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Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age 18k versus HS Dark Ages 23k palladium



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Despite the fact that there already are countless reviews of the HS Bronze Age 18k, I hope to add some fresh insights into this pen by comparing it with the HS Dark Age 23k and focus on their nib performance.

 

23k palladium nib of the HS Dark Age

One thing that immediately struck me when trying out the 18k Bronze Age pen in fine was the huge difference between it and the 23k palladium dreamtouch nib of the Dark Age fountain pen. The 23k medium was literally gushing ink to a point where it was very hard for me to control the pen on the paper. Switching to an extra fine nib didn’t do much to improve this situation. Inking the 23k up with a variety of drier inks did yield some modest improvements. Lamy blue for instance - generally known to be one of the drier inks on the market - dit make the pen write substantially better. But still, not enough improvement for me to use the pen with any kind of joy. So I sold it off, with some sadness.

 

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18k gold nib of the HS Bronze Age

For some reason, however, I could not get the HS out of my mind. I did like the feel of the HS material in my hand a lot; I did like the weight, girth and length of this pen very much. I liked how the lava of the body warmed when holding the pen for longer periods and how substantial yet relatively soft and silky this pen felt. So I decided to take the plunge and buy a Bronze Age in fine. What a difference with the 23k! This fine (rose gold) nib is not a gusher at all. As a matter of fact, it borders on the dry, depending on which ink you use. It does not seem to be an ink flow issue  at all - ink flow is as it should be. 

Right now, the pen is inked up with Montblanc Royal Blue, and this surprisingly is one of the drier inks in this pen (whereas it is quite a wet one in other fountain pens). The advantage is that this relative dryness allows for a lot of control when writing. No unexpected blurbs of ink, of pooling of ink at the bottom of letters. With no pressure at all, the pen barely writes. Increase the pressure and a nice line variation emerges. The nib itself is quite soft and springy. Certainly not a flex nib (I haven’t tried flexing with this pen), but soft and bouncy. 

 

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It is very surprising how much of a difference in writing experience these two nibs show. 

 

Happy New Year!

 

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TheDutchGuy

Your description of the 18k F echoes my own experiences with it. A wonderful writing experience! The nib/feed responds quite differently to different inks and sometimes goes against the grain (i.e. it’s wet with a dry ink or v.v.) I also tried MB Royal Blue in mine and, as in yours, it was rather dry. I’ve now got Sailor Jentle Blue in it, and I’m one happy camper.

 

Regarding the 23k Pd: I’ve got a Midi with a 23k Pd nib and I love that pen as much (if not more) than the fullsize 18k. The 23k is soft, springy, dry/thin with minimal pressure yet nice and juicy with normal pressure, offers a hint of natural variation with normal writing and is the best reverse writer ever (basically two pens in one).

 

All personal evidence is, of course, anecdotal. There are many stories about overly wet 23k HS pens with various nib maladies. With my two pens, Visconti hit it out of the park. 

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I had the 18k and found it boring. The 23k is much more fun for me.  Soft and better ink flow.  Probably a lot of pen-to-pen variability given Viscontis general lack of consistency (second only to Stipula!). If the pens weren’t so beautiful I might have been able to stay away lol

 

NM

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Honeybadgers

The 23k palladium's only issue was the abhorrent quality control. When you get a good one, it's one of the best nibs you'll ever use. When you get a bad one, it's the most irritating and frustrating. There's no in between. It really made me angry because for the price, visconti had no excuse to not employ people to hand-tune every single pen that left their damn factory.

 

Haven't tried one of their 18k pens yet, but since I have an EF homosapiens with a good 23k, and the divina metro with a good 23k, I don't really see myself needing another visconti. The two pens they make that both struck a chord with me AND were even near my budget are both in my collection.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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Agree wholeheartedly that they should be hand tuned.  It’s sad the garbage that Visconti and Stipula send you for hundreds of dollars.  The customer service is atrocious too.   I had a Stipula arrive with a cracked cap and they charged me to repair it (50% of what the pen cost too!). 

 

Bottom line I don’t think anyone should buy one of these pens unless you get to test it or have an expert test it for you.  
 

Glad to hear there are solid 18k Visconti nibs out there.  As much as I love the HS and think it’s unique and beautiful...never again. 
 

NM.  
 

 

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Honeybadgers

Yeah, Coles of London does not have very good service. It's not TWSBI bad, but it's not great. Which is why I bought both of mine from Goulet, who took care of everything, and even exchanged my HS for an EF model, tested it, and then just arbitrarily threw in a $100 visconti pen case for no reason other than stupendous customer service.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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TheDutchGuy
5 hours ago, Honeybadgers said:

...I bought both of mine from Goulet, who took care of everything, and even exchanged my HS for an EF model, tested it, and then just arbitrarily threw in a $100 visconti pen case for no reason other than stupendous customer service.


Awesome! It’s great to be able to trust a retailer like that.

 

I’m glad to have one of each. The 18k and the 23k perform and feel in quite a different way, i.e. they’re sort of complementary. Neither has drawbacks, both are great. If forced to choose, I’d take the 23k but it would be a hard choice. Let me put it like this: my 18k is like a classy Mercedes limo. It just oozes comfort and quality. My 23k is more akin to a real driver’s car, less comfort, equal quality, more individuality.

 

It as difficult to decide between the 18k EF or F. Normally I’m definitely an EF person, but there was something about the 18k F which drew me in. It’s soft, smooth, tactile, sensitive/dynamic and feels so incredibly... high-end. And it can be dry when I want it to be dry, or really wet when I want it to be wet.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the interesting replies. It is shame to hear that these high end and expensive pens have such a hot-or-miss quality to them. I’m lucky to now have a HS I’m very happy with (the 18k) but the 23k in medium I originally possessed was unusable for me due to the exuberant gushing of ink. The 18k rose gold I now use daily is very reliable and a joy to use, as The Dutch Guy says, it does indeed feel a bit like a classy Mercedes limo that evens out al kinds of bumps in the road and that steers the driver smoothly over the paper. 

Edited by Martty
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Alphabet

I have the 23K palladium nibs in both the Bronze and midi in silver and never had any flow issues.  Actually had to send the Bronze Age pen to a nib guy to get it to flow better.  Both are great writers!

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On 1/3/2021 at 2:19 AM, nm4 said:

 I had a Stipula arrive with a cracked cap and they charged me to repair it (50% of what the pen cost too!). 

 

Wow. If I'd bought it with a credit card I'd have had the credit card company refund the purchase price. That's shocking from Stipula.

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doclocs13

I've had a number of issues with the homo sapiens before I finally got the Dark Age that I absolutely love. My first two Dark Ages (with 23k palladium) had significant issues with skipping. On the second one, the right tine was slightly longer than the left, smh. I bought them from Goulet Pens who provided great customer service. I ended up returning the second one for a Bronze Age. I bought another Dark Age from Pen Boutique and it is one of my favorite writers! I loved the Bronze Age until, two weeks later, the gold finial band separated from the body of the pen while cleaning the pen. It was so sad because it was such a great writer. I returned that one and just got a refund. I am one those who are generally unlucky with Visconti.

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On 1/8/2021 at 2:44 PM, RJS said:

Wow. If I'd bought it with a credit card I'd have had the credit card company refund the purchase price. That's shocking from Stipula.

Well after a 4 month wait to get the pen back I was just happy to have it in my possession.  Of course they didn’t fix the nib that had terrible ink flow so a trip to Mike Masuyama happened later (it’s now a lovely writer thanks to Mike’s skill).  And it STILL has a section nipple that is too big for nearly all converters (including Stipulas rebranded Schmidt K5) and has split the end of 3 converters.  

Visconti does better than Stipula for sure.   But it’s still light years behind Pilot, Pelikan, Lamy, Platinum and many others.

 

NM

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a very helpful thread.

 

I just acquired my first MB 149, it arrives next week, so I have had to decide on where to set my sights next.  As of now, I have narrowed it down to Visconti, Homo Sapiens. One of my Grail pens has been the Lava, but recently I started to question if I should instead focus on a Bronze or Dark Age first, and try to get one with a 23k palladium while I still can, then go for a HS with an 18k nib, and only then look for a Lava.  

 

My first, and only, Visconti to date is a Van Gogh Red Vineyards from Iguana Sell, which I got for $153 in December.  It has the 2nd generation small steel Medium nib, and I really enjoy writing with it.  

 

 

I keep hearing the same things about Visconti as have been noted in this thread, but even so, I am still interested and waiting several more Viscontis, even if their might be some trials and tribulations prior to achieving a satisfactory outcome. 

 

Any of you who have more insights to share please feel free to PM me, or suggest where would be best to start a fresh thread in regards to assisting myself and others in making the most informed choices regarding Visconti nibs and fountain pens.

 

Thank you all.

Edited by Adicus
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doclocs13
37 minutes ago, Adicus said:

This is a very helpful thread.

 

I just acquired my first MB 149, it arrives next week, so I have had to decide on where to set my sights next.  As of now, I have narrowed it down to Visconti, Homo Sapiens. One of my Grail pens has been the Magma, but recently I started to question if I should instead focus on a Bronze or Dark Age first, and try to get one with a 23k palladium while I still can, then go for a HS with an 18k nib, and only then look for a Magma.  

 

My first, and only, Visconti to date is a Van Gogh Red Vineyards from Iguana Sell, which I got for $153 in December.  It has the 2nd generation small steel Medium nib, and I really enjoy writing with it.  

 

 

I keep hearing the same things about Visconti as have been noted in this thread, but even so, I am still interested and waiting several more Viscontis, even if their might be some trials and tribulations prior to achieving a satisfactory outcome. 

 

Any of you who have more insights to share please feel free to PM me, or suggest where would be best to start a fresh thread in regards to assisting myself and others in making the most informed choices regarding Visconti nibs and fountain pens.

 

Thank you all.


I love my Visconti. However, I will only buy a Visconti under three circumstances (that I can think of right now):

1) a brick and mortar store where I can try it out and have someone see the issue if one comes up. While the customer service with Goulet pens was fabulous, I felt guilty (like I’d done something wrong) that I kept having to return the pens. It’s also a bit frustrating to have to go through troubleshooting when you know it’s not a user error (though I know they have to do it).

2) from an online store like nibs.com that personally tune their pens before shipping 

3) used personal pen from someone I can trust that can assure me there are no problems.


I know there are people out that have not had issues with Visconti, but I am not one of them. 

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40 minutes ago, doclocs13 said:


I love my Visconti. However, I will only buy a Visconti under three circumstances (that I can think of right now):

1) a brick and mortar store where I can try it out and have someone see the issue if one comes up. While the customer service with Goulet pens was fabulous, I felt guilty (like I’d done something wrong) that I kept having to return the pens. It’s also a bit frustrating to have to go through troubleshooting when you know it’s not a user error (though I know they have to do it).

2) from an online store like nibs.com that personally tune their pens before shipping 

3) used personal pen from someone I can trust that can assure me there are no problems.


I know there are people out that have not had issues with Visconti, but I am not one of them. 

 

I was already beginning to think almost exactly along those lines myself.  The only other one I would add is if found deeply discounted enough that the cost of sending off to a have it tuned would make the final cost still reasonable. 

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