A little something new from Stipula.... You remember the I Castoni, right? It was that great little bright pen, the one with the colorful stones set into the clip? The ones that no one has been talking about of late?
Well, that might be about to change!
The new version of the I Castoni is outwardly similar to the original. The real difference comes when you remove the cap and take a look "under the hood" so to speak. The new I Castoni uses Stipula's large size nib and feed, instead of the smaller version on the older model.
This is very good news, as anyone who has tried to get the older version to work well knows! The smaller nib/feed units were more prone to flow and feed problems, the newer large nibs are generally very good. In fact, I would go so far as to call them excellent, Stipulas (two Etrurias and an Iris) are among my most favored writers.
Other changes? Well,a few here and there. The clip seems to be thinner through the portion where the stone is set. I don't think this is anything but a manufacturing detail, the setting seems perfectly secure. I suppose if you just had to comment on it, you could say that the slimmer metal portion makes the stone look proportionately bigger. That's stretching things a bit, though!
The other main change seems to be in the threads. Unlike the original version, where the threads were cut into the barrel, on the new model, the threads are machined into a metal ring that fits around the barrel. This ring looks to be integral with the metal barrel liner. I don't know if this is anything other than, like the clip thickness, a minor manufacturing detail. Dean did note that the old version took one full turn to thread the cap on, while the new model takes one and a half turns. The section is also slightly different in shape and feel than the first model. Again, it's not by much, just a slight change.
It's going to be the nib, and the nib alone that makes or breaks the new I Castoni on the market. The larger nib looks better, and based on past experience, should perform better as well. It probably would have been perfectly valid to have gone to the new nib size simply for the looks of the thing, but the fact that it's seems likely to add some performance into the bargain as well is just all that much the better.
The new nib, while larger, is a single tone nib, plated to match the silver trim on the pen. Under that plating, it's a nice 14K nib, very smooth on the Medium nib samples we tried, and with a nice spring to it. It's the same nib used on the larger Stipula pens, the Iris, Etruria, and so forth. A nice sized nib, and pleasant to use. Not the showiest of nibs, with it's plain silver color, but then you can't have everything!
The I Castoni is a cartridge converter fill pen, and uses the standard Stipula converter. I believe this is the international size converter or cartridge, so you've got some ink color choice, even if you stick to cartridges. The converter, of course, opens the door all the way as regards color choices. A nice touch on this pen is the converter, they seem to be very well made. A quick flush with a bit of ultra dilute soap and water mixture to cut the manufacturing oils, and we were off.
The I Castoni is a mid sized pen. Maybe a bit on the small side for my taste, but it's actually pretty well balanced in the hand. The end of the barrel is recessed slightly, so when the cap is posted it forms a nice double curve line along the length of the barrel. Posting the cap is, as you might imagine from the recessed barrel end, very secure. Not quite as rock solid as a pen with threads on the barrel end, but definitely the next best thing. The cap, once posted securely, isn't likely to come flying off with a gesture.
Writing is very pleasant, the weight is in keeping with the size of the pen. Not too heavy, not too light.... Sort of "in the middle". Like the overall size of the pen! The section on the new version is a bit thicker than that of the old one, this makes for a different feel in the hand. Not anything that would be likely to cause you to fling one or the other down in disgust and storm off angrily, but it is a different feel.
If you need something nibless, the I Castoni is also being made in both a ballpoint and a rollerball version. The ballpoint is a capless model, the rollerball version a conventional capped model outwardly identical to the fountain pen version. Either one would likely make a great choice, the ballpoint is a good sized pen, actually a bit longer than the fountain pen version when closed, and of comfortable width for a ballpoint.
I suppose that only time will tell how successful the new I Castoni will be for Stipula. It's easy to guess, but every time I do that, I end up being about one hundred and eighty degrees off! I will say that I think that they have made the right choice ion putting the large nib on this pen. This gives you the choice of six different nib widths, from extra fine through the .09 and .11 italic nibs. That alone is enough to warrant a look at the new I Castoni. (Hint: choose the italics, they're great!)
In case that's not enough, Stipula has also dropped the retail price a bit, to $225 for the fountain pen. This should put it in a much more attractive light when comparing against other pens in this size and general price range. At that price point, getting a nicely made, brightly colored pen, with a large 14K nib, especially one available in not one but two italic nib widths... It's a very attractive proposition!