There's a new pen line from Italy, just hit town. Well, it's hit some towns, anyway. If the initial examples are any indication, Signum pens should be spreading soon! These pens are being imported into the US by Penstop, they currently have a few lines available, with plans for some more. For this month we were able to get our hands on the Divine Proportione Collection. These pens are made to represent the three principle design orders in Greek architecture.
Each pen is made in a couple of versions. One is an acrylic cap and barrel, with either sterling or vermeil trim, the other version has an acrylic cap, and either a sterling or a vermeil barrel. So, right away, these pens are pretty much two entirely different lines. Of course, the design and styling cues are the same, and consistent between the versions, but let's face it, there's a huge difference between a metal barreled pen and one with an acrylic barrel. You get to chose between a fairly lightweight pen, or a heavier pen, whichever suits you.
The overall shape is shared between the two styles. The cap has a gentle swell to it, so it looks almost rounded in comparison to the straighter lines of the barrel. This appearance is more pronounced in the metal barreled version, although I'm pretty sure it's no more than an optical illusion created by the bright finish of the sterling or vermeil barrel, causing the cap to be more pronounced to the eye.
There are three colors of acrylic used on this collection. A warm brown marble, light blue, and charcoal gray. All three are very nice, and all three are paired with a "matching" trim, sterling silver for the gray and light blue versions, and vermeil for the brown one. I suppose the blue could easily have been done with vermeil trim as well, but the sterling silver really accents the lighter flecks in the marbling. Of course, the vermeil is perfect for the brown, bringing out the warm colors in the acrylic.
The clips are probably the most striking feature of the pens, and it's with the clips that the design elements of Greek architecture are brought out. The clips depict columns of all three design styles, Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian. To us, merely minor differences in the details at the upper end of the column, but to scholars of ancient architecture, the clips speak volumes! For what it's worth, I favor the Doric in architecture, but the Corinthian in the pens.
In addition to the ornate clips, the caps have a thin cap ring at the base of the cap, another near the top, and a cap top done in metal, again, either sterling or vermeil depending upon the pen. The metal bodied pens have an additional trim ring near the bottom of the barrel, as well as another between the section and the remainder of the barrel.
The sections are done in matching marbled acrylic, a nice touch in place of the easier to make plain black section. The shape is straight sided, with a slight taper, and they are what I would call "mid-sized". Maybe a bit small for some, a bit bog for others, but generally, right in the ballpark for most pen lovers.
The nibs are nicely engraved single tone 18K, and seem to be very well made. The models we got our hands on all had medium tips, which seemed to be on the fine side of medium, and smooth enough. According to the listings, these should be available with fine, and broad tips as well as the medium. Filling is via a cartridge converter system. Simple, and workable, just make sure to clean out the converter well before use! (Something I advise on all new pens, to clear out any residue remaining from the manufacturing processes. Makes a big difference sometimes!)
Size and weight? These are substantial pens, although you might not realize that at first glance. They appear to be slim pens, but in reality, they are of respectable girth. The trick is in their length, they are a bit longer than most pens of this size, and that makes them look slimmer than they actually are. The metal bodied models have a fairly substantial weight, and obviously, with most of that weight in the barrel, posting the cap doesn't really affect the balance much. Not a big deal, it's not affected much on the acrylic versions, either.
These should make a pretty good choice for a daily use pen, if you need something a cut above the utilitarian. They are obviously "nice pens", without being overly ostentatious, even in the metal bodied versions. The all acrylic versions are downright understated, despite the ornate clips. They rely on the beautiful marbled material to carry the design.
With a list price of around $350 for the fountain pen, and $250 for the rollerball version (depending upon whether you select the metal body or acrylic model), these are also not overly expensive pens, more of what I would call the "midrange" price point. Especially when you consider that the metal bodied pens are either sterling silver of vermeil, that's actually a very attractive price. They're certainly attractive pens!