This is a post about fountain pens that click. We’re all used to some ball pens, like Parker Jotters, having a button you push to click the writing point into place but there are not many fountain pens with this tactile fun. I happen to have two of them, one well known and the other not so.
I’ll start with the famous Pilot/Namiki Capless/Vanishing Point. Wow, with that many different aliases it sounds like a fugitive pen. Anyway, with those monikers Pilot is trying to hammer into your head the fact that this pen has no cap and the nib retracts into the barrel. How does that work? It’s actually pretty simple.
There is a floating nib/feed/ink reservoir unit inside that pen which can travel fore and aft. A spring keeps it up in the retracted position where it rests when not in use. A push button on the back end gets…well…pushed driving the unit forward until it is locked in place by a ratchet mechanism. Another push and the lock is released allowing the pen to close up again. The important feature that keeps the ink from drying up is a small trap door at the point end which acts as a plug when the point is retracted. QED.
There have been numerous versions of the Vanishing Point (nee Capless) since it was introduced 1964. The currently produced models come in three variants that range in heft and size. The model I have is older and dates from the 80s. I like the faceted barrel, streamlined clip, and light weight of this Capless generation. The nib on it was reground into italic creating a very fun pen to write with. It’s easy to purchase these modified nibs of this type from folks like Richard Binder or Dannzeman.
The other pen in this tale is not seen as often but certainly is almost as novel. The Aurora 98 replaced the famous model 88 in 1963 and was “period modern” with a more svelte design and a few gadgets. Think of it as the Italian Parker 51 with the additional pizazz its point of origin is known for.
One of the gadgets I referred to is why this pen fits into this post: the piston filling knob extends from and retracts into the barrel with a “click”. I can’t think of a very good reason for it operating in this manner unless people in the 60s had a tendency to accidently turn the pesky exposed knob at the end of some pens. Whatever Aurora’s thinking behind this the result is pen geek cool due to unnecessary complication.
The other peculiar contraption contained within this pen is known as “Riserva Magica” (magic reserve). When you are in the dread condition of having run out of ink with this pen you can, through use of a small supplied sparkly wand, squeeze a few more lines out. Yes, I am joking about the wand. Running the piston all the way down into the barrel (like prior to filling) pushes a few trapped drops of ink into the feed. Viola! You can write a bit more.
My 98 is almost NOS and is the attractive gold filled model. It writes a lot like a Parker 51 with a firm, fine nib. The hood has an odd flat bit over the nib’s centerline which I imagine was found to be pleasing by the designer. Other foibles include a slip on cap that really needs to travel a long way down before seating and tiny, tiny ink windows which make me squint when trying to appraise the remaining fluid.
So, that’s all the pens I have with clickability. Below are a couple comparison photos of them so you can see the chic click contrivances.