Please check the FPN thread on this topic for more info and corrections. I have to credit FPN folks, esp. Eric & Kate, for gathering together the known information about Ragtimes. My intention here is to gather together much of the information into one place. If anyone reading this post knows of other Ragtimes, or links to important information, please leave a comment about it. If I unknowingly imparted misinformation kindly let me know that, too.
Despite my current Conklin obsession, if I had to collect only one fountain pen the Visconti Ragtime might be the one. It’s a perfect size and weight for my hand. It’s a piston filler, it’s made from cellulose nitrate, and it has the wonderful, whimsical 1920’s-style clip on its cap. (Ragtimes made prior to 1999 were cellulose nitrate. Later Ragtime material includes Lucite and acryloid.)
Founded in 1988 by two pen collectors, the Italian company released the first edition of the Ragtime in 1991. In a Penna magazine article (Jan/Feb 2008, No. 84) Giuseppe Romano writes the Ragtime was Visconti’s “first fountain pen with an original design.” The pen was available in four colors: cinnabar, blonde, green and blue. Some pens were released with glass nibs.
As of 2009 Visconti has released six kinds of pens with the Ragtime name. Unless otherwise indicated the pens are made from cellulose nitrate (celluloid). In addition to fountain pens, there is also a ball point pen version. In the case of the 20th LE there is also a roller ball version. The information herein about non-fountain pens is incomplete.
- Ragtime. 1991. Material: Celluloid sheet. Color: Green, Blue, Blonde (Pearl/Black), Cinnabar (Orange/Black). 18K monotone nib. Also seen with 14K two-tone, gold-plated two-tone, and glass nibs. Ball point pen and mechanical pencil also made.
- New Ragtime, or Ragtime II. 1994. Material: Celluloid sheet. Color: Green, Blue, Blonde (Pearl/Black), Cinnabar (Orange/Black). 18K monotone nib. Also seen with gold-plated monotone, and glass nibs. Ball point pen also made.
- Ragtime Black, or Ragtime III. 1999. Material: Lucite. Color: uh, it’s Black. This is a smaller Ragtime that’s about the size of a Pelikan M200/M400. Steel silver-color monotone nib. Rollerball pens also made.
- Ragtime Medici. 2000. Material: Lucite. Medici has ornate engraving in pen body and clip. 14K white-gold monotone nib. Also seen with steel monotone nib. Color: Black.
- Ragtime 20th Anniversary LE. 2008. Material: Acryloid. Color: Caramel, Pearl and Brown swirls. 14K monotone nib. 1988 made in honor of the Visconti company’s 20th anniversary. Rollerball and ball point pens also made. Also released as a 3-piece set with all 3 types of pens, 3 stones and remover from the Visconti My Pen System, and a Nautilus roll-top display case.
Other Ragtimes include limited and special editions, commissions and prototypes which do not carry the Ragtime name. The list below includes only those pens I’m aware of.
- Accademia Italiana. 1990. Material: Celluloid sheet. Color: Blue, Green and Black. 14K two-tone nib. 130 made. A commission by Accademia Italiana Della Penna Stilografica (Italian Fountain Pen Academy). Far more stunning in person than in any photo I’ve seen.
- Caravel. 1992. Material: Celluloid bar/rod. Color: Light Blue (Nina), Brown (Pinta), Plum (Santa Maria). 14K two-tone nib. Only 500 made. 14K nib. The first flat-top Ragtime. The Caravel honors the voyage of Columbus.
- Stagioni(Seasons). 1993. Material: Celluloid cap and blind cap, Acrylic barrel. 300 of each season made. Barrels are solid color with mixed colors on blind cap and pen cap. Not at all to be confused with the Visconti Four Seasons Makie LE.
- Federico II. 1994. Material: Celluloid sheet. Color: Green, Blue, Blonde (Pearl/Black), Cinnabar (Orange/Black). 18K monotone nib. Also found with gold-plated monotone nib. Federico honors the 800th anniversary of Federico II of Hohenstaufen, a Holy Roman Emperor. Made as a set of 4 pens with 800 sets made.
- Minuet. 1999. Material: not sure. This is a very small combination fountain pen and ball point pen. Closed it’s 3 1/2″ in length. Photos here and here but not seen in the Visconti museum.
- Wood Ragtimes. A friend of mine owns 3 Ragtimes made of wood. These are longer than the normal Ragtime and are beautiful solid color fountain pens. Gold-plated two-tone nib.
More information about Ragtimes
Visconti Museum A great resource yet be aware that the Museum’s information about filling systems, nibs and such is often inaccurate.
Good to check with folks on FPN to verify when possible.
On the Fountain Pen Network (FPN):
- Ragtime Clips and Furniture
- Nibs (see 2nd post in the thread)
- Ragtime Filling Systems
- Types of Ragtimes
- Photo of Ragtime III and some good Ragtime info
- Photo Ragtime III next to an original Ragtime
- My Ragtime review on FPN.
Pens of Note
- Fred Plewa Ragtime Sketch: Visconti Ad, Pen World, Vol. 7 No. 1, Sept/Oct 1993, p.11-12. Features the original Ragtime, inks, ink tablets, pen cases, and traveling inkpots.
- Olson, Nancy, “Uffizi: In Support of Art,” Pen World, Vol. 7 No. 3, Jan/Feb 1994, p.12-15. Contains an interview with Visconti co-founder Dante Del Vecchio. On page 15 he states that the Ragtime glass nib pen entered the market in 1993. He also says the Ragtime was “the first glass nib fountain pen with a piston mechanism.”
Check the FPN version of this post for additional information in the thread.
Updates to Reading List:
- Crónicas Estilográficas blog: Kato in Italy – article about the renown Japanese pen maker Kiyoshi Kato. Kato was responsible for early Visconti celluloids, including the Ragtime.
- At BBpen.com: some Ragtime Prototypes (worth wading through the photos to see Ragtimes in Pontevecchio colors, among others)
- Visconti Ragtime Black (Peaceable Writer post)
- Philadelphia Pen Show: 2009 Interview with Visconti founder Dante Del Vecchio. Ragtime included in listing of key dates in Visconti history.
- Visconti Celebrates 20 Years, Stylus Magazine, Oct/Nov 2008, No. 31. Very brief reference to early Ragtimes and Caravel. (Stylus Magazine website)
- Visconti Ragtime Road Test, Scottsdale Pen Blog, 4/24/2009. Brief overview of the 20th Anniversary Ragtime. Also references a Ragtime mention in the Dec/Jan 2009 Stylus Magazine.