Elysian Fields

20 06 2020

Years ago I was gifted a fountain pen when I was asked to be a friend’s best man. Around 1991, if I recall. I knew nothing of the brand at the time, and though the nib declares itself as an M, I found it decidedly F-like, and at the time totally unsuitable to my writing style. Sadly therefore, it languished in the back of a drawer, though happily it wasn’t discarded in our move to Canada, and I recently rediscovered it.

It’s a sleek matte black élysée series 60 Dynamic, and now I know a little more about fountain pens in general I have come to respect and appreciate it a lot more. I’ve even come to realise my writing looks a lot better (not yet “good”, but better) with a nib on the F side of M, and this one now comes a close second to my Sheaffer Sagaris with its steel but smooth F nib.

So, thanks largely to the research performed and kindly shared via the Internet by N. Dean Meyer, I’ve learnt a lot more of this slimline little beauty.

Firstly, let me precis the company’s history from N. Dean Meyer’s research.

Despite the decidedly gallic name, élysée is in fact a German brand, though sadly now defunct.

ElyseeLogo

Late 1920s: Jeweller Paul Dummert founded R. Dummert Co. in Pforzheim, Germany.

January, 1974: As the global economy slipped into recession, Reinhold, Paul’s son, sold the company to watchmakers Heinz Benzinger and Wolfgang Klein. They focused on writing instruments with plated finishes and sold primarily to international firms that had their own brands.

1975: A lacquered instrument line was developed, an innovation that encouraged the company to create its own brand.

1980: The brand “élysée” was registered (despite the prior registration of “Elysee” by the Pforzheim-based watch-maker owned by jewellery-maker Harer).

October, 1981: The firm R. Dummert officially presented the “élysée” brand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. That year, it introduced the 60, 70, and 80 Lines. At that time, the logo (derived from “D” for Dummert) was introduced; it persisted unchanged through until the end of the brand.

April 1, 1991: Staedtler took over 100% of the company, which was renamed élysée Schreibgeräte GmbH. Management moved from Pforzheim to Nuremberg in late 1991, and Dummert KG was dissolved in 1992.

June 30, 2000: With a falling stock market production ceased and élysée disappeared as a brand. The “lifetime” élysée warranty ceased at the end of 2002.

The 60 series, and my matte black Dynamic model in particular was in production from around 1983 to approximately 1994. It was available in matte finishes with epoxy lacquer and stainless steel in Black / Blue / Burgundy / Brown / Steel Gold Trim / Steel Chrome Trim (nib chrome plated). It has a characteristic flat 14K gold-plated steel nib, slender body, spherical top, clip attached to top, metal section threads, and a length of 136mm.

All products were designed and specified by élysée. The production of the parts was outsourced from companies like Mutschler, including stamping, lacquering, plating, nib assemblies, etc. élysée then assembled, finished and distributed.

Like my own example, I read that several owners find their 60 series pens prone to rusting on the barrel trim near the nib assembly.

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My black élysée series 60 Dynamic clearly showing the top-attached clip with branding

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Close-up of cap showing etched name and “modified D” logo along with top-attached clip and matte lacquered finish

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Close-up of cap showing “Germany” impression. Manufactured after reunification in 1989.

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Close-up of cap showing “élysée” impression on opposite side to “Germany”.

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Close-up of flat gold nib, showing logo and M. Note some failing of plating around barrel trim

Source and further reading: N. Dean Meyer.

There’s also an excellent write-up at 7heDaniel.





Fountain (pen) of (my) youth

11 05 2020

Odd day. Can’t remember exactly when “lockdown”, such as it is in BC, began, but I’m into week four of a five week furlough from work, so it’s at least that long. I’m treating it as a dry run for retirement. Love the extra time for reading, gardening, teasing Mrs E. and generally discovering vitally important things I haven’t used in years to fix.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I ended up on a random investigation of fountain pens, inks and associated accoutrements today. Along the way I cleaned and revitalised a cheap fountain pen by “Pen & Ink” which now works great, though the nib is a little broad for my current tastes. The outside of it had become tacky and I read that rubbing alcohol was a good way of removing the tackiness. The brand I used was 70% ethanol (wood alcohol – don’t try using it in cocktails!) but I think some brands are isopropyl alcohol. “Test on a less visible area” being the usual warning in case it melts everything.

Anyway, it worked great on my particular piece of soft plastic. So much so that I also used it on the rubbery grips of the Canon film camera I recently bought second hand. Big fan of alcohol now. (As if I wasn’t already…)

As for the pen innards, I flushed it many times with the rubbing alcohol and then near boiling water to remove residue of old dipping pen ink I’d erroneously filled it with a while ago. (It’s not water-soluble like fountain pen ink is and can contain solids and corrosive chemicals). I have to say the slow, painstaking repetition was quite cathartic. I put a little Lamy Amazonite (kind of teal/turquoise) ink in it to test, and it works lovely and smooth now. Its “medium” nib is a bit broad though for my current tastes.

Flushed (as it were) with this success, I felt nostalgic for the first fountain pen I ever used/owned when I was 11. A present from my parents, it was a Parker 45, as a fountain pen was the required writing instrument at my High School, a traditional grammar school in the UK. I’d looked for this pen several times before but wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t “purged it” a là Maria Kondo. Perhaps the joy I felt sure it would spark now might not have been the case some time previously.

I even perused a UK vintage fountain pen site to see how much a replacement would be. £55 is the answer – though that was an all-metal body with a stainless-steel nib. Mine was black, with a rolled gold nib. I remembered it well!

After looking in all the obvious places, I suddenly felt inspired to look in the desk drawers of my nest-flown “arty” daughter. It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds – she’s lived abroad for several years now, and she does still have quite the stash of art supplies in her old room.

Boy, did I hit the mother lode! Not only did I find my old school pen (we’re talking 1975 vintage here!), but another lovely fountain pen I was given as a thank-you for being my friend’s Best Man back in the UK. This one is a lovely sleek élysée (ironically, despite the Es acute,  a German company – now defunct). There’s a great write-up here.

Looking in my “calligraphy tin” I discovered the bodies of no less than 3 Parker 25’s and a very particular Peugeot edition of a Creeks n Creeks (Stypen – French) “stubby”. This is so short it can only take the short ink cartridges common in schools. No option of a convertor to take ink from a bottle.

Armed with a little collection now of less than clean fountain pens, I spent a very pleasant few hours purging all manner of colours of ink from their crevices with near-boiling water and rubbing alcohol.

Now… if only I could remember how to write!

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Creeks n Creeks Peugeot special élysée – Series 60 Parker 25 Pen & Ink – sketch Parker 45