Crónicas Estilográficas

20 January 2019

Nagahara 2020

The bare news:

Nibmeister Yukio Nagahara will retire from his current position in Sailor in February of 2020. He plans to pursue an independent career under the name “The Nib Shaper”. Nagahara is already preparing the website of this new operation.



Who will succeed Nagahara in Sailor?



Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Sheaffer Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 20th 2019
Etiquetas: Sailor, nibmeister Yukio Nagahara

17 January 2019

Ohashido (I)

Besides the big three Japanese pen companies –Pilot-Namiki, Platinun-Nakaya, and Sailor– there are a bunch of small operations, some of which I have described on these Chronicles: Masahiro, Eboya,... I haven't spoken much about Ohashido, and that despite being very active in the local (Japanese) market.

Ohashido –Ohashido Ltd.– was formally founded in 1965, but it has its origins in Tokyo in 1912, when Yoshiharu Uemura open his workshop in Asakusa while working for SSS, the big company of the time. He moved to Sendai, about 300 km North of Tokyo, after the Big Kanto Earthquake in 1923 to work with inventor Kazuyoshi Hiratsuka. The new shop was located close to the Big Bridge (Ô-hashi) over the river Hirose. Ohashido means “the hall of the big bridge”.

The business was completely destroyed during the War. The operation revived around 1950 in the hands of Yoshiharu's son Eiichi Uehara, but not through manufacturing pen but by fixing them. The production of pens was resumed some years later, and by 1965 Ohashido Ltd. started formally.

In 2010, Eiichi's son Yuuichi Uehara took control of the company. He has become very active in the Japanese scene by attending a big number of sale events hold on stationers and department stores where he sells his pens directly.


Yuuchi Uehara at work in Maruzen Stationery in Nihonbashi (Tokyo).


The traveling rokuro (traditional lathe).

Ohashido's operation is quite unique. It seems anchored in the pre-industrial era. There is barely any system in the production: there are no model names, the warranty card is just Uehara's business card, there are no instruction sheets, etc... Contacting him is not easy either—he has no public email address, and only very recently he open a website (https://ohasibo.theshop.jp/).

As for the pens, they are made mostly in ebonite –sometimes from Nikko Ebonite, some other from old in-house production--, and implement Sailor nibs of sizes medium and big (following Sailor names) in both 14 K and 21 K grades. In fact, for some time, Ohashido offered big nibs made of 14 K gold, which was not an option on Sailor pens. In a more distant past, Ohashido used nibs by Ishiwaka Kinpen Seisakusho, Kabutogi Ginjiro, and even Ishi Shoten (Yotsubishi). Some sources also speak of nibs made by Eiichi Uehara himself.


A big Ohashido nib made of 14 K gold. Of course, made by Sailor.


Pens for sale...

All current Ohashido pens use Sailor cartridges and converters. The later, at least, if the barrel was big enough, of course.

And on another Chronicle I will describe some Ohashido pen in detail.


Elysee pen, unknown model – Aurora Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Ohashido, Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho, Yotsubishi, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro

10 January 2019

Pen Obsessions

Once again, I encountered one of those pens that show the essential conflict between the collector and the historian, or between the the rarity and the icon. I am well aware that most collectors would not hesitate to choose the exception over the norm despite the fact that very little do these rarities offer to the understanding of the history of pens.

Today's pen is a prototype.

In 2001, on the occasion of its 90th anniversary, Sailor created the corresponding anniversary pen. This was called “Mannenhitsu Dôraku”, something like “pen obsession". That was a limited edition of 900 units, made of dark or clear briarwood. This was –dare I say-- one of the most interesting limited editions made by Sailor due to its two-fold nib—a cross nib in the Sailor way of naming its specialty nibs.


The final version of the 90th anniversary pen of Sailor's. 900 units in dark or clear briarwood.

The prototype also implements a double nib, but a more complex one: a King Cobra with an overfeed (called “emperor”) to ensure the ink supply.


The prototype.

This was, apparently, a proof of concept for the final anniversary pen. I can only guess that the actual cost of this combination, King Cobra nib plus overfeed, was finally too costly and was rejected.


A King Cobra nib with overfeed.


The very characteristic point of the King Cobra.


These are the dimensions of the prototype:

Length closed: 150 mm
Length open: 132 mm
Length posted: 175 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight: 41.0 g (inked)

In actual terms there is nothing unique to this pen... save the combination of elements. And stylophiles love it.

My thanks to Mr. Sekine.


Iwase Seisakusho N-model – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 8th 2019
labels: Sailor, estilofilia, plumín

07 January 2019

Madrid 2018

The XV edition of the Madrid Pen Show is long over –it happened in November--, but it is still time to reflect on the outcome.


Number-wise, the results of this edition were not essentially different than those of the previous year—between 1500 and 1600 visitors along the three days of the event, 63 traders on 67 tables. Therefore, the results cannot be very different to those of 2017: about EUR 500,000 total business volume, with about EUR 6,000/vendor in average.



Some sources say, however, that on this occasion (2018), visitors were more willing to buy than in previous years. Another interesting detail was the presence of  pen aficionados from neighboring countries, thus making this event more international.

The novelties this year came in the form of auctions –on the day prior to the beginning of the show, and on the last day--, and a couple of seminars –on calligraphy and on urushi and maki-e techniques. Therefore, for the first time in the Madrid Pen Show, the event was supported on three legs—the commercial, the social, and the academic.



Finally, the new venue —Hotel Miguel Ángel— provided all of us with more room for enjoying it. The lack of room had been a historical inconvenient on the Madrid event. The only trouble was the irregular illumination in the lounge. This problem should not be difficult to solve, and many hope this was the case, as the Hotel Miguel Ángel will host the event for several years to come.



Ray Walter's in black ebonite, Franklin-Christoph music nib – Montblanc Irish Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 23th 2018
labels: evento, Madrid

30 October 2018

Katana or Kimono?

A play in one act. Based on actual events.

Characters: He, She, a Clerk.

A big stationery shop in Tokyo, buying a Nakaya.


The kimono? Maybe not.

HE: Among the pen community, the silk pen case is known as “the kimono”.
SHE: No Japanese would ever call that a kimono.

SHE: (Facing the clerk.) What is the name of that pen case?
CLERK: We call it “katana bukuro”.
HE: A bag for the sword?
SHE: I told you—no one in Japan calls it a kimono.
HE: Did anyone in Japan hear about pens being mightier than swords?


Afterword:

A “katana bukuro”, a bag for the sword. Besides the obvious meaning, it is also an ornament carried by women in their kimono at their wedding. Apparently, Japanese women needed some form of self-defense on those dire situations... The irony is that the “katana bukuro” is merely ornamental and inside there is nothing but a cylindrical cardboard instead of the traditional dagger, the “kaiken”.


The ornamental (and empty) "katana bukuro" with the elaborate knot and the two tassels.

A pen would be a better filling—provided the name of the bag changed accordingly.


Pilot Custom Heritage 912 – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 30th 2018
Etiquetas: Platinum, Japón

29 October 2018

Datation of Japanese Pens. VII. Sailor's Nibs (II)

Some years ago I spoke about dating marks on Sailor nibs: up to 2016, the manufacturing date on Sailor nibs was encoded in the form

abb

where a was the last digit of the year, and bb was the ordinal of the month: 01 for January, 02 for February, and so on.


710. On this case, October of 1957.


212. December of 1982? Maybe 1972?


A Naginata Togi nib from October 1999 (910).

Starting at some point in 2017, Sailor changed this code for another one in the form

ccX

Now, cc are the two last digits of the year, and X is a letter that encodes the month of production in the form A for January, B for February, and so on until L for December.


July of 2017 (17G). Photo courtesy of Inktraveler.


17K: November of 2017.

And now, the former ambiguities (does this 9 mean 1979, 1989 or 1999?) are eliminated.


Muji Aluminum pocket pen – Pelikan Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 29th, 2018
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín.

24 October 2018

The Case of Naginata. II. The Two-Year Hiatus

Allegedly, Sailor stopped the distribution of specialty nibs (Naginata Togi and derivatives) in Winter of 2016-17. Or so we were told. The reasons behind that decision were the difficulty to attend the demand of those nibs, particularly from the North American market, and the need to train more people to make them. And in the meantime –until further notice, they said-- no more Naginata were to be distributed.


A collection of (old) Naginata nibs.

Or were they?

Indeed they were, albeit in small numbers and through selected retailers. On the following pictures we can see a Naginata Togi nib produced in 2017. The pen was purchased at a well-known stationer in Tokyo.


An old Naginata?


Not so old --2017--, but the old engraving. (And on another Chronicle I should speak about the dating codes on modern Sailor nibs).

That nib displays what now we know as the old engraving. This shows how this nibs predate the new policy –new prices, new distributions, new decoration-- of Sailor re specialty nibs.

Nibs like this –and it is not the only example-- are the last examples of the second generation of Naginata nibs, and the later pricing decisions of Sailor is making them all the more desirable.


Pilot Custom Heritage 912 – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, October 23rd 2018
etiquetas: mercado, Sailor, plumín