I felt relaxed and serene as soon as I started to write with the ST Dupont Line D / Ligne D / Elysee (more on the naming later…).
It’s a very stylish pen, as befits a historic Parisian atelier, of course, but you could almost mistake it for… boring. Like a gentleman in a plain grey suit.
But like a good suit, the details give it away — if you know what to look for.
Style, not fashion
There’s the overall cut of the tailoring, first of all. In the case of the Line D / Elysee, it’s found in the subtle curving cap, the long, lightly tapered barrel, the unusually high waist and curving solid clip that spans the entire cap. The pen has an unusual profile, actually, but it’s clean and classic in its own way.
Then there’s the material. In this case, the body of the pen is brass, and it feels solid and durable. According to the specs, the cap is not brass but aluminium, making it lighter and less of a disruption to the pen’s balance when posting. As in tailoring, the underlying construction can make all the difference to how a garment wears. For reference, the pen is 53g capped and 36g uncapped.
The barrel and cap are lacquered in black, with the trim palladium plated. Other Duponts come in a variety of different lacquer colours: navy blue, brown, deep red, but they’re generally classic, sober colours that don’t shout for attention. Like I said, relaxing.
Like a good suit, not a stitch is out of place. The polish is flawless, every join is flush, every edge smoothed. The Line D is one of the neatest and best-finished pens I’ve used in a while.
And then there are the accessories, the tie and cufflinks and pocket squares that add the detail and complete the picture. For the Line D / Elysee, the faceted clip with its little diamond-shaped dimple is a masterclass, being sprung at just the right tension, and with enough reach to hold on to jeans and silk shirts with equal aplomb.
The barrel band that abuts the cap is beautifully engraved with the brand’s name and PARIS, in an understated way.
Perhaps most importantly, the nib, which is fully rhodium plated and shaped like no other nib I’ve seen. The edges are scalloped and the stamping swoops to the tip, creating a kind of art deco spire crowning the pen.
On the reverse side, the feed clings to the nib, almost hidden.
It’s not a big, brash nib — it’s noticeably smaller and shorter than a JoWo #6 — but it’s absolutely delightful. And under a loupe, it is absolutely, 100% perfect. I have never seen such even, perfectly aligned, beautifully polished tines.
I find the Line D / Elysse relaxing not only for its visual restraint. It is a perfect fit for me in terms of hand feel and usability, such that it simply gets out of the way.
Capping and uncapping is achieved through a simple push or pull, with a reassuring (if somewhat loud) click when the cap seats in place. It feels very secure, and keeps the nib wet, yet you don’t need to be Hercules to pull the cap free again. I can see why Dupont fans rave about the cap action. Incidentally, the cap posts about an inch deep, but it’s friction fit only and I wouldn’t want to mar the finish of the lacquer over time.
The section is metal, but I didn’t find it slippery. Perhaps due to the pen’s great balance.
The diameter is a goldilocks of not too wide, not too narrow, and it slopes from a chunky 12.5mm to a dinky 9.5mm before a terminal flare. Although there’s a small step up to the barrel, this lip is inoffensive, and the section is so long at 25mm that it’s a non-issue. Compare here against a TWSBI Eco.
To fill, you unscrew the barrel on mediocre threads — the only real bit of the pen that doesn’t feel perfectly executed. They bind and grind just a little.
Dupont includes a single cartridge only, which is laughably stingy for a luxury pen, but Pure Pens includes a generic converter.
A happy medium
I filled first with Pure’s own Celtic Sea, one of my favourite blues, but after a couple of days I felt that a sober black ink was more this pen’s style, so I reinked with Iroshizuku Take-Sumi.
Both inks flowed very nicely from the nib. Mine is stamped M for medium, and that’s the word. The line is a true European medium, in every direction, at every angle. The flow is medium. There’s no line variation at all, whether by grind or by flex — this nib is a nail. It’s just smooth and gets on with the job, page after page. There’s a little audible feedback, but on the page it feels smooth and firm.
You could call all this boring, but somehow the Line D / Elysee comes off as composed, well executed, classy, versatile. Like a well-made grey suit, you could use the Elysee every day at work, and nobody would ever notice it, but you’d never find it lacking, never tire of its unassuming style.
It doesn’t shout for your attention, or anyone’s: the lacquer barrel looks no different than plastic. The capping mechanism has one of the best feels of any snap cap I’ve used, but you’d never know to look at it. The nib writes beautifully, and it’s a real looker, but it’s very different to, say, the presence of a 149’s huge nib.
What’s more, I have no doubt that if you did use it every day at work, you could expect years of faithful service: the Line D / Elysee is built like a tank from head to toe.
Which one should you buy? Good question…
Now, a word on pricing and models. ST Dupont had and has an incredibly confusing portfolio, where model ranges and size labels have been renamed and changed specification over time and where it can be very difficult to work out exactly which pen you might get, especially since the brand’s product photography is poor.
This particular pen is the 410674 reference, which is now in Dupont’s masculine ‘Line D’ range, but was formerly known as Elysee. Only crazy people would prefer the new name: Elysee evokes the Elysian fields of heaven, as well as the stately seat of French government. But who am I to argue with Dupont’s product managers?
Regardless of name, it has a 14k nib, black lacquer, palladium trim, made in France, smooth section, and by the shape of the section and the minimal step down from the barrel, it’s of the larger size. It’s 135mm from tip of nib to end of barrel, and 147mm long capped. Note that these specs don’t line up with what’s on Dupont’s website.
Dupont seems to have refreshed the Line D range and offers a version with a fluted section, called the 410100L, here. It has more or less the same proportions as the pen I’ve reviewed above, but has a new (less attractive) shield logo on the nib. There’s also a smaller version of the Line D, which seems to have a much more severe barrel step. Compare both new and old designs to the ‘Line D Medium, 410100M’ here.
Confused yet? Well, exactly.
The version I received from Pure Pens for review is currently priced at £349, which I think is very good value: it sits between other European premium pens like the Pelikan M800 (around £300) and the Montblanc 146 (£550) or Graf von Faber-Castell Classic (£525). Although it’s ‘just another black pen’, the distinctive capping mechanism, unique nib and feed design, and beautiful standard of finish makes the Dupont a standout addition to your collection, whether or not you’re a paid-up member of the Black Pen Society.
However, the rest of the ‘large’ Dupont pens, like the 410100L I linked above, are priced at £585 RRP — presumably Dupont is driving out older stock at the lower price and reasserting a premium for its newer designs. But £585 is a much weaker value proposition for a plain black CC filler, putting it a noticeable bump ahead of all its main competitors. To get the most from the brand’s qualities I would almost be tempted to make the big leap up to Dupont’s ‘atelier’ collection, with their more exotic handmade lacquer finishes (£800ish).
All those portfolio and pricing shenanigans aside, and whatever the hell Dupont calls this pen today, the Elysee is a beautifully crafted pen that anyone should be proud to own, particularly at £350.
I know I’m late discovering Dupont. What are your experiences of this brand?