The Stipula Etruria Alter Ego is a beautiful celluloid pen with (in this case) a new Titanium T-Flex nib, a very interesting nib coming from Stipula. Thanks to a special order customer who was generous enough to let me play with it, I took the opportunity to compare it to a Namiki Falcon with a soft medium nib, and a Noodler's Konrad flex pen. In the end, it's hard to really compare a $500 pen to a $140 and $20 pen directly, but at least you can see them all in action.
The Etruria Alter Ego is a stunning pen. The celluloid is cast in a solid block and turned individually on a lathe to create this pen. The clip and centerband are solid sterling silver, designed in Florentine style like you see in many of the Stipula pens. Older versions of the Alter Ego have been cartridge/converter, but this newer pen is a piston-filler with Stipula's SCS (Self-Cleaning System), which is unique to any piston mechanism I've seen. It rotates the piston seal inside the pen as it turns down, cleaning the inside walls of the pen as you use it. I only tested it for a few days so I don't know how much of a difference the SCS piston works over time. The craziest part about it is that the end of the pen that is connected to the piston mechanism turns backwards from most other piston pens, it takes some getting used to!
|Stipula Etruria Alter Ego|
|Stipula Etruria Alter Ego, with titanium T-flex nib|
The T-flex nib isn't as smooth on the paper as the Falcon, it's definitely not scratchy but it feels more like the nib has some drag on the page. This is really a matter of preference, as I know plenty of people that don't like super-smooth nibs because they feel a loss of control. I think that having a little drag on a nib like this is okay, because you want deliberate, controlled movements on a flexible nib anyway. The degree that this nib flexes rivals any modern flex nib pen, but man does it put down a lot of ink! You'll want to use only the best paper with this pen, and set it aside with plenty of time to dry if you plan to flex it out.
|Closeup of the Stipula T-flex nib, available on many different Stipula pens|
|Stipula Etruria Alter Ego, with its solid sterling silver trim|
This is one of the more expensive pens I've ever played around with, and there are some things I really love about it. It's out of my own budget (y'know, the whole two kids in diapers thing) but if you're in the market for a $500ish pen, you like celluloid and sterling silver, and you want to flex around with a titanium nib, then check out the Etruria Alter Ego.