Elysee was a pen manufacturer from West Germany. The company opened its doors in 1925 to manufacture gold and silver products, including pens. However, it wasn’t until 1980 until they introduced the Elysee concept when they produced a series of pens: 60 series, 70 series and 80 series from 1983-1991 and the 90 series which was later introduced in 1987. The factory was acquired by Steadlater in 1991 and they continued to make products until they ceased production in 2000. These pens aren’t to be confused with the S.T Dupont pen model of the same name.
As I said above, Elysee are now out of production and finding their products isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s certainly not impossible as they pop up on eBay every so often. Prices seem to fluctuate quite a bit – I think the most I spent on one was £20, but with the box sellers often ask for £60 upwards (however at time of writing there is an auction on a fountain pen and ballpoint in the box @ £21). I’ve found that if the seller is running an auction then it’ll go for lower end, while the buy it now prices tend to be the higher ones, typically in better condition and as I mentioned with the box. I have three of them, so they’re definitely findable.
What drew me in to the Elysee pens was the nib. The aesthetic really intrigued me when I saw it in a picture sometime back. However, it took me a while to find out just what the pen was. It wasn’t until I saw another picture of one of the pens and asked the poster what the pen was and any information they had surrounding it. All they could tell me was the manufacturer name, but thankfully this was enough for me to go off of.
The information that I’ve found regarding the nib is that it’s “gold plated”, which I could’ve discovered myself by looking at it. So I decided to play with physics. For those who don’t know, gold doesn’t have a magnetic domain so won’t be attracted to a magnet (pure gold will actually be slightly repelled, but nibs aren’t pure gold, so don’t expect this result as a test). Steel nibs, however, will be attracted to a magnet. This all depends on your magnet. Scientific method everyone!
I found that Elysee nibs aren’t attracted to a magnet, which also attracted known steel nibs within my collection. So my conclusion would be that they’re gold and not just gold plated (note: steel nibs that were gold plated were also attracted to the magnet).
The Elysee nibs not only look beautiful, they also write beautifully. They give a lovely amount of feedback that makes writing with them very pleasant. Of the three pens in my collection, I’ve only needed to do minor work on one of them – and remember that these are vintage and preowned. They’re wet and the flow is good as you can see in the fast writing sample. You can squeeze out some line variation, but only if you really try. Otherwise they do feel very rigid. In terms of reverse writing, it’s very very scratchy and I wouldn’t advise it even for quick notes because it just cuts up the paper.
I’ve already explained that I think the design of the nib is beautiful. It’s understated and sleek but Elysee managed to design it so that it isn’t boring. It mimics and works with the rest of the pen perfectly as well. This gives an overall professional and stylish pen — Montblanc who?!
Everything about the pen seems to be made “longer”. The cap is long, the section is long, the body is long – even the clip is long as it extends the entire length of the cap. I like this as it seems rather unique – and I also love longer sections because I have a rather odd grip. The cap is pull off, which means there are no threads either so you’ve got yourself a nice comfortable section, though it is metal so it might get slippery.
The clip sits on top of the cap and extends the entire length of the cap which further adds to the unique aesthetic of the pen.
All three of my Elysee pens have different designs. I’m not actually sure how many designs there are, but there’s only one other that I know of, which is a brown lacquered one. That being said, I’ve only seen the blue colour with the greek key design on one pen. That I own. I think the most common one is the gun metal grey one.
I think the pen feels very nice in the hand. Though, it’s incredibly slim and this might put some people off. It’s long and doesn’t require posting, though posting is possible if you prefer but it is very back heavy. The pen is all metal and so for a slim pen there’s quite a lot of weight in it which gives a nice feeling in your hand as you definitely notice the pen there.
I mentioned how the pen is slim. So slim, in fact, that it’s difficult to fit a converter in it. I have had times before when I’ve been screwing the barrel onto the section after filling the converter and ink has leaked out of the nib because somehow you end up turning the converter piston with the barrel – so perhaps a push-type would be best used, but the converter that is supplied with the pen is a twist-type. Alternatively, you could use cartridges. The pen fits international sized cartridges/converters.
If This Isn’t Your Cup of Tea
If this doesn’t float your boat then it’s quite difficult to recommend an alternative. If you’re looking for girth (or.. Lack thereof) then the Cross Century I/II pens would be something you might want to look into as they’re very thin, though not gold nibs. I would suggest looking around eBay at Chinese pens as I’m sure you’re bound to find something. Two that come to mind are the Wingsung 235 and the Yongsheng 050. I would also recommend the 050 as it does have a rather unique nib that’s probably as close as you’ll get in aesthetic to the Elysee nib, as well as being thinner than the 235. Though, the 235 gives a more vintage vibe with a Sheaffer-style nib as well as an aerometric converter (though I do understand this is not limited to vintage pens).
If it’s vintage gold that you’re looking for then this will be easier to look for. Vintage Conway Stewarts and Parker 51s are always being sold on websites such as eBay. However, be careful when buying because they both work with filling sacs and on the vintage pens these sometimes might need to be replaced. So make sure it’s sold in the add as working – and preferably “restored condition”! The vintage pen market isn’t limited to Conway Stewarts or 51s.
For ~£20 you really cannot go wrong. You get a fully working (in my experience) gold nib vintage pen. My only concern and gripe is the issue with the converter. Find a converter that works well and you’re golden, but I really do advise to be careful when screwing the barrel on after a fill. A smart person would just use cartridges or a push type converter.
But I am too stubborn.
- Weight total: 22g
- Weight body: 12g
- Weight cap: 10g
- Size capped: 14.0cm
- Size uncapped: 12.5cm
- Size posted: 15cm
Handwritten review using Fabriano 90gsm paper, the ink is (supposed to be) Conway Stewart Turquoise