Visconti van Gogh Sunflowers was my second expensive fountain pen. Funny thing is I’ve bought the pen (now sadly MIA) and just week later I won another one – Room in Arles in in an internet giveaway. Van Gogh Sunflowers became my favorite fountain pen and I used it heavily for more than two years. I’m not able to say how and when but I’ve lost the pen, probably in june or july this year. Somehow Room in Arles didn’t manage to replace it even though it’s, basically, the same pen.
Anyway I’d like to share my experience with modern era Van Gogh fountain pen with you. I have these pens for around three years, they were used and abused. I know them very well.
(old photo of my Sunflower pen)
The pen comes in a nice medium weight triangular box. The inside of the box is “adorned” with poor quality reproduction of the painting the pen was inspired by. There’s also a small elastic strap securing the pen to the box. It holds up pretty well.
On cloudy day
On sunny day
The pen is made of italian resin modeled after Van Gogh’s oil painting. The color is slightly pearlescent, especially in direct sunlight. You can clearly see the different shades of red, brown and yellow. Since the pen are supposed to be made of special resin rods, no two pens are exactly alike. The statement is valid – I compared my Room in Arles and Sunflowers to other pens in the same line and the material, while similar, wasn’t identical. We can say every Van Gogh is unique in a way.
The barrel and the cap are faceted and have eighteen sides. The pen tapers down slightly on both ends. It feels smooth to the touch and great in the hand. The blend of warm hues is accented with silver furniture. The colours are rather nice.
The pen is a little top-heavy because of metal section. Personally I enjoy metal section and I consider this one to be very comfortable. Those who dislike metal sections in general won’t probably fall in love with this one. The pen can be posted if that’s your preference.
The cap and the clip
The cap looks quite nice. In the beginning I didn’t like wide silver ring but with time I just got used to it.The cap is magnetic – it slides and snaps straight onto the barrel of the pen with barely any pressure. The magnet is quite strong, so I haven’t had the cap fall off, even with vigorous shaking. While I think this locking mechanism is pretty cool it’s not really well engineered. During three years of everyday use I had to send Room in Arles three times to Visconti service in order to replace the magnet. The magnet layer in the cap tends to peel off with time and regular use.
The pen has the Visconti logo on the finial of the cap. The Visconti logo can’t be replaced via the Visconti “My Pen System” because it isn’t compatible with this series. The pen has Visconti’s signature spring hinged clip. The clip isn’t very tight thanks to the spring hinge and it can be pulled up easily. It has a high arch which can accommodate thicker notebooks or jeans pocket.
The clip is spring loaded so it opens and closes very easily. It is also quite sturdy and well built. I know some people dislike Visconti clips but I enjoy them a lot.
(Nagasawa-kobe Ijinkan Red)
Well I like the way the nibs in Van Gogh perform. However one thing must be said. In both pens the nibs were horrible out of the box. They were dry and unplesant to use. In both cases I had to soak them in a water with detergent to get rid off some layer of oil(?) and in case of fine nib to use brass shim to improve flow. After this basic tuning they perform well. The medium nib in my lost Sunflowers pen was stellar: juicy, smooth, nice to look at. Fine nib in Room in Arles ji just taht, rather fine . It’s not particularly wet but it writes pretty well. It has some tooth.
It’s C/C pen. A converter comes with the pen. It works well and holds reasonable amount of ink. Nothing fancy though. You may use standard cartridges but from my experience only short ones. The longer ones tend to get stuck in the body sometimes.
Length capped: 140mm
Length uncapped: 123.5mm
Visconti van Gogh Sunflowers with all its drawbacks was my favorite fountain pen. I used it extensively and enjoyed writing with it. The balance and weight are perfect for me. Room in Arles with fine nib doesn’t inspire me that much. It’s mainly because this particular color combination isn’t as nice (to me) as yellow one. Also it’s an expensive pen. It costs almost 200 euros and let’s be honest for this price you’ll easily get better pens (Lamy 2000, Pelikan M400 or even M600 if you’re lucky, Pilot Namiki 823 if you buy it in Japan). Even though I do realise this pen is overpriced and not perfectly engineered I miss Sunflowers version a lot.
Is it worth the money? Probably not.
Is it good pen? Well, by all means, it’s pretty good.
Is it nice pen? It depends. For me yes, it’s a stunning pen that will always stand out among more boring cousins from Germany or Japan.