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Why Still No Omas?


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#1 fpupulin

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 20:51

fpn_1596660433__omas_alma_mater_e_testa_

 

 

Shortly after OMAS closed its doors, more than four years ago, it became known that a commercial company, which had already gained some experience in the "resurrection" of ancient and decayed brands of writing instruments, had purchased the entire stocks of pens left in the belly of the Bologna company, in addition to the famous celluloid bars with which OMAS had made its history. The meager chronicles of the time, however, were clear enough in clarifying that the OMAS brand was not part of the package sold by the Chinese owners. In fact, the materials that were effectively sold were sufficient to maintain, at least to date, two complementary businesses: on the one hand the sale of pens branded OMAS, but with the foresight to indicate that the selling company is not OMAS and does not hold the rights of the brand, and on the other a new brand of fountain pens, Armando Simoni Club (or ASC), which although it has done everything to make the perception of the margin between the two brands more subtle, cannot expressly use the word OMAS because it does not hold the rights.

 

About the same time as the liquidation of OMAS, it was learned that another business group had acquired  from the Chinese owners the machinery with which the OMAS pens had been produced for over 70 years. Even in this case, however, the OMAS brand was not acquired, and the machinery gave rise to the factory of a new brand of pens: Scrittura Bolognese (or SCRIBO). With OMAS machinery and apparently also with a number of craftsmen and managers who had already worked for OMAS, SCRIBO presented itself in a certain sense (rightly or wrongly, it is not the subject of this intervention) as the direct heir of OMAS , but obviously they could not and cannot do it explicitly because they do not own the OMAS brand.

 

At the time, OMAS enthusiasts declared themselves in deep mourning not only for the liquidation of the company, but also because the ashes on which it might have been possible to rebuild it had been divided into different hands: on the one hand the pens and the refined OMAS materials, and on the other the know how of how OMAS pens are made. Curiously, nobody seemed to care about the fate of the brand, which none of the new business born from the rests of OMAS  had acquired. Personally, I thought that the Chinese owners had kept the OMAS brand, a historically prestigious brand, in order to use it in the future in some new production and/or commercial adventures. I also fell, however, into the conceptual trap of thinking that a group of capable craftsmen but without the appropriate materials, and new owners of the materials but without the tradition of OMAS behind them, represented a definitive impediment to the possible rebirth of OMAS, whoever it was the owner of the brand.

 

It was only a couple of years ago or a little more, if I remember correctly, that when opening the OMAS web page (which for some obscure and almost macabre reason continues undaunted to work, presenting collections, models and prices of all pens. ..), I read a short press release from the legal owners of OMAS (the brand), in which it was announced that soon OMAS would resume the production of some "basic models" of its catalog. The signer of the announcement was Matt Brill, the CEO of the Ancora brand, and there I learned that the Chinese had finally sold the OMAS brand: to Ancora. A third actor therefore joined those who had already own OMAS pens and celluloids and those who had acquired the machinery (and perhaps the skills) to make the pens. Now, I thought, it's really the end.

In this couple of years, however, I have thought about it several times.

 

Now, it is certain true that many beautiful OMAS pens were sought after for their exquisite materials, especially the Arco celluloids but also the Saffron, Burkina, Royal Blue, Grigioperla, Lucens and many other beautiful colors. But if one is fond of OMAS designs and follows a little of what happens in online sales, both on eBay and in the online stores specializing in collectible and vintage pens, he will certainly have realized that it are not only celluloid OMASes those that continue to achieve substantial sales figures. A classic plastic Paragon (pardon, cotton resin), mostly used, still costs 350 or 450 US$ or more. A slightly smaller Milord is worth a little less. If new, it can easily reach 500 $. A "Grand" Paragon (post 2005) in black plastic costs 600-800 $, and if the plastic is colored the price goes up considerably. Even ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils are sold (take note, I'm not saying that they are proposed, no, but that they sell) for 200 $ or more. If it comes to particular editions, albeit in plastic (I think of the Paragon Ludovico Einaudi or the "Noire" to give just two examples of tasteful plastic pens) the prices go even higher. And apart from the often unjustified prices, you have probably noted how difficult it is to find  certain OMAS in plastic, new or in mint conditions.

 

For this reason, I keep asking myself: why don't we still have new OMAS in production? I am speaking of true new OMAS pens, branded OMAS, with the original OMAS designs and packaging, with an OMAS guarantee, pens made in black plastic, in London smoke, in Aubergine, in Einaudi gray, OMAS pens inspired to more historic models such as the ancient Lucens, more recent OMAS models like all the pens of the Arte Italiana collection (less obviously those in celluloid, given that the celluloids have them ASC), or the 360 collection ​​(which, used, cost an eye), other simple and refined OMAS pens such as Alma Mater (faceted) and MOMA (cigar), and contemporary pens like the Grand Paragon and Grand Milord in golden and rhodium-plated finishes , in plastic guilloché, etc. etc.? The list of models, colors and possible materials, that have already proven they can resist the test of time and the change of tastes, and that continue to sell online, new and used, at prices that seem reasonable to me to try to produce them again, well, the list could go on and on.

Why not, then? There is no need for celluloids to make OMAS, and I suppose that a pen factory like Ancora - which can quite rightly use the OMAS brand and the classic designs of OMAS - knows how to make a pen. Why not?



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#2 Namo

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 21:16

Thanks for the summery, very interesting.


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#3 como

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 21:30

Fpupulin: This is an interesting topic. One would think, ideally if Ancora, ASC and Scribo get together, they could get Omas going again like the old times. But this is a very big if. Maybe there is no way that these people would be willing to work together. Partnerships are not easy. We don’t know if the shareholders of Ancora are willing to go alone and resurrect Omas. I could easily think, from their perspective, why go in now? If ASC got all the celluloids (or at least most), and Scribo got machinery and nib specs, and a few pen makers are making custom pens with Omas materials, can I really get into this and offer something unique and desirable, and be profitable? It’s been nearly two years since the news of Omas brand being bought by Ancora, and no movement. It tells me that they are not that interested, or have not found a way that could make this work.



#4 gerigo

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 23:44

Probably one of the very worst business practices of our age. Purposely bankrupting a company and then making a profit by breaking up the company to sell the parts. It benefits no one and the brand can no longer be revived in any way.

 

A really sad story...



#5 Seney724

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 23:47

Thank you, fpupulin, for this terrific essay.

 

Your proposal that Omas celluloid be left out of a potential arrangement is brilliant.  You are right, there really is no need for the celluloid rods for there to be a robust reincarnation of Omas.  

 

And, no celluloid means, of course, no ASC.  :thumbup:

 

Surely SCRIBO & Ancora can find a way to make it work.

 

Let us all hope so!!!!!



#6 Uncial

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:19

I find it all very sad. Omas made beautiful pens. They were certainly not without their problems, especially towards the end - spotty nibs, cracking problems and issues with celluloid bubbles, celluloid rot and simple, practical issues such as alignments. Yet somehow, in spite of all their faults I was happy to forgive them when one landed in my hand and was such a delight to write with. I'm not so sure I'd be so forgiving now if I paid anything near the prices one sees on ebay these days: those prices are somewhat terrifying. 

 

I do have a soft spot for the plain old black models; the Alma Mater, the Extras, the older Gentlemen oversize - they were and are still really wonderful pens and it's a shame that we won;t see them produced again. Scribo produce fine pens and in the hand I must confess I have been deeply impressed by their quality and attention to detail. I'm just not entirely sold on the design. ASC have the lovely celluloids, but I've read enough complaints about bubbling and various other faults to wonder if the rod stock was left aside at Omas for a reason. I personally find their prices ridiculous and at the price point I'd want a far more attentive follow up if there happened to be a problem. 

 

I guess it could have been worse. A certain American could have bought it and the only nice thing we would have been able to say about it would be that it's box looks pretty.



#7 lterry

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 13:03

I would live to see the Omas brand rise up again.  Let's face it, celluloid will be a thing of the past and there are some beautiful resins being produced that don't have the issues associated with celluloid.  Plus, classic black never gets old.  I like to see the classic and modern paragons along with the 360 being produced again.  I was hoping that Scribo would do this, even if under their brand name.




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#8 Seney724

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 14:27

ASC have the lovely celluloids, but I've read enough complaints about bubbling and various other faults to wonder if the rod stock was left aside at Omas for a reason. I personally find their prices ridiculous and at the price point I'd want a far more attentive follow up if there happened to be a problem. 

 

I guess it could have been worse. A certain American could have bought it and the only nice thing we would have been able to say about it would be that it's box looks pretty.

I think this would be a marked improvement over what now exists.......to mean, there is absolutely nothing nice to say..............  ;)

 

Your theory about the left over rod stock acquired by ASC is quite interesting!



#9 mongrelnomad

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 20:38

Agreed. Omas was more than simply their intensely beautiful celluloids. I hope to see them resurrected one day, but with some connection to their former selves. As others note, a merger with Scribo would be wonderful.

Of all the recently demised brands, Omas is still the most missed.
Too many pens; too little writing.

#10 fpupulin

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 23:20

When in 1993 the last of the Gucci dinasty, Maurizio, sold the Florentine maison to an investor group, I imagined that the “magic” of this great Italian brand of the luxury had reached an end. Actually, the sales of Gucci have improved considerably. When Gianni Versace was killed in 1997 I supposed that his fashion brand, so intimately connected with his personal taste and vision, would quickly die with him. But it is still going very strong. Strong brands have a strong resilience.

If OMAS would resume production, in two or three years nobody would be interested in remembering the fact that the real people who actually design and made the pens are not directly linked to those who created the brand and managed it until 2016. Brands are stronger than people.

So, to make me clear, I am not discussing of somebody doing a product comparable to OMAS, pens inspired or boldly copied from OMAS pens. No, I am speaking of true OMAS pens, created, made, and sold under the name of OMAS, packed into a OMAS box, containing a OMAS pen sleeve, an OMAS booklet and OMAS guarantee.

There is only a company that can do that. This company is Ancora, for the very simple reason that they own the brand. They are the only company on Earth that have the rights to produce and sell OMAS pens. HOW they should or will do this, is not my discussion. Would they made the pens in their own Ancora factory, or in the factory of SCRIBO or that of Leonardo, or in China, this is part of a productive strategy that I am no prepared to discuss.

But let me insist, talking to Mr. Brill and the Ancora management. Is it possible that there is no way to produce a few OMAS pen models, including the Paragon, in plastic, in a honest black plastic, with their OMAS boxes, etc., and sell them at a price similar, to say, to that of a SCRIBO Feel or cheaper?

I would guess they will have a market. I am sure that I will be a client.

#11 Seney724

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 03:33


So, to make me clear, I am not discussing of somebody doing a product comparable to OMAS, pens inspired or boldly copied from OMAS pens. No, I am speaking of true OMAS pens, created, made, and sold under the name of OMAS, packed into a OMAS box, containing a OMAS pen sleeve, an OMAS booklet and OMAS guarantee.

There is only a company that can do that. This company is Ancora, for the very simple reason that they own the brand. They are the only company on Earth that have the rights to produce and sell OMAS pens. HOW they should or will do this, is not my discussion. Would they made the pens in their own Ancora factory, or in the factory of SCRIBO or that of Leonardo, or in China, this is part of a productive strategy that I am no prepared to discuss.

 

Thank you for another eloquent and informative post fpupulin.  They are a joy to read.

Were the reincarnation of OMAS to occur as you, I and so many others would like to see it would be wonderful.

 

But, I must remind you that just because the OMAS pens are manufactured once again, it is not a certainly the pens would be of the same quality, craftsmanship and value as existed during the years of production in the original House of Omas.

 

A good example of what I mean is seen in the reincarnations of a wonderful USA brand of fountain pens by the name of LeBoeuf.  Based in Springfield, Massachusetts during the years of their active production (1920-1933) there were no nicer celluloid pens manufactured anywhere in the world.  Once gone, others acquired the rights to the LeBoeuf name.  I believe the ownership of the LeBoeuf name and pen production is now on either its third or fourth reincarnation.  In spite of being "legitimate" LeBoeuf pens, the fountain pens made by the original Company's successor(s) were of poor quality and nothing at all like those produced by the original Company. Worse, the current iteration of LeBoeuf pens are pure junk.

 

So, let us hope that OMAS pens packaged in OMAS sleeves within OMAS boxes do appear once again.  But only if they can reproduce the fine quality and craftsmanship of the OMAS originals.  "New" OMAS pens which serve only desecrate the good name of the original House of Omas IMO are better left unmade!



#12 A Smug Dill

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:27

Why not, then? There is no need for celluloids to make OMAS, and I suppose that a pen factory like Ancora - which can quite rightly use the OMAS brand and the classic designs of OMAS - knows how to make a pen. Why not?

But let me insist, talking to Mr. Brill and the Ancora management. _...‹snip›...
I would guess they will have a market. I am sure that I will be a client.


Sorry, but I'm not sure I follow what you're saying. Have you been in touch with Mr Brill and/or the Ancora company's executive management to pitch the idea, if not actually make a business case? With your apparent keenness, and carefully researched and detailed insights, I trust this wasn't just a, "I would like to see that happen. What's keeping them from making it happen while I sit back and watch?" musing or "guess", but some form of business proposal that you've brought to "the money people" and the decision-makers, and just sharing with fellows in the fountain pen community that you've been knocking on their doors.

Or did I read the "... talking to ..." clause completely wrong? I mean, obviously, posting on an open and largely anonymous online discussion forum is not the channel in which to make first business contact or engage with Ancora and find audience with its executives, such that they will take the initiative to contact you for more discussion should they be intrigued by the suggestion of opportunity for profit.


Edited by A Smug Dill, 07 August 2020 - 08:39.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#13 como

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 06:29

fpupulin: I perfectly understand your nostalgia and your logic on the business side. Many of us would also like to see Omas come back in style and grace. In my opinion, it absolutely can be done, and without even committing too much capital and other resources. Ancora could strike an agreement with Scribo and produce batches of pens, the old style Paragon or whatever they want... In theory it would not be difficult, and it would delight us to see Omas pens once again, even if just limited edition, even without any further commitment ever again. No money, don’t want to take risks? No problem, go to kickstart and I am rather confident that they will find enough funding to do a batch of pens.
 

However, from what I know (about half a year ago), without going into details and being forced to divulge source, the new owner was not active and not that interested. I hope Ancora proves me wrong soon. I am hopeful but I remain realistic.



#14 mongrelnomad

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 09:33

I just received an email from ASC (sorry, The Pen Family) announcing a run-out series of Burkina pens. What an ignominious end to a beautiful material these bloated caricatures these are.

Made me intensely sad, but grateful for my real OMAS Burkina 360, Paragon and Bologna...
Too many pens; too little writing.

#15 mongrelnomad

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 09:41

Omas was one of the only FP companies with the historic resonance to compete with MB. LVMH realised this, which is why they snapped up the company and redesigned the range in the early 2000s. But something there didnt work. Was it antiquated production techniques? Legacy methods and staff? An inability to scale? Who knows, but it is highly unusual for LVMH to cut and run, so something there must have been really wrong...

I would love to have the name and the wonderful models back, but without the backing and cash of a major group, it will sadly remain a niche concern interesting only to a few of us. That leaves the future eternally precarious.

As stated previously, I would love an Omas return but only in an incarnation that would do justice to its storied past, and in a sustainable manner of unimpeachable quality, for the long-haul. Otherwise, better that it be left to rest in peace.
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#16 Seney724

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 13:30

I just received an email from ASC (sorry, The Pen Family) announcing a run-out series of Burkina pens. What an ignominious end to a beautiful material these bloated caricatures these are.

Made me intensely sad, but grateful for my real OMAS Burkina 360, Paragon and Bologna...

The price is rather bloated, too.  USD $1,790!!!

Shameful.

 

Yes, those of us fortunate enough to own "the real thing" should be feeling very grateful............



#17 fpupulin

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 13:51

Sorry, but I'm not sure I follow what you're saying. Have you been in touch with Mr Brill and/or the Ancora company's executive management to pitch the idea, if not actually make a business case? With your apparent keenness, and carefully researched and detailed insights, I trust this wasn't just a, "I would like to see that happen. What's keeping them from making it happen while I sit back and watch?" musing or "guess", but some form of business proposal that you've brought to "the money people" and the decision-makers, and just sharing with fellows in the fountain pen community that you've been knocking on their doors.

Or did I read the "... talking to ..." clause completely wrong? I mean, obviously, posting on an open and largely anonymous online discussion forum is not the channel in which to make first business contact or engage with Ancora and find audience with its executives, such that they will take the initiative to contact you for more discussion should they be intrigued by the suggestion of opportunity for profit.

 

 

No, A Smug Dillthis is unfortunately not a business proposition, and I am sorry if I involuntarily gave this impression. 

 

It is not the people of Ancora I am speaking with through the pages of the forum, but you, my pen pals. I do not have any insider information or personal information that you cannot find available in the net. I am just asking the large group of pen aficionados who frequent this forum if they can find any plausible reason for not having OMAS pens produced again. Of course, only the people of Ancora can have a definitive answer to my questions, as they are the owners of OMAS, so ultimately it would be of the outmost interest to have their view on the matter.

 

I guess – I insist that I only guess – that Ancora had to pay some money to acquire the OMAS brand. For a time, I thought they were not producing under that brand because they had no the materials to start production. I was thinking under the effects of the erroneous equation OMAS = celluloid.  Once this equation is removed, you came to my question: why they put money on the brand and do not use it? I cannot find a rational reason, and I am asking the respectable members of this forum if they can see one. 

 

Maybe I have not enough technical information and that producing a pen like an Ogiva or a Paragon is really difficult, or very expensive, and this could be a reason. Maybe they estimate that there is no margin for a business – which I doubt –, and this can be another reason for not resuming production. 

 

I always thought that a pen brand has to be measured on its standard lines, not the special editions. When I think OMAS, I just think today to their regular Paragons, Ogivas, Milords, Damas, 360s, which I personally find very well designed and attractive pens. But it may well be that my fondness for those pens is shared only by a very small minority of the pen passionates who frequent this forum, and this would be reason enough for not starting the production of a good that you will not sell. I thought to share my opinion on the matter as I would like to know the opinion of others on it. 

 

SoA Smug Dillthis is probably not more than a "I would like to see that happen”, as you said, but a bit more than “sit back and watch", as I am publicly discussing the topic with you and the other members of the forum and as I am really interested in your opinions on the matter. Should we find a large consensus and appreciation for regular OMAS pens, this could perhaps be reason for a business contact with Ancora management.



#18 fpupulin

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 13:57

Thank you for another eloquent and informative post fpupulin.  They are a joy to read.

Were the reincarnation of OMAS to occur as you, I and so many others would like to see it would be wonderful.

 

But, I must remind you that just because the OMAS pens are manufactured once again, it is not a certainly the pens would be of the same quality, craftsmanship and value as existed during the years of production in the original House of Omas.

 

A good example of what I mean is seen in the reincarnations of a wonderful USA brand of fountain pens by the name of LeBoeuf.  Based in Springfield, Massachusetts during the years of their active production (1920-1933) there were no nicer celluloid pens manufactured anywhere in the world.  Once gone, others acquired the rights to the LeBoeuf name.  I believe the ownership of the LeBoeuf name and pen production is now on either its third or fourth reincarnation.  In spite of being "legitimate" LeBoeuf pens, the fountain pens made by the original Company's successor(s) were of poor quality and nothing at all like those produced by the original Company. Worse, the current iteration of LeBoeuf pens are pure junk.

 

So, let us hope that OMAS pens packaged in OMAS sleeves within OMAS boxes do appear once again.  But only if they can reproduce the fine quality and craftsmanship of the OMAS originals.  "New" OMAS pens which serve only desecrate the good name of the original House of Omas IMO are better left unmade!

 

 

Absolutely agree with you, Seney724! Quality is essential for any product to possibly hit with success the market. 

 

You know that quality and value – to use a couple of your references – have been boldy questioned during the last years of OMAS, if not for most part of its modern history. Maybe I am wrong, but looking what other brands are doing, a standard quality for a few standard lines of pens does not seem impossible to achieve.

 

Should be that impossible, then I agree with you that I would rather prefer the memory of good OMAS pens to the reality of bad new OMAS pens...



#19 fpupulin

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 14:01

fpupulin: I perfectly understand your nostalgia and your logic on the business side. Many of us would also like to see Omas come back in style and grace. In my opinion, it absolutely can be done, and without even committing too much capital and other resources. Ancora could strike an agreement with Scribo and produce batches of pens, the old style Paragon or whatever they want... In theory it would not be difficult, and it would delight us to see Omas pens once again, even if just limited edition, even without any further commitment ever again. No money, don’t want to take risks? No problem, go to kickstart and I am rather confident that they will find enough funding to do a batch of pens.
 

However, from what I know (about half a year ago), without going into details and being forced to divulge source, the new owner was not active and not that interested. I hope Ancora proves me wrong soon. I am hopeful but I remain realistic.

 

Thank you, como, for your view.

 

I have always the impression, when we speak of the post-OMAS, that I miss some piece of valuable information, that was not made publicly available. Your words confirm my impression.



#20 fpupulin

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 14:17

By the way, I made the drawing that opens this post with a OMAS Alma Mater inked for the first time (with Edelstein Tanzanite). 

 

It is a plastic OMAS, which I find a subtly elegant pen with its dodecagonal section and the very simple three small rings on the cap.

 

It belongs to a very discussed time of the OMAS production, when the “vegetal resin” they used in their pens was prone to shrink with time.

 

Nevertheless, this individual pen has not shrunk. It has now 32 years, and writes and sketches beautifully. 

 

 

If it were available new, in plastic, I would buy this exact pen today. I would happily pay 400 dollars for it.








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