Visconti’s “Van Gogh” Impressionist Collection receives scant attention, at least as compared to the Italian company’s other flagship pens such as the Homo Sapiens and Divina. That’s a shame, because of all the Visconti pens I’ve had the opportunity to test out, this might be my favorite. (Sorry, Homo Sapiens Dark Ages.)
Each pen in the Van Gogh series is cast from an acrylic resin specially mixed to match the palette of colors found in a Vincent Van Gogh painting, in this case, Vincent’s Chair. (Pens based on the works Starry Night, Shoes, Irises, and one of his self-portraits are also available, among others). Each piece is unique, and even those pens based on the same painting will still feature different swirls and patterns in the acrylic.
This particular Van Gogh features a very nice steel nib - actually, one of the best Visconti nibs out of the box that I’ve used. As I’ve mentioned in prior reviews, Visconti nibs can be supremely frustrating because the company’s quality control is all over the place. These pens sit at a very high price point, and of the three Visconti Pens that I’ve reviewed (Homo Sapiens Dark Ages, Rembrandt Back-to-Black, and this Van Gogh), all three required some sort of nib adjustment out of the box. Not exactly what you would expect when you are shelling out anywhere from $150-700 for a fountain pen.
In the case of this Van Gogh, the “nib work” required to get the pen in writing order was fairly minor: the tines were misaligned but I was able to easily push them back into place with my thumbnail after straightening out the feed. After this ten-second adjustment, the pen wrote exceptionally well: a wet medium line with no hard starts or skipping.
Note: I’m experienced with fountain pens, and consider a tine adjustment to be “minor” and something I can handle myself. I recognize that someone spending $200 on their first expensive fountain pen might not be so brave. For that reason, I generally do not recommend Visconti as a brand for beginners. Regardless, if you are considering purchasing a Visconti, purchase from a reputable retailer (like Goldspot) and specifically ask them to inspect the nib for you prior to shipment to avoid any problems on the front end.
So what keeps bringing people back to Visconti, despite the temperamental nibs? The design, which always has a lot of personality to it and inspires strong opinions (positive and negative), particularly surrounding Visconti's larger clips. Those who enjoy Visconti design, however, demonstrate exceptional loyalty to the brand, and Visconti collectors/enthusiasts are well-represented in the pen community. Personally, I like the Visconti “Bridge Clip,” and the polished version here works especially well on the smaller, faceted Van Gogh pen. Yellow pens also tend to be hard to find, and I found this color combination on the “Vincent’s Chair” pen, with its swirls of blues and greens, especially attractive on the faceted barrel. The silver trim also sets off the acrylic nicely.
The Van Gogh might end up as one of my preferred Visconti models. The compact size, light weight, and excellent nib (once adjusted) combine to form an extremely comfortable daily writer. The pen also posts well. While the pen has a metal section, I didn’t end up with a slippage problem, and this is something that bothers me less and less as I learn to not grip my pens so tightly.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
You can purchase this Visconti Van Gogh Vincent’s Chair fountain pen, as well as the other pens in the Visconti Van Gogh Impressionist Collection, from Goldspot Pens. The Van Gogh sits around the midpoint of Visconti’s pricing scale at $289, which admittedly is on the high side for a steel-nibbed acrylic pen. That said, the effort required to mix and pair each resin with a particular Van Gogh painting likely took work and drove up the cost, so when viewing these pens from a cost/value perspective, it’s probably more appropriate to compare them to a custom pen like an Edison or a Newton, which sits around that same $300 price point.
Many thanks to Goldspot for loaning me this pen for review. Overall, I’m sad to have to send this one back, but a Vincent’s Chair and/or Starry Night pen might be making its way into my collection in the future.
Disclaimer: Goldspot loaned me this pen free of charge for review purposes.