A Lapis Lazuli Platignum Senior

During the 1920s and 30s Platignum produced a wide range of models. By the end of that period they were turning out pens and sets in very colourful – even gaudy – plastics. Many of these pens were beautiful and probably pleasant to use but often they suffered from quality issues that affected their durability. In particular the steel or plated nibs were subject to corrosion.

I would place this blue pen in the 1920s, with its flat top and straight sides. I think we are entitled to call this pattern Lapis Lazuli. It’s certainly quite close to the appearance of the mineral.

These “Seniors” appear to have been better made than some other Platignum models of the time as quite a few have survived in good condition. The plated nib is interesting. Imprinted on it are “Platignum” followed by a plain “M” that might mean medium, then another “M”, this time larger and in a circle, doubtless referring to Mentmore, the parent company. This is quite a noticeable nib and it would be useful if a date could be assigned to it. Is this the original nib (unlikely) or a later, but appropriate, replacement?

A few years ago I would have taken little or no notice of an old Platignum. I certainly wouldn’t have bought one and when one turned up in a batch I’m afraid that it went into the trash-bucket. I was wrong. These pens are just as much part of the history of the fountain pen as the finest Onoto or Swan.

It appears that, like other manufacturers, Platignum re-used names for different models. There is a later, streamlined Platignum Senior in the post-war period.

Thanks to Paul S for photos and information.

7 thoughts on “A Lapis Lazuli Platignum Senior

  1. I have a nice colour Mentmore/Platignum leaflet from Christmas 1938, showing three designs of Platignum nib on the ten pictured pens. One has a heart-shaped breather hole, is not plated and has the inscription ‘Platignum 1st Quality’, with the M within the circle. The second has a diamond-shaped breather hole and two-tone selective plating (gold over the tines) with the same inscription, while the third is also selectively plated but with a heart-shaped breather hole and an inscription which is indistinct in the advertisement but appears to read ‘Platignum, Iridium pointed’, though it looks nothing like the pictured nib which has no breather hole.

    The advertisement also shows several nib display cards, the iridium pointed nibs appear to be listed as Platignum De Luxe Dual tipped nibs, priced at 6d each.

    Unfortunately, none of this helps you with a date, though I think you could say it is probably not a 1930s nib.

    1. I have also revisited other Platignum ads I have from the John Bull Christmas editions of the early 1930s. These confirm the details of the unplated basic nibs mentioned above.

  2. thanks Andy. Being aware as we all are of the usual comprehensive information in Steve Hull’s ‘FPFTM’, I quite expected the book to make mention of a 1920s edition of this model which would tie in with the appearance of this lapis pen, but as mentioned by Deborah the only reference to a Senior is to a post WW II model.

    For something like 12 – 18 months I had a bit of a crush on Platignum and ended up with acquiring most of the known model names, though in the end the poor quality, and smell, put me off, so our friendship came to an end, but not before I’d acquired about sixty or seventy pens, a dozen and a half of which were pre 1940 examples. Mostly I liked the Ink-View models, though it can be a challenge to get all three parts of the barrel to unscrew without breakages.
    Of my pre war pens it’s surprising how variable the nibs can be, but since we know that nibs head the list of replaced parts, then dating such nibs, in relation to the shape of the pen, is a tad unreliable.
    I’ve at least one of the bi-coloured gold wash with diamond breather you mention – another plain steel job with diamond breather, though probably on balance the majority of these older nibs are plain steel with heart shaped breathers, and most carry the Mentmore logo of MMC in a circle.

    I’ve a sprinkling of 14 ct. nibs in some of the other older Platignums – for example a Waterman, a Mentmore and a Warranted job.
    The absence of a breather on the nib of this lapis pen is curious – it’s possible that economics were driving some cutbacks, and maybe breathers holes succumbed, but don’t know that I buy that one and looking at my collection it seems to be a very rare occurrence. According to Steve Hull, even as late as 1975 the parent company Mentmore made record profits and there are many far later nibs that do have breather holes. Perhaps this particular nib simply avoided a meeting with the guy who made the holes.

    1. I may have a possible explanation……

      On the original 1938 Christmas advertisement there was also a display card for ‘Dual-tipped Platignum pen-holder nibs’ (ie for dip pens) in three styles, named Westminster, Vauxhall and Richmond. Though the nibs shown on the card appear to have a rectangular cutout on the slit, the old steel nibs were often slit without any hole at all. Perhaps the nib on your pen was just a Platignum model intended for use on dip pens that was used as an ad-hoc replacement?

      Also an apology – when I mentioned John Bull earlier, I actually meant John O’London’s Weekly. It was late, and a glass or two of red had been taken…

      1. The John Bull will always be tainted because of Horatio Bottomley’s fraud but it might prove an excellent source of advertising information nonetheless but as it turns out not to have been that publication…

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