Élysée Dragon Pen Special Edition 1998-1999
by Jim Mamoulides 12/27/01 - Updated 3/31/05
Year Of The Dragon
The final Élysée Special Edition pen is named for the mystical image of the Chinese dragon executed in gold on a black lacquer background. The Dragon Pen Special Edition was introduced in the April, 1998 Élysée catalog. The edition celebrates the coming 2000 Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar.
This pen, unlike the previous Élysée Limited Editions, which were based on the excellent Parthenon series, the Dragon is based on a modification of the Parthenon design that appears as the Laque Fine Line model in the 1998 catalog. By 1998, when the Dragon Pen was introduced, Élysée had dropped the distinctive four prongs from the sides of the clip across all models. This change gives the base pen a sleeker look, which the Dragon Pen's black lacquer finish picks up strongly. The Cigar Special Edition is the same base construction as the Laque Fine Line and Dragon pens.
Single or multiple instruments were presented in a special bright red display package that opens like a bookcase and is adorned with the same Chinese characters as the pen. The Laque Fine Line was the top model in the line, with a two-tone 18 karat gold palladium masked nib, as with the earlier Parthenon and Finesse models.
The Dragon Special Edition was continued in the 1999 Élysée catalog. This continuation of production, and the lack of individual series numbers on the instruments, but special packaging strongly indicates the instruments were treated as a short special run much in the same way as other year 2000 models. The Parker Duofold Greenwich Special Edition was done in this manner, having all the trappings of a numbered limited edition without the pesky numbers. Free from edition limits, the manufacturer would be free to add to the run, if the line turned popular.
Élysée Dragon Special Edition as shown in the 1998 Élysée catalog
A special limited
From the 1999 Élysée Catalog on the Dragon Pen: "The image of the Chinese Dragon has been transferred onto the writing instrument with an innovative technique in very fine, detailed structure and afterwards plated with precious gold. The Dragon Pen is available as fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint or automatic pencil." The Dragon theme followed from the pen to the special packaging featuring a bright red box adorned with the special Chinese characters.
The Dragon Pen is fitted with a highly decorated solid 14 karat gold nib in eight point sizes. All Élysée writing instruments came with an implied lifetime warranty. The Dragon Pen Special Edition was offered singly and in sets as unnumbered writing instruments in four writing modes:
- Fountain pen
- Capped rollerball pen
- Twist action ballpoint pen
- 0.7mm Twist action mechanical pencil
Élysée Dragon Special Edition 1998
Identification guide and features:
- Brass base cap and barrel painted in black Chinese lacquer with special Dragon screen printed design
- 1/8 inch wide gold plated cap band
- Gold plated innerspring clip
- 14 karat gold open nib, with special Élysée logo stamping
- Eight nib grades included extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, double broad, oblique medium, oblique broad, and oblique double broad
- Black resin section with 1/8 inch wide gold plated band
- About 5 5/8 inches long capped and 6 1/8 inches posted
- Cartridge / converter, using international type cartridges
- Retail price for the pen was DM 260.00, matching capped rollerball pen was DM 170.00, matching twist action ballpoint pen was DM 130.00, and matching twist action pencil was DM 150.00 in the 1998 German catalog
- Sold in special edition red leatherette presentation box
Since this particular pen was mint, I will rely on tests with the Élysée Limited Edition pens to give the writing impression for this review. They are the same size and weight and use the same nib unit.
The Dragon Pen Special Edition, like the Élysée Limited Edition pens, is based on the all brass construction Parthenon, and thus has a similar weight and feel in the hand as the slightly larger Cross Townsend line. It is a long and slender pen, 5 5/8 inches capped and 6 1/8 inches posted. The cap adds weight to a fairly heavy pen, but it turns out well balanced in the hand either way. Having all three of the Cloisonné pens to review along with this pen, allows a composite view of my impressions of all of them, with the specifics of the Dragon pointed out.
The Dragon Pen is decorated using gold screen painting over black Chinese lacquer. The metal surfaces appear to be heavily plated, which should make them wear well.
Élysée Dragon Special Edition packaging - inside the box
The cap snaps securely both on the section and the barrel end, another similarity to the Cross Townsend. The cap adds weight to a fairly heavy pen, but it is well balanced in the hand either way. The clip is not very springy, so it probably won't clip well to a flannel shirt or a coat pocket, but it does the job well. It lacks the decoration at the fulcrum that the Élysée Limited Edition and Parthenon based models have. The pen sits fairly deep in the pocket, but one should consider a starched shirt, as the pen's weight may cause it to flop around. The gold cap top lacks the "wings" of the other pens, but is still a very bright statement against the black lacquer and keeps this pen in the pocket jewelry category.
Élysée Dragon Special Edition 1998 catalog page showing ballpoint pen
Élysée nibs are typically smooth, wet, and even writers. Each of the Limiteds I tried proved this. Élysée pens are all fitted with the same section, with the only difference among them is the nib finish. The Dragon Pen's 14 karat gold nib is ornate, with the same detailed engraving, but in plain gold. The pen fills easily with a piston converter or standard international cartridges.
Élysée Dragon Special Edition nib detail
My one real gripe with the Élysée Limited Edition pens is the plating loss I've experienced at the end of the section. This problem is not unique to Élysée pens, but with other high-end brands. The problem seems to be controllable if the section is judiciously wiped after each filling, but it's a problem that should not happen.
The Élysée Limited and Special Edition pens make good daily users with a very arty and Asian flair, especially with the Dragon pen
As Élysée is out of business as of early 2000, these pens and their Parthenon based siblings may become harder to find. As of this writing, the pens are turning up here and there at fair discounts, making this a pen to consider before they get away.
Thanks to Ronny Largenfalk for providing the 1998 Élysée catalog and new information on the Dragon Special Edition pen. Thanks to Howard Cohen for additional identification material on the various Elysee models.
Comments on this article may be sent to the author, Jim Mamoulides