Viscont Van Gogh Impressionist Fountain Pen Review

The Visconti Van Gogh collection has always appealed to my artistic sensibilities. In college, I painted in oils and minored in Art History. When I came into the world of pens, the pre-2011 Van Gogh was still around, and really intrigued my visual interest. With most pen resins and acrylics, you have your swirls, marbles, flecks, mosaics, solid colors and so on. The Van Gogh had something different. The splatter-like strokes and streaks of color overlapping against one another brought me back to the art studio standing next to an easel with the smell of turpentine in the air. It was love.

The original Van Gogh pens were higher in price (fitted with 14kt gold nibs), so they were always a bit out of my fountain pen budget. Last year, when we heard the collection was going to be re-released at a lower price point with steel nibs and a faceted barrel (à la the Michelangelo Collection), my wallet shrieked and ran for cover like a child avoiding a bath.

The new Van Gogh design was dubbed the Van Gogh "Impressionist" collection. The color palette for each pen is inspired directly by the Van Gogh painting it is named after. The pen I chose was the "Starry Night" model, which has the name of the painting engraved on the cap band. Deep tones of blue are overlaid with vibrant yellow, white and orange hues. Each pen's formulation of color varies so greatly that you really won't know what to expect, even by looking at a detailed example photo.  There's also a varied amount of transparency, as the overlaid colors sometimes give way to opacity and you can see through to the inner metal sleeve of the connected front section.

While not being the smoothest or wettest steel nib, the Van Gogh does perform admirably and never had any flow or skipping issues. For the cost involved ($279 retail), fountain pen enthusiasts usually expect a higher quality nib in solid gold (usually 14kt). Granted, it does write well enough, but certainly not to the level that you would expect to get what you paid for in terms of nib quality. The pen fills by disposable ink cartridge (international size) or converter (included with pen).

The pen's cap has three neat features which are particularly useful. The cap utilizes magnetism to seal with the barrel of the pen. It securely attaches on the front end of the pen with little effort and stays on strong enough to withstand firm agitation and shaking. Although it does not magnetically attach to the back-end while posted, the cap does securely post well and is very comfortable to write with while doing so (posted length 6.125"). Another feature of the cap is the spring-loaded Visconti Clip. It is easy to remove and attach to your pocket, but once latched on, is very sturdy. Lastly, you can personalize your Visconti Van Gogh with your two initials atop the cap's crown using Visconti's trademarked "My Pen System." Two initials, like a ying-yang symbol, can be inserted atop the crown magnetically, and can be swapped out for the original Visconti "V" medallion or a selection of birthstones, zodiac symbols and the like.


  • Writing Quality : Stainless steel nib works admirably, but not the smoothest or wettest stainless steel out there. Considering the price, there is something more to be desired here. (grade B-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The unique color choices and technique that Visconti uses to create each pen "canvas" achieve the marriage between the pen and its theme. The faceted body emphasize the colors even further. (grade A+)
  • Utility : Spring Loaded Clip is strong, easy to attach / remove. Cap posts well and operates without feeling unbalanced. Magnetic sealing cap is convenient and secure. Cartridge / Converter is convenient, but does not have a large ink capacity a piston-filler would provide. (grade B+)
  • Price : Available in fine, medium and broad nib sizes for $279.00 Retail. Check Goldspot for current price & promotions. For an everyday writing instrument with a steel nib, the Van Gogh is at the top end of that product range. While the artistic quality of the pen design is in a class of its own, the writing quality is not.  (grade C+)

Final Grade : B+
As a student of the fine arts and a pen-lover, the Van Gogh is right up my alley. I can justify loving the aesthetics of the pen that it would be part of my everyday carry. My knowledge of what the price tag can get you in other brands (an Edison with an 18kt nib, a Sailor 1911 L w/ 21kt gold nib, for example) tells me that I'm not getting the best bang for my buck, but I'm willing to have a less-than-stellar nib for a absolutely sublime pen design.


OMAS New Bologna Fountain Pen Review

I remember Italy so fondly. It was the summer after high-school graduation and the Italian club organized a trip to the land of my ancestry. The 10-day excursion hit all the highlights of the peninsular boot, including Rome, the Vatican, Venice, Florence, Sorrento and Capri. The destination that impressed me the most with its natural beauty was the island of Capri. We took a boat out over the shimmering turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and went swimming off the rocky beaches. The beauty and splendor of the water that day would be remembered from then on in the choices of my aesthetic subconscious.

From pens to shirts to the desktop background of my PC, I've tried to recreate the peaceful aqua blue that my mind gravitates toward. When OMAS introduced the New Bologna in the Aqua Blue color, I was convinced that this pen had been created to fill my personal need for this color to be in my life.

The pen is turned from a solid bar of swirl acrylic that has a unique vibrancy and contrast that certainly reminds one of the crest of an ocean wave. The pattern of the swirls are unique and I have yet to find two New Bologna pens that look similar. Despite the pen body being solid resin with no brass inner lining, the pen is heavy, which is a testament to the thickness and the quality of the Italian resin. I feel that it would not easily crack or shatter if dropped. The solid metal front section, cap band, ring and clip certainly do add to the weighted feel as well.

Before I go into the writing quality of the pen, I first would like to thank Kenro, the US distributor of OMAS, for being able to sell me the pen before an anticipated price increase that would have certainly broken my budget. I originally asked for a fine point (14kt), which is my go-to size for everyday writing, note-taking, journaling and such. I received a medium, 14kt gold nib in error. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed, but open to trying it out anyway. Turns out that the medium nib on this pen is fantastically smooth, probably the smoothest of my current collection of pens. I didn't want to ruin a good thing, so I kept it. After this pen, I developed the opinion that it is nice to have a few different sized nibs in your collection to offer some variation.

The solid gold nib flows smoothly and fluidly, allowing for shading in most inks that offer a moderate amount of shading. The nib face is decorated with a design that is inspired by the porticoes of Bologna. The architectural design is well detailed and befitting of such a well-constructed writing instrument. The metal front section may be a bother to some writers, but I don't mind it because there is a lip to prevent slippery fingers from sliding down toward the nib area. The high polish allows you to spot any ink that may have gotten on the section from filling, which is a nice bonus. This pen would have been absolutely perfect if OMAS had installed an internal-filling piston mechanism, but I'll settle for the converter, which I've already managed to stain using Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng.

This pen can be used to write while the cap is posted (posted length 6 3/8" long) without being unwieldy or back-heavy. The nib can be unscrewed from the section, similar to a Pelikan nib, making cleaning more convenient. The clip solidly holds on to your pocket or organizer pen loop without being too tough to attach/remove. The threading of the cap is smooth and extremely secure once tightened. Overall, the fit and finishing detail of this OMAS pen stands out to me as an understated quality that a layperson would miss, but a fountain pen user would certainly appreciate.

  • Writing Quality : 14kt solid gold nib (rhodium plated) performs smoothly with a feather-light touch. Flow is generous and allows most inks to show their true color & shading nicely. (grade A+)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The swirling colors that are available in this line are certainly eye-catching and unique. The profile of the pen pulls no punches, but the exceptional quality resin is impressive and the engraving on the nib is detailed and elegant. (grade A)
  • Utility : Clip is strong, easy to attach / remove. Cap posts well and operates without feeling unbalanced. Cartridge / Converter is convenient, but does not have a large ink capacity a piston-filler would provide. (grade B)
  • Price : Available in fine and medium nib sizes for $395.00 Retail. Check Goldspot for current price & promotions. A bit pricey for a non-limited edition fountain pen that does not use precious materials like sterling silver or celluloid, but the value is in the details and quality that OMAS produces beautifully.  (grade B-)

Final Grade : A
One of my favorite pens in my personal collection, the New Bologna may not be my last OMAS pen, but I will have to wait quite some time to prepare the piggy bank for a celluloid paragon with a flex 18kt nib. Every time I take it out to write, it reminds me of Italy, which is something the manufacturer didn't intend, but is certainly a bonus that makes this pen more sentimental.


Where's the Nearest Montegrappa Store? There's an App for That

Traveling pen aficionados can now roam untethered around the world with little worry of being destitute and lost without knowledge of the nearest Montegrappa dealer. Introducing the Montegrappa Store Locator App (link goes to the App Store on Apple's website), an App that allows you to find and map the nearest dealers that are listed to retail Montegrappa pens and luxury accessories.

According to Montegrappa,
Montegrappa Store Locator is a free App for all the brand's aficionados and the lovers of hand writing. Constantly updated, it allows you to locate the nearest Montegrappa authorised dealer, wherever you are.
Not only will it find the closest points of sales and after-sales-service, but also allow you to contact the dealer selected via phone or e-mail, showing you the best route to reach them.The App also enables you to view the three most recent brand newsletters.
 So, if you are an avid lover of Montegrappa products and find yourself jet-setting in Japan, the UK or Abu Dhabi, the Store Locator App will be your best friend in seeking out that boutique dealer that would be only a short walk, rickshaw ride or gondola ride away.

The App seems pretty straightforward. It takes the iPhone's capability to sync your location via GPS (or wifi in the case of an iPod touch) and cross references the database of dealers worldwide to provide an overlay of businesses that one can find with Montegrappa products. Also helpful is the contact information for that particular business so you can give them a quick call to check if they have the pen you are looking for before you make the trek over. To keep fans updated, all the latest newsletters about the company are pushed into the App.

OK, so some of the comments I'm making about the App are a bit tongue-and-cheek, but one should not underestimate the ability of this App to find a "pen shop" that may also carry other brands that you care about. Usually, if a retailer sells Montegrappa, you can find other fine writing brands being represented on the shelves as well. And having the contact information for that store will allow you to quickly confirm the availability of other pens you can browse.

If you've downloaded the app and have had a chance to use it (in the US and abroad), please drop a comment below. We would love to hear about how well it worked, if you did visit the shop to buy Montegrappa or other pens and if you would recommend it as a good app for finding pen stores.


Colibri Lighter Engraving

Hi Pen Folks,

I know we're mostly talking about fine writing instruments here on the blog, but we've gotten more diversified into other luxury items like lighters. As of last year, we started carrying the full-fledged Colibri line. Since then, we've gotten pretty good at engraving the lighters as evidence by the photo below.

If you are interested in getting your next pen, writing accessory or lighter engraved, please feel free to comment below if you have any questions.