Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stypen Elite SP 13109

Today’s post will spare you from more adventures of two Japanese ladies on holiday at the beach. In fact, there hasn’t been much to speak of on that topic today; swimming, eating, lounging about and that’s pretty much it.

My sister (the near-professional cook) was going through a box of miscellaneous stuff last week and came upon a fountain pen still in its box, crumpled though it was. The appearance of the box made her think it was an old pen, and knowing little about fountain pens, she gave it to me saying it was very old.

To my knowledge, there is no such thing as a ‘very old’ Stypen, which is what I found inside the crumpled box. The pen is not old at all, and is a Stypen Elite SP 13109 in a carbon blue finish, with aluminum top and cap, and chrome pocket clip. It has a steel iridium-tipped medium nib and measures 4.5 inches closed, 5 inches posted. The outstanding feature on this inexpensive fountain pen is the retractable nib. One brief I read described the Elite as resembling the Waterman safety pens of years back. Too small for a converter, it takes a standard short international cartridge.

I filled a short cartridge with Montblanc Royal Blue ink, but then couldn’t get so much as a squiggle of ink on paper. I tried getting it started by dipping the nib into the bottle, but as soon as that drop of ink was exhausted, the pen was again dry, despite the full standard short cartridge. So, I removed the cartridge and put the nib into a bath of distilled water in my Citizen ultrasonic cleaner, running it through several three minute cycles. That did the trick.

The Stypen Elite is definitely an entry level fountain pen, but really not a bad pen in any sense. The steel nib lays down a wet line, and does everything a solid, basic fountain pen should. The 5 inch length is a little short for my hand, but then my hand is kind of large. I once traveled for several weeks with a larger Paris Colors Stypen, and during my time on the road wrote daily for two or three hours with never a miss, or a griping nib. It was a good and trusted workhorse pen, one that I still have, though use now only as a dip pen for looking at ink colors on paper.

Interesting to me that Stypen is the French arm of Bic pens. You would have to hold a gun to my head to get me to pick up a Bic ballpoint. Despite that, I do believe the Stypen Elite is an excellent fountain pen for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a high quality pen.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America