Sunday, September 12, 2010

Superman’s Fountain Pen

Back fiddling with fountain pens, still not done with the checking out of my friend’s collection. I’ve had eyes and hands on one today that honestly provoked some surprise, since I never before associated the name Alfred Dunhill with fountain pens. But I’ve learned there is a long list of Alfred Dunhill pens, and judging from the Dunhill AD2000 Carbon Fiber pen here before me, high quality is the name of the game.

The AD2000 Carbon Fiber is Swiss made, but more manufacturer detail than that I can’t offer. I discovered the fact of its Swiss origins from the tiny SWISS MADE stamp on the underside of the pocket clip.

The dominant feature of the pen is its carbon fiber barrel and cap, a heavy and super strong material. The term ‘carbon fiber’ was familiar, but not in any sort of real understanding of what it is. Carbon fiber is another of those miracle products from US military-industrial research of the late 50s, early 60s. In those days it was the exclusive domain of Air Force jets. These days it’s quite common in things like tennis rackets, mountain bikes, fishing rods, racing yacht masts, and yes, fountain pens. Here’s how they do it: Graphite, the same ‘lead’ we use in pencils is baked in an oven heated to a few hundred degrees centigrade. The result is thin, enormously strong fibers that are nine times stronger than aluminum and thirty times stronger than steel. A fountain pen made of this material is virtually unbreakable and leakproof at any altitude. Like a diamond (which is pure carbon), the strength comes from a simple structure. The fibers don’t stretch or compress; wrap them together and they won’t bend. The Dunhill AD2000 was the first pen to utilize carbon fiber and might be the pen you would find in Superman’s pocket.

It was first produced in 1995, and has since been discontinued. This is why most of those you find for sale are going to be expensive. Looking at thirty or so online sites showed prices around $800, and often more.

The AD2000 uses a push type converter, one which you press on the top and pump two or three times rather than turning, a Pilot converter, I believe. It holds a generous amount of ink.

The nib is 18k and I’m almost certain is Rhodium-plated. But I did read one description that called it white gold. Mmm…not sure of that. It is an M nib, which in my hand writes a little stiff, has little glide, or none of the buttery movement I personally like. Have to say, it looks good on the page, or at least it does in the Sailor Hearth Red (Irori) I tested the pen with.

Unable to find the information from Dunhill or other websites, I am going to say that the clip and top of the cap, as well as the small cap at the top of the barrel are not silver, but brushed aluminum. The center band engraved with ALFRED DUNHILL looks more like silver. Here again, as with the nib, I could be mistaken.

This is a large, bullet-shaped fountain pen, solid and heavy. Capped, it measures 15cm, and slightly over 16cm posted. It feels good in my large hand, and is a pen I would enjoy owning, though I might balk at the high price. If you have it to spare, the Dunhill AD2000 would, in my opinion, be a solid buy.

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