Crónicas Estilográficas

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pilot Cartridges and Converters 2017

The Chronicle on Pilot converters and cartridges is the single most popular text on this blog. However, there are some misconceptions and some news, and a revision of that old text, from 2011, is in order.

The current situation is as follows: Pilot markets three different converters and two different cartridges. Two of the converters reported in 2011, CON-20 and CON-50, are discontinued.

The three converters on production are named CON-40, CON-70, and CON-W. The number refer to their price in Japan: JPY 400 for the CON-40, and JPY 700 for the CON-70. The CON-W only works on the pens that implemented the "double-spare" cartridge in the 1960s. Nominally, it is only served as a spare part and some retailers demand the “broken” pen to be sent for fixing. However, Maruzen and Itoya at their main shops in Tokyo (at least) sell the CON-W without any problem. Its price is JPY 700.

The new guy in town, the CON-40. It holds about 0.5 ml of ink and costs JPY 400.

All the cartridges and converters covered on this Chronicle. From left to right, CON-70 in steel and in black, CON-50 new and old, CON-40, CON-20, two "single spare" cartridges, two Petit cartridges, CON-W. With the obvious exception of the CON-W, all of them share the same mouth dimensions and, provided they could fit inside the barrel, could be used in any "single spare" cartridge/converter Pilot pen.

As for cartridges, the two types are the regular one, formerly named as “single-spare”, and the cartridge specific for the Pilot Petit pens (::1::, ::2::, ::3::). Single spare cartridges do not fit inside the Petit pen, and the only problem of the Petit cartridges to fit in regular Pilot pens are two small plastic notches at the opening of the cartridges. They can easily be removed with a blade.

Petit cartridge on top. Single spare cartridge on bottom. Note the small notches on the former. They prevent the use of the small cartridges on many Pilot pens that, otherwise, could use them. Removing them is easy with a blade.

The following table summarizes the present situation and includes the data of the recently discontinued converters CON-20 and CON-50.

Prices quoted without taxes. In Japan, the sale tax is, at the moment, 8%.

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 – Gary’s Red Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 2017
etiquetas: Pilot, conversor

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Snakewood Platinum

This story has already been told on these Chronicles, but it might be worth to remember it in view of a slightly different pen variation.

Platinum had discarded the use of self filling mechanisms on its pens by the mid 1950s to the cry “good bye, ink bottle”. Since then, however, Platinum kept manufacturing ink bottles while making only cartridge filling pens. This policy continues to this day –even the sister company Nakaya does not produce any self-filling pen.

The snakewood version of the Platinum 70th Anniversary pen.

There were two exceptions—the Senator Regent branded as Platinum, and the 70th anniversary series of piston fillers released in 1989. These pens came in several colors and materials.

On the nib we can see the following inscription: " 14 K - 585 / PLATINUM / 70 / logo with letters SNT / < B > ".

The ebonite feed.

We have already seen one of those models—that made of jade green celluloid. Today’s pen is a wooden version of the same pen. On this occasion, the pen is made of snakewood, and the result is a bigger and heavier pen.

There is an inscription on the handle of the piston: "W-NO-0158". Is it the unit number? I do not have an answer.

The ball clip is clearly signed as 'PLATINUM". On the cap ring there is another one: "K18-750".

These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 148 mm
Length open: 132 mm
Length posted: 169 mm
Diameter: ca. 16 mm
Weight: 30.6 g (dry)

My thanks to Paco-san.

Paidi Century 5 – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 13th, 2017
etiquetas: Platinum

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gary's Classic Inks

By now the news are well-known—-Platinum has released a new family of inks by the name of “Classic Inks”. In Japanese, “classic ink” means iron-gall (IG) ink, and this is what these new inks are—iron-gall inks.

The initial announcement was made through the website of the stationery shop Nagasawa, in the city of Kobe. This shop had the privilege of an early release of these inks on January 27th. The general release will be on February 10th (2017).

Picture taken on February 10th 2017 at a well-known stationery shop in Tokyo. These is the new series of inks by Platinum. Six inks with iron-gall formulation. But, are they really new?

But are these inks really new? They are, in fact, new to the general market, but these inks are not new to the pen community in Japan. The mastermind behind them is a fellow stylophile by the name, in fora and blogs, of PGary (Gary).

It all started some years ago, around 2010, when Gary decided to create his own IG inks frustrated as he was with the limited selection of colors available in the market for IGs. At that time, the only non-blue-black IG ink was Rohrer & Klingner’s Scabiosa.

Gary never made a secret out of his developments. He published his recipes on YouTube and on his blog and even on the Japanese pen magazine Shumi-no Bungubaku (16, p. 66; 23, p. 106). The Wagner group of pen aficionados took good note of those inks and asked him to make some inks for the annual pen fair celebrated in Spring in Tokyo. That was in 2012, when the chosen colors were red-black and blue-black.

Some inks made by Gary.

Since then, Gary has received the same request on following years, and Wagner group members have stocked –and enjoyed—a number of his IG inks.

And now it was Platinum contacting him for the creation of this new “Classic Inks” composed by six new colors: Cassis black, Forest-black, Citrus-black, Khaki-black, Sepia-black and Lavender-black. Note the absence of a blue-black ink—Platinum already had an IG ink of this classical color.

Writing samples of the previous inks. The ink flow determines how dark the ink looks after the oxidation took place. All the writing on this test, save that of the 2012 Red-black ink, were made with a glass pen.

This Yellow-black ink shows a brighter hue when laid with a fountain pen with a more controlled flow. This ink was one of the 2013 Wagner inks.

As a matter of fact, Platinum is the only Japanese maker still making IG inks, and there is some kind of logic in this new move to expand its selection of inks.

Platinum now has three different types of inks—dye inks (red, black and the Mix Free line), pigmented inks (Carbon-black, Sepia, Blue, Pink), and iron gall (blue black and the Classic Inks line).

The problem of these new IG inks comes with their price. It is JPY 2000 (plus tax) for 60 ml, which is significantly more expensive than that of the pigmented inks (JPY 1500, plus tax). The old and well known blue black IG ink is a lot cheaper—JPY 1200, plus tax.

Strange pricing policy, I would say. But all in all this is, most of all, another sign of the increasing influence of the stylophile community in the market of fountain pens.

My thanks to Gary. And my congratulations!

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 – Gary’s Red-black (Wagner ink 2012)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 8th 2017
etiquetas: tinta, Platinum, Gary, mercado

Monday, February 6, 2017


There is no such a thing as a fake maki-e pen, I said in the past, provided the maki-e was actually there. On such pens, what matters most is the decoration, and the pen becomes secondary. Such might be the case of the pen on display today.

An anonymous and interesting pen.

Nothing do I know about the pen itself and I can only describe it. It resembles of a Parker 51 (and to some English Duofolds from the 1950s), with which it shares the clip. The filling system is aerometric. The material of the body is ebonite.

There are three inscriptions on the pen, but none of them says anything about its origin. On the cap lit it just says “R14K”. On the pressing plate inside the barrel, the inscriptions reads “SPECIAL / TUBE CASE”. Finally, on the nib, “14 KT GOLD / “WARRANTED” / 4 / TOKYO”.

There existed several operations in Japan in the 1940s and 1950s with the name Tokyo on it, but this nib inscription might only mean where this pen had been made.

The Parker clip and the "matsuba" decoration.

Overall, this is a well made pen, but this detail might be almost irrelevant when compared to the decoration. It is a very discreet and understated pattern of short red lines over a black background. Its name is "matsuba"--pine tree twigs. This decorative tecnique doe snot have any specific name, but it is included in the group of simple techniques “kawari-nuri”. In actual terms, this seems to be more of a drawing with urushiurushi-e— than a real full fledged sprinkled maki-e. The decoration on this pen is not signed.

The inscription on the nib says "14KT.GOLD / "WARRANTED"/ 4 / TOKYO".

Given the overall style of the pen, it is reasonable to date in the mid 1950s, when copies of the best seller Parker 51 were common in Japan.

These are the dimensions of this anonymous pen:

Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 118 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Diameter: 13.6 mm
Weight: 17.3 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.8 ml

Oaso “Safari” – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 2nd 2017
etiquetas: maki-e, Parker

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Family Portrait (VIII). Myu-25 at al.

The last family picture was about integrated nibs. Among them, the Pilot Myu 701 holds a special place. It is arguably one of the few Japanese fountain pen icons, and its popularity is boosting up a bubble in the market, although some might say this is just the way supply-and-demand works. As this bubble affects to some other models more or less related to the all steel Myu 701.

Today’s family portrait shows some of these close relatives. The common element to all of these pens is the inlaid steel nib, save for one exception whose similarities with the rest of the set are clear.

Myu-701 (top) and Myu-25 (bottom), side by side.

There are clear differences on the clips of these pens, but those of the Myu-701 (second from the left) and of the Myu-25 (center) are identical.

Most of the pens on the family picture are examples of the model Myu-25 in different colors, and with transparent bodies. These last two seem to be demonstration products and were not for sale.

The family portrait.

From top to bottom, these are the pens, and their manufacturing date:
1.- Unknown model. 18 K Au nib. January 1975.
2.- Myu-25 matte black. January 1975.
3.- Myu-25 green. May 1975.
4.- Myu-25 pink. August 1975.
5.- Myu-25 transparent, black cap. December 1974.
6.- Myu-25 transparent, aluminum cap. April 1975.
7.- Unknown model, shiny black, gold trim. September 1980.
8.- Volex. January 1988.

As can be seen, most of them were made in 1975 and the two remaining pens, with very different clips, are more recent in production: 1980 and 1988.

All the pens on this family picture have fine (F) nibs. Medium (M) nibs also existed.

Paidi Century 5 – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 30th 2017
etiquetas: Pilot

Saturday, January 28, 2017

From Wajima

This situation I am about to describe is not new and, at the same time, is bound to happen again.

I already mentioned the phenomenonmaki-e decorated pens are different from other types of pens. And those fond of maki-e pens are, as well, different from most other stylophiles. Therefore, when maki-e becomes the name of the game, why not cater that specific market? Why should the production of maki-e pens be limited to the big pen makers? In fact, it is not, and it was not the case in the past.

Maki-e craftsmen have the decorative power, so to speak, and they use almost any object as the canvas for their creations. Then, why not explore these cylindrical tools?

Wajima, in the prefecture of Ishikawa in the coast of the Sea of Japan, is a well established center of maki-e creators. In fact, some Nakaya pens are decorated in that city, and we have already seen a Sailor pen with that origin. The next step, then, was for those craftsmen to get a fuller control of the product.

And that is what the company Wajimaya Zen-ni is doing now. This bicentenary company, founded in 1813, decorates a number of objects with an array of maki-e techniques, and now, they signed a small collection of fountain pens.

A beautiful collection of maki-e decorated goods.

Well, those objects implement nibs.

These are cartridge-converter pens with nib and feed made by German manufacturer JoWo. The heavy body is made of steel by Shimada Seisakusho, according to the information provided by Wajimaya Zen-ni. But this detail might not be that important, after all. The quality of the maki-e is very good, and the prices are accordingly high— JPY 250000, plus tax, the cheaper of them.

The writing part, nib and feed, is made by JoWo. The feed is made of ebonite. The nib is a size 6 made of 14 K gold.

The decoration is certainly of very high quality. And the prices show that.

But, what is the potential customer buying, a maki-e decorated good from Wajima or a German pen?

Is Wajimaya Zen-ni making pens or just dressing them in expensive costumes? It might not matter that much. What matters now, is that another company asks for a spot in the realm of maki-e fountain pens, and it does not really make any fountain pen.

Oaso “Safari” – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Toshima, January 28th 2017
etiquetas: maki-e, Wajimaya Zen-ni, JoWo, mercado

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rhodiated in France

The pen on the picture is well known by now. The Pilot Justus 95 was marketed in March of 2013, the year 95 in Pilot’s era. Its main feature is the adjustable nib that Pilot had developed in the 1980s.

The Pilot Justus 95.

But not the Justus 95 you knew.

But this time, the Justus 95 shows an interesting difference—nib and decorative accents are now rhodiated instead of golden in color. This Justus 95 is, in actual terms, a special version commissioned by the French importer of Pilot, and it I not available in Japan… unless ordered from some overseas retailer.

The purity of the gold of the nib has not changed--14 K.

An interesting question is whether this pen would become available outside France. After all, one of the basic policies of the European Union is free movement of goods within the external borders. Therefore, it should be very easy for anyone in Europe to buy this pen directly from a French retailer. And from outside too, albeit some additional taxes might be applied.

But then what is the actual role nowadays of national importers within the European Union?

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Platinum 3776 (1978) – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 23rd 2017
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado, Francia, Europa
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