30 April 2012

Capless 1965

The Pilot Capless is not just one pen but a whole saga with a long history. Since it was initially marketed in 1963, the pen named as Capless or as Vanishing Point has gone through a number of changes that actually conformed different models. Some of them have already been described on these pages: 1964 (More Capless), 1968 (Gravity), 1971 (Capless 1971).

The Capless I am showing today was initially marketed in Fall 1965, and was the last model in using the old double spare type of ink cartridge. Therefore, it uses the CON-W converter. The next model, from 1968, already implemented the Pilot cartridges currently on production.

This Capless is made of aluminum and adopted several finishes. This one has a subtle golden color, like if it had been gold plated with a very thin film of this metal.

The mechanism to release the nib is not by means of a push button but by twisting the lower half of the pen. Its bottom end is made of black plastic and has no special function on the nib operation.

The nib is made of 14 K gold and has no indication of the point. It is engraved with the production date: Hiratsuka, January 1968. This nib unit is not compatible with any other model of the Pilot Capless.

These are its dimensions:

Length closed (retracted): 140 mm.
Length open (extended): 145 mm.
Diameter: 12 mm.
Weight (dry, with converter): 20.4 g.
Ink deposit (CON-W converter): 1.1 ml.

(New Clip (Arabian Ford) jumbo pen – Unknown black ink)

Bruno Taut
April 27th, 2012
[etiquetas: Pilot]

29 April 2012

Three (Japanese) Swans

Nobuo Itô's Swan become the most successful pen company in Japan around 1920. Its strategy was simple—copy the looks and style of the pens made by Mabie-Todd in England under the name Swan, the real Swan, and let the Japanese government protect you from foreign legal disputes. As we have already seen, even the logos were blatantly similar.

Three Japanese Swans.

This company, though, was deeply affected by the Second World War –its production plant was destroyed—and finally it ceased its activities in the early 1950s, unable to compete with the myriad of pen operations active at the time in Japan.

Their nibs are not completely the same. Note the differences in the breathing holes.

Neither are their feeds the same.

The three pens I am showing today belong to the later period of the company. They are made of celluloid and are quite transparent—the sac and the nib can be seen through the barrel and the cap. Their filling system is a lever filler. The nibs are made of steel, partially gold plated, and are quite rigid.

The engraving on the nib reads "Swan / Manifold / Fine / Swarosmine / (Swan logo)".

They are not exactly the same in terms of dimensions and nib design, as can be seen on the pictures. These are their dimensions:

Length closed: 124-126 mm.
Length open: 112-114 mm.
Length posted; 149-154 mm.
Diameter: 12.5 mm.
Weight (dry): 13.0-13.7 g.

The Japanese text just says Swan fountain pen.

The original price of these pens were JPY 350, as can be read on their original stickers.

Platinum pocket pen in striped steel – Platinum Brown (cartridge)

Bruno Taut
April 28th, 2012
etiquetas: Swan Japan

27 April 2012

Size 6

Hoshiawase (星合せ) pens have already been covered on these chronicles. And although they are indeed original and interesting —albeit a dead end in the evolution of pens— there is only that much you can say about them. Once the description of the sealing system of the ink deposit, remember these are eyedropper pens, the rest is merely an account of the nib characteristics and of the body material and decoration.

However, that might be the fate of most fountain pens. After all, few truly innovative features there existed on this world, and those have been implemented on many different pens. In this regard, the star system has the merit of having been used only by Pilot.

The BCHR eyedropper by Pilot, from 1924.

The size 6 nib. On the section, the two stars can be seen uncrossed. Therefore, the ink channel was open.

Today´s hoshiawase pen sports a big nib—a size 6 nib. Although not the biggest for these pens, some size 8 have been reported, this is indeed a remarkable and rare pen. It dates from 1924, and its sealing system shows the earlier scheme of the hoshiawase.

An early form of hoshiawase. The element limiting the rotation of the cylinders in the section is very exposed. On later pens, this element was encircled by a groove on the outer cylinder.

As for the body, it is a black chased hard rubber (BCHR) pen.

All the elements in this pen are in pristine condition, and I doubt the owner would ever ink it.

My thanks to Mr. Niikura and to FPN member Nikolaos.

(New Clip (Arabian Ford) jumbo pen with stub nib – Unknown black ink)

Bruno Taut
April 26th, 2012
[etiquetas: Pilot, soluciones técnicas]

21 April 2012

Shut-off Valve

Eyedropper pens with shut-off valve are a very Japanese idea, we all know by now. This idea is, in essence, a simplification of the plunger filler implemented by Onoto on the fountain pens arriving in Japan around 1900. The plunger filler is no longer there, and the tail knob now operated the axis moving the cone that opens and closes the connection between the ink deposit and the section.

Mostly all Japanese companies used this mechanism at some point. Some examples have been shown on these chronicles: Asahi-Tsubasa, Ban-ei, The Eiko, New Clip, Pilot-Namiki, Platinum, Platon, SSS, (Japanese) Swan,… As of today, Pilot-Namiki, Nebotek and Danitrio still make this type of shut-off valve.

SSS in black ebonite. The sealing cone is visible inside the barrel.

Swan (Japan) number 5. The section is disassembled from the barrel. The sealing cone and its axis are visible.

However, my experience using these pens is very limited. Their weakest point is the seal between the axis and the top end of the ink deposit. This thin rod must slip up and down through this seal to allow the ink to pass through the valve to the section and the feed. Traditionally, this seal was made of cork and lack of use and the passing of time are good arguments for ink leaks. In such case, these pens become very messy—ink would leak through the tail knob when turning it to open the valve.

The tail knob of the Danitrio Ban-ei.

After trying with some vintage pens –a SSS made of ebonite, with stained results—I decided to ink a Danitrio Ban-ei. Being modern, it is in good shape and there are no leaks. Then, how does it perform?

Its nib is a very smooth unit made by Kabutogi Ginjiro. It is nicely wet—as long as the there were ink actually flowing through the feed. So, in principle, this pen performs well—open the valve, uncap the pen, write. However, sealing the ink deposit when not in use has some side effect—the nib quickly becomes dry. My contention is that the lack of connection between nib and deposit deprives the first of a permanent supply of ink. Then, the natural evaporation simply dries the nib up and this space cannot be refilled with more ink from the deposit. If stored with the valve open, the nib does not become dry.

I wonder if that was the case with other eyedropper pens with shut-off valve.

Bruno Taut
April 17th, 2012
[labels: Danitrio, soluciones técnicas, nibmeister Kabutogi]

15 April 2012

PCJ-Wagner Pen Show 2012

Spring is here, despite the weather conditions, and Spring is the season for the pen show organized by the Pen Collectors of Japan (PCJ) and the Wagner group. It will take place on the weekend of April 21st and 22nd at the KFC Hall (KFC Rooms, 11th floor, room 115) in Ryogoku, Tokyo. (Please, check those links for access maps).

The entry fees are JPY 2000 for Saturday (open from 10:00 to 17:00) and JPY 1000 for Sunday (from 9:30 to 16:30). The table fee for traders is JPY 10000 for the whole weekend (more information, on pelikan@hotmail.co.jp). Apparently, there are no limitations of space and there is no need to book in advance—to trade, just show up at 9:00 on Saturday and pay the fee. The tables and the location in the room are decided on a first come, first serve basis. And this year there seems to be no special requisites to participate as a trader. Maybe we would see some coming from overseas to make this show international. Despite the interest of Japanese stylophiles for Western pens, mostly German, trading in Japan seems to be a very domestic business…

Related information: An old chronicle on PCJ-Wagner Pen Show 2010
Information in English through the Fountain Pen Network,

(Platinum pocket pen in striped steel – Platinum Brown, cartridge)

Bruno Taut
April 14th, 2012
[labels: evento, mercado, Japón, Tokyo]

10 April 2012

On Blogger

This blog is hosted by Google and uses the tools of Blogger.com. It was an easy decision when I started these texts. At first, you only want something easy and ready available, and eager to write as I was when starting, I did not do much search.

However, after two years in this activity, after having learned a couple of things, Blogger is indeed not up to the challenge. Google/Blogger insists in implementing cosmetic changes in the interface, but the actual problems –mostly in the editor and in the composition— have never been tackled nor solved.

Some complaints have also been raised on the problems to publish comments to these texts, and this shows a great lack of support for us, blog authors, and for its own service. Blogs are fed and fueled by comments, and these issues are very discouraging.

I wonder, therefore, if Google were really interested in keeping this service. I know now that Blogger is not a sensible option for anyone thinking of starting in this. Maybe blogs are not fashionable anymore and they do not attract enough money or attention… However, there are many other servers and options in the market.

(Danitrio 挽栄, Ban-eiSailor Jentle 土用, Doyô)

Bruno Taut
April 10th, 2012
[etiquetas: metabitácora]

03 April 2012

At the Museum (V)

(As seen at the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Modern Literature).

The pens I am showing today belonged to HOTTA Yoshie (堀田善衛, 1918-1998). His name might click on some science-fiction aficionados’ minds by nothing that he, together with FUKUNAGA Takehiko (福永武彦, 1918-1979) and NAKAMURA Shinichiro (中村真一郎, 1918-1997), authored the seminal novel of the character Mothra (Mosura, モスラ) in 1961: The Luminous Fairies and Mothra (発光妖精とモスラ, Hakko Yosei to Mosura, originally published as a serial novel in Asahi Weekly in 1961, republished in 1994).

An Onoto with a size 5 nib.

Hotta was also an Akutagawa Prize winner in 1951 for his novel Loneliness in the Square (広場の孤独, Hiroba-no kodoku). In 1977, he received the Osaragi Jirô Award for his comprehensive biography of Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (ゴヤ, Goya, 1974-1977).

A Pelikan 500.

The Kugel extra fine nib.

The B nib of Pelikan 400.

His better known work, however, is Judgment (審判, Shinpan, 1963), a novel on the atomic bomb of Hiroshima.

A Pilot Custom in Sterling silver, and a Pilot Elite.

Regarding his pens, we see both European and Japanese units. An Onoto with a size 5 nib; three Pelikan, a Faber Castell, and two Pilot. On the Pelikan, an extra fine Kugel (KEF) and a B points.

(Sailor Profit Realo – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
April 3rd, 2012
[labels: Faber-Castell, Pilot, Pelikan, Japón, evento, estilofilia, Onoto]