20 May 2015

The Two Super Ultra 500

The assumed knowledge –to which I mindlessly contributed (::1::, ::2::, ::3::)— was that there were two versions of the Pilot Super Ultra 500 (or Ultra Super 500): the original pen made in 1958-59 and the cartridge-converter replica (the Pilot Ultra) in 1995. And it went even further: the original pen was so expensive to produce that it had a short history. Well, we might need to add some pinches of salt to all that information.

In fact, there are TWO versions of the original pen, not counting the decorative variations such as the well-known model with gold filled cap. The first of them is THE original model made in 1958-59. After that, a second batch was in production between 1963 and 1964. And there are some subtle differences between them.

The same pen, but not so much the same...

The original pen is slightly longer –just 3 mm longer--, does not carry any inscription on the cap ring, and is not dated on the barrel. In fact, we already know that those codes were implemented in 1960.

The caps have the same dimensions, but differ on the cap ring, and on the depth of the engraving on the clip. That on the 1958 pen is deeper.

The second edition pen has an additional engraving on the cap lip: PILOTR14K.

The second edition, on the contrary, does carry those dating codes starting either with a D, 1963, or an E, 1964, and has some inscription on the wider cap ring: PILOTR14K. The engravings on the nib and on the clip of this second model seem to be shallower than on the 1958 pen.

The engraving on the nibs have different depths, which is hard to notice if both pens were not side by side. And on the example of the picture, the differences are very minor. Closer to the camera is the 1963 edition.

The differences in the length of the pens lie solely on the length of the barrels. The filling systems are the same hose-filling system so dear to Pilot in the 1950s and 1960s.

Both editions implement the same filling system—the quarter-switch or hose system.

.1958 edition.

.1963 edition.
Length closed (mm) 141 138
Length open (mm) 125 122
Length posted (mm) 151 144
Diameter (mm) 12 12
Weight, dry (g) 18.0 16.5
The table shows the dimensions of both pens.

All in all, these differences are minimal, but they are enough to show that the original model was a success and that it might have not been a big economic burden for Pilot. They also show the importance of small details when trying to date a pen. This stylographic archaeology is mostly irrelevant to the whole picture, but it is of great interest to the collector looking for that precise pen with no mixture of elements from here and there.

Yes, this is an otaku thing. But these differences might as well trigger some price differences between these two editions of essentially the same pen.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Sailor Young Profit, music nib – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 4th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot


jazzactuel said...

Another great piece as always! Thank you so much for your fantastic input !


Blake said...

Awesome post! I don't know how I missed this one. I have the second version....now I need the 1st (let me know if you come across one for sale). Do you know if these pens write any differently?

Bruno Taut said...

I think the nibs are fundamentally the same. It would be interesting to check the feeds, but removing them is no easy task. The first version, 1958, seems particularly difficult to find.

Thanks you both, Blake and Nikolaos, for passing by and commenting.


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