A little bit of history When OMAS collapsed, many a tear was shed – and many a huckster worked hard to purloin the brand. Some have occasionally claimed success in doing so, although it never seems to amounts to much more than a lacklustre product with a familiar logo. But the core values of well-turned pens made from classy materials sporting positively aphrodisiacal nibs live on in Scrittura Bolognese. Write Here, in Shrewsbury, have been commissioning special editions from them for a few years now, and this is the first to feature a translucent barrel so that some of the magic is on view. Inevitably, we all wanted to put it through its paces.
How it looks It looks a lot like a distilled leopard, in short – at which point we should add that this is a vegetarian sort of pen (even if it inspired Dappr to nibble a zebra) and the image really is just that. But our panel were all struck by how much prettier this pen is in the, err, flesh. Even for those of us not given to favour brown pens all that much, it’s won fans wherever it has travelled.
How it feels Light, warm, and springy – the latter being a lot to do with the Extra-Flex nib, about which more in just a moment.
How it fills This is a piston-filer, as is the norm with most Scribo models (apart from the Piuma), and it fills fairly easily with a decent quantity of ink which, unusually, is visible within the workings. The temptation to fill it with a complementary shade has proved very strong; even Mr Teal didn’t put turquoise in this one, and another contributor bucked the trend with a disturbing absence of purple. If you like orange ink, though, this is the bee’s knees – and looks like them, too. Crucially, how it writes… The Fine Flex nib is a joy, and by general consensus the nearest thing to a vintage wet noodle on the market today – even to the point, shockingly, that some of our reviewers prefer it to the Pilot FA nib. So how it writes is curvaceously, and wet. This is not a pen which scratches and blots on the page so much as one which aesthetically drools all over it.
Pen! What is it good for? Unlike the popular Lamy, you won’t want to take this on safari; it’s a lovely, lovely pen, but the elephant in the room is that this is categorically unsuited to the rigours of the Serengeti. The Africa is made of somewhat delicate materials and the nib needs careful handling, so it is strictly one for enjoying in the library at home, possibly with a glass of Amarula in the other hand and Toto on the stereo, although the ambience is optional.
VFM Bologna doesn’t make cheap pens, and this is no exception. Half a grand is a heap of dough for a writing implement and we probably wouldn’t suggest that anyone completely new to proper pens starts here; it helps to have a bit of experience before taking on a nib this flexible, for a start. But if you want something really special, this is arguably a decent bargain given that a certain well-known German brand will charge you twice as much just for the honour of turning a fairly boring black pen a slightly less boring red. If this is the perfect pen for you, it will probably be worth raiding the piggy-bank.
The only way is ethics It’s made in the European Union, so we’re confident about labour practices, and it hasn’t travelled too far to get here either. Subjectively, we very much doubt it will break your heart.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… Realistically, the only nib anything like this comes in a different Scribo. The Write Here special editions change material roughly once a year, so you don’t have to wait too long for something visually different (although, conversely, if you love the Africa you’d better get your skates on). Or, of course, there are other, less cylindrical, Scribo shapes.
Our overall recommendation Try one in the hand if you can, save up for a while if you need to – and whatever you do, don’t Google that Toto video.
Where to get hold of one Write Here is the only place you’ll find this, but if you can’t get to Shrewsbury it’s also available online.
This meta-review references:
- Copperhobnob’s big inky review
- Scribble Monboddo’s hand-written review
- Dapprman’s text-and-pics review
- Mr. Teal’s video review
Thanks to Write Here for the review sample