19 June 2013

Capless 1973

Capless pens are a regular topic on these Chronicles, and it only makes sense as they are one of the very few iconic pens made in Japan. But the Pilot Capless is not just a pen, but a family of them that followed a natural evolution over its fifty years of existence.

Today’s pen is the Capless model released in 1973. It is one of the lesser known variations, and one of the hardest to find in the second hand market.

The Capless originally released in 1973 with catalog reference CN-400 BS. In 1981, its price increased and the reference changed to CN-500 BS.

This model is nested, in time, between the well-known model made of plastic and stainless steel, with either black or non-colored stripes (C-400BS and C-400SS, 1971); and the faceted model made of plastic (FCN-500, 1984), well distributed world wide, and favored by many who disliked the current model (released initially in 1989). The 1973 Capless initially carried the catalog reference CN-400 BS, thus showing that its price was JPY 4000. Later, in 1981, the price increased to JPY 5000, and the reference number changed accordingly: CN-500 BS.

The black-striped model from 1971.

The faceted model from 1984 (FCN-500R).

The 1973 model is made of plastic and aluminium, both with a matte finish. The clip is made out of the same piece of the nose, on which the hole for the nib is placed. This feature is shared with the following (faceted) model of 1984. But the 1973 model, let me insist, has a perfectly rounded body.

Close-up of the nib of the 1973 Capless. On the background, the clip shows its smooth design, perfectly integrated with the nose of the pen.

The nib unit shows some interesting features. In principle, the set --ink deposit, steel frame, feed and nib-- of the CN-400 BS is unique to this model. Compared to the model of 1971, the overall nib-unit design is different, especially on the metal frame. Additionally, the gold nib (14 K) is directly connected to the frame, thus providing a higher resistance--as could be seen on the second picture of this text, the 1971 nib unit had the actual nib attached to the frame by means of the plastic feed.

But if compared to the following model (FCN-500R, 1984), the differences in the nib units are minor, and are mostly related to the position of the guiding notch. The different way of attaching the nib to the frame does not affect the basic geometry of the unit. So, despite them, it is possible to use the old unit in the newer models and vice versa—the newer nib units could also be used in the 1973 model.

On top, the nib unit of the current model of Capless (FC-15R). It is the same, save changes in the nib material, as the nib units of the 1984 model (FC-500R). On bottom, the nib unit of the 1973 model (CN-400BS). The differences between them are limited to the position of the guiding notch, lower on the earlier model, and to the attachment of the nib to the steel frame. The later does not affect the general geometry of the unit. Both are interchangeable in their "empty boxes".

In all cases, regular cartridges and converters CON-20 and CON-50 can be used.

These are the dimensions of the CN-400 BS from 1973:
Length closed: 137 mm
Length open (nib out): 134 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight (dry): 18.3 g

Pilot Capless FC-15SR (1989 model), stub nib by Shimizu Seisakusho – Waterman Mysterious Blue (Blue-Black)

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, June 12-15th 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless


Kostas K. said...

Wow, matte black and round,
what a beauty!
Release us from Temptation!

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Kostas, for your comment.

It is indeed one of the most attractive Capless, but it is surprisingly hard to find given the number of years it was on production.

Thanks for your continuous support.


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