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just Andrew posted a topic in Other Brands - EuropeGreetings. There's such a wealth of information on this site that I decided this would be the best place to seek advise on this matter. The TL;DR (ie. "too long, didn't read" version) of it is: how can I reliably differentiate a real S.T. Dupont pen from a fake, based on studying the pictures alone in an online listing (particularly of the box and paperwork)? When exactly did S.T. Dupont eschew the red presentation box in favor of the black box? And here's the "mindless drivel" version (any photos below are "borrowed" for the purpose of this discussion, they are not my own): As a kid I've always admired fine wristwatches and fine pens. My dad has a pair of Pelikans (a pen and pencil set) which he used for many years, and still uses them now, and I used to look at all the pictures of intricately-designed fountain pens in those glossy magazines. Now I've crossed the big Three-O and have been working for a number of years (in an unsavory environment not actually suited to fine pens). Those intricately-designed pens are still beyond me, but I've decided that it is time to look for a nice pen. It has to be a rollerball or a ballpoint because my terrible handwriting would do no justice to a fountain pen, and partly also because I would like to use this pen for writing, not just for signatures. On a recent vacation back in my hometown, I glanced through the windows of the local S.T. Dupont boutique store in a big shopping centre and saw the Orient Express Prestige Fountain Pen, which is probably the most beautiful piece of man-made corruption I've ever laid my eyes on. The brand itself however, was unknown to me and up to that point, I only knew of Montblancs [...because, who doesn't...] and Pelikans. I spoke about it briefly to my dad who recalls that some of his colleagues did use S.T. Dupont pens. http://i269.photobucket.com/albums/jj64/liquidkiwi/dupontorientexpress_zpsd7614c12.jpg Instead of stepping into that boutique, I gloated at the display for a while before going for lunch, deciding not to embarass myself by walking into a store selling items that I clearly could not afford. And so it was a surprise that during some research later on, I found a goodly amount of new, NOS and second-hand Duponts on sale at an evil online site, some of which were to my liking and well within my means. In the process I learned about the Chinese lacquer that S.T. Dupont uses on some of their products, something that really piqued my interest and firmly set me down the path of buying my first fine pen. It will be an S.T. Dupont pen and it must feature large expanses of Chinese lacquer. As I was made aware by information on this site, as well as others on the internet, there were numerous counterfeit pens on the market, some of them marketed by apparently credible vendors with an extensive and sound rating who many not even be aware that their stock was not legit. I trawled through numerous listings and realized that the greatest challenge was finding a pen that I liked, and that I could be reasonably certain was legit based on pictures alone rather than handling the pen in person. As such I seek advise from people at this forum who are much more knowledgeable about these things. My understanding is that counterfeits have become very good over the years and it can be nearly impossible to tell from the genuine item. However I was wondering if there were any "tell tale" signs that a pen was a fake. Besides studying as close as possible, the fit and finish of a pen in the photos (sometimes difficult since the photos are sometimes not close enough, or worse, blurred), are there any other visible signs I should look for in paperwork or even the box, if those are available as part of the sale? In the older red-boxed pens which were clearly being sold as featuring Chinese lacquer or "laque de chine", I've occasionally seen outer boxes (ie. the paper box that protects the inner presentation box) that have a line of Chinese lacquer symbols (ie. the leaf) running along the upper edge of four sides of the box (ie. front, back, left and right). http://i269.photobucket.com/albums/jj64/liquidkiwi/dupontpenredpacket2_zpsc09c13e1.jpg Some other outer boxes do not have this feature. On the inner red presentation box itself, I have also seen some that have the line of leaf symbols running along the sides of the lid, while some boxes do not have it. Are they both genuine and the difference is simply a change of design? Should all the older laque de chine models feature the lacquer leaf symbol on both boxes? http://i269.photobucket.com/albums/jj64/liquidkiwi/dupontredboxnoleaf_zps88a645d3.jpg The newer Dupont pens now seem to come in black boxes with a purple liner. These appear even more difficult to study because they all look the same to my ill-informed eye. When did they make the change to use black boxes instead of red ones? I have also read an article that makes a sweeping remark to say that genuine pens always fit well into a customized area in a "cushion" inside the presentation box, while pens that are held in place by only a ribbon are likely to be counterfeit. How true is this statement? It is difficult for me to believe this since I do see a lot of pens presented in either fashion. Finally, some of the older NOS/ little used red-boxed pens may on occasion, have their paperwork contained in a red package that itself features a line of Chinese lacquer symbols, as in the picture below. Assuming that nothing is missing from the box, is this an item I should look for in a genuine item or is it the hallmark of a counterfeit? http://i269.photobucket.com/albums/jj64/liquidkiwi/dupontpenredpacket_zpsa0f5570a.jpg Are there any other things that I should be on a lookout for to differentiate a fake for the real thing? Or am I simply imagining that is possible to safely purchase a genuine Dupont pen at an online auction site? Thank you. Any advise would be most appreciated.
This is a more detailed review as a follow-up to the quick and dirty review of my fountain pens, which can be found here. This review is about my S.T. Dupont Classique pens, one in silver and the other in Lacque de Chine. The photo below shows the Lacque de Chine pen next to the TWSBI. The TWSBI is quite big and you can see that it clearly longer than the S.T. Dupont. Of these two the silver one came in the traditional red leather box (which is always useful to keep a number of pens in), while the other came in a chamois leather pouch marked S.T. Dupont. I have owned the silver pen for over 30 years and the other was acquired recently in an auction. Right out of the box these Classique pens have a distinguished look. It is immediately clear that these are fountain pens if you see the cap with its distinctive clip. Cap and bottom half are almost the same size, but the bottom has an extra 0.5cm compared to the cap. Visible are all of the usual S.T. Dupont markings: S.T. Dupont Paris engraved on the central ring and 925 plus two other silver markings, denoting sterling silver and (in the Lacque de Chine pen) gold plated sterling silver. The Lacque de Chine pen also states its is Lacque de Chine on the ring. The clip is marked 'metal' on one side and has a number on the other side. The clip is fastened to the cap in a very nice way, with a screw on the inside of the cap to hold it. Opening the pen reveals a simple looking nib with a large hole on the underside. The cap twists off easily and closes without much sound. I miss the distinctive click that some of the other S.T. Dupont pens have. These two pens are identical in how they were made, nibs and converter. It's just the outside that differs. The silver pen is obviously made of silver, down to every little detail, even the clip. It shows patina easily when it is being used, but this polishes off easily with a silver cloth. The silver really shines once polished and the ribbed structure on the bottom half stands out nicely. The Lacque de Chine pen is brownish with a bit of gleam. It is not as polished as some of the later Lacque de Chine pens I have and the design is a bit dull. Part of this might be caused by age or treatment. The silver pen is my favourite in terms of how it looks. For their size these pens feel relatively heavy, due to the metal used. To the touch they feel nice and cool. The black plastic/composite (?) just above the nib has little lines engraved in it, which provides the fingers with a good grip. The lines do fill up over time, so sometimes a toothbrush is needed to clean them out a bit. The silver is quite sturdy, but it is susceptible to dents if you drop the pen. The Lacque de Chine doesn't have that problem, but the lacquer can chip off. When the bottom half is unscrewed you see that the nib section is all plastic, even the screw thread. The bottom half has a metal screw thread obviously, because of the materials used in these pens. The plastic in the nib section is strong enough, but in the silver pen a very small leak has appeared after about 25 years of use. It was exactly where the fingers gripped the section. I don't really have a very firm grip, so this might be the weak point of the pen. Since then it has been repaired by S.T. Dupont. Once the nib section and bottom half are unscrewed you notice that the nib section is quite light. All the weight of the pen is in the bottom half and the cap as a result of the metal used in those parts. The pen has a good grip, not wide like the Ellipsis I discussed previously, but wider than the other classique model I own. I t is quite suitable for ong writing sessions and in fact the silver pen got me through college in the pre-computer era. The cap has a long narrow clip, almost 5/6 of the cap length and fastened on top in the unique (old fashioned) S.T. Dupont way. It is flexible enough for easy use and because of its length sits quite secure. These are classic looking pens. Put them next to a Leica M6 on a small cafe table nest to a coffee and croissant and you feel transported to another era immediately. Some of the old Dunhill fountain pens had the same effect on me. They exude a luxury feeling if you know what I mean. I wouldn't change anything about these pens, the only thing I would do (if I worked at S.T. Dupont) is get this model back in production. The pen writes very nice and moves over any paper in an effortless way. I wish S.T. Dupont (or whoever they used for the nibs) would still make them like this. The pen is best used uncapped. The size and weight are fine, unless you have very big hands. If the pen is capped it feels fine too, it doesn't chafe against the hand anywhere, but the pen feels too heavy then and this impedes the writing. The nib is a fine to medium size, on the smaller side of medium. Very pleasant to use, just right for me. The nib is made of 18K gold and has the 'D' and 750 stamped on it. There is a gold marking on the right side of the nib. The ink flow is perfect on any paper and I never experience a disruption. The nib is slightly flexible and does not feel scratchy at all. One peculiar thing is the look of the nib on the underside. I always thought that a big hole like this would dry out the ink faster, but that isn't the case, it works just fine. As far as I know I can't easily remove this nib to service it or replace it. It needs to go to the S.T. Dupont service center if repair is needed. The pen uses cartridges or a converter. The converter is flat on top (where it goes onto the nib section) and the opening is smaller than on other (modern) converters. If you have a converter like this, hang on to it. I filled it with Pelikan 4001 ink. In the writing example you can see that the nib is slightly thicker than the Fine of the TWSBI. The ink flow is very steady, no interruptions or scratches that are visible or can be felt. I bought the silver pen new ages ago new for 120-150 euro I guess. The Lacque de Chine was acquired in a recent auction for 53 euro. Both pens, at new price or in auction are terrific value for money. Although they get less use nowadays these are still my favourite fountain pens. I am not sure whether I am right in assuming this, but my experience is that the older S.T. Dupont fountain pens seem to be better quality than the more modern models.
This is a more detailed review as a follow-up to the quick and dirty review of my fountain pens, which can be found here. I would like to start this series of reviews (hopefully, I have to find the time) with a more detailed look at the S.T. Dupont Ellipsis. I have posted a few photos in this review, but I'll try to add some more later on. The Ellipsis comes packaged in the traditional red leather S.T. Dupont box, a beauty in itself. The box comes with a dark wine red carton from S.T. Dupont, with stickers denoting the particular pen model. This is the Ellipsis in composite material with platinum finish. The pen looks big and a bit austere in black with platinum accents. Visible are all of the usual S.T. Dupont markings: S.T. Dupont Paris engraved on the central ring and the number (+ the Made in France text) engraved on the clip. Despite its size this pen feels light because of the material used. The cap comes off easily and when you put it back it rewards you with a nice, soft click. A nice looking, distinguished pen. The photo below shows it next to the TWSBI Diamond 580 (a massive pen if you have it in your hand and realize how much ink it holds). As you can see the Ellipsis is slightly longer than the TWSBI. Uncapped this is the same, the lower half of the S.T. Dupont is slightly longer. On the box it says that the material used is composite with platinum finish details. The composite looks black, but if you hold it in front of a strong light it is actually more like a very dark translucent purple. It's almost a pity that they didn't make it a lighter shade, as the purple is really beautiful to see. Most people will not notice this directly when they hold this pen. As I said before, the material feels light, like plastic. The look isn't like plastic though, but more like certain resins that we know from other fountain pens. To the touch, this material feels nice and it provides a good grip for writing. Although the composite is definitely not comparable to the distinguished look of lacquer or metal, which a lot of the other S.T. Dupont pens use, this material seems quite sturdy and it doesn't really scratch easily as far as I can make out. When I unscrewed the bottom half to get to the converter I noticed that the screw thread is in the same material. Some of my other pens have a metal screw thread on the lower half, but apparently that is not needed here. The thickness of the composite is approximately 1mm and it feels quite hard and stiff. Hopefully it proves to be as durable as it looks. Once the nib section and bottom half are unscrewed you notice that the nib section is quite heavy compared to the bottom half. This is a result of the metal used in this section, mainly visible in the sturdy looking metal screw thread. The pen has a good wide grip, suitable for bigger hands and not as thin as what you would have on e.g. a S.T. Dupont classique fountain pen. The cap has a broad clip, split in the middle, which lies on top of the cap and is secured to the inside of the cap by means of a small metal protrusion. It is flexible enough, but doesn't have the spring that some of the other S.T. Dupont models have in their clip. The look of the pen is modern. I think this is a result of the materials used (black and platinum), the clip and the overall shape. It reminds me of a cigar or a torpedo. One thing I would have changed is the small metal section on the bottom part. It is needed, because of the converter, but it disturbs the evenly shaped lines. When you write with the pen it is big and heavy enough to use uncapped. If you cap the pen you notice that the cap doesn't really get a good grip on the bottom half, so it's actually a bit uncomfortable to use it like this, because you feel the cap moving. The pen does not chafe against the hand capped or uncapped. The nib is a medium size, on the fine side of medium. It is made of 18K white gold (in my quick and dirty review I mistakenly mentioned 14K). It writes pretty smooth, but not as good as my old S.T. Dupont classique or my new TWSBI Diamond 580. The ink flow is good, but there are moments on certain papers where you wish for a bit more flow. The nib is slightly flexible. When you use it upside down you get Fine writing, but the nib feels a bit scratchy then. As far as I know I can't easily remove this nib to service it or replace it. Given the cost of a S.T. Dupont fountain pen I am not going to try this anyway. Engraved on the nib are the S.T. Dupont 'D', 18K, 750 and the M for medium. On the photo, just above the nib, you can see a small chip in the material (plated gold/platinum??) just above the composite. This is a thing I have seen with one of my other S.T. Dupont pens (the Montparnasse) too. The material will sometimes deteriorate. It is one of the reasons that make me love the older S.T. Dupont fountain pens. They didn't seem to have this problem. The pen uses cartridges or a converter, which in itself is pretty standard on all S.T. Dupont pens nowadays. It works well, nothing special really. I filled it with Pelikan 4001 ink. I bought this pen a while ago in an auction for about 70 euros or so. For the sort of pen this is I feel I got a good value for money. One thing I notice though as an owner of multiple S.T. Dupont fountain pens, is that I like the quality of the older pens (late 70's) better than what they produce nowadays. The old pens seem to write smoother and I prefer the more distinguished looks they have. I'll show some examples of that in one of my later reviews. In the writing example you can clearly see that the nib on the Ellipsis is a medium. You might also notice on the last word that the horizontal line of the t is a bit scratchy to start with. This is one of the things that I noticed on the Ellipsis: the ink flow is not as good as on some of my other fountain pens, where you can write as fast as you like. On certain papers, this pen struggles slightly with the ink flow. All in all a very nice pen, when used for light writing. For longer periods I would prefer the TWSBI, the Platinum or the old S.T. Dupont silver classique, which I showed in my other review (see link above).