Prints & Cards
Impression No 1 Limited Edition 1994
by Jim Mamoulides 12/27/01 - Updated 12/27/03
The third of Élysée's Limited Edition pens continued the use of Chinese Cloisonné art as the basis for the pen design. These pens were commissioned as an artist's series, called Vernissage, giving each artist the Parthenon-based pen as a canvas and Cloisonné as the medium. The result is a very distinctive and unique series.
Élysée Vernissage Collection
The third pen in the Vernissage series, Impression No. 1 "Toward the Light", was created by artist Manfred Eberhard. He believes that "art has the task of creating freedom for human feelings."
This pen, the most elaborate of the series, depicts a human shape walking towards the sun, a hopeful vision that "every individual will find a positive attitude towards life when stepping out of the shadow towards the light."
The walking figure is rendered in bright gold framed by a brilliant sunburst behind the figure's head. The predominant base color, in segments implying the flicker of light against the dark, is a dark blue enamel, possibly a nod toward the "Blue of Jingtai", the popular color used in Chinese Cloisonné from the latter Ming period, in the reign of Jingtai (1450-1456). This dark blue is dotted with segments of a lighter blue. Above the head of the walking figure, on the cap, are two golden birds in flight, soaring above, adding to the positive message.
Élysée released this edition in 1994. The pen or multiple instruments were presented in an elaborate snap closure display package that opens like a bookcase.
The Impression No 1 is fitted with a highly decorated two-tone platinum masked solid 18 karat gold nib in extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad point sizes. All Élysée Limited Edition instruments came with an implied lifetime warranty.
The Impression No 1 Limited Edition came in individually numbered instruments in four writing modes:
As with all Parthenon based pens, the Impression No 1 has a similar weight and feel in the hand as the slightly larger Cross Townsend line, having the same all brass construction. The Impression No 1 is a long and slender pen, 5 5/8 inches capped and 6 1/8 inches posted. These are solid and substantial pens, yet nicely balanced, capped or posted. The cap snaps securely both on the section and the barrel end, another similarity to the Townsend. The cap adds weight to a fairly heavy pen, but it is well balanced in the hand either way.
All the pens in the Vernissage Collection are decorated using Chinese Cloisonné technique that is smooth, but there is some slight variation where the enamel fill and the plated ridges meet. The metal surfaces are plated, not electroplated, which should make them wear well.
The Impression No 1 is somewhat heavy, being all brass construction, but not as heavy as the Cross Townsend, due likely to the latter pen's larger girth. The Impression No 1 pens are slightly more slender, which should be good for those with smaller hands.
The clip is not very springy, so it probably won't clip well to a flannel shirt or a coat pocket, but it does the job well. The pen sits fairly deep in the pocket, but one should consider a starched shirt, as the pen's weight may cause it to flop around. The gold "winged" cap top makes this definite pocket jewelry that hints at the flashy pen hidden in your pocket.
Élysée nibs are very buttery smooth, and the broad point fitted to this pen is a very wet, even, and zoomy writer. The nib has a little bit of give, but the real sweetness is in how it glides on paper, a real joy to write with. This is a pen you could give to someone who has not used a fountain pen before and they would really get the bug. The pen fills easily with a piston converter or standard international cartridges.
My one real gripe with this pen is plating loss at the end of the section. This problem is not unique to Élysée pens, but with other high-end brands. The problem seems to be controllable if the section is judiciously wiped after each filling, but it's a problem that should not happen.
The Élysée Limited Edition pens are good daily users, in spite of carrying the LE tag. These are slightly heavy, but slender pens with a very arty and flashy flair. Definitely not a button down pen.
As Élysée is out of business as of early 2000, these pens and their Parthenon siblings may become harder to find. As of this writing, the pens are turning up here and there at fair discounts, making this a pen to consider before they get away.
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Last Update 8/23/04
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