First Impressions - Visconti H.S. Florentine Hills

I've recently wrote about the Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze and I've been in love with it ever since. In addition to Visconti's Bronze and Steel version, Visconti also created two limited edition designs: Florentine Hills and Crystal, each limited to only 1000 pieces worldwide.

The H.S. (Homo Sapiens) Florentine Hills is a beautiful green demonstrator (clear) pen with swirling celluloid accents. The barrel material is truly unique. The pen starts with a clear acrylic base and molten celluloid is gradually poured into it to create a blend known as acryloid. As well, all metal pieces (except the filling rod) are set in solid sterling silver. Due to the nature of the material, no two pens are ever alike.

The pen comes in a wood ebony black box polished to an extremely high gloss, much like a grand piano. The white Visconti logo is etched solidly onto the box and does not appear that it will fade. The box opens up to reveal the stunning pen inset into a leatherette tray.

The pen feels very solidly built and there are no manufacturing seams or lines found even on very close inspection. However, I did notice a bit of an imperfection on the cap near the rim, where there appears to be a slight bubble. It isn't a very big defect and is hardly noticeable. It is almost impossible to capture on camera clearly.

This is quite a hefty pen, clocking in at 5.74" (14.5cm) closed and 6.77" (17.2cm) posted. This is about the exact same size as the Homo Sapiens Bronze, so I do not recommend posting. This pen is significantly lighter than the Bronze edition, coming in at only 1.4oz or 40g capped. Unposted, this pen fits perfectly in my hand, much like the H.S. Bronze. Keep in mind that my hands are a tiny bit above average when considering the size.

The cap closes with Visconti's bayonet system. For a concrete description, think of opening a child-proof prescription pill bottle. To open, press down slightly then turn a quarter turn. The cap pops right off, as if by magic. To cap, turn a quarter turn then pull up slightly. This system is extremely secure and prevents the cap from accidentally coming off in your pocket.

Visconti offers all their nib sizes on this pen. You can get it as an Extra-Fine (EF or XF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B), Double Broad (BB), or Stub (1.3mm). The nib is made of 23kt solid Palladium, called "Dreamtouch" by Visconti. I opted to pick up a Fine nib and it writes extremely smoothly and very wet, characteristic of Visconti nibs. The 23k Palladium makes this nib very soft and springy, but does not go to flex. It creates a bit of style in your writing, but is unsuitable for Spencerian and the like.

Visconti is also known for their Power Filler system, which is just a rebranded Vacuum filler. The Florentine Hills (unlike the Bronze Age) incorporates a "Double-Reservoir Power Filler." This is essentially a Vacuum filler with a shut-off valve feature. As you fill the pen, ink goes into the barrel of the pen, which essentially is the large "first" reservoir. Next, you can unscrew the blind cap a little to let ink flow into a "second" smaller reservoir just above the nib. You then seal off the second reservoir by closing the blind cap. Essentially, you are writing with a small bit of ink, which the larger barrel of ink remains untouched.

To fill, unscrew the blind cap (back end of the pen) fully until you stop feeling resistance. Then, pull the plunger fully out until it stops. Submerge the pen in ink up to the start of the grip section, then depress the plunger slowly. Wait 10 seconds for ink to fully enter the pen, then you are ready to write. You can repeat the whole process again to get more ink into the barrel.

The filling system is great at taking up ink, but becomes a true pain to flush. To flush, you must repeat the process a very large number of times, and can take up to 20 minutes at times. If you so wish, you may unscrew the nib unit and use a bulb syringe to flush out the nib and feed independently of the pen. This reduces the time a little bit. Personally, I do not recommend doing this as you may misalign your nib and feed during the first unscrew. Note that this filling system is NOT user-dissemablable and it will void your warranty if attempted.

The full retail price on this pen is $995 and can be found at most of Visconti's authorized retailers. Being a limited edition, pick it up while it is still available! Visconti guarantees all their pens with a two year manufacturer's warranty.

Overall, I really like this pen. I will be keeping this one as a display piece and will not be writing with it.