Pure Basaltic Lava Reinforced With Resin Is The Secret Ingredient In The Visconti Homo Sapiens Pen
by Nancy Olson
More than five years ago, Visconti introduced the Homo Sapiens collection featuring a new concept in writing instrument design: lava straight from the active volcano Mt. Etna on the island of Sicily was used to craft the bodies of the pens.
Of course, it wasn’t literally “straight from” the source; rather the lava underwent a few interim and necessary steps at the company’s Florence-based pen manufactory.
There, a patented formula containing more than 50 percent pure basaltic lava reinforced with resin was devised to insure a strong, resilient, and slightly hygroscopic material that was deemed perfect for pen-making.
Hygroscopicity is the act of absorbing or attracting moisture from the air. So what makes this pen hygroscopic?
The dark gray writing instrument absorbs very small amounts of moisture from the writer’s hand, thereby giving it a patina over time and a beautiful warmth that is unique to the user.
In a nod to the Bronze Age, concurrent with the dawn of writing, the clip, rings, and other trim are crafted in solid natural bronze, which is unusual in the realm of pens.
The earliest Homo Sapiens collection came in a fountain pen, capped rollerball, ballpoint pen, and pencil.
Since that time, Visconti introduced another iteration christened the Homo Sapiens Steel Age. Trimmed in stainless steel and retaining the original lava-sourced body, it was designed to symbolize man’s technological advancement. It, too, came in four writing modes: fountain pen, capped rollerball, ballpoint pen, and pencil.
The Dark Ages
Now, a new era is being explored with the Homo Sapiens Dark Age. And though the Dark Ages signified cultural decline, ironically this pen represents nothing if not the opposite.
In my opinion, a pen, in whatever shape or form, will always be a symbol of the written word, which is in many ways synonymous with culture.
As well, I think the Homo Sapiens collection is a fair representation of Visconti’s desire to expand the boundaries of creativity with new materials and production techniques, no doubt partly inspired by its Florentine roots.
So what makes this the Dark Age pen of non-gloomy provenance? Once again it’s the trim, which this time is glossy black PVD-coated ruthenium, an elegant contrast to the matte pen body.
The collection includes a fountain pen in two sizes – oversized or regular – a rollerball, ballpoint and pencil.
The oversized fountain pen is filled via Visconti’s own power filler, and the regular-size fountain pen is filled via a piston. Both feature a 23-karat 950 palladium Dreamtouch nib, also invented by Visconti and so named for the way it’s said to glide across the page (and it really does!).
But this time, in keeping with the Homo Sapiens Dark Age pen’s monochromatic theme, it, too, is coated with PVD.
The collection comes in an elegant gift box.
For more information, please visit www.visconti.it.
Editions: two sizes of fountain pen rollerball, ballpoint, and pencil
Cap and barrel: proprietary formula containing more than 50 percent pure basaltic lava
Nib: 23-karat 950 palladium Dreamtouch
Limitation: limited production
Price: $695 for the oversized fountain pen