This Just In: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age capI decided to get a holiday gift pen for myself, at least that’s my excuse. The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, with an extra fine nib, will be my eleventh new pen this year. It will be my last too, unless the Edison Group buy arrives very, very early.

This fountain pen has been on my radar for a long time. It, or it’s Silver Age sibling, have come and gone from my watch list many times. At first I dismissed the lava material as a gimmick, but I still liked the look. The pen has many causes for concern, some of which I consider a positive. In any event, this was a pen I needed to see and hold before shelling out a significant amount of money. It was back on my list and I finally got to see and hold its smaller sibling, the Midi Silver Age. (The Midi is smaller and only available in the steel trim. The Bronze Age is only available in one size, which is the same as the Maxi Steel Age.) The pen made a good impression although I wasn’t able to write with it.

As I mentioned, there are several problems, or potential problems, with this pen. Dr. Deans, the Fountain Pen Economist, who is a fan of Viscontis, including the Homo Sapien, wrote about its foibles and described it as …

…quintessentially Italian: utterly, hopelessly beautiful and deeply flawed.

Amanda, at the Purl Bug borrowed one (from a fan) and did a video review. Her concerns/dislikes don’t bother me but that’s personal preference. They are valid and should be considered before buying the pen.

I debated between silver and bronze trim. I don’t like gold trim and while bronze isn’t gold (duh!) it is gold colored when shiny. The steel was very nice and has a very classy look. I like it when a pen develops it’s own personality from use and I’ve liked the way my other bronze pens have tarnished over time. (Patina would be a nicer way of saying tarnish.) I could toss a coin to decide and not be disappointed with the result. But I picked bronze and do plan to let the it tarnish over time so won’t be polishing it. This should dull the shine which will be more to my liking.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age EF posted with Pelikan Blue-Black on the nibMy first impression? Holy cow!!! (or other less family appropriate words) I love writing with this pen. It arrived Monday the 7th. I picked Pelikan Blue-Black as an ink to tame the wet nib and inked it up that night. I wrote it dry on Wednesday, literally on my last word of the day. Unless I need a waterproof ink, or a different color it has been the only pen I’ve used since then. When taking notes for work I use big words since they take longer to write. When I’m not taking notes I’m doodling. At night I look for things to write. I wrote the pen dry again and switched to my favorite ink – Montblanc Bordeaux.

I did have ink ooze from the section a couple days after filling, even after being wiped dry. I’ve read about hacks to stop it from happening but it doesn’t bother me and I can live with it. It’s only happened that one time so far.

The pen has a nice feel to it. I’ve heard the feel compared to ebonite. While it does feel like rubber, the ebonite pens that I’ve had have been polished and the comparison isn’t exact in my opinion. The Homo Sapien has a softer feel to it.

I like the cap threads but I’m still getting used to the squishiness of capping and uncapping the pen. It’s a solid lock, but the process makes me feel like something is broken as the cap slides off. My brain still expects that my hands should be turning the cap more. At times my brain thinks it’s a pull off cap.

I don’t like the Visconti clip design in general. I have gotten used to opening it a bit when sliding it into my pocket and can now do it smoothly. I’m wondering how long it will be before the Visconti lettering will rub off the clip. If I was the type of person who needed to shine the brass I’d be even more concerned about rubbing it off.

As for the Dreamtouch nib – I thought it was a marketing gimmick until I wrote with it. It’s not a nib I would normally consider. It’s wet and springy (not flexible). It’s not a nib begging to be flexed so I don’t feel like it’s wasted on me. I like the look of a nice large nib on a pen and this nib is huge. I was concerned about the two-tone gold on a large nib but it isn’t gaudy at all. The gold is very subdued. When I look at the nib as I’m writing the gold gives the nib an angelic glow.

The pen is heavy, 43 grams in total although the cap alone is 17 grams. The cap does post securely and this is where it gets really weird. The Homo Sapien is clearly big enough for me to use unposted, as I use all but my smallest pens. When posted it nearly 7″ long, yet I’ve been using this pen posted for everything except short notes. The balance is great and the weight hasn’t bothered me even for long writing sessions.

The filling system is a vacuum filler similar to the TWSBI Vac 700 or Pilot Custom 823. Visconti calls it a Power Filler. I was a little surprised there weren’t instructions included since it’s an uncommon filling system. (There were instructions for the polishing cloth.) Unlike my other vacuum fillers it’s not necessary to open the blind cap to allow ink flow into the section, so there is a difference.

I’ve seen the ink capacity listed as 1.5 ml but it doesn’t seem like I’m getting that much ink in a fill. I’ve been getting 10 to 12 A5 sized pages of solid writing. I’m using the same filling technique as my vacuum fillers which both get good fills. Also, there’s no ink window so it’s hard to tell when the ink is low.

To say I’m happy with the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age is an understatement. It’s caused me to ignore my other fountain pens. It’ll be a few months before I do a full review since I need to give the giddiness time wear away.

This Just In: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta (Vintage Green)

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Vintage GreenI received this, my second Franklin-Christoph Model 20, at the same time as my orange Model 02. I’ve just been delayed in writing about it. I considered skipping this post since I’ve already written the pen dry of its first fill. I wrote the draft about a week ago and I’d hate to waste it, so it’s being posted now. Plus, I’m a completist and it would annoy me to skip it.

The only two differences between this version and my original Model 02 are the acrylic and the nib. This one has the Vintage Green acrylic and a Mike Masuyama medium stub nib. Like my original, this one also lacks a clip.

I generally hate it when the word “vintage” is used as an adjective when naming a new product. So that was a initial turnoff. But I really like the look so I got over it. I do think the pen design itself has a look reminiscent of vintage pens. It’s a simple design but it does have character. I don’t think the Green looks any more vintage than the Tiger Red. That said, the Vintage Green has some subtle shading to it that does give it a retro aesthetic.

It’s hard to pass up a Mike Masuyama nib grind when ordering from Franklin-Christoph. I have passed it up in the past, but this time I picked the medium stub. At $15 it’s the best value in fountain pens. Since I usually go for thin nibs it’s a little wider than normal for me. It won’t be using it to mark up documents and it won’t be a regular note taker for me, but it’s a very nice nib for regular writing sessions. This particular nib has been very smooth out of the box.

Everything else that I said about the original Model 20 applies to this one.

I picked Athena Sepia ink (store brand for Maruzan stores in Japan, reportedly made by Sailor) as the first ink for this pen. It’s a deep, dark brown ink that’s nearly black. I figured it would like this nib more than my typical thin nibs. There’s some subtle shading, not much but it is there.

It’s seems like I can’t resist buying multiple copies of Franklin-Christoph models. In this case, as the others, I don’t regret having multiple versions of the Model 20. Both the medium (in the Tiger Red) and this medium stub are about the same width so I’ll use each pen in similar situations. I tend to write slower with stub nibs so they do provide a different writing experience that goes beyond the type of line it puts down.

This Just In: Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon with a Needlepoint Nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Amber-Orange & CinnamaroonThe Franklin-Christoph Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon Model 02 was an impulse purchase while I was browsing the site. I ordered it at the same time as the Tiger Red Model 20 but it shipped a few days later as the needlepoint nib was out of stock. I already had two pens in my cart so I was in a buying mood. I already have two Model 02s, both a 1st gen and a 2nd gen) but the orange kept catching my eye. Anything orange usually catches my eye although it often ends up disappointing me. But in a moment of weakness I added it to my cart with the optional Mike Masuyama needlepoint nib.

I did feel some buyers remorse when the pen arrived. First off, the acrylic is translucent, heavily frosted but translucent. I’m not a fan of translucent pens, although there are exceptions. In many cases I think they look like cheap plastic. In this case that’s not an issue, the Model 02 looks like a quality build. Second, I don’t like seeing converters or ink cartridges in the pen. This pen isn’t too bad, I know it’s there so I can’t not see the chrome converter in the pen. At a distance or angle, and not knowing it’s a converter, it probably just looks like a more heavily frosted area. This can be avoided completely by converting it to a eye drop filler. The frosted look comes from a rough interior so this could be harder to clean since there’s more area for the ink to cling to. I have a clear “ice” F-C pen that was a pain to clean after I used it as an eye dropper and there was some staining (of course this does depend on the ink). I want to use several different inks relatively quickly so I’m avoiding the eye drop fill option for now. A full body with the needlepoint nib would last me well over a month or I’d waste a lot of ink if I flushed it early.

Despite my buyer’s remorse I do like the look of the pen so I inked it up. For the first ink I picked a nice dark, and well-behaved, Pilot Black ink. As the “This Just In” title suggests, I haven’t used the pen long enough to review it, it’s just my first impression.

I was shocked with how smooth the nib was. It’s a Mike Masuyama nib so I did expect it to be good, but being a thin needlepoint there’s not a lot of surface area to be lubricated with ink and to ride above the rough areas of paper. It’s even smoother than the needlepoint in my Pocket 40 which did cause me to hesitate before ordering it with this pen. My use so far has been on various Doane papers (Jotter & writing pads) and it’s been very smooth.

My buyer’s remorse has vanished and now I’m happy to have the pen, even though it is my third Model 02. I’ve already reviewed both my first generation Model 02 and my second generation Model 02. I liked the second gen model a little more and I expect this to be about the same. The nib is the only wildcard. I didn’t really like it in my Pocket 40, but so far I’m liking this copy of the nib a lot more.

This Just In: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta in Tiger Red

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Tiger RedThe stockroom section of the Franklin-Christoph website always provides fountain pens of interest. This time the new(ish) Model 20 in a new Tiger Red acrylic caught my attention so I added it to my accumulation. The listing implies that Tiger Red will be a production choice but this was the first (test?) batch. I don’t really understand why it wouldn’t just be added to the regular product page since the price is the same, so I have doubts about my interpretation that the eventual “real” version will be exactly the same.

As the “This Just In” title suggests, this pen is newly arrived and barely used. I’ve had it a couple of days and probably written with it about three or four hours in total. So this is just an initial impression. I’ll be interested to see how things change when I review the pen in a few months.

The black/red acrylic doesn’t photograph easily. The black and red are very dark in most indoor lighting, at least my indoor lighting. But on close inspection, or in good lighting there is a lot of depth to the acrylic. Even though I really like the black and red combinations I was a little hesitant based on the photographs on the Franklin-Christoph website. The Tiger Red just didn’t “pop” in the photos. I worried for nothing, I love the design. No, it’s not bright and in most lighting both the red and the black are dark. But they do stand out and there’s a lot of depth.

I ended up picking a plain old medium nib for this pen. It’s hard to pass up a Mike Masuyama nib, but the ones that were available weren’t suitable for me. I went with the medium nib with the intent to get it ground to a left oblique sometime in the future. Naturally I had to use the medium nib before getting it ground. Holy cow! I really like it. It’s very smooth with great ink flow. Yes, it’s thicker than I typically prefer so I can’t use it when I want to write small or for marking up documents.

I went with the clip-less version which does have its drawbacks, such as easily rolling off a desk. But this does make the pen very light.

The signature feature of the Model 20 (a.k.a. Marietta) is the slip cap. It slides on/off and is held in place with friction. I’m still not used to the cap yet and I’m paranoid that I will crack it. The cap acrylic seems really thin when viewed through my paranoia. Cracking is a potential problem so I uncap the pen by pushing up at the base of the cap using the same hand that’s holding the pen. Since there’s no “click” when the cap is secure I do find myself not pressing the cap down enough due to fear that I’ll push down too hard. I am getting comfortable with it.

I’ve been carrying the pen in my Fodderstack XL for a couple of days. Since there’s no clip the pen does slip out if I turn the case upside down, but this hasn’t been a problem. Pulling up by the cap has removed the cap, probably due to my hesitation in recapping the pen, so I’ve begun to push the bottom of the pen up (through the material) and then grabbing it. This makes the pen ready to write faster than removing a clipped pen.

There’s no threads to interfere with the grip so the Model 20 is comfortable to hold. The pen is also very light. It’s one of the few pens that is as comfortable (to me) whether posted or unposted. Since there’s no clip the posted cap feels like an extension to the barrel. I have posted the pen a couple if times when I couldn’t hold the cap and it would roll away if I put it down.

The Model 20 is a mid-sized pen compared to other Franklin-Christoph fountain pens. It just enters the size of what I find big enough to be comfortable, but it is comfortable. I haven’t used it for any long writing sessions yet, the longest was about 20 minutes. There was no fatigue. I was initially a little concerned that the pen is too small & light for my tastes and it would be a pen I subconsciously grip too tightly, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.

My first ink for the pen is Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red, it seemed like this pen should have a red ink. I’ve got no complaints so far, they are working well together. My initial impression of the Franklin-Christoph Model 20 “Marietta” is very positive.


As I mentioned in the article, the vibrancy of the color varies with the light. These photos were taken in natural, indirect sunlight (near a window).

This Just In: Kaweco Brass Sport

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loop The Kaweco Brass Sport may be my last new fountain pen this year as it was the last one on my wanted list. I ordered it from JetPens about the same time as I ordered the Sailor Pro Gear, the day before I think. While JetPens shipped it promptly, the USPS gave it a tour of the US, including leaving the continent to tour Puerto Rico, and returning to the continent for delivery to me, so it didn’t arrive until last Thursday.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’d be getting one as soon as it was available. I considered taking advantage of the exchange rate and ordering from overseas. It would have been about the same cost, even with shipping, but I decided to be patient and wait for it to come to the US. JetPens had it in stock first, at least from what I could see. It was slightly cheaper than I expected, so I probably would have paid a bit more if I ordered from overseas. These metal versions are the same design as the plastic Classic Sport and have the same nibs so the additional cost, four times the cost in some cases, is not insignificant. But I find it nearly impossible to resist raw metal or machined fountain pens.

The brass is significantly heavier than the raw aluminum. According to the JetPens website it’s twice as heavy, 1.6 oz. for the brass compared to 0.8 ounces for the raw aluminum. The plastic Classic Sports are 25% the weight, at 0.4 oz. The weight is obvious and since the pen body is so short I’ll be posting it for everything except a quick note. This does make the Brass Sport one of the heaviest pens in my hand. I don’t post my KarasKustoms ink so even the heaviest of those pens is less than 1.3 oz.

Upon arrival I inked it up with the included blue cartridge. I didn’t flush it out first. I was anxious and I’m not a fan of blue ink so flushing it out for a cleaning wouldn’t have bothered me. It wrote well. I didn’t do a lot of writing with it, maybe a little over a page spread across several sessions. The extra fine nib felt smooth and the flow was good.

This was the third Kaweco Sport I had inked up which was at least one too many. I decided to move the red cartridge from my Black Stonewashed. I didn’t flush out the pen fist so I got a blue-red mix for the first few pages. It’s still not a pure red yet.

I did some longer writing sessions with this new ink. Such as the drafts for the previous ink & pen notes (Black Stonewash Sport) and this article. I did feel some fatigue after 15 minutes or so. I don’t typically use a Kaweco Sport for long writing sessions because the pen isn’t the most comfortable for me. It’s not what I’d call uncomfortable, but it’s not perfect for my hand such as the Pilot Custom 823 or Pelikan M805. Another problem is that it’s been slightly humid and I dislike air conditioning so my hand is sweating a bit, which means I have to grip the brass section tighter than usual. The weight may contribute to the fatigue but I do typically prefer more weight in a smaller pen.

In these longer sessions I began to have the vary occasional skip. I took a close look at the nib and the tines are misaligned just a bit. I’ll get around to straightening them out since this is a pen I want to keep and will probably have it inked more often than not. But it’s not so annoying than it frustrates me. Yet.

There is a converter available, and some other possible options. It’s a small converter (not standard) and I decided not to deal with the hassle. I’ve been sticking to cartridges in all my Kaweco Sports. Any short international cartridge will fit. I also don’t bother to refill cartridges either. I have plenty of cartridges to chose from at this point and I pretty much stick with a couple color families in them.

I’ve only had the pen a few days and it’s already begun to develop a patina. Plus, it’s shiny so it shows off oils from my hand. The photos were taken right after using the pen without bothering to wipe it down. So if a little grime bothers you this isn’t the pen for you.

The Desk of Lori has real review of this pen which includes many more photos and writing samples (for a fine nib).

My first impression of the Kaweco Brass Sport is positive and I don’t regret the purchase. I will need to smooth the nib which is a bummer for a pen of this price. My nib wasn’t as bad as Lori’s and it’s useable. I would have hoped (but know better) that the increased cost wasn’t just because of the material.

Kaweco Brass Sport on leather

This Just In: Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe

Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe outer boxThe Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe has the distinction of being on my wanted pens longer than any other fountain pen. It was just about three years ago, sometime in July 2012, when I first saw pictures of the pen. I never bought the pen for various reasons (but mostly because of the price), but I also didn’t delete the pen from the list.

I recently saw the pen in Brad’s (The Pen Addict) June carry post. Then, while catching up on Anderson Pen’s podcasts, Brian showed the pen and mentioned that Sailor was discontinuing the Regency Stripe. Yikes! It was getting some attention and it was discontinued.

The pen seemed to be still in stock at the usual places but it wasn’t on Sailor’s website. It was time to make a decision on the Regency Stripe. Obviously I decided to buy it.

I already have a Sailor fine nib in my Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black pen and really like it but I didn’t want another fine nib. I wanted to go even slimmer and get an extra fine nib. Unfortunately the extra fine nib isn’t offered with the Regency Stripe and a fine is the thinnest offering. This meant finding one second-hand to save money was impossible. I could buy a wider nib and have Mike Masuyama grind it to an extra fine which would be close to a Sailor nib (Mike worked for Sailor). I did find one recent sale for a price where this would make sense, but nothing was available and that one sold pen was the only sale that I found when looking through past sales. So I gave in to my fear of missing out and decided to buy a new one now.

I ordered the pen from Classic Fountain Pens (John Mottishaw) so I could get it with a official Sailor extra fine nib at no additional cost or hassle. So while the pen is expensive, at least I got exactly what I wanted without any hassle.

Every time I hear about a Sailor Professional Gear (or Pro Gear) gear pen my initial reaction is to think of a big pen and a piston filler. Whenever I see a picture I also think it’s a big pen at first, unless the photo includes something to provide scale. But the brain synapses quickly trigger the memory that this is more of a normal sized pen and it’s not a piston filler (only the Realo variants are piston fillers. The proportions make it look big but the pen is a little short which creates the illusion.

This pen is heavier than most Sailor pens which seems to have contributed to its demise. The pen is made of resin but has barley corn engraved metal stripes on the barrel which add to the weight. The pen is 35 grams (all weights and measures in this post are from the CFP website) which gives it some nice heft, although it’s no where near the weight of a KarasKustoms Ink. I don’t post my pens so it’s not 35 grams when I use it, but since the cap is all resin (except for the clip) most of that 35 grams is in the barrels. (The battery in my scale is dead so I can’t weigh it myself.)

The section width is .41 inches which is a good size for me. It’s shorter than many of my pens, especially the ones I use for long writing sessions. But it is long enough for me to use comfortably without posting the cap which is my preference.

For my first ink I picked a favorite – Rohrer & Klinger Blau-Schwarz LE. A dignified ink for a dignified fountain pen. I’ve had the pen less than 24 hours and only used it to write a few pages but the ink flow is great (as expected with this ink). It’s a nice very thin line that’s true to the nib size. Flow is good so it’s easy to see and read.

I didn’t expect the extra fine nib to be so smooth. Not because I have a low opinion of Sailor nibs but because it’s so thin and nibs so thin are never buttery smooth. While this one isn’t buttery smooth there’s just a touch of feedback (which I really like) on Doane paper. There’s no feedback to speak of on Tomoe River Paper. John Mottishaw would have tuned the nib before shipping the pen so I can’t say whether this is due to his tuning or due to Sailor’s nib factory.

I’ve had the Sailor Professional gear Regency Stripe less than 24 hours but it appears to have been worth the three year wait. I haven’t had the pen long enough to know if it was worth the price and I’m less certain about that.

Photo Gallery


This Just In: Retro 51 Tornado Popper Lift-Off

Retro 51 Popper Lift-OffI’ve been able to resist the recent Retro 51 Tornado special editions, until I saw the Retro 51 Tornado Popper Lift-Off. As soon as I saw it I headed to Goldspot and ordered it. It looks like I wasn’t the only one since the virtual shelves seem to already be empty since there were only 500 made. Luckily pricing wasn’t based on demand so the pen was only $35 which is in line with other Poppers and a couple bucks less than the recent Sport themed Poppers that are still available.

Mine arrived Monday and is number 460. While the pen is undamaged, Goldspot shipped it in a padded envelope,  not a box. The Retro 51 tube was a bit crushed near the top. Not a huge deal for me since I don’t keep the packaging but something to keep in mind if you order a Retro 51 from Goldspot.

There’s not much to say about this that the pictures don’t say. It uses my favorite Rollerball refills so there’s that.

Retro 51 Lift-Off Number 460Retro 51 Lift-Off