Three months ago

If I was told that I’d be reviewing a transparent blue “Italian resin” fountain pen that looks like a giant Tylenol, I’d be rather confused and speechless.

Well, I am still speechless, I mean, look at it. It’s a capsule-shaped pen which looks ridiculously small, but amazingly, it can transform into a perfectly usable writing instrument.

This pen arrived at my door in a nice red box that bears the Stipula leaves insignia.

Since this is not a pen that is discussed a lot (also my first Italian pen), a short summary of how it came to be is in order.

Several years ago Stipula (a smart pen-maker) discontinued this model, but through Massdrop (a smart business model) initiative, someone sprung the idea of remaking it, and make it available for purchase once more.

The neat thing about this particular version is that Stipula went back to the original design of the pen which provides a metal thread for capping on the section, and a groove thread for capping on the back of the pen, which — unless you have smaller hands — is necessary to write with this pen comfortably.

#waitaminute: Now, you may have seen a youtube video (IIRC by the Fountain Pen Day people) in which the thread groove at the back of the pen was not present, causing problems with the cap falling off in the middle of writing. That was the latter design before this pen was discontinued. In this reproduced version we’re reviewing, the thread groove is back, making posting the cap super secure and nice. Just love it.

Metrics

Size: The pen looks like a giant blue gel Exedrin or whatever your favorite headache medicine. See the picture. But due to its nice girth, even people with larger hands shouldn’t have a problem using it.  Compared to super slim pens like Pilot Elite or Muji pocket pens, the Passaporto is much more usable.

Weight: The pen weighs at 18 grams with an international cartridge in it. A note on that, some people use this pen as an ED (eye-dropper, that is filling up the barrel with ink), and I may do that in the future, but at the moment, a syringe-filled cartridge allows me to use whatever ink I wanted, without the hassle of silicone-greasing the threads, etc.

Writing Experience

As I mentioned earlier, with the cap posted, the pen transform into a comfortable writer, the shape of the section and the body contributes to the nice feeling when writing.  The nib looks very cool and being an Italic nib, it adds some variation to my handwriting.

For those new to fountain pens, an Italic nib is constructed in a special way that it has a flat point.  The nib produces a broad lines when writing downward, and a thin line when drawing sideways (perpendicular to downward).

The Passaporto is an honest-to-goodness nice fountain pen. The feed keeps up with the Italic nib, and the nib is consistent enough for me to get used to the way it draws the lines.

In Short

And finally here are my scores for this pen:

  1. Is it cool or stylish?
    Yes. As most Italian fountain pens, the styling is bold.  Stipula has created a unique look that surprisingly bears the mark of good design behind it.  For example, the sterling silver Stipula leaf on the huge chrome band is also a rollstop. This pen is a natural conversation piece when you first pull it out in front of your friends, but at the same time, you won’t feel the cramp after writing with it for an hour.
  2. Does it feel cheap?
    No. The resin on the pen body feels very nice and substantial. The metal thread is of high quality in terms of precision without being sharp-edged, I don’t feel it at all even though part of my fingers touch it frequently while writing. This pen looks and feels good in my hand.
  3. Is it comfortable to write with?
    Yes. The thread groove at the back of the pen made all the difference. Once posted securely, the cap transform the tiny pen into a nicely-sized smooth writing machine.  The capsule shape provides a nice grip size for most hands, minimizing fatigue in long writing sessions.
  4. Is it a good value?
    For a $60 item, I think it has a lot of value, because once you are past the novelty of using a “Tylenol” to write, the pen continues to resume its designated purpose in life, to write with comfortably.  And the 0.9mm Italic nib in my opinion also adds to the value (on the other hand making it rather useless for me to sketch with).
  5. Who would I recommend it to?
    Definitely people who like clipless pocket pens.  This is the anti -huge, -manly pens that Montblanc 149 and Jinhao 159 represent, but at the same time this is not the dainty pen like the Esterbrook Purse pens. This pen sports a unique design that does not get in the way of it being truly usable as a writing instrument. The only thing I’m worried about is scratching the nice blue resin … or accidentally leaving it somewhere… or having someone mistake it as an LED flashlight or a USB drive.

Written by will