The Yard-o-Led Viceroy Grand Victorian (from now on, the Viceroy) was sent to me for review by a loyal reader. I was jumping up and down with excitement to get my hands on it.
It’s easy to see why, because Yard-o-Led makes pens like nobody else, and you don’t see them around very often. The Viceroy is a big, long pen, and it’s made top to toe (nib excepted) from solid sterling silver (it has hallmarks and everything).
That means it’s 65g – it has presence, both literally and metaphorically. The walls are very thick.
Yard-o-Led pens are handmade in England, to the extent that the beautiful paisley-like pattern on the barrel is engraved, by hand, by a craftsman with hand tools. Look in detail at the pattern and you can see variances, inconsistencies – this is no machine-work.
Although the design is very detailed, the pen surprisingly doesn’t feel fussy. The end of the barrel and cap are left plain, gently domed; three rings are cut into each end of the pen, giving boundaries to the engraving and balancing the design.
The Viceroy is unashamedly vintage. Yard-o-Led is an old company, and it’s proud of it. The side-mounted clip, the serif font reading YARD:O:LED – it all screams old-school.
The mechanics, though, are quite modern. The feed is plastic, the nib is 18k and looks like it’s made by JoWo.
Unscrew the section and you’ll see first an o-ring, which will stop accidental section unscrewing, then a (premium) converter.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t use the Viceroy as a daily driver. It won’t leak all over your shirt. And you can check the ink level easily.
Capped, the Viceroy Grand is about a centimeter longer than a Pelikan M800; uncapped the difference is even greater. I personally like big pens, particularly if they have huge long sections like the Yard-o-Led does.
The cap clicks on with a push, so there are no threads to worry about, but the small step up to the barrel is sharp. However, you’d have to have a really odd grip to hold the pen that far back.
I personally found the proportions fantastic and the Viceroy is a really comfortable, if heavy, pen to hold. It also looks the business.
I was, however, a bit let down by the writing experience on this particular example. The 18k nib is a medium, and I found it wrote on the dry side, with a bit of drag. It’s possible that this could be adjusted with a wetter ink (I tried the pen out with Montblanc James Dean, which I fear may be on the dry side, but it’s too new to me to know), or fixed with a different writing style than my lefty overwriter grip. The nib responded well to a little bit of pressure on downstrokes, growing wetter and giving a little line variation. An underwriting righty with a bit of a heavier touch would probably be very happy indeed.
There are a few oddities to be aware of. The vintage-style clip is set low, which combined with the length and the weight of the pen means this is probably not good for those that like to clip their pens in pockets. There’s also a blank panel on the cap, which looks like it’s there as space for an engraving.
It seems that over the years (my pen is not new, which is rather fitting!) the cap edges can scuff the section, which is a shame on such a beautifully finished pen. Silver is soft, but the design doesn’t help And lastly, remember this is silver: it’ll tarnish if you leave it long enough. I happen to like that, but you may not.
At £895, this is an expensive pen. It’s easy to see where the money was spent: not on the material (silver is quite cheap) but on the small-batch, English-made craftsmanship. I am chuffed to bits that this kind of object is still made here, and while the design is not my usual taste, I admire it and find it beautiful.
Would I buy one? Probably not. The nib didn’t do it for me, and if I was to spend this much on an all-metal pen, I’d probably buy a Montblanc Geometry – which is exactly what I did. But I’m sure as hell glad that the Yard-o-Led company is out there making these beauties. Long may it continue.