Crónicas Estilográficas

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Madrid Pen Show 2016

The XIII Madrid Pen Show will be celebrated at the usual venue –the NH Eurobuilding Hotel— between 18th and 20th of November.

It is just short of two months ahead of us, but it might not be that long in order to plan a visit to Madrid and attend this major event. Let us remember that the Madrid Pen Show is currently the biggest pen show in Europe.


There is an entry fee to the show (EUR 3/day), but it can easily be waived by printing an invitation usually published on the organizer's website -- http://www.madridpenshow.com/?lang=en -- or on that of the sponsor's-- https://www.iguanasell.com/ .

I will attend the show this year as well (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011).


Pilot Capless, stub nib by Shimizu Seisakusho – Private Reserve, American Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 12th, 2016
labels: evento, Madrid

Monday, September 19, 2016

Custom Urushi

A new pen in town, and what a pen!

Fountain Pen Network Tinjapan announced it last March—the new flagship of Pilot was in the making. It was going to be a lacquered pen with a brand new nib.

Now that pen, by the name of Custom Urushi (reference code FKV-88SR-B-x, where x is the nib point: FM, M or B) was released this past Saturday, September 17th.


The brand new Pilot Custom Urushi.

The result is a flat-top pen made of ebonite, coated with black urushi lacquer, and filling mechanism through cartridge and converter (CON-70). In fact, this pen can be seen as a scaled up Custom 845—same shape, same materials, same structure… but bigger, longer, thicker.


From top to bottom, Pilot Custom Urushi, Pilot Custom 845, and Namiki Urushi in size 20.

And then, the nib—also bigger. An all new size 30 made of 18 K gold, partially rhodiated. It comes in three nib points—FM, M, and B. It is a quite soft nib, albeit not truly flexible. But the remarkable feature is its sheer size—impressive. Much bigger than the well-known size 15 (Custom 845, 823, 743) or the size 20 (Namiki Yukari Royale). The Custom Urushi dwarfs these two well known pens.


The impressive nib in size 30. It is made of 18 K gold, and comes in three points: FM, M, and B.


From left to right: Namiki's size 20 nib, Pilot's 15, and Pilot's 30.


Written sample with size 30 nib of point M. It was made dipping the pen in an inkwell of Pilot Black ink. The printed square is 9x9 sq mm.

The price of the newcomer is not cheap—JPY 88000, plus tax. It is certainly more expensive than the Custom 845 (JPY 50000; i. e. 76% higher), but it is also much cheaper than the Namiki Urushi in size 20 (JPY 128000, 45% higher).

Is Pilot competing against Namiki? Will the Custom Urushi cannibalize the sales of the black Namiki in size 20? Right now, this size 30 nib is really appealing.


Detail of the decorative band on the cap.


Pilot Capless, stub nib by Shimizu Seisakusho – Private Reserve, American Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 19th, 2016
labels: plumín, Pilot, mercado

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On #3776 Nibs

This is a Chronicle with a lot of pics…

The Platinum #3776 series of fountain pens is an old one. Its first model was launched by 1978. It was a very characteristic ribbed design made by Haruo Umeda. The last models are called #3776 Century, and have little resemblance to those initial models, although Platinum keeps a ribbed design in its catalog.

Along this thirty-something years of history, the basic components of the pen –nib and feed—have seen some changes in their design.

The early models, (between 1978 and some time in the early 1980s) had very cylindrical nibs and ebonite feeds. The first year model had a feed with no fins at all. There were also music nibs associated to these pens, but they are not covered on this text.


Nib and feed of a Platinum #3776 from 1978. Note the ebonite feed.


The feeds of these early models changed quickly. By the second year, they had implemented some fins.

Later on, the nib became flatter on the top area, but there were few, if any, changes on the ebonite feed. This detail changed at some point (when?) and from then on all Platinum feeds have been made of plastic.


Nib and feed from 1984. The nib is obviously flatter on top while the feed is still made of ebonite.


Nib and feed from 2002. The nib is apparently identical to the previous one (1984), but the feed is now made of plastic.


Nib and feed from a #3776 Century. Labeled as manufactured on November of 2011. Note the shorter nib and the very specific feed. Needless to say, it is made of plastic.

The latest version of the #3776 is named Century and was launched in 2011. On this newer edition, two-tine nibs (i. e., non music nibs) changed with respect to previous models. Now they are shorter than before, and the feed had been modified to anchor the nib on the right position.


On the left, a music nib of a #3776 Century, dated on 2012. On the right, a music nib of a #3776 of 2009. The feeds are identical. The nibs, almost identical...


Music nib and feed of the Wagner 2015 pen. Note the absence of holes in the tail of the nib.

These changes, as I said, did not affect the three-tine music nibs. In some occasions, some gold was removed from the tail of the nib –that area hidden under the section--, but is also seems not to be always the case. The feeds of these music nibs are more cylindrical in shape and have no fixed position for the nib.


Two and three tine nibs dated in 2009 and 2010. They were interchangeable in their sections. I am well aware that the two tine nib is a Nakaya, but Nakaya implements #3776 nibs.

A side effect of these differences between the feeds is their incompatibility—now, the sections of music nibs are specific for them and cannot implement regular two tined nibs. And conversely—a regular nib section cannot be equipped with a music nib (and feed). This exchange was possible in pre-Century #3776 Platinum pens.

Now the reader can extract his own conclusions about Nakaya nibs.


Ban-ei, black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 16th, 2016
labels: plumín, plumín musical, Platinum

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Wagner 2015

The Platinum 3776 Century is the current best selling fountain pen in Japan. It is, by now, a well known product even outside of Japan—a balance model made of plastic, cartridge-converter filling system, 14 K gold nib. All these characteristics are common among the direct competitors: Pilot Custom 74 and Sailor Profit (1911) Junior.


Platinum 3776 Century.


Pilot Custom 74.


Sailor Profit (1911 in some markets) in size Junior. The nib on display is not the original.

This success, though, might have come with a curse. Platinum has hardly introduced any new model recently, and its marketing strategy seems limited to making small variations of the success model. And there is more…


Platinum 3776 Century of the Fuji lakes series. In particular, this is the model dedicated to lake Shoji.

Platinum, as many other brands, is open to taking orders for personalized products. The Wagner Pen Club, in Japan, contacted Platinum in 2015 for the creation of the pen to commemorate its 10th anniversary.


The commemorative pen of the 10 years of the Wagner Pen Club.

The result was a 3776 Century in transparent green plastic. However, there is nothing on the pen revealing this otherwise obvious origin. All the inscriptions on it have changed. On the cap-ring it just says “WAGNER 10th”. On the nib, “2015 / WAGNER / 10th / Anniversary”.


The inscription on the cap-ring reads "WAGNER 10th".


The nib also carries its specific decoration. The inscription says “2015 / WAGNER / 10th / Anniversary”.

There were two possibilities for the nib: a music nib –115 units— and a soft fine –130 units. They were numbered separately.


These pens are numbered. There are 115 with music nibs, and 130 with soft fine nibs.

So, all in all these pens are somewhat different from any of the variations of the 3776 Century… but it is still a 3776 Century.


Two 3776 Century, after all.

My thanks to Mr. Shimizu.


Platinum 3776 Century, Wagner 10th anniversary – unknown ink

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku and Nakano, September 2016
etiquetas: mercado, Japón, Platinum, plumín musical

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Madrid News

The life of brick and mortar shops is hazardous these times. In the last months, the Madrid pen scene has seen a couple of significant changes.

The first was the disappearance of a very traditional shop, Jomar, in the Barrio de Salamanca area of town.

On the other hand, Papelería Debod has become very active in the area of fountain pens. Interestingly enough, this shop is selling Twsbi products in Spain. Papelería Debod is located near Plaza de España, in front of the Egyptian temple of Debod:

Papelería Debod
http://www.papeleriadebod.es
Ferraz 24
28008 Madrid
Tel: 915 591 049

These changes remind us some of the big questions in the pen business today: Is the fountain pen market profitable? Are traditional shops a viable business model in the world of Internet and online shopping? I do not have any real answer, but I tend to be pessimistic.

These two changes in the Madrid pen scene will soon be reflected on the page dedicated to this city in this blog.


Pilot desk pen DPN-200 – Private Reserve American Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 29, 2016
labels: Madrid, mercado

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fetishisms

To speak about fetishism in the world of fountain pens is essentially redundant. Collecting is a form of fetishism—to favor the tool for itself instead of for the work it does or for its actual performance. Now, fetishism can go a lot farther…

As of lately, and these Chronicles might share part of the responsibility for that, some “craftsman” pens, made with old technology and in low production batches have gained some name among stylophiles. Brands like Eboya (formerly Nebotek), Hakase, Ohashido, StyloArt Karuizawa, fit in this category nowadays. But some time ago there was another master who by now holds a quasi-mythical dimension—Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助) the leading figure behind Ban-ei pens and creator of the prototype of modern Pilot-Namiki with size 50 nibs.


Three pens made by Sakai Eisuke.

Sakai Eisuke was a master of the rokuro, the traditional pedal-operated Japanese lathe, and here I am showing one of the rokuro he used. Now, it belongs to Nikko Ebonite, and is, in actual terms, one of the two traditional lathes in service to make Eboya pens.


Ex-Sakai Eisuke rokuro.

Does this detail add any value to the pens made with it? Most likely not, but that depends on your personal obsessions re fountain pens. I, for one, was very happy to see and even touch a tool used by a great master.


The current location of the old rokuro: the building of Nikko Ebonite.

My thanks to Mr. Noritoshi Kanesaki


Oaso “Safari” – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 1st, 2016
etiquetas: estilofilia, Eboya, Pilot, Ban-ei

Friday, July 15, 2016

Matching (XXI). Oaso 'Safari'

After having reported on the Lanbitou 757, that obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, it is only natural to speak about the Oaso ‘Safari’, another kid on the block of copies.


The Oaso 'Safari'. The official name might be conpletely different, though.

Oaso is a small brand and little information about it is available. Some say it is a second brand of the well-known Picasso, from Shanghai. Both brands appear as related on alibaba.com (retrieved July 15, 2016), the website of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group. Nothing can I say about the official model name, either.


Which one is the Chinese; which one the German? The names are written on the barrels and on the nibs.

This is indeed an obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, but less so than the already reviewed Lanbitou 757. The Oaso shows a very clear difference with respect to the original: the cap jewel. The Lamy cross is now the logo of Oaso, a sort of an ‘O’.


The cap jewels are different.

The material of this matte black copy is a bit darker and more polished than that of the charcoal (or umbra) variation of the Lamy Safari. The Chinese nib is made of steel and is chromium coated instead of the black look of some Lamy nibs. However, as was the case with the Lanbitou 757, Lamy’s and Oaso’s nibs are interchangeable.



The nibs are interchangeable. Their qualities are on par.


Their feeds are almost identical. The Chinese version has a worse finish, but the ink flow is correct.


Writing samples of the Oaso 'Safari' with tow nibs--an Oaso F, and a Lamy F. These two nibs behave in a similar fashion.

So are the converters. The Oaso version seems to be an almost exact clone of the Lamy Z28 unit save for the color of the materials. The Chinese copy even has the notches to hook it to the pen. Both are marked with their brand names.


The converters are also interchangeable. They are almost identical.

All in all, the Oaso ‘Safari’ is a knockoff of decent quality. And the question is why all these companies bothered copying inexpensive models. The reason seems to lay on the Chinese domestic market, where the Lamy Safari holds relatively high prices. And it seems that these Chinese companies –Lanbitou, Hero, Picasso, Oaso…– have had an effect: Lamy has lowered the prices of the Lamy Safari in the Chinese market to remain competitive.

My thanks to Mr. Mizukushi.


Bank-ei in black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 15th, 2016
etiquetas: China, mercado, Lanbitou, Oaso, Lamy
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