29 April 2010

Wagner 2010. After the show.

This past weekend the Wagner 2010 pen show was celebrated, and now is time for analysis and reflections.

As I mentioned on my previous entry, the whole show was basically unannounced. Little information in the Internet, no posters on pen shops,… nothing. Not even signs at the station or on the event building. Not even on the lounge we used! Actually, I had to go through all the floors of the building until I heard some noise. So, nobody stepped in by mere accident.

The show was, I think, on the small side. About 15 paying tables and, on the first day, about 200 visitors (according to the organizer Mutsumi Mori). The entrance fee on Saturday was 2000 yen –about USD 22.

Of all the tables, only about five were interesting. Mostly Japanese pens –Pilot and Sailor, some Platinum--, and one guy had a number of pens from already disappeared manufacturers such as SSS and (Japanese) Swan. Many of them were not exactly usable as daily writers—many eye-droppers whose inkflow was difficult to control, for instance.

Then, the non-Japanese stuff. First, Pelikan and Montblanc, new and old, and a big number of limited editions. Then, some Italians and some Americans—Sheaffer in particular. Very few Parkers, other than some modern Duofold. Only one Parker 51! Re limited editions, someone told me that a Montblanc Hemingway can cost up to half a million yen here (that is, USD 5500). There was one on sale for Y 225000 –about USD 2500.

The second day was more relaxed. The entrance fee was half price. I cannot say much about how many people attended, though. Some visitors were also trading their pens—“informal trading” one of them told me. Lots of informative conversations took place in there. That was the most social time of the pen show, but by no means unique to this one in particular.

The Show also had its own pens for sale: a Sailor Professional Gear with “Wagner 2010” engraved on the nib and on the cap ring. There were also some leftovers from a previous show—a Platinum with an impressive and smooth music nib from Wagner 2008. Last but not least, there was also a 18 K gold B nib Senator President.

Another interesting element of the show was the pen clinic. Five craftsmen, well four craftsmen and a craftswoman, were available to adjust and fix pens of all the visitors. The service was included in the entrance fee. They did work hard.

And on May 23rd, the monthly pen clinic of the Pen Collectors of Japan will take place at the same venue (EBIS303, http://gmap.jp/shop-14194.html). I will sure attend it. Entrance fee of Y 2000.

Interesting show, especially if you were interested in Japanese stuff. People were friendly and my lack of ability in Japanese was not a big problem. As it is usual in pen shows, we were a bunch of people eager to share our passion for fine writing objects.

End of the party, with flowers to Mutsumi Mori.

(Waterman Laureat - Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, April 28, 2010)
[Labels: evento, Tokyo, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Senator]

23 April 2010

New York City - March 2010

This past March I had the chance to visit The Big City—no matter New York City is smaller than Tokyo, the Big Apple is always bigger. If only, because it is not parochial.

Driven by my obsession for pens, I did my best to visit shops where I could find interesting stuff and good deals. The final conclusion was not positive at all. Here you have the report:

Four were the shops I visited:

. (Main store: 795 Lexington Ave., between 61 and 62. New York, NY 10036. Mo-Fr: 9:00-18:00; Sa: 10:00-18:00. (212) 935-1007. Two other shops in Manhattan). http://www.joonpens.com/
This one was the first visited shop. They only carry new pens. Not a friendly attitude, and even less so once you asked them about vintage or used pens. It seems they mostly carry high end pens. They sell their own pen trays, used to display their pens at the shop, at reasonable prices: USD20, plus 8.75% tax, although their catalog speaks of USD35 as its price. Not an outstanding quality, but interesting, nonetheless. Regular display boxes and other display forms come at regular (expensive) prices.

Fountain Pen Hospital
. (10 Warren St. New York, NY 10007. Mo-Fr: 7:45-17:30. (800) 253-7367, (212) 964-0580, Fax: (212) 227-5916). http://www.fountainpenhospital.com/
More friendly atmosphere than the previous shop. They do carry some vintage and used pens. Not many, though, and on the expensive side. Good selection of inks, including some made exclusively for them by Noodler’s. They, as well, have some pen accessories. In particular, some leather cases for transporting from 3 to 40 pens at reasonable prices.

Art Brown
. (2 West 45th St. New York, NY 10036. Mo-Fr:9:00-18:00, Sa: 10:00-18:00. (212) 575-5555, (800) 772-7367). http://www.artbrown.com/
Nice shop, but just the usual stuff in there. The used pen section is reduced to about 15 or 20 units and, the clerk say, will not be maintained. Good selection of inks, including those made by Noodler’s for the shop. Small stationery section with notebooks and other stuff.

Montgomery Pens
. (330 Grand St. New York, NY 10002. (212) 420-1312). http://www.montgomerypens.com/index.asp
Not much success in this shop. They claimed you should phone them in advance for them to bring down the pens they have. Otherwise, the displayed selection is very limited. It might be possible, given the way the shop looked like, to find new old stock (NOS) material in it.

Other sources:

The Garage Flea Market. 112 W. 25th St. Between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Ave. Sa-Su: 8:00-17:00. Free admission. Contact: Michael Santulli, Box 7010. (212) 647-0707. Fax (212) 463-7099.
I could find some pens in here, but expensive given the condition. Of course, all goods are “as is”. Be ready to bargain heavily.

Private dealers. Some exist in NYC. One of them claims that the used pen market in New York City is dead, and that the shops have an upper hand on it through customer lists to whom the primarily sell the newly arrived materials.
Pen book author and trader Jonathan Steinberg is based in New York. You can contact him through his website: http://www.vintagepen.com .

(Pilot Lady Pearl – Noodler's Old Dutch Sepia)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, April 22, 2010)
[labels: Nueva York]

22 April 2010

Wagner 2010 - Tokyo

This coming weekend –April 24 and 25--, the association Pen Collectors of Japan organizes its annual pen show by the name of Wagner. The event will take place in Ebisu, Tokyo, at the EBIS303 Hall on Subaru building (see map here: http://gmap.jp/shop-14194.html). Hopefully, there will be some signs for anybody who wanted to attend it. The entrance fee is Y2000 on Saturday, and Y1000 on Sunday.

Not much information in the Internet can be found on this event. And only members of the organizing association are allowed to participate as pen traders. Mo' power to them! but it does not seem to be a very wise idea to increase the number of pens in circulation in the very closed market of Japan. Unless, that is, traders were trying to keep it closed to be able to charge unrealistically high prices for some of their pens.

That is, actually, the case of foreign pens –i. e. non-Japanese made—in Japan. Few traders in Tokyo have a de-facto oligopoly, controlling the supply of those pens, and asking for outrageous prices when compared to those in other countries.

Anyway, such is the Japanese market and, so far, we have little options. In any event, this very parochial attitude is bound to change –like them or not—through international auction websites, on-line shops and traders, and even by traveling overseas to truly international pen shows.

Despite all this, I will attend this Wagner 2010 event. Hope to see you there.

(Waterman Laureat – Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, April 21, 2010)
[labels: Japón, Tokyo, evento]

21 April 2010


Yo le soy infiel a todas y tal vez por ello siempre busco una que me satisfaga más que la presente. De vez en cuando, en esa búsqueda, nos encontramos con sorpresas inesperadas. Otras veces somos muy conscientes de lo que buscamos y hasta, a veces, compramos.

Entre estas últimas, yo busqué y encontré una verdadera joya: la Pilot Custom 743 con plumín Falcon. Ciertamente no es una pluma barata, ni especialmente bella, pero el plumín flexible combinado con el flujo abundante hacen de la misma una pluma de esas que uno no quiere olvidar fácilmente, por muchas tentaciones que se interpongan en el camino.

Las sorpresas son, sin embargo, aún más agradables. Si donde uno menos lo espera salta la liebre, en el terreno de las plumas esos majuelos son las subastas y los mercadillos. En las primeras, uno se deja a menudo llevar por una liebre atractiva en precio y apariencia. En los segundos, su condición externa, frecuentemente sucia y desaliñada le hacen pensárselo mucho a uno, ya de por sí dubitativo, antes de adoptar un nuevo paciente. Pero a veces merece de verdad la pena. Entre esas sorpresas yo me quedo siempre con una pluma muy femenina: la Pilot Lady Pearl con un plumín que en su discreción es una maravilla de suavidad y fiabilidad. Llegó por correo después de una puja muy modesta, de apenas 1500 yenes, y tuve que limpiarla a fondo antes de poder entintarla pues estaba completamente obturada con tinta rancia.

Más recientemente ha caído en mis manos una Platinum de bolsillo con un plumín nominalmente flexible. Parece que tiene cuarenta y tantos años en sus gavilanes, pero no se notan en absoluto en esa aleación de un 75% de oro. No es realmente flexible, tan sólo muestra cierta tolerancia a la presión: springy but not flexible, diría un angloparlante. Pero basta para que escribir con ella sea un placer muy superior al de escribir con una plumín completamente rígido --lo que en el argot se llama una aguja, a needle—como es el de la Sailor con la que escribí el primer borrador de este texto.

Y así, después de esta declaración pública de infidelidad, lanzo una pregunta al aire: si tuvierais que escoger una única pluma para amarla y honrarla, en la salud y en la enfermedad, y serle fiel hasta que la muerte os separara, ¿cuál sería? Y, además, ¿qué tinta usaríais en ella?

Espero vuestras respuestas y comentarios.

(Sailor Pocket Pen 18WG – Pelikan Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut

Inagi, 14 de abril, 2010
[labels: estilofilia, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor]

20 April 2010


Hasta hace no mucho tiempo una pluma era una pluma (era una pluma). Es decir, que una pluma era, y es, un instrumento de escritura formado por una lámina metálica más o menos triangular –el plumín— con una ranura que permite la circulación de la tinta líquida desde el depósito hasta la punta inferior del triángulo.

Sí sabíamos que las había con plumín de oro y con plumín de acero inoxidable, que podían ser muy simples y austeras o casi lujuriosas en su decoración, que eran suaves o insufribles a la hora de escribir… Y que, a diferencia de los bolígrafos, no había que apretar.

Pero conforme nos educamos en esto de las plumas estilográficas aprendemos que el mundo es mucho más complejo. Los plumines, de repente, tienen carácter: algunos son rígidos, otros muestran cierta flexibilidad, y unos pocos se doblan casi como pinceles y pintan como tales. O dejan de ser simétricos y transforman la letra manuscrita. Asociado al plumín debe existir además un alimentador a la altura de las demandas de la escritura y descubrimos que hay plumas muy húmedas con mucha tinta en el punto y plumas muy secas con el flujo justo y hasta escaso.

Destripamos también mitos como el de que las plumas se hacen a la mano del dueño y no deben ser prestadas --¿cómo, entonces, hay un mercado de segunda mano tan activo?—; o ése que dice que hay que rodarlas y domarlas para que escriban bien… Benditas plumas japonesas.

O descubrimos las innovaciones tecnológicas en plumas antiguas; cómo evolucionan los sistemas de llenado, y los materiales, y las formas…

Poco a poco nos lanzamos a desensamblar alguna y a repararla. Compramos herramientas y buscamos esquemas técnicos de esa joya que tenemos entre las manos. Conseguimos papel de lija tan suave que parece terciopelo, y con mucho miedo nos aventuramos a pulir ese plumín que rasca un poco al escribir.

Sí, poco a poco, casi sin darnos cuenta, acumulamos plumas y conocimientos. Nos convertimos en aficionados o en obsesos. En acumuladores, o en usuarios apasionados, o en buscadores infatigables. Gastamos más dinero del que esperábamos en unos objetos ciertamente obsoletos. Pasamos como seres extraños ante los pocos amigos que saben de nuestra afición. Y hasta evitamos hablar de ella para evitar preguntas comprometidas: ¿cuántas plumas tienes? ¿Cuánto te ha costado ésa que tienes ahí? ¿Para qué tantas?

En fin, el proceso se ha completado. La metamorfosis es total. Somos unos otaku de las plumas.

(Pilot Elite Pocket Pen con plumín Script – Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
Inagi, 14 de abril, 2010
[labels: estilofilia]