1960's · 1970's · fountain pens · handwriting · nostalgia · Platigum Pens · school

Platignum Cadet Fountain Pen Review

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It is often difficult to date the manufacture of a pen. This pen is most probably 1970’s  or later, though it could be as early as late 1960’s and is one of a long line of Platignum models produced under the Cadet name. Platignum had a reputation of producing good budget range pens often aimed, as this one is, at the school pen market. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design of this pen unlike some of the older model Cadet pens. The clip on the cap is sprung making it easy to clip onto the top pocket of a school blazer. I think we can award a Brownie point for that alone. The much thicker material of the badge pocket of the better quality wool school blazers often led to the clip breaking on many pens as I found out when the clip of my Parker Slimline snapped off on my blazer. The length of the pen is about average but quite slim making it ideal for smaller hands. It has a hooded nib in an interchangeable nib unit. This is something that I generally do not like as it is easy to end up with the point of the pen at a wrong angle to the paper. However, the cadet has two finger depressions to make it easy to hold the pen correctly which is another nice touch.  The barrel of the pen has very shallow grooves over the surface which give it a sort of non slip grip. Those with larger fingers may find this pen a little uncomfortable to hold although it didn’t bother me too much but this is designed for school children and not banana fingered adults like me. This is a cartridge pen which can take either long or short international cartridges which makes me fairly confident that this pen is from the 1970’s or later. Earlier cartridge pens made by Platignum, like the Varsity of the late 1950’s and 60’s will only accept  the Platignum cartridges which had a double neck.   The Cadet unlike many other pens cannot carry a second small cartridge in addition to the one being used as there is a risk of the spare getting stuck in the barrel. A lot of pens used to have a hole in the end of the barrel so if the spare got jammed in you could push it out with a paper clip, the Cadet does not. For the review a ‘vintage’ Platignum cartridge was fitted but the photographs show a modern cartridge, this one from a supermarket made in China. It is best to avoid the hard plastic cartridge as although they may seem a good fit I found they did tend to leak. The soft flexible cartridges seem to be okay and have the advantage that you can give them a gentle squeeze to get the pen started if it has dried out a little. One word of warning, don’t try this on a very old cartridge as it could well split and some of the vintage cartridges are getting very hard to find now. The Cadet always started straight away and never gave any problems though.DSCF2349 blog

PERFORMANCE. Overall, the Cadet performed quite well. This one is fitted with a medium point nib and delivers a medium line and that’s about all. The nib is quite small and seems to be the one fitted to the 1950’s Bijou pen. You can or rather you could get different nib units including Italic although the range was never anywhere like the quick change nibs for the Regal and Silverline pens. The whole pen only consists of a cap, barrel and nib unit so changing a nib really means changing most of the pen.  New, old stock nib units do appear on Ebay from time to time but you really need the Cadet unit and not the ones that were fitted to the other cartridge pens using this system. The pen behaved itself and didn’t mind not being used for a few days or rattled around in a pencil box. It always started writing straight away and delivered a consistent ink flow no matter how fast or slow I wrote with the pen.  I have never liked push on caps as they have a nasty habit of coming off when in a pocket but the Cadet always seemed secure and never gave any problems.DSCF2351 blog

CONCLUSIONS. The cadet is not a rare or I would think a particularly desirable pen. My one was one of a dozen being disposed of for spares but it was unusually, a pristine example which I gave a clean up and found it worked perfectly. It writes very smoothly and does just what it was designed to do as a school  pen and as such does everything required and has a few nice touches like the sprung cap clip and finger holds. The nib is pretty ordinary so don’t expect to get the sort of writing like the more up market Silverline pens with far better and slightly flexible nibs. It is, if you excuse the pun, nothing much to write home about! A lot of these pens will have user added features like teeth marks and a few well chewed examples often appear for sale. All cartridge pens can have problems and the Cadet and other Platignum cartridge pens using these particular interchangeable nib units are no exception. In use Platignum advised regular flushing and also before fitting a new cartridge. This was printed on the larger original Platignum cartridges. What they do not tell you is how you can flush the nib unit, let alone how you can clean all the dried out ink when it has been laying around in the pen for the last forty years! You can, as I found out, pull the nib itself out but you are very likely to damage the nib trying to do this. I have done this to use a nib in another pen but is not something I would recommend doing. My example seemed to be pretty well unused and performed well without playing about with. Getting a vintage pen is always a bit of a risk so if you fancy one of these make sure it writes okay or be prepared to take a chance on it being a complete lemon.




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