Monday, December 11, 2017

VISCONTI HOMO SAPIENS CHIANTISHIRE L.E. FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Honestly? I never thought I'd buy another Visconti. Frankly the brand never really spoke to me that much, and I already own -what I'd consider- their most intriguing pen, the Homo Sapiens (aka. the lava rock pen! Find my review HERE). Hearing and reading some of those 'horror stories' about Visconti's lacking quality control didn't exactly put them high on my wishlist either. 

But unexpected things can happen. And so I found myself at the Tilburg Pen Show, with Dennis from La Couronne Du Comte shoving a brand new Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire fountain pen in my hands. I've known Dennis for many years, he's a great guy, and an even greater salesman (learned that the hard way)! He had an amazing show exclusive deal on them, so I caved and bought it against all odds. Quite an impulse buy for sure, but one I haven't regretted so far. 
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Very impressive packaging, worthy of a pen in this price class!
The Chiantishire is part of a series of acrylic pens with the same design as the regular 'lava rock' Homo Sapiens, and they are inspired by cities and regions around the world. Chiantishire comes from the Chianti region in Italy, and is a mocking term for the British upper-class that live and go on vacation in the Chianti region in Italy. This region is obviously known for their Chianti red wine, so of course the color theme is red. 
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
The cap, section and piston knob are made of a red marbled acrylic with subtle white streaks. The main focus is the barrel, which is made from a custom clear acrylic filled with ribbons of red and gold celluloid. There's a whole lot going on in this pen, different materials, different colors and different patterns. The swirls in the acrylic part perhaps aren't spread as evenly across the body as I would've wanted, but that's unfortunately not something you can choose with cast acrylics. What I do like about the celluloid ribbons, is that they are red on one side, and gold on the other. Rotating the pen reveals the pearlescent chatoyance of the gold, which gives the pen some depth. 
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
The Chiantishire, being a more expensive limited edition, comes with sterling silver cap bands and clip. The center band and other trim at the piston knob are supposedly plated metal (rhodium or platinum?), but I personally can't tell the difference. The arc-shaped clip is not everyone's cup of tea, it's definitely not the most functional. But in terms of design I do quite enjoy it. It's unique and adds a recogniseable character to Visconti's pens. The branding on both sides of the clip is enamel-filled (with white enamel to match the white swirls in the red acrylic parts!). 
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Another constant across all Visconti pens is the removable metal medallion on the cap finial. The 'My Pen' system allows you to change the finial with your initials or a gemstone to your own preference. It's a cool gimmick that I'm sure will appeal to some, but I actually like to stick with the visconti logo.
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
The L.E. Chiantishire has the exact same dimensions as the large Homo Sapiens. Measuring in at 14.6 cm (5.7") closed, and 13.2 cm (5.2") uncapped, these are considerably large pens. The widest diameter at the cap is 1.7 cm (0.6"). The section measures a comfortable 1.1 cm and has a gentle taper. The total weight is close to 40 grams, but it doesn't feel heavy (a big part of the weight lies in the cap as well, so in terms of comfort it doesn't weigh down).
L to R: Pelikan M805, M1000, Montblanc 149, Visconti Chiantishire, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
It's large, but definitely not unwieldy. The section is large and has a comfortable shape. As all Homo Sapiens pens, the Chiantishire uses Visconti's 'Hook Safe' closure mechanism. The funky shape of the 'threads' is noticeable when you grip the pen, but the edges are polished so they didn't bother me. The raised center band behind the threads is smooth and rounded so it doesn't cause any discomfort either. I never felt the need to post the cap. It is possible but I wouldn't recommend it. The cap doesn't post very deep, and adds a lot of weight to the back. Overall, the lack of annoying steps or sharp threads, the comfortable section, and the larger dimensions, make for a very pleasant pen to use. Comfort is definitely a strong suit, it's not just a pretty pen to look at.
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
The double reservoir power filler, is a vacuum filling system that allows for a rather high ink capacity (1.5ml when completely filled). The double reservoir means that the inside of the barrel is literally separated into two reservoirs, a smaller one right behind the section, and a main reservoir behind the plunger. The smaller writing reservoir holds enough ink ready to go for a decent writing session, so you don't have to open the blind cap each time you write (which is a downside of normal vacuum fillers). Being able to close off the main ink reservoir means that it's less prone to leaking, making it ideal if you travel a lot.
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
Visconti's 23k palladium Dreamtouch nibs have seen their fair share of issues. However my experience with this fine nib has been as positive as my previous experience with the 1.3mm stub on my HS Steel oversize. Of course it's impossible to judge an entire brand based on two of their pens, but either they upped their QC, or getting a good nib is just a matter of luck. In any case, I'd always recommend trying before you buy (and not just when you buy a Visconti).
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
But as I said, my (limited) experience with Visconti nibs has actually been quite good. This fine nib has a balanced flow, not too wet nor too dry. The feed keeps up well. It's smooth to a certain extent, but definitely not overpolished. It's a reliable writer, and I never had it skip or hard start. I expected a springy nib, but this one is surprisingly hard.
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review
The Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire retails for 850 EUR / 1100 USD, which is a 300 dollar premium over the regular lava rock oversize Homo Sapiens. That's a hefty premium on an already quite expensive pen. While I find the regular HS to be worth their price, this maybe feels a bit too expensive. If I hadn't bought mine at a discount, I probably never would've bought it at all. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a good looking pen and a fantastic writer. If it's worth it for you is -in the end- still a very subjective and personal choice.

The Chiantishire is a limited and numbered edition of 888 pens. They usually remain available for a good while, and you can occasionally pick them up at a good deal (La Couronne Du Comte has a Christmas deal going for 680EUR on them right now!).
Note: La Couronne Du Comte is a sponsor of this blog. I received a discount on the purchase of this product. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links. 
Visconti Homo Sapiens Chiantishire L.E. fountain pen review

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

INKTASTIC: KAWECO SUNRISE ORANGE INK REVIEW

Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
I'd say Kaweco recently released two new inks, but that was almost a year ago, and I'm just terribly behind on reviews. Kaweco already had a pretty decent selection of inks, with eight typical colors to choose from. The two latest inks are Smokey Grey, and Sunrise Orange. Let's focus on the latter...
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Kaweco Sunrise Orange has a lot going for it. And on top of that it's actually one of the more usable orange inks I've come across. It reminds me a lot of Lamy's special edition ink of two years ago: Copperorange. It's not the typical bright, burns-your-eyes-orange, instead it's a bit darker and more subdued. 
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Sunrise orange shines in slightly wetter nibs. I always use a Lamy Safari for these ink reviews, which is not THE wettest writer. But nevertheless it shows off some decent shading. In really wet nibs (or in swabs as you can see above), it shades to a dark brown-ish orange, in other nibs the shading is more subtle. 
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Lamy Safari, medium nib
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Lamy Safari, broad nib
Kaweco inks may not be the most exciting in the world, but they are quite well-behaved in general. It seems a bit on the dry side, however not to a point where it gives issues with flow. It's very well-behaved: no bleedthrough, no feathering. Dry times are moderate. There's no waterproofness to talk about, any contact with water completely wipes it out.
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review
Lamy Safari, 1.5 stub
Kaweco Sunrise Orange is a strange ink. It's not extraordinary in any way, it doesn't have crazy shading or sheen. Yet it doesn't need all that to be a cool ink. It's subdued and dark enough to be used for 'normal' writing (ok maybe take that with a grain of salt), but it's still a fun and colorful ink.

Kaweco inks all come in small 30ml bottles (or standard international cartridges). The bottled ink runs for 10 EUR / 13.5 USD. It's often said that Kaweco inks are overpriced but I'd have to disagree. True, they are not the cheapest out there, but I think they are good value for money. 

Note: This product was sent to me by Kaweco, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
Inktastic: Kaweco Sunrise Orange ink review

Monday, November 27, 2017

QUICK LOOK: NAMISU NOVA COPPER FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Namisu has been on a roll in the last year, with tons of new products. In July, they did another Kickstarter -their most succesful campaign as of yet- for the Ixion (which is bound to arrive fairly soon!). And at the same time they released two new iterations of the popular Nova fountain pen. Earlier, around June, they came up with the stonewashed titanium Nova (that I reviewed HERE), and two months later they released the Nova in the long-awaited solid copper finish!

Well, I say long-awaited because I was pretty confident that, after the copper orion earlier this year, a Nova in the same finish would eventually follow... And here it is!
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Copper, brass, titanium, titanium stonewashed, ebonite,... Yeah ok, I'm a hoarder!
As you may know, I've been very much into machined metal pens lately. There's something about them that makes me reach for these pens over all others. The craftsmanship, industrial machined look and robustness of an all-metal pen... It just really works for me.

On top of that, a lot of metal pen makers also incorporate a very distinct minimal aesthetic into their products. Which is a clear win in my book.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
The copper nova may be one of the most minimalist pens out there. Namisu sticks loyally to their clean, clipless designs (to the frustration of those that would like to finally see a more pocket-friendly design with clip in their product lineup). It may not be the most practical design, but I'd call that determination. They have their mind set on an aesthetic theme, and they strictly hold on to it.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
I, for one, am still partial to the clean cigar shaped design of the Nova. The bulkyness and gently curved line, the flattop design with the gently pointed finials... I like everything about the design, and I definitely think a clip would mess with the aesthetic (but then again, I don't really use the clip on any of my pens, so it's not a real loss for me).

The copper finish is pretty amazing. It's cool when it arrives all polished and shiny, but it gets a million times cooler after a few days of use. The patina on this pen is honestly some of the best I've ever seen. It's much stronger than with brass (presumably because the patina is oxidized copper, and brass is only partially made up of copper, but I could be wrong on that). And it shows a wide range of colors, from dark brown to red and even blue when you look closely!

PS: yes, this pen makes your hands smell like pennies! 
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
That patina though!
Comfort-wise, I like to hold this pen at a lower angle. Sort of in a more cradled position than I usually hold my pen. I think that's a way to support the weight of the pen, as it balances on the web of my hand between my thumb and index, instead of focusing all the weight in my grip. Make no mistake, this is a heavy pen (95g total, 69g uncapped!), so regardless of how you hold it, it weighs down considerably.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Yet because of the way I hold the pen, I do find that I have a more relaxed grip (which is a bit counterintuive with a heavy pen like this). I just guide the nib across the page with my grip, while the pen rests in the web of my hand...if that makes any sense. Perhaps with longer writing sessions the weigh could start to become a problem, but then again this is not a pen I'd recommend solely for extensive writing sessions. For full details on measurements, you can go back to my review of the stonewashed titanium, or brass Nova.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
L to R: Kaweco Brass Sport, TWSBI Diamond 580Al, Namisu Nova Copper, Lamy Al-Star, Lamy 2000
Talking about writing... Of course the Nova Copper utilises the same #6 Bock nibs as all other Namisu pens. I've used and reviewed almost every steel and titanium Bock nib. I've had very good experiences with most, if not all of these nibs. They are smooth, wet and consistent writers straight out of the box. 

But there's no use in reviewing the same nib over and over again, so I thought I'd change it up a little this time: I ground the medium steel nib into a cursive italic. Of course a custom grind won't come with the pen, but it's a fast and affordable way to upgrade the writing experience and make the pen even more fun to use. There are a lot of really skilled nibmeisters out there who can do a much better job than I (Mike MasuyamaNibsmithNibgrinder,...) so I'd suggest checking them out if you want to spice up one of your pens!
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Closeup of the medium Cursive Italic grind
The medium curisve Italic grind is a step up from standard stub nibs. If you have some experience with stubs, but want more precise line variation at the trade-off of some smoothness. A cursive italic is sharper and less rounded off than a stub. This makes the line variation more pronounced and more consistent. Because of the sharper edges, you can't rotate the nib because the edges as it would make the edges of the nib dig into the paper. It's a nib with a learning curve, and it's not as smooth as a round or stub nib. But it's ideal for more advanced cursive writing or even calligraphy.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review
Copper usually demands a pretty substantial premium with machined metal pens. But as usual, Namisu is pretty mild with their pricing: the Copper Namisu Nova retails for 69 GBP (90 USD), which is ten pounds less than the titanium version, and the same as the brass. Prices vary a bit, depending on the currency value, but at 75 GBP/ 85 EUR/ 99 USD they are about half the cost of similar machined pens made out of copper. If one thing, Namisu has their price point down, with excellent value for the price you pay.

Note: This product was provided by Namisu, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
Quick Look: Namisu Nova Copper fountain pen review