31 July 2011

Joker 60

We concluded on a previous chronicle that the Spanish pen Presidente was in fact a small variation on the Japanese Platinum Honest 60 from 1956. That conclusion, however, opened a number of other questions and the search for more information continues.

Thanks to fellow stylophile Kostas K, I learned of another possible variation of the original Honest 60. That is the Joker 60. Little we know of this brand, but a quick search in the Net points out at Italy as the country of origin.

The Joker 60, capped. It looks like a real Platinum pen. Picture by Kostas K.

The Joker 60, disassembled. Picture by Kostas K.

The Joker 60 is, again, an aerometric filler very much alike to the Honest 60. But there are some additional differences between them. The Joker 60 nib, for instance, is imprinted with the name of this company and with the word PLADIUM, and there is no sign of the original Japanese company. However, this apparent misspelling has already been reported on these chronicles as belonging to a Platinum shiro nib from the 1950s. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider this nib as made by Platinum.

A music shiro nib by Platinum with the "PLADIUM" imprint.

The Joker 60 nib, in "PLADIUM". Picture by Kostas K.

A second, major, difference in the Joker 60 is the wide clutch ring at the end of the section. This wide ring shows an important difference with respect to both the original Platinum Honest 60 and to the Spanish relative. These two pens show a very characteristic shape in the barrel --albeit not unique at all. This ring, then, implies that the manufacturing mold of this Joker was different from those of the Japanese and Spanish Platinums.

The Joker 60, uncapped. The metal ring belongs to the section and is covered by the cap when closed. Picture by Kostas K.

A third difference can be seen in the section: the nib mouth is different from that in the Honest 60, which abounds in the idea of these two pens being separate models, albeit related.

Nib and section of the Joker 60, on top, and of the Platinum Honest 60. There are some obvious differences in the way the sections expose the nib. (Authorship of the pictures as stated on the watermarks).

Finally, the barrel is engraved with the name of the Italian company. As a result, the only obvious sign of the Platinum origin of this pen is the logo on the cap jewel.

The cap jewel in the Joker 60. Picture by Kostas K.

There exists, Kostas K reports, another Joker pen with some additional differences: its cap has no logo, and the feed and the connecting piece between barrel and section are black. Their nibs are identical; i. e., both show the Joker and the “PLADIUM” imprints.

Everything on these Joker pens smell Platinum despite the small differences with respect to the Honest 60, as was the case with the Spanish Presidente.

The two variations of the Joker 60, side by side. The one on the left has the old Platinum logo on the cap. Picture by Kostas K.

There are also news, yet to be confirmed, of some Platinum pen very much alike to the Honest 60, but implemented with an aerometric system. Ron Dutcher has spoken of a previous Honest 60 pen released in 1955 with a bulb filler.

In view of all these facts, I dare to formulate a hypothesis: The Honest 60 was initially released in 1955 as a self-filler pen, either as a bulb-filler or as an aerometric. The next year, Platinum changed it to become the first cartridge/converter pen of the company. Then, I suggest, Platinum got rid of the remaining self-filling pens by selling them in other markets and through other companies, such as Presidente and Joker.

And the quest for information continues.

My great appreciation to my friend Kostas K.

(Kaweco Sport – Diamine Amazing Amethyst)

Bruno Taut
July 27, 2011
[labels: Presidente, Platinum, Joker]

29 July 2011


Per l'Olga.

La gente no debería festejar el paso del tiempo,
aunque siempre sea noble el obstinarse en celebrar el triunfo del enemigo.
Pedro ZARRALUKI. El responsable de las ranas. 1990.

En este año 2011 se cumple el 50 aniversario del modelo Olimpia de la empresa Súper T. Normalmente, éstas son fechas para celebrar y para descorchar una botella de buen cava. Sin embargo, el panorama estilográfico español, y aun europeo, no invita al optimismo.

Súper T Olimpia.

Tres compañías producen hoy plumas estilográficas en España. La más evidente es Inoxcrom. Su situación económica es mala y eso se nota en los productos que proporcionan prestigio pero no dinero. Su catálogo de plumas apenas ha cambiado en los últimos años y esta división parece ir a la deriva, sin una estrategia comercial clara. No obstante, sigue presente en bastantes comercios en Madrid y, presumiblemente, en España.

Inoxcrom 77.

La segunda marca española de plumas –desde un punto de vista histórico— es STYB, antigua Jabalina. Produce tan solo tres modelos de estilográficas y su presencia en el mercado es anecdótica.

STYB Compact.

Finalmente queda la empresa Pixeline como creadora de la marca Romillopens. Son estas plumas artículos de gran lujo, de producción pequeña y artesanal. Se distribuyen tan solo a través de una única tienda física, en Madrid, y, por supuesto, de su página web. Por tanto, las Romillopens no se ven en las tiendas del ramo.

Súper T, por su lado, desapareció en 1976 y sus plumas son ya reliquias en manos de coleccionistas y comerciantes u objetos olvidados en un cajón. Desgraciadamente, me apuro a añadir, porque tanto la Gester como la Olimpia son plumas de buena calidad y de diseño interesante.

Pero ante este panorama, limitarnos a brindar y a darnos palmaditas en la espalda por el cumpleaños de la Olimpia no conduce a nada. ¡Es que ni siquiera podemos exclamar “per molts anys” al brindar!

Por ello quisiera que hubiera alguna iniciativa más atrevida que nos permita mirar al futuro de la estilográfica española con más optimismo. Con objeto de que en algún momento, con motivo de otro aniversario, sí podamos brindar por la larga vida de esa pluma, de esa marca, de esta industria.

(Kaweco Sport transparente – Senator Regent Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
29 de julio de 2011
[labels: Súper T, Inoxcrom, STYB, Romillopens, España]

28 July 2011

Matching (X)

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…

We all have heard the idea that the Japanese did not invent anything but they merely copied other countries’s products. And even thought that might have been true at some point, I do not think a leading country in technology could be accused of not creating anything new. So, the accusation is now directed to China—they just copy and manufacture fake products.

It only takes a quick look at the history of technology to realize that with the single exception of the UK, every country’s industrial revolution started by copying goods and products created previously in more developed areas of the world. And now is the time for China.

So, it should be no surprise to find copies of Western products manufactured in China. And in the case of fountain pens, copying the very successful Parker 51 seems like a rite of passage.

The section is closer to that of a Parker 61, showing the damascene decoration to point out where the nib is.

Such is the case of the pen with which I am writing these lines—a Rainbow 202.

Externally, it is a well constructed pen. It feels solidly made, with good quality materials. All the parts fit well. The cap attaches firmly to both section and barrel through an internal clutch. And there is even a small window between section and barrel to check the ink level. However, disassembling the section and discovering the nib quickly break the spell. Steel nibs are all right, but they need to be made of good quality steel and well manufactured. And as the picture shows, none of those conditions is fulfilled.

No second breathing hole but just a defect on the steel. The only engraving on the nib is a subtle "IRIDIUM" close to the feed.

But, how does it write? I have two units of this pen and one of them is terrible and the other is surprisingly good, drawing a juicy and reliable line. In any of the cases, I would be very concerned about the corrosion that might arise in such bad quality steel.

These are the pen dimensions:
Diameter: 12 mm.
Length capped: 133 mm.
Length uncapped: 127 mm.
Length posted: 144 mm.
Total weight: 18.8 g (empty).
Cap weight: 6.7 g.
Ink deposit: 1.4 ml.

China, as Japan or Italy or Spain did in the past, is learning by copying. And by doing that they run along the thin line of intellectual property rights—just as others did in the past and even today. Condemning or absolving them depends too often on what side of the fence we stand on.

(Rainbow 202 – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
July 27th, 2011
[labels: Rainbow, Parker]

24 July 2011

Drunken Sailor

Pen review of a Sailor pocket pen, 14 K gold nib, from around 1970.

Now we know pocket pens were probably invented by Platinum in 1964, and that Pilot released its first pocket pen model by the end of 1968. Nothing we know, though, about the origins of those pens when made by Sailor.

The pen under review today is a Sailor pocket with a sort of old look due to a number of reasons: short length, nib flexibility and shape, original clip…

1. Appearance and design. (8.0/10)
This is an average looking pocket pen in terms of materials: plastic body, aluminum cap, steel clip, 14 K gold nib… Nothing special here. However, its very short length when capped gives this pen an additional appeal.

The clip is bended out of a single piece of steel, and resembles a paper clip. It adds an element of simplicity and functionality to the pen.

2. Construction and quality. (8.0/10)
The pen seems to have aged quite well and only some scratches can be seen on the cap. The rest is perfectly functional and shows no blemishes. The cap fits tightly on both the section –to close the pen— and the barrel —to post and to write with it.

3. Weight and dimensions. (9.0/10)

Small pen of average to low weight. It is so short that the option of writing with it unposted is almost out of the question unless the user’s hands were indeed small. But posted it is well balanced and comfortable to use.

Diameter: 11 mm.
Length capped: 105 mm.
Length uncapped: 92 mm.
Length posted: 141 mm.
Total weight: 14.2 g (full)
Weight uncapped: 7.4 g (full)
(For dry weights, deduct 1 g from those values).

4. Nib and writing performance. (6.5/10)

The nib is made of 14 K gold. It has no point indication but it is likely to be a fine (F). The more surprising detail is its flexibility. Contrary to the very stiff modern nibs by Sailor, this one is definitely springy, almost a semi-flex. And this soft feeling is especially pleasant to write.

The feed, on its side, is not always up to the challenge. For usual writing and note taking, it works perfectly; but a little extra push to explore the full flexibility of the nib breaks the ink drop and the nib railroads. This is not a flexible nib —the feed seems to say—and we should be content with its pleasant springy effect. But it is certainly frustrating—the nib promises but the drunken sailor’s feed fails to deliver.

The bottom line is that this is a nice writer within its limits of ink flow.

5. Filling system and maintenance. (6.0/10)

Records say that Sailor used to market small converters for its pocket pens. But I have never seen any of those and neither can I say whether they would fit in these very short pens.

In any event, this one is now a cartridge-only pen, and only those manufactured by Sailor. This might not be a problem in Japan, but it is in other markets where the distribution of Sailor products is very unreliable. The options, then, are refilling the cartridges and using it as an eyedropper. The connecting piece between section and barrel is made of steel and some people might be afraid of corrosion due to the ink.

Maintenance-wise, this pen is quite easy. Nib and feed can easily be extracted by unscrewing the nipple and pushing them up the section.

6. Cost and value. (9.5/10)
Pocket pens are easily available in the second hand market and as NOS (New Old Stock). Save a couple of examples, they are cheap and make good writers.

7. Conclusion. (47.5/60=79/100)
There are a number of features that make this pen special: its very compact dimensions, the springy nib, the original clip. On the negative side, this is a cartridge-only pen, and the frustrating feed. But it is indeed a nice writer.

(Sailor pocket pen, 14 K gold nib – Sailor black)

Bruno Taut
July 22, 2011
[labels: Sailor]

22 July 2011

The Eiko

Today’s pen is labeled as “The Eiko”, and little else can be said about it. It is a well made pen. A very Japanese model, as the shut off valve shows.

There are three different engravings on the pen:
The clip is marked with a sign saying “NEW CLIP”, about which I should write something. The barrel, on its side, says “The “EIKO”. SAFETY FOUNTAIN”. The steel nib, finally, says “New Style Tubasa Iridium (5) Pen”. However, I cannot guarantee it is the original nib to this pen.

These "new clips" are rather common on Japanese pens from the 1940s.

The engraving says "New Style / Tubasa / Iridium / (5) / Pen". In a proper Japanese romanization, however, the name would be Tsubasa.

The Eiko is a fairly big tool: 15 cm long when closed and the eyedropper deposit holds about 4 ml of ink. These are the actual dimensions:

Diameter: 15 mm (cap).
Length capped: 130 mm.
Length uncapped: 123 mm.
Length posted: 170 mm.
Total weight: 21.3 g (empty).
Weight uncapped: 13.2 g (empty).
Ink deposit: about 4 ml.

Nothing have I found about this brand, and it is difficult to date without any further information. However, I would say it belongs to the early 1940s.

(Pilot Vpen F nib – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
July 16, 2011
[labels: Eiko]

18 July 2011

The Platinum Logo

Not much detailed information there exists about fountain pens. A lot of research must still be done and, as a consequence, we all are subject to make mistakes.

Such was my case when I spoke about pocket pens one year ago (May 17, 2010). Despite my initial doubts, I ended up publishing a chronicle in which I said that they were invented by Pilot in 1968-69. Well, I was mistaken.

This Platinum pocket pen was made before 1968, as the nib shows through the logo on the nib.

The old Platinum logo.

Again, the old Platinum logo on a nib from, probably, the 1940s. The nib shows both the brand name Platinum and the name of the company Nakaya (Seisakusho).

Now (as of July 2011) I read on the Platinum website that this company had released the first pocket pen in 1964—and that makes some sense. That explains, for instance, how the old Platinum logo –that of the world globe– can be seen on a pocket pen. The new logo –the stylized P— was introduced in 1968, according to the same website, and this contradicting some claims dating this change in 1963.

The new logo on a B nib.

The Nakaya logo, on the box and on the nib, resembling the old Platinum logo.

Later on, in the early 2000s, the old Platinum logo was revived to create that of the Nakaya line of pens.

(Slim purple eyedropper – Diamine Amazing Amethyst)

Bruno Taut
July 14, 2011
[labels: Platinum]

14 July 2011


Jumbo pens were made, we are told, to ease the pen grip, especially for older people with problems in their joints. And those are certainly comfortable pens—provided their weights were not excessive, which can easily be the case when their ink capacity might be in the tens of milliliters. Any pen user knows that thin pens are uncomfortable to use for long writing periods. And this fact probably explains the very limited numbers of very thin pens in the market.

A posted Chalana, from 2009. The diameter in the barrel is just 6.5 mm. The total length, posted, is 137 mm.

The Sailor Chalana, in the market since 1980, is nowadays the obvious reference in this niche. It is a very attractive pen with a feeling of luxury and sophistication. Its 18 K gold nib certainly contributes to it. However, inside it is a cartridge/converter pen with a very limited ink capacity (about 0.2 ml fit in the converter).

The Chalana, disassembled. The feed is very long compared to the nib.

This Flaminaire pen sold, at least, in Spain —and possibly made by Waterman— is certainly thin. It is a cartridge/converter pen with a very smooth steel nib. A well constructed pen.

An ad of Flaminaire pens and lighters from 1981 in Spain. My thanks to Grafopasión member Claudio.

The diameter of this Flaminaire pen is 6.5 mm on the barrel.

I found these pens in Japan, but I cannot say anything about their origin.

A lot more unusual is this non-marked eyedropper pen. Little can be said about it since the only sign on the pen is that on the nib revealing nothing. But this is an interesting pen—well made, with a smooth semi-flex steel nib, and eyedropper. Its main problem is to fill such a narrow and dark barrel. The ink capacity is quite generous —about 1.0 ml— given its size.

The sign on the nib is partially hidden. The first line reads "SPECIA(L)". The second starts with "MAGN".

This pen is a simple eyedropper. It is a good writer whose only problem being too thin for a comfortable grip.

These are its dimensions:
Diameter: 8 mm (cap).
Length capped: 113 mm.
Length uncapped: 99 mm.
Length posted: 128 mm.
Total weight: 4.2 g (empty).
Weight uncapped: 2.2 g (empty).
Ink deposit: 1.0 ml.

My thanks to Mr. Alberto Linares and Kinno-san.

Navy Gold 200 – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
July 12, 2011
[labels: Sailor, Flaminaire, marca desconocida]

10 July 2011

Honest Pen

Past April I spoke about a strange Spanish pen by the name of Presidente. Actually, the only detail speaking of Spain on that pen was the engraved sign on the barrel: “PRESIDENTE / Registrada”. The rest screamed Japan out loud. Well, not just Japan but Platinum.

The Spanish Presidente pen. The brand was registered in Spain by Doroteo Pérez y Pérez in 1959.

The Honest 60 model by Platinum from 1956.

Today’s pen seems to be the actual Platinum relative to that Spanish pen. It is the Platinum Honest 60 pen from 1956.

The Honest 60's inscription on the barrel. Very different to that on the Spanish Presidente.

The top jewel, however, is the same on both pens.

Apparently, this Japanese company released the Honest model in 1955 with a bulb filler (according to Ron Dutcher, of Kamakura Pens). In 1956, the pen was marketed as the Honest 60 with a cartridge/converter system: “Good bye, ink bottle” was the pen’s motto at the time. This pen was, in fact, the first Platinum’s cartridge/converter model. In 1953, the ten year durable nib had been introduced and, therefore, the10 years imprint. The number 60 made reference to the company’s goal to become one of the top ten pen companies by year 1960.

The black pen on the back is the Honest 66 from 1960. On the front, the Honest 60 (1956).

This ad was taken from the Platinum's website. It speaks of the Honest 60, but the pen shown is the later model Honest 66. The date Christmas '60 is correct for the later 66 model.

The Platinum Honest 66 (P66-100) model. A mayor difference with the older 60 model is the smooth barrel on the 66 versus the stepped one on the 60.

In 1959, Platinum realized that goal could not be accomplished and put it off to 1966. And a refurbished Honest pen –the Honest 66 model, code number P66-100— was released.

The Honest 60, disassembled.

The Honest model here shown is the cartridge/converter model from 1956. And this filing system is the basic difference with the aerometric Spanish relative. The rest are mere cosmetic differences. Even the steel nib is engraved in the same way: “PLATINUM / (Company logo) / 10 YEARS / HONEST / (JIS logo) 11”.

The Platinum's Honest 60 steel nib.

Then, how did the aerometric Presidente become Spanish? How did the bulb filler or the cartridge/converter system become aerometric? Was the aerometric some sort of production test for those pens finally sold in Japan? I have no answers for these questions, but at least here we have the obvious relative to that not-so-honest Spanish pen registered by some Doroteo Pérez y Pérez in 1959. And the quest for information continues.

(Navy Gold 200 – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
July 9, 2011
[labels: Presidente, Platinum, España, Japón]