Review: Monteverde Impressa

Monteverde Impressa capped

The Impressa was a recently released by Monteverde and is available in four colors. Monteverde pens always caught my eye as a good value yet my only Monteverde is a Regatta I bought about 10 years ago. I was recently contacted by Ron at Pen Chalet who offered to provide a pen for review. (Thanks Ron!) I picked the Monteverde Impressa and let Ron pick the color.

Why I Got It

The pen was provided free for review by Pen Chalet so price was taken out of the equation. I was allowed to pick the pen I wanted to review and chose the Impressa due to its new, and rather unique design. There were four colors available and the Gun Metal & Red intrigued me but seemed just a little too subdued in the pictures. So I decided to let Ron pick the color but I did request a fine nib.
I did see the complete line at the Long Island Pen Show and the pens were shinier and better looking live than in the photos. There wasn’t a design I didn’t like.

What I Got

Monteverde Impressa packaging

I received the Pearl Silver with Blue Trim model. It’s much shinier than the pictures and I really like it. This is even though blue is not a color I particularly like. But it works well with the white pen. The nib is a fine steel nib engraved with the Monteverde logo and name.
The pen is an interesting design and one that’s unique in my accumulation. The top of the cap starts off square and becomes round as it reaches the body. The clip is built into the top of the cap where it’s hinged and has a spring action which allows it to open wide and still close tight. It does easily open and slide over material so it’s not the most secure clip. The pen is not about to fall out of my pocket but it will slide out easily if it catches on something. This does make it easy to slide in and out of a shirt pocket or a pen case. The clip does have a little lateral wiggle to it so it doesn’t always appear perfectly straight against the pen. It doesn’t feel poorly made, just that the tolerances of a $40 pen are not the same as a $400 pen. But it’s one of those things that I didn’t notice right away, but once I noticed I couldn’t unnotice. It hasn’t gotten any looser after a week of use in both my pockets and pen case.
The pen appears to be made of metal although I haven’t seen any official confirmation of that. The pen does have significant weight too it, especially when compared to the pens I typically use. it’s not so heavy that it’s uncomfortable, but it probably wouldn’t be my choice for a day log writing session.
The cap snaps on but does snap on securely. When posted the cap is help in place with friction.
The pen still has good balance when posted. Although that comes from someone who prefers to use pens unposted.
The step between the barrel and the section is very pronounced, especially since the cap threads are there. I can hold the pen naturally without the threads bothering me but if you hold the pen higher up it may bother you.
The nib is a standard #6 nib and can be swapped with most other Monteverde nibs or standard #6 nibs, It’s a nib only exchange, not the entire nib unit.
I really liked the look and design of this pen. It was also a good size which I thought would be comfortable to write with.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped:  5.5055″  139.83 mm
  • Length Uncapped:  5.0585″  128.49 mm
  • Length Posted:  6.0640″  154.02 mm
  • Section Length:  0.7285″  18.50 mm  (from below the threads to the top of the ridge protecting the nib)
  • Section Diameter (near nib):  0.3640″  9.24 mm
  • Section Diameter (below the threads):  0.4195″  10.66 mm
  • Cap Diameter:  0.4995″  12.68 mm
  • Weight:  1.4 oz  40 g

Using The Pen

Monteverde Impressa nib closeup

Before inking the pen I flushed it out with a solution of water and a couple drops of dish soap to remove any manufacturing oils or residue. I’m glad I did this as it removed one possible cause of the terrible writing experience when I first inked the pen.
The pen comes with both a black and a blue cartridge along with the convertor. As is my current practice I used one of the included cartridges, starting off with blue. I didn’t force the ink into the nib and it took about 15 minutes for the ink to get to the nib. Even with the ink flowing the writing experience was terrible. The flow would be good for a sentence or two then there would be terrible skipping. Then writing would be OK for a bit but good writing and skipping would alternate.
Things got so frustrating I removed the cartridge and again flushed the pen. Next up was the convertor filled with Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black. Even though the ink was black, night turned to day as they say. Flow was good although some skipping remained. But this time the skipping was on one stroke and immediately recovered. The ink did cling to the convertor so as the level became low I had to force the ink into the feed. I have the same problem with some other convertors so this didn’t annoy me.
Once I wrote the pen dry of the Sailor ink I tried a cartridge of Visconti Red. While it wasn’t as bad as the original blue cartridge the line would often be thin which was unpleasant so I flushed the ink and put Waterman Blue-Black in the convertor.
The Waterman Blue-Black wrote well. The skipping remained and it also clung to the convertor. By this time I decided to check the nib under a loupe and sure enough the tines were misaligned and was most likely the cause of the remaining skipping. So I aligned them. This more or less eliminated the skipping problem. More because it wrote great with the convertor until the level got low, less because cartridges didn’t have good flow and the ink still clung to the convertor which reduced flow at times.

Monteverde ink writing sample
Writing sample using the convertor

I didn’t need to do any nib smoothing, just a tine alignment. At that point the nib was very smooth. If it was aligned when it arrived I’d have considered it a very nice steel nib. Also on the subject of performance, I should mention I also removed the feed and nib to give them a thorough check and cleaning before writing this review. The performance didn’t change after this. You’ll also find a link to The Pen Habit under additional reading and he picks a medium nib’d Impressa as one of his five favorite pens.
None of the four cartridges I used provided acceptable performance. All had flow problems although the later cartridges did better. None were consistent enough to use until empty. On the other hand, the convertor has worked well. There aren’t any flow issues until most of the ink is used and I have to force the last bits into the feed. This isn’t an insignificant amount of ink as there is several pages of writing left. These are covered under ink used.
The pen is a wet writer, even though I have a fine nib. I’d say it’s one of my wettest fine nibs, if not the wettest. Sixth months ago I wouldn’t have liked this but I’ve begun looking at wetter nibs to provide some variation in my accumulation. The Montverde Impressa ended up being a nice writer, although the frustration adds to the $40 price.


I haven’t had the pen long enough to worry about clogging or staining, but it was easy enough to flush the ink out with regular water. The included convertor also disassembles to make it easy to clean.

Inks Used

As I mentioned, the cartridges didn’t work well at all. The performance ranged from absolutely terrible to just a frustratingly thin line. The convertor was used between each cartridge and didn’t have the same problems. Cartridges used were the included Monteverde Blue and Black ink which were the worst performing inks. The Visconti Red alternated between a nice line and a weak red line. The J. Herbin Perle Noire wrote well for a while then the feed would run dry and I’d have to force ink into it. This pen just doesn’t seem to like cartridges.
Things were much better when using the convertor. All the inks wrote well but had a tendency to cling to the convertor, not something unique to this pen. All the inks wrote well until the ink level became low enough to starve the feed. There was still a lot of ink stuck in the convertor so forcing it into the feed resulted in several more pages of writing. Inks used include Waterman Blue-Black, Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano black, and Visconti Bordeaux.

Wrapping Up

This is a tough one. I love the look and design of the pen but the performance left a lot to be desired. I really want to love this pen. If this pen had been a purchase I think I would have been justified in exchanging it, especially if I preferred cartridges. On the other hand it’s a $40 pen and the chance to experiment was hard to resist. There really were two problems – the first being the mis-aligned nib which was relatively easy to fix. The second problem is harder to identify. If both cartridges and the convertor had the same problem I’d say it was a feed problem. But inks in the convertor write fine, downright wet. While cartridges put down a weak line at best. To top it off I alternated between cartridges and convertor so it’s not likely one on the flushes removed some previously unseen residue or oils.
The mis-aligned nib is a little more forgivable although I have to say I’ve been impressed by a lot of inexpensive nibs these days.
Thanks to Pen Chalet for providing the pen for review. The Monteverde Impressa is currently $40 from Pen Chalet. They are also running a giveaway of a $50 and a $25 gift card ending about April 13th. Get complete giveaway details here. You can also use the coupon code FPQUEST for 10% off a purchase from them.

Additional Reading and Viewing

The Pen Habit reviewed the pen and selected it as one of his top 5 pens.

Sunday Notes and Links

The release of the latest Field Notes seasonal edition was probably the most written about pen related topic this past week. The Shelterwood edition is a clear tech success story. But it seems the more effort they put into the cover design the less I like them as actual notebooks. The Cold Horizon remains my least favorite edition. I did keep one but gave the rest away. The jury is still out on the Shelterwood but it is redeemed slightly by the paper.
While a technical marvel and cool at first glance, I’m not a fan of the wood grain cover. Add to that its inability to stay close and it’s very annoying. But there’s no denying it’s popularity. The video is worth watching. In-depth reviews are at Unroyal Warrant and
Some links I found interesting…
An Inkophile’s Blog returns to Fountain Pens and Moleskine notebooks.
No Pen Intended also returns to fountain pens and Moleskine, this time with the Dotted Pocket Notebook.
Pentorium has a Collective Review of the Lamy Dialog Series.
Goodwriters Pens has another look at the Swan SF1.
A Fool with A Pen writes about The rewards of using vintage fountain pens.
That One Pen writes about the Parker Vacumatic, one of my first vintage pens.
Pens! Paper! Pencils! reviews my favorite pocket notebook, Doane Paper Grids+Lines. Since Doane Paper doesn’t shop outside the US he’s giving one away to a non-US resident. Read the article by Apr 3rd for the giveaway.
Inkdependence! looks at the Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50.
Edison Pens has a video showing how the Menlo Pump Filler is made.

Ink Reviews

J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen at The Well-Appointed Desk
Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts at At Fool with a Pen
Kaweco Blue-Black at Pen Paper Ink Letter
Roher & Klingner Verdigris at Pens! Paper! Pencils!
P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet at Write to Me Often
Noodler’s Habanero at a Penchant for Paper


There’s a few Giveaways going on…
Pen Chalet is giving away a $50 and a $25 gift card.
Anderson Pens is approaching their 100th podcast episode. where there will be some giveaways. You’ll need to write to them before the episode and be on the chat for their 100th. The details are early in this week’s podcast or in this post.


Ink Notes: Visconti Bordeaux

A bottle of Visconti Bordeaux and the TWSBI Vac 700 filled with it
A bottle of Visconti Bordeaux in its case

With the name “Bordeaux” it was only a matter of time before I gave Visconti Bordeaux a try. I’ll get this out of the way immediately – it’s not a replacement for my beloved Montblanc Bordeaux. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
The ink comes in a fancy 40 ml. plastic bottle and costs about 44 cents per ml. The bottle is in a see-through plastic container instead of a box. The base of the container matches the ink color, as does the bottle cap. The container’s plastic cover is tapped to the base although I wish they snapped together as this would make storage easier. The fist time I got a bottle of Visconti ink I tossed the container. That is, until I realized the bottle design made it unstable so putting the bottle inside the inverted container cover while filling helped prevent accidents. The bottle design helps collect the last bits of ink making the pens easier to fill as the ink is used up.
Visconti Bordeaux has a good solid color without being overly saturated. This made it easy to read on all the papers I used. The flow was consistently good. The ink is well lubricated and the flow is just at the borderline of being too wet for me. I do prefer a ink on the dryish side so this doesn’t mean the ink forms puddles.
The ink puts down a line that’s dark enough to be easily read on all the paper I used. There’s no bleed-through, even with a wider broad stub on cheap copy paper. Show through is non-existent unless the page is held up to a light. Likewise I didn’t notice feathering on any paper I used, including some cheap stuff. The bottom line is that this is a very well behaved ink.
There is some shading and line variation present with the ink. I suspect an experienced flex writer could get some nice shading from the ink. It gives the line a little bit of character, even with a fine nib.
The ink is not at all waterproof. Enough ink was left behind in the spill test, where I immediately soaked up the water. But with a longer soak the test was unreadable between the faded line and smeared ink stain.
I used the ink as my daily writer in a Monteverde Impressa, which means about 8 pages of writing. The pen is a wet writer despite having a fine nib. This is the one pen where there was ink inside the cap and on the nib on the same day that I inked it. The pen is new but I’ve yet to experience this with any other inks. By comparison, the ink spent six weeks in my Pelikan 620 and ink in the cap was not a problem despite being carried to and from work in my computer bag.
For long-term testing I used my Pelikan 620 Shanghai with a broad nib ground to a custom stub. The nib is not something I’d use as a daily writer so there would often be several days of none use. The ink was always ready when I uncapped the pen for use. There wasn’t any ink in the cap, a least not in drops big enough to notice, and there was’t any nib creep. The ink easily flushed from the pen after six weeks without any signs of staining.

Comparison Swabs
Writing is with a glass dip pen, not a fountain pen.

Pens Used

My standard ink test pen is my TWSBI Vac 700 with extra-fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1mm nibs. Flow was good with all the nibs. The nibs and pen were easily cleaned by flushing with water. The results are in the writing samples.
The Pelikan M620 Shanghai with a custom broad stub was used for long term testing. No signs of ink stains after six weeks. The pen also sat nib-up for a week without any signs of clogging. It took just a short extra stroke to get the ink flowing when the ink was up. The pen also sat for a couple days unused and wrote immediately when needed. Also easily flushed with regular water.
The Monteverde Impressa with a fine nib was used for the extended writing test, which was about 5 pages at once and about 8 pages throughout the day. This pen is new to me so I can’t compare it to other inks. It’s a wet pen so this ink flowed extremely well. This is the one pen that had problems with ink in the cap and on the  nib. This was just hours after inking it up. Maybe I should have forced one more drop out of the convertor after filling it. While it hasn’t been as bad I have noticed a couple new ink drops in the cap after another day. This pen still has the ink in it so it hasn’t been cleaned.

Wrapping Up


I like the ink. It’s a nice color, is well behaved and puts down a consistent line. It’s a little redder than Montblanc Bordeaux so won’t replace the ink for me since I prefer the more subdued MB Bordeaux for everyday writing. The Visconti Bordeaux usb;t so red I wouldn’t use it for everyday writing, but I’m more likely to use it for marking up pages or highlighting notes.

Writing Samples

Additional Reading

Reviewed on FPN

Look Out! There’s a New Podcast In Town

A recent Pen Addict podcast mentioned a new podcast had appeared on the scene. it wasn’t fountain pen (or even pen) related. While I usually enjoy non-fountain pen discussions on the Pen Addict I’m not drawn to try anything out  So I figured I was safe when I listened to the Erasable Podcast. it was dedicated to wooden pencils and my last memory of using them was of #2 pencils to fill in ovals while taking a test. Not exactly exiting, so I figured I was safe.

I was wrong. Unfortunately what I find interesting about fountain pens (and other tech with a long history) is evident in wooden pencils. According to Wikipedia, wood case pencils date to about 1560 and technology developed in the late 1700s is still used to make the pencil lead (or actually a granite/clay mixture, not lead). My type of technology.

I was hooked. I listened to the podcast while on a drive home and decided to stop into the local Staples. True to my compulsive nature I left with the following…

Photo of my first pencil purchases

Not exactly every wood case pencil they had, but close. There is one benefit to pencils – this batch, plus a sharpener and a large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee all cost less than a bottle of Iroshizuku that’s on sale.

The pencils available were mostly Ticonderoga so I got one pack of every grade available along with the Staples house brand. The black Staedtler Noricas were in a $5 bin and looked sharp. Even though 36 pencils was far more than I ever expect to use I picked up a pack.

I’m using one of the Staedtlers to write the draft of this article. It’s not a fountain pen but there does seem to be an obsession brewing. I recommend the podcast, but you’ve been warned.

Sunday Notes and Links

It looks like I’ll be able to compile the weekly links on a regular basis, so I’m back to notes & links.

In good news, my Nock Co. cases arrived. Boy, I have a lot of cases. The quality is great making them a great value. They have almost all (maybe all by now) their Kickstarter cases shipped so I imagine their store will be opening soon.

photo of the Nock Co. cases

I did attend the Long Island Pen Show but it ended up be a quick visit in the afternoon and I left without adding anything to my accumulation. That wasn’t the fault of the show, in fact exactly the opposite. A lot to choose from and too little time to decide. For a nice overview of the show read Ed Jelley’s LI Pen Show recap. Or listen to him talk about it on the Pen Addict Podcast.

My inked pens haven’t changed much. I wrote both the Pelikan Lizard and Esterbrook dry and I’ve yet to replace either of them, so I’m down to eight inked pens. Well, nine actually, with the ninth being a new one I’m using as I write a review of it.

And now for the links…

Zeller Writing Company has a new Kickstarter up for some notebooks, called Furrow Books. There’s just over a month left in the campaign. The creator’s comments include reports of bleed through so they may not be best for wetter fountain pens. Still, they seem worth a look.

The Unroyal Warrant shows off the Nakaya Desk Pen Stand and tried various pens in it.

Speaking of Nakaya, Ed Jelley reviews the Nakaya Neo Standard.

Pens! Paper! Pencil! reviews the Noodler’s Konrad.

My Pen Needs ink writes about Pilot pens and ordering from John Mottishaw. While we picked different nibs both of us got our Pilot 823s from because of the quality and experience.

A Fool With A Pen reviews the Kaweco Special fountain pen.

The Pen Habit has a video highlighting his top 5 pens of the year.

USA Today talks about hand written thank you notes. (Warning – auto play video)

Ink Reviews

Pens! Paper! Pencil! reviews De Atramentis Archive ink.

Inkdependence reviews the Franklin-Christoph Piper Black cartridge.