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Kaweco Sonderklasse

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#1 OMASsimo

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 20:38

I'm quite interested in vintage Kawecos and recently found something I've never seen before. It is a small black model (not surprising) with a dark green ink window and a duo-tone 14 k gold nib. It is a piston filler with a blind cap and the piston mechanism is screwed in with a narrow ring the diameter of the barrel, just like old (pre-war) Dia models. I'm not sure but I think that the material might be celluloid. The barrel shows a clear golden imprint of the "Kaweco" logo and a faint imprint saying "Sonderklasse". Given these indications I would think it's a pre-war model but I've never heard of this line of Kawecos. Does anybody here know something about these models? I couldn't find anything anywhere.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Peter



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#2 iiiiiii

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 04:56

I may be wrong but I think that Sonderklasse pens formed Kaweco's top line sometime in the 50s and as such had a lifetime guarantee. The pens were made of moulded plastic. I believe that they came in three sizes: the smallest 683, medium 685 and the biggest 687.

 

Regarding the top lines of Kaweco pens (but it is only my theory):

 

1930s

Dia, until the introduction of the Elite

1930s and 40s

Elite, until the introduction of the Carat

1940s

Carat, but I suspect this model had rather a short lifespan

1950s

Meisterklasse

Sonderklasse (however, I'm not sure what came first, Meisterklasse or Sonderklasse, and whether they are different)

 

Anyway, someone somewhere mentioned recently that there is a book about the Kaweco history coming soon.


Edited by birchtine, 11 March 2017 - 04:59.


#3 OMASsimo

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 20:44

Thank you very much for this interesting time line. I think you are right about the model numbers and sizes. The word "Sonderklasse" seems to imply something outstanding. Could it be that this isn't a model name at all but designates a special quality? That could be the life time warranty that you mention. I haven't read about such a warranty from Kaweco yet.

 

I'm restoring the pen currently and looking at it closely makes me wonder if that can be a 50s model. I have Dia and Elite models from the 50s. They are all made from moulded plastic (Kaweco was a pioneer of this production technique) with a "differential screw" piston mechanism that doesn't need a blind cap. The piston ring of those 50s models is made of a kind of clear rubber. By contrast, the pen in question does have the old and much simpler piston mechanism hidden by a blind cap and a cork piston ring. Also the ink window is very dark and looks greenish when viewed against light. The 50s pens I have all show clear bright blue ink windows. I'd consider it very surprising if the top of the line "Sonderklasse" models would fall behind those standards of the time. Material and filling mechanism much more point to the 30s. Interesting is the style which seems to be a transition between the conical ends of the pens of the 30s to the rounded "streamline" shape of the 50s. All very confusing because there is so little reference information. So, I hope you are right about the book coming out soon.

 

I will post pictures once the pen is ready and presentable. And I still hope that someone here has some more information on this topic.

 

Peter



#4 iiiiiii

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 22:18

I'm waiting for the pictures of the restored pen then.
 
I must say that all my knowledge on Kaweco is based on what I was able to find on the internet and own assumptions. Hence, I wouldn't trust myself.
 
My Sonderklasse and Meisterklasse are similar to the model(s) pictured on the following web pages:
 
http://www.penboard....sse&db_seller=0
 
http://www.fountainp...n-pen-from-50s/
 
However, I have not disassembled them to be able to say much about the internal mechanics. And I can't say that there were no earlier Sonderklasse models. I think I saw once an ad from the 30s mentioning the Meisterklasse pencil.
 
I hope that someone else will join the discussion and help us out a bit :)
 
53RFBvj.jpg
source: http://www.kaweco-pe...ike-werbung.php

Edited by birchtine, 11 March 2017 - 23:25.


#5 OMASsimo

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 22:56

Thanks for the links, this is the pen, indeed. My one looks exactly like the ones shown there and it's the same model number. Actually, I think the three digit model number hints to a post war production but I'm not sure about Kaweco's numbering system. The ads on penboard might not always be accurate regarding dating of pens. But the ad mentions that it's made of celluloid which would be in agreement with my suspicion. Could it be very late 40s or very early 50s? It has a 14 k gold nib which pretty much excludes the period from 1940-48, I think. The thing that really makes me wonder is the old-fashioned piston mechanism. It was still widespread in the 50s but not common with top of the line models of  top producers. But Kaweco might have used it well into the 60s for at least some models.

 

Very confusing, indeed.



#6 iiiiiii

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 00:22

I have just looked through the ads on http://www.kaweco-pe...ike-werbung.php and similar in shape Elite pen appears in the flyer from the 1953. The green ink view of the Sonderklasse is likely to be earlier, so yes, very late 40s or very early 50s. I do agree that celluloid and the cork seal still look a bit archaic but I'm not surprised. I tend to think that post war Kaweco was not the most innovative company.



#7 iiiiiii

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 14:32

8GBaM0o.jpg
Kaweco Sonderklasse 687

#8 Kaweco

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:44

............... The thing that really makes me wonder is the old-fashioned piston mechanism. It was still widespread in the 50s but not common with top of the line models of  top producers. But Kaweco might have used it well into the 60s for at least some models.

 

Very confusing, indeed.

Why do you think so? The piston filling method had been the most wanted in Central Europe. It was absolutely safe. The last Kaweco Sport from the old works in Wiesloch/ Heidelberg, the "Kaweco- Sport- Olympia" was a piston filler. This pen had been the official fountain pen for the Olympic games in München/ Munich 1972. Pistons had been made within the 80th and 90th in top quality by several producers but alas, some did not have the top commercials.

Kind Regards

Thomas



#9 iiiiiii

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 07:50

Thomas, I think that OMASsimo saying old-fashioned meant the late use of cork and blind cap over the piston knob, not the piston-filling mechanism as such.

#10 OMASsimo

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 20:19

Yes, that's exactly the point. Of course, piston fillers have been the standard for the German market since the 1930s but were more of an exception everywhere else. Most of the early piston fillers had a rather primitive mechanism which was screwed into the end of the barrel. The screw mount holds a plasti tube with a knurled knob on the outside and a coarse thread inside the tube. The piston is made of a fitting plastic or metal rod engaging in those threads. The piston ring was made of cork or leather and the friction to the barrel allowed to move it up and down by turning the knob. The whole mechanism was covered by a blind cap. This was the standard well into the 1950s.

 

A more advanced piston filler was introduced by Pelikan 1929 and uses a differential screw. This made the blind cap superfluous but was hardly used by other makers (Pelikan held a patent on this). This definitely changed in the 1950s when all the major brands switched to variants of this more advanced system (Pelikan, Montblanc, Kaweco, Osmia/Faber-Castell, Soennecken and probably Lamy). They also replaced the old-fashioned and not always reliable cork/leather piston rings by modern materials. I use this as an indicator to date pens roughly in pre- and post-1950s. But it's difficult to figure out when a company changed from one system to the other or if they did for all models at the same time.

 

By the way, I found some indication that a Kaweco Dia 683/685 was available as early as 1938 but it looked slightly different (other cap screw). So it seems that the ones in the pictures and mine are post war models.

 

Peter



#11 handwriter

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 12:46

I own a Kaweco Sonderklasse pen that is completely different from the ones shown in the pictures and in the penboard.de link.

Mine is a button-filler, is a very small pen, and judging by its looks, it seems that it must have been made in the thirties. Is an extremely rare pen, at least I've never seen another one of this kind.

Don't know how to post pics here but if anyone is interested, I can e-mail you photos, just let me know.


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#12 OMASsimo

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 23:44

Well, that just fits my observations with Kaweco's model policy (and that of other German producers). They used the same model name and sometimes even model numbers for different designs depending on time. The piston filler was mostly popular in Germany but unusual elsewhere. So, they often produced a button or lever filler version for export. It also seems that Germans preferred plain black pens while export models quite often where colourful.

 

Does your pen have a model number embossed at the end of the barrel? Pictures would be great. My understanding is that to post a picture here it has to be uploaded first so some web page elsewhere. If you don't have an own web page, you could use the typical image sharing pages like flickr or piccasa etc.

 

Peter



#13 handwriter

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 09:29

Well, that just fits my observations with Kaweco's model policy (and that of other German producers). They used the same model name and sometimes even model numbers for different designs depending on time. The piston filler was mostly popular in Germany but unusual elsewhere. So, they often produced a button or lever filler version for export. It also seems that Germans preferred plain black pens while export models quite often where colourful.

 

Does your pen have a model number embossed at the end of the barrel? Pictures would be great. My understanding is that to post a picture here it has to be uploaded first so some web page elsewhere. If you don't have an own web page, you could use the typical image sharing pages like flickr or piccasa etc.

 

Peter

No, my pen does not have any indication of the model other than Sonderklasse imprinted in the barrel. 

Its appearance is very similar to some models of Kaweco Colleg, in particular to the one with the domed cap. The clip is thick, somewhat luxurious, with "Kaweco" imprinted and the Kaweco logo.The cap has two capbands. It is even smaller than a Soennecken 111 Lady.

If you PM your email address I could try to get some pics taken and email then to you, and you would be welcome to post them.

Regards


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#14 konis

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:15

Kaweco Meisterklasse and Kaweco Sonderklasse.

 

fpn_1489655563__10.jpg

fpn_1489655603__11.jpg

fpn_1489655651__12.jpg

fpn_1489655683__13.jpg

fpn_1489655721__16.jpg



#15 iiiiiii

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:29

Thank you Konis! I think it was one of your earlier posts from which I learned about Sonderklasse.

 

Handwriter kindly provided us with the great pictures of his tiny button-filling Sonderklasse. Thank you a lot!

 

Here are the pictures:

 

OhceGua.jpg

ZRgQOKA.jpg

DcFywG5.jpg

IFYHT1E.jpg

mhzsbw3.jpg



#16 iiiiiii

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:42

I have just had a thought that the Sonderklasse pens may not be separate models. Maybe they are just top line pens like Elite rebranded to Sonderklasse with added extended warranty on their nibs.

Edited by birchtine, 16 March 2017 - 12:19.


#17 OMASsimo

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 20:58

Thank you for posting the pictures. The ones of Konis should be models 683/5/7 and look exactly like mine (which is still not finished). The pen of handwriter looks like a Dia from the late 1930s to me, still with the very tall cap screw. Question: does it have an ink window? I'd be surprised if it wouldn't, it might be very dark though due to the use of iron gall ink.

 

 

 

I have just had a thought that the Sonderklasse pens may not be separate models. Maybe they are just top line pens like Elite rebranded to Sonderklasse with added extended warranty on their nibs. 

 

 

That was exactly what I was wondering about earlier (post #3). I think that is how it started by just fitting their top model with the best nib and giving it the life time warranty and the additional barrel imprint. This just would make sense.



#18 handwriter

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 09:39

Thank you for posting the pictures. The ones of Konis should be models 683/5/7 and look exactly like mine (which is still not finished). The pen of handwriter looks like a Dia from the late 1930s to me, still with the very tall cap screw. Question: does it have an ink window? I'd be surprised if it wouldn't, it might be very dark though due to the use of iron gall ink.

 

 

 

That was exactly what I was wondering about earlier (post #3). I think that is how it started by just fitting their top model with the best nib and giving it the life time warranty and the additional barrel imprint. This just would make sense.

No, as far as I can see, there is no ink window, which does not surprise me because it is a button-filler, not a piston filler.

To me the most surprising feature of this pen is how small it is, I have seen many Kaweco Dia pens, but never one so small.


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#19 iiiiiii

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 23:43

No, as far as I can see, there is no ink window, which does not surprise me because it is a button-filler, not a piston filler.

To me the most surprising feature of this pen is how small it is, I have seen many Kaweco Dia pens, but never one so small.

 

How long is this pen?

 

That was exactly what I was wondering about earlier (post #3). I think that is how it started by just fitting their top model with the best nib and giving it the life time warranty and the additional barrel imprint. This just would make sense.

 

I guess I slowly digested and internalised your idea forgetting where it came from :) I apologise.



#20 OMASsimo

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 23:53

No worries, we're all just trying to figure out what that "Sonderklasse" thing is about. And you contributed most of the information so far.

 

I forgot that handwriter's pen is a button filler. Though there were makers trying to combine lever/button filling with an ink window, this is certainly not the most straightforward thing to do. The model just looked like a 1930s Dia to me and the name giving feature of the Dia was the ink window. So, it would make sense that Kaweco dropped the model name if they turned a piston filler Dia into a button filler export model.

 

Peter







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