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 very helpful were the nibs. 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 where 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

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