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Tibaldi Impero celluloid and some recent imitators: a "review" of pen materials


dms525
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Tibaldi Impero Celluloid and Its Imitaors

 

Tibaldi Impero celluloid is regarded by many pen collectors as the most beautiful material ever used for fountain pens. OMAS Arco Bronze may be the only other material in its class. Although the original Tibaldi company has been out of business for some years, rods of the Impero material have been somewhat available until relatively recently.

 

The unavailability of genuine Impero rods may be why some resins that more or less explicitly emulate Impero celluloid’s appearance have appeared in several pen makers lines. I have a couple in my collection, and I will share photos comparing them with the real thing.

 

The first of these to come to my attention was the “Blue Sorrento” resin used by Leonardo Officina Italiana in one of their Momento Zero issues. Leonardo did not promote this as resembling Impero, but the material reminded my of Impero, although it was more blue and a lot less black.

 

The second was a Carina 14 from Atelier Lusso (Eric Sands) in the very attractive “Faux Tibaldi” resin cast by Jonathan Brooks. Although that material had some sparkly bits, it did have more of the Impero “feel” than the Italian resin used by Leonardo.

 

Most recently, Brian Gray, owner of the Edison Pen Company, announced a new material in their “Production” Collier series, carried by their dealers. Brian called the material “Nighthawk.” He explicitly compared and contrasted this material to Tibaldi Impero.I found the photos most attractive and ordered a Collier in this material. When I put it side-by-side with my Leonardo Momento Zero Blue Sorrento, I discovered the two pens were made in the exact same material.

 

The general feel of both Brooks’ Faux Tibaldi” and the Italian resin used by Leonardo and Edison are similar. Putting them next to each other, you see their differences quite clearly. I hope you find the photos interesting.

 

1561392465_imperoandclones2.jpg.24d1ce70e6cd0783f11c7975e8d89bf5.jpg

 

Top to bottom :Lusso Pens Carina 14, Edison Pen Company Collier, Leonardo Momento Zero, Stipula for Mercury (a LE of 50 started by Tibaldi itself but completed by Stipula after Tibaldi's demise.)

 

1739761087_imperoandclones1.jpg.93f77828380b3c483fff005a93841277.jpg

 

All these pens have italic nibs are a pleasure to write with, but that's another story for another day.

 

David

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Thanks David: that is a very useful comparison. None of the imitators really hold a candle to the Impero, though.

 

And, for what it's worth, the only real peer of the Impero, for my money, is the Arco Verde! :)

Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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Thank you for the demonstration, David.  The recently released Santini Libra Safira probably falls into this group as well, with more emphasis on the blue and less black compared to the Nighthawk/Sorrento.  To my eye, Santini’s material has more of the “electric” character seen in the Impero than does the Nighthawk/Sorrento material.https://www.santini-italia.com/libra-safira.html.

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7 hours ago, silverlifter said:

Thanks David: that is a very useful comparison. None of the imitators really hold a candle to the Impero, though.

 

And, for what it's worth, the only real peer of the Impero, for my money, is the Arco Verde! :)

Yes, David, thanks for taking the time to share all the interesting information and photos.  Congrats on the really nice collection.............

 

I agree, for the most part, with @silverlifter

I would just add that IMO a nice example of Arco Bronze is right up there with the Arco Verde in terms of beauty and desirability. 

As for Impero, IMO none of  these resins come even close to the magical beauty of authentic celluloid Impero.

 

All in all, we have an unfortunate, rather ironic situation these days........ 

We have some truly talented and fine pen makers are doing their best to make "faux" Impero resins look like the real deal.

And then on the other hand, we have another pen maker trying to make a quick fortune by cranking out some awful pens using genuine Arco Bronze and Arco Verde. 

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4 hours ago, Carrau said:

Thank you for the demonstration, David.  The recently released Santini Libra Safira probably falls into this group as well, with more emphasis on the blue and less black compared to the Nighthawk/Sorrento.  To my eye, Santini’s material has more of the “electric” character seen in the Impero than does the Nighthawk/Sorrento material.https://www.santini-italia.com/libra-safira.html.

 

Allowing for differences in lighting, I would bet that Santini's material is the same as the one used by Leonardo and Edison.

 

Thanks for pointing it out and providing the link.

 

David

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3 hours ago, Seney724 said:

 

All in all, we have an unfortunate, rather ironic situation these days........ 

We have some truly talented and fine pen makers are doing their best to make "faux" Impero resins look like the real deal.

And then on the other hand, we have another pen maker trying to make a quick fortune by cranking out some awful pens using genuine Arco Bronze and Arco Verde. 

 

I share your distress regarding this. On the other hand, Leonardo can custom-make pens using the Arco rods, but the cost is a bit beyond what I am willing to pay. Without a doubt, I would feel differently if I didn't already have a number of genuine OMAS pens in Arco Green and Bronze and in some of their other celluloids.

 

David

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10 minutes ago, dms525 said:

 

I share your distress regarding this. On the other hand, Leonardo can custom-make pens using the Arco rods, but the cost is a bit beyond what I am willing to pay. Without a doubt, I would feel differently if I didn't already have a number of genuine OMAS pens in Arco Green and Bronze and in some of their other celluloids.

 

David

I completely agree David.  Best case scenario is to have the "real deal."

 

The idea of having Leonardo custom make one has never made much sense to me given what Leonardo asks is substantially more than the current market prices of the Omas Arco Green & Bronze FPs. 

 

That said, not too long ago someone posted photos here of a custom FP Leonardo made for them in Arco Bronze.   It was really stunning.  Perhaps a nice choice for someone who has both authentic Omas Factory Arco Bronze & Green pens AND a lot of money to spend on pens!!  

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thank you David, that's an interesting topic.

I'm attracted by blue pens especially when marbled material and those four you show are a very nice group.

I'm lucky to own a Mercury pen like yours in Tibaldi Impero, and also own a pen in the Faux Tibaldi material by J. Brooks. (the pen was turned by Jandiwooddesign).

 

I'm missing the Sorrento attempt, but choice is widening with leonardo, Edison and now also Santini...:)

 

I can see that makers of acrlylic plastic materials are getting better at it every day.

As someone has already mentioned, I would expect that if they did try harder with more black material combined with blue they would come very close to the Tibaldi effect.

Celluloid probably maintains more depth and the Impero may remain of unmatched beauty but it's fun to see nicer materials coming close.

 

Let's spread a merciful veil on use being made today with Omas celluloids. We were lucky that at least the Tibaldi celluloids found better use with Stipula, and in some cases Bexley.

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Having both the Santini Safira and the Edison Nighthawk, there is much less black in the Santini material, about the same grey, and more blue (same blue shade, but more of the blue present, which makes the pen less dark looking than the Nighthawk).   The blue seams/veins in the Santini material standout more against the other colors than in the Edison.  The Santini is definitely brighter  looking than the Edison.  I don’t have a Sorrento to compare with them.  I’ve tried photographing them today, but the light so far doesn’t allow the photograph to bring out the differences, without looking very closely at the individual flakes in the materials. I’ll keep trying to get a photo that portrays them more accurately.  I like both patterns/shades, however, kind of like Major and Minor keys in music.  Both have been enjoyable for writing and admiring.

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David,

Thank you for doing this.  I have wondered why pics like this weren't around sooner.

A soon as I got my Blue Sorrento, literally the first thing I thought was "I need to hold this up to see how it compares to the Impero". The impression I got from the Blue Sorrento is that it was never trying to copy the Impero.  Looking at it, had that been Leonardo's intention, I am sure (with a little tweaking) they could have pulled off something very convincing.  It always felt to me like they were aiming for something was more of a nod to the past rather than an outright attempt to copy it.

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From my reading it can take over 3 years to age such celluloid rods.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Bo Bo Olson said:

From my reading it can take over 3 years to age such celluloid rods.

My reading is about the same, and the process is horribly dangerous (explosion hazard) and the off-gasses  are flammable and toxic.  This is why celluloid is basically not being produced anymore.  (Yes there are still a few producers in places like China, but not to nearly the scale it was).  All of that is part of the reason I was happy to see Leonardo make such a close analogue in acrylic.  It gives me hope that we might see some future developments that truly rival the celluloids of old.

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Thanks for this post as I kept wondered about how close to the original celluloid the new acrylics were in photos. I have a custom pen in a similar color theme with this material Impero Blue

 

img_20171125_100953.jpg?w=736

 

img_20171125_101350.jpg?w=736 

source

 

1000_exemplar_blue-impero-erinoid_medium

 

 

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

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37 minutes ago, Ambien said:

Thanks for this post as I kept wondered about how close to the original celluloid the new acrylics were in photos. I have a custom pen in a similar color theme with this material Impero Blue

 

img_20171125_100953.jpg?w=736

 

img_20171125_101350.jpg?w=736 

source

 

1000_exemplar_blue-impero-erinoid_medium

 

 

 

Nice! That material is closer than either of the ones in my pen to the Impero celluloid in appearance. 

 

Renée does nice work, doesn't she.

 

David

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1 hour ago, Ambien said:

Thanks for this post as I kept wondered about how close to the original celluloid the new acrylics were in photos. I have a custom pen in a similar color theme with this material Impero Blue

 

img_20171125_100953.jpg?w=736

 

img_20171125_101350.jpg?w=736 

source

 

1000_exemplar_blue-impero-erinoid_medium

 

 

This looks fantastic! 

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3 hours ago, dms525 said:

 

Nice! That material is closer than either of the ones in my pen to the Impero celluloid in appearance. 

 

Renée does nice work, doesn't she.

 

David

 

2 hours ago, como said:

This looks fantastic! 

 

Thanks for the kind comments. I'm actually still waiting for a pen by Scriptorium in July but it's a good example.

 

Here's my friend's original custom FP in Tibaldi Impero Celluloid:

 

14288006_208156656267866_1739625338_n.jp

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

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Thanks for such a detailed comparison. The Nighthawk was already on my list but the comparison with the other pens is very interesting. I really like the Lusso - very dark compared to the others but the blue when it appears is more dramatic.

Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/

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Thank you @dms525 for this wonderful post. 

 

I have a question for you: you mention Leonardo custom work. I have been unable to find a direct way to contact them to discuss  custom work. Do you have any resources you could point me to where I could make contact?

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1 hour ago, rookie85 said:

Thank you @dms525 for this wonderful post. 

 

I have a question for you: you mention Leonardo custom work. I have been unable to find a direct way to contact them to discuss  custom work. Do you have any resources you could point me to where I could make contact?

 

Salvatore Matrone, the owner of Leonardo Officina Italiana, is active on social media. If you go to Instagram, search for "Leonardo_Pens" and send a message, I expect Salva would respond.

 

Leonardo's Facebook group is private, but you could request to join and contact Salva there as well.

 

Good luck and Happy writing!

 

David

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