28 February 2011

Platinum Converters

I already mentioned the fact that Platinum pocket pens cannot use the current Platinum converter. However, there are some options to this clear inconvenient:

From left to right, empty Platinum cartridge, current Platinum piston converter, modified Platinum converter, and old type Platinum converter for pocket pens.

— Use Platinum proprietary cartridges, either new or by refilling them.

— Use an adapter to use short international cartridges or short converters (squeezer type).

— Adapt the current Platinum piston converter to fit inside the pocket pen, as was already described on these chronicles.

— Finally, find an old Platinum converter.

The following table summarizes the cost of these options:

Prices in yen without taxes. Those of the old Platinum converter and the adapter for international cartridges are taken from the Internet. These prices can change a lot among sellers.

The old converter is hard to find, expensive and poorly made. But it holds more ink that the current converter, especially when the later is modified to fit in a pocket pen.

My choice is pretty straightforward—I refill cartridges with a syringe.

(Pilot Décimo – Sailor Yama-dori)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 27-28th, 2011)
[labels: Platinum, conversor]

Matching (VII)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? Sometimes, the answers are clear…

Most pen nibs do write when turned upside down. The ink flow is scarce, the line is thinner, and, more often than not, the feeling is far from being smooth. But the ink is there, ready to be used. So it was only natural that sooner or later someone would try to take benefit of it.

The black Platinum is one centimeter shorter than the Parker model when closed: 12.3 vs 13.3 cm.

The two nibs on display today were designed in the seventies to write on both sides.

Posted, the Platinum becomes 1.3 cm longer than the Parker: 15.3 and 14.0 cm, respectively.

The Parker 180, well known in the West, was in the market between 1977 and 1985 in a number of styles. These pens had two possible nib combinations—either extra fine and medium or fine and broad.

The feeds of both pens are on the right hand side of the nib on this picture.

The Platinum PKW-5000 pocket pen predates the Parker 180 in some years. The nib combination in this case is extra fine and fine, and comes in a formal black pocket pen style, as many other pens in Japan during the 1970s.

Close-up of the tips. The fine line of the Platinum, on the right, looks a lot thinner than that of Parker's.

However, the origin of this type of nib lies in the 1966 Sheaffer’s model called Stylist.

My thanks to Kinno-san.

(Élysée in black with steel nib – Parker washable Blue)

Bruno Taut
In exile, February 27th, 2011
[labels: plumín, Sheaffer, Parker, Platinum]

25 February 2011

T-shiki (T-式)

Five were the filling systems Pilot used on its pens during the early years of the company: safety (L-shiki, L-式), hoshiawase or star system (N-shiki), eyedropper (O-shiki), plunger filler (P-shiki), and lever filler (T-shiki).

Today’s pen is a lever filler black chased hard rubber (BCHR) pen equipped with a 14 carat gold nib in size 2.

Its dimensions are 126 mm in length and 12 g uninked.

The barrel has the brand name and the old company logo –an N encircled by a lifebuoy— engraved.

The ringtop is also made of 14 carat gold.

Its overall condition is fairly good, and it is ready to be inked and used.

(Twsbi Diamond 530 with a Pilot 5 nib – Sailor Yama-dori)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 25th, 2011)
[labels: Pilot]

24 February 2011


Some days ago I expressed my surprise about the unusual expectations raised by some new inks. Sure I contributed to it, but it always amazes me how easy we stylophiles are as targets for any marketing operation.

The question now is whether there were any real grounds for this excitement. Are those Mix-free inks that unique?

Mixability seems to be the main argument people use to favor these inks. Therefore, it might be worth to remind that there are many other mixable inks in the market.

Sailor Jentle inks are some of them, as the regular ink events by this company show. On those, the ink master creates the color of your choice by mixing Sailor inks in the adequate proportions.

The Sailor ink master —Mr. Ishimaru— at work in Machida, Tokyo (April 2010).

German inks Standardgraph, on their side, offer a gamut of 22 mixable inks.

Some of the mixable 22 Standardgraph inks. Picture taken from the Standardgraph catalog.

In any event, mixing inks is not a dangerous experiment provided some basic precautions were taken:

— Do all the mixing in a container and shake well before filling any pen with the mixture. Should it react, the deposit would appear in the container, thus preventing us from using it in any pen.

— Avoid mixing pigmented and washable inks together to be on the safe side. Although if done following the previous rule nothing grievous should happen.

— Should we need more precautions, start by inking a cheap pen –the market is full of them— before filling that one-hundred year old pen in pristine condition inherited from some eccentric ancestor…

The Platinum mixing kit. Probably, the most interesting item in the whole marketing operation, no matter how overpriced it might be. Those elements is all we need to start mixing--some eyedroppers and some containers.

I know many of us have enough inks at home to start out tests without waiting for any official permission from Platinum—or any other ink maker. Let the alchemy begin!

Finally, do we really need nine inks to create exotic colors? Or twenty two? Call me naïve, but I thought that three –yellow, red and blue— were enough.

My thanks to Ms. Olga Portús.

(Pilot Custom 74 SM tuned by Mr. Yamada – Pelikan Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 19th, 2011)
[labels: tinta, Platinum, Standardgraph, Sailor]

20 February 2011


The universe of stylophiles is often divided in two groups: those who consider themselves as users and those who take pride in their condition of collectors. A lot has been written on the matter and, at the end, personal preferences –how each of us enjoyed this hobby— are what really counts.

It is also true that the attitude towards pens is very different for these two groups. The collector aims at having that perfect pen, untouched from the moment it went out of the production line. They glorify new old stock (NOS) pens, and keep them uninked. The user, on the other hand, wants to ink and to write, and a poorly performing pen, that the collector would never test, is always a source of frustrations.

Then, how far can a user go to make an efficient writer out of any pen?

The chimeric Twsbi with the Pilot nib (a 14 K gold number 5 in M).

The secondary chimera: a Plot Custom 74 with the Bock steel nib made for Twsbi.

Recently, I became the owner of a couple of modern pens: a Twsbi Diamond 530 and a Pilot Custom 74 Demonstrator. Playing around with them—well, you always learn something new from nibmeister Yamada—I saw that both nibs could easily be exchanged. So… why not?

Both chimeras, side by side.

Now I am using the piston filler Twsbi with the 14 K gold Pilot nib. And that makes a great combination. The feeds, though, cannot be swapped as their diameters are different. But this causes no troubles in the nib performance.

The real Pilot Custom Heritage 92 with a FM nib (courtesy of Kinno-san).

At the end, I am having a “de facto” Pilot Custom Heritage 92 —the Pilot piston-filler demonstrator equipped with a 14 K gold nib in size 5— out of an inexpensive and reliable Twsbi Diamond.

Some people –a friend of mine among them— might not like my experiment... But my chimera rocks! After all, I am not damaging any historical artifact and I only improved the performance of my pen.

Yeah, today I am a user.

My thanks to Mr. Yamada.

(Sailor Black Pocket Pen 21 – Sailor Black)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 19th, 2011)
[labels: Twsbi, Pilot, estilofilia]

19 February 2011


Much to my surprise, my chronicle March Inks has received a lot of attention. That single entry increased the traffic to these texts by a factor of four or five for a couple of days. And fellow blogger Morgana claimed I had discovered these inks for the world—for the world outside Tokyo that is. Thanks, but hard to believe and, certainly, totally unintentional.

Even more so when my text took two weeks to be published: I learned about the Mix-free inks at the Wagner Pen Clinic in January 30th, and I finally published my chronicle on February 14th.

The 60 ml inkwell of the Mix-free range of inks.

However, at least one Japanese website –Office Magazine—had published some news as early as on January 26th on the Platinum event celebrated between January 25th and February 3rd at Itoya’s main shop in Ginza, Tokyo. Among other products, Platinum showed their new gamut of inks and demonstrated their mixing capabilities. But that text was only in Japanese—that obscure language spoken only by 130 million people…

The display table at Itoya's shop.

I wonder if all this unannounced presentation –unannounced, at least, for so many— was nothing but a marketing strategy by Platinum. I am sure nobody in the advertisement business ignores how fast news propagate nowadays through the Net. As Brian Goulet said on his Ink Nouveau site, it only takes a cell phone to make breaking news a couple of seconds after the event had taken place.

The objects of desire.

In actual terms, this presentation has raised a lot of expectation among pen enthusiasts, as can be seen on fora (I, II, III). Will this translate into sales? Most likely so, I am afraid.

The question, anyway, remains open: was this strategy accidental or deliberate?

And on a coming text, I will discuss about the actual necessity to have nine inks to mix.

(Twsbi Diamond 530 with a Pilot 5 nib – Sailor Yama-dori)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 18th, 2011)
[labels: Platinum, mercado, evento, tinta]

17 February 2011

Number 4

The past Wagner Pen Clinic was a perfect opportunity to see some interesting pens. This Sailor number 4 was one of them.
The "Sailor".

It is a BCHR eyedropper with the regular safety valve operated from the culotte. It dates back, probably, from the 1930s.

The pen, closed.

Disassembled, showing the shut-off valve.

Its overall condition was excellent save for the stains on the gold plated steel nib. The embossed pattern is in perfect condition and, as many a collector favor, the original price sticker remains attached to the pen. A whopping JPY 3 was the price back in the day, but sounds like a good investment. The current owner confessed having paid a lot more for this pen at a Tokyo antique fair.

The gold plated steel nib. Its engraving says "WARRANTED / 14 KT / GOLD / PLATED / MADE IN / JAPAN".

My thanks to Mr. Furuya.

(Sailor Black Pocket Pen 21 – Sailor Black)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 16th, 2011)
[labels: Sailor]

16 February 2011

Stars (II)

The star system –hoshiawase— was one of the technical solutions Pilot/Namiki tried in the 1920s in its pens. By crossing the stars engraved on the section, as had been described on a previous chronicle, the ink reservoir was nominally sealed and the risk of embarrassing ink leaks was, if not eliminated, certainly reduced. Other than that peculiarity, hoshiawase pens were regular eyedroppers.

Today’s pen is one of these relics—a BHCR from late 1926.

It is a small-sized pen—about 10 cm in length when closed, and about 9 grams in weight if uninked.

The eyedropper pen, showing disassembled in its three main parts.

The nib is a 14 K gold number 1 signed by Pilot. Quite flexible.

The feed is engraved with a patent reference: 60931. Behind the threads to close the ink reservoir, the two concentric cylinders of the hoshiawase system can be seen; especially, the holes in the outer cylinder to limit the rotation of the inner one.

The barrel is engraved with both the brand name—Pilot— and the company name —Namiki Mfg. Co. The logo is the old Namiki's N encircled in a lifebuoy. And, as usual, a “made in Japan” certifies its country of origin.

The old logo, showing the name of the founder of the company.

Its overall condition is fairly good, albeit with clear sings of having been used. A pen, indeed, in search of some ink and a writing hand.

(Inoxcrom Caravel II – Waterman Havana)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 14th, 2011)
[labels: soluciones técnicas, Pilot]

15 February 2011

Old Ink

How big the pen memorabilia can be? How big an object before we refused to take it home?

This banner is a 1950s ad for Pilot ink—Pairotto inki, パイロットインキ… “for fountain pen and general use”, the bottles say.

This time, the piece of memorabilia can be folded for storage.

As seen at the January meeting of the Wagner Association. My thanks to Mr. Niikura.

(Inoxcrom Caravel II – Waterman Havana)

Bruno Taut
(Madrid, February 14th, 2011)
[labels: evento, Pilot, tinta]

14 February 2011

March Inks

First, an apology: I have been absent from these pages for quite some time. Too often we must take care of urgent matters instead of those truly important. And such was the case during this past month. Hope this hiatus in my writing is over by now.

Some days ago, however, I had the chance to take a break to attend the monthly meeting of the Wagner association. Indeed, the right place to catch up with recent news and with old pens.

Some Wagner association members brought the latest news regarding inks. Platinum seems to have finally understood the new trends of fountain pen ink business. Up to now, this Japanese brand was selling a very limited selection of inks: washable red, blue-black and black; and permanent —or pigmented— pink-rose, sepia-brown, blue and black. Some other colors are only available in cartridges to cater the market of the inexpensive range of Preppy pens.

The nine new inks. From top to bottom, Smoke Black, Aqua Blue, Aurora Blue, Silky Purple, Cyclamen Pink, Flame Red, Earth Brown, Sunny Yellow, and Leaf Green.

The new line of Platinum inks is composed by nine different colors with the generic name of “Mix Free”, in the best “Engrish” tradition. Their selling point is that these new poetically named dyes can be freely mixed among them. The ads include a chart with all the equally proportioned binary mixtures.

The mixing chart for binary compositions.

The indications included with these inks claim they are not washable, and advice against mixing them with those by other manufacturers.

The mixing kit, for sale at JPY 1200 (plus tax).

These inks come in 60 ml. inkwells at a price of JPY 1200 (plus tax) in Japan. They will be released this coming month of March.

My thanks to Wagner association members Terry and Yamada.

(Twsbi Diamond 530 – Pilot Blue-Black)

Bruno Taut
(Shinjuku, January 30th, 2011)
[labels: tinta, Platinum, evento]