Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pentel Excalibur and SG Series

Excalibur and SG Mechanical Pencils

pentel excalibur and sg
Crossed Swords - Black Excalibur and Gold SG
In the early days of this blog, the Pentel Excalibur was much sought after, a Grail mechanical pencil for many readers. Back in November 2009, Germ of Pencils11 blog wrote a post on his now deleted blog detailing some information about Excaliburs, and with his permission I now reprint a part of that, with a few edits and a bit of rework.
"Pentel produced the Excalibur pencils, and pen and pencil sets during the 1980's, and was still making Excalibur rollerball pens up until a few years ago. To garner greater sales in the middle 80's Pentel was a sponsor of the 1984 Olympics, and released a limited edition 1984 Olympic Excalibur pen and pencil set in a velvet display box, plus some single pens in presentation box. I'm not sure why they stopped making the Excalibur pencils and sets, but this is likely due to economic reasons and lack of demand. It's a shame, since these were, and I think still are, considered one of Pentel's flagship non drafting pencils. To use a pun, the name says it all.....
he Excalibur and SG series pencils write extremely well, and are balanced just right, as I am sure Dave will tell you. They exude writing confidence, and beg you to continue writing for hours on end. Lightweight, yet heavy enough to be felt, fatigue is rare. Aesthetically, these pencils are just beautiful. I challenge anyone to find a non-drafting mechanical pencil that tops the Excalibur. :)
Side Note: Pentel did release a non-Excalibur 1984 Olympic pen/pencil set. It has a Q565 for the pencil." -Germ, Pencils11 blog, 2009.
pentel excalibur los angeles olympic ex20 pen pencil set
Pentel Excalibur 1984 Los Angeles Olympics pen/pencil set

pentel excalibur olypmic logo

I have been doing more digging into the Excalibur and SG pencils, but with only somewhat limited success. Despite that, I feel it is time to publish something and maybe people out there will know some more.

Many people, myself included, use Excalibur as the name of a Pentel model of matching pen and mechanical pencil from the 1980’s, but that is misleading as Excalibur is really a sub-brand of Pentel. The 1982 Pentel catalogue states “Excalibur, the prestige line of Pentel pens and pencils…” Over the years the many and varied pens and pencils marketed as Excalibur have changed and were often totally unrelated to each other apart from the fact that they were all called Excalibur by Pentel. For example in the 1982 Pentel USA catalogue there were the following Excaliburs
  • The RX300/RX40x/RX50x series of ‘Slim’ Excalibur pens (with no matching pencils),
  • The RMJ series of pens and matching pencils,
  • The RXE5/PXE5 pen/pencil set, and
  • The Sharp Kerry style R1000/P1035A pen/pencil set. (The 1982 catalogue makes it clear that the pencil is just a standard P1035 Sharp Kerry, not marked as an Excalibur, but added only to make a pen/pencil set.)
So that is four different, basically unrelated, types of Excaliburs being sold at the same time in the early 80’s. All of these Excaliburs were gone at some stage before 1990, replaced by an ever changing line-up of new Excaliburs, and by the mid/late 2000’s the concept of the Excalibur prestige line had seemingly disappeared into the mists of Pentel history... but even today remnants still remain if you go hunting for them.

This article is about the RMJ series Excaliburs, as they are the pens and pencils most commonly simply called “Excaliburs” on websites, blogs, Ebay, etc. It is also about the closely related SG model pencils. It is an attempt to definitively identify the various models. By definitively, I mean from original source material, i.e. Pentel or retailer catalogues, flyers, etc. Unsubstantiated statements and images on websites and blogs, photographs from Ebay etc do not count as definitive sources. We all know that pencils can end up in mismatched boxes and websites are not always reliable, so they cannot be regarded as conclusive proof of model identification.

The Excalibur (RMJ) Models

Production start and finish unsure, but essentially 1979/1980 – 1985/1990. All mechanical pencils are 0.7mm only.
pentel excalibur mechanical pencils gold and black
Two Excaliburs - PX7-21 (top) and SG7
Black with gold trims (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue)
• Pen = RG10  “RMJ” series
• Pencil = SG7 (note this is an Excalibur , not an "SG", despite the SG in the model number)
• As a set = EX17

Brushed gold (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue) (pen finish called gold florentine and pencil finish called anodized brushed gold in 1982 catalogue)
• Pen = RX21 “RMJ” series (black front section)
• Pencil = PX7-21
• As a set = EX20

Brushed chrome (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue) (called hairline brushed aluminium in 1982 catalogue)
• Pen = R10 “RMJ” series (black front section)
• Pencil = P1007
• As a set = EX12

The pencil numbers in particular make no sense to me. They are all the same pencil apart from their colourway, but their product numbers have little to nothing in common with each other.

excalibur cases
Two Excalibur presentation cases.

pentel excalibur pencil and brochure
Excalibur brochure

SG Series Mechanical Pencils 

The Pentel SG series mechanical pencils are identical to the Pentel Excalibur RMJ series pencils except that their centre ring is angle scribed (similar to a helical gear wheel) rather than the “crown” pattern of Excalibur, and of course they are not marked Excalibur. Lead diameters are also different – Excalibur being 0.7mm and SG being 0.3mm and 0.5mm.

pentel sg65 and excalibur mechanical pencils
SG65 (top) and PX7-21 Excalibur (bottom)

pentel excalibur and sg pencil center rings
SG on left with angle gear centre ring and Excalibur on right with crown centre ring and Excalibur logo
It is interesting to note that the Excaliburs seem to always feature prominently in Pentel USA catalogues, but the SG pencils are never mentioned.  This implies Pentel USA did not sell SG pencils, or at least if they did sell them, then only as a very minor item. The only catalogue I know with the SG series in it is the 1980 Japanese language catalogue, of which I only have a low resolution B&W scan. Therefor all other models listed below are not definitive and are from photographs of pencils and their boxes or website descriptions.

The general numbering scheme of SG pencils appears to be: First digit = colourway, Second digit = lead size.

SG75 – gold with black pinstripes. (Model is noted in 1980 Japan catalogue, but translation of the colourway is not 100% definite. However, combined with various auctions of the gold with black pinstripes in a Pentel box labelled SG75 box mean this is 99.99% confident)
SG65 – gold. (Noted in 1980 Japan catalogue)
SG45 (assumed) – coloured. Known colours are brown, blue and green from online auctions and other collectors. (Was there also a red?)
SG35 (assumed) – silver/aluminium.
SG33 (assumed) – silver/aluminium, 0.3mm lead size.
SG15 – black (Noted in 1980 Japan catalogue)

pentel sg75, sg65 and sg33 mechanical pencils
SG75, SG65 and SG33 Mechanical Pencils
pentel r7 sg75 pen pencil set
R7 pen + SG75 pencil set

SV Series Mechanical Pencils

The 1980 Japanese language catalogue only mentions the SG15, SG65 and SG75. It does not mention the SG33/35, but it does show the silver/aluminium SV (0.3mm) and SV5 (0.5mm) pencils which appear to be very similar, perhaps even identical to the SG series. Perhaps these are the SG33 and SG35 and they will simply be renumbered as SG33/35 in the future?

I would like to thank Nimrodd for access to various Pentel catalogues and Kanjiman for invaluable translation services.

Request For Further Information
If anyone can add any further information to the above then please let me know. For example
• A catalogue or retail advertisement showing an SG33/35/45 and therefor proving the model number.
• A 1970’s catalogue, or a late 1980’s, without any Excaliburs, or completely different ones, thus narrowing down the start and finish dates.
• Any information on SV pencils.
Those are just some examples of the sort of information that would help, but basically if you have any information that you think might help then please let me know.

pentel lencelot mechanical pencil
Pentel Lancelot

1 comment:

2nd_astronaut said...

Here my list of luxury capped Excalibur pencils (incomplete, and only internet "knowledge"):
Excalibur PXE5 - silver 3000Yen
Excalibur PXE105 - ? 10000Yen
Excalibur PXN105 - ? 10000Yen
Excalibur PXE155 - silver with gold clip etc. 15000Yen
Excalibur PXE205 - gold 20000Yen
Excalibur PXN205 - gold automatic 20000Yen