This Just In: Visconti Brunelleschi

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition box contentsFair warning – I’m calling this a This Just In Post even though it’s completely out of character for this type of post. It’s not exactly “just in”, arriving back on March 9th. Plus, I didn’t use the pen to write the draft of this post since it was already written dry. So while this is a bit more than a first impression I haven’t had the Visconti Brunelleschi long enough to do a full review.

I was enamored with the Visconti Brunelleschi from the moment I saw the first photos of it. It triggered a buying spree of terra cotta themed inks. It’s a pricey pen and I had some faint hope that the ink would satiate my desire for the pen. When it comes to limited edition pens, which this is, I find the ones I want the most are the ones that aren’t hugely popular for one reason or another. So I didn’t pre-order the pen, preferring to wait and see if the initial pen lust subsided. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t talk myself out of the fountain pen and I placed on order when it became available at Goulet Pens. (Brian also showed it in a Q&A video.) The pen is still available, although specific nibs may be harder to find.

While this is a limited edition (of 388 numbered pens) I did find that the pen, or at least one that’s very similar, was available as a Fountain Pen Network member pen. This actually made me feel a little better about the pen. I don’t really care about the exclusivity of a pen but I was concerned that this was a new material and therefore could have some issues. The fact that a pen using this material has been in use did alleviate my concern a bit.

The pen is inspired by the Brunelleschi Cathedral. While I like a pen with a story, this particular story didn’t move me to buy the pen (but it didn’t need to). The story of the dome is interesting and I did learn something as I ventured down a rathole reading about it.

The Brunelleschi is very similar to the Homo Sapien Bronze Age, which is among my favorite fountain pens. While the material and aesthetics are different, the pen size, weight and nib are nearly identical. Only the cap is noticeably different with the Homo Sapien being slightly fatter. The difference is enough to make the Homo Sapien too wide for one of my pen sleeves, while the Brunelleschi slides right in. This similarity was both good and bad. On the negative side it’s a lot to pay for a pen which handles like one I already have. On the positive side it’s a pen I know will be perfect for my hand. At this price I wanted a fountain pen that would break into my rotation and stay there, but I didn’t want it to replace the Homo Sapien. So I decided that a medium nib, added to the aesthetics, would make it different enough so that both could coexist. I’ve enjoyed medium nibs a bit more in the last year or so, and I made a point to try a few medium nibs before I ordered the pen. I decided it would be good choice and did order the pen with a medium nib.

Rose Gold trim is also typically a negative for me, especially since there’s a lot of trim on this pen. But the more I looked at pictures the more I agreed that rose gold is the perfect complement to the terra cotta material. While I did say there’s a lot of trim on this pen it’s not overdone or gaudy in my opinion.

Since the Visconti Brunelleschi was delayed from it’s initial release date I had plenty of time to work through my doubts and concerns and was eager to order once it became available.

As you can tell from the pictures the Brunelleschi arrived with more than just the fountain pen, so I might as well start with everything that’s not the pen.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition box top viewThe packaging is elaborate, described as “luxury eco-leather” although that term has no formal meaning, it has a multitude of implied meaning. It looks nice and adds to the impression that this is an elegant and quality product. But it adds no value to the actual fountain pen. It’s main benefit is that it keeps all the extras from bouncing around during shipping. The box did arrive in a cloth drawstring bag with the Visconti logo on it.

A bottle of ink was also included, although the bottle could be described as an inkwell. There’s no mention what the included ink is. If this was a custom or limited edition ink I’m sure Visconti would have promoted that fact. So I think it’s safe to guess that this is Visconti Brown ink (which I’ve also seen called Sepia), although I don’t have any Visconti Brown/Sepia to compare it to. It’s in a custom bottle, although the cap seems to be the standard Visconti plastic screw-on cap that identifies the color. The bottle is wide and shallow. I expect it will be hard to fill the Brunelleschi once the ink level drops a little.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and ink wellA Visconti Traveling Inkwell is also included which could solve the filling problem. The inkwell is made of the same material as the pen. Unlike their standard traveling inkwell it doesn’t include a nib cleaning pad (cloth?) hidden in the cap. The inkwell has a gold finial similar to the pen. I’ve yet to use the inkwell because I’ve been unable to commit to an ink. I find the decision significantly harder than picking an ink for a pen. Plus it seems like a power filler pen, such as the Brunelleschi, could turn the inkwell into a weapon that’s even more accurate (and messy) than a champagne cork. Brian Goulet does have a video on how to use the Traveling Inkwell with various types of pens.

An eyedropper for filling the inkwell is also included along with a “Brunelleschi” decorative plaque and a information booklet.

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and inkI received Brunelleschi #148/388 As I mentioned, the Visconti Brunelleschi is nearly the same size and weight as my Homo Sapien. So I expected it to be perfect for my hand. And it was. It’s a faceted pen, with 8 sides. I don’t really notice the facets when writing. I’m not bothered by the corners at all since they are subtle. The material has a nice feel to it. Like the lava in the Homo Sapien, the terra cotta is blended in with the resin. It’s slightly smoother than the Homo Sapien but that could be since the pen is newer. It’s supposed to have the terra cotta’s resistance to damage and fading but not it’s tendency to shatter. While the Homo Sapien has developed a patina over time the terra cotta is supposed to resistant an patina or other signs of age. It’s been less than three months, but the pen still looks new. I haven’t tested it’s resistance to shattering or scratches beyond normal use. No drop tests yet, either accidental or on purpose.

I’ve heard complaints about Visconti’s lack of quality control related to their nibs. This is only my second Visconti, but like the Homo Sapien’s extra fine nib, this nib is perfect as far as I’m concerned. Unlike other pens at this price level I didn’t buy from a seller that will tune the nib, or at least test it, prior to shipment.

Medium nibs aren’t really in my wheelhouse and I’ve tended to avoid them until recently. But I’m trying to expand my horizons and this nib presents medium nibs in a good light. It’s not a nib I’ll use for note taking, I’ll stick to extra fines or fines for that, but I really like it for longer sit-down writing sessions.

The longest session with this pen was about 90 minutes, with a short break midway through. The break was more to stretch my legs and back as my hand wasn’t fatigued at all. The pen is one of my heavier pens, at 27 grams unposted. The weight is well distributed so I don’t need to grip the pen hard or fight with it when I’m writing.

The Visconti Brunelleschi is a nice companion to my Visconti Homo Sapien. I won’t have any problem having them both inked at the same time. My main problem will be do I give them each the same ink or different inks? I’m very happy about the Brunelleschi and my choice of a medium nib. I’ve avoided re-inking it until I empty a couple more currently inked pens. I have to say it’s killing me to not have this pen inked, both because I really like it and also because it’s my newest fountain pen. I may be forced to flush out one or two pens early to give me an excuse to ink it up.

Visconti Brunelleschi with Visconti Brown writing sample

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Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Brunelleschi (M) with Visconti Brown

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and inkI’m way behind on posts to this site so I haven’t written much about the Visconti Brunelleschi. I hope to have my This Jus In post for it up later this week, so I’ll skip my initial impressions about the fountain pen for now. The Brunelleschi arrived the second week of March and I immediately inked it up with the included Visconti Brown ink. At least that’s what I think the ink is. The Visconti packaging and marketing literature doesn’t get specific about the ink and never mentions a color. It’s a brown ink and if it was a special formulation I’m sure Visconti would have promoted that fact. So I assume it’s the standard Visconti Brown, which I’ve never used.

The Visconti Brunelleschi is similar to my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze age. The size and weights are nearly identical. The Brunelleschi has a faceted barrel (8 sides) while the Homo Sapien is round. The nibs are also the same 23 kt Palladium Dreamtouch nib, although my Brunelleschi is a medium while my Homo Sapien is a extra fine. The only obvious difference is the material (and the color of the materials).

I wrote the pen dry in early May, so the fill lasted about two months. My overall fountain pen usage was way down overall. Plus, I don’t usually pick a medium nib for general note taking. I wasn’t passing over this fountain pen in favor of others. I used it whenever a medium nib was appropriate, unfortunately that wasn’t often enough. There was never any hard starts, even after the pen sat unused for a week or more. There also weren’t any indications that ink was evaporating from the pen.

The ink and nib provided a consistent and ideal flow, never a trace of hesitation, hard starts or skipping.

I liked the Visconti Brown ink, although I didn’t love it. I like Montblanc Toffee Brown better. The Visconti Brown dried fast enough to avoid accidental smudges, even with the medium nib. It was well behaved, no feathering or bleeding. The ink is nice enough and I’ll occasionally use the ink I have, but I won’t be buying another bottle. This is especially true since Visconti ink is on the expensive side of the price spectrum.

Visconti Power Fillers are always tedious to clean (as are all vac fillers). So with that caveat I’ll say Visconti Brown was easy to flush from the pen.

I will be refilling the Visconti Brunelleschi soon, I’m just waiting for my fountain pen usage to return to normal and I begin writing more pens dry. I’ll probably fill it with one of my newer terra cotta themed inks.

Visconti Brunelleschi with Visconti Brown writing sample

Additional Reading

A review of Visconti Brown ink from Alt. Haven

Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Monteverde Burgundy

Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age with Monteverde BurgundyI filled one of my favorite fountain pens, the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with an extra fine nib, with Monteverde Burgundy back on February 12th and wrote it dry on April 5th. I’m a little slow getting these notes out even though there’s not much to say.

The ink & pen both performed nicely. This is Monteverde’s older Burgundy ink, now replaced by Napa Burgundy. I like the color of Napa Burgundy a little better, but the performance is similar. The flow was good and problem free. Dry time was on the long side of normal for most inks, meaning it was a little slow for my taste and I did have a few accidental smudges. But it wasn’t a bad experience and I wouldn’t avoid using this ink in the future, although not in a wide or free-flowing nib. The color is a little muted, which I sometimes like, and sometimes don’t.

The inked cleaned as well as any other ink from this Visconti. It’s a tedious process. Plus, ink has a tendency to collect where the feed meets the section. Normal flushing doesn’t clear this ink and I admit to letting it build up a bit and only dealing with in every two or three cleanings. It was time. This process has me hold the nib/section in the ultrasonic cleaner. Then fill the pen with water, wrap the nib in tissue and put it in a tall shot glass to wick the ink out overnight. This time around I repeated the process a couple more times. I can’t clam complete success since there’s was still ink on the tissue even after the third time. But I decided it was enough since the water was clear when it came out of the pen and I use safe, pen friendly inks in this pen. The Visconti Homo Sapien material likes to soak in the ink.

Normally the Visconti Homo Sapien would already be back in the rotation, but I want to write a couple more pens dry. While I won’t avoid the Monteverde Burgundy in the future, nothing about the ink makes me eager to pick it over other inks.

Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age with Monteverde Burgundy writing sample

Additional Read

Reviewed on Fountain Pen Network

Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple bottleI inked up the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Lavender Purple back on December 8th and was immediately disappointed. One thing I’ve liked about most Montblanc inks was their ability to have a little “pop” along with line variation, even in my fine and extra fine nibs. Not so for this Montblanc ink, at least in this pen with this extra fine nib.

The line put down was more of a dark blue-black than purple, with no line variation. Then to make matters worse it’s slow to dry, leading to many accidental smudges. Those smudges do bring out the purple in the ink, so at least there’s that. If I use white paper in good light I can call that thin line purple. I’ll give the ink a try in a medium nib. There are those who love the ink so I have no doubt the right nib will improve the color, although it will probably lead to even longer drying times.

There was heavy show through, especially considering the thin nib, in the Write Notepads wire bound notebooks I use for much of my business note taking. There wasn’t any actual bleed-through.

There was some rumors of a reformulation when the ink was unavailable at retailers a couple of years ago. This was a recent purchase, so if there was a reformulation I certainly have the reformulation, not an older bottle.

The Homo Sapien has a power filler, like a vac filler, and does not come apart for cleaning. I wouldn’t normally make this a first pen for any new ink, especially a purple which has a reputation of being a harder to clean color, but Montblanc inks have always been easy to clean (waterproof inks aside). So I gave it a try since I wanted to try this ink and keep the pen in the rotation. This was easily the most tedious of my inks to clean from this pen. After 15 minutes of filling and flushing I gave in and held the nib in the ultrasonic cleaner for another 15 minutes or so. After this and a couple more flushes and shakes into a tissue the water seemed to run clean. I filled the pen with water, wrapped it in a tissue, and left it nib down in a shot glass overnight. In the morning the tissue was caked with ink, mostly from where the feed inserts into the section. Lots of ink in those nooks and crannies. So some more flushing and it’s back in the shot glass tonight. If there’s still signs of ink I’ll give up and just fill the pen to get it back in the rotation.

Except for drying slower than I would like the ink performed great. Flow was excellent and problem free. I plan to give the ink a try in a medium nib next, I suspect it will look a lot better. I’ll also pick a converter pen to make cleaning easy. It may be awhile, but the ink has potential so I will give it another try.

The Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age is a favorite, so it will be back in the rotation later today, although I haven’t picked the ink yet.

The Homo Sapien Bronze Age is long overdue for a full review, but there’s more information and pictures in my year old This Just In post.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple writing sample

Review: Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder

Visconti Dreamtouch 3 pen case full with SheaffersI picked up the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder a few months ago and have been enjoying it ever since. Once a year or so I order from overseas. Usually for items that aren’t available in the US, such as Pelikan Blue-Black ink. Even though it’s available in the US I added this case to the order. I’d done some research and picked this case as my solution but was holding back because of the price. The exchange rate gave me a significant savings, plus it brought me above the free shipping threshold from Cult Pens.

Rather than buying it because it’s a nice case, which it is, I bought it because it’s the one pen case I found that met my current requirements. Cases for three pens are the sweet spot for me since I often carry three pens when I’m out and about. I had been using the Nockco Sinclair but it didn’t meet my current requirements, although I’ll certainly continue to use it.

I have three Sheaffer Balance IIs that I love using, despite their medium nibs. The pens have the reputation of being fragile (and feel it), especially around the clip. Mine are still crack free and I’d like them to remain that way as long as possible. They’ve been home-bound because I’ve been afraid to take them outside the house. I love using the pens and they give me a nice trilogy of pens and ink – a grey or brown in the Aspen, red in the Crimson Glow and green in the Jade Green model. They are too nice to ignore so I wanted a way to carry them in relative safety.

I wanted something that was more rigid although it didn’t have to be a fountain pen bunker. I wouldn’t expect it to survive me sitting on it, but I wanted it to survive in my iPad bag which is my typical carry these days. I didn’t want it to cause damage if the iPad ended up on top of the pen case. It also had to protect pens from bouncing notebooks or keys. I also wanted it to hold all three pens securely without using the fragile pen clips.

The Visconti 3 Pen Case is the one I found that met my requirements, plus it does look good. I just had to get past the price, which I obviously did.

The case has a rigid bottom which keeps it from bending. This was important to me because I’m more concerned about an indirect hit putting pressure on half the case that I am about it being crushed under a large object. The top panels are also rigid although there’s a hinge between them. The sides are rigid except for the zipper which has cloth along it’s length, which doesn’t provide any support. While it’s not a fountain pen bunker it does provide good protection without requiring that the pen be clipped in place. Overall, I think the case provides very good pen protection.

The pen slot dividers run the entire length of the case and are attached to the bottom along the entire length of the case. The don’t flop around and do feel like they are also attached to the bottom side of the case. The inner lining is soft and has a felt-like feel. It doesn’t appear as if it will scratch or wear the pens at all. Unless of course some sand or other grainy particles get caught inside it.

The zipper is exposed to the inside of the case. The zipper teeth are small and fairly smooth along the inside. The zipper is metal. The position of the zipper, high relative to the pens rather than along the middle, plus the small zipper size makes me confident that it won’t scratch my pens. That said, I can’t rule out a series of unfortunate events that could cause it to scratch a pen since it is exposed. Wrapping the pens in a protective cloth, or a protective sheet along the zipper side would eliminate my concerns, but that adds a complication I decided was more of a hassle than the low risk deserved.

I used the case for a couple of months with my regular carry pens to build my confidence that it will protect my more fragile fountain pens. Then a couple weeks ago I inked up my three Sheaffer Balance IIs and moved them into their new home. I don’t have any complaints about the case and it’s protected my pens well. The Sheaffers are the few pens I have that I consider fragile, requiring special handling. I’m not about to see how much abuse they can take inside the case, but I am confident they are safe in there during my normal travels. My only concern is to make sure I don’t run the pen over the zipper as I take it in and out of the case. The cover opens wide and the zipper is easily avoided, it’s my carelessness that I worry about.

“Dreamtouch” is the name Visconti gave to their leather processing. It tends to turn me off when manufacturers give a made-up name to their process, since it’s meaningless to me. I’m more concerned about the result and the name doesn’t help determine that. That said, the leather is smooth and soft and it does appear to do a good job of resisting abuse. Scuffs have been easy to work out so far. There is some creasing where the hinged top attaches, but no signs of cracking. Being black every spec of dust is highlighted in the photos. In real life it has a much cleaner, dust-free look.

Three months of normal use isn’t exactly an endurance test, but the case has held up well. The stitching seems solid and there isn’t any sign of it coming apart. Normally I like my cases to show they’ve been used. This case has had a few scuffs which really stand out on that black leather, which I don’t like. I’ve been able to work them out with just my fingers. The zipper is another potential failure point but it seems to be holding up well.

The case fits all except my largest pen, a Edison Huron Grande. My Franklin-Christoph Model 66 just fits in the center slot, although it doesn’t fit in the side slots. Both the case and pen have an official length of 6.3″. The Model 66 does press against the top end but not enough to affect the zipper operation. It’s a bit hard to remove since friction holds it in place. I haven’t tried all of my pens but I’m confident any others will fit fine. Because the pen clip won’t hold the pen in place smaller pens may rattle around a bit but that isn’t a concern for me.

I’m very happy with the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder and it’s been used daily since I got it. Now that I’m confident in it’s protection, my 3 Sheaffer Balance II fountain pens have claimed it as their new mobile home. I’ve enjoyed having them with me which makes the case worth the money.

Additional Reading

My Pen Needs Ink – 3 pen case review

The Pencilcase Blog – 6 Pen Case review

Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Lamy Dark Lilac

Visonti Homo Sapien Bronze Age Extra Fine with Lamy Dark Lilac ink bottleI inked up the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Lamy Dark Lilac ink back on May 15th and refilled it once since then. It has an extra fine 23kt palladium nib that I love. The Visconti Homo Sapien is my favorite fountain and has been since I first wrote with it. I’ve been concentrating on using a variety of inks in it. While I may refill the pen with the same ink if I don’t clean it, but once it’s time for a cleaning I pick a brand new ink for the pen. The Lamy Dark Lilac is the sixth ink for this pen.

Lamy Dark Lilac is a Special Edition ink released this year. Actually, it seems to have passed to limited edition status as supplied have already started to dry up. I’ve also been using this ink in a Lamy Safari with a medium nib.

This ink and pen worked fine together, after all I did refill the pen once. But I wasn’t overly impressed with the look of the ink with this pen. It was a rather bland, dark purple on anything but the whitest paper. On the other hand, I really liked the look of this ink with the Lamy medium nib. So, a pen I love and an ink that shows promise in another pen, yet together they are rather bland. The ink performed well, no skipping or hard starts, it just didn’t pop off the page.

The Lamy Dark Lilac, while a fine ink, is not an ink that will return to the Visconti Homo Sapien. It’s still in the Safari and will remain there.

The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age remains my favorite pen so it will be back in the rotation sooner rather than later.

Ink and Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink bottleI filled the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink back on March 13th and refilled it one more time between then and now.

The Bronze Age is my favorite fountain pen and R&K Blau-Schwarz is one of my favorite inks. This is the first time that these two have been paired and I had high expectations. I picked the ink to cleanse my palate after a disastrous performance of Montblanc Golden Yellow in this pen.

I wasn’t disappointed, it was a terrific writing experience, the pen and ink performed perfectly without any skipping or hard starts. Cleaning did take a little while. Flushing the pen until the water was clear didn’t take too long but then I held the nib in the ultrasonic cleaner. Ink flowed from every nook and cranny for nearly 10 minutes.

The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, with its lovely extra fine nib, will get a little time off in order to give some other pens a chance. I’m having fun using different inks in it so when it returns it will be with something new, at least new for it. Likewise the R&K Blau-Schwarz LE will be back in the rotation in the near future.