Looking across the internet at the small handful of Stipula reviews that do actually exist, it’s easy to assume that the reputation of the Stipula brand is lukewarm at best. More or less, the vast majority of grievances out there over Stipula pens have to do with the nibs (mainly the titanium ones) – these grievances are absolutely fair. However I am writing this to add my own experience, which has been quite positive!
I purchased this Etruria from Emy at Pen Venture. It was a great experience and it shipped to the U.S. pretty quickly. I’m not sure who else carries this specific edition, but I’ve only seen the Rainbow with a clear body at Pen Venture.
The Etruria model comes in many colors, but this one definitely stood out to me the most. The pen itself is quite large – while not overly long, it’s quite chunky. It’s a piston filler, and the mechanism is mostly metal so it’s hefty and somewhat back-weighted in the hand. While the body of the pen is more wide than average, the grip section slopes dramatically inward to a normal width. It actually kinda works, and contours with the position of my fingers really well.
Next, the nib. I purchased the V-flex, which is a steel flex nib similar in appearance to the nib on the Noodler’s Ahab.
Oddly enough, the nib slit is not quite straight. Thankfully, this has no discernible effect on performance – because the nib, under normal writing, works great. It’s pretty smooth, especially for a fine nib, and bouncy but firm. It’s not mushy or a nail – it has give, but it snaps back pretty well. The feel is definitely to my preference – it’s just plain fun to use.
It’s also a pretty wet nib, but not a total gusher. Maybe a 6/10 or a 7/10 on wetness.
The performance of the flexibility though is par for the course for modern flex nibs, for better or for worse. With the plastic feed there is bound to be some railroading without first priming the feed. Frankly, it surpassed my expectations, but my expectations weren’t super high haha. The railroading never leads to hard starting or a starved feed, which is a good surprise. With normal inks though, the railroading is pretty common (Sometimes, it performs well, other times it does nothing but railroad). With wetter inks, like Sailor Chu-Shu (seen below), the performance is actually surprisingly good. Essentially, while imperfect, the issues are not worse than the majority of other modern factory flex nibs.
Okay, here we go. I had to do it – a flex-off! Here’s a comparison of flex nib performance.
In terms of the filling system, well, it’s complicated. The Stipula piston famously screws inverse compared to all other pistons – and the piston knob doesn’t extend when you operate the piston. The piston itself though, works well. It’s never stuck on me – even if it isn’t as smooth as a Pelikan, it’s about the same effort to overcome the static friction of the piston head. My only issue is that the piston knob is both disproportionately small and very smooth to grip – so if you want to clean the pen and water gets on your hands it is actually difficult to operate.
My other two nitpicks – first, the piston leaves these grayish streaks of residue in the body where the piston turns in the barrel. It’s only visual, but still annoying. Also, the pen isn’t meant to be disassembled. Of course there may be a way to get around this but I wish it was easier to take apart.
As for its appearance, in my opinion it’s a really pretty pen. Almost everything about this pen is unique. Not unique to a fault or to a benefit, just different. And sometimes different is fun. It’s an interesting change when a lot of pens are somewhat all kinda the same. The Etruria stands out. Simply put, I really enjoy the Stipula Etruria Rainbow. And hey, at the very least, it writes well (and recently Stipula has made efforts to improve past nib issues, including by manufacturing and thoroughly testing their own gold nibs with 1950s era equipment)!
And for the price. The V-Flex version of this pen came out to be $190 USD including international shipping. For what it’s worth, that’s not a bad price at all, in my opinion. Certainly a bit more tempting than some Stipula prices found here in the states. For what the Etruria provides, I’d happily recommend this pen. Despite its quirks and flaws, which may cause some to turn away, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Stipula Etruria Rainbow and can’t wait to continue to use it in the future. And for a pen, I can’t think of a compliment better than that.
Thanks for reading!
(L to R: Pelikan 140, Lamy Safari, Stipula Etruria, Aurora 88)