Learning about vintage fountain pens is a difficult proposition as the history of pens and the companies behind them is poorly documented and information often comes from a single source when anything was bothered to be written down.
Anyway, some pens have a rich history that is worth digging into, like the Pilot Vanishing Point and, in this case, the Pilot MYU and Murex.
Pilot Murex Basic Information
The Murex is a highly collectible stainless steel nib fountain pen from Japanese pen manufacturer Pilot. The pen, which is no longer made and comes from a line which is no longer in use, is known for its integrated nib and sleek, clean styling.
The MYU, which was first sold in 1971, was primarily made during the 1970s but its production extended into the 1980s. The Murex was said to follow it later, in 1977, and follow the same pattern. The pens were only sold in Japan.
These pens were rather expensive — typically selling for 3,500 JPY or 5,000 JPY ($30 to $40 today, but more like $100 to $140 in today’s dollars) — but not prohibitively so.
The Murex and MYU both feature a distinctive nib that is visually striking and cleverly designed. The nib is integrated into the grip section of the pen, making a one-piece design that looks impressively minimalist.
The nib’s design is often compared to a quill, where the body of the pen and the writing tip are one. This makes for a simple design but greatly adds to the complexity and price of that one piece. This design also means that dropping the pen and damaging the nib is catastrophic, as the nib goes from being the most expensive component the pen to the vast majority of the price of the pen.
The design is often compared to that of Parker’s legendary titanium T-1 pen, which is one of the most sought after of all fountain pens. It to has a sleekly designed integrated nib, but its infinitely harder to find as the Parker was only made in limited numbers for a single year.
Murex vs. MYU
The first thing to know about the Murex is that the name is often confused with the MYU. When buying vintage pens on a place like Ebay, the two names seem randomly interchangeable, but historically they were not.
The Murex is the full-sized fountain pen while the MYU is the short version with its distinctively long cap.
The MYU is a short, pocketable pen with a deep fit in the cap. The cap can be posted, making for a full-sized fountain pen, similar to the Kaweco Sport pens, but with a design that is distinct to the 1970s.
Technically the two seem to have been different lines of pens, but they are commonly clubbed together, usually under the name you are more familiar with.
To add to the confusion, the pens were originally sold with printing on them which might read something like “MR Pilot.” The MR pens are the Murex ones.
The model numbers are one of the most confusing parts of these pens to untangle.
- M701: The most commonly seen model is the MYU 701. This is the first pen in either line to be released, appearing in 1971. The retail price was 3,500 JPY.
- Striped MYU: Starting in 1973 some of the MYU pens had black stripe running down them. These are much more desirable with today’s collectors but also much rarer. They had a price at the time of 5,000 JPY
- Murex: In 1977 the Murex appeared, with its use of the integrated nib, but a standard cap design and a full-sized body. It had a knurled grip section and the “MR” printing on the cap. A small number of Murex pens had a colored stripe (usually red) on their clip but these are rather rare.
- Quartz Murex: Starting in the early 1980s, some Murex pens had an integrated clock in their cap. The clock was a quartz-based model and the branding was tweaked to say “QUARTZ” on them. These seem quaint today, but retailed for 80,000 in 1981.
These four make up the key pens in the two lines, but they aren’t everything. For example there were some MYU pens without the integrated nib and with plastic components. These are typically identified at the “MYU 25” or “Volex” pens and they are much more affordable today, usually selling for under $100.
In 2008 the MYU and Murex lines were long dead, but Pilot did release a special edition pen called the MYU M90. This was a limited edition version of the MYU pen that was limited to 9000 pens (so a small run, but relatively large for a limited edition). This release was done to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Pilot which took place that year.
At the time the pen sold for $180, but today they are quite difficult to find largely because they are such a close match to the original MYU and Murex pens, but are in relatively fantastic condition.
The M90 largely followed the design of the original, but added a blue “gem” at the top of the clip, which gives the pen some color and a non-metal surface that the originals lacked.