Pilot Capless and Elite
In 1963 Pilot launched a pen that could have been a little revolution in the pen
business, a fountain pen without cap that could be handled with one hand!
To open the pen you do exactly as on a roller ball, push the button and out comes the nib that was hidden behind a shutter. This was by no mean a new idea, already in the thirties the French company La Plume d'OR launched a similar pen, the Pullman.
La Plume d'Or PULLMAN button filler France c1935
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The reason that this pen didn't become a high seller was due to another pen that Pilot
launched at the same time, the Elite. Elite became a big
success when it was introduced in a version that was very short when it was closed but became a full
size pen when posted. This type of pen became known as a "short pen". Neither this was a new idea,
similar pens was produced already in the twenties.
WATERMAN eyedropper with overlay in gold 585 USA 1920's
Elite wasn't as expensive to produce as the Capless, which meant higher profit for Pilot, and consequently
they concentrated all marketing against the Elite. Despite that the Capless are still produced today,
after more than forty years, and called Vanishing Point under the trademark
Here's an example of a "short pen" from Sailor, one of the three big pen maufacturers in Japan together with Pilot and Platinum. Because of the big succes of Elite it didn't take long before all pen manufacturers had a short pen in their product range.