Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien with Pelikan Blue-Black

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age EF with Pelikan Blue-Black bottle

This will be short since I just wrote about my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age. But I’m a bit of a completist – since I’m cleaning ink from a pen I need to publish some ink and pen notes. This fountain pen has been my first choice since I got it. I picked Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black ink for its inaugural use. I wrote the pen dry twice over 10 days.
I preferred the ink in this pen over the Pilot Custom 823 I’d previously filled with it. The nib was wetter and the European extra fine is wider than the Japanese fine of the Custom 823. The combination provided a flow that is nearly perfect for me. But after two fills I decided to switch inks since it is a new pen, so the Pelikan Blue-Black has been flushed out.

I did get a glimpse into why so many people really love this ink.

This Just In: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age cap

I 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 nib

My 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.

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

Visconti_Bordeaux_open-bottle

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