Crónicas Estilográficas

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Obvious Connection

Years ago, fellow stylophile KostasK and myself described the pen brand Joker. After some research, we concluded that Joker was a Greek brand that marketed Japane-made Platinum pens.

The Platinum origin of those pens --just a couple of models-- was clear almost from the very begining by comparing some details: the obvious similarity with some Platinum models, the logo on the clip,...

Today I am showing another proof of the link between Platinum and Joker: the box of a Joker where both names coexist peacefully.


A Joker pen with a Joker box. Or is it a Platinum box? On the barrel, simply "JOKER".


The Platinum counterpart. On the barrel, "PLATINUM / TRADE (platinum logo) MARK / 10 YEARS PEN".

On top of that, boxes like this one were obiqutous in the Japanese industry in the 1950s. Many a brand used them, although displaying different designs.


A collection of boxes of Japanese pens from the 1940s and 1950s.

This box by Joker and Platinum contained a Joker pen fashioned after the Parker 51. This same model exists branded as Platinum, although with some significant differences. Tha main one lies on the nib--the Platinum nib is tipped whereas the Joker is merely folded. There are some other cosmetic variations: different engravings and a non-plated cap on the Joker pen.



The Joker nib is gold-plated and untipped. The engraving is not branded: "OSMIRIDIUM / 30".


The Platinum pen implements a "10 years" nib with the inscription "PLATINUM / 10 YEARS P-B / (JIS Logo)". It is tipped, and was likely to be gold-plated.

If only, the box of this Joker pen shows a clear connection between that brand and Platinum. But this is a connection Platinum said to know nothing about.

My thanks to Mr. Toda.


Sailor Ballerie - Sailor Red-brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 11 2017
etiquetas: Joker, Platinum

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Yatate

Originally, a “yatate” (矢立) is a stand for the arrows in the old tradition of Japanese archery, “kyudô” (弓道). But the word is better known as a container to carry a brush and a small deposit of water. It was used by merchants and educated people who had the need to write on the go.


"Benri-gata" type of "yatate". This is the type whose style was copied for the "yatate" pen. On this example, the brush container has some holes.


This type of "yatate", "ittai-gata", is better known.

With the apparition of the fountain pen, those traditional “yatate” became obsolete. However, the name was rescued to describe a particular type of fountain pen. On them, the cap is almost as long as the pen itself—nib, section, and barrel. When closed, the pen might look just like a rod of ebonite, but upon opening it, a full size pen show up.


A typical "yatate" pen made of ebonite. At first, it just looks like an ebonite rod. Picture courtesy of Mr. Ariel Zúñiga.


Only open it is possible to see that there was a pen inside. Picture courtesy of Mr. Ariel Zúñiga.

“Yatate” pens saw their glory days by the beginning of the twentieth century. By 1920 they were gone almost completely, and only the occasional retro-looking pen in this geometry kept them alive.

Taccia is one of the brands stationer Itoya uses for its own pens, others being Romeo, Mighty, Natsuki, Itoya. Taccia pens, interestingly enough, are available overseas. In Japan, though, its distribution seems limited to Itoya shops. Some of its models, mostly high end, implement Sailor nibs, whereas the least expensive ones use JoWo nibs made of steel.


Obviously, a Taccia pen.

The following model is called Taccia Covenant, and it is, in actual terms, a “yatate” pen made of plastic. The Covenant uses international cartridges and converters, and sports a very correct JoWo steel nib. The available nib points are F, M, and B. The feed, needless to say, is made of plastic.



The "Midnight Breeze" Taccia Covenant. Well, a "yatate" pen.

This model comes in three possible colors: marbled brown (“Parchment Swirl”) with silver clip and rings; marbled blue (“Midnight Breeze”) with silver ornaments; and black (“Jet Black”) with golden accents.

The long cap screws on the pen both when closed and when posted. Posted, the pen is quite thick and could become a bit uncomfortable to some users. Unposted, the pen is very comfortable.


When posted, it becomes a hefty pen.

These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 145 mm.
Length open: 139 mm.
Length posted: 182 mm.
Diameter of the body: 12.5 mm.
Diameter of the cap: 15.5 mm.
Weight (inked): 34 g (uncapped, 19.0 g)


The steel nib made by JoWo.

The current price in Japan is JPY 14000, plus taxes, and it does not fare well against the workhorses of the main three Japanese manufacturers of fountain pens—Pilot´s Custom 74 and Custom 91, Platinum´s 3776 Century, and Sailor´s Slim Pro Gear, Profit and Promenade. All of them implement 14 K gold nibs and cost between JPY 10000 and JPY 12000 (save for the Platinum Century 3776 with music nib).

But they are not “yatate” pens…


My thanks to Mr. Ariel Zúñiga.


Eboya Hakobune XL – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 5th, 2017
etiquetas: Itoya, mercado, Japón, JoWo

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kyôto Colors

Takeda Jimuki is a company based in Kyôto dedicated to supply office equipment. As part of its business, Takeda Jimuki also runs a small chain of stationers called TAG with branches, among other places, in Tokyo.

In collaboration with the corporation Kyôto Kusaki Zome Kenkyujo, dedicated to develop and market dyes out of plants, Takeda Jimuki manufactures some inks for fountain pens.

As of today, November of 2017, these two companies produce two lines of inks: Sounds of Kyôto (Kyô-no Oto), and Colors of Kyôto (Kyô-no Iro). Each of them is formed by six inks with, of course, poetic and allegoric names.

The Kyô-no Oto line:
-- Azuki Iro, the color of Vigna angulares. Purplish brown.
-- Nureba Iro, wet crow. A black ink.
-- Imayô Iro, trendy color (at least in the Heian period). Purple.
-- Koke Iro, moss color. Green.
-- Yamabuki Iro, Kerria japonica. Yellow.
-- Aonibi, dull blue. A grayish blue.


Some of the "sounds of Kyôto" (Kyô-no Oto).

The Kyô-no Iro inks:
-- Arashiyama-no Shimofuri, frost in Arashiyama. An orange brown ink.
-- Gion-no Ishidatami, cobblestones in Gion. Green.
-- Higashiyama-no Tukikage, moon shadow of Higashiyama. Orange.
-- Fushimi-no Shunuri, gates of Fushimi. Red.
-- Keage-no Sakuragasane, pink color on a kimono collar. Pink.
-- Ohara-no Mochiyuki, soft snow in Ohara. Purple.


Some of the "colors of Kyôto" (Kyô-no Iro).

Some of those colors might not be currently in production. That could be the case of Azuki Iro and Arishiyama-no Shimofuri. But at the same time there are some limited edition inks like the “secret color”, Hisoku; a pale blue. This ink is part of the Kyô-no Oto line.


Another sound of Kyôto: Hisoku.

These inks come in 40 ml. bottles at a price of JPY 1400 (taxes included). That is JPY 1296 without taxes, and about JPY 32.5/ml. This price is JPY 2.5/ml more expensive than the Pilot’s Iroshizuku inks.

The packaging is very attractive while simple.


Gion-no Ishidatami and Koke Iro.

As long as I can see, these inks have a very limited distribution both inside and outside of Japan, albeit some companies are selling them overseas.


Romillo Nervión – Sailor Blue Iron (personal ink)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 6th 2017
labels: Kyôto, tinta, Takeda Jimuki

Monday, November 6, 2017

Strange Marketing by Sailor

Some days ago I reported on the new presentation of the old line of Sailor Jentle inks together with the release of four new colors—Yonaga, Shimoyo, Yozakura and Yodaki. And from now on, the name of these inks is going to be “Shikiori”.


The new four colors of the Shikiori inks. Only these are new.

The unfortunate side effect of this move by Sailor is the dramatic increase in the price. The old presentation cost JPY 1000 per a 50 ml inkwell—that is, JPY 20/ml. The new one costs, again, JPY 1000, but for only 20 ml of ink in a fancier inkwell. That is, JPY 50/ml.


The full catalog of Shikiori inks. Note how 16 of them are the well-known seasonal inks.

At the time of that text (October 6th 2017), I wondered whether this new policy was temporary. Now, from Sailor I have heard that this new price is definitive and that the new old presentation will remain in the market as long as stocks remained in existence.

By doing this, Sailor positions their inks among the most expensive tier of inks in the Japanese market, including some pigmented inks made by themselves and by rival companies.

Another shocking detail is the decision of allowing both old –50 ml inkwells— and new -20 ml inkwells— to coexist at retail shops. In these way, Sailor blatantly show the huge increase in the price –a 2.5 factor- while putting the retailer in an uncomfortable situation in front of the customer.

But such is the new policy of Sailor. The rationale? The same sources said that the old inkwells looked too cheap and needed an update; and that the ink was too inexpensive compared to that of the competitors.


The old inkwells used by Sailor. Now they are deemed as unfashionable.


And Sailor seems to forget they also had this other inkwell...

But with this new prices, Sailor inks become significantly more expensive than those of the original inks that Sailor themselves make for a (big) number of shops. Typically, these original inks cost JPY 2000 (plus taxes) for 50 ml. That is, JPY 40/ml. Nagasawa’s Kobe inks (::1::, ::2::), with its very large collection of colors, are even cheaper: JPY 1800 per inkwell, or JPY 36/ml.


Now, these Sailor-made Kobe inks marketed by Nagasawa are cheaper than those made by Sailor themselves.

Is Sailor going to push all those shops to increase the prices of the original inks?



Sailor 21 K, full size (1970s) – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 2nd 2017
labels: Sailor, mercado, tinta

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Red

It is already here—the announced Pilot Custom Urushi in vermillion is already in the shops.


The new, although not so much of a novelty, Custom Urushi in vermillion.

Now it becomes crystal clear which parts of this pen are made of ebonite, and coated with urushi, and which parts are made of plastic. As we already knew, the Custom Urushi follows the patterns of the Pilot Custom 845, whose red urushi model –sold only at the stationary shop Asahiya Kami Bungu—is shown on the picture.


The well-known Pilot Custom 854 in red urushi sold at Asahiya Kami Bungu, in Tokyo.

The price of this red Custom Urushi is the same as of the original black pen—JPY 88000, plus tax.


Clavijo Velasco Ro-iro – Pilot Irsohizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 24th 2017
labels: Pilot, maki-e, mercado

Saturday, October 21, 2017

10 Years of Color Drops

Time flies.

By the end of this year of 2017, Pilot’s Iroshizuku inks will become 10 years old. The first “color drops”, such is the meaning of 色彩雫, “iroshizuku”, showed up in the market in December of 2007: Asa-gao, Aji-sai, Tsuyu-kusa, Kon-peki, and Tsuki-yo. All of them blue tonalities.


All in all, Pilot has released a total of 27 ink colors under the label Iroshizuku at an irregular pace:

December 2007 (5): Asa-gao, Aji-sai, Tsuyu-kusa, Kon-peki, and Tsuki-yo.

July 2008 (5): Ku-jaku, Sho-ro, Shin-ryoku, Kiri-same, Fuyu-shogun.

November 2008 (4): Yu-yake, Momiji, Yama-budo, Tsutsuji.

January 2009 (3): Shimbashi-iro, Edo-murasaki, Fukagawa-nezu.


May 2009 (3): Tsukushi, Fuyu-gaki, Yama-guri.

August 2011 (4): Ina-ho, Kosumosu, Murasaki-shikibu, Chiku-rin.

November 2011 (3): Take-sumi, Shin-kai, Ama-iro.

Those released in January of 2009 formed the Tokyo Limited Edition, and are no longer available. In fact, their distribution was also very limited. The final result is that the actual gamut of ink comprises only 24 colors.



The price –in Japan, at least— has not changed in all this time, save for the increase in sale tax in 2014 from 5% to 8%. JPY 1500 (JPY 30/ml) is the catalog price (MSRP), although it is easy to find these inks for less.

In October of 2010, another presentation of the inks was marketed: three 20 ml-bottles for JPY 3000 (JPY 50/ml). These sets were fixed-there was no possibility of choosing the colors. That presentation was very short lived.


In January of 2015, a second version of smaller inkwells was launched—the Iroshizuku Mini. Now, it is composed of three 15 ml inkwells at a price of JPY 2100 (JPY 47/ml). On this occasion, the buyer can generally choose the colors included in the set. At some shops it is even possible to buy the inkwells individually for JPY 700 (minus some possible discounts).


And now, what? Platinum recently launched its new line of iron-gall inks. Sailor has rebranded the old line of inks as Shikiori, and not so long ago offered some smaller bottles of the nanopigmented Storia inks. Pilot is, in comparison, very relaxed on the ink front.

So, will Pilot take benefit of this opportunity to start a marketing campaign?

(NOTES: 1. Prices quoted in Japanese yen without taxes. 2. The names of the inks have been written following the more standard Hepburn Romanization, and the names of a couple of inks might look misspelled. This is completely intentional and only shows the problems Japanese people often have with the alphabetic transliteration of their own language).


Nakaya Portable Writer – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 6th 2017
labels: Pilot, tinta

Monday, October 16, 2017

Masahiro Again

Past July, I wrote a text –“From Shizuoka”— about the small pen maker by the name of Masahiro Seisakusho. Its website, I said at the time, was only written in Japanese and was also very confusing. That, together with some questions asked on the Fountain Pen Network made that Chronicle of mine extremely popular. I wonder now if that new information translated into more sales…


A thick Masahiro. The engraving on the nib is the only brand sign.

Anyway, another Masahiro pen became available for me to inspect, and writing about it was only natural.

On this occasion we have one of the bigger models, and therefore it implements a Pilot size 15 nib. The body, as usual on this brand, is made of (probably) German ebonite.



The nib is a typical Pilot unit: "PILOT / 14K-585 / 15 / < F > ". Closer to the section, the manufacturing date: 314.

However, despite the size of the nib –similar to a Bock size 6, or a Pelikan M800—, it seems too small for the very wide pen body. Sure enough, its girth allows for a big amount of ink thanks also to the old fashioned and efficient A-shiki filling system. This system, let’s remember, was briefly used by Pilot in the 1950s, although it is very common nowadays in the form of the Pilot’s CON-70 converter.

As was the case with the other Masahiro pen here analyzed, the feed is made of ebonite, which is a significant change with respect to Pilot pens implementing these nibs, whose feed are made of plastic.


The very beautiful ebonite feed, custom made by Narihiro Uchino.

These are the dimensions of this Masahiro pen made in Shizuoka:

Length closed: 143mm
Length open: 133 mm
Length posted: 170 mm
Diameter: 17 mm
Weight: 43.9 g (inked)


The tail of the pen is the handle of the pulsated piston (A-shiki system).

Pens like this go over JPY 100000 (actually, almost JPY 110000), according to Masahiro’s website. Now, it is up to us to decide whether this pen is a good value and how it compared to Pilot pens with the same nib.


My thanks to Mr. Minagawa.


Romillo Nervión – Sailor Blue Iron

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 11th 2017
labels: Masahiro, Pilot
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