Crónicas Estilográficas

Friday, June 24, 2016

Early Pilot Nibs. VIII. Size 6

Pre-war size 5 nibs by Pilot are very rare, as I have already explained. However, it is with size 6 nibs when die-hard collectors start to raise their eye-brows. This is probably due to the combined effect of size –bigger is sometimes better— and a non-extreme rarity.

I have found several examples of size 6 nibs. Only one of those presented today is attached to a pen; the rest come from a collection of nib. These are the dimensions:


Manufacturing date .Jan 1937. .Oct 1931. .Undated. .Undated.
Length (mm) 29 30 30 30
Width (mm) 6.9 7.0 7.6 7.6
Feed diameter (mm) 5.5 -- -- --
Weight (g) 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6
Material 14 Au 14 Au 14 Au 14 Au
Notes Oblique Stub

Two of these nibs are not explicitly dated, but the type of the inscriptions on them allow us to think they were made in the 1930 or early 1940s.


From January of 1937.


From October of 1931.


Non dated. Note the inscription "OBL". In fact, an oblique left right nib.


The same left-oblique nib of the previous picture. Detail of the nib point.


Non dated. A stub.


The point of the stub nib.

Previously on these Chronicles we have seen two other examples of this size of nibs: one belonged to a hoshiawase pen from 1924, and the other to a lever-filler in celluloid from 1942. I have not included those nibs in this list because I do not have their dimensions.

The obvious variations in the sizes of the four examples here shown are not unusual, as we had already seen on Pilot nibs of smaller sizes (see, for instance, those in size 1).

My thanks to Mr. Niikura and Mr A. Zúñiga.


Lamy Safari Aquamarine – Yard-O-Led Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 23th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colors of the Four Seasons—Again

“If it ain’t broke, do not fix it”, but this wise sentence does not seem to apply to the world of marketing. In fact, it might be right the opposite—making noise and calling for attention are often the names of the game in advertisement strategies.

Back in 2009-2010 (::1::, ::2::, ::3::), Sailor changed its line of inks. The old selection of colors, including some sorely missed ones, was discontinued in favor of four batches of limited editions—the seasonal inks. Much hype they generated, but being limited releases they were gone all too soon… to revive some years later. In 2014, as I reported on these Chronicles, Sailor reissued eight of the old sixteen seasonal inks.


The colors left behind in 2014 are now back.

And now, in June of 2016, it is the turn of the remaining eight inks:

Spring:
若鶯 - Waka-uguisu.
桜森 - Sakura-mori.

Summer:
藤娘 - Fuji-musume.
利休茶 - Rikyû-cha.

Autumn:
金木犀 - Kin-mokusei.
仲秋 - Chu-shu.

Winter:
囲炉裏 - Irori.
雪明 - Yuki-akari.


The not-so-new inks.


Some of these new inks, on display in a shop in Tokyo.

It seems that these not-so-new inks will coexist with those released in 2014. Therefore, the catalog of Jentle inks (by Sailor) will be composed, for a while, of sixteen fancy colors plus the well-known triad of black, blue-black and blue. Prices remain unaltered—JPY 1000, plus taxes.


The seasonal inks released in March of 2014.

At the time of writing this text (June 16, 2016), few shops have stocked these inks, but it is likely these inks might soon become widely available in the next few weeks. These inks hace also been announced on the last issue of the magazine Shumi-no Bungubako (趣味の文具箱, Vol 38, June 2016, page 82).

And the question previously asked remains adequate—does Sailor have any consistent policy regarding inks? It might just be a matter of making noise now and then.


Pilot Murex – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 16th, 2016
etiquetas: Sailor, tinta, mercado

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hiroshi (II)

Some months ago I presented a couple of pens decorated with urushi lacquer. Those were Pilot Custom 67 decorated by maki-e artist Hiroshi (洋). At the time I did not know the actual origin of those customizations and I ventured the idea of proofs of concept. But now the facts are clearer and the whole story can be written correctly.


A couple of Pilot pens customized by Hiroshi (洋).

Asakura Yukihiro (朝倉行洋) is a maki-e craftsman from the province of Kanagawa. He worked for Pilot between 1960 and 2001, when he retired. His signature, as we have already seen, is 洋, which can be read either as Hiroshi or as Yô. Here I am showing a creation of his—a rendition of the classic motif of the goldfish. This pen was made in 1978.


A creation of Hiroshi (洋) in 1978.


Asakura’s signature appears together with the inscription “kokkôkai” (國光會), the guild of maki-e artisans working for Pilot.


Asakura's signature (Hiroshi or Yô, 洋) together with the "kokkôkai" (國光會) inscription. In red, the kaô (花押).


The nib of the pen: "18 K - 750 / PILOT / / H878 / JIS mark". The nib was made at the Hiratsuka factory in August of 1978.

The pen uses a cartridge-converter system and implements an 18 K gold nib. Its dimensions are as follows:

Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 122 mm
Length posted: 147 mm
Diameter: 10 mm
Weight: 28.1 g
Ink deposit: 0.9 ml (cartridge) / 0.8 (converter CON-20) / 0.4 ml (converter CON-40) / 0.6 ml (converter CON-50)

But retired did not mean to stay idle, and Asakura takes commissions to decorate, at least, pens. These creations are, as before, signed as Hiroshi or Yô, 洋, but without the “kokkôkai” sign, as he is no longer part of the Pilot team of artisans.


Another pen customized by Hiroshi.

And this is the case of some pens shown on these Chronicles—commissions taken by Asakura Yukihiro performed on the well known Pilot Custom 67.


These two pens are already known to the readers of this blog.

My thanks to Mr. Fukuyo, Mr. Niikura, Mr. Sunami, and Mr. Shige.


Lamy Safari Aquamarine – Yard-O-Led Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 13th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, maki-e

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Duet Nib

Vanco was a brand of pens that has already showed up on these Chronicles. The Vanco pen on display at that time was a celluloid pen from the 1930s that implemented a telescopic piston as filling system. That alone proved a technical ability matched by very few companies of the time. However, there is very little information in the Internet about these pens. And the book of reference on Japanese pens –Fountain Pens of Japan, by A. Lambrou and M. Sunami (2012)— mentions Vanco briefly on four occasions, but does not provide any detailed information nor includes any picture of them.


The Vanco pen I am presenting today is a postwar unit. It is, in fact, a much simpler model than the piston filler I mentioned before, but it is nonetheless interesting for several reasons.


The sticker on the cap reads "DUET". That on the barrel, "VANCO / ¥500". On the barrel, the inscription says 'THE / "VANCO" / HIGH CLASS PEN'. On the clip, "VANCO".


The instruction sheet starts by declaring that all Vanco pens are certified by the ministry of Industry and are stamped by the JIS mark. Then, it describes the different filling systems. On the bottom right corner we find the addresses of the company: Osaka, Tokyo, and Fukuoka.

The pen is in mint condition, in its original box, and the set includes the instruction sheet. As we can see, at the time –mid 1950s--, Vanco manufactured four different filling systems: the V-type (option A), a lever filler (B), a bulb filler (C), and a Japanese eyedropper (D). The V type seems to be a sort of twist filler, but the text only speaks about the pen being transparent and how the Vanco filling system is of great capacity and prevents ink leakage due to the body heat. Anyway, the pen in question today implements a bulb filler mechanism.




The cap carries a sticker with the word “DUET” on it. This refers to the very special nib this pen sports. In essence, the nib is just a gold plated unit made of steel, but a closer look shows a very careful point cut. The iridium was conformed to be used also upside down, with the feed facing up.


The Vanco "Duet" nib. Note the shape of the nib point.

Now, writing upside down with a fountain pen (“reverse writing” some call it) is often possible; after all, the ink is right there in between the tines. However, very rarely is the nib polished for that way of writing and this results in an unpleasant experience. So, the Vanco Duet nib is, if only by this, very interesting and unusual. Years later, in 1966, Sheaffer launched the model Stylist with a “two way” nib that was later copied by Parker and Platinum.



Writing sample of the "Duet" nib in both regular and reverse writing. The reverse writing is more pleasant--if only, it is juicier. The paper is from a Tsubame notebook with lines at 55°.

But Vanco, in its early experiment, went further away—the nib points cut on this nib are radically different: an extra fine for regular writing and a (juicy) medium or broad for reverse use. It is hard not to think of Sailor Concord nibs, either on the Cross (double nib) or on the inverted fude (::1::, ::2::) configurations. However, Vanco accomplished this dual writing with a more elegant strategy—Vanco simply cut the nib point like a careful and skilled sculptor would do. And there was no need to bend or to overlap nibs.


Feed and nib of the Vanco pen. The inscription reads "VANCO / DUET / (JIS mark) / SUPER / (2)".


The converse side of the nib carries an additional inscription: "(unknown logo) / BEST / 672". I do not know what it means.

The pen is on the small size:
Length closed: 131 mm
Length open: 116 mm
Length posted: 152 mm
Diameter: 12.7 mm
Weight: 14.8 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.6 ml

All this shows how Vanco, that somehow obscure pencil and pen maker from Osaka, deserves more attention than what it currently receives.


Platinum pocket pen 18 K, Yamada Seisakusho – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 5th 2016
etiquetas: Vanco, Sailor, Platinum, Parker, Sheaffer, plumín, soluciones técnicas


Post Scriptum: This text you just read is the 500th Chronicle in this blog. 500 texts over a little over than six years… Not all of them are worth to read, but I have tried to provide information and, now and then, some food for thought. Now I wanted to thank all who took some time to read these pages and those who took the effort of writing comments and providing some feedback. To all of you, thank you very much.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Romeo's Maki-e

Itoya is a well-known stationery shop in Tokyo. I have mentioned it a number of time on these texts, not always in praising terms. However, its K.Itoya building in Ginza (Tokyo) is still one of the places of reference for any fountain pen aficionado.

But Itoya is more than just a shop. Itoya, founded in 1904, started producing its own pens in 1914 under brand names Mighty and Romeo. Over the years, these brands have had ups and downs in terms of production, and as of today only Romeo seems to be active in the market.

The Romeo catalog of pens includes three models with maki-e decoration. Pen-wise, all three are the same, and were manufactured by Platinum. Therefore, nibs and feeds and ink-deposits –cartridges and converters— are those made by Platinum. And more in particular, they are those made for the 3776 line of fountain pens. But for these pens only the medium (M) nib was available.


The three current Romeo pens with maki-e decoration.

But then comes the decoration with maki-e techniques. Three are the motifs: Dragon (Ryû, 龍), Trout (Ayu, 鮎), and Snake (Hebi, 蛇). The first news by Itoya, back in 2012, spoke of the first two as limited editions of 50 units each. These pens do not come cheap: JPY 200,000 for the Dragon, JPY 180,000 for the Trout, and JPY 230,000 for the Snake (taxes not included).


The Dragon (Ryû, 龍). JPY 200,000, plus tax.


The Snake (Hebi, 蛇). JPY 230,000, plus tax.


The Trout (Ayu, 鮎). JPY 180,000, plus tax.

These are the dimensions of the model Trout:

Length closed: 145 mm
Length open: 127 mm
Length posted: 174 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 32.6 g (inked)
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (cartridge) / 0.6 ml (converter)

No major variations should be expected on the other two pens.


The nib is made of 14 K gold. It is, in essence, a Platinum 3776 nib with a different decoration. You can choose any nib point as long as it is a medium.


The insides of the pen clearly reveal the Platinum origin.

The Trout decoration was crafted by Masayuki Hariya (針谷祐之), an artisan from Ishikawa prefecture (1954). He is a certified traditional craftsman skilled in the Yamanaka maki-e style, and has received a number of awards for his work.


Close-up of one of the dragonflies painted on the cap.


The craftsman's signature simply reads "Masayuki" (祐之).

But is this pen any better than a Platinum Century 3776? Maki-e-decorated pens play, in actual terms, a different sport.

My thanks to Mr. Shige.


Sailor 21K full size – Montblanc Racing Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 23th, 2016
etiquetas: maki-e, Platinum, Itoya

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vintage Inks

Two are the issues associated to the two words in the title: how old can an ink be before using it, and how often do companies change the formulation of the inks?

Last weekend, at a meeting of the Wagner group in Tokyo, we had the opportunity to check five different varieties of the Pilot Blue-black ink. The older of them was about 60 years old. All of them were in their original packages and were, apparently, in perfect working order.


Vintage Pilot Blue-black inks. The oldest inks were from around 1955.


The four iron-gall inks to be tested. From left to right, from 1955, 1965, 1975 and 1985. The price as well as some details in the inkwells allow for a detailed dating.


Inking the pens, Hero 616, for the writing tests anyone could take.

Pilot Blue-black is, even nowadays, a water resistant ink. Formerly, this property was achieved by the classical trick—iron-gall formulation. But at some point in the early 1990s, it was abandoned in favor of a solution that reacts with the cellulose of the paper. Therefore, all the sampled inks but the most recent were ferrogallic. Some minor differences in color among those iron-gall inks are visible, but it is not possible to say whether those variations were due to any ageing process or to any variation in the formulation. The major differences are, as expected, between those classic inks and the newer formulation.


Writing test of all five inks (left), and water resistance test (right). The sample was one full minute under running water. Some dyes were removed from the iron-gall inks. All of them are remarkably resistant to water--even the modern, non ferrogallic, formulation.

A surprising detail we could see was how usable those vintage inks were despite their age. All of them were in perfect condition without mold or deposits. However, once open, these iron gall inks face an issue—the Iron ions will react with atmospheric Oxygen. Then, what is the open-inkwell lifetime of these inks? The ink should be all right as long as there were no mold or deposits, and some users spoke of some time between one and two years as safe to keep on using them.

My thanks to Mr Niikura, Mr. Nyoi, and Mr Toda.


Pilot Myu 701 – Pilot Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 16th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, evento, tinta

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Size 30

The initial rumor was released some months ago (on March 11th 2016, exactly)—Fountain Pen Network member Tinjapan wrote about a new flagship pen by Pilot to be released in a near future. This pen was to be designed with Sailor’s King of Pen in mind and would be urushi-coated.

But the most remarkable feature would be its nib—a size 30. This implies a totally new nib (and feed). Currently, the bigger units in the Pilot-Namiki catalog are size 15 (Pilot), and 20 and 50 (Namiki), as can be seen on KMPN’s unnamed blog.

Newer information in now available and it confirms the basics of Tinjapan’s report. This new pen seems to be one of the three pens Pilot Corporation is preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company. The new size 30 nib is confirmed; and this model will be black. It will be released this coming October. Name and code number (and therefore price) have not yet being announced. Tinjapan’s information spoke of around JPY 80000.

Interesting news!—not everyday we learn about new nibs being released.

My thanks to Tinjapan, who released the initial information


Ban-ei in black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 13th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín, mercado
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