Rotring Core


A few years ago (I’m not sure how many; time does slip by) you couldn’t open one of the pen discussion groups without finding a reference to the Rotring Core.  Though it appears to have been intended for school kids it raised the interest of adults as well.  There were many arguments, some in favour of the pen and some against.  Many (including me) thought it was the ugliest pen that they had ever seen.  Others thought that its ugliness was charming, like a cute mongrel dog.
After all the brouhaha had settled down, it disappeared.  Though there must be thousands of them around, the Core is now perhaps the least talked about pen ever.
I’m here to change that.  It hasn’t got any prettier.  Some compared it to a trainer  (That’s a sneaker on the west side of the Atlantic).  In a way, I can see where they’re coming from – lots of unnecessary and somewhat garish decoration pointed with unerring aim at the teenage market.  Once you get over that, you remember that it’s a pen.  Taking it as such, the very tight clip is made from bent wire like the Lamy Safari.  The cap has fairly impossible-to-describe decoration and it’s quite bulky, rather wider than the barrel.  Pulling off the cap is quite easy but it does fit securely.  The barrel has a grey anodised finish with lots of writing and a couple of plastic inserts.  The end of the barrel is finished off with a black plastic plug.  Between the barrel and the section is a red ring, Rotring’s famous trademark.  The section is unique.  It is cut out at the top and ridged underneath.  This is intended to give the writer a secure and comfortable grip.  It probably does for some, I should think, but I would have liked it a little thicker.
The nib is the usual Rotring offering.  I had a Rotring pen once, a big heavy brutal thing – I can’t remember the model name – and it had a nib like this, only bigger.  You could have used it to dig the garden.  This nib is similarly objectionable and it’s decorated with dots for no reason I can think of, and it has the letters XL printed thereon.  Unscrewing the barrel (it has a lot of threads) I find an empty short international cartridge held in place by some sort of adapter.  That seems to work well enough.
Going to write with the pen, you find that the cap posts after a fashion – it is loose and will fall off if the pen is inverted – and it completely over-balances the pen.  You have to write un-posted which never feels right to me.  In actually writing, the horrid nib performs very well indeed and the ink flow is very good.  This one is a medium firm, where firm = hard as a rock.  Really, prejudices aside, there’s nothing wrong with that and it has to be said that this little pen is a great writer.  It hurt me quite painfully to say that.
So that’s it,  the Rotring Core,  a sensation a few years ago but as popular as a red-haired stepchild these days.  That’s perhaps not really justified.  Apart from the posting problem this is a very good basic writer if you can ignore its appearance.  I plan to hold this one in a small brown paper bag.  It’s either that or go blind with the horror of the thing.


12 thoughts on “Rotring Core

  1. Well I’d be the first to admit that it is not remotely as attractive as e.g. a SM1/57, but your article has had the extraordinary effect of making me want one! I doubt I’d write with it more than once, but its quirkiness appeals to me.

  2. The Core was actually he first fountain pen that I bought with my own money (sometime in the 90s, I’d guess) and I kinda love it. I know I’m almost alone in that, but it’s truth. If I find them at shows (which I haven’t more than once or twice) I’ll snap them up. I even had a friend who was a vendor find out that I love this crazy pen, and he sent me the one he got as part of someone’s collection because he didn’t think he’d ever be able to sell it.

    They’re not classy, but they’re interesting, and they’ll attract some notice. Especially from weirdos like me, who love ’em.

    1. I don’t think you’re alone. When they were new and much discussed, the split seemed to be about 50-50 between those who hated and loved them. Though I can’t say I like them – it’s the nib that I dislike most – I think that Rotring bravely broke new ground in pen design with them.

  3. I have most of the Core fountain pen variations, along with the rollerballs and ballpoints. I enjoyed writing with them as the barrels were larger diameter which suits my big hands. I haven’t written with any of them for a few years now, but your posting makes me want to break them out of the drawer and use them for writing.

  4. How many refills (cartridges) to you have to put into the pen? Do you put in one and push it up into the nib area or do you have to also have to put one in the main barrel as well?

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