Friday, September 20, 2013

Red Pens! The Montegrappa Alfa Romeo

I've got a thing for red pens. I believe I might have more red pens than any other color, though black might follow closely. Brown is great as well, especially when wood, but red just has that special something for me.

On the other hand it needs to be just the right shade of red. It has to be deep and rich, by no means pale and without strong undertones of blue, purple or brown. A bit of yellow is alright as I prefer warm reds to cold ones. On the other hand it mustn't drift in the direction of persimmon... you'll get it, though I love red pens I'm a bit picky when it comes to the actual shade of red.

So far, tame-nuri pens have been spot on for me. Just look at this Nakaya Dorsal Fin... or the Danitrio Genkei Serei-Nuri... Namiki Vermilion is beautiful too. On the other hand I'm still hesitant about a Nakaya unpolished shu because I can't be sure I'd like the color. Hard to see one in the flesh around here!

So, Urushi lacquer makes for some really great shades of red. It's not the only material though: there's also pearlescent celluloid, like this amazing red and black pen by Montegrappa.

Montegrappa Alfa Romeo Carbon
I've had this one for a while and I'm, still and again, totally in love! At first glance it looks like a slightly different Montegrappa Miya and the shape is indeed the same, but where the Miya would be all red and silver this one's barrel sports a black carbon weave pattern: It's the limited edition "Alfa Romeo".

Montegrappa Alfa Romeo Carbon

Usually most LEs of Italian penmakers are way too adorned for my liking. This one is a nice exception. The black carbon balances the red cap and endcap off nicely and it all works really well with the sterling silver accents, clip and section. All in all for me it's an amazingly good looking pen. It also has, like the whole Miya line, a really nice balance and weight (37 g) and a sturdy feel to it.

246 pieces were made; there are also some other editions of it which defintely fall into the "too adorned" category.

Montegrappa Alfa Romeo Carbon

There are actually few and relatively subtle clues as to what this pen is about - which is just as well as I really don't have a passion abut cars. There's the Alfa Romeo logo in silver at the top of the cap, an engraving on the barrel ring - just below "Montegrappa" - and the four leafed clover in gold on the otherwise plain rhodium plated nib. It's a beautiful smooth medium nib.

Montegrappa Alfa Romeo Carbon

Who couldn't love this red? It's amazing.

Funny enough, this one of all my pens suffered an accident with lasting damage: It slipped out of my hand and fell on its nib. After a trip to the grease monkey nibmeister it's a perfect writer once again but a slight dent in the tines remains to tell of its mishap.

Before finishing the review I can't fail to mention that Montegrappa's other celluloid colors are just as gorgeous - even the yellow! Who'd thought I'd ever own a yellow pen... I will show them another time.

Do you like the Alfa Romeo? Why? Why not? What's your opinion about LEs by Montegrappa, Visconti, Omas etc.?


  1. I had some disappointments on Montegrappa. I have a Fortuna model, which equipped with steel nibs. First pen, I ordered is a scratchy one then the company kindly renew it with a proper one. But what I imagined is totally different that what I tested.
    Visconti is also another story. I bought Visconti homo sapiens first version for years ago. Somehow, it started to sweat just above the nib, the local distributor was useless to help me. It is really hard to reach the company, after writing here or there, they responded me. I send my pen to them. I haven't been heard from them for a while, then my endless mails got response. Voila! No I have great Visconti homo sapiens which has real peculiar nib comparing to the other models of the company.
    Omas 360 vintage is one of my dream pens. Have you tried Omas? How is your experience with Montegrappa? Satisfied with the nib?

    1. I can relate to the troubles you've been having. I've also had a high percentage of lemons among my Montegrappa and Visconti pens (among other brands too though). Also the dealers around here just roll their eyes when talking about the customer service provided by said firms.

      If you scroll down a little you should be able to find out about at least one Omas I've tried... ;) Else the brand has flown under my radar for quite a while. This has changed now. I love my Extra Lucens, got a Bibliotheque Nationale by trade lately which is also nice - though the nib is not as great as the one on the Extra Lucens - and am planning on getting the Ogiva Vintage Arce LE in November. That one is coming at just the right time, I love Arco brown but find the Milord to be too small and the Paragon too expensive.

      I've also had a vintage Omas Extra for a while. It has a nice flex nib and is very reliable given its age.

      @the Visconti nib: Is your new nib nearly fully Rhodium plated and has a golden circle just above the breather hole? I've seen one of those nibs on fpgeek's facebook lately, it was on a HS he was working on. I guess they're the new design generation? I don't see any way to link the picture here, if you want to go looking for the post it's from September 16th.