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Thread: Vintage Italian Pen Series by AltecGreen [Pic Heavy!]

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    Default Vintage Italian Pen Series by AltecGreen [Pic Heavy!]

    [Ed. Discussion of this thread can be had in the original topic found here. Updated through post #136]

    DanDeM said I should show off my vintage Italian pens. So I'm starting this series of posts where I will go through my collection and talk about some of my pens.




    So we kick things off with the pen that started me on the path of vintage Italian pens and vintage pens in general. I had fallen in love with the beauty of celluloid and had already acquired a number of modern Italian pens. One day I was browsing eBay and saw a pen for sale with a BIN. It was a vintage NOS Columbus 92 in a beautiful blue arco celluloid. I had not heard of Columbus and did some research. Columbus was one of the big 4-5 Italian companies and started around 1919. The company was known for high quality and beautiful celluloid. They were a big force until the early 1950's when they made the decision to go low end to survive. The company is still around but focuses on lower end pens.

    The pen itself was flawless. The celluloid was incredible and blew away any of the modern celluloid pens. The pen came with a true vintage flexible nib. I never turned back. I slowly phased out my interest in modern pens (except Nakaya) and switched to vintage pens.


    So here is the Columbus 92. The pen is from the late 1940's/early 1950's (before 1952) and is a piston filler. The pen itself is a vintage medium sized pen thus somewhat slim by modern standards.



    Highlighting the arco pattern. This pen is a pain to photograph. The celluloid is a deep rich blue with the veins of iridescent light blue.


    more of the pattern



    The true color is closer to this



    Here is the nib
    Last edited by dannzeman; June 24th, 2013 at 03:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    This pen is the Omas 361. It was introduced circa 1948 and was Omas' answer to the Parker 51. Omas took a different route than Aurora and their 88 pen. The key feature is a simple but effective hood that rotates allowing a firm and fully hooded nib in one position and full flex in the other. This pen in various forms was made into the 1960's. The pen comes in both the bronze arco and platinum arco. It also comes in black and burgundy resin. The body of my pen is in the classic faceted body with post-war trim of a single cap band and a non-roller clip. This pen also comes also with a round body and later ogival bodies. This pen comes in the classic platinum celluloid Omas has used since the early 1930's. Montblanc are also famous for using this material.











    fully hooded and stiff position




    Flex position




    Here's how it works

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    For today, I have a pair of pens made by Tibaldi. This would be the first Tibaldi. The original Tibaldi went out of business in 60's. They were revived in the nineties and sold pens that honored the original Tibaldi pens. That went under and was revived by the group that owns Montegrappa.

    The two pens are Tibaldi Trasparente in medium size. One cannot overlook the influence of Parker on the Italian pen industry. The Parker Vacumatic created a craze for pens with transparent bodies and non-sac filling systems. Almost all major Italian companies made pens that had transparent barrels. The Omas Lucens and Extra Lucens and the Aurora Optima come to mind. These pens came out in the mid-late 30's and are some of my favorite vintage Italian pens albeit they also come with a high price tag.















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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    For today since time is short, I have an Ancora #4 buttonfiller. Ancora is one of the five big Italian pen companies from the golden age to still survive today . As of a few years ago, Ancora was still making their own nibs so that already sets them apart.

    The Ancora buttonfillers and lever fillers were the medium budget pens in the Ancora range in the 1930's. They were below the faceted Damas and the round Maximas. The #4 was the large senior sized pen in the line. The shape of this pen is classic Italian; a shape duplicated by many of the great Italian pen makers. This is the shape I have in mind when I think of an Italian pen. Perfect balance and grace. This is one of the few vintage Italians in my collection that I ink up and use.

    The celluloid is called oriental azure or something like that. It has deep rich blue color set off by veins of gold. Quite elegant and one of my favorites.







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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    In keeping with yesterday's theme of large size round pens in gorgeous celluloid, I present today a senior sized Montegrappa Extra (ca. 1930's?). If you compare this Montegrappa and yesterdays Ancora, you can see the similarity in form. Classic Italian. This pen has a difference. The pen has a twist fill mechanism. It's basically a sac filler where the sac is depressed by twisting the rear knob. You do tend to find interesting variations on sac filling in vintage Italian pens. I'll get back to this point when I show a pen with a spoon filler.

    On a side note. Montegrappa was one of the big five Italian pen companies and exist to this day. Montegrappa was well known for mass production and making pens for other companies. They don't seem to have the same cachet as the other companies I've presented so far. I don't know any Italian pen collectors (at least in the US) that are too keen on Montegrappa. They certainly are not something I focus on. Nonetheless, the pens are still gorgeous.

    This pen attracts dust like no other.



    Green Celluloid



    Twist Fill knob




    Nib

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    I started this thread with a pen from each of the major vintage Italian makes. To round that off, I have today an Aurora from the late 1930's early 1940's. People are probably somewhat familiar with Aurora from their modern pens. Aurora like Omas was one of the early big Italian companies and one that survived to the present and still going strong. The Aurora Optima probably rings a bell since it is one of Aurora's flagship pens today. However, the Optima traces it's roots back to 1938 when Aurora introduced the Optima as their entry into the transparent barrel trend and as an answer to Omas' Lucens and Extra Lucens. The original Optima resembles the modern Optima with the Greek key band with a narrower profile. I actually do not have a first series Optima. What I have shown here is a later series three Optima with a really transparent barrel (a hallmark of the third series pens) and three cap band rings. The thrid series Optima can be found in a range of celluoids that resemble the Watrman Inkvue ray celluloids. The Optima also sported a Sheaffer style plunger filler, not uncommon for Italian pens of this era. Piston fillers only really took hold in Italy after WWII. Of course, this pen has the Aurora logo etched into the section like the modern pens.











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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    I missed yesterday's update due to coming home late from work and then watching the Golden Gods Awards (RIP Jeff Hanneman). To make up for that, I offer two pens today from makers that are probably not commonly discussed in the US.


    The first is a Radius Superior. Radius is one of the brands under the company S.A.F.I.S. based in Turin. Radius was their higher end line while Astura was their mid-range line. Radius started in the mid-30's and the Superior was one of heir first products. The Superior was made into the 50's albeit with several styling changes over the years. The early Superiors sported a very ornate triangle and lines cap band and the pens were made in both round and faceted versions. Of course, these pens were made in gorgeous celluloid. S.A.F.I.S. also made pens for third parties and heir pens can be seen in a lot of places under different names. Radius is not a bad place to start for people wanting to start collecting vintage Italian pens but are scared off by the price commanded by the more famous makes (i.e. like the pens I've shown so far) but with similar quality.

    Radius Superior in a dark brown arco celluloid.





    Unique capband











    The next pen is a Tabo Mentis. Tabo was a company based in Bologna, same as Omas. There is not that much information on Tabo. Pens with the Tabo name started appearing in 1939. The pen I am showing is a Tabo Mentis. This is a large button filler with a very nice celluloid pattern. Tabo also made a series of transparent barrel pens with a Parke Vac-like filling system and the ubiquitous lever filler. Other than that I don't really know much more about this pen.

    Tabo Mentis



    Wild celluloid pattern



    Mentis logo on a slightly darkened barrel.



    Tabo Nib

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    To change things up, the next pen I'm showing is a pen from the early 1930's. Specific pen stores are important in the development of Italian fountain pens. Many important stores commissioned pens from many of the major and minor pen makes. The pen I'm showing next was sold by Stilo Fetti in Rome. Fetti opened in 1893 and are still in business. In the early 1930's to the end of that decade, Fetti ordered pens from Omas. Like the pen I'm showing today, the early Fetti pens (FIPS) were clones of the Parker Duofold. The Parker Duofold was tremendously influential and many Italian makers started their business making Parker Duofold-like pens.


    The FIPS pen I own is in a classic blue and bronze celluloid.



    The top cap is slightly tapered and knurled



    Knurled blindcap



    The cap band is a single capband with two lines. Other FIPS pens had two cap bands that resemble Parker trim.





    I expect to be busy the rest of the day and tomorrow so I'll put up more pens today.

    Going in the opposite direction in time, we look at a post-war Columbus pen. After WWII, the Italian pens moved away from flat top and other classic pen designs towards a more streamlined and rounded look. It was also a time of re-building as many of the pen factories were destroyed or damaged during the war. Columbus introduced the lever filling model 55. This was a solidly built pen with an affordable price. It has the new streamlined look but kept the large variety of celluloids (much stock was saved and hoarded from the 1930's by Columbus). There is nothing fancy about this pen and uses the tried and true lever filler. The pen was a hit. These are very nice pens to use.

    The Columbus 55






    Logo



    These pens were made from sheets of celluloid that were rolled and sealed. This was much cheaper than lathe turning rod stock.



    The pens were available with gold nibs and gold trim or steel nibs and chrome trim




    They came in a wide variety of celluloid patterns

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    To start the week, I have some of most favorite vintage Italian pens to collect and use. Yes, I do use some of them.

    The pen is a Minerva Classica. Minerva is a sub-brand of Omas that sold very high quality pens that rival the quality of mainline Omas pens but with a twist. Most if not all of the major Italian companies has sub-brands in the golden age. Some were lower tier pens, some were meant for export, some were very high quality. Armando Simoni, the founder of Omas, kept the Omas line very conservative. There were not a lot of styling changes in the flagship Omas lines. However, the Minerva pens had many different body styles and trim that were never seen on the main line Omas pens. The Classica is a lever filler with a single cap band, a shovel clip, and very clean styling from the mid-1930's. The ones I own all have fabulous flexible nibs that are very fine (almost Japanese like). They came in many varieties of celluloid including three unique vertically striated celluloids.

    Minerva Classica is two sizes.



    Up close



    Vertically Striated Celluloid. The larger pen has some discoloration on the barrel. This pattern can also be found in blue.



    Minerva Logo



    Very fine nibs

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    A quick one for today.


    The pen is a Zemax. I'm not sure of the model. I'm not even sure Zemax had model numbers. Zemax was a company founded in 1934 in Turin by Massimo Zeme, hence the name Zemax. The pens are not quite equal to the quality of the major houses but the pens are of good quality, had interesting trim, and by all accounts were good value for the money at the time. The big attraction of this particular pens are the two rather intricate and ornate bands on the cap and barrel. The bands give the pen a very elegant look and is something not common in vintage pens. Modern on the otherhand.....




    barrel band



    cap band



    The pen has a celluloid section.

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Today's pen is a Williamson, the Italian Williamson.

    According to research, the founder of the Italian Williamson was an agent for the American Williamson and sold the American made pens in Italy. In the twenties, the Italian Williamson starting making pens in Turin and by all accounts took the American name and four clover logo as expediency. The Italian Williamsons most successful pens were from the thirties and were button fillers in ringed celluloid. The celluloid obviously invokes Parker but has a unique feel to it. They are very nice. Williamson also made safety pens and other celluloid pens. My pen is in a slick golden ringed celluloid and is in the large size.


    Williamson



    Williamson logo



    Stylized arrow clip. Kinda looks like a Stipula clip.



    Unfortnately, my pen does not have the original clip. It has an ABT (another Italian pen company) replacement.

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Since there was interest in pistonfillers, I have today a Montegrappa from the 1940's.

    By the forties, many Italian companies adopted the piston filler mechanism. These were produced along side other filling systems. This Montegrappa pen is kind of mid-range pen. It is medium sized and came in a variety of different celluloids. The Montegrappa pens sported a large ink window. In this pen, the ink window has a web pattern. I've seen other pens in this series with cross hatch markings on the ink window. This pen sports a steel nib and is possibly wartime production. The piston works pretty well and this is a nice user pen. There were fairly popular because they came in a wide variety of colors.















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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    The Columbus 130 series pens were the mainline pens from Columbus after the war. They were very successful and came in three sizes (130, 132, and 134) and in at least twelve different celluloids. One look at the 130 series and you will see the influence of the Wahl Evershap Skyline in the design of the 130 series pens. One of the post war trends in Italian design was towards a more rounded and streamlined shape and away from the classic flat top pens. The 130 series came with a venerable but reliable lever filler.


    Columbus 130 family



    Columbus 134



    Columbus 132



    Columbus 130



    Skyline like top of the cap.



    Columbus clip from the 1940's



    Standard Columbus nib

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Today's pen is a Columbus 128.






    Wait. Isn't this a Columbus 134 I showed yesterday.





    Hmmm.......no lever.





    There is a knob at the end.




    Ink Window




    The Columbus 128 is a fairly obscure variant of the Columbus 134 with the obvious change to a piston filler.

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Ok! I'm back. The computer situation is mostly resolved. To celebrate, let's pull out the good stuff.


    I return with the Omas Extra Lucens. The facetted Extra Lucens was Omas' flagship pen for many decades and it is the pen I think of when I think of Omas. The Extra Lucens was introduced in 1936/1937 in response to Parker's vacumatic along with the cylindrical Lucens. The Extra Lucens and Lucens used a new filling system patented by Armando Simoni called the "stantuffo tuffante". It is functionally very similar to the filling system on a Dunn. The first generation Extra Lucens had a Greek key cap band like the Omas Extra, a roller clip, and very light colored transparent celluloid. The celluloid was not stable when the pens first came out. Omas switched to darker celluloid and changed the clip to a arrow clip (a
    la Parker) and three thin cap band rings. The first gen Extra Lucens are among the rarest of the rare. Few are known to still exist. Here I show the two Extra Lucens I own, one in tortoise shell and the other in a Parker-like ringed celluloid. Both are medium sized.









    Lucens arrow nib

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Today's pen is a Helios from probably the 40's. Helios was a company that was active from the late 30's to the late 40's based in Milan. Like many Italian companies, they were buying materials and parts and assembling pens. The pens are of reasonable quality with really good celluloid quality. This pen is in a gold veined green marbled celluloid. It is basically the green version of the 'oriental blue' that was featured in the Ancora #4 I showed. This pen is interesting because the shape has a balanced look and is very similar to modern Japanese pens. Think Nakaya Portable writer. This pen has a very smooth transition from the cap to barrel when the pen is capped. The pen also has an ornate cap band.






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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Today we look at the Columbus Extra 90 series pens. These were among the last great pens made by Columbus. These were introduced in the late 40's and were made probably until 1952 when Columbus abandoned celluloid and focused on lower end pens. These pens have a unique button filling mechanism. You unscrew the top blind cap but the blind cap does not unscrew completely. Unscrewing the blind cap extends the cap and then you push down on the cap to actuate the button filler. You won't lose the blind cap with this mechanism. The mechanism is simple and effective. These pens were reasonably priced and came in a dazzling variety of celluloid as well as both steel and gold nibs. The larger pen is a Columbus Extra 92 and the smaller pen is a Columbus Extra 90.




    The button fill system



    The mechanism



    The most brilliant green celluloid



    Red Arco



    Steel nib



    Gold Nib

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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Back from slacking off.


    In the 30's introduced the Infrangible series with the introduction of celluloid. Infrangible means unbreakable (not tested). There were several series of Infrangibles and the pens were made into the 40's. The pictures show Infrangibles from the Simplice series. These had the tear drop shaped clip and two cap band rings. The pens were made in three sizes and a whole variety of colors.








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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    Here is a not commonly discussed vintage Aurora. The 88s, Novums, and Optima get most of the attention but Aurora made a number of other pen models. This pen is the Aurora Iridia. There is not much information on this series. It was arguably Aurora's first traditional button filler. The pen came in several sizes. These pens were introduced in the later half of the 1930's.












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    Default Re: Vintage Italian Pen series

    This Electa Extra is one of my favorite pens. The pen did not come with an Electa nib but an vintage Omas. The vintage Omas nib is one of the finest nibs I've ever used and supremely flexible with control. The celluloid is in a red Arco that is seen on many other vintage Italian pens and some Montblancs.

    Electa itself was a name used by the Ceriani company and related to Regina, Gloria, and Balilla. The Electa Extra was the top of the line from Ceriani.



    The Eye of Sauron









    Fabulous Omas nib.

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