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Pilot Elite short/long: cross-hatched cap, 18K white gold nib
Posted 05 May 2008 - 12:18
Finally! A short/long with white metal trim, and a stainless cap! This one came to me from a Malaysian friend of mine. No box or paperwork, but frankly, that stuff isnít important to me. Iíd been looking for a gold-nibbed short/long without gold trim,m so this one was right up my alley.
the barrel and section are glossy black plastic, with a chrome trim ring acting as a bump-stop for the cap (itís a slip-cap). The barrel is imprinted FP17, but Iím not sure what that mean. The nib is an 18K white gold nib thatís similar to those found on the Pilot Super series from the 50s and 60s (and maybe early 70s). Itís sort of shaped like a fingernail. The nib is marked 18K 750, Pilot <F> H1276; the H1276 indicates a December 1976 manufacture date. The feed is a translucent smoky gray.
the cap is stainless steel, with an etched rectangular cross-hatched pattern. The etching is enameled black. The clip is metal, chrome-plated, with a divot/valley running the length of it. Pilot is engraved in it. At the bottom of the cap, aligned directly below the clip, is the word ďEliteĒ in Pilotís signature script.
As a short/long pen, the barrel is very short at about 1.5Ē in length. Historically, these pens were designed to fit in a Japanese shirt pocket, which wasnít terribly deep. The great thing about these pens, though, is that they post out to a nearly perfectly-balanced full-sized pen thatís slender, but about 5.5Ē long. as far as portability is concerned, theyíre perfect for a pants pocket or a purse. To me, itís nearly perfect as far as weight, too. Iím guessing that when fully loaded, itís no more than 25g. Itís very comfortable to hold, and works great for long writing sessions. I wish Iíd had one of these when I was in college!
Hereís where it gets interesting, as far as this particular pen is concerned. When I got it (and I knew it was coming this way), it wasnít writing well. It was a little scratchy, and had a persistent skipping problem. The tines seemed okay, but it wasnít working the way that it should. After a thorough cleaning and flossing of the nib, it got a little better, but still wasnít what I was happy with. I did a little more cleaning in an ultrasonic bath, but wasnít able to do much with it, as my life had taken a sudden change in direction. I put it away, and didnít come back to it until late this week.
Well, I think that having that time to rest must have done the trick, because when I finally got back to it and filled it with a converter of Pelikan Royal Blue, itís been nearly perfect. No skipping or scratches here; just a very even, moderately dry inkflow, and a super-smooth nib.
This nib is markedly different from other short/long nibs Iíve written with. While the others (a 14K XF Platinum and a steel Pilot Volex) have been good, theyíve been very rigid. This one, though, is remarkably soft. I wouldnít call it flexible, but itís not too much of a stretch to call it springy. Itís really nice to write with.
While not terribly groundbreaking, itís worth noting that these Elite short/longs use Pilotís cartridges, the aerometric CON-20 converter, and (I think) the CON-50 screw-type piston converter. Iím pretty sure that the cartridge holds the most ink.
Cost and Value
I think that short/long pens, as a category, are quite a bargain. Theyíre not always the easiest to find in the model youíre after, as they werenít always well-catalogued like other vintage pens (i.e., Vacumatics, ď51Ēs, etc.) But...once you know what youíre looking for, youíll find that there are lots of them (many still uninked with stickers) available on eBay. Prices range all over the place, but you can typically get one for less than $100 shipped.
I think that these are great little pens, and this one is a shining example of what they should be. Itís rare to get one thatís a bad writer. Try one...you wonít be disappointed!
Posted 06 May 2008 - 00:29
I think you did the right thing--getting a used one without a sticker. That lowers the price reasonably and also encourages use (there's something about a mint pen with a sticker on it that feels like sacrilege to ink up). And these pens are best when put to paper.
Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:24
BTW Namiki Blue as well as Waterman Blue-Black seem to improve flow in the Elites when that is an issue. Rather than scratchy I'd say mine give a bit of feedback but a good match of ink to pen usually minimizes it.
One thing that surprised me about these pens is the balance and comfort. In fact it's so good I can draw with them, something I cannot do with heavier Western pens. For me that's the ultimate test that these pens pass with ease.
inkophile on tumblr, theinkophile on instagram, inkophile on twitter
Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:34
Maybe it's the stubby body or something.
Oh well...I guess that means more for those of us who really love 'em!
Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:57
H on the nib code means it was made in Pilot Hiratsuka Factory in Kanagawa Prefecture. There used to be another factory in Tokyo, and the pens made in Tokyo had T instead of H. Tokyo Factory closed in 1978. Currently there are two production lines in Hiratsuka Factory - Line A and Line B, and the nib codes starts with A or B depending on which line it was produced.
Posted 26 May 2008 - 02:34
The tuxedoed Pilot Elite with it's fine stainless steel cap, black barrel and white gold nib is truly a pleasure to write with. Easily one of the best pens Pilot ever produced. If you are interested in finding a good one, most likely, you'd go to eBay and do a search. Since these pens were made only for Japan, it's very rare when you can find one in the States. Start on the auctions and go from there. You won't regret writing with a Pilot Elite. Thanks for the fantastic review, Ryan!
Edited by Shamouti, 26 May 2008 - 02:39.
Posted 26 May 2008 - 03:07
I've got one like Ryan's except mine has the barrel end also in the cross-hatched stainless. I really like it a lot. I've also got it's near kin sitting on my desk, a Platinum black stripe - it's just waiting on me to modify a Platinum converter so I can use bottled ink.
Posted 08 June 2008 - 12:00
BTW folks, this thread now has better pictures! I got some on Friday before my camera bit the dust for good (long story...don't ask).
*For size comparison, that's a standard "51" aerometric.