Scrittura Bolognese are keen to emphasise that while they have DNA from OMAS they are a new company with new products. After a number of successful years with their first consumer offering, the Feel, rumours started to emerge of a new pen that would again surprise us. In early 2021 the Piuma was launched in four limited edition finishes, offering a deceptively sized pen with some unique elements to the design.
The Feel took a little time to build up momentum. Opinions on the looks were split as it was more a pen that was sold by being in the hand (it is extremely comfortable for most of us to hold) rather than being seen on the ‘Net. Having both a piston filler mechanism and facets, this hand made pen was never going to be cheap, but it did find it’s market. Now ScriBo have launched something slightly cheaper, using a cartridge converter but still with a couple of facets, which do have function as well as form.
I mentioned in my header that the pen was deceptively sized. It is. In the photos it looks to be on the smaller size, what in the past may have been labelled as a “lady’s pen”, however a lot of this is to do with the design. Rather than the traditional cigar shape, this is closer to a torpedo with the barrel tapering in further towards the end. There are two opposing facets, one lining up with the clip and the other on the underside. Visually they are most obvious when the light reflects from them as, in this finish anyhow, they are quite subtle despite being around 4mm across. In reality this is actually quite a large pen, smaller than a Feel but larger than a Montblanc 146 or a Pilot Custom 823.
There are now signs of a Scrittura Bolognese style when you compare the Piuma, the Feel, and the Write Here (made in collaboration with the Write Here shop in Shrewsbury, UK). The nibs are the same gold alloy compositions as OMAS previous used for their 18k and 14k Extra Flexible/Extra Flessibile nibs and made by the same machine. The feeds are all the same ebonite piece, again made by the tools from the old company. The sections are long, allowing for plenty of options on how and where to hold the pens, and about the same width and length, plus with the capping threads are in a very similar position. Finally there is, to me anyhow, something slightly Art Deco about all three models.
Visually the pen is quite subtle. From the original shots I liked the looks of the cracked purple version, the Altrove, but that sold out very quickly. The others my views were more muted about until I saw the Utopia version in the flesh. The marble like blues and greys probably add to my impressions of Art Deco influence and the finish works very well with this shape. When closed the only metal adornments are a small finial in the cap with the ScriBo feather stamped or engraved in it, and the clip. The only other marking is the SCRIBO name impressed on the clip side facet.
The two facets act as subtle roll stops and will allow the pen to rest, uncapped even, on a lightly angled surface. Push it and the pen will start to roll, and like many roll stops, if it is already moving at pace do not expect the facets to suddenly stop the pen.
The clip is slightly different from the Feel and Write Here (which share the same design) and while it may have a narrower gap between the bottom of the clip and the cap it does slide over pocket seems without too much effort and keeps the pen securely in place.
The cap is removed in one and three quarter turns and is single threaded, meaning the name always lines up with the clip. While it can be placed on the back of the barrel it can not be securely posted and I would not recommend it, but then this is a long pen, so even if you hold the section quite far back you are unlikely to need to extend the barrel.
With the cap removed the first thing that stands out is not the long section, which seems to be emerging as a defining characteristic of ScriBo pens, but rather a metal disk, which is actually part of the converter housing. Remove the barrel and you see the converter (or cartridge if you wish) securely held in place. The converter is almost certainly a Schmidt K5 unit branded ScriBo.
The capping threads are soft and wide, more so than on the other two ScriBo pens I mentioned. Being far back and just before the step you won’t notice them. The edge is rounded so comfortable if you are holding the pen far enough back, and the capping threads actually act as a subtle mid step for the fingers. On trying I found I could notice the bottom of the edge but to do this I had to hold the pen far further back than normal.
In the hand it is a very comfortable pen with the balance point resting on my second finger, much down to where I hold the pen. With this model there is a slight lip at the bottom of the section just before the nib to help protect the fingers and act as a rest if you like to hold the pen right at the end.
For the nib I went in a different direction from normal, though this was more down to me picking up a pen and going “I’ll have this please” without checking first …. (tale to be given at the end). This pen came with the 18k EF ‘Feel the Writing’ nib. It is crisp with a little bounce and works well for me. However when Anthony/Eciton of UK Fountain Pens tried it he could not get the ink to flow. As he is a left hander and the pen would work straight away for me when he handed it back, I suspect there is a sweet spot, so it is a nib you really need to try first for safety. There was another left handed person on the FPUK Facebook group who reported similar issues with a EF ScriBo he possessed. The way the nib is ground potentially is interesting. Looking at it through a loupe (pictures below not above) it appears that a ball of tipping may have been applied to the end of the nib, then ground down and smoothed away in parallel on either side, resulting in a nib that works equally at any vertical angle, including reverse (though without any flex).
So the perfect pen? Well there is one thing I’m not a fan of, though it is also only a minor annoyance. For the facets to line up you have to close the cap tightly, more tightly than it feels it needs or you should do. Others have mentioned the same. I’m now used to it, but it is intriguing to note the same happens with the Feel and there I have noticed something interesting. With both my Feels ink evaporation is very evident. I had the same issue in the past with all my OMAS pens, however since making sure my latest Feel is closed tight enough for the facets to line up the evaporation levels are much reduced. Meantime in the 3 months I’ve owned the Piuma the ink levels have barely dropped (remembering also an EF nib only lightly sips).
Cost wise this is not a cheap pen and I know some people will point to it being made out of an acrylic resin and also not being a piston filler, however it is still hand made, with several facets, and fitted with one of the best gold nibs out there (IMHO), plus an ebonite feed, so the £470 it will cost you in the UK is a decent price, remembering the Feel is £615 (both those prices including VAT). Looking at a European store (Appelboom) the price for the Piuma is nigh on the same.
So how does this stack up against the other two ScriBos, the widely available Feel and the store specific Write Here. Hard to say and I’m not even sure myself. I know a few people who prefer the Write Here over the Feel, either due to looks or due to the way they hold the pen (think most of them are left handers). I do not think you can go wrong with any of them, and all are produced only in limited edition batches (though I believe the Grey-Blue and Blue-Black versions of the Feel may actually be regular not LE). Arguably if you can afford it, go for one of each.
So would I recommend a Piuma. If you like the ScriBo/OMAS style nibs and it is not a price to worry you then yes. I would still caveat that you should try before buying, but if the looks of the Feel leave you uncertain then the Piuma (or the Write Here) should still leave you happy with your purchase.
- Balance in the hand.
- Price point in this market sector.
- Great nib.
- Unique design.
- Facets do work as a roll stop.
- While the cheapest ScriBo pen to date, some may still find it too much.
- Looks may be too subtle for some people.
- Cap needs to be closed tightly for the facets to line up.
Having compared the Piuma’s size to them near the start of this review, I have included a Pilot Custom 823 and a Monblanc 146 with the usual Lamy Safari/Al-Star for the size comparison shots.
And now the tale as to why I bought this pen without knowing what nib it had. As previously documented, at the July 2021 London Pen Show I ended up helping John Hall at Write Here, the UK seller of ScriBo pens (hence the Write Here model). I was planning on keeping my spending to a minimum however I had been in front of this pen for much of the day and early on I realised that in the flesh the resin worked for me. Come the end of the day and it had not sold. John was starting to pack up and I got an urge to buy something and this Piuma again caught my eye. I decided ‘sod it’, grabbed it, asked how much, then paid. I decided what ever nib it had I would be happy with as I already have two fine 18k and one fine 14k ScriBo nibs, plus an EF 14k, a Medium 18k, and a Broad 18k OMAS ones. Turns out is was a lucky pick as it allowed me to replace a pen I was not a fan of in my ‘at work’ set with one I really do for when I need to do fine annotation.