I was always going to fail. I admit it. I was doomed.
It’s like that song you can’t get out of your head: once it’s in there, it’s in there, and you find yourself humming it without realising it.
It was like that for me with the Visconti Homo Sapiens.
Over the past year or so I’ve been figuring out what I really like about pens. It’s now crystal clear in my mind.
- “Proper” filling mechanisms. Cartridge/converter always seems like a compromise.
- Large, non-steel nibs, made in-house, that write wet and smooth.
- Big pens, that feel solid and substantial, with broad sections.
- Nothing too flash — bright swirly celluloid looks great in my Instagram feed but I gravitate toward sober colours.
- Caps that come off easily.
It’s why I ordered the Pilot 823, and love the Lamy 2000 and my Pelikans.
And it’s why I couldn’t resist the Homo Sapiens. Not only does it meet all of my criteria, it does so uniquely. There is no pen like it.
Filling mechanism: vac filler. Definitely not a cartridge converter! Hell, it may be difficult to clean, and hey, it has no ink window… but I don’t mind. It has a titanium rod. And the power of VACUUM!
Nib: it’s not steel. It’s not titanium. It’s not gold, in any of its guises. It’s 23k PALLADIUM! With a crescent-moon-shaped breather hole, proudly stamped FIRENZE. It’s the “dreamtouch” nib, and it really does write with zero pressure, laying a gloriously wet yet fine line. In terms of size, it’s somewhere between the Pelikan M800 and M1000. In other words, a good size.
Size and weight: Capped, the Homo Sapiens is as big as the M1000. Uncapped, it’s a bit shorter, and the section is shorter too. Still, a big pen. And it’s made out of LAVA. From MOUNT ETNA. I mean, forget your “rare” hand-poured plastics or your pretty sparkly resins… this is a properly creative material. And it’s actually practical… it has a wonderfully matte texture that’s always easy to grip even when your hand’s a bit sweaty. And it’s got some heft without being exhausted. Did I mention it’s MADE FROM LAVA?
Flash: I went for the Steel Age. Despite all the innovations under the hood, it’s a standard black and silver pen. But there are stand-out touches. The sprung bridge-shaped clip, the swappable magnetic finials. It’s not the best-looking pen I’ve ever seen in terms of proportions and details, but I like it.
Cap: It’s not a slip cap. It’s not a screw cap. It’s a bayonet cap, like a lightbulb. Cool. And easy to use. I personally can feel the “threads” when using the pen, but they’re not uncomfortable. And, like so much about this pen, it’s a unique design decision.
This isn’t a review. I’ve only had the pen two days, and written maybe ten pages with it. For what it’s worth, those pages have felt wonderful to write, and unlike many other poor souls, I’ve had no problems with my Homo Sapiens out of the box, either in terms of build quality or nib performance.
But what I want to get across now is how powerful the effect can be when a company does something different. There are plenty of big pens, plenty of piston fillers, plenty of in-house gold nibs, plenty of limited-edition coloured plastics. But Visconti said nah and went its own way. Vac filler. Palladium nib. Lava barrel. Bayonet cap. That the pen as a whole is ultimately comfortable, attractive and functional — despite all the innovation — is quite a surprise. But it is all of those things.
And that’s why, after thinking about it for months, when I finally got one in my hands… I knew I was doomed.