05 August 2011


Pen review of a Súper T Olimpia.

This model was released in 1961—that is, fifty years ago—by the company founded by Manuel Portús Ribas in 1942 in the city of Torelló in Barcelona. The brand Súper T made basically two models. The first one, initially unnamed, was the already reviewed Gester. The second was today’s pen—the Olimpia, named after the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

This pen could be purchased with either a gold or a steel nib, and with a gold plated cap. And time passing, a number of small variations simplified the pen. Initially, the barrel had an ink window and a small ball to secure the cap when closed. The ink window was soon eliminated, and the ball was later removed leaving a metal patch first to be finally completely removed. The clip, a beautiful feature of this pen, was also lightened during the later years of the company, already in the 1970s. Súper T ceased its activities in 1976.

1. Appearance and design. (9.5/10)
In few words, this pen is a streamlined piston filler with a steel cap and a gold nib.

More in detail, we can see that the ideas of barrel and section do not apply to this pen, as there is a continuous line from the nib to the piston knob. The clip is the well-known design by Manuel Portús—a single steel plate folded and attached to a single point in the cap.

The Olimpia is mostly a functional pen with little room for luxuries. It is not a pen to show, albeit its elegant and clean design would please many a stylophile—or an architect.

2. Construction and quality. (8.0/10)
No flaws can be seen on this unit after about 40 years of use. The only possible weak point might be in the sealing material used in the piston: that material makes some noise when operating the piston, which is a clear sign of it becoming more rigid.

A typical problem on this pens is a broken piston screw. But that is the fault of an unskilled user who did not know how this pen worked. However, you could say that the Súper T Olimpia is not fool-proof.

3. Weight and dimensions. (8.0/10)
The Olimpia feels comfortably on the hand. It is well balanced, especially if unposted. The ink deposit holds merely 1.2 ml, which seems on the low end for a piston filler.

Diameter: 12 mm.
Length capped: 135 mm.
Length uncapped: 124 mm.
Length posted: 145 mm.
Total weight: 18.2 g (full)
Weight uncapped: 10.0 g (full)
(For dry weights, deduct 1 g from those values).
Ink deposit: 1.2 ml (aprox.).

4. Nib and writing performance. (8.0/10)
This unit, in particular, has a very fine gold nib. It is smooth and the ink flow, controlled by a hard rubber feed, is constant and reliable. Not a demanding nib, though, but neither it looses the line.

5. Filling system and maintenance. (7.5/10)
This is a piston filler with a good and reliable design unless some inexperienced hands tried to open the pen.

The price to pay for the streamlined design is the difficulty to disassemble the pen. The whole piston mechanism must be removed by pulling it up from the barrel—something not for the faint-hearted. And removing the feed and the nib is not any easier. As a consequence, a deep cleaning of the pen might only be made by some skilled person.

However, I grade this department with a 7.5 over 10 because it is a piston filler, something many of us enjoy, and those inconveniences are part of the deal. Cleaning, at the end, is often made –in this and in many other pens— just by pumping water repeatedly with the piston.

6. Cost and value. (8.5/10)
These pens cost around EUR 50 in the second hand market in Spain. In exchange you get a nice designed and very functional pen with a piston. The deal is good.

7. Conclusion. (49.5/60=82.5/100)
This is an original pen that performs very well for a very reasonable price. The negative points are associated to the otherwise attractive clean lines of the pen.

(Súper T Olimpia, 14 K gold nib – Montblanc White Forest)

Bruno Taut
July 30, 2011
[labels: Súper T]

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