Delta Vintage Review
Italian manufacturer, Delta, produces a truly mind-boggling array of pen models and variations thereof. Their stock of materials and finishes is impressive, but most of their pens tend to skew toward the large or very large end of the size scale. One exception to that is Delta’s confusingly-named “Vintage,” a small pocket pen wonderfully suited to people who prefer the flashiness of Delta’s pens and materials coupled with a smaller profile. Since most pocket pens tend to be rather unimpressive from a design and materials standpoint, this makes the Vintage somewhat unique in the pocket pen world.
The flat-topped pen is highlighted in the cap finial by an inlaid, brushed metal medallion featuring the Delta logo. The chunky finial holds on a platinum-plated clip made out of an “elastic alloy.” (Whatever it is, it’s stiff, with a little bit of spring.) The clip is clean-lined and features a roller wheel clip ball. The cap diameter expands somewhat toward the wide cap band, which is platinum-plated but for a thin, raised ring of gold that circles the middle of the band. Under the gold band, Delta’s name has been engraved.
The barrel of the pen is, again, clean-lined and largely unadorned. It is made from a single piece of turned resin, and tapers smoothly toward another flat end. The entire pen is polished to a perfect mirror shine.
Having such a plain profile for the Vintage has resulted in a pen that may not win awards for flashiness, but does a superb job showing off the gorgeous green resin from which the pen is made. A cross between an olive green and a grey-green, the resin is replete with swirls of darker, army fatigue green, and the whole thing sparles with rich veins of pearlescence. It is a very attractive effect and results in a green pen quite unlike any other green pen I’ve ever seen. (And we all know how I feel about green pens…) The vintage also comes in red, blue, white, and lava stone resins as well.
Under the threaded cap (which can be removed by one and a quarter turns on beautifully smooth threads) is a short section of the same green resin that tapers toward the nib and ends in a small flare-out. The pen features a #5-sized steel nib stamped with the Delta logo and some decorative scrollwork.
The Delta Vintage uses standard international cartridges, but due to its comparatively lilliputian size, it can only accept short cartridges. Long cartridges and normal-sized converters will not fit in this pen. If you can get ahold of a miniature-length converter, it should work in the pen, but the Vintage does not come with a mini-converter, so you’ll have to track one of those down separately. The pen does come with a couple of Delta-branded cartridges, though, and they work just fine in the pen. And if you think you’d like to try to eyedropper the Vintage, you are in luck, because the entire section and tenon are made of resin, and the threads are smooth and tight. A bit of silicone grease on the threads and you should be able to eyedropper the pen without too much difficulty.
In the hand, the Delta Vintage is an unusual pen. A section that leans toward the short and narrow side is to be expected for a smaller pen such as this. As a result, my grip tends to fall on the threads and the step down; fortunately, neither is of any real annoyance under my fingers.
The pen is technically long enough for me to use unposted, but I find I don’t care for the balance of the pen when used that way. For my hands, this is a pen that just begs to have the cap jammed onto the back of the barrel for posting. Once posted, the Vintage fits wonderfully in my hand. (The cap posts with friction only, but posts both deeply and securely.)
Normally, Delta nibs, even their steel nibs, tend to be wide for their designations, quite wet, and ridiculously smooth. On this particular nib, the line width in fully in keeping with what you might expect for a western-style fine. The nib’s tip has been polished to a smooth finish, and under magnification, there is no hint of either tine misalignment or baby’s bottom.
Unfortunately, that’s where my praise about the writing experience comes to an end. This nib really falls down when it comes to ink flow. Quite uncharacteristically for Delta pens, the unit I reviewed is an extremely dry writer, and exhibits a pretty startling ink starvation problem. I am uncertain if it is caused by the smaller nib and feed, the cartridge-only filling system, the adjustment of the nib, or some combination thereof, but this pen does not like long writing sessions at all. It gets drier and drier as you write; it never ceases to write entirely, but as you continue on down the page, the line of the nib narrows and the pen starts exhibiting skipping and hard-starting problems. The severe dryness also makes the nib feel less polished than it is, as there is very little ink lubricating the tip as it glides across the paper.
The pen’s writing performance is unfortunate, because were it not for the ink starvation, I would like this pen a lot. It’s a beautiful, and beautifully-made, writing instrument which I found more comfortable in the hand than I would have expected for such a small profile. As it is, though, out of the box it is a decent (not great) writer for short writing jags, and seriously disappointing for long sessions. The smooth nib is nice, but the pen’s reliance on short converters and the pen’s dryness and ink starvation is problematic for me.
I was unable to tell from my research if the Delta Vintage is still in active production. At the time I ordered this pen, nearly 18 months ago, it was available from some retailers here in the U.S. It appears that most US retailers are out of stock or no longer carry the model, but I have found the pen in several retailers overseas. So it may be that Yafa (the US distributor for Delta) simply isn’t bringing this model into the U.S. any longer. But if you decide you really want one, they can still be found.
The Delta Vintage retails anywhere from about $120 to $150. It is an unusual price point for a pen like this, and I’m not entirely sure what went into Delta’s pricing strategy there. Delta has other, larger, better-behaved pens with larger, #6 steel nibs on the market that sell for significantly less (e.g., the Delta Unica.) Why they would choose to place such a high price on a small pocket pen with a smaller nib that can only use short cartridges is unclear. I am usually fine with pens with high price tags, even pens that have some minor nib issues that can be easily resolved. But a cartridge-only pocket pen with severe ink starvation issues that sells for over $120? That’s asking a little too much even for me.
Material: Acrylic Resin
Nib: Steel Fine
Appointments:Platinum plated “Elastic Alloy”
Filling System: International Standard Short Cartridge
Length (Capped): 126.0mm
Length (Uncapped): 112.3mm
Length (Posted): 145.1mm
Section Diameter: 11.0mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 13.3mm
Cap Max Diameter: 14.3mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 11g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter):18g
Disclosure Statement: This pen was purchased with my own funds for review purposes.