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Pen Research: Vintage Pilot Edition

Posted in Fountain Pens

I don’t get the opportunity to write these posts very often, as I’m not big on vintage pens. However, recently Jim came across a vintage flat top pilot pen with a factory oblique nib. Because it has an engraving on it, it was selling for peanuts. I love oblique nibs and was curious, so we got it.

The pilot pen, capped, showing the engraving

The engraving could mean so many things, but I assumed that:

  • “ODA” is either initials or a person’s first or last name,
  • “AFRICA” is referencing a trip to Africa, and
  • “80” is for 1980.


So that’s where I started, a Google search for “Pilot fountain pen 1980 oblique.”

Which gave me bupkis.

I decided to back out a bit and search for “vintage pilot flat top fountain pen.” That search led me to a post on Fountain Pen Network: Vintage Pilot pens – please help identifying which led me down a rabbit hole search for the “Celemo (セレモ)” because the pen on the far right had a thick/thin cap band that my pen has. I thought maybe they were related, but different years.

Photo from the Fountain Pen Network post mentioned previously.

Unfortunately, that turned out to be a false lead. After reviewing several links, It became obvious that I don’t own a Celemo. Nor do I own a Young Rex — a name that came up during my searches for the Celemo.

So, I widened my net and searched for “Pilot fountain pens 1980.” While I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did find links to the Pen Collectors of America reference library which widened my awareness of what they have available, and Pilot’s history of the Custom model — I added that to my Stationery References page.

The historical reference made me wonder if that would be the way to go instead, and I searched for “Pilot fountain pen history 1980.” From that search, I found Crónicas EstilográficasDatation of Japanese Pens series. My pen, however, did not have the date on the nib or on the body. It’s possible the date is on the back of the nib, but I couldn’t remove it to see. So, I was back to square one.

close up on the vintage pilot nib

I still had the tab for “vintage pilot flat top fountain pen” open, so I took another look at that. Fairly close to the top — which I would have noticed if I hadn’t detoured to searching for the Celemo — was a photo that looked just like my pen. I clicked through to another Fountain Pen Network post: Vintage Pilot identificaion, 14k Nib Fine/Medium.

The photo that caught my eye.

All photos in that post looked exactly like my pen. It looked like I have a Pilot グランダム (trasliteration: gurandamu). Apparently there isn’t an English name for it, but according to Google it translates to Grand Dam, which can mean everything from old woman to female ancestor.

The post also included a link to another Fountain Pen Network post: Please help ID this Pilot pen. It still looked exactly like my pen. Even better, there was a link to Pilot’s old advertisement gallery. While generally just cool, following the “instructions” in the FPN post, I found the two “posters” mentioned. Each advertisement features the gurandamu and the Pilot グランディ (trasliteration: gurandi) AKA Grandee.

1978 advertisement for the gurandamu (right) and gurandi.
1979 advertisement for the gurandamu (left) and gurandi.

So, I have a Pilot Gurandamu, likely manufactured in 1979 or 1980, based on the inscription.


The only thing left, because the advertisements give me the original data, is to figure out a price. I can’t get an exact equivalent, but I can get a ballpark, maybe.

The pen sold for ¥5,000 in 1979. That year $1 USD was approximately ¥214.51 (working off of an average for the year, then averaging across several sources). That would make the pen about $23.31 USD, if purchased in 1979. Which, averaging across several inflation calculators comes to about $102.78 today.

Looking at it a different way, ¥5,000 in 1979 is roughly equal to ¥8,039 today, which comes to only $51.22 USD according to Google.

Of course, neither of those take into account the way prices for goods inflate at different speeds. For example, in the first calculation, the inflation rate was 340.93%. However, In January 1979, the price of gold was about $230 per ounce, and on 5/24/24 it was about $2,340 per ounce. That’s an inflation rate of 917.39%. Then there’s also the change cost of labor, other materials, and the fluctuating market price of fountain pens.

The Pen

In the end, I’m happy to have this pen. While the factory oblique isn’t ground at a particularly steep angle, it does give a hint of “oblique character” to writing. And it’s buttery smooth, which I really love. If you happen to find a gurandamu in the wild at a good price, I’d recommend it.

The pilot gurandamu uncapped

Have you ever heard of the gurandamu? Would you want one? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Make sure to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss any posts. I generally post at least once a week.


    • John Vincent Keogh
      John Vincent Keogh

      I have a few Pilots but not that one. Wishful thinking!

      June 11, 2024

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