2009/11/03

Pen Review: Delta Napoli

Also posted on the FPN.

This is a short review of Delta Napoli, a FP/RB set that I received as a gift from my parents-in-law. According to the box and the booklet that come with the pens, these pens belong to a Fountain Pen Hospital exclusive limited edition of 100. Strangely, I can't seem to find any information about these pens on the web, not even on FPH's own website.

1. Appearance & Design
The pen comes in a big blue box, with some very nice scenery printed on the outer paper box.



According to the booklet, the cap/barrel is hand turned from a solid bar of light blue resin. As a result, there is no seam in the material, which adds to its attractiveness. The main design features are two big engraved 925 sterling silver bands on the cap. The top one has some elegant patterns and the bottom one has the scenery from the bay of Naples in addition to the word "NAPOLI".




The serial number is engraved on the top of the cap:


and mine is the matching set of 065/100.


The blue colors of the resin is very beautiful, and they remind me of the movie "The Big Blue" directed by Luc Besson. The choice of the platinum-plated furniture compliment the body quite nicely.

2. Construction & Quality
These are substantial pens with very good construction quality. The barrel is quite thick and all the threads work perfectly. The engraving on the cap is done beautifully.


The only thing that I can nitpick about is the lack of attention given to the matching of the resin patterns between cap and barrel. While most of the resin is in a darker blue, there are two layers of lighter blue in the material. I thought that it would be nice if the these parts can match up between the cap and the barrel when fully closed to from a nicer flow. Unfortunately both of the FP and the RB have the same problem of mismatched resin pattern between cap and barrel. Considering that this is not really that hard to do, even a $10 Pelikan Pelikano Jr. can have threads that make the nib and the logo on the barrel lined up perfectly everytime, it is disappointing to see an expensive limited edition pen to fail at such tiny detail. Well, at least these are not faceted pens, otherwise it would be really unsightly.

3. Weight & Dimensions
The pen is about the same length as the Pelikan M800.

Capped:


Uncapped:


The diameter is slightly larger than the M800. However, it actually feels lighter compare to M800, possibly due to the fact that this is a C/C fillter and has no complicated filling mechanisms inside. I like the way that they put the engraved silver bands on the cap, which makes an attractive pen while maintaining a light body. The large size and light weight makes it my favorite these days. I can write with this pen for a long time and feel very comfortable.

4. Nib & Performance
The FP comes with a mono-tone platinum-plated 18k gold nib, about the same size as the Pelikan M800 nib. Right out of the box, the nib performance is a big disappointment. I need to press down pretty hard to get the ink flow started, and the nib makes a squeaking sound when I write. Even without looking, I know the tines are probably misaligned. A quick examination under a 10X loupe confirmed my suspicion: the tines are pinched together way too tight, and the right tine is higher by about half of the nib's thickness.

Fortunately, the nib is quite large and soft, which makes the adjustment relatively easy to do. After 10 minutes of tweaking, this pen quickly becomes one of the best writers I have. The F-nib writes a true fine line with a hint of springiness. It is softer than a Sailor 1911 nib, but not quite as soft as a Pelikan M800 nib. The extreme smoothness of gliding this nib across paper gives a very nice sensation that I enjoy a lot.

5. Filling System & Maintenance
This pen is a standard C/C filler. Nothing exciting here but it works as intended.

6. Cost & Value
As I mentioned in the beginning, this pen is a gift from my in-laws. I have no idea about the listing price or the street price because I can't find any info of it on the web. Judging from the construction quality of the pen and the usual going price of the Delta's LE pens, this pen is easily the most expensive pen by far in my collection (my Pelikan M800 being the runner-up). A pen in this price range is way out of what I'd feel comfortable to spend on a single pen so I can't comment on the "value" either.

7. Conclusion
This is my first experience with pricy (>$300) LE pens and also my second Italian pen (the first being a Signum Orione). I don't really know what to expect from such pens and was pleasantly surprised for the most part. The beautiful design, detailed engraving, solid construction quality, comfortable ergonomics, and nib performance are all big pluses going for it. However, the lack of attention to details (resin pattern matching between cap/barrel) and poor quality control of nib tuning in such expensive pens both left me baffled.

Overall I like the pen a lot because of how well it works as a tool. However, I don't see myself spending this kind of money on a FP now or in near future. To me the most important thing about these pens is that they are gifts from people who I love and respect, so I would cherish and enjoy them while I can, and eventually pass them down to my FP-loving children. NOPE, not now and not in near future either. Those Pelikano Jr. ought to last for quite some years to come. :)
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