This is a review of the Visconti Aida limited edition that I picked up at the auction in Paris. It has a medium gold nib, and the handwritten review is using Pelikan 4001 ink.
Since I wrote this I have learned (i) nibs.com have a pre-owned Aida for sale for $430, and (ii) Aida was written by Verdi, and I currently have it inked with Rohrer & Klinger Verdigris. Spooky.
First of all - the looks. This is a stunning pen. A green grey candy stripe celluloid, it is just beautiful to look at, with great depth. The candy stripe patter means that there is always some part of it that is catching the light. It can distract from the writing! I would put this up with the Nakaya Kuro-tamenuri as the most attractive pen in the collection.
The other things of note are the nicely patterned two tone nib - ornate, but not overly so (Visconti can overdo these things). The section is also made of the same celluloid, which is a lovely effect when in use.
I was initially disappointed that this pen did not have the palladium Dreamtouch nib that most Viscontis today do. I needn’t have worried - the gold nib is superbly smooth, with just a little tooth on Rhodia paper. I actually prefer it to the Dreamtouch, which can seem unnaturally smooth. Fortunately the flow on this nib is perfect, and the medium width just right. I have another Visconti pen that is unusable due to the amount of ink it lays down, but this is right in the “Goldilocks” zone.
The reason I didn’t know about the nib beforehand is that this is one of the two pens I bought at auction (see One Night in Paris for more details). It also came in a nice box with a crystal inkwell, but that is packed away right not, so I cannot comment further.
The pen itself is on the larger side - around the Montblanc 146 size at 14.6cm. The body shape is from the “squaring the circle” Opera line of Visconti pen, i.e., the barrel is round with four flattened pieces. It is an unusual shape, but comfortable to hold, and the facets bring out the look of the pen nicely.
The end of the barrel has a thin silver ring, which looks as though it might be a blind cap or a plunger, but it is just a (grey) herring. The pen is actually a cartridge converter, which was a bit of surprise given that the Opera family tends to be made up of standard size cartridge converters, and limited edition oversized “power” fillers such as the Wall Street or Opera Master. I should add though that it is a pretty spectacular converter as these things go.
The screw on cap is unusual for Visconti - rather than abour 8mm worth of threads on the barrel, they have gone for a single turn, single thread metal ring. I can only assume this was an attempt to avoid a common problem of the Opera series, the flats of the “squared circle” on the barrel do not line up with the cap. I am guessing the metal threads could be adjusted at the factory. Certainly it is not a problem on this pen, but it is on my Wall Street and Opera Club. Ultimately they have fixed it with the unique “hook and twist” design on the Homo Sapiens.
The cap itself is perfectly nice, with a broad silver ring marked “Aida” on one side, and the limited edition number on the reverse. There were 1,871 made. This is not a pen for posting - it puts the balance too far back, and the lightweight barrel and filling mechanism can’t provide enough of a counter balance. The Visconti clip is what it is. It polarises people - either you like it or don’t, but I have grown to love it. The only comment I will add is to pick up a point made in the FP Geeks Awesome Review of the Homo Sapiens, which complained that the clip looked cantilevered but wasn’t (true) and that it needed two hands to clip to anything. I have actually found it quite easy to use the clip one handed by pinching the middle of the clip between thumb and index finger and then squeezing, which pushes the cap away from the clip.
Overall? I love it. It is an unusual, eye catching pen yet remains conservative enough to use in the office and draw admiration rather than ridicule. It is the best writing of my four Visconti pens, and shows that when done right, limited editions can be truly beautiful1. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled across it at auction.
1 Although my opinion is not generally so favourable - see upcoming post... ↩