Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amazing Celluloid: Omas Paragon Arco

I've got a thing for shimmering or pearlescent pens in general - like mother of pearl, or some Urushi techniques, or celluloid, or satin wood, or... but the Omas bug has only bitten me recently.

Before this all my celluloid pens were Montegrappas (like this gorgeous red and black Alfa Romeo). This is probably linked to a more or less exclusive preference for large and/or heavy pens I used to have. This has changed a bit. A pen should still have a certain girth to feel nice in the hand but light weight is no longer a dealbreaker - at least not if it's an Omas!

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

Why is that? I can't tell for sure. It might be something about the balance, about the way their pens feel like they're part of the hand. It's weird because when I picked up my Montblanc Jonathan Swift last week I thought "my, this is one heavy pen". I don't remember this thought crossing my mind before, "heavy" was just the way a pen was supposed to feel like. I wonder if this is changing gradually? 
I hope not because I still appreciate the bulky & heavy pens a lot!

Back to the Paragon! As I said it's a lightweight pen (22 g capped, 14 g uncapped - even lighter than I would have estimated) made entirely of celluloid without any metal parts in the piston mechanism. Except for some LEs this model is no longer made - the current model paragon is somewhat fatter, has a metal section and the clip is different. That one doesn't appeal to me so much so when this old style one showed up at the bay I went for it - and succeeded.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

It was exciting for the seller didn't know more than the brand and the nib size and I - less than an expert for Omas pens - had to identify the model based on measurements and design of the nib. Fortunately I'd made the right guess and what arrived was exactly what I had expected.

I had read - and found out with my brand new Extra Lucens - about Omas pistons being a bit on the stiff side, mainly the celluloid Paragons but that didn't prepare me for the sounds this piston made when I gently started to move it up and down. I wasn't aware a piston could make such a sound and I would describe it to you if I hadn't made an effort to put it out my mind.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

So something had to happen with this piston! I had read you could unscrew the section which seemed to be my only choice as the nib unit didn't budge and I'd heard the feed could be fragile. Fortunately everything went well and with some silicone grease for lubrication the piston now moves freely enough, though still a little jerky and not exactly reassuring.

Still somehow the color makes up for it all. Isn't this the perfect shade for autumn? It has the gold of the sun, the red and brown of the trees and the earth. It has the highlights at the front and back side lining up with the nib and feed and the deep shadows in between. I could look at it for days.

Speaking of the Extra Lucens, this Paragon is about the same size as the Extra Lucens but has spiky ends on cap and barrel where the Lucens's are flat.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

 When I got it the gold was a little tarnished so it can't have been used for a while but before that it must have seen quite a bit of use as there are some scuffs and scratches mainly on the cap. The nib, though in great condition, has this worn in feel you sometimes get with vintage pens. It's a medium size. The plating seems to be a little off in places, too much rhodium overall - I've read there was an era in Omas history where this happened frequently. I might have it fixed one day or just take it as a quirk and ignore it.

The tarnishing on the nib polished off nicely with a jeweler's cloth. I'm taking my time trying to gently buff out the scuffs on the cap with MicroMesh.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

Sorry for awkward handwriting - I haven't written a lot with that one yet and still getting used to it but still wanted to show how it writes. I've only tried Omas Blue in it so far which performs very nicely in it and doesn't come gushing out as it did in my Extra Lucens - so I guess the nib's flow isn't too heavy but not too dry either.

For the writing sample I used some new "System" inkjet paper from the Karstadt convenience stores here in Germany which is very nice actually! It can be had in various weights, sizes and colors (this is the 120g/sqm in A5 ivory) and at least the 120 and 160 g/sqm sheets perform really well with fountain pens. Great for writing letters and cheaper than most stationery.


  1. Oh my. That is seriously gorgeous. The depth to the colour of the body... WOW!

    1. They're great, aren't they? I've said it before, I can't tell why or how I ignored them for so long. Their Extra Lucens isn't bad stuff either.
      Well... Have fun spreading, Omas bug. ;)