Questa non è una cipolla!

This is not an onion!

The Scribo Write Here Pens’ Tropea

Clearly, this is not an onion. It is a a Scribo Write Here Pens’ Limited Edition piston-filler fountain pen with a stunning 1.4mm 18k gold nib. It is made of a beautiful red resin that rejoices in the name of Tropea; a reference to the area in the Calabria region famous for producing Italy’s sweetest red onions.*

The Red Queen: Onions from Tropea, Calabria

At the risk of inviting punishment for poor puns there are certainly layers to this pen; but you would expect that when you garner the folk making it accumulated many years of know-how at a legendary penmaker. The makers of this pen are from Scrittura Bolognese, whose skills and equipment came directly from the illustrious OMAS.**

The range of nib options available for the Tropea are a veritable cornucopia of choice, ranging from 14k flexi to more ‘standard’ 18k varieties. The 18k 1.4mm stub on this Tropea appeared to be rhodium plated (but actually is ruthenium I believe) giving it a bright hard silver lustre offset by a Write Here logo outlined in relief by laser striations which provided a pleasing contrast.

Contrast between the lasered logo and Ruthenium-plated nib

The nib sports the details of 18k and 750 (metallurgical 75% pure gold) classically aligned on the top with the nib size ST given like Japanese Pilot’s nibs on the left-hand side.

Close-up of the nib detailing

The nib resembles an archetypal #6 but this is a classic of a different sort echoing the virtues, the feel and unique play of the legendary legacy of OMAS. The tangible lineage of the latter is clear in the attention to detail that Scribo’s craftspeople have devoted to the nib. The stub delivers the expected wetness and luxuriant trail on the page, although it does encourage conscious attention to your writing style and speed.

The Tropea is a piston filler and this oversize pen holds a very generous 1.8ml of ink. You will probably need that with the stub nibs but it certainly sets it out as a writer’s model. The ergonomics reflect it as a ‘go to’ workhorse. The fit and sit of the pen in the hand is pure comfort; the threads are imperceptible even if you shift your grip further up the long section right on top of them. The feel corroborates well-thought through and executed design.

Impressions: very…

The colour of the body did not scream onion to me. I peeled away the onion image for a more personal metaphor. It echoed the pleasures of red wine and this perception may have been led by the ink in it: Scribo Rosso Chianti. There are many Chiantis in Tuscan but essentially two broad varieties: Chianti Putto and Chianti Classico.***

 The former has a cherub logo on the bottle neck and is a lighter in hue and heft, typically drunk young, a wine prevalent in the region north of Florence. The Classico variety is a darker, heavier and more complex red and its bottles sport a black cockerel on the neck, and the wine comes from the slopes south of Florence. The different shades of the resin seemed to echo the putto and classico wines and resonated warmth and pleasure seeing it snug in the hand. The morphology of the model echoes the ‘oversized’ pen dimensions of Visconti models of various vintages, or of luxury or limited-edition models. Hence the yardstick comparators seen in the picture below. (A poor picture but used to illustrate size comparisons.)

However, the lines are cylindrical and uniform. It resonates classic simplicity and for all its uniformity you get the clear impression of a well-deigned and made pen; built solidly and to last. You can see this in the cap which has a 1.7mm thickness and sporting a very solid clip and the finial the stylised logo of Write Here Pens in a silver button on the cap. The pens are handcrafted from high-quality resin and certainly look good. A close-up picture taken with an inspection microscope highlights the luminous chatoyance of the resin.

Close-up of the resin
PenLength (mm)Body width (mm)Weight (g)
Scribo Write Here Pens Tropea144.0016.0035.62
Visconti Homo Sapiens Sterling Silver145.0013.8045.29
Visconti Florentia “Casa della Stilografica” 1994 LE #101 (265)140.0013.6025.83
Leonardo Momento Zero Hawaii resin, rhodium trim LE #1451140.0015.0027.05
Comparisons: Oversized and Limited Edition Pens

Writing is the thing….

My ‘road test’ of the pen included a long letter to a friend and various notes (including those for this review) and this did not exhaust the piston-filled reservoir or my hand. This is where the nib certainly sung and worked its magic. It is a pen that you want to write with and so I did; a lot. (I really felt bereft on returning this loan review pen.) Scrittura Bolognese’s website tells you to “Feel the writing” and the feel of the nib is very distinctive. Not squeaky like my Pelikan M1000 EF 18k nib but it gives you that sense of magical intimacy you got putting your first pencil to the page. The nib feed is also ebonite and it all adds up to the sense of something special and what you would want and expect from a limited-edition fountain pen. (The model here is 46 of 50; as marked discrete but clear on the end of the piston knob.) It has certainly sewn seeds for further growth in the ‘desire list’.

As typical of a limited-edition fountain pen it is expensive; £530 upwards, dependent on the nib permutation that you opt for. Is it worth it? As with all such questions that is down to how the buyer values the pen? However, to help you through a cost benefit analysis (of sorts), or desire versus costs algorithm, consider what you are getting: top quality materials in a well-designed handcrafted piston filling pen with truly unique nibs made by people steeped in the know-how and ethos of the sector. It definitely measures up against other luxury fountain pens and you would have a substantial savings if you budgeted against them. I have not mentioned the OMAS word in this but try and buy an old LE, or top line model, and you will likely pay more. Indeed, seek out an OMAS with a special nib like the “Extra Flessible” and you had better budget from £800 to £1,000.

Conclusions…

Scriturra Bolognese have done an excellent job with this pen and Write Here Pens are offering a beautiful pen that reeks quality in form and function. Writing with it does feel special. I would definitely buy it in preference to certain other luxury brands’ LE offerings. Write Here collaboration with the Bolognese pen craft masters has created a cracking pen, which, IMO at £530 for a top-class nibbed piston-filler seems great value for money.

Disclaimer: this pen was provided on loan for review by Write Here Pens. No inducements or payments were offered or sought for this review. 

Footnotes

  • * Footnote 1: Footnote 1: Italy’s red queen: the Tropea onions of Calabria are certainly in the culinary limited edition bracket. You can buy them on eBay or from Amazon at about £8 per kilo. https://www.greatitalianchefs.com/features/tropea-onions-red-queen-calabria
  • ** Footnote 2: Studies of manufacturing culture and innovation and especially technology transfer stress the importance of acquiring know-how and ostensive skills. Getting to the top of a learning curve takes time and a lot of effort and the know-how and knowledge of the people who came from OMAS to Scriturra Bolognese is reflected in their Scribo output.
  • *** Footnote 3: Chianti Putto and Chianti Classico. If you get the chance to stay a while in Tuscany buy yourself a 10-litre demijohn and buy direct from the producers. Decant and bottle yourself; it is great fun. Chianti Putto is young and fresh wine and very quaffable. Chianti Classico is more complex and richer and with many offerings across Chiantishire. Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico DOCG is one of my favourites but there are many others worth exploring and imbibing.  And if you really want to get into this then you must savour and drink deep of the wonderful Carmignano. For more detail and information start in the usual place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chianti

Published by mickmckigney

I am an Irishman living in West Yorkshire. I have been using fountain pens for about 50 years but in the last five have increased my collection of pens, ink and paper. I am also interested in bookbinding and leatherwork.

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