Crónicas Estilográficas

07 July 2021

Madrid vs. Tokyo (2021)

On the weekend of June 26-27, two different pen events took place in two very different cities: Madrid and Tokyo. This alone are very good news in times of pandemic, but a lot more can be said.

Let's start with the contexts. Madrid is a city of about 3.5 million people with a metropolitan area of 6.7 million. Tokyo, on it side, is home to 14 million with a metropolitan area of 37 million.

Regarding the infection conditions, Spain is currently doing a lot better than Japan in terms of immunization. At the time of the event, over 30% of the Spanish population had been vaccinated. And Japan, at the time, was struggling to get 3% of the population in the same conditions, and that despite the incoming  Olympic Games...

Then, 10 traders gathered in Madrid on Saturday morning (June 26th), and attracted about 100 potential buyers.

Madrid, June 26th.

In Tokyo, the yearly Pen Trade event was composed by 10 traders and 100 visitors over two days –Saturday and Sunday.

Tokyo, June 26th.

The plain figures are not very different, and any variation could be associated to the different levels in the immunization rates in these two countries... Maybe. However, the differences run much deeper.

The most obvious contrast, and not limited to these events of this month of June, is the mere number of pen for sale on the tables. On just one table in Madrid there were as many pens –or even more-- that in the whole Pen Trade event in Tokyo. We have seen this effect in other, bigger, events celebrated in these two cities—namely, the Madrid Pen Show, and the Tokyo International Pen Show.

Tokyo, June 26th.

Madrid, June 26th.

The real paradox is that a population shy of 7 million –Madrid-- concentrates more pens and more traders than Greater Tokyo with a population five times bigger. That or the organizers of pen events in Tokyo fail to attract those traders. Something is done very well in Madrid, and not so well in Tokyo.

And that, among other things, is why I say that the Tokyo International Pen Show is not a pen show. But there is always something interesting to take home with you.

The spoils fo the Pen Trade 2021. Not too bad...

My thanks to Inktraveler, whose pictures are greatly appreciated.

Montblanc 146 celluloid – Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
July 7th, 2021
etiquetas: evento, Madrid, Tokyo

03 July 2021

On Ban-ei Nibs (III). Family Portrait

If only for the sake of documenting Ban-ei (挽栄) pens at large, it might be worth to publish a family picture of nibs used on them.

Ban-ei implemented nibs primarily made by nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro (兜木銀次郎), but there were some other units of different origin on them. The following picture shows eight examples, but there might me more.

Starting at 1 and clockwise, there are the nibs:

Eight nibs present on Ban-ei pens.

At 1. Sailor nib. On this case, it is associated to a torpedo pen with maki-e decoration.

At 2. Parley nib, JIS no. 3231 registered by Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho. The pen is a torpedo with black urushi.

At 4. Steady nib, JIS no. 3233. This is one of the brands registered by Kabutogi. Its pen, an Onoto-type already reviewed, might not be a Ban-es strictly speaking—only Sakai and Kabutogi participated in the production.

At 5. Nib engraved with a Japanese text (復刻手造万年筆, fukkoku tezukuri mannenhitsu, reissue hand-made fountain pen). This text appears on nibs implemented on some Danitrio-commissioned pens, and in some other numbered editions. This nib is likely to be equivalent to those singed as GK (see nib at 7).

At 7. GK-signed nib. Present in a variety of pens, included the Visconti Urushi series.

At 8. Kabutogi's nib labeled as 50. This particular unit is engraved with JIS no. 4622, registered to Kabutogi's brand Seilon.

JIS 4622.

At 10. Kabutogi's nib labeled as 60. This unit is also engraved with JIN no. 4622.

At 11. Platinum nib. Present in many of the Danitrio-commissioned series, but not only on those.

The eight pens.

Eizo FUJII. “酒井栄助の万年筆” (Sakai Eisuke no mannenhitsu; The fountain pens of Sakai Eisuke). Shumi-no Bungubaku, 34, p. 120-124 (2015).
A. Lambrou & M. Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. Andreas Lambrou Publishers Ltd., 2012.

Arenton no. 3 – unknown blue-black

Bruno Taut
July 3rd, 2021
etiquetas: Ban-ei, plumín, Sakai Eisuke, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro, Platinum, Sailor, Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho, Steady

29 June 2021

On Ban-ei Nibs (II). 50, 60 & GK

Ban-ei (挽栄), as we know by now, was a pen brand created by Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助) with the collaboration of a number of expert craftsmen--Takahashi, Tsuchida, Kitamura, Nakamura, and, of course, Kabutogi Ginjiro (兜木銀次郎), the nibmeister.

However, Ban-ei pens have implemented nibs of diverse origin—-Sailor, Platinum, Ishikawa Kinpen... Today I will only describe the three most common nibs made by Kabutogi Ginjiro himself—those labeled as 50, 60, and GK. There are some others, but are not so common as these three.

Three Ban-ei pens with three characteristic nibs by nibmeister Kabutogi.

These are the dimensions of these nibs, together with those of a size 15 nib by Pilot (Custom 823, 743, 845) for comparison. For data on more nibs, please check the text "Nib Sizes, Feed Diameters".

.- GK -. .- 50 -. .- 60 -. .- Pilot 15 -.
.Length (mm). 29 29 30 32
.Shoulder width (mm). 7.8 8.4 9.4 8.8
.Feed diameter (mm). 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.4

From left to right, nibs labeled as 60, 50, and GK. The 60 nib is consistently associated to that flatter-looking feed.

The figures clearly show how all those three nibs are very similar in size. Their feeders are, on the other hand, virtually equivalent with a diameter of 6.5 mm. This means that the nibs are interchangeable in their pens.

Eizo FUJII. “酒井栄助の万年筆” (Sakai Eisuke no mannenhitsu; The fountain pens of Sakai Eisuke). Shumi-no Bungubaku, 34, p. 120-124 (2015).
A. Lambrou & M. Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. Andreas Lambrou Publishers Ltd., 2012.

Anonymous 6-bu jumbo pen – unknown blue-black ink

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 29th, 2021
etiquetas: Ban-ei, plumín, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro

14 May 2021

Japanese Ebonite

In many a pen forum, the Pilot Custom Urushi, marketed initially in 2016, raised a discussion—what is better, a Custom Urushi or a Sailor King of Pen (KoP)?

The answer to that question depends heavily on the market where you were located. In Japan, for instance, the Sailor KoP is in general cheaper than the Custom Urushi, but that is not the case in many other markets.

Custom Urushi or Sailor King Profit Ebonite?

However, I wonder whether those two pens belonged to the same category. Sure they both implement large nibs, but the urushi layer of the Pilot sets it apart and adds some refinement the Sailor lacks both in the plastic and ebonite models. The urushi, in other words, might be enough to justify the higher price of the Custom Urushi in the Japanese market. And, consequently, an even more expensive KoP would necessarily be at loss with respect to the Pilot.

More apt to comparison, in my opinion, are the Sailor King Profit made of ebonite and the Eboya Hakobune XL. Both pens are made of ebonite without any additional coating, both sport size 8 nibs, both are full sized. And both cost around JPY 75000.

Eboya Hakobune XL or Sailor King Profit Ebonite?

Their differences are also clear. The KoP has a plastic section –the same section valid for all KoP models. The Eboya, conversely, is completely made of ebonite.

The weakest element of the Eboya might be the nib—a German-made Bock clearly labeled as such. In exchange, the feed is made of ebonite, which is something that many aficionados appreciate.

Hakobune XL's nib and feed--18 K gold and ebonite.

The problem the buyer might have the limited distribution of these two models. Sailor seems focused on mode expensive versions of the KoP series of pens, and finding the King Profit in ebonite is very difficult lately.

Eboya's Hakobune XL is not in the regular catalog of the company, and its availability depends on the supply of the Bock 380 system.

Conspicuously absent in this discussion is Platinum. And that because Platinum does not make any nib of a similar size. Platinum's strategy for luxury pens seem based on the decoration and not on the nib.

Platinum Izumo and Nakaya Cigar. Platinum's sense of luxury is associated to the decoration rather than to the nib.

And now, the decision of what to buy is up to everyone of us.

Pilot, Eboya or Sailor? Up to you.

Arenton silver rings – Unknown blue-black ink

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 13th 2021
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, Eboya, Bock, Sailor, plumín, mercado

08 April 2021

Kokutan, Year 0

This text is just an addendum to the previous Chronicle.

Soon after publishing it I could get my hands on another Precious Wood pen by Sailor. On this case, the pen is made of ebony –kokutan in Japanese.

Sailor's Precious Wood made of ebony.

Save for the material, this pen is identical to that made of tagayasan (Senna siamea). Even the nib –18 K Au-- carries the same manufacturing date: 003, March of a year ending in 0. So, this pen does not offer any additional information on the moment in which these Precious Wood pens had been marketed.

Tagayasan (front) and kokutan. Same pen, different woods.

The nibs of the previous pens. 18 K gold. M and F.

On the other hand, this pen could be seen –save for the different grade of the gold in the nib-- as the canvas for the maki-e work described some years ago on these pages.

Two pens made of ebony.

All in all, this pen is nothing exactly new, but shows another example of woods used in the Precious Wood series.

Moonman T2 with a Kanwrite nib – Private Reserve Dakota Red

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 7th, 2021
etiquetas: Sailor

31 March 2021

Tagayasan, Year 0

Dating Sailor pens in often tricky.

As I have shown previously, the date stamped on their nibs between the late 1960s and 2017 was a three-digit number, on which the first of them was the last digit of the manufacturing year. And the other two were the month. This system creates a basic uncertainty—to which decade does the first digit belong?

That question is not always easy to answer as some models span their lives over several decades.

Such is the case of the following pen—a “precious wood” made of tagayasan wood. Tagayasan (鉄刀木, literally iron sword wood) is the Japanese word for Senna siamea, one of the multiple variations of ironwood.

When was this pen made?

According to Masa Sunami [Lambrou and Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. 2012], the first wooden pen by Sailor was marketed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the begining of the Meiji period. That first wooden pen implemented a number of parts from previous models, and by 1972 the idea had adopted a new style and became as well a canvas for maki-e decorations. These pens, following the trend of the moment, had 23 K gold nibs.

This pen, from 1966, served as model for the 1968 wooden pen to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Meiji Period. The pen in the picture is made of plastic.

Sailor pen from 1972. The decoration is maki-e over ebony. The nib is made of 23 K Au.

Since then, this model has seen several variations in different materials and finishes—-mammoth ivory, wood, maki-e decorations--, and with different gold grades for the nib.

The same pen, this time made of mammoth ivory, a material not subject to restrictions. 1988.

In fact, these pens were included in the Sailor catalog up to 2009 as canvas for the most elaborated maki-e decorated pens made by Sailor at the time.

Page 2 of the Sailor catalog of maki-e decorated pens of 2008.

So, when was this “tagayasan” pen made?

This pen is a cartridge-converter, as was the case of all Sailor pens made between 1960 and 2006. The nib is made of 18 K gold. Its dating code is 003, meaning March of a year ending in 0.

Ebony (top) and ironwood (bottom).

The tagayasan pen, disassembled.

The nib and the feed. The engravings on the nib read "18 K / SAILOR", "4 003", and the JIS mark. 4 means this is a medium nib.

But, is it 1980, 1990 o 2000? Hard to say.

The closest relative to this tagayasan pen is a series of precious wood pens prepared by Sailor in 2003 thinking of the US market. However, those pens never entered production [Lambrou and Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. 2012]. But this pen is remarkably similar, including the grade of the gold nibs: 18 K.

This detail makes me think of 2000 as the year of production of this tagayasan pen. But this is just a speculation. More research is needed.

What we do know, though, is that this is a well-made pen, very reliable, and attractive. And collectable in its relative rarity.

My thanks to Mr. Kanesaki and Mr. Shimizu.

Ohashido - Lamy Petrol

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 30th, 2021
etiquetas: Sailor

17 March 2021

Curidas (IV). One Year Later

It was about this time last year when the Platinum Curidas became available in the market. It was released after a lot of hype and some delays that made it both desired and scarce during those early weeks of Spring 2020. Now, one year later, what can be said about it?

I have been using intermittently three units-one with each point. My use was not excessive in any moment—they were part of the pens I had inked, and they rarely left my desk.

These are my observations after a year of irregular use:

– The nibs perform correctly. They are smooth, and the ink flow is correct and constant.

Not much difference between the EF and the F nib points. Other than that, pleasant nibs. The problems are somewhere else.

– The retracting mechanism, on the contrary, is far from being acceptable. Out of the three units, only one works smoothly. The other two are very slow at closing the lid when retracting the nib. There are also some reports of nibs becoming dry,  possibly due to a deficient closing of the lid.

– Occasionally, the nibs have become stuck inside the barrel and could only be released by carefully pushing the nib unit from the front –i.e. from the nib point-- backwards. In one case, out of three, the nib unit became stuck every single time I tried to use it. So, it became useless and in need to repair.

So, the conclusions on the Platinum Curidas cannot be positive. The mechanism and the nib unit need further refinement in order to become reliable. In the meantime, the pen is simply not good enough.

Ohashido - Lamy Petrol

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 17th, 2021
etiquetas: Platinum, capless