Venvstas (pronounced “Venustas”) is a brand new writing instrument company based in Paris, founded by Lucio Rossi, an architect, designer and artist. Rossi designs the pens and pencils, and Venvstas makes them in France.
Lucio Rossi very kindly donated to the Chicago Pen Show a special edition of the Venvstas 77 fountain pen, which he dubbed the “Chicago.” I’ve been putting the 77 through its paces before the show. I’ve been using it alongside my own Venvstas fountain pen, the Carbon T, which I reviewed here.
1. Appearance and Design. Modern and customizable.
The 77 is made of carbon fiber, with a modern look, but it is not as minimal in design as the Carbon T. What’s really cool about the 77 is that it can be customized on the Venvstas website.
The body of the 77 is made mostly of a carbon fiber tube which has the same 1 cm diameter as the Carbon T. On the 77, however, the pen cap, the section and the end of the pen body are made of stainless steel, in a narrower diameter than the carbon fiber portion.
Here is a photo comparing, from top to bottom, the Kaweco AL-Sport, the Venvstas 77, the Venvstas Carbon T and the Lamy Safari.
This Chicago version of the 77 features a two-dimensional carbon fiber material, with polished stainless steel on the cap, section and the end of the pen body.
One could instead choose a different carbon fiber, and could choose brushed stainless steel trim, a clipless cap and an integrated filling system. From the photos on Venvstas website, the 77 looks a little different depending on the options chosen.
I have to mention the look of the 77’s nib.
This 77 nib looks like a cross between an arrowhead and the Sydney Opera House. It is a nib that is just waiting for a villain’s neck that needs jabbing.
2. Construction and Quality. Seems good.
Just as with the Carbon T, the 77 is a new pen, and alas its time with me has been relatively brief. So I can’t presume to give any definitive verdict here. But my impression is of solid construction. Lucio Rossi told me that the two-dimensional carbon fiber is very strong.
In comparison to the early version of the Carbon T that I have, the 77 has no screw ends protruding on the section or pen body.
The cap has an interesting integrated clip that actually grips pretty well.
3. Weight and Dimensions.
Weight of the pen capped (and inked): 16.6 grams. Weight of pen body only (inked): 12.7 grams. Length of capped pen: 13.8 cm or about 5 3⁄8 inches. Length of pen body only, excluding nib: about 11.4 cm or almost 4 1⁄2 inches along the shortest side (the underside).
My scale is telling me that the Chicago 77 weighs slightly less than my Carbon T. But when I use both pens unposted, it feels like the Chicago 77 is a little heftier.
Hmmm. Which to believe? Math and science (the scale), or unsupported personal feeling.
Okay, yes, the scale has to be right: the 77 weighs a little less. But I’m guessing that the stainless steel section and stainless steel end make for a different weight distribution than you get with the Carbon T. So when you write with the 77, it may feel just a bit heavier.
However, the main thing is, it’s not too heavy. And it doesn’t feel too light either. The 77 feels comfortable when I write with it. The carbon fiber is nice in the hand, and I don’t find the stainless steel section slippery.
The pen cap posts securely as well.
4. Nib and Performance. A very nice European steel nib.
Here’s where the pen surprised me the most. The nib on this Chicago 77 is a medium. I will say that medium is, in general, my least favorite nib size. And yet the nib on this Chicago 77 is just great. I love writing with it.
Here’s a writing sample to give an idea of the nib width. The 77 uses the green ink.
The medium 77 nib is of course wider than the fine nib on my Carbon T. It is also wider than the medium nib of a Lamy Safari, and wider than the medium nib of an Aurora Optima. But, as one would expect, it’s narrower than a Montblanc broad nib.
Honestly, I like this medium nib on the 77 even more than the fine nib on the Carbon T, which has a slightly different nib design, per Lucio Rossi.
The nib did arrive slightly out of alignment, but that only required a two-second fix. I moved the feed a bit, and the nib aligned.
5. Filing System and Maintenance. International cartridge and converter.
The Chicago 77 uses non-proprietary international size cartridges and regular size international converters. I am a fan of that filling system, and this one works well. The converter fits in very tightly and securely.
I used the same filling method with the 77 as with my Carbon T and my Kaweco Sports: I filled the converter directly, not through the nib, and I started the ink flowing into the feed by turning the converter’s piston just a bit. That kept the feed from flooding with ink. Ink flow was excellent and consistent, and startup perfect every time.
Another, more expensive, option is to buy the 77 with an “aero” integrated syringe-filling system instead. That looks interesting, and the aero 77 offers an expanded range of nib options. The c/c 77 only offers the medium nib right now.
6. Cost and Value.
This is a little hard for me to determine, because I’m not sure the price of the Chicago 77. Right now the 77 is on preorder status. In addition, the pen’s price varies based on the materials and filling system chosen. So I’m not sure what the Chicago 77 would cost.
However, according to the Venvstas website, during the preorder period the base model 77, with c/c filler and medium nib, has a price of 55 Euros, or $62, shipped.
It looks like the 77, if purchased in c/c form, is probably going to be even less expensive than the Carbon T, depending on materials. That seems like a very good deal if the pen appeals.
I thought the 77 was an outstanding pen in use. The 77’s nib provides a smooth and enjoyable writing experience that really elevates this pen, and makes it very tempting at its current price.