Crónicas Estilográficas

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pens at an Exhibition

I have already mentioned the news, already old by now, of the release of the Pilot Elite 95S, a pocket pen, to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the company. And I also published my reflections on these policies to increase sales: against the Elite 95S, the original Elite from the 1970s…

Of course, Pilot might not be happy with that idea, but this company seems indeed aware of the interest –and of the market—of second hand and vintage pens. Its museum, the Pen Station, is a clear example. And now, during these days, and up to May 31st (2014, of course), there is an exhibition on the Pilot Elite model at the Pen Station.

Assorted Elite pens including the modern reissue from 2013.

Information adds value, and this exhibition might do that not only to those pens from the 1960s and 1970s, but also to the current reissue. And this might be the main argument behind this nice operation of public relations.

Exotic nibs in the Elite gamut of pens (ca. 1970). The exhibition includes some memorabilia.

Sometimes modern marketing has some interesting side effects.

Pilot Jumbo pen (size 50) – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 14th, 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Tokyo

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pilot Capless - 1971 - C-400BS and C-400SS


Apparently, the 1968 model (C-250SS) was short lived, but that does not mean that there were no Capless pens in the market. In fact, the 1964 model saw a variation in 1969 in the form of a B nib in combination with the old pen style (code C-300GW-B).

In June of 1971 Pilot, created a new “push button” capless pen. This model follows the looks of other pens of the time and uses steel extensively.

The two Caples in the center of the image are, from left to right, the C-400BS and the C-400SS.


Codes. C-400BS and C-400SS. This model is made of stainless steel and plastic. There two codes correspond to models with black stripes (suffix BS), and with non-colored strips (SS).
Original_price. C-400BS and C-400SS: JPY 4000
Production_years. 1971-1973(?)
Nib_unit. Type VI. Gold 14 K.
Filling_system Single spare cartridge. CON-20 and CON-50 can be used.
Opening_system. “Knock system” (push button). This is the first push-button model with just one position on it. Pressing the button to the one and only position both releases and hides the nib.

Pilot C-400BS. June of 1971.


C-400BS & C-400SS
Length closed 139.5 mm
Length open 147 mm
Diameter 12.0 mm
Weight 19.0 g

Nib unit:

Type VI. In 14 K gold. This nib uses single spare cartridges and converters CON-20 and CON-50.

The type VI nib unit. The metal sheath on the back hides the single spare ink cartridge. To use a converter, either CON-20 or CON-50, the sheath has to be removed.

The nose.

Additional information:

On these models, nibs are engraved with the production place and date, but not so the bodies.

Back to the "Pilot Capless - 50 years" page.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless

Thursday, March 27, 2014

From the Box

Some time ago I spoke about the obscure brand Hifra. Thanks to fellow stylophile Kostas K we could guess it was a South African operation. However, many of the pens labeled as Hifra were, in actual terms, Platinums from 1950s and 1960s, much in the fashion of brands Presidente (Spain) and Joker (Greece), as was shown on these Chronicles.

Later on, another stylophile from Japan –Mr. Sugimoto, aka Papershowed a couple of brand new, new old stock, Hifra pens with their boxes. Those are the very same pens I am showing now.

Those boxes include some all-too brief manuals that say nothing relevant to the origin of the brand.

Hifra model 4421. Actually, a Platinum Honest.

The pens are well-known Platinums with 10-Years nibs made of steel. Both models –Hifra 4420 and Hifra 4421— implement aerometric filling systems.

Hifra model 4420. Note the unusual Hifra logo on the right hand side of the box.

However, the logo engraved on the barrel is the common globe with letters F and H.

It might be worth to remember that the usual logo of Hifra was remarkably similar to that of Platinum in the 1950s and up to 1968 (or so): a globe with the letters F and H in it instead of the S and N of Shun-ichi Nakata of the Platinum’s. But on the box of pen model 4420 there is a completely different design even though the pen barrel is engraved with the traditional globe.

In the search for information, reading the pen and its associated information is key, but too often there is not much to read… In this case, not even an address to locate the company.

My thanks to Kostas K and to Mr. Sugimoto.

Waterman CF – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 26th, 2014
etiquetas: Hifra, Platinum, Presidente, Joker

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back in Town

Yes, I am back in town after some weeks away from these Chronicles. Unexpected hectic times happen now and then… My apologies to all those regular visitors.

And back in town are also some old Sailor inks.

By the end of 2009, Sailor changed its selection of ink colors. And Sailor did this by launching a series seasonal inks: four collections of four inks matching the seasons of 2009 (Winter) and 2010. These were limited releases –that old trick to increase the demand by inducing some anxiety on collectors.

Two of the old (2009-2010) seasonal inks--Miruai and Yama-dori. Both of them are among those marketen again.

Those inks are mostly gone, and are also missed by many.

Now, Sailor has reissued eight of those sixteen inks under the name “inks of the four seasons”. Their package is slightly different to those of 2009-2010, and they show a more colorful box. The colors selected now (2014) are the following:

常磐松 - Tokiwa-matsu
時雨 - Shigure

匂菫 - Nioi-sumire
海松藍 - Miruai

土用 - Doyô
蒼天 - Sôten

山鳥 - Yama-dori
奥山 - Oku-yama

The eight seasonal inks now released.

The 2014 edition of the seasonal inks is more colorful.

The price remains the same: JPY 1000, plus tax. There are no news on whether this is, again, a limited release or not.

Platinum pocket pen, manifold nib (18 K) – Platinum Violet

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 18th, 2014
etiquetas: Sailor, mercado, tinta

Friday, February 28, 2014


Nibmeister Kato Kiyoshi died in January of 2010. His former apprentice Onishi took over his legacy, or his remaining stock, to continue producing fountain pen made of celluloid. As was the case of Kato Seisakusho’s, Onishi Seisakusho’s pens are not labeled with any brand name, which easily triggers the confusion—is this a Kato’s or a Onishi’s pen? Or none of the above? Only recently, by 2012, Onishi started to make pens with new colors instead of using the old inherited stock.

An Onishi Seisakusho pen in tortoise celluloid.

The Onishi pen on display today is a cartridge-converter one made of tortoise celluloid. The nib, as was the case on cheaper Kato Seisakusho’s, is a Schmidt unit made of steel.

The Schmidt nib, made of stainless steel.

Inside, a boring and efficient converter (international).

These are its dimensions:
  • Length closed: 140 mm
  • Length open: 122 mm
  • Length posted: 160 mm
  • Diameter: 13 mm
  • Weight (inked): 24.2 g

The clip remind that often used by Pilot, but it was also implemented on some Kato Seisakusho's pens.

My thanks to Mr. Kikukawa.

Pilot V (Super 200), falcon nib – Pilot Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 27st, 2014
etiquetas: Kato Seisakushô, Onishi Seisakushô, Schmidt

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Undercover Sailor

Last week I described the case of the nibs made by the company Ishikawa-Kinpen Seisakushô for Ferme and how those nibs were labeled with the JIS registration number (3231) of the nib maker and the name of the pen company, Ferme. Not much information on the nib maker, but enough to track down the actual origin despite being sold by a different company. And in the way of writing that text, I found another interesting example of anonymous –or not so anonymous— nib.

Nibmeister Kato Kiyoshi is a sort of a mythical figure in the Japanese pen scene. His story of travels and business in the Middle East and in Europe made him a man of action whose novel has not yet been written. He finally settled in Osaka and in the 1990s he started marketing his pens also in Japan. These Kato pens –Kato Seisakushô pens— were made of celluloid and were not labeled with any brand name. The pen box had a very generic and uninformative “Celluloid Pen / Hand Crafted / Made in Japan” sign, and nothing else.

Kato Seisakushô's model 800F. A piston filler with a gold nib.

Neither the nibs were very helpful. Those made of steel, usually associated to cartridge-converter pens, were Schmidt. Those in 14 K gold, often in piston fillers, were more obscure. Their engraving was, again, very uninformative: “SUPERIOR / 14K / LIFETIME / GRATIFY / JAPAN”. However, it seems that those gold nibs are likely to be Sailor’s. Masamichi Sunami says so on his Fountain Pens of Japan, and it seems to be generally accepted among the Japanese stylophiles.

A Sailor's medium nib in 21 K gold, and the unbranded 14 K gold nib of the Kato Seisakushô's pen.

On my side, I can only add that the size and shape of this “Superior” nib is the same as that of Sailor’s nibs in medium size, made of both 14 K and 21 K gold. In fact, they are interchangeable, as can be seen on the pictures of this Chronicle. Of course, this proves nothing, and the title of this Chronicles should have an additional question mark: Undercover Sailor?

A Kato Seisakushô Profit (top) and a Sailor Realo in celluloid (bottom)? Their nibs are perfectly interchangeable.

In any event, in the case of these gold nibs –Sailor’s or not—, Kato Seisakusho’s pens belong to the group of companies that hide the origin of their nibs, like Hakase and Ohashido. Maybe we could find out they came from, but it is not obvious.

My thanks to Mr. Murase.

Platinum pocket pen (1967), manifold nib – Platinum Violet

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 25th, 2014
etiquetas: Ferme, Ishikawa-Kinpen Seisakushô, Kato Seisakushô, Sailor, plumín, Hakase, Ohashido, Schmidt

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pilot Capless - 1968 - C-250SS


In 1968, Pilot gave another turn to the idea of a capless pen by creating the Capless without any pushing (or pulling) mechanism. The 1968 model is probably the most original among all Capless models ever made by Pilot or by any other maker.

C-250SS, first model, initially released in May of 1968.

The second model had a black sliding button in the clip, otherwise fixed to the pen body. It was released some months later than the initial version, probably already in 1969.


Codes. C-250SS. This model is made of stainless steel with the tail in black plastic. There are two variations. The first one (May 1968) has a sliding clip. The second one, released some months later, has a fixed clip and a button on it. (Refer to the pictures).
Original_price. C-250SS: JPY 2500
Production_years. 1968-1969(?)
Nib_unit. Type V. Gold 14 K.
Filling_system Single spare cartridge. CON-20 and CON-50 can be used.
Opening_system. “Sliding mechanism”. The nib moves in and out sliding along the pen body by gravity. The sliding clip or button simply open a small door to allow the nib to move down either to release the nib (pen pointing down) or to hide it (pen pointing up).

Pilot C-250SS. 1968.


Length closed 129.5 mm
Length open 136 mm
Diameter 11.5 mm
Weight 18.1 - 19.4 g

The black piece on the back can be uncrewed to access the nib unit.

Nib unit:

Type V. In 14 K gold. This is the first Capless model to use single spare cartridges and converters CON-20 and CON-50.

The type V nib unit. The metal sheath on the back hides the single spare ink cartridge. To use a converter, either CON-20 or CON-50, the sheath has to be removed.

Detail of the nib unit. The step under the nib secures the position of the nib released to write.

Additional information:

Two variations existed on this model. The first one, from May 1968, had the whole clip sliding to open the way to the nib. The second model, released some months later, has a black plastic button on the clip. Pressing it operates the mechanism to release the nib. The clip is fixed to the pen body.

As is the case of most Pilot pens of the time, both the nib unit and the body are dated.

The first C-250SS model with the nib extended.

Back to the "Pilot Capless - 50 years" page.

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless
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