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Pilot Pocket-size Pens


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#1 MYU

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 01:28

The Pilot Pocket Pen, or "Long Cap"

In the early part of the 20th century, the fountain pen business was booming. Pens were being made all around the world by hundreds of different manufacturers, consisting of many designs, materials, and colors. In Japan, the fountain pen had been readily adopted for use in daily business. Being very practically minded, the Japanese businessman would make use of the chest pocket on his starched white shirt and park his fountain pen there. But typical fountain pens of the day were rather large and would sit up high out of the typical Japanese shirt pocket. In the 1970's, Pilot came up with an answer for this: The Pocket Pen, "Shortie", or Long Cap. The basic configuration is a longer than usual pen cap, a long section, and a short body. What this ingenious design does is allow for the capped pen to fit inside shorter than average shirt pockets, but when the cap is posted the pen assumes a normal size for comfortable writing. When Pilot came out with this design, it was an immediate sensation. So much so, that Platinum and Sailor (the other two of the "big three" Japanese pen makers) also came out with their own version of the pocket pen shortly thereafter.

Naturally, with this pen design being such a big hit, many variations were produced. You would be able to buy them in a multitude of different plastic colors or types of metal, as well as a variety of trim styles. One of the most popular pens that Pilot is known for is the MYU (or short Murex). This pen follows the basic pocket pen design, but for one important difference: it has an integrated nib. The body, cap, and section were made completely of brushed stainless steel, making for a very tough pen. The nibs on these pens are very firm, so they don't appeal to a wide range of fountain pen users. But the sleek design, toughness, and dependability make it a great utility pen. The version with black stripes (MYU-500BS) is my all time favorite pen for appearance; I think it is a timeless modern design and it should be indoctrinated into the NY Museum of Modern Art.

Of the metal pocket pens, Pilot made them primarily out of stainless steel with a couple of models in sterling silver. In my opinion, one of the more attractive metal designs is the "cross hatch" pattern, which is a series of black etched lines with the length-wise lines closely spaced. It came in a full metal design, as well as a metal cap with black body. This was also done in silver with the venerable Cisele (or grid) pattern, that Parker made so famous with the model 75. No doubt Pilot copied Parker, as the 75 came out in the 1960's.

Regarding the nibs that Pilot installed in the pocket pen, there were three different designs (to my knowledge). One of them is the same gold nib that was used for the full size Pilot Custom series. I think it is one of the best nib designs today, for consistent smooth line control with just a touch of flex. Also, the sizes run small, which is a nice contrast to other makers than run large. The next is a more straight triangular nib design (unlike the slightly curved Custom nib) that protruded out from the section, with a slight lip of plastic covering the back end of the nib. The last nib type used is the stainless steel one seen on the colored MYU pens and the Volex (stainless steel version without integrated nib), with a shape that looks like it screws down into the section. It has a nice clean look with a black band around the chrome collar.

As for my personal collection, I have always been partial to Pilot. But Sailor produced a few models that are extremely beautiful and very rare--it's nearly impossible to obtain them because of such low production. There's only one person (on FPN) I know of that has the two I'd love to own someday: The Arabesque and the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

So, that about does it for the description of materials and styles used in the pocket pen. How is it as a writing instrument, you wonder?

Pilot Short Pens, capped


Pilot Short Pens, posted


Pilot Elite Crosshatch Pens, posted, 3 nib sizes (B, M, F)


Pilot MYU 500-BS and MYU 701, close-up


Appearance
Well, I have to admit that the first time you see the long cap and short body, the word "stubby" comes to mind. And that isn't necessarily a flattering adjective. I have to admit that when I first saw them, I wasn't immediately enamored. But once I got acquainted with the pen, I began to appreciate it to the point where I now find it attractive. It almost looks like a small model of a space craft or supersonic aircraft, especially when looking at the MYU.

Fit and Finish
What can I say--Pilot makes pens with exemplary quality. The short pens are of no exception. Everything is beautifully machined. Grooved lines feel nice to the touch. Plastic is thick and sturdy. The less expensive lines made by Sailor and Platinum might feel a little cheap, but definitely not Pilot's version. The only thing I might say is that not all models are completely fit tested with posting the cap. On some I've had, the cap clutch grabs firmly a little too soon, making it difficult to completely post the cap. But that's OK. It can even be considered a benefit, as it lengthens the pen--something appreciated by those with very large hands.

Nib Design / Writing Quality
As I said earlier, my favorite Pilot nib is the largest one that was made for the Custom series. But the others are quite competent. All of them write smoothly and consistently, with line widths about one size smaller than an equivalent Western nib size (a fine nib will write more like an extra-fine). The integrated nibs didn't have much size variety (essentially XF, F, and M), while the Custom nibs would be available in XF, F, M, B, Script, and Music (AFAIK). I have seen a Japanese pen seller describe the MYU nibs has also having a flex option (firm, normal, flex), but I can't confirm that this was indeed a buyer choice.

Filling System
This is a cartridge/converter pen. Despite the small body, the filling mechanism is designed for ink cartridges that are about 30% larger than the short international ink cartridge. There is a squeeze converter still sold today that will fit (CON-20), but it holds slightly less ink than the cartridge. Plus, if you've got a cartridge refill kit (blunt syringe), you can just refill the cartridge instead and benefit from an ink level indicator (the cartridges are translucent) plus no ink reside to wipe off the nib after dunking.

This is a great pen series, which I think is understated and underrated in the arena of fountain pens. I'm quite happy with my small collection and hope to keep them for many years to come. smile.gif

[Semi-related review: The Pilot Black Stripe pen series.]

Edited by MYU, 13 October 2008 - 22:54.

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#2 langere

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:05

I also prefer the Pilots because they are, to my knowledge, the only ones that take both cartridges and converters. The others only take carts, right?

Erick

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#3 Siv

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:22

Beautiful... oh for a MYU...
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#4 MYU

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:23

QUOTE(langere @ Jun 22 2008, 10:05 PM) View Post
I also prefer the Pilots because they are, to my knowledge, the only ones that take both cartridges and converters. The others only take carts, right?

Erick
You may be right. Platinum and Sailor offer converters, but none of them fit in their short pens (AFAIK).

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#5 Phthalo

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 03:12

Very nice write-up! Pocket pens are wonderful things. smile.gif

Don't get hung-up about some short pens not taking converters - use a syringe to refill the cartridge, because a Platinum / Sailor cartridge holds double the capacity of their converter.

QUOTE
There's only one person (on FPN) I know of that has the two I'd love to own someday: The arabesque and the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Hee hee! And those are two you will have to pry from my cold, dead hands. wink.gif

Edited by Phthalo, 23 June 2008 - 03:12.

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#6 JulioPB

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 04:22

QUOTE(MYU @ Jun 22 2008, 08:28 PM) View Post
The Pilot Pocket Pen, or "Shortie"

In the early part of the 20th century, the fountain pen business was booming. Pens were being made all around the world by hundreds of different manufacturers, consisting of many designs, materials, and colors. In Japan, the fountain pen had been readily adopted for use in daily business. Being very practically minded, the Japanese businessman would make use of the chest pocket on his starched white shirt and park his fountain pen there. But typical fountain pens of the day were rather large and would sit up high out of the typical Japanese shirt pocket. In the 1970's, Pilot came up with an answer for this: The Pocket Pen, "Shortie", or Long Cap. The basic configuration is a longer than usual pen cap, a long section, and a short body. What this ingenious design does is allow for the capped pen to fit inside shorter than average shirt pockets, but when the cap is posted the pen assumes a normal size for comfortable writing. When Pilot came out with this design, it was an immediate sensation. So much so, that Platinum and Sailor (the other two of the "big three" Japanese pen makers) also came out with their own version of the pocket pen shortly thereafter.

Naturally, with this pen design being such a big hit, many variations were produced. You would be able to buy them in a multitude of different plastic colors or types of metal, as well as a variety of trim styles. One of the most popular pens that Pilot is known for is the MYU (or short Murex). This pen follows the basic pocket pen design, but for one important difference: it has an integrated nib. The body, cap, and section were made completely of brushed stainless steel, making for a very tough pen. The nibs on these pens are very firm, so they don't appeal to a wide range of fountain pen users. But the sleek design, toughness, and dependability make it a great utility pen. The version with black stripes (MYU-500BS) is my all time favorite pen for appearance; I think it is a timeless modern design and it should be indoctrinated into the NY Museum of Modern Art.

Of the metal pocket pens, Pilot made them primarily out of stainless steel with a couple of models in sterling silver. In my opinion, one of the more attractive metal designs is the "cross hatch" pattern, which is a series of black etched lines with the length-wise lines closely spaced. It came in a full metal design, as well as a metal cap with black body. This was also done in silver with the venerable Cisele (or grid) pattern, that Parker made so famous with the model 75. No doubt Pilot copied Parker, as the 75 came out in the 1960's.

Regarding the nibs that Pilot installed in the pocket pen, there were three different designs (to my knowledge). One of them is the same gold nib that was used for the full size Pilot Custom series. I think it is one of the best nib designs today, for consistent smooth line control with just a touch of flex. Also, the sizes run small, which is a nice contrast to other makers than run large. The next is a more straight triangular nib design (unlike the slightly curved Custom nib) that protruded out from the section, with a slight lip of plastic covering the back end of the nib. The last nib type used is the stainless steel one seen on the colored MYU pens and the Volex (stainless steel version without integrated nib), with a shape that looks like it screws down into the section. It has a nice clean look with a black band around the chrome collar.

As for my personal collection, I have always been partial to Pilot. But Sailor produced a few models that are extremely beautiful and very rare--it's nearly impossible to obtain them because of such low production. There's only one person (on FPN) I know of that has the two I'd love to own someday: The Arabesque and the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

So, that about does it for the description of materials and styles used in the pocket pen. How is it as a writing instrument, you wonder?

Pilot Short Pens, capped


Pilot Short Pens, posted


Pilot Elite Crosshatch Pens, posted, 3 nib sizes (B, M, F)


Pilot MYU 500-BS and MYU 701, close-up


Appearance
Well, I have to admit that the first time you see the long cap and short body, the word "stubby" comes to mind. And that isn't necessarily a flattering adjective. I have to admit that when I first saw them, I wasn't immediately enamored. But once I got acquainted with the pen, I began to appreciate it to the point where I now find it attractive. It almost looks like a small model of a space craft or supersonic aircraft, especially when looking at the MYU.

Fit and Finish
What can I say--Pilot makes pens with exemplary quality. The short pens are of no exception. Everything is beautifully machined. Grooved lines feel nice to the touch. Plastic is thick and sturdy. The less expensive lines made by Sailor and Platinum might feel a little cheap, but definitely not Pilot's version. The only thing I might say is that not all models are completely fit tested with posting the cap. On some I've had, the cap clutch grabs firmly a little too soon, making it difficult to completely post the cap. But that's OK. It can even be considered a benefit, as it lengthens the pen--something appreciated by those with very large hands.

Nib Design / Writing Quality
As I said earlier, my favorite Pilot nib is the largest one that was made for the Custom series. But the others are quite competent. All of them write smoothly and consistently, with line widths about one size smaller than an equivalent Western nib size (a fine nib will write more like an extra-fine). The integrated nibs didn't have much size variety (essentially XF, F, and M), while the Custom nibs would be available in XF, F, M, B, Script, and Music (AFAIK).

Filling System
This is a cartridge/converter pen. Despite the small body, the filling mechanism is designed for ink cartridges that are about 30% larger than the short international ink cartridge. There is a squeeze converter still sold today that will fit (CON-20), but it holds slightly less ink than the cartridge. Plus, if you've got a cartridge refill kit (blunt syringe), you can just refill the cartridge instead and benefit from an ink level indicator (the cartridges are translucent) plus no ink reside to wipe off the nib after dunking.

This is a great pen series, which I think is understated and underrated in the arena of fountain pens. I'm quite happy with my small collection and hope to keep them for many years to come. smile.gif



¡What a collection MYU!, ¿WWOOOOOOWW!

Julio



#7 alvarez57

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 05:26

Good photography, review concise with a good introduction.
Thanks!

sonia alvarez

 

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#8 merzig

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 06:06

Great review.

Seriously, I'm so in love with pocket pens. I become a drooly mess every time I read about them or see photos. rolleyes.gif

I hope to have a collection like yours someday!
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#9 diplomat

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 07:28

Beautiful review, excellent context story.

I have in so much regard my "701" that I purchased on my last summer Tokio trip, that this is one of the few FPs "untouched" from my collection (it still has the 3,500 Y sticker on it).

The man selling me the pen told me that both the name and the "futuristic" design of the pen were inspired by the then famous Japanese space programme. Can anyone confirm this?

Thank you for the review,

Andrea

#10 calliej

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 14:55

i think this would be the first 'vintage' to go on my wants list.........these are cool

So I'm opinionated - get over it!!.......No, really - get over it!!
Hmmmm I was going to put up a WANTS list - but that's too long as well ......


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#11 talkinghead

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 15:27

Beautiful pens, beautiful pictures MYU!

I have been on a Japanese "steel' kick lately myself..just a couple of question on the models pictured in picture #1..

I have 4 MYU's, 2 Steel Cap Elites, 2 Full Steel Elites (actually one is on the way), and 2 Volex's...just recently missed out on a Sterling Elite and a blackstriped MYU (my "Grail" pen!!).

Pens 1 and 2 are Elites' correct?..and the "grid pattern Cisele on these is only available in Sterling silver yes?

Pens 5 and 6 are Volex's correct?

Thanks for the help


Rick
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#12 Daosus

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 17:26

Wow, so pretty. It seems that the same design principle is incorporated into the Sailor Sapporo Mini.

#13 MYU

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 16:07

QUOTE(talkinghead @ Jun 24 2008, 11:27 AM) View Post
Beautiful pens, beautiful pictures MYU!

I have been on a Japanese "steel' kick lately myself..just a couple of question on the models pictured in picture #1..
I have 4 MYU's, 2 Steel Cap Elites, 2 Full Steel Elites (actually one is on the way), and 2 Volex's...just recently missed out on a Sterling Elite and a blackstriped MYU (my "Grail" pen!!).

Pens 1 and 2 are Elites' correct?..and the "grid pattern Cisele on these is only available in Sterling silver yes?
Pens 5 and 6 are Volex's correct?

Thanks -- I hope to take some better ones once I have a light tent. This was taken by natural light from a window on an overcast day.

Keep looking, as these do come up from time to time. Also, Stan runs a Japanese pen sale periodically and notifies folks in the "Pens from the Land of the Rising Sun" sub forum.

Pen #1 is an Elite. Pen #2 does not say "Elite" on it, but I suspect it can be considered one. The Cisele grid pattern as only in Sterling silver, as far as I've been able to find out at this point (Stan can confirm). The thicker crosshatch pattern on Elite pen #7 is steel. Pen #6 is a Volex. Pen #5 might be called a Volex as well, as it certainly has the same nib design. However, the rest of it looks very much like the MYU (same barrel and cap shape); they came in a variety of colors, too. The #6 Volex has a slightly different cap and body design.

Regards,
~Gary

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#14 talkinghead

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 03:11

Thanks for the confirmation on the pen types Gary. And don't worry..I'm always on the look out for the the elusive black striped MYU.

Rick
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#15 Nikolaos

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 10:53

Great review and photos Gary! Well done! I was away in Athens for a few days so your review was excellent reading this morning. I also love Japanese pocket pens and have a few in my collection....i need to get a few more though hehehehe

Thanks for the nice review
Nikolaos

#16 rroossinck

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 12:02

As always, Gary, a first-rate review.

As a side-note on the #6 Volex, they're a bit heavier than the normal short/longs from Pilot. Nearly perfectly weighted for me, and I use one almost every day. Can't recommend them highly enough!

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#17 MYU

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 14:48

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Jun 26 2008, 08:02 AM) View Post
As always, Gary, a first-rate review.

As a side-note on the #6 Volex, they're a bit heavier than the normal short/longs from Pilot. Nearly perfectly weighted for me, and I use one almost every day. Can't recommend them highly enough!

Thanks. smile.gif I've learned so much from the FPN community that I'm happy to give back a little. Yes, I'd agree the Volex #6 is a little heavier... but the Sterling Cisele one is slightly heavier still. It's probably the best feeling one to me, because I have a large hand and prefer a little more heft.

Incidentally, Woody pointed out that I left out the full black and colored Elite pens. I guess I had metal on the brain--completely missed it! I'll have to add some more photos, as I'd also like to show the smaller triangular nib.

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#18 MYU

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 00:37


[MYU's Pen Review Corner]   |   "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small


#19 sztainbok

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 15:44

I just discovered this old thread. WOW.. I greaty enjoyed Myu's review and pictures, thank you, it's a great and comprehensive review.

I own a Pilot Elite 22 with a 22K nib and a MYU 701. The Elite nib is a beautiful writer, but I prefer the the weight of the MYU in my hand.

For a long time, I thought that the long cap pocket pen was invented by Pilot, but I recently discovered that it appears this concept was first implemented by Kaweco in the 1930's on their Kaweco Sport model. From the reviews I read, the early models were piston filled and had very nice flex nibs. I think it would be interesting to follow the historic evolution of the short pen long cap pocket pen, from Kaweco to Pilot.

There is a thread discussing the vintage Kaweco Sport here. http://www.fountainp...e-kaweco-sport/

 

Victor.



#20 Honeybadgers

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 08:08

I just picked up a vintage pilot elite with what I believe to be a gold plated steel nib - it's just as flexible as a 14k model. writes a freaking treat. uses the standard pilot converters/cartridges and cost me literally $20 plus $5 shipping from japan. 


Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)







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