Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Non-Pilot Pilot

This text is the result of a collaborative effort: my friend Antolin2.0 found the pen and started asking questions and finding some answers. My contribution was limited to answering a couple of them and writing this text.


The pen Antolin2.0 found is the following—an inexpensive Pilot Super with an inscription in Bulgarian: балканкар България, Balkancar Bulgaria. The seller, from Leipzig, had said that he had got the pen at an industrial fair in the times of the German Democratic Republic. Balkancar was a public company dedicated to the production of heavy machinery, and it is still active.


The Bulgarian-Japanese-German pen.



On its side, the pen is clearly signed as Pilot. It is in all aspects one of the inexpensive Super models, albeit the nib geometry does not really match that of the early models.

So the first question is served: how could these two worlds –a Socialist company and a Capitalist pen— come together?

Historian Evgeni Kandilarov explains it in his book Bulgaria and Japan: From the Cold War to the Twenty-first Century (Sofia, 2009). In the 1960s, Kandilarov explains, the need to open markets for the fast growing Japanese economy matched the search for new technology of some Socialist countries outside the Socialist bloc. Contacts between Japan and Bulgaria started in 1959 (resumption of diplomatic relations), and by the mid 1960s companies Balkancar and Fujitsu Ltd. signed an agreement according to which the Bulgarian party would produce electronic devices and distribute them in the COMECON market. And that was just the beginning—some joint ventures followed soon afterwards and the economic ties between the two countries became very stable.


Evgeni Kandilarov's book Bulgaria and Japan: From the Cold War to the Twenty-first Century (Sofia, 2009). (http://www.tokyofoundation.org/en/articles/2013/bulgaria-and-japan-from-the-cold-war-to-the-twenty-first-century).

Therefore, the Bulgarian connection of this pen is easy to understand. But the pen, surprisingly, not so much.


New questions arise when the pen is disassembled. The nib is engraved with some elements apparently contradictory. On one hand, it is made in Japan, and the logo of the Japan Industrial Standards really supports this idea. But on the other hand, the manufacturing date includes an F: F467.

Letter F was understood to be associated to nibs made outside Japan, at any of the facilities Pilot had in India, Burma, Brasil… The manufacturing date –April of 1967—is also puzzling for a Super model. The same can be said about the logo, which corresponds to the 1950s and early 1960s.


The nib, at first sight, is a collection of contradictions.

Finally, Pilot pens of that time --1967—were engraved on the barrel with a manufacturing date code. On this pen, however, that inscription only says “PILOT / MADE IN / JAPAN”. And there is no hint of the model number—Super pens, might be worth remember, were numbered between 50 and 500.

So, this pen shows a number of contradicting and anachronistic elements.

Further questioning of the usual suspects revealed a surprising fact—this pen was not made by Pilot.

The story goes that once the early Super model was phased out, in the early 1960s, Pilot passed the machinery to a company named Fuji, also in Hiratsuka, where the main Pilot plant lies. Fuji, in return, manufactured pens only for export. The F in the manufacturing date is presumed to mean Fuji. Consequently, this pen was made in Japan.

So, all in all, what we have here is a Pilot Super pen, made by a company named Fuji in 1967 in Hiratsuka, Japan. The pen was likely to be exported to Bulgaria, and was chosen by the state company Balkancar as promotional advertisement gift.

More pictures are available on the following link to the Spanish forum "Foro de Estilográficas": http://estilograficas.mforos.com/1218373/12842260-una-pilot-super-50-de-la-rda-la-conexion-bulgara/


Lamy Safari – Lamy Blue

Antolin2.0 & Bruno Taut
Madrid & Nakano, Fall of 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, Bulgaria, Japón, Fuji

4 comments:

Saltire Turquoise said...

Good bit of detective work. Thanks

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Saltire. I am happy you liked it.

BT

Kostas K. said...

Dear Bruno, happy new year to you and the Blog.
Your Cronica reminded me that
I have an unknown Pilot pen, which takes Double-spare cartridges,
has a semi-hooded triangular nib, parallel to one side is written "PILOT"
and parallel to the other side of the nib is written "14K".
I can not disassemble the pen completely, sorry for this.
Does not mention Japan anywhere on it but it advertises
"V/O SOVINFLOT" on the body, a Soviet state agency and ship service.

I think this corroborates your research about Japanese - Soviet block relations and trade.
I also have a Murex which advertises "Iraqi Airways" but this is another story!
Thank you for your excellent blog once more,

Kostas K.

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Kostas K, for passing by and commenting.

That Pilot pen with the SOVINFLOT inscript you mentioned is truly interesting. We should have a look at that some time soon! Thanks for the information.

Happy 2017!

BT

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