In the last gasps of the final showdown between fountain pens and ballpoints, Pilot introduced the Pilot Justus. Today, the Justus model commands eyebrow-raising prices on eBay. When it was launched, it tanked. It’s not hard to see why. When mobile phones became as accessible as pagers, pager manufacturers introduced transparent pagers, pagers with flashing lights, pagers with five levels of vibrate. Improvements upon soon-to-be-obsolete technology do not save it.

The Justus features a sliding tab above the nib. When you rotate the section, the tab slides: forward to render the tip of the nib firm, like a ballpoint, or back which makes the nib feel soft against the paper, like that of a vintage fountain pen. (The Eversharp adjustable point worked on the same principle, around fifty years before the Justus.)

You can see the spread of the tines on the downstroke; that came as a surprise to me this week. To be fair, I haven’t really put the Justus through its paces since I bought it.

“Darling, it’s a life of surprises.” Even the fine nib on my Tibaldi Iride showed more than acceptable line variation when I was playing with it this week. Why have my pens been hiding all this fancy flexwork from me?