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Normally I’m a fan of italian fountain pens. I started off with a Pelikan M800 though – the benchmark of a good, full-size piston filler. I was very satisfied with the Pelikan, it seemed to be everything I ever wanted from a fountain pen, I would never need another one. But later, after falling in love with the looks of it, I ordered a Delta Dolcevita and completely changed my point of view for what fountain pens are about. Handling the Dolcevita was like holding a Faberge egg in my hand, the Pelikan reminded of a free merchandise pen in comparison. The Italian culture has a profound feel for the exquisite, stemming from old tradition and masters like Bernini, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The Germans have great composers and philosophers, but let’s face it; they have no one even close to the Italian masters of fine arts. For some time it seemed I would never buy any other pens but Italian. Then I happened to read this article on Diplomat pens: http://www.fieldnotesblog.com.au/search/label/diplomat. Until then I had always considered Diplomat pens a bit boring; traditional design, no nonsense, heavy and solid – in other words extremely German. But after reading the article in Field Notes, I couldn’t wait to order one. Now, after two weeks with my Diplomat Excellence A with a 14 Kt gold medium nib, it seems the Germans have turned the tables on fountain pens again. What a fantastic pen this is! Plain and modest in comparison to most Italians, yes, but what a performer it is, and some value for money! The pens come in several colours and finishes. Mine is a Marrakesh; a brown metallic lacquer – just one colour but thousands of nuances depending on light and environment. Fine pens are a lot about material and finish. Several makers of expensive pens can perform the same (high) level of finish as Diplomat, but this utmost feeling of everlasting quality I haven’t experienced in any other pen. The sense of solidness when unscrewing the barrel, the weight of the all-metal body, the smoothness of the beautiful in-house nib, all make a combination that is hard to describe – it’s not a feeling of luxury, but something more subtle, maybe what the Germans call “Ausgewogenheit”, a kind of fine balance, a balance between utility and beauty. If this pen was a car, it would be a Mercedes W123; the durable, yet slightly gilt-edged workhorse from the 70’s and 80’s. Writing with the Diplomat Excellence, the nib is quite “present” between your fingertips. In comparison, the Delta Dolcevita feels more like a unity of nib and barrel. With the Diplomat you really feel that you’re writing with a fairly large nib, fitted to a heavy, solid barrel. I haven’t yet decided which writing experience to prefer, I like them both. Guess it’s a matter of writing technique and personal preferences. The nib is wet and smooth, and I haven’t experienced even the slightest disturbance of ink flow. This is a first class writing instrument at all levels! I hope these pens will remain on the market for years to come. They are reminders of a time when people cared for their handwriting, and for accessories that would stay with them for a lifetime. (Sorry about the pics, I'm a lousy photographer...)