Continuing our love affair for Visconti pens, we recently picked up a maxi Homo Sapiens Bronze Age in EF.
The Homo Sapiens is one of Visconti’s more famous lines and this particular version comes in two different sizes - a smaller midi and the larger maxi. They are also available in three different trim lines - the traditional “Steel Age” with bright steel trim, the stealthed-out “Dark Age” featuring all black steel furniture and the warm, classic “Bronze Age” featuring bronze elements that tarnishes beautifully over time.
Not all combinations are available - the Bronze Age, for example, is only available in the maxi, but not the midi. Additionally, filling systems differ between the two sizes - the midis are piston-filled whilst the larger maxis are power fillers. The models cover the entire gamut of writing implements, from fountain pens to roller balls to mechanical pencils, though we concern ourselves only with the fountain pens.
The highlight of the Homo Sapiens line is the material used for the body - volcanic rock from Mount Etna in Italy. From a distance the material appears similar to dark rubber but up close reveals itself to be entirely different and beautiful, with a smooth hygroscopic surface dotted with thousands of tiny small unique pits and marks.
- Dark volcanic rock body contrasts beautifully with the gold/palladium nib and bronze furniture
- The EF nib writes smoothly with a gentle softness and subtle flex - though not as much flex as the palladium dream-touch nib on the London Fog
- The Bronze Age nib sports a gorgeous bi-mettalic construction which looks amazing in action. (Each of the pens features a different nib colouration)
- In our experience, the EF width for this series strikes the perfect balance between precision and outputting sufficient ink to get great shading out of good inks.
- The body is well-balanced in the hand when unposted - one would imagine the pen to be heavy when learning it is made of rock, but in reality it is surprisingly light-weight, whilst still feeling well-constructred
- The bronze furniture is already starting to darken and will develop a fine patina over time. Some people dislike this and Visconti inclues a polishing cloth in the box for this reason - but we are looking forward to it, for the same reason we like leather, wood and other materials that show wear and love over time.
- The clip, as with most Visconti clips, is beautiful to look at but basically useless at actually clipping the pen to anything - we didn’t even dare trust it.
- Beyond this, the lettering on the clip of our Bronze Age featured fuzzy, imprecise edgining - the lacquer-work was not done sufficiently carefully to avoid occluding parts of the letters. Very disapointing lack of quality control for a pen in this price point.
- Even more dissapointingly in the quality control department is that when we went to pick up the pen, the original pen - straight from the factory - had a huge gouge in the feed - as if it had been nicked with a piece of metal (with half the gouged material still sticking out the side). We were dumbstruck how something like this could ever make it out the factory. Fortunately the resident nibsmith at the shop was able to swap the feed with that of a different steel age which we had (fortuitously) ordered in order to decide between the two and we were able to take the pen home that day. Nonetheless, it’s alarming to see this lack of quality control in such an expensive pen and when combined with the imprecise lettering, unfortunately re-inforces the negative image of Visconti as having poor quality control
- As with all Homo Sapiens, there is no ink window, making it difficult to know how well of a fill one has achieved or how much ink remains.
This may well be our favourite pen to date in terms of overall construction and appearance. It is understated from a distance but gorgeous when beheld closely from the lovely bi-metallic to the subtle volanic rock body texture to the rich bronze furniture.
It is deceptively light to write with, and flows effortlessly across the paper. If you get a good copy, then it is without a doubt one of the finest pens out there, especially if purchased at below retail price (at full retail cost it can still be a worthy purchase, but undoubtedly more of a splurge).
The only concern is Viscont’s issues with inconsistent quality control. It is highly reccomended to try the pen in person before purchasing to make sure that the pen meets your expectations.
Overall, highly recommended.
Overall: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars - one of our favourite pens)