Pen Review: Delta Unica

Material: Celluloid
Nib: Steel
Appointments: Gold
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter
Length (Capped): 132.6mm
Length (Uncapped): 122mm
Length (Posted): 152mm
Section Diameter: 11.8mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 13.5mm
Cap Max Diameter: 15.5mm
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 24g
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 16g


Late in 2014, The Goulet Pen Company posted about a new, exclusive version of the Delta Unica that they were going to be adding to their catalog. This new exclusive was built using the same orange celluloid material that Delta uses on many of its higher-end pens (like the Delta Dolce Vita). There was much falderal around this, as an $80 modern pen made out of celluloid was something many (myself included) had never seen before. Plus, it was in a very eye-catching color.

I suspect that Delta hadn’t anticipated the volume of pens like this that Goulet Pen Company would move because, only a few days after I placed my order, Brian Goulet announced that the Delta Unica in Orange Celluloid was coming to an end. Delta was going to be unable to make any more out of the orange celluloid, as the material itself can take up to two years to make.  As a result, my Goulet Exclusive also became a limited edition.

Despite the fact that my version of the Delta Unica is no longer available, I still wanted to do a review. The Unica still is available in blue, pink, and white acrylic with silver appointments. There is also a new Goulet Exclusive in blue acrylic with a matte gold nib (more on that matte gold nib later.)


The Unica is one of Delta’s less-expensive pens.  It has an almost conical shape, with a flat end at the bottom of the pen, and straight-lined flare to the cap’s slightly rounded flat top. My version of the pen came with gold-colored appointments.  The clip is sturdy and fairly stiff, and has a little roller-wheel for the ball of the clip. The pen is fairly thick for its size, giving it a slightly stubby appearance, with a grip of nearly 12mm. So, while it’s not the longest pen in the world, it’s probably going to be a better fit for people who like fuller grips.

The Unica is a cartridge/converter pen, but the threads of the section are metal, so it can’t be used as an eyedropper. (Personally, I would never use this particular pen as an eyedropper, as celluloid is far too delicate a material for eyedropper purposes.) The pen utilizes standard international converters and cartridges.

In the hand, this pen is quite comfortable, if a little on the wide side. It’s just long enough for me use without posting, but feels more comfortable and balanced when posted. It posts deeply, so it doesn’t feel off-balance or unwieldy when posted. The section is smooth, and tapers slightly. The threads aren’t sharp, so even if you grip the pen a little higher up like I do, they shouldn’t be much of a bother to you.

I did find myself slightly annoyed at the staining I noticed on the inside of the section’s celluloid from the inking process. I inked with a dark blue initially, and as a result, the celluloid of the section now feels and looks slightly darker. This is why I wouldn’t use this pen as an eyedropper, even if the section threads weren’t metal. I suspect the darkening of the material I experienced probably would not happen on the acrylic versions of this pen.


And the nib?  Well. Let me tell you. The nib on the Unica is one of the smoothest, juiciest steel nibs I have ever used in my entire life. I didn’t have any skips or hard starts. There is essentially no feedback. It’s very well-polished. I might have even considered it ever-s0-slightly over-polished had I experienced any issues consistent with Baby’s Bottom Syndrome. The nib is so wet, however, that the Medium writes like a European broad; I would hard pressed to describe this pen’s line as medium even in  the most generous of circumstances.



Perhaps one of the most unusual aspects of my version of this pen is the “brushed metal” finish on the gold-colored steel nib. The nib is quite intricately decorated, but the decorations come off a little chunky and cluttered to me, instead of refined. The matte gold/brushed metal finish on the nib looked really cool when I first got the pen.  It’s a neat idea, but execution leaves a little to be desired. First, it doesn’t really match the shiny gold appointments on the outside of the pen. And, during the first cleaning, I noticed that the face of the nib wouldn’t come clean. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the matte finish on the face of the nib had already started off leaving a big, rough, stained patch between the tip of the nib and the start of the embossing. It’s gotten worse over time and now it looks pretty bad. The nib has even started leaving little flecks of gold on the page when I write. I’m pretty seriously considering trying to figure out if I can buff off the matte finish and polish the nib face to a mirror shine. If you don’t care about the aesthetics of your nib, it doesn’t impact the writing experience at all which, on my pen, is pretty glorious. If the nib’s aesthetics are important to you, I would encourage you to steer clear of the matte-finish nibs. It just isn’t a great look after the first inking or two.

Ever since people found out that I snagged one of the last orange celluloid versions of the Unica, they’ve been asking me if I’m interested in selling. I’m happy to go on the record: no, I’m not selling the pen. In the last few months since receiving the pen, it has regularly found a rotation with many of my far more expensive writing instruments. The Unica is a pen that punches well above its weight class. For $75-$80, you’re going to be getting a well-made, turned pen with an excellent steel nib. Even the acrylic versions are a steal at this price. (The celluloid version…well that was the deal of the century, in my opinion.)

The Unica would be a great stepping stone for someone interesting in moving up from the entry level Pilot Metropolitans and Lamy Safaris, but isn’t quite ready to breach that $100 price point. If your experience with the Unica is anything like mine, you’ll find it keeping quite solid company with pens that cost significantly more.

  • Ted

    I love the look of this pen, but your issues with the nib surface and the staining of the section (others on FPN have discussed this, also from ink on the outside from dipping to bottle fill) give one a good bit of pause. But such a stunning celluloid, and the size and shape seem perfect.

    • I’m seriously considering getting one of the blue acrylic versions, which has a smooth nib. That should take care of both of those problems pretty easily. Or maybe the white. I don’t have a lot of white pens.

      • Ted

        you do have a habit! I have been looking at blue acrylic versions of the Levenger True Writer in broad and thinking of getting it stubbed. How do you find the Unica in comparison to the True Writer?

        • I prefer the Unica slightly. The I’ve not tried the regular Levenger True Writer, just the True Writer Select. But I love the nib on my Unica a lot. The nib on the Levenger was good, but not incredi-mazing.

  • I recently picked up a Delta Serena, with a F nib. It is by far the wettest nib I’ve ever used, but like your’s it is soo smooth. I considered getting a Unica at the time, and maybe I still will.

  • Ste_S

    I have the blue acrylic Unica, and have the exact same experience as you. With a full feed it’s a lovely smooth, wet pen. However there’s flow issues and the pen grinds to a halt and refuses to write after a while. Priming the feed again with the converter solves it of course.
    Shame, as for the price I think it’s a bargain otherwise.

    On problems with international c/c in general – there’s definately something going on. All of my pens that have flow issues are international c/c – Visconti Rembrandt, Kaweco Student and Delta Unica.
    All of my Parker C/C or Lamy C/C pens have consistant flow, as do the piston/lever/button/vacumatic etc pens.

    I wonder if there’s something else at play though – 99.9% of international c/c pens have nib/feeds by Bock/Schmidt/Jowo. In fact the two Bock nibbed pens I have (Visconti Rembrandt, Kaweco Student) behave remarkably similar – dry with flow issues,
    I picked up a Pelikan Twist the other day – international c/c, but with Pelikan nib/feed. So far (touch wood) it seems to have pretty consistant flow.

    Anyhoo, it’s making me avoid international c/c pens with Bock/Schmidt/Jowo nibs.

  • Ereshkigal

    unica also has black, red, brown versions. and anderson’s le in vintage red, i think.

  • Jacopo

    I do not think this is celluloid. This is the same material as in Dolcevita pens and it is acrylic. This does not take anything away from the beauty of the material.

    • It is celluloid, as is the orange material on the Dolce Vita.

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  • Denise Rogers

    I have thought about getting one of the other versions–the pink one appeals.

  • Clifford Hughes

    That colour is startling. Interesting finish on the nib – I read about the staining and flaking problems. Funny how when you love someone, you put up with their eccentricities and little foibles and ignore, or even get to love, their blemishes as part of the whole package. Same with pens…

  • Andrew

    I just pulled the trigger on a unica in red acrylic from La Couronne Du Conte. It was a great deal compared with what the pen costs here in the US. So much so, that I decided to use their special of 4 bottles of j. Herbin ink for 20 euros. I’m just so excited to get my pen and ink!

  • Loyd Ginn

    I agree about the international converter constricting ink flow. I have 5 Conklins some with 14k nibs and others with steel. The only one that is a favorite is a Crescent with bladder feed and the only one that does not have ink starvation. Sailor pens do not have the problem but the converter opening is greater.

  • Andrew

    Very disappointed with Delta. My unica fell apart after about three months of ownership. Basically, there is a piece of black plastic in between the feed and the acrylic section. Ink got in between this piece of plastic and the section, and eventually, the glue holding the section in place disintegrated. One day, when writing with the pen, I noticed that the section was rotating quite easily and, giving it a (very) slight pull, it came right off. I’m hesitant to send it to the distributor, having heard quite a few bad customer service stories, I still haven’t made a decision.

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