30 November 2010

Empty Boxes

Among fountain pen enthusiasts, ball pens do not enjoy much particular favor. One of the arguments is that the essence of a ball pen is an empty box given the fact that the writing object –the ball and the ink deposit— is disposable.

Having this in mind I cannot help taking a critical look at the very successful Pilot Capless or Vanishing Point.

Six Capless pens. From left to right: Red Capless from 1964 with a 14 K gold nib. Dark green model from 1996. This model was on production in different colors between 1973 and 1998. Dark gray, silver colored and red Capless from the 2000s with either steel or 18 K gold nibs. Finally, blue Décimo from 2010 (on production since 2005).

This Pilot model was launched originally in late 1963 and several major changes and improvements have seen the light along its history. The current model in steel and some form of enamel dates from 1998. Since that date, Pilot has marketed a big number of variations including several limited editions. In 2005, a thinner and lighter version of the 1998 Capless was released as a limited edition with the name of Sesenta, and later renamed as Decimo. And in 2006, Pilot marketed the bigger Fermo, with a twisting knob to operate the nib.

Two Capless F nibs in different materials.

But the only variation on those pens lay on the external decoration. The nib (together with the feed and the ink deposit) is exactly the same for all of them, and exchanging them requires no technical ability whatsoever. Therefore, it is possible to change the box while keeping that nib we enjoy so much. Actually, the list of Capless points is quite limited:

In the past, there also existed 14 K gold nibs.

The full gamut of points in Capless nibs in 18 K gold (as of November 2010).

The Pilot Capless/Vanishing Point with all its variations is a big marketing operation backed, of course, by the response of us stylophiles. The Capless, some say, is a very collectible pen, but that obeys, I think, solely to the aspect of empty boxes—just like ball pens.

(Pilot Custom 74 – Pelikan Turquoise)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, November 30th, 2010)
[labels: estilofilia, Pilot]

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