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Garant Alkor 14K


txomsy
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This is a long due review. I promised (well I thought I had promised) it almost one year ago, when I posted the review on the Garant Nilor with an Jrid nib. Then I thought this one was also a Nilor but with a 14K nib. It wasn't (although it is often described as such on eBay).

 

Actually, this review is about a Garant Alkor with a 14K nib.

 

To cut a long story short, I have two Garant Alkor pens with 14K nib and one with a steel nib. The two I got with 14K nib have proven both excellent pens, rather flexible, pleasant to use and consistently very nice. I can but strongly recommend them if you can find them.

 

I will not get into much detail about the Garant brand. It was one of the hundreds of German brands that existed in the mid XX Century. It has sometimes been dubbed the MB of the DDR, and from my limited experience, it has very good quality. Typically you can find three main models on the Bay: the Garant Silor, which seems to be the lower end, the Garant Nilor which seems to be a middle line and the Garant Alkor which would be the higher end. They are piston fillers with a cigar shape, black, with gold-plated metallic rings to add some accent.

 

ADDED: there are other Garant pens, like the Sator, but these are cartridge or converter pens, not piston fillers and more recent.

 

The Garant Silor typically has one ring on the base of the cap, and plane ends, the Garant Nilor is seen having either one or two rings (I haven't been able to ascertain if they imply any difference or is just a matter of the time they were made --most likely) and curvy ends, and the Garant Alkor has three rings and stairstep shaped ends. The first two (Silor and Nilor) have a typical cigar, oval shape, but the Alkor ends are flatter. The garant Alkor is the biggest of the three and, like the Silor, also has a ring in the rear cap (the one the covers the piston knob). All are made of black plastic/resin. Nibs may come in three types: stainless steel, Jrid (which is also stainless steel) and 14K gold.

 

These pens were made around of after WWII, most likely in the 40's to 60's and they (well the ones I have) show clear signs of aging.

 

fpn_1577359930__garant_alkor_01-small.jp

 

As you can see, it has a rather flexible nib, it is soft and springy and goes easily from a medium to a B or BB line. If used with light pressure it can lay an F line. It has become one of my favorite pens, to the point I got two of them (i.e. two Garant Alkor with 14K nibs). Both have proven flexible. So, from my very limited (2 out of 2) experience, it seems these 14K gold nib pens have a good chance of being flexible. I also got a Garant Alkor with a steel nib, but it is less flexible and will constitute the subject of another review.

 

On the image above you can see how it flexes without applying much force, actually it was rather effortless and I have to write with very light pressure if I do not want line variation.

 

fpn_1577360339__garant_alkor_02-small.jp

 

The pen is 13-14 cm capped, so it is rather large, actually, it is the largest Garant pen I know of. As you can see, it is black, cast in resin, and instead of the round or pointy ends of the Nilor, or the plane ends of the Silor, it has flatter/stair step ends. It is rather sober, without distinguishing marks (other than the logo on the nib and the three rings at the base of the cap.

 

fpn_1577360504__garant_alkor_03-small.jp

 

It is large enough to feel comfortable when used unposted (and I actually do not post them). It has a green striated ink window.

 

As you can see in the image below, this one has had a hard life, the nib is heavily battered, and the rings and clip have almost completely lost the golden plating. Yet, it still looks well and works flawlessly.

 

The nib is inscribed with GARANT, underneath, 14 KARAT, below that 585, and below, a G inscribed in a circle.

 

fpn_1577360628__garant_alkor_04-small.jp

 

 

I apologize for the low quality pictures, they were taken with my cheap cell phone and using a magnifying glass over the lens to obtain a closer image.

 

In the next one you can appreciate better the ink window and the cap, with its three rings and its Pelikan-like beak shaped clip, as well as the heavy use this pen has endured. The cap is a screw-on cap that fits with about 1 - 1 1/2 turns.

 

fpn_1577360832__garant_alkor_05-small.jp

 

The piston is manoeuvered with a knob that is hidden by a rear cap. To manipulate the piston, you unscrew the rear cap to discover the knob and then just fill with ink like any other piston filler. Here you can see the pen with both caps unscrewed. It is evident as well that the metal rings have suffered a heavy discoloration, which does not surprise me seeing as to how the nib looks beaten as well.

 

fpn_1577360942__garant_alkor_07-small.jp

 

 

The next two pictures are from my other Garant Alkor with a 14K nib. I apologize again for the low quality. Here you can appreciate the golden plating in the rings, which is still partially preserved:

 

fpn_1577361253__garant_alkor_08-small.jp

 

fpn_1577361389__garant_alkor_10-small.jp

 

All in all, it is a light pen, comfortable, unpretentious, elegant and soft to write with, with just a tad of feedback, which make it -for me- a pleasure to use, to the point that it has become an EDC (every day carry, for those who wonder at acronyms) pen that is often in a leather sleeve in my shirt pocket.

 

As you can see, the ones I have have lost much of their original lustre. I do not normally care about appariences and do pay much more attention to the feeling I get, which with this pen I must say has been amazing until now.

 

So, how would I rate these pens? Very high. The nib is excellent. They are piston fillers that work perfectly after all these years (probably 60-70+), show wear and tear, but hey, what's to be expected given their age? And actually they show they have been heavily used, which adds as a bonus to value their built quality. If you like minimalist designs as I do, they are lovely, but that is a matter of taste. Personally, I prefer not to rate it, as most factors are heavily subjective, but they are well worth their price (which usually is about au pair with a Garant Nilor.

 

Actually, I would say they are better than the Garant Nilor, at a similar price, but of course YMMV. Anyway I find them strongly recommendable.

 

EDITED to fix typos, ortography and errors.

Edited by txomsy
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Thanks for the review! This sounds like my sort of pen. I will add it to the (ever expanding) list.

As both you and Mannyonpil indicated; I appreciate pens with signs of careful use (not abuse!), showing the patina of a valued tool. It is similar in a way to older stringed instruments and bows.

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Yes, I think that that is indeed the charm of some modern Kawecos, like the Stonewashed AL Sports (which come pre-aged) and the Brass or Copper Sport and Liliput (which acquire an individuality of themselves with use). I must say that I did love the looks of my copper Liliput when I bought it (it was a pinkish, luminous copper color) but as it ages, it is getting a character of its own that feels cozy and warm.

 

I must be some sort of weirdo, I suspect. In the modern world, someone who values the wrinkles of age appreciating them as signs of something valuable (age), is an anomaly. Seems everything must always be shiny and terse as it was when new and everybody should strive for eternal youth.

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In the modern world, someone who values the wrinkles of age appreciating them as signs of something valuable (age), is an anomaly. Seems everything must always be shiny and terse as it was when new and everybody should strive for eternal youth.

I suspect that is just a "sign of the times" in a rampantly consumerist world with ever-increasing access to (new and newly-manufactured) products. As for "the wrinkles of age", it really depends on the item on which they're seen; there are still some that believe in the appeal and implied prestige of once expensive and rare items that has shown signs of decades of wear and tear; it's not about the history or heritage of just any old object, but (the fact or illusion) that those uncommon possessions of class have been in one's family for all that time. It's really the newly affluent that are more likely to want to undervalue such things.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks.

 

Oddly, I just discovered that if I do right-click on the image and select "View Image", then it (the image) opens in the correct orientation and can be better seen.

 

I realize also that I may have been too assertive. I cannot really tell how many more models there are, what I can say is that on eBay, the models one can currently find seem to be the ones mentioned. I also think that, judging from the ones I've seen, there must be several versions of the same model, but do n ot have enough information to further distinguish or date them.

 

Hopefully, someone from East Europe may chime in and provide more details.

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Adding a little more information: I've been seeking more details and found very little. One interesting find was an ad for a Garant Alkor with rubber sac and lever filler dating from the 30's. So it seems that the model had a very long life and went through various incarnations.

 

I also found and ad "VINTAGE SENATOR PROFFESIONAL GERMANY BLUE PISTON FILLER 14K NIB FOUNTAIN PEN" with a pen that unmistakably looks like an alkor on a reddish Garant box. Garant alkor with golden lined black boxes are also to be seen.

 

The producer of these pens seems to be a company named Garant-Werk Erich Mucke, Leipzig. I haven't been able to find much about it other than it produced pens in qualities claimed to be au pair with other contemporary top of the line German brands.

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  • 2 years later...

I happened upon a Garant Alkor recently, and I made a write-up about what I find and how to service the piston filler.

 

Because this thread came up on my search, why not put a link to my write up here so the related info can be found easily.

 

That, and thank you @txomsy for the great review of the pen.

 

Here's my write up.

- Will
Restored Pens and Sketches on Instagram @redeempens

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I understand how one needs to disassemble a mechanism to understand it before acting on it. And the work you did is (to me) astonishing. Wish I were so bold as to try myself.

 

However, once you did it, and based on your experience and discovered knowledge, I think I can come up with a better suggestion to solve the problem:

 

The nib is housed in a nib unit that screws in the section. It is a white plastic envelope where the nib and feed are friction fit and that screws in and out without much effort (in mines, Alkor and Nilor, easily). One can see pictures in some eBay ads.

 

Now, coupling both observations, I think it might be a lot easier, if the piston needs some silicon grease, to just turn the knob to get the piston until one can see it in the middle of the ink window, then unscrew the nib unit, pick a tiny amount of silicon grease with the tip of a toothpick and very carefully, apply it around the piston. Then screw in the nib unit back again,  finish turning the piston to ensure it is well greased and try to see if it draws in some ink. With a bit of luck one would avoid disassembly.

 

VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I have not tried this myself (no need so far), so I cannot guarantee it will work or be detrimental. But it should be simpler and may be worth a try.

 

NOTE: I think I added some historical info on the Garant brand that I could gather from the Net on some review of the Garant Nilor, here on FPN. Just in case anyone is interested, it makes for an instructive history.

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@txomsy Absolutely. Your suggestion probably works just fine and it would be a shorter path to apply some silicone grease on the seal, may or may not be enough, but the point stays valid.

 

However, to give you a bit of background, I have an affinity towards piston-filler designs, and with these old German piston-fillers, I kept discovering new ones, which fascinates me.

 

Also, this is not my first time guessing how to disassemble 75 years old pen, I've had practice 😁

 

So being able to safely disassemble this pen was another discovery that I really enjoyed. And documenting it is just more fun to be had. 😄

- Will
Restored Pens and Sketches on Instagram @redeempens

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  • 1 month later...

A short anecdote.

 

It's been a helluva hot summer here. I left several pens inked before going for two-week holidays... and then took me one more to pick them up again.

 

All had dried up (a Montblanc, a Pelikan, a Lamy and an old Swam) to some extent, some totally, some needed priming, except for the Garant Alkor, which started writing straight away.

 

I found that surprising for it has a breather hole and is old and has a large nib and all that... yet it won on this case. Of course, YMMV.

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