I’m a bit surprised that the Suprema has become one of my preferred pens for notetaking. It has taken quite a lot to get there and even if I think this has become a keeper I feel quite ambivalent to Stipula. I’ve owned five Stipulas to this date. Four of them developed – quite fast – issues that weren’t a result of me treating them badly. Three of them returned to the Stipula factory to get fixed. One (this pen) got a new nib that I could mount myself and one of the five didn’t need any pampering to work as it should. I still own two – both of them have had issues (and yes, the others were warranty repaired before I sold them off).
Around ten months ago I wrote the first review (which can be found here) where the Suprema got a very good overall grading. I probably should have waited a while before writing it, but I was so smittened by it that I wanted to write about it. I think the first Suprema review is the review I feel most embarrassed over and which led me to not review a pen until using it properly for some time. Shortly after the review the nib started to act strangely. First (as you see in one of the snowy pics below) it developed an excessive nib creep (regardless of ink) that was impossible to get rid of – it was like it leaked sticky, half dried glue from beneath the tines that wanted to spread to the upper side. After a while this started to affect its function and the flow became more and more unreliable. Finally I decided to remove the nib – just to check what was in there and – to my surprise – it was like it had a thick coating of some kind of sticky glue on the backside. I contacted the seller that sent me a new nib to replace the old with. The new nib arrived and everything looked as it should and I mounted it on the pen. This nib did have some flow, but it was rather scratchy and was very dry and I was so tired of fussing with this pen, so I stashed it aside for quite some time. I didn’t want know what to do with it and preferred to not think about it.
So, it wasn’t until I mustered up courage to try to fix the nib myself – thinking that I might as well more radically try to increase the flow and smoothen the nib myself. I have done some minor stuff to improve flow and smoothen a nib, but that has been with nibs that just need some fine tuning. This nib wouldn’t even let my most lubing and free flowing inks, like the Noodler’s Polar Blue, write a few words without hesitating. After a lot of anxious nib-wiggling – where I was afraid to break the nib – and a round with my finest nail polisher, the space between the tines improved and it seemed like the water could flow from the breather hole down to the tip of the nib. When putting it to the paper it felt smooth in a promising way.
I was very nervous when I finally filled it with one of my nice and kind inks: the Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun, but the nib was smooth and real pleasant to write with. A real nice, precise, smooth nib, actually. I still like the size, the design, the gigantic ink tank, the celluloid, the curved barrel and how it feels in my hand. But I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known about the troubles with it. I did buy it for a very good price (the original version has a gold nib) but it wasn’t sold as defective NOS. Considered that four out of the five Stipulas I’ve owned (bought new – one a regular new at regular price) have developed problems that isn’t a consequence of mishandling, I think it is a bit absurd that Stipula has been raising the prices the past few years and now asks a quite hefty price even for its cheapest model (the Vedo) but at the same time seem to lack even the most elementary quality control. I might be wrong, but the issues I’ve had don’t make me keen on buying any new Stipulas. Since Stipula is one of the few manufacturers that has a broad range of nib sizes – great italics – in its ordinary range (even the Vedo is possible to get with an italic nib) I think it is a pity that they seem to take the quality issues so lightly. I was very curious to try the Da Vinci (with retractable nib – a real beauty) but feel rather reluctant to shell out even half of the sum Stipula asks for it. I do like the Suprema. Now – after a long and troublesome road.
Below are photos from the first review and last winter.
Yes, yes, yes! Stipulas are moody Italians indeed. When they’re in good moods and have had a little vino they’re charming, warm and fluid. When they work they really work but when they lose the mood they rest. I enjoy the large ink capacity on the Ventidue but the clear window (with Cracked Ice body–hard to find) just broke in my hand when all I was doing was looking at it admiringly. I sent it in for repair, Stipula fixed it at no charge and shipped it back to the pen store where I purchased it. An employee at the pen store called me and tried to sell me my own pen and what’s even more crazy is: I ALMOST BOUGHT IT!!! That’s how crazy I am about those 1.1 Italic nibs!! The price of beauty!!
Your photos of this pen are so gorgeous! I know I repeat myself: but I appreciate that you revisit reviews with updates. So often people rush to “review” a pen they’ve held for 24 hours and one wonders how the pen holds up over time! The Suprema seems very special for its price. Would you ever try a Etruria?
It may be a nice pen to write with, but can’t say that I like the styling too much. Do you often find that you grow into pens? This one took a long time to grow into.