Showing posts with label Súper T. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Súper T. Show all posts

30 November 2011


Information adds value to pens. Knowing who made that obscure pen and under which circumstances do indeed increase the interest and the appeal of that otherwise unremarkable tool. That is why writing on unknown pens might raise their value and why working on the history of pens, Japanese or Spanish or Greek, might be a good investment.

The two pens made by Súper T: a green Olimpia and a blue Gester.

How many people outside Spain do know about Súper T or about Regia pens? And those are some of the finest brands ever made in Spain. Being in oblivion does not help anyone.

[Pilot Vpen – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu]

Bruno Taut
November 19th, 2011
(etiquetas: libros, estilofilia, Súper T, Presidente)

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]

29 July 2011


Per l'Olga.

La gente no debería festejar el paso del tiempo,
aunque siempre sea noble el obstinarse en celebrar el triunfo del enemigo.
Pedro ZARRALUKI. El responsable de las ranas. 1990.

En este año 2011 se cumple el 50 aniversario del modelo Olimpia de la empresa Súper T. Normalmente, éstas son fechas para celebrar y para descorchar una botella de buen cava. Sin embargo, el panorama estilográfico español, y aun europeo, no invita al optimismo.

Súper T Olimpia.

Tres compañías producen hoy plumas estilográficas en España. La más evidente es Inoxcrom. Su situación económica es mala y eso se nota en los productos que proporcionan prestigio pero no dinero. Su catálogo de plumas apenas ha cambiado en los últimos años y esta división parece ir a la deriva, sin una estrategia comercial clara. No obstante, sigue presente en bastantes comercios en Madrid y, presumiblemente, en España.

Inoxcrom 77.

La segunda marca española de plumas –desde un punto de vista histórico— es STYB, antigua Jabalina. Produce tan solo tres modelos de estilográficas y su presencia en el mercado es anecdótica.

STYB Compact.

Finalmente queda la empresa Pixeline como creadora de la marca Romillopens. Son estas plumas artículos de gran lujo, de producción pequeña y artesanal. Se distribuyen tan solo a través de una única tienda física, en Madrid, y, por supuesto, de su página web. Por tanto, las Romillopens no se ven en las tiendas del ramo.

Súper T, por su lado, desapareció en 1976 y sus plumas son ya reliquias en manos de coleccionistas y comerciantes u objetos olvidados en un cajón. Desgraciadamente, me apuro a añadir, porque tanto la Gester como la Olimpia son plumas de buena calidad y de diseño interesante.

Pero ante este panorama, limitarnos a brindar y a darnos palmaditas en la espalda por el cumpleaños de la Olimpia no conduce a nada. ¡Es que ni siquiera podemos exclamar “per molts anys” al brindar!

Por ello quisiera que hubiera alguna iniciativa más atrevida que nos permita mirar al futuro de la estilográfica española con más optimismo. Con objeto de que en algún momento, con motivo de otro aniversario, sí podamos brindar por la larga vida de esa pluma, de esa marca, de esta industria.

(Kaweco Sport transparente – Senator Regent Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
29 de julio de 2011
[labels: Súper T, Inoxcrom, STYB, Romillopens, España]

19 December 2010

Nib Questions

The Súper T ads in the 1940s and 1950s spoke of twenty different possible nibs for its pens. The Kaweco Sport in the 1930s had the option of twelve different nibs including three Kugel (sphere) points.

Súper T ad from 1948. On the left hand side it reads that there are 20 different nibs available for this pen with "everlasting guarantee". Advertisement collected by Grafopasión member Claudio.

In 1934 the Kaweco Sport could have up to twelve different nibs. Image taken from the Kaweco website (December 2010).

Those are only two examples of the wealth of nib possibilities in former times. Nowadays, the options are mostly reduced to the typical F, M and B triad, and, if anything else, some oblique nibs catering the snobbish rather than any real writing need. The main exception to this observation are the big three Japanese companies and their interesting nib catalog.

Cross nib by Sailor. My thanks to Mr. Noguchi, of the Wagner Association in Japan. Some other nibs by Sailor can be seen on the British Sailor website.

Three music nibs by two Japanese companies: Platinum on the top, and Pilot on sizes 5 and 10. Platinum's nib selection is a lot more reduced than Pilot's. Its sister company Nakaya has some additional points, including a stub.

Now I wonder what the real reasons for this were. Is it just a matter of supply and demand? Might it be a result of pens being more of a collectible object than a real writing tool?

I have no answers. I do know, however, that I find fewer and fewer interesting features in modern pens and, consequently, I turn my face to vintage pens.

(Kaweco AL-Sport – Waterman Havana)

Bruno Taut
(In exile, December 18th, 2010)
[labels: Kaweco, Japón, plumín, Súper T, fora]

10 December 2010

Simple and Clean

Some days ago I published a review on a remarkable Spanish pen—the Súper T Gester 20. After using it for a while I ran out of ink and proceeded to clean it. This was very easy despite the fact it is a piston filler. The reason, as I pointed out, was that section and barrel attach to each other by a simple thread.

What I had not foreseen was how easy disassembling the piston was. Once the section is out of the way, the piston comes out of the barrel unscrewing the knob further. And that is it!

Easy to disassemble and easy to clean. There are no internal sheaths or hidden screws. In a sense, this pen is an eyedropper with a piston, a very easy piston.

Hats off for the designer Manuel Portus Ribas.

(Kaweco Sport with 1.1 mm stub nib – Diamine Evergreen)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, December 9th, 2010)
[labels: Súper T, soluciones técnicas]

22 November 2010


Ges and Ter are the two rivers merging at the city of Torelló, the hometown of the pen company Súper T. Putting both names together, the company founder Manuel Portus got the name for one of his creations: Gester. Four different Gester models were produced –20, 40, 60, 80— albeit with a number of variations along their thirty-something years of existence.

This is the review of a recently purchased Súper T Gester from around 1970—a model 20 with a steel nib.

1. Appearance and design. (9.0/10)
This is a very appealing pen with an original design. Although originally inspired by the Parker 51, Manuel Portus managed to make a very distinctive tool. This Gester is made in navy blue plastic, with clip and cap ring in steel.

The clip deserves a close attention. It is made with a single piece of folded steel. This design was originally conceived for the model Olimpia (1960) and later adapted to the higher end Gester. This detail shows that this particular gester 20 was made around 1970.

2. Construction and quality. (8.5/10)
This pen is solidly made with good quality plastic. All the elements fit well. The piston –yes, this is a piston filler— works flawlessly despite its 40 years of age.

Certainly, one could demand higher appealing materials, but the model 20 was the entry level to the Gester pen.

Cap ring signed as "SUPER T GESTER".

3. Weight and dimensions. (9.0/10)
This is a light pen with an excellent balance, especially if unposted. Average in size, its girth is comfortable on the hand.

Length capped: 134 mm.
Length open: 122 mm.
Length posted: 149 mm.
Diameter: 11 mm
Weight: 18 g

4. Nib and writing performance. (7.5/10)
This entry level pen has a very correct steel nib. It is smooth and has a very good and pleasant flow. Very rigid, no hint of giving under pressure.

The advertisements of the Gester pen in the 1950s spoke of up to 20 different nib points, but nowadays there are few chances to find them in the second hand market.

October 1956 ad. The last paragraph speaks of 20 possible nibs. Advertisement collected by Grafopasión member Claudio.

5. Filling system and maintenance. (8.5/10)
This is a piston filler. Unfortunately, there is no window to check the how much ink is left inside. On the positive side, section and barrel can easily be decoupled by unscrewing them. This eases the cleaning process and allows an easy access to the piston.

The thin metallic ring separates the section from the barrel. The inscription reads "SUPER T 'GESTER' TORELLO ESPAÑA".

6. Cost and value. (7.0/10)
Súper T pens were not cheap at their time. Some Gester models were more expensive than the luxury Parker 51. But Súper T pens were good quality tools.

New Old Stock Gester 60 from mid 1960s with the price sticker on it. 750 pesetas was a small fortune. In comparison, a Parker 51 at that time cost about 500 pesetas.

After years of oblivion, Súper T pens are becoming popular among Spanish stylophiles and the demand is increasing. However, it is still possible to find them for less than €100 in excellent condition.

The conclusion is that I could buy a good quality writer for an acceptable price.

7. Conclusion. (49.5/60=82.5/100)
Very well constructed pen with a reliable piston system. Smooth, but stiff nib with an excellent flow.

My thanks to fellow Grafopasión forum members Alberto, Claudio and Olga.

(Súper T Gester 20 – Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, November 17-21th, 2010)
[labels: Súper T]

19 November 2010


Spanish fountain pens are basically unknown outside Spain. Their history, actually, has not yet been written and it might very well be the history of a frustration—that of the inability to generate any successful industrial enterprise. But among those failures and frustrations some pen companies created very interesting products in Spain.

Such was the case of the company Súper T, based in the city of Torelló, in Barcelona province. Manuel Portús Ribas created this company in 1942, and it was active until 1976, five years after the death of its founder.

October 1953. Súper T ad of pen models 20, 40, 60, and 80. Collected by Grafopasión member Claudio.

Súper T manufactured basically two models, named Gester and Olimpia. The first is known to be in production since 1943. There were four basic versions of it –20, 40, 60 and 80—, three of which remained in the company catalog until the mid 1970s. The very luxurious Gester 80 –“a gift for a prince”, the ads said— had a solid gold cap and disappeared from the catalog around 1957. That model is now very rare and highly sought after by collectors.

Delta de Oro prize. Photo courtesy of Olga Portus.

The Olimpia model took its name after the Olympic Games in 1960. This pen received the “Delta de Oro” prize of design in 1961 given by the Catalan Associació de Disseny Industrial del Foment de les Arts Decoratives (ADI-FAD). It was on production until the company disappeared.

Ad from September 1953 of Parker ink manufactured in Torelló. Advertisement collected by Grafopasión member Claudio.

During the 1950s Manuel Portus received an offer from Parker to buy the company. Apparently, the American company was interested in the gold plating system used by Súper T—it provided very high quality results on caps. The parties did not reach an agreement, but as a result of the negotiations, Súper T started manufacturing Parker ink –Quink— in Torelló, Spain.

Manuel Portús died in 1971 and the company passed onto his son Juan Manuel. The decline of the company started, coincidentally, at that time. The early 1970s economic crisis and the popularization of ball pens pushed Súper T into reducing production costs. The excellent quality of previous years vanished rather quickly.

Finally, the company closed down in 1976.

My thanks to fellow Grafopasión forum members Alberto, Claudio and Olga.

(Súper T Gester 20– Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, November 17th, 2010)
[labels: España, Súper T, Parker, fora]