26 April 2011

Spanish Platinum

Little is known about the Spanish pen brand Presidente—it was registered in Madrid in 1959 by someone named Doroteo Pérez y Pérez. So, my friend Alberto Linares’s discovery of today’s pen at an antique fair was totally unexpected.

The Presidente pen.

A close inspection of the pen unveils even more questions while answering almost nothing. Everything on this pen says Japan, and especially Platinum.

The Platinum nib: "PLATINUM / 10 YEARS". Some more information is hidden under the section.

The cap jewel shows the Platinum logo.

Both the nib and the cap are engraved with the traditional logo of this well-known Japanese company showing the initials of the founder Shunichi Nakata. And the only reference to the actual name of the Spanish company is the imprint on the barrel: “PRESIDENTE / Registrada”. Inside, an aerometric system is in charge on inking the pen. No more information is available.

The barrel imprint.

The aerometric system has no imprint.

Therefore, the field is open for questions: How did this Platinum pen become Spanish? When did that happen? Is there any Platinum model similar to this pen?

This nib belongs to a Platinum Pocket pen from the 1960s. It shows the old Platinum logo.

With thanks to Mr. Alberto Linares, who found this pen. I am only the writer of this story.

(Pilot Vortex, M nib – Sailor Red Brown)

Bruno Taut
April 24, 2011
[labels: Platinum, Presidente, España, Japón]

P. S. (July 9th, 2011): More information, on the chronicle entitled "Honest Pen".
P. S. II (December 1st, 2011): Two more Presidente pens found. The report is entitled "More Spanish Platinum".

25 April 2011

Matching (VIII)

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…

On the top, Inoxcrom 55. Parker 21 (Mark 1), on the bottom.

Inoxcrom remains, despite its financial difficulties, as the best known fountain pen company in Spain and one of the few known outside its country of origin. This company was founded in 1942 by Manuel Vaqué as Industrial MAVA in Barcelona, and changed its name to Inoxcrom in 1946. It started by producing nibs for other companies and by assembling pens with imported parts. And by 1955 the company produced the first complete pen—the Inoxcrom 55, a copy of the very successful Parker 21.

Again, on the top, Inoxcrom 55. Parker 21 on the bottom.

This pen had a remarkably constant price in Spain: 100 pesetas for about 18 years—between 1955 and 1973. The competitor Parker 21, about 300 pesetas by 1960.

Advertisement published in La Vanguardia Española (Barcelona) on September 15th, 1961. The Inoxcrom 55's price was significantly lower than that of some imported pens.

The Mark 1 Parker 21 had a larger feed.

The construction quality of both pens was not that different—the 55 model was a reliable product indeed, and became the workhorse of many a student in Spain.

Both pens were aerometric fillers. The Inoxcrom pen had the instructions in Spanish.

Nowadays, in Spain, it is possible to find units of this model for about € 50.

My thanks to Grafopasión members Alberto and Claudio.

(Pilot Decimo, 18 K M nib – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
(April 22nd, 2011)
[labels: Inoxcrom, Parker, España]

21 April 2011


To Paco-san, in Kanto.

I guess we all stylophiles start our love for fountain pens in the same way: we receive a fountain pen and by using it we feel something special. What it is we do not really know—we might never actually get to know. Then we might start collecting, or simply accumulating, some of those utensils in a semi-conscious way, looking for a more perfect pen, a richer flow, a smoother nib, a bigger ink deposit,… And suddenly we realize we have become collectors even if in denial, as I had said on a previous chronicle.

The next step, some say, is to narrow down our field of interest. A number of collectors adamantly insist on this—you need to decide what you look for, you need to structure your collection.

A well structured collection of Parker flighter pens.

Paco-san, however, claimed that every pen has its own charm. It is indeed difficult to turn your eyes away from most pens although some modern manufacturers are trying hard to create ugly pens at outrageous prices, but there is always the chance that that horrendous pen was the most perfect writer ever created…

Purple is the argument...

At the end, what I see is that many of us barely discriminate in our tools. Most of us do not have any real structure in our collection. And even if we tried, there is always that temptation we just cannot resist. We all have some Paco-san inside—we are ready to appreciate some charm in every single pen.

(Pilot Capless 1990 model with steel M nib – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
April 20, 2011
[labels: estilofilia]

17 April 2011

Capless Nibs (I)

Six are the nibs Pilot manufactures nowadays for its very successful line of Capless pens –Vanishing Point in the US. However, only three of them are widely available outside Japan: 18 K gold nibs in F, M, and B. To these nibs we might add some made in 14 K gold available in the past in some markets; the US among them.

The six nibs currently on production.

F and M points in steel are, in Japan, remarkably cheaper than those in gold, but how do they compare? To answer this question, I inked three Capless nibs with Diamine Teal: 18 K, 14 K, and steel; all medium points.

The three nibs under review.

The differences among them can be summarized as follows:

— The steel nib is a lot thinner than those in gold. There is no significant line variation between the 14 K and the 18 K gold ones.

— The steel nib is also drier than those in gold, as is often the case.

— None of these nibs is truly flexible, but all of them show some springy character. The steel nib is the most rigid of the lot, and the 14 K shows more flexibility (even if very limited).

— Smooth-wise, both gold nibs work better than the steel one—ink flow and wider line favor smoothness. But the steel nib still scores very high on this department and it is very pleasant to use.

The steel nibs, available in Japan.

In conclusion, we must admit that gold Capless nibs work better than the cheaper steel one. But is the gold nib worth the price difference? Gold nibbed Capless pens come in Japan at a premium of JPY 5000.

The two possible trimmings on a Capless pen. Originally, the silver-color pen came with a steel nib. All the nibs shown on the first picture fit inside these empty boxes.

There is, however, another detail to take into consideration. Steel nibs come only as gold plated and their Capless bodies, as sold in Japan, are silver-trimmed and, therefore, mismatched in color. Gold nibs, on their side, can either be golden or silver (rhodiated) in color, and they are always matched with the body trim.

Writing samples of the three M nibs under study.

The answer to the previous question on the price difference, as usual, belongs to each of us—provided we could buy any of the options anywhere. Unfortunately, Pilot’s marketing policy does not allow that. But we have Internet and online shopping to overcome the short-sighted attitude of the company and of the importers.

An analysis of the Capless F nibs can be seen on the chronicle Capless Nibs (II).

(Pilot Capless, 14 K gold M nib – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
April 16, 2011
[labels: Pilot, mercado]

13 April 2011


Los cambios en la política de tintas de Sailor en los últimos años (véanse las crónicas Indecisiones, Dyes y April Inks) han dado mucho protagonismo a la marca. Pero tantos cambios desconciertan a muchos, sobre todo a los comerciantes que deben estar al tanto de todos ellos. Pero no suele ser el caso y al final es el cliente el que sabe más.

La situación creada por Sailor es especialmente complicada: pasó de ocho a cuatro tintas en ediciones limitadas para cada estación, más tres colores básicos disponibles de forma ilimitada. Y ahora vuelve al esquema inicial, si bien con colores diferentes.

Este texto tiene como objeto reseñar todas estas tintas así como el orden en el que aparecieron en el mercado.

Hasta otoño de 2009:

Lavables, no pigmentadas:
Black – negro.
Blue-black – azul-negro.
Blue – azul.
Brown – marrón.
Red brown – marrón rojiza.
Green – verde.
Yellow orange – amarillo anaranjado.
Grey – gris.

Estas tintas dejan de reponerse en otoño de 2009.

Cinco de las tintas que estuvieron en el mercado hasta finales de 2009. Nótese el tono oscuro de las cajas.

Tinta verde de la serie existente hasta 2009 junto con la tinta miruai de primavera. La caja ha sufrido un cambio de diseño.


A finales de 2009, Sailor cambia la caja y el tintero de sus tintas al tiempo que sube el precio de JPY 600 a JPY 1000 (más impuestos). Lanza sucesivamente cuatro series limitadas, una por estación, al tiempo que mantiene tres tintas básicas.

Tintas básicas, sin limitación de disponibilidad:
Black – negro.
Blue-black – azul-negro.
Blue – azul.

(Diciembre de 2009) Invierno:
時雨 - Shigure: lluvia suave – morado.
雪明 - Yuki-akari: luz de nieve – azul celeste.
囲炉裏 - Irori: hogar, en el sentido de fogón, chimenea - rojo.
常磐松 - Tokiwa-matsu: pino de Tokiwa - verde.

(Abril de 2010) Primavera:
若鶯 - Waka-uguisu: ruiseñor joven - verde.
桜森 - Sakura-mori: bosque de cerezos - rosa.
匂菫 - Nioi-sumire: fragancia de violetas - azul.
海松藍 - Miruai: azul de pino marítimo - verde.

(Julio de 2010) Verano:
藤娘 - Fuji-musume: la hija de la glicinia - violeta.
蒼天 - Sôten: azul cielo - azul.
土用 - Doyô: fin del verano - marrón.
利休茶 - Rikyû-cha: te de Rikyû - verde.

(Octubre de 2010) Otoño:
仲秋 - Chu-shu: luna llena de otoño – gris azulado.
奥山 - Oku-yama: montañas en el horizonte – rojo violáceo.
金木犀 - Kin-mokusei: oliva de olor - naranja.
山鳥 - Yama-dori: pájaro silvestre - azul.

Abril 2011:

Y ahora, en abril de 2011, aparece la nueva selección de tintas, de las cuales tres son las habituales negra, azul-negra y azul:
ブラック – burakku – black – negro.
ピッシエ – pisshie – peach/pêche – rosa.
ブルー – burû – blue – azul.
スカイハイ – sukaihai – sky-high – azul celeste.
ブルーブラック – burûburakku – blue-black – azul-negro.
ウルトラマリン – urutoramarin – ultra-marine – azul marino.
グレナーデ – gurenâde – grenade – rojo (oscuro).
エピナール – epinâru – epinard – verde.
アプリコット – apuricotto – apricot – naranja.

La gama de tintas para el año 2011. Foto extraida de la página web de Sailor.

Todas estas son las tintas denominadas Jentle, que es el nombre que Sailor da a las tintas lavables, no permanentes. Las permanentes las denomina “pigmentadas” y no han cambiado desde finales de 2009, cuando apareció la tinta azul-negra permanente:

Arriba, las dos tintas pigmentadas: kiwa-guro y sei-boku. Debajo, las tres tintas básicas no sujetas a los caprichos de las ediciones limitadas a lo largo del año 2010.

Pigmentadas, permanentes;
極黒 – Kiwa-guro – black – negro.
青墨 – Sei-boku – blue-black - azul negro.

(Katoseisakusho 800 F – Sailor “Hiroko’s Green”)

Bruno Taut
April 7, 2011
[labels: Sailor, tintas, mercado]

11 April 2011

Against Collecting

I must admit my condition of collector over that of user. One-hundred-plus pens stored in boxes and cases definitely say so. But that is not a label I feel comfortable with.

I was raised in a time in which consumerism was frown upon. It was not only that we should not demand luxuries—we were somehow told that consumerism was alienating. Little we knew then how much more demanding this society would become over the years. The country, in the meantime, has also become wealthier and the opportunities to spend money have increased. As a result, younger generations have never received those messages and feel more at ease in the ludic act of shopping.

Collecting has a number of interpretations but it is not possible to deny its consumerist and superfluous dimension. There is hardly any way to justify the possession of more than a couple of pens and inks. And we know it—at least, I know it. But we also create the fantasy –the denial—of believing in our condition of users, regardless of the size of our collection.

Beyond certain number of pens, we all know, it is simply not possible to use all of them. Some pens might never see any ink, and many others are inked only once. Then, what are we buying? I am afraid we end up buying ornaments in the shape of pens. But these were meant to be tools, utilitarian tools.

In a sense, all these feelings explain why I write these chronicles using my pens. By writing, I feel more of a user and I can ease my bad feelings as a victim of consumerism.

In any event, the pen will never become mightier than the sword if kept in a display window. But that is what many of us, pen collectors, do with our beloved jewels.

(Pilot Vortex, M nib– Sailor Red Brown)

Bruno Taut
April 5th, 2011
[labels: estilofilia]

07 April 2011

April Inks

It is just perfect to start the new school year with the cherry trees blooming, many Japanese think. So, many things in Japan start in April.

Sailor’s inks for 2011 are already in the market. After the sixteen seasonal inks in limited releases, this company seems to have returned to a more stable selection. Nine inks compose the new gamut, out of which three are the very traditional black, blue-black and blue. The remaining six are more creative colors.

Interestingly enough, after one year of very Yamato names, these new inks have very Western denominations, all of them written in Katakana.

(Pictore taken from Sailor's website: http://sailorshop.jp/SHOP/13-1000.html)

These are the new colors for 2011 (from left to right, from top to bottom):

1. ブラック – burakku – black
2. ピッシエ – pisshie – peach/pêche
3. ブルー – burû – blue
4. スカイハイ – sukaihai – sky-high
5. ブルーブラック – burûburakku – blue-black
6. ウルトラマリン – urutoramarin – ultra-marine
7. グレナーデ – gurenâde – grenade
8. エピナール – epinâru – epinard
9. アプリコット – apuricotto – apricot

The price in Japan has not changed: JPY 1000, plus tax. The two pigmented inks by Sailor, black and blue-black, have not changed.

(Pilot Volex demonstrator – Diamine Evergreen)

Bruno Taut
April 7, 2011
[labels: tinta, Sailor, mercado]

06 April 2011


I have already mentioned on these chronicles how stationeries and department stores in Japan used to sell pens under their own name or, eventually, their own brand. Those pens were produced by some of the important manufacturers of the day. Maruzen’s pens, branded as Olivier or as Athena, were made by companies like De la Rue in the early 1920s; and we have already seen a Pilot pen labeled as Pilot Matsuzakaya, the name of a very traditional department store in Japan.

Today’s pen is a similar case: A Pilot-made OEM for Mitsukoshi, another department store. This is a beautiful BCHR eye-dropper with hoshiawase (星合せ) shut-off system.

The embossed decoration has been nicely smoothened over years of use. The cap has a detachable clip in steel that shows some signs of wear. All this give the pen a nice shibui look.

The barrel is engraved with the seal and the name of the department store: "MITSUKOSHI" / FOUNTAIN PEN. The nib is a14 K gold in size 3, very flexible, signed by Pilot.

The most interesting feature of this pen, however, is the Pilot proprietary shut-off system in the form of “crossed stars” or hoshiawase. This system was not very reliable and was phased out around 1928. But on this particular unit, the concentric cylinders in the section fit very well and provide a nice seal.

The pen dimensions are as follows:
Diameter: 12 mm
Length capped: 122 mm
Length uncapped: 117 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Weight (dry): 13 g

This pen was made in 1927, and its overall condition is very good, albeit used.

(Pilot Volex, M nib – Montegrappa Turquoise)

Bruno Taut
April 5, 2011
[labels: Pilot, soluciones técnicas]