21 October 2010


In some few weeks –from the 13th to the 15 of November—the 2010 Madrid Pen Show will take place. This will be the seventh edition of an increasingly interesting and important event. There will be, the organizers say, more than 40 traders from France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, UK, US, and, of course, Spain.

They also announce the presence of authors Jonathan Steinberg, and Andreas Lambrou. The latter, well known as the creator of Fountain Pens of the World (1995), is in the process of publishing the long awaited Fountain Pens of Japan (2010) in collaboration with Masamichi Sunami. A brief preview of the book is currently online.

The book Fountain Pens of the World is certainly a reference for most stylophiles. It aims at being comprehensive and if we could only have a book, this one could be it. But the more I use it, the higher my disappointment is.

Cover of Lambrou's Fountain Pens of the World (1995).

This book has the virtue of including a large number of pictures of pens, but there are many very significant pens that are not depicted at all. At the same time, pens from some periods are almost absent. Such is the case of Japanese pens between 1930 and 1960.

Picture of page 372 of Lambrou's Fountain Pens of the World together with one of the pens depicted on it--a Pilot Custom 74. On that picture, there are three Pilot Custom 74, and five Custom 67, just in case one single picture were not enough to identify any of those pens.

The inclusion of pictures of pen prototypes is also, in my opinion, a mistake. Those pictures belong to monographies on brands or on specific models, but not to reference books stylophiles check in search of basic information.

Another problem is the general lack of details –either pictures or technical information— on pen nibs. The technical notes are mostly limited to filling systems and construction materials.

More disappointing is the lack of consistency among the different chapters. What seems important on some of them is almost unnoticed on the rest. The book seems to be written by several hands with little coordination among them.

Little can be said about the new book, the long awaited Fountain Pens of Japan. Long awaited because, first, its publication had been announced for quite some time, and, second, because there is very little information in English about Japanese pens.

Table of contents of the book Fountain Pens of Japan (2010), by Lambrou and Sunami.

However, the preview showed some negative details. A most significant one is the inclusion of pictures of one-of-a-kind pens made for one of the authors. Beautiful as they might be, those pens hardly offer any relevant information for the collector as he will never be able to put his hands on any of those.

Picture taken from page 128 of Lambrou and Sunami's book. These eyedropper pens are customizations made for Masa Sunami: "Masa customized Onoto style pens in attractive colors, made from 1950s old stock material, ED, 1985."

It is my contention that general books should be informative for the collector. That means they should contain relevant information. Prototypes, one-on-a-kind customizations could, at most, become footnotes to the general text. The author, most likely a collector as well, should refrain his craving to show his collection, no matter how impressive it might be.

In conclusion, Lambrou’s Fountain Pens of the World in interesting, but disappointing. Too much information of little interest is included on it while some other is sadly missing.

(Pilot Elite Isaac Newton – Pilot Blue Black)

Bruno Taut
(Tokyo, October 20th, 2010)
[labels: libro, Japón, evento]

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