Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kobe in USA

The Kobe-based stationery shop Nagasawa started selling its rage of inks—the Kobe inks—in Tokyo last February. The Tokyo partner for this operation is Itoya, and its headquarters in Ginza are the only place where these inks are sold in the big city.


Nagasawa in Kobe.

This marketing decision seems successful, and the pile of Kobe inks at Itoya does shrink down. The arrangement is stable, though, and the stock of inks should be replenished regularly.


Kobe inks at Itoya. They seem to go fast, but not being a limited offer, the shelves should be replenished regularly.

But the more interesting news are that Nagasawa intends to sell these Kobe inks in the US market in a near future. Not much more information is available now. In particular, not about what retail channel the Kobe shop will use for this move. However, it is only reasonable to think Itoya America could be in charge of the distributing these Kobe inks made, after all, by Sailor.


Pilot Prera – Gary's Red-Black (Wagner ink 2012)

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, March 29th 2017
etiquetas: tinta, Nagasawa, Tokyo, Estados Unidos, Sailor, mercado

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Onoto Type by Sakai Eisuke

Ban-ei pens have shown up several times on these Chronicles and the basic data are is well known. But the devil is in the details: Sakai Eisuke and his team did not leave much information behind and any pen can be a source for more knowledge.


The following pen seems to have been made in the 1960s. It is an “Onoto-type” pen, so popular in Japan even nowadays. On the information sheet accompanying we can read that this is a pen inspired on the Onoto model of 1918, with a plunger filling system. Needless to say, the Japanese pen does not use any self-filling operation but the very dear Japanese eyedropper system (::1::, ::2::) derived from the old Onoto plunger.


On this picture, both threads of the ink deposit and of thr shut-off valve are half unscrewed.


This pen is designed to be posted, although the final length is quite long--180 mm.


Classical design of the section of an "Onoto-type" Japanese pen.

The information sheet also states that the pen is the work of just two people—Kabutogi Ginjiro, nib, and Sakai Eisuke, body. And the two other regular actors of the Ban-ei group, Tsuchida and Takahashi, are absent, which points out at the idea of this being a precursor of what later would become the Ban-ei/Tsuchida brand of pens. But, to what are we calling Ban-ei or Tsuchida pens?


The information sheet signed by Kabutogi Ginjiro (兜木銀次郎) and Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助).

The nib, made of 14 K gold, is engraved with the name of one of the Kabutogi’s registered brands—Steady: “K14 / Steady / Special / Perfect / -<3>- / Pen”.


The Steady nib made by Kabutogi Ginjiro (JIS no. 3233, although there is no JIS mark on this nib).

These are the dimensions of this Onoto-style pen:

Length closed: 147 mm
Length open: 142 mm
Length posted: 180 mm
Diameter: 11.0 mm
Weight: 11.8 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 2.8 ml

This particular pen was commissioned by Seibu Department Stores in Tokyo.


The weak point in the Japanese eyedropper pens--the point where the rod operating the shut-off valve enters the ink deposit.

The weak point of this pen is the back seal between the valve rod and the ink deposit. This is the main source of problems in Japanese eyedropper pens.


Sailor Profit, Naginata Togi – Tomikei Blue.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 21st, 2017
etiquetas: Ban-ei, Kabutogi Ginjiro, Steady, Onoto

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kobe in Tokyo

On the previous text I spoke about a new arrival in the Tokyo pen scene. Hamamatsu’s shop Bung-Box has recently opened a branch in Tokyo. An obvious effect of this move the availability of a wide range on original inks in the big city.

The other big name in original inks —that is, inks made by Sailor for specific retailers— is Nagasawa, in the city of Kobe. Kobe inks, as Nagasawa calls them, were the first gamut to receive a wide attention from stylophiles both in Japan and overseas.


Kobe ink in Kobe. Picture by Randall Stevens. Used by permission.

The new move of Nagasawa is to market these inks in Tokyo as well. But this time in partnership with one of the main shops in Tokyo—Itoya.


Kobe ink in Tokyo.


That’s it—now Itoya sells a wide variety of Kobe inks at, at least, its flagship shop in Ginza. The price of this inks is the same as in Nagasawa shop—JPY 1800, plus tax, for 50 ml. And this is indeed remarkable—Kobe inks are JPY 200 cheaper (for a 50 ml inkwell) than any other original ink, of course Sailor made. But there is an exception—Bung-Box inks are a lot more expensive at JPY 3000.


Kobe inks in Itoya Ginza.

Are these moves by Nagasawa and Bung-Box mere timely coincidences?

My thanks to Randall Stevens.


Sailor Profit, Naginata nib – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Chuo, March 3rd, 2017
etiquetas: Sailor, tinta, Tokyo, mercado, Nagasawa, Itoya
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