Crónicas Estilográficas

Monday, November 30, 2015

Singing Bird

The Birdie was an inexpensive fountain pen made by Pilot in the 1980s.

In a nutshell, it is an all metal pen, stainless steel, with a plastic gripping section and a steel nib. Its filling system is by Pilot cartridges and it also admits the use of the CON-20 bladder-type converter.

The stainless steel nib in point F. It was manufactured on May of 1981.

The main characteristic of this pen is its very small size—thin and short. And simple too: the cap friction fits both the section (closing the pen), and the barrel (posting it). The later configuration is very nicely designed—the barrel becomes thinner to allow for a smooth fit a clean look.

These are the dimensions of the Pilot Birdie (1981):

Length closed: 110 mm
Length open: 105 mm
Length posted: 129 mm
Diameter: 9 mm
Weight: 12.9 g (dry, with converter)

The stainless steel nib is not particularly interesting. It is just functional and efficient, boring until we discovered there was a three-tined music nib, untipped, implemented on the Pilot Birdie.

On top, the cap posted on the barrel. Note the alignment between both pieces. On bottom, the music nib, the section, and the single spare Pilot cartridge. On this pen, made in April 1982, the clip is marked with the model name: Birdie.

And then, the boring and efficient Pilot Birdie became a very exciting pen.

The untipped three-tined music nib.

As can be seen on the pictures of this text, there were several variations along the history of this model. The dimensions stated on this text correspond to the model issued in 1981. The model with the music nib was made in 1982 and its ends are not flat.

My thanks to Mr. Niikura.

Sailor pocket pen, 21 K – Daiso Black cartridge

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 28th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín, plumín musical

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Madrid Pen Show 2015

I wonder whether it is worth to write about yet another pen show. In a sense, all of them are one and the same: people gathering around fountain pens. But I attended the 2015 Madrid Pen Show (November 13th to 15th, 2015) and I feel compelled to speak about it.

Photo courtesy of Foro de Estilográficas member Antolín.

The Madrid Pen Show is currently the biggest event of this kind in Europe—70 tables, 62 traders from 13 different countries, and over 1200 visitors in the two and a half days of the event.

The following video by Mr. José Riofrío truly captures the pleasant atmosphere of the event. The commercial side is a given to any such show; the social part is also there, but is often limited to the local community of stylophiles. The Madrid Pen Show is, in this regard, the meeting event for most of the Spanish pen community, regularly connected through the Spanish pen fora, mostly the Foro de Estilográficas and Relojes Especiales – Grafos. Some of the members of this community can be seen at the dinner party, which by now is an integral part of the celebration.

A lot has been said and written on how to proceed in events like this, but I am afraid that even the most seasoned collector becomes overwhelmed by the sheer amount and variety of pens. It always becomes difficult to decide how to spend the always limited resources.

But if asked, I would advice in the following terms:

I. Keep focus on what you want. This might be either a model, a brand, a category of some sort, etc. Your eyes and your brain will quickly filter the signal from the noise.

II. But do not close your eyes totally to those pens not fitting your primary interest. A pen show is a magnificent opportunity to see and to touch extraordinary pens, which takes me to point III.

III. Ask, touch, try,… and ask again. Take the chance to learn about your beloved objects.

IV. Explore the show before buying, but also consider that some pens might be rare finds. Sometimes, what is left behind might be gone forever.

V. Assume you will not see every single pen in the show. There are just too many, and that is why rule I becomes even more important.

Enjoy the pen show near you, even if overwhelmed.

My thanks to Mr. José Riofrío and to Antolín.

Parker 51 demi, vacumatic – Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 17th, 2015
etiquetas: Madrid, mercado, estilofilia, evento

Saturday, November 21, 2015

More by Mr. Iwase

Mr. Iwase is this raden master who customized his pens in unique ways. I already reported on his workd over relatively rare pens crafted by Mr. Momose and by nibmeister Kubo Kohei. But Mr. Iwase also decorates more common pens—Pelikan M1000 and M800, and Montblanc 149.

A collection of Pelikan M1000.

Pelikan M800 and M1000, and Montblanc 149. The reddish pen is just coated with urushi.

As before, Iwase uses sea shells, usually abalone, and tries to preserve on the pen the colorful patterns of the uncut shells.

The collection of these pens is simply spectacular, but they are for the personal use and enjoyment of the author. Mr. Iwase does not sell them.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Once again, these are unique pens even if, in essence, they are well known products.

My thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Iwase.

Sailor ProGear Senior – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Over Siberia, November 9th, 2015
etiquetas: Iwase, Pelikan, Montblanc, maki-e

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hiroshi's Pilot

At some point in these texts I expressed my views on maki-e pens. There are some models that are well known because they are part of large editions that can be seen on catalogs; but at the same time it is possible to find one-of-a-kind type of maki-e pens.

The later are, more often than not, regular and well known pens covered with an additional later of decoration commissioned to some maki-e artisan. In this regard, as I also pointed out on some other text, there is no such thing as a fake maki-e pen provided the maki-e decoration was actually there.

The following pens are, in essence, two Pilot Custom 67. It was a very interesting model: simple decoration, derived from the anniversary model Custom 65, and a nice selection of nib points, including a music nib. And it also provided a nice canvas for additional decorations.

On this case, the decoration is simply urushi lacquer in black –ro-iro— and in pale red –shu. Both pens carry the artisan’s handle name, Hiroshi (洋), followed by a kaô” (花押), a stylized signature. The person behind them is Mr. Yukinada (行灘).

The name and the kaô. They provide an additional decorative feature.

The feeds are also coated with urushi lacquer.

How many of these pens were made? I do not know. Did they become part of the Pilot catalog? I do not think so. Are they falsifications? Of course not.

Nothing these pens offer to the history of writing tools in Japan, but the collector values their rarity. Some even love their simple beauty.

Sailor ProGear Senior – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Over Siberia, November 9th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, maki-e

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The New Itoya

Over two years ago, Itoya closed the flagship builing in Ginza for renovation. The main operation was transferred to a nearby building in the meantime. Things were back to normal this past Summer –the renewed headquarters on Chuo Dori, the main street in Ginza, open with the corresponding fanfare.

The new façade of the Itoya flagship store in Ginza.

Back to normal, I said. Really?

Maybe Itoya is back to normal, but not to the way Itoya operated before the renovation. At that time, this shop was a reference in Tokyo for all things stationery. Its stock, and the number of displayed items were impressive. Itoya was the place to go in search for very specific stationery.

Some inexpensive fountain pens are also displayed in the main building. Lamy, Kaweco, the Itoya's series Color Chart... are some of them.

But that does not seem to be the case now.

Now, Itoya is something else. Now, in Itoya you can find many things unrelated to stationery. Now you can find coffee machines, for instance. Now, Itoya is more of a “lifestyle” shop where to look for fashionable and trendy goods. In fact, Itoya now resembles to a Japanese chain of “lifestyle” shops: Loft.

One section Itoya has apparently invested on is the area of customized products –personalized notebooks and printed matters. A lot more space is dedicated to them after the renovation at the expense of many other goods previously present—from notebooks to pens to any accessory--, whose space has been drastically reduced.

Samples of papers for custom prints. At least, beautiful.

Paper samples for custom notebooks.

The fountain pen section, itself a reference in Tokyo and in Japan, has been preserved in the K.Itoya building in the back alley from the headquarters. Stylophiles still have this particular mecca in Tokyo where to go to see what is going in the fountain pen market nowadays.

The café on the top floor. The name says it all. But at least it has some stylographic flavor.

Recently published book. The title, Ginza Itoya. Stationery. And then, "better life". Clear enough?

I wonder what the rationale lies behind this change in the orientation of Itoya, and I cannot see whether this makes economic sense. I do know, however, that right now there are better shops in Tokyo where to find very specific products, no matter Itoya –and many others, for that matter—could take your order.

Itoya’s headquarters now might be a lot more beautiful, but that is about it. Itoya has lost a lot of the previous appeal as stationery shop.

Pilot Penmanship – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 29th, 2015
etiquetas: mercado, Tokyo, papelería

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

70th Anniversary

The strategy of Pilot in the last 30-something years is consistent: a commemorative pen is launched as a limited edition, and then that model, albeit with minor variations, might become a regular model. That was the case of the Custom 845 (based on the 75th anniversary model), and of the Custom 67 and 74 (65th anniversary pen).

And in between, the 70th anniversary model. This one was marketed in 1998 as a limited edition of 7000 units at a price of JPY 38000. It is a flat top, also called “vest” style in the Pilot jargon, and followed the design of some old Pilot models from the 1920s and 1930s. And, in fact, the subtle barleycorn engraving on the plastic body follows the pattern of many a vintage Pilot. However, the filling system relies in clean and reliable cartridges and converters.

A "vest type fountain pen", according to the text. The 70th Anniversary Pilot in its wooden box.

The insides of the pen do not match the classic look. The filling system is by cartridges and converter (CON-70). The cartridge is protected by the black sheath visible in the picture.

The nib is, for once, quite interesting. The very simple engraving says it is a size 10 in a FM point, and this was the only option. But this nib is not any regular size 10-nib—the tip clearly bends downwards, but unlike the Pilot posting nib, available as well in size 10, this FM point is fairly flexible.

The FM nib in size 10. The nib points down, but it is not rigid.

A regular posting nib in size 10. A posting nib always points down, is very rigid, and draws a very fine line.

These are the dimensions of this pen:

Length closed: 139 mm
Length open: 128 mm
Length posted: 165 mm
Diameter: 14 mm
Weight: 19.0 g (dry, with empty cartridge)

On top, the 70th Anniversary Pilot. On bottom, the Custom 72. Note the wider cap ring of the later. Both pens carry a similar decoration on their bodies. This time, the regular model. the Custom 72, was not a simplified version of the limited edition.

Then, two years later, Pilot launched the model named Custom 72: a flat top in black plastic. This time, however, the regular non-limited model was not a simplified version of the 70th anniversary pen.

Twsbi Diamond 530 with Kubo Kohei music nib – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Early Pilot Nibs. VI. Size 4

As the nib size increases, the pens become more rare and more expensive. For size 4 nibs I have found two examples: two post-war 53RT units. However, their nibs are significantly different:

Manufacturing date .Non dated. .Sep 1954.
Length (mm) 26.7 25.9
Width (mm) 5.3 5.5
Feed diameter (mm) 5.3 5.5
Weight (g) 0.3 0.5
Material Steel 14 K Au
Basic data of two Pilot nibs of size 4.

Steel nib. Undated. The engraving reads "BESTQUALITY / PILOT / -(4)- / MADE IN / JAPAN".

Size 4 gold nib dated on September of 1954. However, it is not marked with the JIS stamp. The engraving: "MANIFOLD / WARRANTED / "PILOT" / 14 K / -<4>- / MADE IN / JAPAN".

Manifold vs. unlabeled point; gold vs. steel; dated vs. undated… Even their sizes are different despite they were probably not that apart in their manufacturing date.

The undated Pilot 53RT with steel nib.

The 53RT with the manifold nib made of 14 K gold.

Platinum pocket pen, steel striated body – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 18th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín
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