Another Fountain Pen Hospital LE? Yes. And let me tell you, as long as they keep it up like this, they can keep right on making them and I'll be the first one in line with the Visa card in hand!
The new pair of limited edition pens from the long lived retailer are only somewhat similar. They're both pens, both fountain pens, even, and both done in warm colors. From there, they take off in radically different directions. Each one does manage to do what it's intended to do in great style, however, so it's simply a matter of choosing the direction in which you wish to go.
We'll begin with the Conklin Cocobolo. This pen is based on the Conklin Nozak pen, but in a color exclusive to Fountain Pen Hospital. The color may be the "only" thing special about this pen, but it's more than enough! While the other colors in the new Conklin Nozak line are very nice, this is a different style of material all together. It's a warm combination of brown and cream colors, both resplendent with shimmering highlights.
The colors are perfectly matched in the cap and barrel. They look great together, unlike some marbled acrylics. Well, OK, that's just my opinion, but there are some patterns and colors that go better together than others! The patterns on these pens seem to vary from example to example. The one we got our hands on has a woodgrain pattern, and is about evenly divided between the darker brown colors and the light cream colors.
The trim is done in silver, as with the regular edition Conklins. Gold plate might have gone better with the warm tones of the browns and creams, but the silver doesn't look too out of place. In any case, the trim on this pen is limited to only the cap band, and the clip. That's it! No extra trim rings at the end of the barrel or next to the section. I usually don't mind a little extra metal on the barrel to balance out the trim on the cap, but in this case, I think it was a good choice. The material is attractive enough not to need the extra "help". The barrel is engraved with the edition number, our sample was 64 out of 100.
This is a pretty good sized pen. I don't know if you'd call it "oversized" that seems to be a term that gets used a lot these days. Let's say it's "full sized", at just under six inches long closed, and barely over a half inch across the barrel. I found it comfortable for my hand, being large, but not too heavy. Maybe a tad too long with the cap posted for me, but fortunately, the barrel is long enough that writing without posting the cap wasn't out of line.
Once you get the cap off, you will find the large 14K nib Conklin uses on their other pens. It looks to be the same feed assembly as well, which would make sense. The nib is what I have come to expect from Conklins, nice and smooth, not much flex. We weren't able to fill these samples up and test them thoroughly, so I'll leave it at that. Smooth nib, not much flex. The Cocobolo is a cartridge converter filler, and comes supplied with a converter. It looks like the standard generic international converter, and should probably work just fine after a quick rinse to get rid of any lingering oils.
So, with the Cocobolo, we get a nice, large pen, in a pretty attractive color scheme. All this at a "street price" of only $195. Now, assuming that you are Fountain Pen Hospital, just how do you go about topping that?
You do it with the Visconti Verona, that's how.
Now, I liked the Conklin Cocobolo. It's a nice pen, good looking, and large enough to appeal to me. (I'm a "big pens" guy) But the Verona....
The Verona I absolutely love. For a lot of reasons. Size, color, filling system. This pen has them all. It even has one flaw, just to keep you from feeling like you should throw away all of your other pens and live forever, faithful only to one.
The Verona is based on the "standard" large Visconti pen, with the plunger-vac filling system. There have been clear versions of this pen before, and they're neat, but the Verona goes one better simply by using a translucent barrel, instead of a clear one. Translucent yellow, to be precise. Bright yellow.
It sounds a bit over the top, but in real life, it's not quite as overpowering as it sounds from just a mere description. For one thing, the cap, section, and barrel end are done in marbled acrylic, in shades of orange and cream color. This blends very nicely with the yellow color of the barrel center. The result is a pen that, while bright, manages to be flamboyant without being ostentatious.
The nib is Visconti's large two tone 18K nib. It is being offered in only the fine, medium, and broad tip sizes, but I imagine that it might be possible to send it in to Visconti for an exchange to the stub nib, if your tastes run towards a more interesting nib. With a pen as bright as this, it's definitely a thought...
The Verona uses Visconti's plunger-vac style filling mechanism. In this system, the entire barrel is used to hold ink. Needless to say, it's an impressive ink capacity! The filler is simple enough, unscrewing the blind cap on the back of the barrel allows you to pull the plunger out. The nib is then placed in the ink, and the filler is pushed back down. The gasket on the inside end of the plunger pushes the air from the barrel. When the plunger reaches the end of it's travel, a widening of the ink chamber allows the vacuum to be broken, and ink is pulled into the barrel. The blind cap is then screwed back down into place.
This leaves you with the entire barrel, or most of it, anyway, filled with your ink of choice. Enough to write page after page with the fine or medium nib, and even with a broad nib, you should get any number of run on sentences finished before you run dry.
I mentioned a flaw with the Verona? Well, yes, there is one tiny detail... Gold trim, guys.
I'm not a snob. I don't insist on solid gold trim. Gold plate would have been fine. Rolled gold preferable, for durability, but even gold plate. Just for the look of the thing. The warm tones of the yellow barrel and orange marbled cap simply scream out loud for gold trim.
OK, maybe that's why they went with the silver trim. Why be conventional. I'll admit that while at first I was shocked and dismayed, and felt that it really affected the looks of the pen, after a while I've found myself less and less bothered by it. By now, it doesn't even strike me as odd.
It could just be the fact that I'm getting used to it, or it might even be that it brings out the lighter cream colors in the marbled portion of the cap and barrel end. Whatever the reason, it doesn't bother me as much now as it first did. In any case, it's a small flaw, and at least not one that's going to affect the actual use of the pen!
This pair of pens should make the folks at Fountain Pen Hospital proud. They're good looking, and both priced right, especially considering the edition size. A hundred each of the rollerball and fountain pen versions of the Conklin Cocobolo. Only 65 of the Visconti Verona are being sold here in the US, out of a total production of 100.
copyright 2002 William Riepl