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1930's Pilot N30 Fountain Pen?


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Hi Forum Folke,


First off, apologies if this is posted in the wrong forum.


I stumbled across this oldie at a yard sale. I wasn't expecting much based on it's looks, but I'll at least examine pretty much any fountain pen I find... you just never know, y'know? It's seen its share of use, and obviously has been banging around for quite some time, but there's no real damage, just age wear. the clip is straight and holds firm, there's no chew marks or any heavy gouges anywhere, no cracks or heavy scratching or distortions... the worst problem it had was that the gold-plating had all but disappeared due to corrosion of the brass (?) cap ring, and even that wasn't too bad... a little polishing and the corrosion became more like a browned (as opposed to blued) gun finish, with little flecks of gold here and there. Just an obviously old pen... hey, I wish I looked that good at 65! Anyway, I was very surprised to find that it had a very flexible steel nib! I immediately bought it for the princely sum of one dollar; hey, even if I couldn't get it to work as a fountain pen, it would make a nice dip pen, with a nib like that!.


Got it home and tore it down... what a weird pen! The cap unscrews, the barrel is a soft friction-fit to the section, easily removed but holding rock-solid during use; I'm used to the kind of fit that requires heat and tools to remove! I'm guessing that given the way it fills, a really tight fitting section would be a sales-killer. What looks like a cartridge is actually a screw-on reservoir that is dropper-filled (more on that in a minute), and holds an enormous volume of ink, practically the full volume of the barrel. And there's this really weird feed that extends almost the full length of the reservoir, cylindrical with a flat face on it, with three parallel grooves running along its full length. The section-end of the barrel is clear for about an inch, so you can see the ink level, or would be able to, if the reservoir hadn't been so stained with ink that it's almost opaque.





The barrel impression is quite legible: PILOT THE PILOT PEN (logo) MFG. CO., LTD. MADE IN JAPAN. The logo is a crossed circle with a smaller circle within, and the letter "N" inside that inner circle. Never seen it before. I believe that the "N" stands for "Namiki," but have no proof of that beyond a hunch.




Contacted Pilot USA and sent them pics of the pen, with talced impression for legibility, asking for any information they might have on it. Took awhile, but I finally got a sparse reply. Turns out it's a model "N30," manufactured from 1934 to 1939. The fill system was weird, too... from the tiny picture, it appears that the barrel screwed into the special cap of the ink bottle which was then inverted... I'd love to see the instruction sheet that originally came with it. Now all I have to do is find one of those old bottles!




Anyway, I'm hoping that somebody in this forum might have more information than the scrap I got from Pilot. This thing writes beautifully; I can write copperplate hand with no trouble at all; fine, fine hairlines and thick swells are no problem at all. In fact, the only problem at all is a tendency for the ink to accumulate in the feed, and eventually a drop of ink will fall from it. The first time it happened it was a problem... after that, I just give it a light 'twitch' over a napkin or something and occasionally I'll get a drop, but not too often. Forewarned is forearmed! It's a daily writer at this point. I wish it was a carrier, too, but if it gets too warm (read: left in a black car on a 90+ degree day), it will leak ink into the cap due to ink expansion and no real venting. Acceptable trade-offs, for me, given the way it writes. I have some old gold-nib flex pens that don't write as nicely as this one, with its plane-Jane Warranted steel nib.


Thanks for slogging through this long post, and I'm really hoping someone can provide more info or possible leads to same!

Edited by kharrisma
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Thanks so much, Bruno, for that link! That's the pen, alright. Mine has a LOT more wear than the one in that article, but despite it's rough exterior, it still writes like it was new. I'm a user more than a collector, anyway. I've passed on some really nice vintage fountain pens that while visually perfect, nevertheless had some flaw that rendered them unsuitable for actual use. As long as I can write with it, I can forgive a great deal of wear that collectors might find objectionable.


Thanks again for that link!

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