Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Stylochap and Old Chap pens

My latest acquisition, Old Chap
I have fallen in love with French celluloid pens. French pens from the glory days of celluloid, the 1930s and 40s. They're glorious. Italian celluloids would beat them in a shoot-out, with greater depth and translucency, but the French celluloids have a particular appeal for me.

It's not a much collected field even in France. There are a few Bayard fans out there, fewer collectors of Edacoto, and very few who have ever heard of Old Chap. But I've managed over the last year to capture three Old Chaps and I have to say that while they're not quite up to Waterman's standards, I'm very pleased with them.

The one above is my latest, a tiny little pen, just over ten centimetres, which shows the medals won by Old Chap on the barrel. Such a grandiose imprint for such a tiny pen! The celluloid is bronze, white, and black, as if a tortoise Pelikan had mated with a Friesian cow. It has remarkable character.

The next pen is a Stylochap 'Snakeskin'. It's not quite snakeskin in effect, more like the Necker Cube, an optical illusion in which cubes appear to shift as you look at them.

Finally, a gorgeous Old Chap pen with the x-ray celluloid best known from the Waterman Ink-Vue, which I was fortunately able to set side by side with an Ink-Vue.

I don't know if I just happen to have struck lucky, but these pens seem to be relatively free from the celluloid crazing and deformation very common on French pens. I've seen many Bayards, for instance, in which the caps are very noticeably deformed (perhaps having shrunk around the inner cap), and in which the celluloid has also swollen up around the lever pin. It may be poor quality celluloid; on the other hand it may be the case that French people just love leaving their pens on the back shelf of a 2CV...

Stylochap 'snakeskin'    

Waterman and Old Chap

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