The Bononia is a new release for Tibaldi, and as of time of writing this is the first published review.
When I’ve posted photos of the pen on Instagram, folks have got rather excited, and it’s easy to see why: the ‘Seashell Mist’ resin on this review sample is stunning. But what’s it like as a pen?
The historical Bononia from I think the 1990s (I’m not a Tibaldi historian) had threads on the end of the section, much like Oldwin’s Classic does today. Other than having conventional thread placement, the modern Bononia appears pretty faithful to its namesake. It’s a distinctly midsized pen, almost identical to the Montblanc 146 in all its dimensions, and with the same cigar profile, screw cap, clip mechanics and nib size.
These proportions make it very comfortable. Spin the cap off in just over a turn — the threads are excellent — and you’ll find a short flared section that’s actually wider than on the 146, so there’s no barrel step to speak of and no sharp edges on the threads.
Unlike the 146 the Bononia is a converter filler, with a supplied screw-fit branded converter.
The construction is pretty much all plastic, so it weighs in at 24g capped and just 16g ready to write, with a full converter.
Also unlike the 146 and the historical Bononia, the nib is simple steel. It’s identical to the one on the Perfecta I recently reviewed, very minimally decorated, not particularly polished, and backed with an ebonite feed. The decoration is laser etched, the nib size is stamped. Visually it’s the weakest element of the design in my opinion.
Mine is a broad nib and it writes very much on the narrow side. I’d call it a medium. For you ‘fat nib Friday’ fanatics, there is a BB option.
The flow is not heavy. I would definitely choose a wet ink to get the most from this nib. But it’s a very easy-going writer; there’s no flex, no stubbishness, no sweet spot, no hard-starting or temperamental behaviour. It doesn’t dry out when capped. It’s lacking in personality for sure, the same comment I made in my review of the Perfecta.
Now, about those looks. Tibaldi has done a fabulous job here.
The only trim is the simple (and tight!) sword-shaped clip, and three slim cap bands, sitting perfectly flush. The trim is all palladium plated, but looks yellow in the photos below partly because it’s reflecting the yellow walls of my office!
The brand name and Made in Italy are engraved around the cap, but they’re unfilled so they’re practically invisible in most lights.
All of which leaves an unblemished canvas for this spectacular resin.
The Bononia is available in this orange/red, and an olive green that’s equally gorgeous. Black is an option, but I have no idea why you’d want to take it.
The resin here has tons of chattoyance and ranges from gold through to crimson in good light. The polish is perfect, and it means the Bononia undoubtedly has the wow factor. There is a prominent gold stripe, the Arco or Cuspide effect, that is aligned with the nib; unfortunately the triple-start cap doesn’t fully align in any of its positions. A small gripe but one I know matters to some folks.
So: a truly gorgeous material, a comfortable design, and a decent if uninspiring nib. How much? Like many of Tibaldi’s designs, the list price is €195, and Appelboom has it listed for £170.
That puts the Bononia at the upper end of a cluster of pens like the Maiora Impronte, Esterbrook Estie, Leonardo Furore, and so on — which may not have ebonite feeds (they happen to all use JoWo nib units), but have their own beautiful resins and other differentiating features. At £170 the Bononia is not an incredible bargain, but it isn’t crazy overpriced either.
Putting the price aside for the moment, the Bononia has that special something about it. I have found myself using it a lot over the past few weeks. It’s pretty, sure, but it’s a perfect size and nails the little things that matter, like the cap threads. I’m enjoying having it in my collection a lot.
Tibaldi sent me this pen to review. You can get yours here.