USE this pen on a daily basis and that it performs beautifully. Congratulations!


I believe one starts ones third decade on ones 20th birthday (0-9 being the first, 10-19 the second...).


#7 Rufus

Rufus

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,664 posts
  • Location:Greater Toronto Area
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:16

QM 2 a very good review and excellent photographs. Although I haven't seen one in the flesh I must say that the Alhambra is one of the nicest looking overlay pens I have seen. I tend not to like overlay pens, but the simple sophistication and symmetry of the filigree on this pen clearly sets it apart from all the other overlay pens I have seen. The design of the filigree is true to its Moorish roots, but it's too bad Visconti didn't make it in red lucite, as a complete reflection of "the red fortress". Nothwithstanding, I'd still buy one if I could afford it.
Bryan

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." Winston S. Churchill

#8 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:20

QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 08:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...
Who would you say is a more obssesed pen collector you or him ?


Heh, good question! He would say that I am much more obsessed than he is, but I don't necessarily agree. We approach it in very different ways.

For example, I think he is compulsive (and I say that in a fond way!). When he finds a theme, and needs to get "all" of the pens in that theme before he can be happy. For example, once he began collecting Meisterstueck pens, he had to get all of the modern models (just finished it off with the Mozart!), and same with the Pelikan Souveraen series. So he is a "focused completer", similar to you and Darius. Also, he does not care much for LEs, instead preferring classic, conservative models that are the heart of a brand. He owns almost exclusively either silver pens, or black pens with gold trim. Oh, and he keeps his pens very admirably organised, paying a lot of attention to their care and arrangement.

Me, I could not imagine "needing" to have a complete set of something, and in fact would probably get bored if I attempted that approach. I focus on specific aesthetic elements that appeal to me (predominantly filigree/overlay, flat-tops and dome-tops, crescent fillers, and Japanese urushi/maki-e being the themes that attract me). I also love to personalise my pens by getting the nibs reground into various interesting italic sizes, and I dedicate a lot of energy to practicing writing. As for organisation, I admit it is a little chaotic on my end : )

All this works out perfectly: Because our tastes are so different, we (almost) never compete for pens. But having the hobby in common in general is quite nice!



#9 Kurtz

Kurtz

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 327 posts

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:20

Wonderful pen. I'm also glad to hear that you use it with no remorse. Bravo!

Thank you for the review.



There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.


#10 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:22

QUOTE (Iskender @ Mar 8 2009, 09:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (dannyboy @ Mar 8 2009, 05:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What a fantastic way to commemorate you 30th birthday! Your review is very thorough and supplies for us what photos cannot convey--bravo! I especially appreciated your description of the way the filigree is embedded into the material of the body of the pen, a fact that all the photos of this pen that I've seen, ads and otherwise, do not convey. And I'm pleased to hear that you USE this pen on a daily basis and that it performs beautifully. Congratulations!


I believe one starts ones third decade on ones 20th birthday (0-9 being the first, 10-19 the second...).


You are right! I am starting my 4th decade, holy ^&*(( !!

Recovering my shock and mathematical embarrassment (or subconscious defense mechanism??), I am off to change that part of the text : )


EDITED TO ADD: No, I couldn't handle seeing the words "4th decade" there, so I changed it to "30th Birthday". Not as poetic, but easier on the nerves!



Edited by QM2, 08 March 2009 - 20:27.


#11 Bryant

Bryant

    Chatterleyluxuries.com

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,838 posts
  • Location:Arizona
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 20:53

Its no surprise I am in love with this pen! Fantastic QM2!
Great review!
Congrats again!

Chatterley Luxuries and Pentime

 

Web: Chatterleyluxuries.com

 

Email: Info@chatterleyluxuries.com

 

Follow us on... 

 

Facebook

 

Instagram

 

Twitter

 


#12 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 21:37

QUOTE (Rufus @ Mar 8 2009, 09:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I tend not to like overlay pens, but the simple sophistication and symmetry of the filigree on this pen clearly sets it apart from all the other overlay pens I have seen. The design of the filigree is true to its Moorish roots, but it's too bad Visconti didn't make it in red lucite, as a complete reflection of "the red fortress".


Rufus,

Yes, the pattern is mesmerizing! If you like the symmetry of it and you like crescents, then take a look at Conklin's 100 Anniversary : )

BTW, the Alhambra does come in red: Red Hard Rubber, with sterling silver overlay (edition of 888) or yellow gold overlay (edition of 288). Bryant also has a very cool RHR and silver prototype, where the overlay is done in a slightly different style than the public release. Take a look at this thread.



Edited by QM2, 08 March 2009 - 21:38.


#13 Rufus

Rufus

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,664 posts
  • Location:Greater Toronto Area
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 21:51

QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 05:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Rufus @ Mar 8 2009, 09:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I tend not to like overlay pens, but the simple sophistication and symmetry of the filigree on this pen clearly sets it apart from all the other overlay pens I have seen. The design of the filigree is true to its Moorish roots, but it's too bad Visconti didn't make it in red lucite, as a complete reflection of "the red fortress".


Rufus,

Yes, the pattern is mesmerizing! If you like the symmetry of it and you like crescents, then take a look at Conklin's 100 Anniversary : )

BTW, the Alhambra does come in red: Red Hard Rubber, with sterling silver overlay (edition of 888) or yellow gold overlay (edition of 288). Bryant also has a very cool RHR and silver prototype, where the overlay is done in a slightly different style than the public release. Take a look at this thread.


QM2...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You've really put the cat among the pigeons by telling me it does come in red; and the Conklin too wallbash.gif Let's see, perhaps I could auction off a couple of kids and grandchildren; that ought to do it.

Bryan

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." Winston S. Churchill

#14 goodguy

goodguy

    Fountain pens and watches collector

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,534 posts
  • Location:Toronto Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 08 March 2009 - 22:07

QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 09:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 08:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...
Who would you say is a more obssesed pen collector you or him ?


Heh, good question! He would say that I am much more obsessed than he is, but I don't necessarily agree. We approach it in very different ways.

For example, I think he is compulsive (and I say that in a fond way!). When he finds a theme, and needs to get "all" of the pens in that theme before he can be happy. For example, once he began collecting Meisterstueck pens, he had to get all of the modern models (just finished it off with the Mozart!), and same with the Pelikan Souveraen series. So he is a "focused completer", similar to you and Darius. Also, he does not care much for LEs, instead preferring classic, conservative models that are the heart of a brand. He owns almost exclusively either silver pens, or black pens with gold trim. Oh, and he keeps his pens very admirably organised, paying a lot of attention to their care and arrangement.

Me, I could not imagine "needing" to have a complete set of something, and in fact would probably get bored if I attempted that approach. I focus on specific aesthetic elements that appeal to me (predominantly filigree/overlay, flat-tops and dome-tops, crescent fillers, and Japanese urushi/maki-e being the themes that attract me). I also love to personalise my pens by getting the nibs reground into various interesting italic sizes, and I dedicate a lot of energy to practicing writing. As for organisation, I admit it is a little chaotic on my end : )

All this works out perfectly: Because our tastes are so different, we (almost) never compete for pens. But having the hobby in common in general is quite nice!


This really is very interesting. Your husband sounds very much like me.
I too need the full collection of certain theme and can not relax till I got it all .
I also need to present my pens in a very special way and I put a lot of thought of how to place my pens in my specialy bought (in Ikea rolleyes.gif ) glass cabinets.
When I used to collect Parkers I tried to own for at least one model that Parker made.
Same with my Snorkels pen,my goal is to own all models and all colours.

Your husband sounds very similar to me in pens hmm1.gif
Respect to all

#15 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 08 March 2009 - 22:09

QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 11:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Your husband sounds very similar to me in pens hmm1.gif


But don't forget that he doesn't like LEs. You looooove LEs : ))

I think that maybe the "completeness compulsion" is a tendency that correlates with males more so than with females. At least based on my casual observation of the "big collectors" on this board. If we take people like girlieg33k, LeighR, Phthalo, Deirdre and Ghost Plane, who are some of the biggest female collectors here I can think of, and compare them to the big male collectors, I think there is a marked difference in style.

(Please don't accuse me of sexism!)



Edited by QM2, 08 March 2009 - 22:18.


#16 goodguy

goodguy

    Fountain pens and watches collector

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,534 posts
  • Location:Toronto Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 09 March 2009 - 00:02

QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 11:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Your husband sounds very similar to me in pens hmm1.gif


But don't forget that he doesn't like LEs. You looooove LEs : ))

I think that maybe the "completeness compulsion" is a tendency that correlates with males more so than with females. At least based on my casual observation of the "big collectors" on this board. If we take people like girlieg33k, LeighR, Phthalo, Deirdre and Ghost Plane, who are some of the biggest female collectors here I can think of, and compare them to the big male collectors, I think there is a marked difference in style.

(Please don't accuse me of sexism!)

Exactly my thoughts but I didnt want to be accused of sexism so I'm glad it came from you wink.gif
Respect to all

#17 QM2

QM2

    .

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,875 posts
  • Location:the picturebooks

Posted 09 March 2009 - 00:33

Gender differences in preferences, cognitive patterns, etc., are an entirely valid line of social-scientific inquiry. There : )

What do you think, can I pitch this to the grant committee?

"Gender differences in the attitudes, motivations, and behaviour patterns prevalent among fountain pen collectors, as demonstrated through weblog and forum exhibitionism."

#18 blopplop

blopplop

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,203 posts

Posted 09 March 2009 - 01:45

What a nice pen. Thank you for your review.

Dave
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
http://www.the-highw..._questions.html

Posted Image

#19 Ghost Plane

Ghost Plane

    Indescribable

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 28,424 posts
  • Location:USA
  • Flag:

Posted 09 March 2009 - 12:31

QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 08:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gender differences in preferences, cognitive patterns, etc., are an entirely valid line of social-scientific inquiry. There : )

What do you think, can I pitch this to the grant committee?

"Gender differences in the attitudes, motivations, and behaviour patterns prevalent among fountain pen collectors, as demonstrated through weblog and forum exhibitionism."

I think you're onto something. Apply for an economic stimulus package immediately! notworthy1.gif

#20 fuchsiaprincess

fuchsiaprincess

    Museum Piece

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,194 posts

Posted 09 March 2009 - 13:06

QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 9 2009, 10:32 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (QM2 @ Mar 8 2009, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (goodguy @ Mar 8 2009, 11:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Your husband sounds very similar to me in pens hmm1.gif


But don't forget that he doesn't like LEs. You looooove LEs : ))

I think that maybe the "completeness compulsion" is a tendency that correlates with males more so than with females. At least based on my casual observation of the "big collectors" on this board. If we take people like girlieg33k, LeighR, Phthalo, Deirdre and Ghost Plane, who are some of the biggest female collectors here I can think of, and compare them to the big male collectors, I think there is a marked difference in style.

(Please don't accuse me of sexism!)

Exactly my thoughts but I didnt want to be accused of sexism so I'm glad it came from you wink.gif



Great review, QM2! The Alhambra is one GORGEOUS pen!

I think both you and Amir have hit the nail on the head! I am a relative newbie at this pen collecting addiction, but I am already noticing that my collecting habits are more like the female pattern. Thank God I'm female, otherwise, I might be in trouble roflmho.gif

Take care and well done!

Soki

Posted Image Posted Image







Sponsored Content




|