Platignum Cartridge Pen

Platignum Cartridge Pen 1961-72
Platignum Cartridge Pen 1961-72

My first recollection of the Platignum Cartridge Pen was an advert in a 'Look and Learn' magazine in 1975. I decided that the 'Quick clean' Platignum Cartridge Pen was just the thing to give my schoolwork a boost. It was my first proper pen.

What was special about a cartridge pen? You didn't need an ink bottle. You just unscrewed the nib, pulled the old cartridge out, put the new one in the barrel and screwed the nib back. It was easy and more like changing the refill in ball point pen. You could also get washable ink. If it did leak, it didn't ruin your blazer.

At the time I thought it was a new idea. It turns out that Platignum marketed the first cartridge pen in 1961. Mentmore, the makers of Platignum, weren't the first to come up with a cartridge pen either. The Parker 45 was on the market the previous year.

The Platignum Cartridge pen marked a change in the fortunes of Mentmore. They were struggling to sell old-style fountain pens and were not competing well against Bic in the new ball point pen market. The cartridge pen saved the company and sent profits soaring.

It was the right pen, at the right price, at the right time.

The Parker 45 was not a cheap pen. They cost 27 shillings and 6 pence in 1966 (£18 in today's money). At its launch the Platignum Cartridge pen was only 5 shillings and 9 pence (29p or £4.50 in today's money).

Why was it such a hit?

School teachers were suspicious of ball points and many schools still banned them. School children were fed up with messy fountain pens. Cartridge pens were a great compromise. They were easy to use, less fuss and above all modern. They wrote just like a fountain pen, so were acceptable for schoolwork.

The Platignum Cartridge Pen was also available at pocket money prices.

The original Platignum Cartridge had a chrome top, a 14-carat gold diamond inlay, although only a gold-plated nib. The design was up-to-the minute with a fashionable hooded nib. It looked like much more expensive pens, like the Parker 61, for example. Mentmore continued to sell this design until 1972. Then still only cost 40p.

Platignum Cartridge Pens, c1975-9
Platignum introduced new designs for the cartridge pen in the mid-1970s

Platignum revamped the range in the early 1970s with several new models. Mine was one of these. It had a shiny chrome top and a gold-plated nib. Which I unfortunately broke.

How old is my Platignum Cartridge pen?

For the original design, look at the cap. The earliest ones had a letter 'P' on the cap. They dropped this in 1967.

By Steven Braggs, March 2022

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★