30 November 2012


A pen show is always an overwhelming experience. There are too many pens on display and too little money. On top of that, a pen show is a meeting point where a number of stylophiles congregate. It is easy -and convenient too!- to talk and to exchange information and experiences. Those are, in fact, the basic elements of a pen show—the commercial and the social.

However, not all pen shows cater the social aspect in the same way. The raison d’être of a any such event is obviously the commercial, and its success is based upon the arithmetic of the trade. The social aspect is, therefore, too often overseen by the organizers.

Vymars's table.

The De Leo and Gargioulo's tables.

Such is the case, in my opinion, of the Madrid Pen Show. This year, the change in the venue roughly doubled the available space, but it seems that only traders could benefit from this. Most of them could display more pens, and they were more comfortable behind their tables. But we visitors felt there was not much more space to move around than on previous years. On Saturday, the big day of the event, the lounge was truly crowded. I should also note that this year there were more cafes and restaurants around the hotel, but many of us thought they were too far away.

Sarj Minhas's table.

Toys from the Attic.

It is my contention that the social networking associated to these events does generate economic benefits that would cover for the cost of devoting some specific space to this more relaxed activity.

This year, the bare figures of the Madrid Pen Show –on its ninth edition— matched almost exactly those of the past year45 traders from eight different countries, and about 800 visitors. Given the condition of the Spanish economy, the Madrid Pen Show was a big success.

Pilot Elite, pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 29th, 2012
labels: evento, Madrid, mercado

25 November 2012


I have already spoken about Ban-ei pens and the team of four experienced craftsmen –Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助), Kabutogi Ginjirô (兜木銀次郎), Takahashi Kichitaro (高橋吉太郎), and Tsuchida Shuichi (土田修一)—who silently manufactured them in the 1970s and 1980s. Silently, I said, because they did not sign their pens. The story continued in the mid 1990s when Danitrio commissioned these old artisans and their successors to recreate their old works. This time, though, under less anonymous conditions.

復刻手造万年筆, reissued hand-made fountain pen. A 14 K gold nib by Kabutogi Toshiya.

These new pens –the Danitrio Ban-ei series of pens— had some minor variations with respect to the original models. The most obvious are the signs stating the serial number and the name of the leader. On his side, the new nibmeister –Kabutogi Toshiya (兜木利弥), son of the venerable Kabutogi Ginjirô—made clear that this pen was a reissue of the original. That is, in fact, what can be read on the nib: 復刻手造万年筆 (fukkoku tezuku(ri) mannenhitsu), reissued hand-made fountain pen. Other Danitrio Ban-ei pens do not carry this engraving.

The eyedropper balance pen in red urushi. The brand Ban-ei (挽栄) is engraved on the central ring.

This nib corresponds to a balance pen in red urushi. It is an eyedropper pen with shut-off valve. Danitrio produced 150 units of this pen. These are its dimensions:

Diameter: 16 mm.
Length closed: 145 mm.
Length open: 126 mm.
Dry weight: 21.4 g.
Ink deposit: ~ 2.5 ml.

Pilot Custom Heritage 91, SFM nib – Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 24th, 2012
etiquetas: Ban-ei, Danitrio, nibmeister Kabutogi

22 November 2012

Size 80

For some reason, vintage Sailor pens are really hard to find in the market. And that is strange given the fact that Sailor Pen Company in now over 100 years old and that it became successful soon after it begun its operations. Successful, though, does not really imply being large, and in fact Sailor remains as the smaller among the big three Japanese pen companies.

The overall length of this ebonite eyedropper is 160 mm.

The immediate consequence is that per-war Sailor pens are valued rarities. That is the case of this eyedropper made of ebonite (hard rubber). Being Japanese, it implements the corresponding shut-off valve operated from the tail. But the most impressive detail is the size 80 nib in 14 K gold.

On this picture, the tail is slightly unscrewed. Therefore, the connection between the ink deposit and the feed is open.

The old log of the company, engraved on the clip.

The overall condition of this pen is very good despite its age. It dates back from around 1930.

The size 80 nib in 14 K gold. The exposed part of the nib is almost 30 mm. long. The engraving reads "14 CRT. GOLD / (Sailor logo) / REGISTERED / PATENT.OFFICE / -80- ".

Sailor manufactured an even larger nib at the time. It was labeled as 200 and is a holy grail among Sailor’s pens.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Pilot Elite pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, November 6th, 2012
labels: Sailor, plumín

14 November 2012


Long time ago, at the beginning of this blog, I wrote a text vindicating the role of the nib –and of the feed—over the rest of the pen. A fountain pen, I wrote in Spanish, was a system to control the flow of a fluid on its way between a deposit and the paper. And therefore, materials, colors, filling systems, shapes are secondary as long as they created no problem in the act of writing.

However, current commercial trends seem to be focused on these secondary elements, and pen companies indeed charge a lot for those. Precious resins, colorful celluloid, exotic lacquers, intricate ornaments, rare wood, new materials, … revival of pneumatic filling systems, pistons, plungers, eyedroppers… The business of new fountain pens is no longer based on the utility or on the need to write. Fountain pens are a commodity, a symbol of status, a sign of snobbism. And craving over need determines what we, users and collectors, end up buying.

But some people do not want to forget that fountain pens are writing tools. And that is why people like Yamada or Nagahara and those many masters in adjusting a nib are so necessary.

Pilot Elite pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, November 9th, 2012
labels: plumín, Mercado, estilofilia, Yamada, Sailor

07 November 2012

Autumn in Madrid

IX Madrid Pen Show. November 16-18th, 2012. NH-Eurobuilding Hotel (Padre Damián, 23. 28036 Madrid).

Entry fee, EUR 3 per day. Voided with the invitation shown on this link. Carry one copy per person per day.
Opening hours for visitors: Friday: 11:00-20:00
                                            Saturday: 10:00-20:00
                                            Sunday: 10:00-14:30

The Madrid Pen Show is one of the big trading events in Europe. On the last edition about 50 traders and 1000 visitors gathered to discuss and learn about pens, and to trade them too! This year, the event will take place at a much larger venue –roughly twice the space of that in previous years—at the NH Eurobuilding Hotel. However, the organizers say the number of traders will not change by much. The primary consequence will be a more relaxing atmosphere in less crowded lounges. And, hopefully, more pens.

Pilot Petit-1 – Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 24th, 2012
labels: Madrid, evento, mercado

04 November 2012

Fude Matsuri

Nibmeister Yamada is already well known to the readers of these pages. His innovative approach to nibs and his impressive skills to manipulate them are always sources of amazement.

At the last Fuente meeting in Tokyo (October 27 and 28) he showed the latest modifications he had made for some friends. It was indeed a festival of fude nibs. First, he showed a Visconti Opera, a Twsbi Diamond 540, and a Twsbi Micarta 805 with their nibs modified.

The Visconti Opera with its 14 K gold nib.

The Twsbi Diamond 540's steel nib.

The steel nib of a Twsbi Micarta 805.

All three modified nibs together for comparison.

Later, on the spot, he modified the generic nib of a Lapita Lemon—a mostly uneventful pen sold together with the now discontinued magazine Lapita in 2005.

The Lapita Lemon pen...

...and the writing test with orange ink.

And the very rigid nibs became something more exciting. Hats off, please.

Pilot Custom Heritage 91, SFM nib – Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, November 3rd, 2012
labels: plumín, Yamada, evento, Visconti, Twsbi, Lapita

02 November 2012


The trick is simple and well known—lay an ink drop on a piece of kitchen (or blotting) paper, add a bit of water, and the ink will spread through the paper fibers and will show the different dyes composing that particular ink.

This is an easy test to check if two inks are the same or not. Well, the negative results will be final while the positive one should be subject to more analysis. In other words, two inks with different dyes will certainly be different, but two inks showing the same dyes might still be different as there are some other factors that could affect the final color and performance.

Given the doubts I had about how Iroshizuku Take-sumi and Pilot Black compared I performed, by suggestion of FPGeeks Forum member FP_GaF, a chromatographic analysis. The results are clear—both inks are different. The Iroshizuku Take-sumi has a blue-violet component that is absent from the regular black ink. On its side, the Pilot Black is more homogeneous, showing basically a grey dye, albeit with a small presence of a green-brownish component.

Two sets of chromograms on two different types os paper. Iroshizuku Take-sumi ink is the one on the left hand side, and the regular Pilot Black in on the right. Take-sumi ink has a bluish violet dye that is not present on the regular Black ink. On its side, this cheaper ink has, over the domininant grey color, a brownish green dye.

However, the final results of these two inks when used with a fountain pen —which is what we love to do— are really similar, as was shown on the previous chronicle. And the question on the price difference remains appropriate.

Pilot Elite pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, October 31st, 2012
labels: Pilot, tinta