Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Old Style Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -2

Pilot’s most famous fountain pen is without question the Vanishing Point (aka the Capless).  This is the best selling and simply the best retractible nib fountain pen ever produced.

Many models have been introduced since the Vanishing Point’s inception in the early 1960s and the one I am reviewing today is a “Namiki” branded model with a faceted black plastic body and white metal trim. This body style was introduced in the 1970s stayed in production until the late 1990s. This particular Vanishing Point was made in 1997 right before the introduction of the current metal bodied Pilot Vanishing Point in 1998.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3
Old style “Namiki” branded faceted Vanishing Point (nib extended)

This older model (which I will refer to from now on as the “faceted VP”) is much more attractive with its elegantly integrated clip and slimmer faceted body. The current Vanishing Point has a much less harmonious design with bloated clumsy look to it.

Current style Pilot Vanishing Pont with nib extended
Current style Pilot Vanishing Point (nib extended)

 

The faceted VP is lighter and slimmer, weighing in at 18.5 grams and measuring just 11mm wide (clip not included).  The current model weighs in at 31 grams.  To my hand the faceted VP is much more comfortable to use.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -5
Top: faceted VP with Pendleton Brown Butter Line Stub Bottom: current model with Richard Binder Italifine

The nib on this faceted VP is 14kt gold instead of 18kt gold on the current production model. The nib started life with a medium point and was ground into a butter line stub by Pendleton Brown.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -8

This particular grind offers a great combination of usability and writing flair. I have done a number of custom grinds on medium nibs and this one my favorite so far. The nib is so smooth with just a hint of feedback…it’s luxurious.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -6
Top: faceted VP Bottom: current model VP

Downsides?

The converter. These faceted VPs use a squeeze sac converter. It doesn’t hold enough ink so I always use cartridges with the metal cartridge cap.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -4
Top: squeeze sac converter in nib unit Bottom: piston converter in nib unit

The current model by comparison uses the Pilot Con-50 which is nicer to use and holds a slightly more reasonable amount of ink.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -3

This is an awesome pen.  You can find them used ranging from about $80 to $150.

Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen -1

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Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Medium Nib Review

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The Pilot Vanishing Point is an extremely popular fountain pen with a click mechanism that retracts the nib.  I have had mine for several years now and while it’s frequently inked it’s far from my favorite pen.  To me the Vanishing Point is purely a tool; it’s reliable and can be operated with one hand for quick notes but it’s not fun to write with.  My VP has a brown lacquered brass body with rhodium accents weighing in at 30.9 grams with a full converter.  The VP measures just under 5.5″ long and is about half an inch thick at its widest point.  The Vanishing Point is a pretty ugly pen; it’s definitely not a show piece.  The VP looks the most dignified in matte black and unfortunately for me it was released well after I purchased my brown one.

Pilot Vanishing Point Nib

The stiff 18 carat gold medium point nib has no personality but is smooth and reliable.  The medium point is a bit finer than most European mediums and the flow is pretty average.

Namiki marking on the nib
Namiki marking on the nib
Nib extended
Nib extended
Nib retracted
Nib retracted

Depending on how you hold your pen the clip may be an issue because it is so close to the tip.  Having a pretty standard grip it does not bother me but this pen definitely wont work for everyone.  Also, I do not find the VP to be comfortable for long writing sessions as the grip area is relatively wide and the pen is quite heavy.  The Vanishing Point comes with a converter, a cartridge and a metal cartridge cap (that prevents the click mechanism from crushing a plastic cartridge).  The VP offers a lot of pen for the money with an average street price $140.  The build quality is excellent as with all Pilot products and it has held up well quite well for me.  The nib has a lot of tipping material so I may have it ground down into a stub to give this great pen some character.  I recommend trying the Vanishing Point in person before purchasing.

Pilot Vanishing Point

Here are some great reviews of the Vanishing Point:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

The Pencil Case Blog – Pilot capless/ vanishing point fountain pen

No Pen Intended – Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen

Lady Dandelion – pilot vanishing point – a functional, chubby dolphin

Tyler Dahl Pens – Pen review – Pilot Vanishing Point!

The Fountain Pen Quest – Review: Pilot Vanishing Point “Matte Black”

Ed Jelley – The Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen in Matte Black – Handwritten Review

Everyday Commentary – Pilot Vanishing Point Review

Gourmet Pens – Review: Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point Raden – Medium

The Pen Addict – Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Review