30 January 2013

Out of Production (I)

I can think of a very big reason to rather self-filling over cartridge-converter. With self-filling pens, the owner will never run out those essential elements, cartridges and converters, to use the pen. An acceptable alternative might be standard/international cartridges whose manufacture is shared by a big number of companies.

A Morison pocket pen from the 1970s.

The risk is clear—should the maker of that particular pen disappear, its proprietary cartridges and converters might also become extinct from stationery shops. That is the case of the following Morison. It is a well made pocket pen with a semi-hooded 18 K gold nib. But it uses Morison-proprietary cartridges, long gone and very hard to find after the company stopped the production of pens in the early 1990s.

In an attempt to ink this pen, I tried to use Sailor slim cartridges (for the Chalana model). These are thin enough, but too long to fit inside the barrel. On the side, the plastic tassie of the barrel.

Some other models of this brand can use Platinum cartridges, and in fact, the cartridge nipple of this pen accepts Platinum cartridges, but not the rest of the pen. Its body is too small –both short and narrow— to host it. And neither can this Morison be used as eyedropper as the tassie at the back of the barrel does not seal the body and can easily be removed.

Therefore, this pen is not usable without the proper –and missing—cartridge or converter. And it is frustrating as the pen is in perfect working conditions with only minor cosmetic defects. This issue obviously reduces the value of this pen in the second hand market.

Platinum P-300, music nib – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Taito (Tokyo), January 27-29th, 2013
etiquetas: Morison, conversor

25 January 2013

Cut-away (II)

As we all know in here, the Pilot Myu-701 is an all-steel pen in which the nib is just an extension of the section. Therefore, it is not possible to make a real demonstrator version of it. There existed transparent versions of its close relative the Pilot Volex, and those were shown on these Chronicles.

The all-steel Pilot Myu 701.

A Pilot Volex in black and its transparent sister.

But Pilot does have a cut-away model of the all-steel pen. It can be seen at their museum of pen—the Pilot Pen Station in Tokyo.

The cut-away Myu 701 at the Pilot museum.

Montblanc 221 – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 25th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

23 January 2013


Little is available in books or in the Net about the pen brand Ramie. It produced, some sources say, low quality ebonite pens in the 1950s. Their filling systems were either eyedropper or plastic-squeeze filler. And there is at least one example of a pen in carved sterling silver. And that is it.

By looking at a Ramie pen in the flesh I can offer some more information. The mother company was called Hayashi Manufacturing Co., and was located in Tokyo. It adopted the certification system of the Japanese Ministry of Industry and, therefore, it was active in the mid 1950s.

On the barrel, not visible on the picture, there is an engraving: "RAMIE / HAYASHIMFG / GUARANTEED".

The engraving on the nib reads WARRANTED / RAMIE / (JIS logo) / 14 K / GOLD / <1>". And note the TS monogram at the low end of it.

This pen in particular is a lever-filler in urushi-coated ebonite. The nib is a size 1 in 14 K gold with the brand name engraved on it. The barrel carries the imprint of the mother company together with an inscription about the occasion in which the pen was awarded to an honor student at Hosei High School in Tokyo.

Its overall condition is very good. It construction quality, pen-wise, makes me question the alleged low quality of Ramie pens as stated online. The urushi finish, however, is certainly not top class.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 130 mm.
Length open: 111 mm.
Length posted: 152 mm.
Diameter: 13 mm.
Dry weight: 14.4 g.
Ink deposit: 0.8 ml

The Push, celluloid lever filler – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Chuo (Tokyo), January 22nd, 2013
etiquetas: Ramie

18 January 2013

Taiwanese Sailor

Records say that Sailor Pen Company opened a manufacturing plant in the Republic of China, aka Taiwan, in the early 1970s. It started operations on October 1973. it remains unclear whether that plan is still active today, but there seems to be no Sailor fountain pen manufactured in Taiwan nowadays. Some claim, though, that some pen parts, like the F-2 nib, are still manufactured in there.

This pocket pen I am showing today came out from that plant, as the engraving on the section clearly implies. It is an inexpensive pen. Contrary to most pocket pen models, there is no central ring keeping section and barrel together. Instead, the section is build with a plastic thread on which the barrel is attached, and a narrow metallic ring separates externally both pieces and limits the movement of the cap when closing the pen and when posting it on the barrel.

On the other side of the barrel, another engraving reads "412", possibly a code number of the model.

However, the most relevant indicator of how inexpensive this model was is the gold-plated steel nib. The problem does not lay on the material –we all know of excellent nibs made of stainless steel— but on the quality of the steel. The gold plating hided some imperfections on the base material—some pores that showed poor manufacturing conditions. The nib is engraved with the company logo and the label F-1. It dates from mid 1970s.

A relevant question is whether Sailor kept the Taiwanese plant for simpler and inexpensive models. Let us remember that around that same time (mid 1970s) Sailor was producing 23 K gold nibs.

The steel nib of the Taiwanese Sailor.

A 23 K gold nib by Sailor. An expensive way to avoid corrosion.

This pen, as was the case on all Sailor pocket pens nowadays, can only be inked with proprietary cartridges (and by refilling them with our ink of choice, of course). These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 112 mm.
Length open: 95 mm.
Length posted: 137 mm.
Diameter: 12 mm.
Dry weight: 9.8 g.

The Push, celluloid lever filler – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 18th, 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, Taiwan

16 January 2013

Pilot Super Ultra 500

(Note for non-Spanish speakers: I wrote this text for a pen forum in Spanish. However, the final result made me think it was worth to publish it as one of my chronicles, despite most of the information here included had already been published in here. One of the reasons is that there is very little information in Spanish about this pen).

1953 es un año muy importante en la historia de las plumas estilográficas en Japón. En ese año se adoptan dos decisiones de gran relevancia:

La primera es la adopción de un sistema de control sobre el material de los plumines. Esta medida del Ministerio de Industria japonés nunca fue obligatoria, pero las grandes empresas –Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, SSS— la adoptaron rápidamente. El resultado fue que muchas empresas pequeñas, con productos de menor calidad, cerraron ante la imposibilidad de competir con ellas.

La segunda medida fue el final del embargo sobre el uso de oro para plumines. Desde el año 1939 el uso del oro para artículos de consumo había estado prohibido y las estilográficas se vieron obligadas a utilizar plumines de acero inoxidable. Son los llamados plumines shiro, que significa blanco en japonés.

En consecuencia, en ese año 1953 el mercado quedó abierto para nuevos productos y con más garantías de calidad. En ese año, Pilot lanzó al mercado el modelo 53R. En ella, los plumines (de oro y de acero) y los alimentadores son visibles. Respecto al sistema de llenado, son dos los métodos preferentes: cuentagotas con válvula de sellado y palanca lateral que acciona un saco de goma. Ocasionalmente también se emplea un sistema de pistón pulsado llamado sistema A (A-shiki) y alguna fuentes hablan de que también se empleó el sistema del bebedor (nomikomi-shiki) en ellas.

Un ejemplo del modelo 53R. Se trata de una pluma con llenado por palanca, por lo que estrictamente es del modelo 53R-T.

Pero esta pluma 53R no es, en el fondo, más que una recreación del modelo R anterior a la Guerra. Y es en el año 1955 cuando finalmente Pilot lanza al mercado una nueva pluma. Se trata de un diseño de un joven ingeniero, Shigeki Chiba. Sus ganas de comerse el mundo no le granjearon muchas simpatías en la compañía y le envían a las líneas de producción para que aprendiera lo que era posible y lo que no era posible hacer. Y de su mano salió el diseño de la Pilot Super. Es una pluma que muestra el plumín mientras que oculta el alimentador dentro de la boquilla. Es la configuración que muchos llaman “en uña”. Es un estilo que ya había iniciado Platinum con sus plumas “Honest”, aunque sin llegar a ocultar completamente el alimentador.

Una selección de plumas de la serie Super de Pilot. Todas las mostradas tienen sistemas de autollenado. En versiones posteriores, algunas de ellas pasaron a ser de cartucho/conversor.

La foto muestra los tres sistemas de autollenado de las primeras Pilot Super. Arriba, sistema de llenado por saco en forma de acordeón; en el medio, el sistema de manguera (hose-system); abajo, sistema aerométrico. En las dos últimas se puede ver la geometría típica del plumín en uña. La pluma superior es el modelo Super 500G.

La serie Super, en cualquier caso, se convierte en la pluma fundamental de Pilot. En ella hay desde modelos muy baratos con plumines de acero hasta productos de gran lujo con decoración maki-e. Respecto a los sistemas de llenado, el método más empleado es el de manguera (hose-system), pero hay otras dos opciones: aerométrico para plumas pequeñas y de saco en acordeón para algunas de las más lujosas (modelo Super 500G).

Modelo Super con decoración maki-e. Se trata del diseño seirei-nuri, exclusivo de Pilot.

La obsesión de Shigeki Chiba, sin embargo, eran los plumines enrasados y finalmente logra un diseño que atrae la atención de la dirección. Es la Super Ultra 500 y se erige como el modelo más lujoso de toda la serie cuando se lanza en 1959.

La Pilot Super Ultra 500.

El plumín enrasado de la Super Ultra 500.

El sistema de llenado es el más habitual de la serie Super: el sistema de manguera (hose-system). Pero el capuchón metálico del saco está dorado.

Este diseño conserva el sistema de llenado típico (el mencionado sistema de manguera) de la serie Super, pero el resto se hace mucho más refinado para hacer un producto de lujo. El acabado de la pluma es lacado en negro con apliques (anillos, prendedor) chapados en oro de 14 quilates. Incluso la vaina del saco del sistema de llenado está dorado. Hubo algunas variaciones, menos habituales, con el cuerpo de color gris y con el capuchón completamente recubierto de oro.

El diseño del capuchón sigue las líneas del plumín enrasado. Este detalle hace decir a muchos que el capuchón negro es más atractivo que el modelo más lujoso con todo el capuchón dorado.

Detalle del alimentador y de la parte inferior del plumín.

Dos de las versiones de la Super Ultra 500 expuestas en el museo de Pilot, Pen Station, en Tokyo.

La pluma en sí era muy cara de producir y se mantuvo en el mercado durante menos de dos años. Es una de las pocas plumas japonesas realmente apreciadas en el país de origen. Es buscada y admirada, pero no es fácil de encontrar y, en consecuencia, sus precios son altos.

A pesar de su limitada difusión, la Super Ultra 500 marcó una tendencia estética. La admiración despertada impulsó a otras marcas a hacer plumas con un aire similar. A esas plumas; de Platinum, de Morison, de Navy; de las llama, genéricamente, modelos Ultra.

Plumín y boquilla de la pluma Gold 200 de la marca Navy.

La Super Ultra 500 original, de 1959, y la réplica de 1995.

En el año 1995 Pilot hizo una réplica en una edición limitada de 350 unidades con el nombre de Pilot Ultra (número de catálogo, FU-6MR-BM). Esta nueva versión cargaba por cartucho y conversor.

Teclado español de 87 teclas.
(Sí, ésta es mi primera crónica escrita directamente en el teclado).

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, 15 de enero de 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, Navy, Platinum, estilofilia, Morison

13 January 2013

Ultra (I)

One of the most memorable pens ever made by Pilot is the Super Ultra 500 model released in 1959. It was the top of the line pen of the Super series, Pilot’s workhorse of the time. This pen was a very expensive to produce, and it was short lived—barely a couple of years. We all know how scarcity makes goods more valuable –that is the basic argument of all those limited editions— and the Super Ultra 500 became a mythic pen even among Japanese stylophiles—loved, desired, sought-after,…. and elusive.

Pilot, on its side, is not any different from other companies and some thirty six years later a reissue of this pen was released as –did I need to say this?—a limited edition of just 350 units. The price was JPY 60000, and the name was simply Ultra (catalog reference FU-6MR-BM).

As is the case with many a reissue of past glories, this new Ultra was a cartridge-converter pen instead of the sac-based quarter-switch filler (called hose-system in Japan). The rest of the pen is very similar to the original, including the urushi coating caps and barrels. The external differences lay on the cap ring, wider on the reissued pen, and on the top part of the section—the cap of the newer pen closes the pen with a tight fit with this rubber ring.

The section of the 1995 version of the Ultra pen. There was only one nib point option--M.

Although the shape and size of both pens are very close, the reissued pen is remarkably heavier:

Super Ultra 500


Ultra (1995)

Length closed (mm) 139 140
Length posted (mm) 147 153
Diameter (mm) 12.0 12.2
Weight (g) 18 30.5

On another chronicle I will speak about the implications of the filling systems of these two pens.

Parker 51, Canadian – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 13th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

10 January 2013

Family Portrait (V)

As of today, only Platinum-Nakaya and the elitist Hakase manufacture pens in celluloid in Japan. But that was not the case in the past. Here I am showing a small collection of celluloid pens made by Pilot between the 1930s and 1950s.

A collection of celluloid pens by Pilot. Their filling systems are, from top to bottom, lever filler (green striated pen), eyedropper with shut-off valve (black with small vertical lines), A-shiki (green pen with metallic tail), lever filler (dark green), eyedropper with valve (brown), eyedropper with valve (black with sticker), eyedropper with valve (small black pen), and lever filler (bright red).

Most of them are eyedroppers with shut-off valve, but there are also some lever fillers and an example of the pulsated piston called A-shiki (A-式). The picture is far from being complete. There were multiple models and variations in the Pilot catalog over the years (see for instance a nomikomi-shiki pen from 1938 and another eyedropper from the mid 1930s), but not anymore. The last Pilot pen made of celluloid was produced in 1984.

Platinum 3776 (1978) – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 10th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

08 January 2013

Honest 66 Cartridge

In 1956, Platinum introduced the ink cartridge in Japan. To do so, the company marketed a modified version of the model Honest, an aerometric filler, under the name Honest 60, and the cartridge was labeled as Honest Cartridge. Many a pen brand adopted it for its pens and thus it became a standard. That was the case, for instance, of Mitaka and of Nobel’s, the later being another brand worth to write about.

The picture shows the initial Honest 60 cartridge, on top, and the current Platinum cartridge, on bottom. Note the differences in the area where the cartridges attached to the section.

That initial cartridge immediately went through some minor changes in the opening. By 1960, a further evolution of the Platinum pen, now called Honest 66, provided a larger and longer barrel where a bigger cartridge could fit. That was the Honest 66 cartridge. Unfortunately, this was short lived, and only the smaller version is available today.

Both cartridge/converter Platinum Honest pens. The Honest 66 (1960) on top, and the Honest 60 (1956) on bottom. The nipple of the former is well inside the section, thus allowing more room for the longer cartridge.

Both cartridges and the current converter. This has a capacity of 0.6 ml (0.53 ml according to the Platinum catalog).

The Honest 66 cartridge had a capacity of 1.7 ml, while the regular Platinum cartridge only holds 1.2 ml.

Pilot 53R in red celluloid – Pelikan 4001 Royal blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 6th, 2013
etiquetas: Platinum, conversor, Mitaka, Nobel

07 January 2013

Sírvase usted mismo

De vez en cuando me pregunto por qué el mercado japonés de plumas estilográficas es tan activo y tan atractivo. No tengo respuestas claras y determinantes, tan solo conjeturas. Sí veo que es muy sencillo encontrar estilográficas en las papelerías y en los grandes almacenes de este país. Es, de hecho, habitual darse de bruces con expositores de plumas a disposición de los clientes. Así que probar cómo escriben en un papel casi siempre decente, sin la mirada vigilante y controladora de un vendedor desconfiado es una experiencia casi trivial.

Las siguientes fotos muestran un procedimiento muy atractivo de dar a conocer y de vender plumas Pelikan: ¿qué modelo y con qué plumín desea probar la pluma? Sírvase usted mismo, por favor.

Las fotos fueron tomadas en los grandes almacenes Odakyu en Shinjuku (Tokyo), cuya sección de papelería está gestionada por Itoya, el pasado mes de noviembre.

Pilot 53R, red celluloid – Pelikan 4001 Royal blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, 7 de enero de 2013
etiquetas: mercado, Pelikan, Japón

03 January 2013


Sailor’s Naginata Togi nibs are characterized by being longer than regular nibs—or so they say at Sailor. They are the starting point for the specialty nibs by nibmeister Nagahara. According to Sailor’s way of sizing their nibs, the usual Naginata comes in size big (大型) —neither the super-big (超大型) of the King of Pen nor the medium (中型) of the Profit Standard series of pens.

Naginata Togi nib (medium fine) in the regular big size (大型).

However, Naginata Togi nibs exceptionally come in those other two sizes, as can be seen on the picture.

Naginata Togi nibs in three sizes. From top to bottom, in a King of Pen (super big, 超大型) in medium; in a big size (大型) as a cross-music nib; and in medium size (中型) as a fude nib.

Super T Gester 40 – Sailor Yama-dori 山鳥

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 3rd 2013
labels: Sailor, plumín