Osmiroid

The humble Osmiroid has a much longer ancestry than most fountain pens. It was made by EH Perry in the factory at Gosport. The company had been founded in 1918 by Edmund Perry, grandson of James Perry, a major figure in the development of practical steel nibs. Perry’s first steel nib patent dated back to 1830 and the company’s Iridinoid and Duragold nibs were a success for many decades.

The idea behind the Osmiroid, perhaps not surprisingly, was much more about nibs than pens. Steel nibs in a variety of calligraphic styles were united with screw-in feeds. Oblique (left and right) italic, copperplate, music nibs and many more were available individually. Quality of the nibs was very high. The intention was to provide school-children with excellent writing instruments at an affordable price. Calligraphers benefitted too!

The first pen, the Osmiroid 65, was almost an afterthought. A very basic lever filler, it was adequate for the purpose, though some of the colour mixtures it came in were unfortunate. Many of the 65s have not survived well. The early injection-moulded plastics used in their manufacture were subject to shrinkage over time, with the result that caps often no longer fit and other distortions have taken place. Not all are affected, but buy with care.

The next pen, the Osmiroid 75, was altogether better. Much less subject to deterioration (though it can happen) these self-coloured pens are excellent piston fillers, many still working today without any servicing. Together with a collection of nibs to suit your hand, the 75 remains one of the best calligraphy pens around.

The Osmiroid 75

Later, a different Osmiroid system was developed. The new units included nib, feed and section, which screwed into a cartridge pen. These are not interchangeable with the earlier nibs, and the quality is not so high.

Thankfully, the original Osmiroid nibs still appear on eBay quite frequently and some retailers still sell them. These nibs also fit Esterbrook J and SJ pens , and some post-war German piston-filler school pens.

Not a collector’s pen, the Osmiroid project was nonetheless a worthy one that gave a generation of children good pens with which to learn to write well, and remains a useful workhorse for calligraphers to this day.

About these ads

About goodwriterspens
I restore fountain pens, and used to trade as redripple52 in eBay. I also have my own fountain pen sales website, www.goodwriterspensales.com

24 Responses to Osmiroid

  1. Aaron Sawyer says:

    Good Day!

    I just picked up an Osmiroid 75 with a Mari 3 stub nib yesterday here in Ottawa, Canada for 10$ at an antique emporium. It is just as you described. Black, simple, but what a beautiful writer. With no cleaning (that will soon be rectified), it is now fillied Pelikan red ink, and it is such a beautiful smooth writer that it outshines some of my more modern pens. It is also a lovely simple pen. The only difference from the one pictured above is my cap is more decorative..the upper cap has a three pronged flower design, and the pen clip is more ornate.

    • Hi Aaron,
      Glad to hear you got a good one. The 75s were made of better plastic than the 65s and survive better. Now you just need all the calligraphy nibs…

      Regards,
      Deb

  2. Hi there,

    i came across your praise of the Osmiroid — and your delightful blog — … I have at least one Osmiroid in a collection of fountain pens that I use regularly (I am a journalist/copy writer and always have inky fingers)…. My problem — and you might be able to assist me — is that the cap seems very loose, which may be the cause of the ink drying up on me too quickly. Is there any way to correct that, or is it merely my imagination and the cap works well. Is there a trick to get it tighter?

    • This is a not uncommon problem with Osmiroids. They were early users of injection-moulded plastics and some of these materials have turned out to be quite subject to shrinkage. I wouldn’t use this solution for an expensive pen – there are other, vastly more costly solutions – but the Osnmiroid might respond quite well to this: get a piece of cigarette paper (or other very thin paper if there are no smokers among your acquaintance), dampen it a little with shellac and press it firmly into the threads in the cap. Leave for a few hours to dry, then screw the pen together. It will grip a lot better.

  3. Simon Lucas says:

    I love my Osmiroids and it’s a scandal that the factory was closed by Berol, who became part of ‘kiss of death’ Sandford. Osmiroid were a good little British company who made education the core of their business.
    In addition to the 75, Osmiroid also introduced a mark two 65, which looked a little like a larger 75 but retained the lever filling system of the earlier 65 mark one (there were also cartridge converter and even fixed aerometric varients of the mark two). These pens suffer much less shrinkage than the earlier round topped 65’s and the problem of leakage around the threads of the screw in nib is easily solved with approximately 50mm of PTFE tape wrapped around the threads.
    My mother bought me a burgundy 65 mark two in 1973, which I still have and use to this day.
    The factory in Gosport didn’t need to close, the business had a future and could have been built into something really special but as is the way in the Anglosphere, greed won over education, culture and common sense.

    • I agree with you completely – except about the PTFE tape. Its use is somewhat frowned upon in pen repair, as it can cause cracking. Silicone grease does the same job without the risk.
      But yes, I believe there would have been a sound future for Osmiroid. Many other companies have made money producing calligraphy pens and sets, none of them as good as Osmiroid.

  4. Di says:

    I found my old fountain pen recently (Sheaffer), got some ink, and experimented to see if I could still write, after all these years of hammering the keyboard. That made me remember my first fountain pen – I must have been aged about 8 or 10. I got a green one with a gold cap and my best friend got a blue one with a silver cap. Then the word ‘Osmiroid’ popped into my head. I haven’t thought of that word in about 50 years – at first I wondered if it even was a word, then remembered that was the make of my first pen! I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who still has a child’s Osmiroid pen.

    • I’m not familiar with that particular model with the gold or silver cap, but Osmiroids are well made and survive, so I’d be surprised if there aren’t a few examples of your school pen out there.

  5. miranda says:

    After years of writing with an extra fine drafting pen which I can no longer obtain I decided to break out my old Osmiroid pens to see if I might like to use one of them again… I am probably from the last generation to have learned to write with a dip pen (in school)… I got my first fountain pen when I was eight & it was not an Osmiroid but rather a vintage pen from an antique dealer friend of the family….I felt very grown up… It started me on the road to pen collecting & I got a “new” pen at the start of each school year… finally got my first Osmiroid set & writing became the joy I knew it should be…… I still collect & use other pens but now I am back to the basics.

    .I have six of the older Osmiroid pens… two are lever fill & the others (which I prefer) have the twist valve filler…. also have a couple of the later style…. I must have been fairly keen when I started to hoard them as I also have a good supply of nibs for both sets including some shadow nibs & a music nib which have never been used but came along with a few italic nibs I got a few decades ago…
    Unfortunately I didn’t stock up on copperplate nibs….I am now using the only one I have for writing my daily journal..I am hoping to find more as it is my all time favourite nib in my all time favouite pen… Blue barrel Osmiroid….

    .I was not aware that the company was gone until I started to look for new nibs…. I think it is a sad loss for all pen lovers & children in particular….I have met a lot of kids who say they would like to learn to use a fountain pen. It is hard to learn to enjoy writing with a poor pen while it is illogical to spend a lot of money on a “starter” pen.

    • It is sad that they’re gone because they were the best of the best calligraphy pens. Do not despair, though. Many Osmiroid 65s (the lever-fill ones) and 75s (the piston-fill type) pass through eBay every week and the prices remain low. The nibs are available too.

    • matt says:

      i have an osmiroid ’65’ pen set. looks as though one nib was only used. i don’t if you have one. everything is in great shape and everything fits well. i was selling it on craigs list for $180.00. if you are interested here is my email address mattr1953@gmail.com. thanks.

  6. Geoff Hinton says:

    My dad worked in the Gosport factory and actually died there suffering a heart attack in 1973. As a child I would sit at home with my mum and we would make up cartridge boxes and fill them. I was a model for the companies educational range of objects e.g. “Tocker Timer”????

    • Hi Geoff,
      You’ve got first-hand experience of the factory then. I searched for the “Tocker Timer” but I couldn’t find it.

      • changeaze says:

        Yeah from about 1968 – 1973 used to visit factory with my dad …… it was on the Fareham Road next to a pub which I think was called the North Star ……. he was a production manager. My mum worked on the machines …. that’s where they met ……. must have been late 50’s early 60’s ……. I remember once going for tea with the owner …… an elderly woman …… I think she was called Perry. The factory used to smell of plastic especially the huge tubs full of cartridges ……. I think the educational things were called Ticker Timers …. not Tocker ….. my mistake ……. they also made plastic callipers and a clinometer …… Geoff

    • keith atkin says:

      hello Geoff. Have just come across your comment re Osmiroid . I worked at Perry’s in the 1960s and knew your dad, Keith, well. Played football and cricket with him. He was the footballer and I was the cricketer. Great bloke. I had just left the company to become a teacher when I heard of your dad’s death at a far too early age. The tocker timers were made to rock for a specified time but not very precise.
      Just wanted to let you know that the company relied very much on dad who was an industrious production manager. I’m privileged to have known him.
      Keith Atkin

  7. Ron Basford says:

    I lived next to the Fareham Road factory at Northwood House and as a teenager would
    ‘chat-up’ the girls working there.
    Regards Ron

  8. Stefanie Jillann says:

    My mother (who was from England and whose maiden name was Perry!) gave me an Osmiroid calligraphy pen set sometime between 30 and 40 years ago. Like my mother, I love pens and have collected quite a few, which are now added to those I inherited from her. However, I’m no expert, which became painfully clear as I read your blog. I would like to know more about my Osmiroid. The pen has no markings at all, so I don’t know which model it is. It is plain black with a white band and is, as other readers have noted, very loose. I have six nibs, all of which appear to be copperplate though only one actually says that. Of the various fill systems mentioned in your blog, I’m guessing the one I have is a piston fill type; it has a plastic tube inside a squeezy thing to draw the ink in. (I told you I was no expert!) Does this rather sketchy description provide enough information for you to tell me what model it is? One last question; what type of ink is best to use?

    • Hi Stefanie,
      This is quite a difficult one to answer! There are even more models of Osmiroid than those I have mentioned in the blog. I think the one that you have is a later type. It is most likely a cartridge/converter filler. The squeezy thing is a converter which will take ink from a bottle. If the cap of this pen has a sloping top it is the one that was confusingly called a 65 despite the fact that that was the name given to a much earlier pen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 249 other followers

%d bloggers like this: