27 February 2013


I wrote the following text at the begining of my activity writing these texts, and I published it in another page of this site. It was a way of expressing my initial puzzlement and a way to ask some questions aloud. Now, three years and thre hundred chronicles later, I have learned a thing or two, but the questions I posed remain relevant. That is why I am adding this text to the general section of these Pen Chronicles.

Escribí el siguiente texto al comienzo de mi actividad como autor de estos textos y lo publiqué en otra página de esta bitácora. Fue un modo de expresar mis sorpresas iniciales y de hacerme algunas preguntas en voz alta. Tras tres años y trescientas crónicas he llegado a algunas conclusiones, pero aquellas cuestiones son aun relevantes. Por esta razón las incorporo ahora a la sección general de estas Crónicas Estilográficas.

Jueves, 13 de mayo de 2010
Para Ningyo-chan.

Estas Crónicas llevan en marcha algo menos de un mes. Esta podría ser la décima entrada. Según a qué estadísticas prestemos atención, esta bitácora ha recibido más de mil visitas y apenas media docena ha dejado algún rastro.

¿Por qué escribimos estos textos? ¿Para quién? ¿Qué queremos decir? Tal vez pensé que sí tengo algo interesante que comunicar. O que es un modo de mantener el contacto con mis amigos estilófilos de aquí y allá, aunque tan sólo uno de ellos haya dejado un comentario en estas páginas.

A cambio, las estadísticas te muestran que hay gente a la que no conoces de nada que si no te lee, sí echa un vistazo. Sí, un uruguayo, alguien que vive en Aichi (Japón)… O en ciudades tan cercanas a mí como Ítaca (estado de Nueva York) o Glasgow. Y entonces te das cuenta de que es posible aumentar tu precaria popularidad cibernética.

Entrar en un foro y hacer una referencia a tu propia bitácora aumenta rápidamente el número de visitas. No actualizarla, lógicamente, lo hace caer en picado. Pero al mismo tiempo, una actualización demasiado rápida condena al olvido a muchas entradas anteriores.

He de suponer que esa pelea por ganar visitantes puede tener sentido para las bitácoras que generan beneficios económicos. Pero, ¿para los demás? ¿para aquellos que tan solo aspiramos a divertirnos con esto?

¿Para quién escribimos? ¿Para qué? Una vez encontramos las respuestas a esas preguntas todo es más sencillo, más relajado. Así que, si me disculpan, me retiro a meditar mis respuestas.

Mañana, más.

Sailor Profit 21 Junior – Sailor Brown

Bruno Taut
Inagi, 12 de mayo de 2010; Yokohama, 26 de febrero de 2013
labels: metabitácora

25 February 2013

Out of Production (II)

When speaking about the problems to find proprietary cartridges to ink a Morison pocket pen, I ended the text with a negative conclusion—those pens, that Morison for instance, lose a lot of value in the second hand market, those pens have become almost useless.

The Morison pocket pen whose cartridges are almost impossible to find.

But there is also a positive conclusion—some brands still provide support for their old products. That is the case of the three big Japanese pen manufacturers with regard to the very popular idea of pocket pens. Current ink cartridges by Pilot, Platinum and Sailor can be used in those pocket pens from the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, cartridges are the only way to ink some of those pens, mostly Platinums and Sailors, as the old converters went out of production. Pilot is particularly exemplary on this—the CON-20 converter fits perfectly on those pocket pens and is a good alternative to cartridges. And Pilot, as well, still produces the CON-W to be used on those old pens (1960s) that needed the long gone double spare cartridges.

The original Pilot Myu-701 and its reissue, M90, can use the CON-20 converter.

The Pilot Capless from 1965 can still be used todays, in absence of double spare cartridges, by using the CON-W converter.

Some could say that the only difference between Morison and the big three is that Morison is out of business. And that is true, but true as well is the fact that some still-active companies did abandon some of their old products. Case in point, the beautiful Waterman C/F pen uses a specific type of cartridge and converter now out of production. And this makes us value a lot more those other companies.

The Waterman C/F, equipped with its converter, now almost as valuable as the pen itself.

For those unfortunate cases we have two options. The obvious is to look for those old cartridges and converters in second hand shops, flea markets and online auctions. The other is to adapt other ink deposits. That is what I did with my pocket Morison. Now it is inked with an adapted Pilot cartridge.

But the bottom line might be that self filling pens and eyedroppers do not have this problem.

Pilot Ladypearl – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, February 24th, 2013
etiquetas: Morison, Sailor, Platinum, Pilot, Waterman, soluciones técnicas, conversor

24 February 2013

More Shops in Tokyo Area

I have just updated the list of shops –and the map with their locations— where to find fountain pens in Tokyo area. There are four new shops and one that went out of business.

That was the case of Asahi Shokai in Ameyoko market. Therefore, there are only fou shops in this street market offering fountain pens.

However, not far from Ameyoko, I have included Takeya General Discount Store. This is a big complex where you could find almost anything, and it also has a small stationery department. The selection of pens and inks is not big, although includes products by, at least, Lamy, Montblanc, Parker, Pelikan, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor. The prices are 30% and more below the MSRP.

8. Takeya (http://www.takeya.co.jp/english/index.html)
4-33-2 Taito
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3835-7777
Opening hours: Mo-Su: 10:00-20:30
Location map.

On the other side of the Yamanote line, we can find Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-Site. On one hand, Tsutaya is a big chain shop of bookstores, stationeries, and, more importantly, video and music rental. On the other, Daikanyama T-Site is a very pleasant shopping complex, designed by Klein Dytham Arquitecture, in the ward of Shibuya, just one station away from its well-known crossing, along the Tokyu-Toyoko line.

The Tsutaya branch at Daikanyama T-Site has a very beautiful section of upscale writing tools. Prices, though, are MSRP. Might this not be a place to buy, but it is indeed a place to visit and enjoy. The coffee is, unfortunately, subpar.

20. Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-Site (http://tsite.jp/daikanyama/store-service/tsutaya.html)
17-5 Sagurakucho
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0033
Phone: 03-3770-2525
Opening hours: Mo-Su: 7:00-2:00 (yes, from 7 AM to 2 AM).
Location map.

About 25 kilometers to the West of Shinjuku we find the city of Tama, still in the province of Tokyo. By the station of Seisekisakuragaoka, Keio line, we have a big branch of the general store Keio-Atman. It belongs, not surprisingly, to the big Keio group, involved in transport, retail, real estate and other industries. At some of its shopping centers, the stationery section is good, and in a number of cases, they are Sailor Friendly Shops. This means that besides the regular pens included in the Sailor catalog, there are many other variations. Keio-Atman at Seisekisakuragaoka is one of those shops.

21. Keio-Atman at Seisekisakuragaoka (http://www.keio-atman.co.jp/seiseki/index.html)
1-11-1 Sekido (building A, 4F)
Tama, Tokyo 106-0011
Phone: 042-337-2555
Opening hours: Mo-Su: 10:00-20:00
Location map.

Along Odakyu line, already in Kawasaki, we reach to the station of Shin-Yurigaoka. B-Stock/Nakajima is a small chain of stationery shops located mostly on the West side of Tokyo and in the province of Kanagawa. Some of their branches are Sailor Friendly Shops, and such is the case of the B-Stock branch close to Shin-Yurigaoka station.

22. B-Stock at Shin-Yurigaoka (http://www.stationers.co.jp/shinyuri/index.htm)
4-1-1 Kamiasao (MyLord Building, 3F)
Asao, Kawasaki 215-0021
Phone: 044-959-5061
Opening hours: Mo-Su: 10:00-21-00
Location map.

Pilot Murex – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 23rd, 2013
labels: Tokyo, mercado, Sailor

18 February 2013

Ultra (III)

At the time of speaking about the Super Ultra 500 (::1::, ::2::) I mentioned that despite its limited commercial success --it was in the market for just a couple of years-- the Chiba Shigeki’s design had a great impact among Japanese pen manufacturers. Many a pen company released its own version of the Ultra pen with innovative and original ways to mimic the elegant nib design of the Pilot pen.

A typical example is the following pen by Ryo. Not much is known about this company. It was located in Nakano, Tokyo, and belonged to a company named Otani.

The decoration on the section is limited to the upper part. This picture corresponds to the Ryo Ultra with gold-plated steel nib.

This Ryo pen is equipped with a 14 K gold nib, quite springy, that is partially hidden inside the section. And this is decorated with a gold-plated damascene in the shape of the Pilot Super Ultra inlaid nib. This decoration, however, is limited to the upper part of the section. The filling system of the pen is aerometric. Its overall quality is quite high. These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 136 mm
Length open: 123 mm
Length posted: 154 mm
Diameter: 11 mm
Weight (dry): 14.3 mm
Ink deposit: 0.8 ml.

Its original price was JPY 1000, in sharp contrast with the JPY 5000 of the Pilot original. Ryo also marketed another version with a gold plated steel nib.

On top, Ryo Ultra with steel nib. On bottom, with 14 K gold nib.

Pilot and Ryo, side to side. The differences are clear.

All in all, these are interesting pens. They show the existence of an active pen industry around 1960s struggling in a very competitive market.

Twsbi Diamond 530 – Sailor 土用 - Doyô

Bruno Taut
Machida, February 8th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, Japón, Ryo

15 February 2013

Rhetorical Question (II)

For 金野さん

Lamy 2000 in stainless steel.

-- My last purchase was a Lamy 2000 in stainless steel.
-- Oh! Nice. But, isn’t it too heavy?
-- Who’s gonna write with it?

Pilot Myu 701 – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, February 7th, 2013
labels: Lamy, estilofilia

13 February 2013

Ultra (II)

Some days ago I spoke, once more, about the Pilot Super Ultra 500 and the later replica Pilot Ultra. This one was a limited edition with a cartridge-converter filling system. Paradoxically, the reissue is a lot heavier than the self-filling (hose system) original.

The orginal Pilot Super Ultra 500 from 1959.

In a sense, this Pilot Ultra was a romantic pen, but to a limit. Cartridge-converter pens, as we all know, are easier to clean and to maintain, and that is particularly the case when comparing these two pens.

Replacing the sac and releasing the feed of the 1959 Pilot are not easy tasks unless you knew the actual procedure. The basic problem is that the nipple where the sac is attached is well inside the gripping section and is almost unreachable from outside. So, how do we proceed?

The inlaid nib and the feed.

The white piece on the feed is the nipple to attach the sac.

The Pilot Super Ultra 500, disassembled.

There exists a dummy barrel that could be attached to the section instead of the delicate urushi-coated original. With this dummy barrel in place, the pen, nib up, should be vigorously thrown against the table. This action will release the whole feed into the dummy barrel. Then, attaching the new sac is easy.

The often damaged tassie at the back of the barrel.

The original barrel of the Super Ultra 500 is finished with a small gold-plated tassie, and it is often damaged. And the reason for this is, most likely, that there was the need to replace the sac and that was done without the dummy barrel.

And, needless to say, this is not an issue with the cartridge-converter replica of 1995.

Twsbi Diamond 530 – Diamine Graphite (an unpleasant combination)

Bruno Taut
Machida, February 8th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, soluciones técnicas

09 February 2013

Rhetorical Question (I)

Recently, a friend confessed –yes, that is the right word— that she had purchased a luxury mechanical pencil for the amount of JPY 1575 (about EUR 16 or USD 17), and that was expensive. Sure enough, to any normal person, to any healthy mind, any writing tool over EUR 10 (or USD 10, or JPY 1000), is expensive. We stylophiles are the abnormal ones in here, and we might need to rethink our perceptions on what is cheap or expensive in our small world.

Lamy Safari, JPY 3800. Cartridge-converter. Converter not included.

Parker IM, JPY 2900. Cartridge-converter. Converter not included.

Pilot Prera, JPY 3500. Converter included.

Twsbi Diamond 540, USD 40. Piston filler.

Case in point—can we really say that a EUR 30 fountain pen is an entry level fountain pen? Can we seduce any sane person into buying a writing tool that is about 10 times more expensive than those regular pens he might use?

Sailor Profit Junior, music nib – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 30th, 2013
labels: mercado, estilofilia, Lamy, Parker, Pilot, Twsbi

06 February 2013

On Candies. Correction

Some months ago I wrote several texts (::1::, ::2::) on the Clear Candy fountain pen Sailor released in 2011. On those texts, I mentioned that the origin of those pens was a previous line called A. S. Manhattaner. Well, that was true, but just in part.

The 2011 Sailor Clear Candy.

Actually, some sources (Masa Sunami and Andreas Lambrou, magazine Shumi no Bungubako –issue 19-- and some websites like ::1::, ::2:: and ::3::, all three checked on January 2013) teach that there was a Candy fountain pen, by Sailor, released in the 1970s. It was, actually, a big success, selling about four million units in two years. The structure of this first Candy was entirely the same as the current model, as can be seen on the pictures. But as commentator and friend Koskas K pointed out, these early Candy pens had their nibs marked as made in Taiwan.

Several ads of the Sailor Candy from 1970s. Picture taken from Sailor's shop website, as shown on the picture's watermark.

A 1970s Sailor Candy. The motiff of the cap jewel has changed along the history of the model since 1976. Picture by Kostas K.

The F-2 nib made in Taiwan. Picture by Kostas K.

Incidentally, I will add that in 1979 there existed the option of a three-tined music nib made of steel on these inexpensive pens. They were called Candy Music and are now a rarity. Let us remember that the current line of music nibs by Sailor has only two tines.

The 2011 Clear Candy pen does not have its nib imprinted with the "MADE IN TAIWAN" sign.

2011 Clear Candy pens at stationery shops in Japan (2011).

To summarize—the true origin of the Sailor Clear Candy line of pens released in 2011 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the company dates back from 1976, when the first Sailor Candy was released.

My thanks and appreciation to Mr. Kostas K.

Sailor Profit Junior, 14 K music nib – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 30th, 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín musical, Shumi no Bungubako, plumín, Taiwan

02 February 2013

On Gold and Steel

This is, lately, a recurrent topic of discussion: how important is to have a gold nib? What are the differences in performance between those materials? These are my experiences, my conclusions, and also my doubts.

1. Nib flexibility is more a matter of its geometry than of the material it was made of. To illustrate this point, I am including two pictures. First, a Pilot’s steel nib from the 1950s with remarkable flexibility.

Second, a very rigid modern Sailor nib modified by nibmeister Yamada to make it flexible. Needless to say, Mr. Yamada did not change the composition of the nib but just its shape.

2. Now, in the case of two identically shaped nibs, the one made of 14 K gold is more flexible than that of steel. But higher gold content does not make the nib more flexible. In fact, higher gold content makes the material more prone to plastic deformation. Therefore, high grade gold nibs –21 K and up— must be very rigid to avoid deformations.

Nothing can I say about the flexibility of poorer, below the usual 14 K, gold alloys. Those, in any event, are rare in the pen industry.

On top, a 22 K gold nib by Platinum. On bottom, a 23 K nib by Sailor. Both are very rigid.

3. The raison d’être of gold nibs is, over any other consideration, its very high resistance to corrosion. But with modern inks and correct pen hygiene nib corrosion is a very minor risk despite what some ink producers might claim. Consequently, the wish, or the need, to implement a gold nib is mostly a matter of marketing over any practical justification.

4. Writing smoothness has nothing to do with the nib material. The contact point between pen and paper is the iridium point (no longer made of this metal), and the smoothness of that contact point lays on the tipping material and on the quality of the polishing.

5. Having said that, I also want to add a caveat. In my experience, gold nibs tend to run a tad wetter that their steel counterparts. The reason for this might be related to differences in the interactions of the ink with the different nib materials. More ink, then, means more lubrication on the tip and a smoother writing experience. But this factor is secondary to the quality of the polishing or to the characteristics of ink and paper, and it could easily be corrected with an adequate design of the feed.

6. Finally, we should never forget that the writing experience depends on the pen, on the ink, and on the paper. And on our way of writing.

Morison pocket pen, 18 K nib – Sailor Jentle Black

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 2013
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, mercado, plumín, Sailor, Pilot, Platinum, Yamada