Posted in P200 Family, Pentel

P200, the Second Generation… and the third…and the fourth… and so on

When I first started to collect the P200 bodies, I saw that there were different molds and markings on the pencils.  Along the way, I started to see the commonality and evolution of the pencils.  As my collection grew larger, I started to codify the “Generations” of the pencils, and finally have settled on 6 different generations of P200 bodies, with 2 minor variation and one mixed generation.

I will go over different aspects and changes for each generation: External Body, Clip, Tip, Cap, Eraser, Inner Body.

One caveat; these observations are all based on observations from my pencil collection.

Generation 1 – Starting 1970

Image - Generation 1

This covers the first P205 that was released back in the early 1970’s.

  • Body – The first thing that you notice (as opposed to the current version you see in the store), is that there is no text printed on the pencil at all.  There is the smooth area (where the print goes on later pencils) between the cutout and the clip guide, but it is blank.  In the cutout, it has the standard “Pentel” on the first line, but the second line shows “P205 JAPAN #”, with the # being the Mark.  If you remove the inner body and look inside the body from the cap end to the tip end, you will see a Retainer Socket for the end of the inner body to sit in that has 6 sides.
  • Clip – This is the initial clip that was used and is the same shape as the modern clip, but instead of having printing on the wrap around edges, they are blank, and the clip itself has “Pentel” running down it.
  • Tip – This is the standard shape of the fixed tip, but it only has a 2mm pipe instead of the current 4mm.
  • Cap – The design of the metal cap itself has not changed in all of the generations.  The difference here is that inside the cap is a plastic spacer that fits around the eraser when put on, but hits the edge of the inner body.  This Cap Stop keeps the eraser from being hit by the end of the cap, and pushed into the inner body.
  • Eraser – This generation originally came with a green eraser and had the cleanout pin stuck in the bottom of the eraser.
  • Inner Body – This body is a smooth finish from the eraser section up to the beveled brass cap that the spring rests against.  In front of that is the standard spring and grip mechanism that has not had any significant changes in all the generations.

Generation 1a – Starting about 1970

Image - Generation 1a

I classify this as a Generation 1 subclass, since they are still using the initial molds, which still included the P205 number in the Cutout.  The changes to this generation were probably made due to releasing other sizes of the P200 series of pencils.

  • Body – The only change from Generation 1 is the addition of stamped text to the bottom of the pencil opposite the cutout.  This text is simply the size in millimeters with a “/” between the 2 m’s; i.e. “0.7 m/m” for the P207, although that number is not anywhere to be found on the pencil at this point.
  • Clip – On my example, they have already switched over to the standard clip with nothing on the clip itself and “Japan” on left wraparound and “Pentel” on right wraparound.
  • Tip – No change: the tip is still a 2mm pipe.
  • Cap – No change. This still has the plastic insert inside the metal cap.
  • Eraser – Green with cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – Substantially, no change.  The only one I have of this sub-generation is a P207C, and they molded the Inner Body  in blue plastic instead of black.

Generation 1b – Starting about 1970

Image - Generation 1b

This is another Generation 1 subclass, as the only major change to it from Generation 1a, is that they no longer have the “P205” in the cutout.

  • Body – As I stated above, the change representing this sub-generation is dropping the “P205” from the cutout.  It now just reads “JAPAN #” with the # being the mark.
  • Clip – As above, now using the “Standard” clip.
  • Tip – Still using the 2mm pipe on the smaller sizes, but the all most of the P209’s I have, have the standard 4mm pipe that the 0.9mm pencils all have.
  • Cap – This is the other area with a change.  They started replacing the plastic insert inside the cap with a metal insert that is also used around the eraser.
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – No change, except they are all black plastic.

[EDIT: On April 10, 2017, I received a P209G Generation 1b pencil that has a 2mm pipe on the tip]

Generation 2 – Starting between 1971-1972 as a best guess

Image - Generation 2

This is the first major change to the P200 family.

  • Body – Here is where the major change happens that defines this generation.  At this point, there is still nothing printed on the side of the pencil.  The change is that Pentel stopped printing the size on the bottom of the pencil and the size is now molded into the bottom in the same location.  Retainer Socket with 6 sides on the inside.
  • Clip – Standard Clip
  • Tip – All pencils are now starting to use the fixed 4mm pipe.  I have one example that still uses the 2mm pipe.
  • Cap – All caps now have the metal insert inside that stops the cap from sliding down too far.
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – They all still have the smooth plastic body, but some are starting a changeover from the beveled brass  spring base to a flat brass base that is crimped into the plastic body.

Generation 3 – Starting about 1975

Image - Generation 3

The change that defines this generation is that Pentel started to print size and model number on the sides of the pencils.

Pentel of Germany - Catalog 1975 Cover

At this point, it looks like Pentel started to release other models of pencils based on the P200 family, such as the PS315 and the PF330 series.  This information and the date are from the cover of a 1975 German Pentel catalog that shows the P200 series still looking like Generation 2 (without print on the side), alongside the PS315 & PF330 series that now show printing on the side.

  • External Body – The mold is still the same for the pencils, with the size molded into the bottom, but now with the addition of the printing on the side with the size (with “m/m”) and model number.  Some of the pencils also print Pentel there as well.  Retainer Socket with 6 sides on the inside.
  • Clip – Standard Clip
  • Tip – The P200 series still uses the 4mm fixed pipe, but Pentel has now introduced the Sliding Sleeve that is used on some pencils.  It slides between 3mm and 5mm and will slide in as you write.
  • Cap – Standard cap with metal insert
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – Smooth plastic side with a mixture of the beveled brass and flat brass crimped base.

Generation 4 – Probably starting in the late 70’s

Image - Generation 4

For this generation, Pentel dropped the molding of the size from the bottom of the pencils.

I don’t have a particular date that this started, but this generation went up to at least 1982, as that copy of the catalog still shows the m/m text on the pencils.

  • External Body – Pentel removed the molded size information from the bottom of the pencils, probably to save a bit of money on plastic, since they now print the size on the side.  The same text as generation 3 is printed on the side.  Retainer Socket with 6 sides on the inside.
  • Clip – Standard Clip
  • Tip – Standard fixed 4mm pipe and sliding 3-5mm pipe.
  • Cap – Standard cap with metal insert.
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – Smooth plastic side with a mixture of the beveled brass, crimped flat brass and press-fit flat brass bases.

Generation 5 – Starting 1983 or 1984

Image - Generation 5

This generation is where the major changes were made to the External and Inner Bodies.

Dating for the start of this generation comes from the 1982 and 1984 catalogs.  In the 1982 catalog, they still show the Generation 4 pencils with the “m/m”, but in the 1984 catalog, they have changed to the now standard “mm”.

  • External Body – This was a major redesign of the pencil.  Most obviously is the text where they dropped the “/” in the millimeter mark going from “m/m” to “mm”, probably to save ink.  Less obvious, unless compared side by side is that the thickness of the wall of the body is thinner, again probably to save money on plastic.  Another change on the inside is the Retainer Socket is now a 12 point star.  This was probably done to make it easier to seat the inner body during assembly, and thus save time (which equals money).  The cutout still reads “Pentel” on line 1 and “JAPAN ##” on line 2 with ## being an ID mark, the same as it has been since Generation 1b.
  • Clip – Same Standard Clip
  • Tip – Same standard fixed 4mm pipe and sliding 3-5mm pipe.
  • Cap – Here is a change associated with the change to the inner body.  Since production began on the P200 family, the Cap Stop has been inside the cap, being either a metal insert or initially a plastic insert.  This insert would “Stop” the cap from sliding in too far and pushing the eraser into the inner body.  With generation 5, this insert was removed, which takes a step out of the production process, again saving time and material costs.  The Cap Stop has now been shifted to the Inner Body.
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body – There are two major changes to the inner body with this generation.  At the tip end, the brass base has been removed, and the clutch tip is directly molded and crimped into the body.  Then next change is on the eraser end, where there is now a molded lip that the cap “Stops” on.

My assumption is that all of these changes were made to either save material (ink, plastic, metal insert) or time (12 point vs 6 point Retainer Socket, no longer inserting the metal insert into the cap), which would cut down on costs to manufacture the pencil.

Generation 4.5 – Starting 1983 or 1984 – Concurrent with Generation 5

Image - Generation 4_5

This generation is out of order, so that you see the changes that were introduced in Generation 5 before seeing this mixed generation.

When Pentel made the changeover to Generation 5, from what I can see they made the production cutover based on the 0.5mm & 0.9mm stock.  What I mean by this is they had supplies to run up through the end of a year for the 0.5mm & 0.9mm and the next year started with Generation 5 for these sizes.  But, they still had lots of Inner Bodies for the 0.3mm and some for the 0.7mm.  So the 0.5mm and 0.9mm went straight to Gen 5, the 0.3mm went with the Gen 5 External Body, but the Gen 4 Internal Body.  For the 0.7mm, they apparently had less stock of the Internal Bodies, so moved those to the smaller run pencils (P327 & PF337) and ran the P207 with the full Gen 5 bodies (External and Inner).

EDIT: On 5/13/2017, I received a P209G pencil that was a Generation 4.5, so at this point, it looks like the cutover was based solely on the 0.5mm pencil stock.

  • External Body – (Gen 5) Text uses the “mm” for millimeter.  Wall of the pencil is thinner and it has the 12 point Retainer Socket.
  • Clip – Same Standard Clip
  • Tip – Same standard fixed 4mm pipe and sliding 3-5mm pipe.
  • Cap – (Gen 4) Standard Cap with metal insert.
  • Eraser – Green with or without cleanout pin.
  • Inner Body (Gen 4) – Smooth plastic side with the crimped flat brass bases.

Generation 6 – Starting 1992 to 1994 up to now

Image - Generation 6

One minor change and a relatively major change define this generation.

I do not have any information on when the change was made for this generation.  If I could find a catalog that shows the changeover from the green erasers to white erasers, that would be what I would define as the date of change.

  • External Body – The minor change to the external body is in the cutout where the second line now reads “JAPAN A##”, where A## is the mark with A being a letter and ## being a digit.  Retainer Socket is still 12 point.
  • Clip – Same Standard Clip
  • Tip – Same standard fixed 4mm pipe and sliding 3-5mm pipe.
  • Cap – Standard Cap without any insert.
  • Eraser – Pentel changed to a white eraser with this generation.  Few pencils come with cleanout pins.
  • Inner Body – The only real change here is that the attachment to the clutch tip is now molded without crimping for the most part.

[Edited on May 23, 2017 to add notes about the Generation 1b P209G with a 2mm tip and the Generation 4.5 P209G]
[Edited on August 27, 2018 to fix start date for Generation 6.  I have catalogs that show the different generations from 1991 (Generation 5) and 1994 (Generation 6), based on the change to the replacement Z2-1 erasers in the catalogs.]