Tale of a Vandal Pen User: Transparency

I like to see the inside of things. Maybe that’s why I am handy at home repair. I’m not afraid to take things apart and look inside.

I like to look inside all kinds of things… people’s minds, backyards, an organization’s process, courtrooms, car hoods, computers, factories, firewood stacks, nests, barns, trees, flowers, caves… to look beyond the surface of things.

Some places even offer opportunities to look inside stuff. Like museums where displays let you see inside history, or inside ships or aircrafts or space shuttles. Fascinating, always.

Seeing Inside Fountain Pens

Transparent—or so-called demonstrator—fountain pens are popular among some pen users. Originally, demonstrators were non-functional fountain pens that allowed a sales person to show the inner workings of the pen. Today a see-through pen is an aesthetic preference, not a sales tool.

My original introduction to transparent pens was through Pelikan fountain pens. The idea of being able to see inside the pen was quite appealing.

Pelikan 200 circa 2005 installed with Pelikan 400 1950's nib unit

Pelikan 200 Amber acrylic circa 2005 installed with Pelikan 400 1950’s nib unit

Can’t remember why I re-homed this jolly Omas pen. Probably sold in order to fund a jollier pen…

2009: Omas Demonstrator

2009: Omas Demonstrator

Yet these transparent pens bothered my sense of order—looking at all the drops of ink in the cap, in the section… yikes! And the pens never seemed to get entirely clean of ink.

I steered clear of transparent pens for quite a long while.

Time passes, and we change.

What do ya know? Those ink drops no longer bother me, and the pens seem to get pretty darn clean.

Perhaps, I’m better at cleaning them, or my “sense of order” is not the same as it once was.

Now, there are four transparent pens in my pen hoard: a custom Newton Shinobi, a Platinum Century Sai, a Sailor Sapporo, and a Pilot Custom 92.

Top to bottom: Pilot Custom 92, Platinum Sai, Sailor Sapporo, Newton Shinobi

Top to bottom: Pilot Custom 92, Platinum Sai, Sailor Sapporo, Newton Shinobi

☮ →Sidebar: The Platinum Sai is a transparent model of the Century #3776 pen that uses Platinum’s “slip and seal” feature. Introduced by Platinum in 2011, the idea is that the “slip and seal” cap means the pen will never dry out. Or at least not for a very, very long time. Platinum has a chart that states ink in an unused Century pen will still be at 60% some twenty-four months later.

Transparent pens are entertaining to look at. They also show how much ink you’ve got left to write with.

A transparent eyedropper pen gives a nice clean look of ink inside the barrel. As a pen you can see inside of, the copper acrylic Shinobi shines.

My favorite view of the Shinobi is the section:

inked gold nib seen through section

inked gold nib seen through section

Newton Shinobi inked with Sailor Doyou

Newton Shinobi inked with Sailor Doyou

The transparent Pilot 92 let’s you see the moving parts of the built-in piston. The piston takes up a lot of room in the barrel. The beautiful ink view is left to a small portion of the pen.

Pilot 92 – Platinum Mix “Grey Sky” – prior to cleaning

The transparent Sailor and Platinum use converters or cartridges. The inside view of these pens is more practical for seeing ink levels rather than being visually pleasing.

Sailor converter inked with Pilot Blue-Black

Sailor converter inked with Pilot Blue-Black

3776 cartridge inked with Platinum Mix “Olive Oil”

Any Platinum Century pen made of transparent acrylic allows you to see the “slip and seal” action when you cap the pen. In 2011 on YouTube, Atsushi Wakatsuki posted this video demonstrating the cap action in a Platinum Century Motosu:

And so… to repeat, time passes and we change.

A few years ago, I told myself transparent pens were not for me. Today I’m enjoying these four.

Ink in the cap, or in the section, is not such a big deal in the face of more pressing concerns in the world.

To be less precious about my possessions, even my opinions, is something I strive for. Respect pens and possessions, care for them, yes, but cling to them, no.

Ask me again in three years about pen materials, and maybe my response will be completely different.

Thanks for reading. Stay open, kind, and curious, my friends!

Short List of  transparent pens in other people’s hands


2 thoughts on “Tale of a Vandal Pen User: Transparency

  1. I’m new to fountain pens because I finally found one that feels great and smooth to write with. Now I read this and you’re just enabling a new addiction! (thanks!)


    • Well, my new friend, if you stick around you may learn my message: less is more. I don’t wish to enable an addiction in anyone. Just sharing my thoughts and experience.

      I’m so happy you found one that feels great to write with! That is everything in a fountain pen. Welcome.


Comments are closed.