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Elite

Maker: Pilot.

This format of pen is known as a long/short, something that was developed in Japan in the 1960s in what one assumes is a response to a shortage of material to make shirt pockets out of.  When posted, the extremely long section and cap combine to form a pen more than long enough for easy use, as seen in the portrait below, while when capped there is such a tiny stub of barrel showing that even the most wizened, atrophied shirt pocket could easily contain it.

Pilot was late to the party with this style of pen, the Elite coming out well after the initial Sailor entry and Platinum’s quick follow-up. It doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of advantage out of the delay– it’s a good pen, but hardly a huge improvement on the other companies’ efforts.  There were many variations in point width and stiffness, making it difficult to speak about the general writing qualities other than… pretty good, really.  My own examples are both relatively firm, one is likely steel and the other labelled SCRIPT (which was meant for long writing sessions rather than artistic expression).

Production Run: 1968 – c. 1980; the first is based on a reliable but single source, the latter is a miserable, almost unfounded guess.  I will happily accept correction, if you’ve got actual data. Update: Pilot has restarted production of this model; I wasn’t paying quite enough attention to say exactly when, but if not in 2014 then in the latter part of 2013.

Cost When New: A known Japanese production model from 1976 shows a sticker of ¥3,000. In 1970, that would be the equivalent of about $10.00 (for modern value, try this calculator). If it were available for export, the price would likely be higher outside Japan; the cost of living was radically lower in Japan then, to the point that it was viewed much as China is now as a source of cheaply made but relatively advanced consumer goods. The restarted Elite 95S costs ¥10,000.

Size: My examples are two different sizes. The possibly-ladies’ model is 11.5cm capped, 14.1 cm posted, 10.2 cm uncapped while the maybe-men’s version is 12.1 cm long capped, 14.7 cm posted, 10.7 cm uncapped (not that one would use it that way, regardless). Section and barrel are both slightly bigger in the longer one. I’ve not had a chance to measure the modern production.

Point: My black example is semi-hooded, which obscures markings, and I haven’t satisfied myself whether it’s steel or gold. 18 K is present in my white version (made in 1970, during the “gold war“), 14K points are certainly known (that ’76 model mentioned above certainly had one of the latter), and 14K are the standard in current production.

Body: Polystyrene.

Filler: The 1970 model admits the current cartridge, as well as the CON-20 press-bar type (0.7ml) converter (I’ll assume for the moment that the modern version is the same). The black pen uses a cartridge the capacity of which I don’t know; it’s not the same as current Pilot cartridges, which do not fit.  It has a very specific screw-in converter, capacity 0.6 ml.

Pilot Elite,  – a very comfortable length when posted. I have a vague suspicion from the cap decor and clip shape that this is a “ladies” version. I also don’t care much, and will happily be seen writing with it in public. Date code KE11, so it came out on 11 May 1970.

There are few pockets this pen will overburden. You may, depending on your powers of zooming someone else’s image, be able to see the 18K indicator in the triangular mark on the barrel.

This is probably Korean production.

It’s also very compact when closed. This is a more typical Pilot clip shape, regardless of where it was made.

 

 

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