Titanium in pens is not exactly new, the Parker T1 was introduced in 1970, and was the first pen to offer the use of this metal as a main selling point. But it's only of late that titanium has become hot, turned into a real marketing commodity. OK, I'm told that advances in manufacturing technology that make it easier to work with titanium might also have something to do with the fact that it's being used more often now.
Titanium works well in pens for a number of reasons. It's light, strong, and can be finished in a number of colours. The trendy fascination with titanium is actually only a part of it's attractiveness. For the most part, titanium pens feature the use of the metal in the cap and barrel. In some cases however, the nib itself is made of titanium. It happens to work pretty well for nibs, the Stipula 22 features a plastic cap and barrel, but a rather nicely flexible titanium nib. The OMAS T2 was also made with a titanium nib.
We tried to assemble a good selection of the available titanium pens, some are obviously more available than others, but you should be able to find an example of just about any of the following pens. This really isn't a comparison piece, per se, so we didn't want to be ranking the pens against each other, but comparing various advantages of each one to the others was allowed. SO, with no further ado, the great titanium roundup of 2003!
To begin at the beginning seemed like a good idea, hence we start with the Parker T1. This pen is at first glance, very 1970s. It's relatively slim, and has a very sleek look to it, like many of the best pens of this era. Slim and sleek was "in". The T1 was one of those pens that was a pretty substantial flop when introduced, that has since become something of a collector's "holy grail" pen. Since it wasn't a huge success commercially, limited numbers were made and sold, making them harder to come by today.
At the time it was made titanium was a much more exotic metal than it is today, and one of the main reasons for the commercial failure of the T1 was the fact that it cost so much to manufacture. The titanium simply wore out the conventional metalworking tools of the day. As a result of the high manufacturing costs, the retail price tag was high enough to make selling the T1 very tough.
This was despite the fact that the T1 was being marketed as the "space age pen".... "Hold the metal that's going to Mars in your hand. And write" and so forth. The T1 was seen as being the most up to date of Parker pens, and the advertising of the time reflected this. Still, it wasn't enough to make up for the high price point, and the pen was made for only a year or so.
As you might imagine, this short production makes the T1 a difficult pen to find "in the wild", haunting your local antique shop is not likely to produce one for your collection! They're not what I would call a "rare" pen, it's easy enough to find one at any of the larger pen shows, and in fact, you should have your choice of examples, from "user grade" to mint.
Actually using the T1 might be another matter. It's the only vintage pen of the batch, and they're tough enough to find that putting one into daily use might not be everyone's idea of comfortable. The tipping material is prone to breaking off the nib tines, and once broken off, you're out of luck since retipping the T1 is very difficult, if not impossible. In addition, they are often not the best writing of pens, not as smooth as some of the more modern titanium pens in our group.