Zenith Extra

1950s

About This Model

There were many small fountain pen manufacturers in Italy during the vintage era, particularly in Torino and Bologne, and included Artus, Atlantica, Aurea, Imperiale, Kosca and others. The trouble is that there is almost no published information about them, except for the wonderful scholarship of Letizia Jacobini, who has managed to tease out most of the sub-brands and models from brands, a tremendously complex job. Most of the brands here were one purchase I made some years back to experience mid-level Italian vintage pens. They were almost all button-fillers, in celluloid patterns that I had never seen before or since. The nibs were almost all steel, responsive and often at least minimally flexible. Filcao started in the 1960s in Settimo Torinese, Italy, as a machine shop for metal parts. Crediting Richard Binder for the history, it's noted that by the end of the decade Filcao was producing cartridge/converter fountain pens, which then became its primary business. In 2004, Binder designed a pen for Filcao called “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” an all-new button filler. It was followed by the Atlantica, the Nobile, and the Silvia. Filcao closed in 2012.

About This Pen

Zeniths may not have been the apogee of Italian fountain pen manufacturing, but this is a pretty pen that will write well. It was far from clean, but one could see its beauty under the dirt; once cleaned and polished its beauty reappeared. At least two of its Parker 51-copying particulars put this pen’s appearance in the 1950s: its “aerometric” filling mechanism and the black hood over the nib. The aero filler came to me with an ordinary latex sac’s remains stuck inside, but it fills well. However, it’s a pretty pen that writes well! Its body is 18k gold-plate (marked “laminato oro 750”), and is very attractive. The overlay is chased with a brick pattern, and both ends are tapered. The view window is clear. The nib under that hood is not a tubular nib. It is an open nib marked “Zenith Extra Oro”, and writes a nice fine line with some flex, a typical Italian writing style. The cap holds firmly on the clutch ring, but not quite firmly enough to trust in a pocket. A very nice writer for shaded script.

Price: $80 Sold

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