The Stipulated Stub

Stipula Etruria Magnifica Miele Selvatico 1.1

Stipula derives its name from the Roman tradition of breaking a straw to symbolise agreement of a contract and commitment to do something. This notion and metaphor of sticking to a contract is ‘synonymous with commitment to creating the best of the best’ and the culture of a company steeped in the know-how of materials and production processes of making great pens. Indeed, these traditions of high craft, quality of design and production of pens has made them a go-to business for luxury brands wishing to complement their core luxury product lines (such as watches and jewellery) with a corresponding luxury pen model.  

It is always good to receive an Italian fountain pen for review and from a maker of such a pedigree, that’s definitely a bonus. A Florentine fountain pen is even better for me, for it is a city that I have lived in, visited many times and genuinely love. And indeed, a place where for two years I often roamed the area around the Ponte Vecchio, near where Stipula pens were first born. (Stipula’s administrative and financial operations remains in Florence but its manufacturing activity is located south-west of the city.)

Like Marshall’s observations of Sheffield and industrial districts, the city is suffused with art and culture; it hangs in the very air. You can’t help bumping into the stuff; the mathematically perfect façade of Alberti on the Dominican’s Santa Maria Novella, Ghiberti’s baptistery doors, Orsanmichele, the Palazzo Publico, the Uffizi, and so on. Masterpieces everywhere, a veritable assault of culture, for the Stendhal syndrome is quite real.* So, you come to expect an object labelled: Florence, Made in Italy, to have something special about it. So does this Stipula pen live up to its birthplace’s traditions and artistry?

First Impressions

The Stipula Etruria Magnifica Miele Selvatico comes in a distinctive white card sleeved red box nestled on a faux leather bed, and on opening strikes you as a substantial and a stunning pen. It is an over-sized pen (152mm in its capped length and 14mm diameter). It commands and demands attention in appearance, shape and size. This model has echoes of Stipula’s flagship celluloid model Etruria Ambra but it is made of resin.The warm semi-transparent golden resin resonates with its name of wild honey and its shape draws on the lines of Etruscan amphorae, again signalled in the pen’s name.** The warm honey lustre of the resin is complemented by gold-plated furniture in the form of a narrow and elegant plain ring on the body is contrasted by a broad ring on the cap and a large clip both boasting the classic leaf decorations synonymous of Stipula. The furniture is Stipula’s typical pattern of matt and that really suits the honey-coloured resin.

Although it is a big pen it is light (18 grams uncapped) and easy in the hand. In my relatively small hand, it felt comfortable to write with. It looks and feels stylish, elegant. The pen’s resin is made in-house by Stipula and the quality and beauty of the material certainly sets it apart as a quality offering.

The pen body sports the classic name of Stipula in script on the barrel with the legend below: Firenze Made in Italy. The pictures below provide a visual comparative summary of the pen against some other over-sized pens and related pens (including a vintage Stipula). Left to right we have the Stipula Etruria Magnifica Miele Selvatico 1.1, a vintage Stipula with matt silver furniture, a Danitrio Cum Laude, and a Lamy LX.

Writing Impressions

This is a beautiful looking pen and it feels lovely in the hand. The resin has the organic warmth of honey and you cannot help admiring it as you handle it and write with it, and especially as you feel your way into the stub nib.

Whilst it is a big pen uncapped the Stipula looks fairly familiar and quite typical size-wise, even against the pen reviewer’s yardstick Lamy, or the more restrained classic form of an Aurora 88P dating from the 1970s.

Stipula makes its own nibs and feeds and the model for review came with a 1.1 classic stub nib in steel. You can get fine, medium or 1.1 stub nibs, or a steel flexible or a titanium flexible nib.  My handwriting tends to the small size and thus have a personal preference for fine and extra fine nibs. Thus, whilst stub nibs tend to present something of a challenge I really enjoyed writing with this pen. I wrote a note to a penfriend, or more accurately a friend in pens and then a few pages with the ink that the pen came with. The nib and feed really delivered and the end result looked good on some 100gsm laid paper. The experience made me question my irrational prejudices of stub nibs and want to explore them, and specifically the Stipula variety.

Price and Availability

The Stipula is typically £140 (€160),so the pen is in a fairly crowded and competitive sector for premium steel-nibbed pens. It stands up well against the competition such as certain other Florentine pen makers or other premium steel-nibbed fountain pen brands’ models.


This is a beautiful looking and very well-made fountain pen. Stipula’s skill and experience in pen-making know-how have delivered a pen that was a pleasure to use it and to have for review. For me it stands up well against the competition in this price point/bracket.

Are there any reservations? None, other than that I would have loved to have tried the whole range of Stipula’s nibs with the pen and notably flex steel or titanium flexible nibs. Notwithstanding this gourmand urge to taste everything, the experience with the steel 1.1 stub was excellent and certainly whetted the appetite for a Stipula stub.

So, what is the verdict? It is a beautiful made pen that would be reasonably command pride of place in any enthusiast’s collection. The material is stunning, the finish and decoration are exquisite, and the pen and nib functioned perfectly for me. The crafts people of Stipula have produced a pen worthy of the cultural heritage and traditions of Florence.

Stipula, is definitely a classic brand to consider if you are looking for beauty matched to functionality. It doesn’t appear to have much of a presence in the English-speaking pen markets. Hopefully that will be overcome and Stipula will gain more profile and presence in the UK and Ireland.

Many thanks to Manuscript Pens UK distributors for Stipula, who provided the review model without favour or for any fee.

A few footnotes

*This is a really interesting article on the Florence ‘sick with art’ or Stendhal syndrome.

** Reggio Toscano is famous for its Etruscan ruins and five miles north of Florence and overlooking the city is the town of Fiesole, which was a major Etruscan cultural and economic settlement and rich in remnants of the civilisation and archaeological evidence of walls, tombs and excavated pottery including the classic amphorae. Etruscan remains and artefacts are still being found in Fiesole and across Tuscany. In 1982 I lost a lovely Dunhill gold pen in Fiesole. It has not been found. ☹

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: