The Visconti Homo Sapiens is one of the more fascinating pens of our era, and has been a success worldwide since its release. Together with the 23K Palladium “Dreamtouch” nib, the Homo Sapiens comes in silver (Steel Age) and bronze (Bronze Age) trims. It is one of the best performers when it comes to the overall writing experience.
The Homo Sapiens’ lava construction is a strength and weakness – while it has a unique touch and appearance, its surface is hygroscopic and absorbs sweat or moisture for a dry feeling. Some say the pen absorbs ink, then “sweats” it, staining the fingers.
Despite its respectable capacity, the plunger filling mechanism and ink level cannot be viewed. The new Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal Swirl and Florentine Hills therefore take the Homo Sapiens line to a whole new level.￼
Following the original Homo Sapiens, Visconti released the Homo Sapiens Crystal Swirl – a unique edition of 1000 which has a unique design featuring finely shaved celluloid ribbons suspended in a clear acrylic barrel and complemented by a translucent blue and green resin cap and plunger knob.
The Visconti Homo Sapiens Florentine Hills is essentially identical to the Crystal Swirl model but themed in green – a tribute to the magnificent vistas surrounding Florence, Italy. It is a step-up from the steel and bronze accented Homo Sapiens models and comes with 925 Sterling Silver clip and cap rings which will tarnish but not as severely as the bronze finish.
Both the Crystal Swirl and Florentine Hills come in standard black Visconti boxes that feature the pen sitting on a smooth white faux leather surface. Two tabs on the left and right allow you to lift the platform, revealing an instruction booklet and Limited Edition card. Nobody would know that this was a special pen unless they see the card or the edition number engraved on back of the cap. Hardly an exciting package for a Limited Edition.
I’m not a fan of faux leather boxes, as they get totally ruined and the finish will peel away after you store them in your cabinet for years. The heat and humidity in Singapore is just too damaging, so I recommend putting them in a cool environment and placing a small satchet of silica gel in every box, as I have done with pens in my collection.
The original Homo Sapiens is a very strong performer in its price range. It checks off all the right boxes, and has a great nib, respectable filling system and construction. I wouldn’t recommend getting a Limited Edition piece as the Homo Sapiens is in my opinion a pen to be used and shouldn’t be too expensive.
The Homo Sapiens Florentine Hills has a replaceable logo at the top of its cap, like any other Visconti pen. Unfortunately that doesn’t interest me as I would hate to lose the magnetic piece or have it misaligned with the clip.
The nib on the Florentine Hills truly performs well and everything “just works”, though I can’t say I am wowed by the design. I would much rather it was made entirely of celluloid.
The thing I definitely enjoy most about the pen is the fact that it has a good nib – that being said, you can get a pen with the similar nib for way less. One quirk about palladium is that it tarnishes – if you look at my photos you would notice that certain areas of the 23K Palldium “Dreamtouch” nib have lost their luster. I have found this to be the case for most things plated with or made of palladium. This isn’t cause for alarm though – nibs are meant for writing.
I would describe the F nib as being extremely smooth but choose an EF over the F. It has good flow and is slightly springy so some variation is achievable when pressure is applied. You can view writing samples in the gallery.
The only thing I really can find fault with is the quick lock cap, which has threads that may disengage easily or get in your way depending how you carry the pen. The threads are unique and necessary as I believe thin lava threads may be unable to hold up to the rigours of use on the original Homo Sapiens.
The threads aren’t uncomfortable to hold and I would still put up with them as I use pen cases. The main factor for consideration with any Homo Sapiens is its price tag – in that respect, they are incredibly expensive.
I procrastinated getting a Homo Sapiens for the longest time but I have had great respect for them ever since I tested one out. The Florentine Hills isn’t stunning as well, but it is certainly a compelling offering.
I leave you with a rundown of the pen’s strengths and weaknesses.
– 1000 piece Limited Edition
– Unique celluloid swirl design
– Visible ink level and filling system
– Smooth, soft “Dreamtouch” nib
– Not porous like original Homo Sapiens
– Extremely expensive demonstrator
– No wow factor to the design
– Possibly uncomfortable threads
– Uninspired box
– New colour may be released
The Visconti Homo Sapiens Florentine Hills and Crystal Swirl are available locally from authorised retailers at a recommended retail price of S$1350.