Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Information

Information adds value to pens. Knowing who made that obscure pen and under which circumstances do indeed increase the interest and the appeal of that otherwise unremarkable tool. That is why writing on unknown pens might raise their value and why working on the history of pens, Japanese or Spanish or Greek, might be a good investment.

The two pens made by Súper T: a green Olimpia and a blue Gester.


How many people outside Spain do know about Súper T or about Regia pens? And those are some of the finest brands ever made in Spain. Being in oblivion does not help anyone.


[Pilot Vpen – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu]

Bruno Taut
November 19th, 2011
(etiquetas: libros, estilofilia, Súper T, Presidente)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Matching (XI). Unas Reflexiones

I.
Tanto definir lo que es una copia como poder distinguirla del original son tareas arduas. Así lo demuestran tanto los procesos legales como los esfuerzos académicos de estudio de las cuestiones relacionadas con la propiedad intelectual. Y al mismo tiempo, las conclusiones –legales y académicas— son a menudo contradictorias, lo que en nada ayuda a resolver estas cuestiones.


Este bolso, ¿es una copia o es un "homenaje" a una marca francesa? No lleva ni marca ni logotipo reconocible.

II.
Algunos, ingenuamente, asumen que algo que se parezca al original no llega a ser copia si no lleva la marca del mismo. Nada más alejado de la realidad: hay multitud de casos en los que esos productos que no llevan la marca son confiscados y destruidos por las autoridades. Y ese fue el caso, años atrás, de las Inoxcrom, Sailor, Pilot, etc. de inquietante parecido con las supuestas obras maestras de Montblanc.


En otros casos, la copia lleva todos los logotipos y los nombres del original, pero el juez ha dictaminado (según Antena 3, España, 21 de septiembre de 2011) que nadie en su sano juicio consideraría ese producto como original y que, en consecuencia, no había ni engaño ni delito.

Es decir, que los criterios legales son, cuando menos, confusos y hasta contradictorios. Siempre nos queda el recurso de caer en el positivismo legal de que es copia todo aquello que el juez decida como tal. Pero los criterios aplicados y las sentencias dictadas, tan contradictorias, ofrecen pocas pistas fiables de antemano.

Si además ampliamos nuestro horizonte y miramos lo que sucede en otros países, todo se hace todavía más complicado. Lo que en Gran Bretaña era copia, en Japón era legítimo. A. A. Waterman en Estados Unidos; Swan, Sailor o Pilot en Japón; Inoxcrom, Apolón en España…. todas ellas han copiado modelos, tecnologías y nombres de marcas de éxito. Y es que es la copia, más que el producto original, lo que predomina en el mercado.

Inoxcrom 55 frente a Parker 21. ¿Copia u homenaje?

III.
Tanto el modelo copiado como las razones para la copia han cambiado a lo largo de la historia. Una de las razones era la de adquirir una tecnología. De hecho, todas las revoluciones industriales, salvo la británica, se hicieron con la copia de tecnologías y de productos ya desarrollados en otros países. Luego, las barreras legales, arancelarias y judiciales, han hecho el resto, aunque a veces, como sucedió con la industria estilográfica española, no fuera suficiente para garantizar su éxito. Y así, Inoxcrom copió la Parker 21 con su modelo 55; y Apolón copió la Sheaffer con plumín Triumph. Hoy en día varias compañías chinas
Rainbow, Hero— insisten en copiar viejos modelos de Parker.

Copia de la Sheaffer Balance bajo el nombre de Hawaiian.

Otras copias buscan más la asociación con una imagen de éxito que les proporcione unos beneficios económicos inmediatos. Es el caso de la Hawaiian Balance en celuloide o de la multitud de copias chinas de las Montblanc modernas. O de las numerosas copias de las viejas Duofold de los años 20.

Copia china de una Montblanc Starwalker.

Claro que si la pluma original pierde su función inicial de escribir, hacer la copia resulta más sencillo: basta con simular el aspecto exterior porque el hecho de escribir con ella es muy secundario.

Sailor Profit. ¿Copia u homenaje a la Meisterstück de Montblanc? En este caso, la copia supera al original.

IV.
En última instancia, nada está claro en este mundo de las copias. Y a falta de una decisión judicial, nuestras circunstancias personales inclinarán la balanza hacia un lado o hacia otro. Tengamos también en cuenta que las legislaciones y los criterios de los jueces son muchas veces contradictorios.


La paradoja última es que la copia es muchas veces mejor que el original.


(Sailor Ballerie – Sailor Miruai)

Bruno Taut
13 de noviembre de 2011
[etiquetas: mercado, Montblanc, Parker, Hawaiian, Inoxcrom, Apolón, Sailor, Pilot, Swan Japan, A. D. Waterman, Rainbow, Hero]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Strategies

During the last months I have paid quite a lot of attention to modern pens. To modern Japanese pens, should I be more specific. And soon did I realize that Platinum pen company is the one, among the big three, offering less appealing products nowadays. And I will explain why.

Pilot is, certainly, the biggest pen company in Japan and it shows. Not only this company offers a broad selection of nibs –up to 15 in some models— but also the styles of Pilot pens are becoming more appealing in both looks and filing systems: a plunger filler (Custom 823), a demonstrator piston filler (Custom Heritage 92), and even traditional eyedroppers for the luxury division Namiki.

A Pilot self-filling pen.

Sailor, on its side, has a very powerful argument: a unique and unmatched selection of nibs. And there is also a self-filling pen, the Realo, either in the Profit or in the Professional Gear styles in its catalog.

The Sailor Realo in Profit style.

Compared to these strategies, Platinum’s arguments are reduced to a wonderful music nib –in a non very exciting plastic body, prone to scratches— and a collection of cartridge-converter pens. Even the new demonstrator Motosu is a cartridge-converter pen. The rest of exciting nibs, that is, those soft elastic and a stub, are only associated to the luxury division Nakaya. And even so, Nakaya pens are cartridge-converters. The fact that usually they are not present at regular shops does not help either to attract any additional attention to the brand.

Nakaya's filling system is based on the unappealing cartridge-converter system.

Indeed a sad scenario. Platinum makes excellent nibs and feeds, but seems stuck in a very limited scheme. Or it might that the company was truly faithful to the technological evolution accomplished with the Platinum Honest 60 pen—the first cartridge-converter pen in Japan. However, despite its “Good bye, ink bottle”, Platinum recently launched the Mix Free line of inks…

"Good bye, ink bottle", said the ad for the Platinum Honest 60 (or Honest 66) from 1960.

In the meantime, while the company rethinks its strategy for fountain pens, I will stick to vintage Platinums.

(Sailor ProGear – Daiso Red)
Bruno Taut
November 9th, 2011
[etiquetas: Sailor, Platinum, Pilot, Japón]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ban-ei, 挽栄

The discussion is out there: does Danitrio make Japanese pens? Regardless of the answer right now, Danitrio did make some Japanese pens some years ago. This is part of the story, following the very limited information available.

Ban-ei (挽栄) was the working name of Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助) and of the brand of a number of pens manufactured mostly around 1980. Behind this operation there was a team of four people:

Kabutogi Ginjirô (兜木銀次郎), nibmeister.
Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助), lathe master.

Takahashi Kichitaro (高橋吉太郎), urushi master.

Tsuchida Shuichi (土田修一), in charge of the ebonite feed and the final assembly of the pen.


On a footnote, Kabutogi Ginjirô has already shown up on these chronicles as the nibmeister who created
a fake Pelikan nib certified by the Ministry of Industry of Japan.

Group picture of some Ban-ei pens. Those on the right, in black and in red, would be later replicated on limited releases. Courtesy of Mr. Nikos Syrigonakis.

Interestingly enough, most of these pens were not signed and nowadays are often called Tsuchida pens. Some of the models can be seen on the picture by fellow stylophile Nikos Syrigonakis.

A Danitrio-era Ban-ei pen.

Some time later, in 1997, California-based Danitrio company approached the Ban-ei team and commissioned them the production of some of its models: among them, the torpedo-shaped pens in black and red urushi. But this time the pens were limited releases –200 for the black, and 150 for the red— and would be engraved with the original name of the brand both in Chinese characters (Kanji) and in alphabet (Romaji). And with no sign of the commissioning company Danitrio, although these might be the most Japanese pens this company might have ever produced. That was indeed a very respectful and elegant detail.

The Kanji engraved on the cap ring. It says Ban-ei.

By then, mid 1990s, the team had changed. Kabutogi’s son Toshiya (兜木利弥) had replaced his father as nibmeister, and the urushi master Kitamura Zenichi had substituted Takahashi Kichitaro. None of them was young –Tsuchida, born in 1917, was apparently the youngest of them all, and passed away in 2009, and those changes were perfectly logical.

The nib on this Danitrio-era Ban-ei. The looks are exactly the same as those on pens from the 1980s by the Ban-ei team.

One of this limited-released pens I recently found at the Madrid Pen Show. It is the number 33 out of the 200 units made in black urushi. It is an eyedropper with shut-off valve and implements a rigid F point made of 14 k gold. These are its dimensions:

Diameter: 16 mm.
Length closed: 145 mm.

Length open: 130 mm.
Dry weight: 25.9 g.

Ink deposit: 3 ml.


The beautiful hard rubber feed.

Its construction quality is very good. The seam between barrel and culotte is almost unnoticeable. The ebonite feed is nicely finished and elaborated.

Finally, the overall condition of the pen is very good despite having been used.

My deep appreciation and thanks to Mr. Nikos Syrigonakis and to モンゴルさん.

(Pilot Prera Demonstrator, eyedropper – Senator Regent Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
November 18th, 2011
[labels: Ban-ei, Danitrio, nibmeister Kabutogi]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Prera

Pen review: Pilot Prera Demonstrator.

The Pilot Prera is one of the inexpensive pens marketed by the Japanese company. In fact, there are two basic variations for this model. The first one is made in nine different solid colors (model FPR-3SR). Its catalog (MSRP) price is JPY 3000 (plus tax) and it does not include any converter. A later arrival (Fall 2010) is the transparent Prera (model FPRN-350R). This model comes in seven variations based on the color of cap and barrel ends. The price, JPY 3500, is justified by including the converter CON-50 (MSRP JPY 500) with it. It seems, though, that some online traders ship this pen with the cheaper CON-20.


This transparent model is the one under analysis today.



1. Appearance and design. (8.5/10)
The Pilot Prera is a small pen. the cap snaps on the section and fits tightly on the barrel when posted, The colored details make it quite appealing. This is a functional pen with an attractive look

2. Construction and quality. (9.0/10)

Typical Pilot construction—everything fits well despite being a relatively inexpensive pen.


A fair concern in all demonstrator pens is how resistant to scratches the plastic material was. It looks good on this pen, but only time and use can give a final answer.


Therefore, so far, 9.0/10.


3. Weight and dimensions. (8.0/10)

Short pen without being a pocket pen. It is on the light side and is well balanced. Most users would post this pen given its short length when open.


Dimensions:

Diameter: 14 mm.
Length closed: 120 mm.

Length open: 108 mm.

Length posted: 135 mm.
Weight: 14.0 g.

Ink deposit: ...Cartridge: 0.9 ml

......................Converter: CON-20: 0.8 ml.
........................................CON-50: 0.7 ml.

......................Eyedropper: 3.4 ml.



4. Nib and writing performance. (9.0/10)

Preras come with two rigid steel nibs: F and M. They are very similar –but not the same— to those used in the already reviewed Pilot Vortex. The M nib of this review is very smooth and delivers a sweet wet line.

This pen shares the nib and the feed with the Plumix/Pluminix (abroad) or Penmanship (in Japan) models. They are easily extracted from the section by pulling. Therefore, it is easy to get an EF Pilot Prera –such is the nib of the Pilot Penmanship— or a 1 mm italic Prera –the Plumix/Pluminix nib.


The EF nib and feed of the Pilot Penmanship.

All in all, the nib performance is excellent for an inexpensive pen like this. The possibility of interchanging nibs (Pilot does not sell spare nibs) with other models adds variation to the available points.


5. Filling system and maintenance. (9.5/10)
Preras use Pilot-proprietary cartridges and two of the Pilot converters (CON-20 and CON-50). The transparent Prera is sold with the piston converter, CON-50, more apt for a demonstrator than the all metal CON-20. With either of these possibilities, the ink deposit fits no more than 0.9 ml.

However, this pen can easily hold a lot more ink. Remove any cartridge or converter and fill the barrel with ink. By transforming it into an eyedropper pen, the ink deposit increases up to 3.4 ml. No gaskets or grease were used. The section-barrel threads are thin and tight and do not leak at all.

Cleaning the Prera is very easy, as is the case on most cartridge/converter pens. And being nib and feed so easily removable, the cleaning is even easier.


6. Cost and value. (8.5/10)
JPY 3500 get a very nice looking pen, with a smooth nib and with a great filling versatility. Hard to beat indeed.


Price wise, though, this pen costs twice that of the Vortex. Are those JPY 1500 worth the better looks and the possibility to remove nib and feed easily?


7. Conclusion. (52.5/60=87.5/100)

Very high marks for an informal looking pen. It performs really well and allows for many variations in the way of filling it and, even, on the writing points.

Maybe it is the experimentalist in me who truly enjoyed this pen


(Pilot Prera Demonstrator, M nib, eyedropper – Senator Regent Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
November 19th, 2011
[etiquetas: Pilot, soluciones técnicas]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Madrid 2011

The Eighth Madrid Pen Show has just finished. As is often the case with these events, it was a big celebration for all of us lovers of fountain pens and other writing utensils.


Paradoxically, this show is becoming one of the leading events of its kind in Europe. We should remember that the pen industry in Spain was never truly important, and it was localized mainly in Barcelona, and Spanish pens are seldom, if ever, collected by foreign stylophiles. So, those arguments that apply to other pen shows located in cities with a deep manufacturing tradition do not apply in Madrid—does anybody come to Madrid in search a locally made exotic and unique pen? Maybe the 43 traders from Europe and America supplied a number of outstanding pens.


Last year, the seventh edition received about 1000 visitors, and this year everybody said there were less people (about 850, Pen Show sources say), as was the trend on other European pen shows. Figures about the size of the transactions are not made public.


However, this pen show has a big problem of space. Some of the trader’s tables were small and moving around became difficult with just a few number of visitors. Organizers said that the venue for next year’s show will be bigger. I look forward to it, but I am also afraid that organizers think more of the trader than of the visitor. Having more space for more traders with ampler tables is great, but too often the social aspect of the show is ignored. Pen shows are also a meeting place for stylophiles, who keep in touch through fora and blogs. And few occasions are as perfect as pen show for a gathering.



Then, what many an organizer ignores is that those meetings increase sales. We all love to talk about our hobby and we enjoy testing each other's pens. Having a place to sit and a table to display our treasured pens will trigger even more curiosity on other pens. And right there, there are over ten thousand pens ready for the action.

Resident artist Els Baekelandt's tools.

I do believe the social aspect of a pen show needs to be favored. If only, because it will increase the economic yield. But it seems that only in Japan this aspect is taken into consideration.

(Sailor ProGear, senior nib – Daiso red cartridge)

Bruno Taut
November 14th, 2011
[etiquetas: evento, Madrid, mercado]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Coins

Pilot-Namiki started manufacturing fountain pens with maki-e decoration as early as 1925, just seven years after the foundation of the company. However, the association with Dunhill only started in 1930. These pens, either branded as Pilot or as Dunhill-Namiki, are now objects of desire for many collectors, and their price reflect this demand.


However, not only Pilot made maki-e pen on those years. Sailor copied the idea in 1926 and Platinum followed suit in 1930. Founder Shunichi Nakata commissioned some maki-e artists led by Rosui Gyokusendô Ohara to create some designs.


Such is the case of today’s pen. It is an eyedropper made of hard rubber (ebonite) from the early 1930s. As is often the case in Japanese pens, it implements a shut-off valve to seal the ink deposit. The nib is a size 5 made of steel and signed by Platinum.


These are its dimensions:
Diameter: 14 mm.

Length capped: 135 mm.

Length open: 117 mm.

Length posted: 162 mm.

Weight (dry): 16.9 g.


The culotte operates the shut-off valve.

Details of the texture and of the coins used as docorative elements. Round coins are relatively new in Japan. Actually, yen (en in Japanese, 円) means circular and describes the new shape of coins.

The maki-e decoration is of the rough volcanic surface style –as described by Masa Sunami— with some old coins as decorative motif. This rough texture is very similar to the stone finish (ishime) currently available in Nakaya pens.

The final result is a very shibui pen—elegant and delicate without being ostentatious.


(Platinum 3776 – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
November 8th, 2011
[etiquetas: Platinum, Sailor, Pilot]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Capless 1971

Among all the Capless models manufactured by Pilot since 1964, that from 1971 is one of the most appreciated by stylophiles. It is made of plastic and stainless steel. Its stripped design pattern will later be shared with a Myu pocket pen, 1973, and a Custom model from 1974.

The three Pilots from the 1970s with black stripes.

The 1971 Capless with a hard fine gold nib.

The Capless is equipped with a 14 K gold nib unit, and it is not visibly dated. It uses the current line of Pilot cartridges and converters with the obvious exception –common to all Capless nibs— of the CON-70. The nib is attached to the rest of the set through a rather long plastic feed. This makes many people speak of a brittle pen and avoid the risk of using it. Actually, it is almost impossible to find replacing nib units for this pen. Those were specific for this model, which was on production for just two years. The following Capless, from 1973, implements nib units compatible with those currently in use.

The long feed is clearly visible on this picture.

These are the dimensions of the 1971 Capless:
Diameter: 11 mm.

Length closed: 139 mm.

Length open: 146 mm.
Weight: 19.8 g (dry).


Detail of the extended nib.

The pen opening for the nib. Contrary to other Capless models, this one is circular.

This model is on display at the Pen Station, the Pilot museum in Tokyo. Its price in the second hand market is becoming strangely high, but at the end it is a matter of how much we are willing to pay for it.

(Athena Basic Line – Sailor Yama-dori)

Bruno Taut
November 2nd, 2011
[etiquetas: Pilot]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mitaka

Not much information is available about the Japanese pen Mitaka. A review on an eyedropper from the 1930s, by fellow blog author Jule Okami seems to be the basic reference. Therefore, this pen, even if apparently unremarkable and boring looking, has some interest.

The whole contents of the box--that includes the service Platinum cartridge.

The Platinum Honest 60 pen, already reported on these Chronicles, was the first Japanese pen in using ink cartridges and converters. As a result, these cartridges were the first available in the Japanese market and several companies used them as the standard. Such was the case of Mitaka. This boxed set included a service cartridge branded as Platinum Honest 60 with blue black ink.


Other than that, this pen is made of black plastic, with cap and nib being gold plated. The very rigid steel point is engraved with the company name

This Mitaka pen is quite similar to the cheapest of the Pilot Super series—the Super 50 with steel nib. However, this pen is an aerometric filler. Both cost the same—JPY 500.

On both pictures, on top, the Pilot Super 50. On bottom, the Mitaka.

These are the dimensions of the Mitaka pen:

Diameter: 11 mm.

Length capped: 135 mm.

Length open: 120 mm.

Length posted: 155 mm.
Weight (dry): 10.5 g.


Mitaka is also the name of a city in the prefecture of Tokyo. However, the company was based in the ward of Itabashi.

My thanks to Mr. Alberto Linares.

(Pilot Vpen – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu)

Bruno Taut
October 31st, 2011
[labels: Platinum, Mitaka, conversor, Pilot]
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...