Delta has become one of my favorite modern pen companies. In recent years, they've expanded their line and, in my opinion, the change has been for the better. They've moved away from extremely large, flashy (some would say tacky) limited edition pens, and introduced more understated designs, as well as several reasonably priced entry-level offerings. In this review I'm going to take a look at a variation on Delta's flagship "Dolcevita" pen, the "Soiree" model.
The main thing that made me hesitant to purchase Delta Pens in the past was their size. I had always regarded Delta as the Italian company that made very large, chunky pens with a lot of flashy gold or silver trim, usually in some sort of crazy theme. Delta still does that, and many of their pens aren't to my taste, but in recent years they've slimmed down the size of their offerings which brought the company back onto my radar.
The first Delta that really drew me in was the Fusion 82, which Delta introduced several years ago as the vehicle for marketing their "Fusion" nib. I won't go deep into the controversy that the Fusion Nib generated in this particular article. Long story short, the Fusion nib is a steel nib with a piece of gold plating fused to the top of it, and its release was accompanied by a lot of marketing hype supported by "questionable" scientific assertions regarding what that gold plate does to the ink in the pen. Regardless, I got a really good deal on two Fusion 82s at the 2014 D.C. Pen Show, and whatever you think about Delta's marketing, my two Fusion nibs are up there with the best-writing pens in my collection.
The Mid-Size Dolcevita
Having enjoyed my Fusion 82 pens for a year, I reconsidered the Dolcevita. The standard Delta Dolcevita is a sizable pen, combines a bright orange celluloid body with a black cap and silver trim, and sits just on the borderline of what I would consider "too big" and "too flashy" for my taste. Even the smaller Dolcevita "mid-size" qualifies as a large pen in my book. At some point, thought, I saw the Soiree model, probably at the 2014 D.C. Pen Show, and it stuck in my head. Once I saw a deal I couldn't pass up, I jumped on it.
From what I can tell, the Dolcevita Soiree only comes in the mid-size, which means that it uses a cartridge-converter filling system rather than the piston used by the larger Dolcevitas. That's fine with me--I've grown to prefer C/C fillers as they are exceptionally easy to clean. While I will probably add the standard Dolcevita to my collection at some point--what can I say, it's grown on me--I think I prefer the design of the Soiree. It's a solid black resin pen (nothing really exciting there), but it's saved from being boring by four bands of bright orange celluloid, offset by a sterling silver cap band. Delta also uses a "roller" clip on the Dolcevita, which makes this pen exceptionally easy to get in and out of a shirt pocket, and the clip doesn't snag the fabric.
The mid-size pen is still relatively large, as I mentioned, but it's very well balanced, and can be used posted or unposted, as reflected in the gallery below.
A Nib That Writes Well Out of the Box
What keeps me coming back to Delta pens (five times now) are the nibs. While I've had some of my Delta nibs modified with specialty grinds, not a single one of these pens has needed to be adjusted out of the box to make it write well. No babies' bottoms, no hard starts, no misaligned tines, and no scratchiness. The Dolcevita Soiree is no exception. This fine nib even has some angular, stub-like qualities that makes my writing stand out a bit more than typical western nibs, which I sometimes find "blobbish" without much line variation. The pens in the Dolcevita line come in both 14K and Fusion nib models. I prefer the 14K, but if you don't want to pay the extra premium, I have had excellent experiences with the Fusion nibs, too.
One thing I will note is that Delta gold nibs tend to run true to size. This is becoming increasingly rare with respect to western "fine" nibs: sometimes it seems as though all nib sizes are becoming wider by default, and in many brands (hem!, Lamy) there's literally no difference between the extra-fine and the fine.
I've enjoyed owning the Dolcevita Soiree, and it's turned into a regular daily writer. I can't emphasize how refreshing it's been to have nibs write well out of the box. Oddly enough, my two most recent purchases have been larger pens: a Delta "Rediscover Pompeii" limited edition and an "Italian Technology" oversize demonstrator (which is a button-filler). I guess I'm coming around to the "Delta aesthetic". I'll review these pens at a later date, but everything that I've said here stands: all of them write exceptionally well out of the box, and larger size notwithstanding, the pens are comfortable to hold and fit the hand well.
I purchased this Dolcevita Soiree on sale from Marte Modena during a promotion they were running last year. If you recall, there was a lot of controversy over Delta's supposed move to Marte Modena for a large portion of their online sales. Marte Modena's prices were so low (in some cases, well below wholesale) that some even speculated Delta could be in financial trouble and/or facing the threat of liquidation. Now that a few months have passed, I don't have any greater insight into what was going on there, other than that it might have been a loss-leader promotion to gain business. Marte Modena's prices now have come up significantly, in some cases all the way up to full MSRP.
With respect to this pen, Marte Modena currently has it priced at $438 for a 14K nib, and $328 for the fusion nib. I've not seen this pen at many U.S. retailers, so I'm not sure if it's still in production. If it is, I imagine you can get a better price. Until recently, Anderson Pens had one listed for $275, which is closer to what I paid and more than fair, but it's currently out of stock. One U.S.-based Amazon seller has the Soiree available, but it's priced at $476, which is high.
In general, Bryant Greer of Chatterley Luxuries is another a good source for Delta pens, and he also collaborates with Delta on some special editions in celluloid. You can check out my reviews of the two limited edition Fusion 82s that I bought in Delta's Pompeii and Marmo Incrinato celluloids here.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds for my own collection. This post does contain affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase something from certain sites linked to in this article. While I'd greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase an item you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!