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Celluloid - How To Identify



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I was in a pen shop and asked to see some celluloid pens.

 

While they were beautiful, i could not make out the difference between a celluloid and a resin pen. I was seeing a bunch of leftover Omas.

When i asked the shop keeper- they said it was based on the label they had received.

 

I was wondering if there is any other way of identifying celluloid pens made by Omas. labeling differentiation is a bit risk as that could undergo some human error.

 

Many thanks in advance ...

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Someone please correct me on this but from the top of my head:

1) Celluloid pens have a camphor/mothball smell, the smell can lessen over the years but it will always be there. If you can try rubbing the pen in your hand until it's warm and then smell it.
2) Warm to the touch

3) Celluloid has a depth to it distinct from resin/arcylic pens. It's hard to describe and it's only something you can tell if you've dealt with pens for a while.

Edited by Alteyz
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These are not Omas but Montegrappa. One pen is resin, the others celluloid.

 

http://www.fototime.com/BDCD60D9C0C135F/large.jpg

 

My Website

 

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Someone please correct me on this but from the top of my head:

 

1) Celluloid pens have a camphor/mothball smell, the smell can lessen over the years but it will always be there. If you can try rubbing the pen in your hand until it's warm and then smell it.

2) Warm to the touch

3) Celluloid has a depth to it distinct from resin/arcylic pens. It's hard to describe and it's only something you can tell if you've dealt with pens for a while.

 

Camphor was used as a plasticizing agent in celluloids ages ago and is a primary cause of the problems many people associate with old celluloid. I doubt that it is to be found in many of today's celluloid pens; and where it is used, the curing will be for such a long time that easy detection will be near-impossible. So sniffing pens is likely to be an unfruitful task.

 

I have owned and regularly handled several modern celluloid pens. I have never been able to detect any "warmth" that was different from my acrylic pens.

 

Depth is probably like beauty in a woman: people will see different things according to things they want to see or have been conditioned to see. Ages ago, it was possible to produce in celluloid colors, patterns, etc. that could not be produced in acrylic, but that is no longer the case.

 

To the OP: If you like the pen, buy it. You will probably pay more because it is celluloid, but that can be recovered in a resale. You can also then take pride in the ownership and post pictures here on FPN, which will get you responses like "congratulations! that is an amazing pen!".

Edited by FriendAmos
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I gather the pens you were considering are made by OMAS. The OMAS celluloid patterns are known and visually identifiable. If you post photos, there are several of us who can almost certainly identify them as celluloid or OMAS's "vegetal resin" materials. Alternatively, search this forum or the Pen Review forum for OMAS threads. You may see photos of pens that use the materials you saw and are identified.

 

Good luck.

 

David

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David is right. The photos below show some Omas celluloids and some vegetal resin Omas pens. This is certainly not all of the wide variety of pens they make or materials they use, but may help you determine what you are seeing. If you can post pictures, you should be able to get a definitive answer.

 

Celluloids:

 

http://www.fototime.com/%7B3846E0B3-4B07-4714-8990-2ACB307FAF7C%7D/origpict/pens.jpg

 

http://www.fototime.com/%7B1DA13E68-6B2E-4F87-A3F0-0E59E6092CD7%7D/origpict/1.jpg

 

Resins:

 

http://www.fototime.com/%7B4109570D-D357-46D8-B0A4-33B6F3B66C43%7D/origpict/O2.JPG

Edited by whichwatch
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Thank you again for sharing the Arlecchino pen. It is always a pleasure to see that celluloid, so casually sitting in a row of equally stunning examples

 

of Omas' beauties. I am happy just knowing they MADE that pen, even if I only observe it in other's collections. It says "Italian" to me in a way that

 

no other pen does.

Edited by Barkingpig
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Camphor was used as a plasticizing agent in celluloids ages ago and is a primary cause of the problems many people associate with old celluloid. I doubt that it is to be found in many of today's celluloid pens; and where it is used, the curing will be for such a long time that easy detection will be near-impossible. So sniffing pens is likely to be an unfruitful task.

 

All my modern celluloid pens smell of camphor.

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These are not Omas but Montegrappa. One pen is resin, the others celluloid.

 

http://www.fototime.com/BDCD60D9C0C135F/large.jpg

 

The middle one is made out of resin, correct? :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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Celluloid is, by definition, nitrated cellulose plasticized with camphor. That camphor will continue to sublimate for the life of the material, so no matter how old that celluloid is, it will still have a bit of that camphor smell, which will be more apparent when the surface is warmed and/or exposed to moisture.

 

Modern celluloids are no different in this regard. There are other cellulosic plastics, however -- notably, cellulose acetates -- that in recent years have been advertised as celluloid. This is incorrect and deceptive.

 

With experience, you will be able to tell celluloid apart from other plastics quite readily. Even blindfolded -- the difference in feel is real, and substantial.

 

Please note that "resin" is a rather meaningless term here: really just a fancier term for "plastic" (or "a plastic other than celluloid").

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Thank you for your replies

 

Maybe vintagepens I will be able to tell the difference with experience. But yes I could make out the vivid colours in the celluloid shown to me.

Did not know they are warm to touch but would not be able to make out the difference am sure.

 

Whichwatch the pens are beautiful.

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My two Purple Web Celluloid Pearls, by Edison, had a warm almost alive feel to the plastic & the very pleasant smell of camphor gassing off every time I uncapped these pens. :rolleyes: I always took a sniff. The blanks were made by American Art Plastics & were supposed to be fully cured before pen production.

*Sailor 1911S, Black/gold, 14k. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *1911S blue "Colours", 14k. H-B "M" BLS (PB)

*2 Sailor 1911S Burgundy/gold: 14k. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 14k. 1.1 mm. CI (JM)

*Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Spec. Ed. "Fire",14k. (factory) "H-B"

*Kaweco SPECIAL FP: 14k. "B",-0.6 mm BLS & 14k."M" 0.4 mm. BLS (PB)

*Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14k. "M" -0.7 mm.BLS, (PB)

 

 

 

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I have celluloids from Delta and OMAS, and I cannot smell any camphor. Perhaps that is my nose. But there have been other threads here with people stating that they cannot smell camphor in their celluloid pens, e.g. https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/128185-celluloid-smell/

 

Here is one specific to OMAS:

 

"Hi there! I am curious to know if the celluloid that OMAS manufactures and uses for their pens is the older, flammable nitrocellulose type or the cellulose acetate type. I know it's the former if you can smell camphor, but my two celluloid OMAS pens don't have any detectable camphor scent."

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/298089-omas-celluloid-type/

 

So am not alone. But we leave it to the OP to go take a whiff and decide for itself.

 

As for feeling "warm", that is meaningless. Can one even attempt a scientific explanation?

 

In general, it is a well known fact that "psychological conditioning" can produce interesting expectations.

 

"a plastic other than celluloid": It "resin" is understood that way, then it serves as a useful abbreviation and is therefore not meaningless.

Edited by FriendAmos
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I have been enjoying these posts but thought I must have been crazy to have never noticed a camphor smell amongst my pens; I JUST uncapped the only celluloid Omas pens I have & after a good sniff.............found IT!

 

I have never noticed it when using the pens, one for almost three years & another for 2 years, BUT I really never sniffed the inside of the cap, nor section stored inside the cap. It was only noticeable in the "enclosed" parts of the pen, NOT in the body of the pen exposed to daily atmosphere.

 

AND I am well familiar with the smell of camphor; I grew up in a house with a camphor bottle on my Mother's chest of drawers & remember the same from both my Grandmother's chests. I strangely NEVER remember ANY of the above ever attempting revival of anyone with a "good WHIFF," but happy to know I could offer a whiff of my pen instead of looking for a "cake of camphor," to dissolve in alcohol!

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When a material feels warm to the touch, it has to do with thermal conductivity. Silver, for example, has very high thermal conductivity. It feels cold to the touch. Wood is the opposite.

 

I don't have the link handy at the moment, but Brian Gray did some blind testing of materials to see if people could differentiate common pen plastics from each other by touch alone. Sure enough, they could -- and with great accuracy.

 

 

I have celluloids from Delta and OMAS, and I cannot smell any camphor. Perhaps that is my nose. But there have been other threads here with people stating that they cannot smell camphor in their celluloid pens, e.g. https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/128185-celluloid-smell/

 

Here is one specific to OMAS:

 

"Hi there! I am curious to know if the celluloid that OMAS manufactures and uses for their pens is the older, flammable nitrocellulose type or the cellulose acetate type. I know it's the former if you can smell camphor, but my two celluloid OMAS pens don't have any detectable camphor scent."

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/298089-omas-celluloid-type/

 

So am not alone. But we leave it to the OP to go take a whiff and decide for itself.

 

As for feeling "warm", that is meaningless. Can one even attempt a scientific explanation?

 

In general, it is a well known fact that "psychological conditioning" can produce interesting expectations.

 

"a plastic other than celluloid": It "resin" is understood that way, then it serves as a useful abbreviation and is therefore not meaningless.

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When a material feels warm to the touch, it has to do with thermal conductivity. Silver, for example, has very high thermal conductivity. It feels cold to the touch. Wood is the opposite.

 

I don't have the link handy at the moment, but Brian Gray did some blind testing of materials to see if people could differentiate common pen plastics from each other by touch alone. Sure enough, they could -- and with great accuracy.

 

 

 

On the basis of thermal conductivity, any more "warmth" in celluloid pens over acrylic pens exists only in the heads of those claiming it.

 

On Brian's experiment, my initial reaction would be to call it bogus, but I await the link,

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As for feeling "warm", that is meaningless. Can one even attempt a scientific explanation?

 

Difference in thermal conductivity of the material, eg. if you leave a piece of metal and a plastic pen in a room for a few hours both of the materials will reach room temperature, but the metal will feel much colder to the touch than the plastic pen even though both will be at the same temperature.

Edited by Alteyz
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Difference in thermal conductivity of the material, eg. if you leave a piece of metal and a plastic pen in a room for a few hours both of the materials will reach room temperature, but the metal will feel much colder to the touch than the plastic pen even though both will be at the same temperature.

 

I know what thermal conductivity is, and Vintage pens above has also chimed in with that. Did you have anything new, or did you just want to show that you you know what it is about? In the matter of "warm" plastic pens, see my response aboove.

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