OMAS Extra Lucens and Lucens Fountain Pen Review

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Extra Lucens, OMAS Lucens

The Lucens and Extra Lucens were the best quality and best looking Italian pens of the 1930s and 1940s.

Italian pens during this period were largely inspired (and in many cases copies) of American pens. The Lucens and Extra Lucens were offered with visulated barrels much like the Parker Vacumatic and Waterman Ink View. The Extra Lucens also featured an arrow nib and an arrow clip not unlike the one found on the Parker Vacumatic.

In the late 1930s Wahl Eversharp came out with the Doric, a faceted pen very similar to the Extra Lucens; there is some debate about which pen was introduced first.

Omas Extra Lucens -2

 

The bodies were made of celluloid and all of them had a degree of transparency to them.  The pens in my photos that appear black (because they are filled with ink) have black striped barrels and were originally clear but have turned into to a red color.  There were a number of beautiful celluloids that these pens were produced in.  The rarest and most valuable color was a grey pearl (if you Google “OMAS Extra Lucens Limited Edition” you can see a reproduction of this pen, though the original was not brown).

Both the Lucens and Extra Lucens use a stantuffo tuffante, or plunger filling system. This system is considered to be the same as the one used by the American brand Dunn, which had a patent on this system in 1920. OMAS patented their version in 1936 and for this reason we see “Brev.73725 – 1936” on the barrels of these pens.

Omas Extra Lucens -4

The plunger filler eliminated the use of sacs which made for a (supposedly) more durable filling system with a larger ink capacity.

Omas Extra Lucens -9

Personally, I do not like this system and I am not surprised that it was abandoned in favor of the piston filler. Filling the pen requires pulling out the plunger which draws up ink into the pen and then quickly pushing the plunger back down allowing the air to escape through a breather tube inside the barrel…if you push the plunger down too slowly all of the ink you just drew into the pen will be expelled. The filling system is relatively durable such that I feel comfortable using these pens every day. The weak points being a cork seal and breather tube.

The Lucens and Extra Lucens came in three sizes, the largest of the three measures about 14cm long capped and the midsize measures about 13cm (unfortunately I don’t have a small one to measure). The larger model is more or less the same size as the current all celluloid OMAS Paragon. The midsize is very similar in feel to a Pelikan M400 though slightly longer.

Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (small), OMAS Lucens (small)
Top to bottom: OMAS Extra Lucens (large), OMAS Extra Lucens (midsize), OMAS Lucens (midsize)

The nibs of the Lucens and Extra Lucens are quite different. The Lucens “Extra” nib with heart shape breather hole was the standard nib used on all of the OMAS Extra pens, while the Extra Lucens had a special arrow nib with a pentagon shape breather hole.

OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib
OMAS Extra Lucens nib

The Extra nib has longer tines than the Extra Lucens nibs creating more flexibility. The Extra Lucens nibs are soft and springing but not flexible (based on the small handful I have sampled).

Two Extra Lucens nibs
Two Extra Lucens nibs

During the war the Lucens and Extra Lucens pens had white metal trim and “permanio” nibs which were made of a steel alloy. These nibs, unlike Montblanc and Aurora’s wartime nibs, were not very resistant and many of them corroded.

The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens
The ebonite feed is much like those found on current production OMAS pens

The Extra Lucens was also offered with a bi-tone reversible arrow nib. The reverse side was stiff for carbon copies while right-side up the nib was soft like a regular OMAS nib.

Omas Extra Lucens -10
Writing sample with the Lucens

These pens are very nice reliable writers that I enjoy using. I almost always have one inked up. Like most vintage Italian pens, these are relatively rare and expensive. The large size Extra Lucens are the most desirable but for me as writers I prefer to use the smaller models.

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Success!!! Pen Shopping in Zürich and Milano

1938 OMAS Extra Lucens
1938-1939 OMAS Extra Lucens

Six days in and finally today I found a grail pen in Milano, a late 1930s OMAS Extra Lucens!!!

The shop:

Cartoleria Novecento

Cartoleria Novecento

 

Run by Albert and Alberta (husband and wife).  Albert spoke fluent English and could not have been more friendly.  His shop sells vintage and new fountain pens as well as stationery and other antiques.  He had some beautiful Italian rolled gold safety pens as well as a good number of vintage American pens.  He showed me many pens, including some magnificent new old stock OMAS and Namiki pens.  I saw the vintage OMAS Extra Lucens and I knew it had to be mine.  That makes two Extra Lucens from me in one month *doh!* (I might have to eat ramen for the next couple of years).  I am contemplating going back for the limited edition reproduction E.E. Ercolessi fountain pen produced by OMAS.

While in Milano I also checked out a couple of other pen stores:

The famed E.E. Ercolessi:

E.E. Ercolessi

E.E. Ercolessi only sells new pens and stationery.  The selection was generous and the staff were very friendly but the prices are pretty close to retail and ultimately not favorable when translated from Euros to USD.

The last shop I visited in Milano was Brunori:

Brunori

Run by Joseph Brunori, this small shop features a good number of Italian pens from Aurora, OMAS, Delta, Visconti and Marlen as well as pens from Montblanc, Faber-Castell, Kaweco, Lamy and Twsbi.  Joseph was kind to me despite my horrendous Italian and showed me several pens. Inside the shop he displays pens from his personal collection which included beautiful vintage American pens from Waterman and Parker.  He also had a very nice collection of vintage ink bottles.

 

In Zürich I found a few stationery/pen shops but only one that I feel is a must see:

Landolt-Arbenz

Landolt-Arbenz

This beautiful store features three floors of writing instruments and related accessories.  The basement floor features the majority of the fountain pens and stationery as well as one of the best displays of ink I have ever seen.  They had a huge selection of Abraxas ink and the discontinued versions of Sailor Jentle and Caran d’Ache inks as well as ink from many other brands, Stipula, Montblanc, Pilot, Montegrappa and others.  Landolt-Arbenz also has their own line of ink (made in Italy) and stationery.  I wanted to try their ink but decided against it as the design of the bottle was a shallow rectangular shape which is not a particularly usable design for an ink bottle.

As far as fountain pens go they had a beautiful selection of Nakayas, Caran d’Ache, and some amazing limited editions such as a Cartier Eagle which is an insane 33,000 CHF (approximately $37k USD) fountain pen!!!

The stationery at Landolt-Arbenz is beautiful but expensive. There was a wonderful A6 sized leather bound notebook that I was going to buy until I saw the 230 CHF price tag.

Next stop: Paris