The quietly wonderful ST Dupont Line D / Elysee

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.

The proportions of the Line D / Elysee are subtly different to other pens

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.

You can spot a glimpse of brass inside the barrel.

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.

The wide band is distinctively Dupont

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.

The edges of the cap are smooth as silk.

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 clip is long and effective.
A little diamond dimple elevates the aesthetic.

The barrel band that abuts the cap is beautifully engraved with the brand’s name and PARIS, in an understated way.

Made in France!

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.

The nib’s edges are scalloped and line up with stamping on the surface.

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.

Tailored fit

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.

Those three bumps are part of the cap grip mechanism.

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.

Generic filling

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.

Quietly confident

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?

12 thoughts on “The quietly wonderful ST Dupont Line D / Elysee

  1. It was only by checking the part number you listed could I make sure I was looking at the same pen on their website. They title it “Palladium finish Natural Lacquer fountain pen.” As you mention, their lines are not that easy for a consumer to navigate, particularly if you have no previous knowledge of the brand.

    I agree that you need to look closely to see everything that’s there on the pen, and I don’t think the price is out of line with the workmanship. That said, on the basic models there’s something missing for me to consider laying out $550+ for one. Call me a mark, but I’d be more inclined to pay three times that for one of the James Bond edition pens than get the standard Line D.

    I appreciate your reviews and insights on all of the pens. It’s great content.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly why I gave the model numbers — it’s really confusing!

      I would put my neck on the line and say this feels like you get more pen for your money than a Montblanc 146. But I came to the same conclusion as you and at the higher price I would probably spring for a more special edition release. The Bond pens don’t do it for me — I dislike tie-ins like that — but the atelier range certainly do.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Completely by accident, on my birthday last year, my wife and I happened to be walking past the local pen shop. We popped in and she asked me if there were any pens I would get. I foolishly suggested the exact pen you review here but with gold trim and a broad nib. Before I could stop her, she’d snapped it up and I’ve had it inked almost constantly since. Your review is spot on and the broad nib is heaven. Being brass, I imagine the weight is similar to your Namiki Yukari Royale? That is a pen I have long coveted and if the weight is kind of similar that would be great to know.

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    • I wish my partner would buy me a Dupont for my birthday next week 😀

      Thanks for the feedback on the review and on your experiences with your pen. Ping me at ukfountainpens@gmail.com and I’ll see if I can take some comparison photos of the Yukari Royale and send you details of the weight comparison. From my spreadsheet the Yukari is 48g capped, 30g uncapped (but inked) — so lighter than the Dupont by 6g when uncapped. Its section ranges from 13mm to 11mm diameter, so broader than the Dupont too.

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  3. It’s wonderful that their website quotes the weight of the pen in kilograms – it’s almost as if they’ve gone down to the Archives Nationales to compare it to Napoleon’s prototype…

    I’m very happy with my ~2010 DLink, even if the fit and finish isn’t flawless. The nib is as perfect as yours seems to be (mine is quite stubbish, actually) and it also has very nice block threads for unscrewing the barrel. And I do like the little semi-circular brim that protrudes from the section over the base of the nib – it’s a pity they’ve dropped that.

    One distinctive thing about their styling is that they’re not trying to create a unified whole across cap and barrel, with the line of the pen continuing from one end to the other. They’re very definitely two different things – it takes a little get used to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed the weights too — utterly useless!

      The little ‘cap brim’ over the nib is a cute feature that I miss too.

      You’re right about the absence of a unified line. It’s subtle, but it makes for a very distinctive silhouette.

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  4. My experience is the same as yours: well-built, great in the hand, fantastic capping mechanism/sound, definitely a nail. One thing I don’t like is that the generic lacquer on my line D shows lots of scratches. May be different with the higher-end Chinese lacquers, but it’s a bit of a disappointment compared to my Nakayas. For what it’s worth, it’s the same with my Watermans so maybe a French lacquer thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that’s a really good comment to add, thanks Ed. I tend to baby my pens, don’t post, and naturally haven’t put this pen through months and years of use yet — so I haven’t noticed any scratching. But indeed one of the selling points of urushi is that it’s surprisingly durable. My Nakaya and Namiki look as new after a year of use. I would be disappointed if the Dupont started to show scratches.

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      • I should add then that I definitely don’t baby my pens! It’s usually only a matter of time before they end up getting dropped on concrete, which my Dupont did and survived with only mild denting to the brass finial. It is a tank.

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