It came as a surprise to a lot of people that Delta made my list of Three Favorite Pen Brands. To me, this makes perfect sense. When it comes to modern pens, the three major Italian Pen Companies - Aurora, Delta, and Visconti - are the main pen companies left that do extensive work with celluloid, one of my favorite materials. (One possible exception is Platinum, which has a small line of celluloid pens, and issues some limited editions in celluloid that generally never leave Japan.)
Why do I like celluloid so much? Because it tends to have a depth to it that's hard to duplicate in other materials like acrylic. While Conway Stewart (which is no longer in business) did an excellent job duplicating vintage celluloids with its line of acrylics, they're an outlier. Today, Delta is probably the most prolific producer of celluloid pens, and, in my opinion, has some of the most unique offerings out there.
Needless to say, when I first learned of the Rediscover Pompeii limited edition (via Glenn Marcus's review here), the yellow and black banded celluloid immediately piqued my interest. As to the pen, however, I initially wrote it off. Too big, too yellow, and too heavy to use on a regular basis. I thought the combination of size and color would look, for lack of a better term, tacky. When I saw the pen in person? Not so.
Design and Build
The Rediscover Pompeii limited edition is a big pen--larger than a Pelikan M800. That said, celluloid is a fairly lightweight material, so it sits quite comfortably in the hand. With the exception of one nit discussed further below, the craftsmanship is excellent. The yellow celluloid is supposed to duplicate the original color of the houses of Pompeii. The cap band is engraved sterling silver with a "greek key" pattern. I love the look, though the sterling does add some weight to the pen when it's capped or posted. It's also slightly odd to have a sterling cap band combined with slightly cheaper chrome trim elsewhere, especially on the clip, though it's consistent with what Delta has done with its other pens such as the Dolcevita. Overall, I love the look. I wouldn't call this pen understated by any stretch, but it catches your eye in a good way.
My pen is a piston-filler, though Delta also makes a cartridge-converter version. What's unique about Delta's piston fillers is that they use a different mechanism than most modern pen companies: the piston is covered by a blind cap, which reveals a knurled metal knob that operates the filling system. To prevent over-tightening, the knob "clicks" when it's finished turning.
The Nib and the Overall Writing Experience
Out of the box, this nib was a medium and wrote very well, though it lacked character. The fine nib on my Delta Dolcevita Soiree has an italic/stubbish quality to it, which the Pompeii did not. At this year's Atlanta pen show, I had Mark Bacas grind the medium nib to a smooth cursive italic. The nib is now perfect for my writing style.
Again, I can't emphasize how happy I've been with Delta nibs right out of the box. I've yet to purchase a Delta pen that needed significant smoothing or tine alignment. This goes for both my higher end Deltas with 14k nibs (this pen, the Dolcevita Soiree, and the Oversize Italian Technology demonstrator), as well as my pens with the stainless steel "Fusion" nibs.
At full price, the Delta Rediscover Pompeii Limited Edition is not a cheap pen. The piston filler runs upwards of $950, and the cartridge-converter version is around $660. I was able to find the piston-filler version on deep discount from Marte Modena for around $300 during one of their sales a year or so ago, which was an absolute steal and a no-brainer. I do wonder sometimes why there was such a deep discount off the MSRP, and it may be because this pen shipped with a slight factory defect. There's an issue with the threads where unless you align the nib a certain way when screwing on the cap (i.e., the nib has to face down, away from the clip), the inner cap will slightly misalign the nib tines. Given how deeply discounted the pen was, however, I'm not going to complain since this is an easy enough problem to avoid.
I did cheat a bit before splurging on this purchase. Before I went and bought the "big boy," I acquired the Delta Fusion 82 in the Pompeii celluloid at the 2014 Washington D.C. Pen Show. If you think that the full -ize Rediscover Pompeii limited edition pen might be too large, but the celluloid still speaks to you, Bryant Greer still has some of the limited edition Fusion 82 pens in stock.
Finally, I want to leave with a note on the packaging and presentation for this pen, which I found top-notch. I don't typically pay much attention to packaging, boxes, and the like, except when it's really well done (which it should be for a pen at this price point). Delta delivers this pen in a lined wooden box, with a bottle of their excellent black ink. What I like about this box is that it's lined underneath the pen/ink insert, so you can realistically reuse the box for storage. I've not had the chance to do so yet, but I'm probably going to refit this box with some pen slots and make a nice storage case out of it.
I'm glad that I have this pen in my collection. It's an excellent writer and despite being large, is well-balanced for long writing sessions and fits my hand well. Would I have paid full MSRP for it? Heck no. That's more than I'd pay for most pens other than the rarest of rare limited edition or vintage pieces. But the good thing about Delta is that they tend to issue their special or limited editions in relatively large numbers (my pen is marked as number 268), and if you're patient you can usually find them on sale or in the secondary market for much less.
Disclaimer: I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own collection. This post may contain affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase an item from certain sites linked to in this article. While I'd greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase something you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!