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Varsity

Maker: Pilot.

This is the cheapest pen Pilot makes, and you can take “cheap” however you wish.  It is, in fact, meant to be disposable, which is a notion I personally don’t like to associate with fountain pens as a class.  What one gets is a tube of ink, similar to the barrel of the inexpensive roller-balls Pilot also offers, with the same point and feed as the Petit 1 crammed into one end of it.  The feed involves the same odd wick-based ink transport as the Petit 1, and as a result, Pilot appears to not accept it as quite a fountain pen– it does appear on the fountain pen page of their site, but in a segregated area below the inks where it is described as “Felt-tip pen type of fountain pen” (it’s not concise in the original, either: 万年筆タイプのサインペン).

Actually, I’m being a little unfair in my first sentence, as the one use of “cheap” one cannot apply to it is “too poorly made to be worth its cost.”  As loath as I am to admit the mere existence of a disposable fountain pen, this is an excellent test bed for someone who is curious about  the breed but doesn’t want to invest much money in a trial pen.  The point, although sadly cheap-looking, is hard to fault functionally.  Because the pen is shipped full and might stand on a shelf for a long time before purchase, the cap seal is remarkably good, making this one of the few fountain pens one can neglect for months at a time without concern.  Of course, the disposability of the thing also reduces the consequences of long-term neglect.

Production Run: A kind informant managed to dig 1988 out of Pilot’s website at the initial year of production, which continues to the present.

Cost When New: MSRP for 2014 is ¥200 in Japan (where it goes by “V-Pen”); the company’s US site suggests $3.68 each, with slight reductions for bulk purchases.

Size: 13.8 cm long capped, 15.0 cm posted, 11.6 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: None– sealed at factory, capacity approx. 2.5 ml.  It is possible to refill the pen either by hauling out the point and feed with pliers, or with the rather clever technique described here.

Pilot Varsity in its current livery.  The V-Pen is a little brighter.

Pilot Varsity in its current livery; the name lies over a translucent area which eventually shows the ink level. The V-Pen is a little brighter, with a colour scheme leaning on silver rather than black.

 

 

If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.

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