Crónicas Estilográficas

24 May 2019

The Invisible Hand... (II)

… Or I told you so...

Years ago I published several texts on the actual costs of inks. At the time, 2010, inks were becoming significantly more expensive while producers were increasing the gamut of colors.


Smaller inkwells, higher prices. But what matters is variety and price per inkwell. Ink Studio inks by Sailor (2018).

“A market driven by collectors –I said in 2011-- is bound to becoming irrational”. And ten years later the scene is a lot more complicated—more ink brands and makers, more colors, higher prices, smaller inkwells...

So, ink prices have become more expensive, and a side effect is a growing market of open inkwells. What not so long ago was almost worthless is now an object of trade.


As seen at the recent Pen Trading in Tokyo (2019). A second life for the inks after trying them...

Again, the invisible hand of capitalism plays its game.


Iwase Seisakusho – Caran D'Ache Sunset

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 24th 2019
etiquetas: mercado, tinta

15 May 2019

The Invisible Hand...

...of capitalism.


Pilot's converters and cartridges currently available in the market... more or less.

By the end of 2016, Pilot phased out the converters CON-20 and CON-50. And the substitute was the new CON-40.


Prices of Pilot's cartridges and converters in JPY without taxes. It is possible to find some of them at discount.

Nobody really misses the CON-50, a small piston whose problems with the surface tension were never completely solved. But many do miss the bladder-type CON-20—it was capable (0.8 ml), inexpensive (JPY 200) and efficient. The CON-40 is the opposite—small (0.5 ml), unreliable and twice more expensive at JPY 400.

Then, many an aficionado started looking for remaining stocks of CON-20 in small and out-of-the-beaten-path stationers in Japan.


CON-20 on the left; CON-40 on the right. The second is twice the price of the discontinued CON-20.

The result? In the black market –sorry, in the second hand market— the price of the CON-20 is now JPY 500.

Did Pilot make a good move discontinuing the CON-20? The invisible hand of capitalism says they did not.


Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Caran d'Ache Sunset

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, May 14th 2019
etiquetas: conversor, Pilot, mercado

13 May 2019

Tokyo Pen Scene in 2019

The 19th edition of the Pen Trading event in Tokyo was celebrated on the weekend of May 4th at the KFC building in the district of Sumida. And for the first time, this event lasted three days.

But all in all the figures of the show have not changed much along recent years—about 20 to 25 traders, and 200 visitors. And these numbers hardly justify such a long duration.


The first day, Friday 3rd, had Platinum as protagonist—Mr. Masa Sunami gave a lecture on the history of the brand, and the president –Mr. Nakata— answered some questions previously submitted by the attendees. However, the answers were to be kept strictly intramural, and any leak through social media was prohibited. Trading started at 12:30, albeit restricted to non-gold nib pens and assorted goods.

Saturday and Sunday were more of a traditional pen show –no restrictions of the type of pens to be on offer--, and were combined with a number of workshops.




Pen Trading in Tokyo, 19th edition.

Along this past year there has been a wealth of activities in the fountain pen world in Tokyo. The Wagner group has extended its events in order to attract younger aficionados, for instance. In October, the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) worked well as a meeting point for aficionados previously disconnected, thus enlarging the pen community.

All this should imply that the trading events like that of Spring should become more important in the basic figures, but that was not the case ten days ago. The second edition of TIPS, to be celebrated in October 5th and 6th, looks like the best chance for the local activity to become something more according to the relevance of Japan in the international market.

And the only way to do so is to become more international.


So, next stop, the second edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show in October 5th and 6th. Hope to see you there.


Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, May 9th 2019
etiquetas: Tokyo, Japón, evento, mercado

28 April 2019

Pilot's Small Inset Nibs

The Pilot Elite 95s was marketed on the year 95 of the Pilot era—that is, in 2013.

This pen, apparently quite successful, recuperated the design of the pocket pens on the 1960s and 1970s in Japan. But it went further on reviving the very interesting inset nibs of the 1970s, which at the time of release in 2013 was limited to a steel variation on a desk pen. So, with the Elite 95s, the inset nib recovered some of its past glory through the 14K gold of its composition.


Pilot's desk pen DPN-200.

However, in the 1970s, these inset nibs were made of 18 K gold in two different compositions—yellow gold and white gold, and the yellow variation was also rhodiated.


From left to right, three Elite 95s in all three colors, the cross-hatch Elite (1978), black Elite (1977), non-Elite Sterling silver pocket pen (1975).



Six nibs and four possibilities. The three nibs on the right belong to the Elite 95s--14 k gold. The nibs of the left, from top to bottom: 18 K gold, 18 K gold rhodiated, 18 K white gold.

These older pens were always on demand among pen aficionados, and the existence of the modern Elite 95s made that appeal even bigger.

(As a final note, I should add that the larger inset nib of the Silvern series has been continuously on production since the late 1960s. Just to prevent misreadings of my words.)


Platinum 3776 Century Chartres Blue – Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 28th 2019
etiquetas: plumín, Pilot, mercado

23 April 2019

Japanese Parochialism

A number of stylophiles outside of Japan complain about how Japanese pen companies keep some of their products limited to the domestic market. Some even go to the extent to say that Japanese companies keep their best products for themselves—for the domestic market.

I am the first to admit that Japanese companies seem, in general, quite reluctant to accept the reality of the globalized market.


However, those limitations do not always favor the Japanese customer. An obvious example is the stub nib Pilot manufactures... for other markets. Those stub nibs are not available in Japan, and should the Japanese stylophile wanted them, online shopping seems the only option.


This stub nib for the Pilot Capless is not available in Japan.

Just like Western buyers do when craving for any Japan-only pen.

Japanese parochialism works both ways...


My thanks to Mr. Fukucho.


Sailor Profit Naginata Togi – Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, March 26th 2019
etiquetas: plumín, Pilot, Capless, mercado

08 April 2019

The Case of Naginata. V. Results

On the previous Chronicle, I wondered whether the alleged virtues of the Naginata Togi nebs were real and detectable. To do so, I published a picture with seven sets of ideograms --焼肉定食, yakiniku teishoku--, all of them written by the same Japanese hand using seven different pens. Then I asked if we could find out which one had been written with a Naginata.

From top to bottom, the pens were as follows:

- Kubo Kohei nib. Unlabeled point, but it is about an MF.
- Montblanc 149 (F?)
- Henckel nib, architect grind.
- Sailor Naginata Togi, NMF.
- Pilot #5, music nib.
- Pelikan M200, F.
- Pilot Vpen, F.


The solutions to the question of last Chronicle.

The most popular answer –both on comments to my text and on Instagram-- was number 5; that is, the music nib by Pilot.

This result is surprising—either people love the results of writing with a stub nib or most of us do not really know how a Naginata nib is actually cut.

On second position came number 3 –a Henckel nib with an architect grind--, and on third, the actual Naginata Togi. This is more reasonable, as the Naginata nib can be seen as a smooth architect's nib.


The architect's grind on a Henckel nib.


A Naginata Togi nib.

The conclusion is that the alleged beautifying effects on the writing come only through practice with the Naginata Togi nib itself. But if so, many people, in Japan and overseas-- buy Naginata pens without really knowing how to use them and take no benefit of their supposed advantages.

But Naginata Togi nibs are excellent writers for whatever script, Eastern or Western. And christening a nib with an exotic name is an excellent marketing strategy.


Sailor Profit Naginata Togi – Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, April 2nd 2019
etiquetas: plumín, Sailor, japonés (idioma), mercado

27 March 2019

The Case of Naginata. IV. Writing

On the previous text I tried to deconstruct what a Naginata Togi nib was. I concluded that in essence, a Naginata Togi nib is a variable nib. My friend and fellow blogger Fudefan reminded me how Sailor marketed these nibs as optimized to write beautifully in Japanese.


A Naginata Togi nib.

Now, how true is that?

The following picture shows the same text (焼肉定食, yakiniku teishoku) with seven different pens. Only one of them is a Naginata Togi.


焼肉定食 with seven different pens. Some were Japanese, some Western.

Can anyone figure out which one was written with a Naginata Togi?

Which one do you think is more beautiful?

Finally, does this matter?


My thanks to Fudefan and to Poplicola-san.


Iwase Seisakusho, model N – Hôgadô Doroai (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, March 26th, 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín, japonés, mercado