31 March 2013


The current workhorse of Platinum is the model 3776—a balance pen, made of plastic in several colors, including some transparent versions.

The first year (1978) 3776. The nib is dated as made on September of 1978.

But the original 3776, from 1978, was different. It was designed by the writer and pen collector Haruo Umeda and had a clear inspiration on the Waterman “100 Years” pen. The similarities, in contrast with previous models by Platinum, are limited to the rugged body. This shape, should we note, was cut on the lathe with an ad-hoc tool. During the first year of production (1979), the pen had 9 rings on the back of the barrel. This was, apparently, difficult to machine and already on the second year of production the number of rings was reduced to five.

Platinum 3776 from the first two years of production of the pen, with nine and five rings on the last section of the barrel.

The nibs were made of 14 K gold, and they were fairly rigid. The feeds were made of ebonite, and they also show some changes between the first and second year pens.

Nib and feed of the first year pen (1978). Note the long ebonite feed.

The pen on top was made on the second year of production (production date of January 1979). Its feed shows some fins on the lower side. The one on bottom, from 1978 (production date of September 1978), has no fins.

A similar model is still on production today, but the new nibs have a different design and the feeds are now made of plastic. And there was also a deformed version around 1987—the Platinum Glamour, equipped with both steel and 14 K gold nibs.

Platinum Glamour with steel nib, and plastic feed.

As is customary on Platinum pens, all of them use cartridges (and converters if the barrel could fit them, which is not the case of the Platinum Glamour).

Pilot Vpen– Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Chuo (Tokyo), March 3rd, 2013
etiquetas: Platinum

28 March 2013


On the previous Chronicle I spoke about two different engravings that appeared on early Pilot pens—“N. M. & Co.”, and “Namiki Mfg. Co.”. Pilot’s Pen Station, always a source of valuable information, shows a third inscription. The following pictures show all three of them as printed on pen boxes.

This time, the meaning of R. N. seems quite clear—Ryosuke Namiki (並木良輔), the full name of the founder of the company. This one seems to the most elusive of the three inscriptions.

Pilot Vpen– Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, March 26th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

25 March 2013

N. M. & Co.

NOTE added on 9/Feb/2018: I completely misunderstood the pen described on this Chronicle. In actual terms, it is not a plain eyedropper pen but a beautiful example of the naikan shiki (inner tube mechanism) present in very early Pilot pens. Its beautiful nib is, most likely, original.

More information, on the following Chronicle: http://estilofilos.blogspot.jp/2018/02/inner-tube-system.html

From the latest pen to a very early one.

The pen on display today is a very early Pilot. In a nutshell, it is a black-chased hard rubber pen with a size 3 nib made of 14 K gold. This is an eyedropper pen, as was usually the case on the early Japanese pens. However, contrary to the very Japanese trend, in this case the ink deposit has no mechanism to be sealed when the pen was not in use. No hoshiawase, no shut-off valve—nothing. In this regard, this Pilot is very much alike to many Waterman’s pens from the beginning of the twentieth century.

The engraving on the barrel is also interesting. To the right of the Namiki logo (the N inside the lifebuoy) it reads as follows: ‘“PILOT” / FOUNTAIN PEN / N. M. & Co.’ Early Pilot pens show this inscription, and it coexisted for some years, possibly up to 1925, with the one that would be stamped up to around 1938, when the company changed its name to Pilot Fountain Pen Co. Ltd., ‘“PILOT” / NAMIKI MFG. CO. / MADE IN JAPAN’. The question, then, is what that M on earlier pens meant. Nobody seems to have a clear answer to it.

The old engraving on Pilot pens: "N. M. & Co."

This engraving belongs to a hoshiawase pen from 1928.

There is another engraving on the barrel of the old pen--"P3CH". Is it be a reference to the size of the nib (3) and to the decoration and the material (chased hard rubber)?

These are the dimensions of this pen:
Length closed: 142 mm.
Length open: 134 mm.
Diameter: 13 mm.
Weight (dry): 15.1 g.

This ad from 1920 shows the more common engraving --‘“PILOT” / NAMIKI MFG. CO. / MADE IN JAPAN’-- that would last until 1938.

And this one from 1921 shows the same, and more rare, engraving present on today's pen. This (and some others) ad can also be seen on Yoshiharu's blog.

Its manufacturing date would be around 1920.

Pilot Short pen– Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shibuya, March 24th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

20 March 2013


Only a few of the pen companies that ever existed made it through the years to gain some name and to be known today. And those pens are relatively easy to document, although some particular model or some secondary brand might pose some problems. Things, then, become a lot more difficult for all those minor companies that do not show up in any book or website.

The following pen is an interesting example. It is a rare piston filler with a semi-flexible gold nib. The barrel is engraved with a very simple inscription: “EMPRESS / MADE IN JAPAN”. Its structure reminds of classical German pens—a black torpedo, a piston, and a semi-flex nib. Very few Japanese pens, actually, have used this filling system despite the popularity of German pens—the Platinum pens for the 70th anniversary of the company (1989), the two Sailor Realo models (2006 and 2009), and the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (2010).

The nib is signed as Warranted, plus an “H” at the base of it. Indeed, not enough to identify the pen.

But this pen also carries an aftermarket engraving on the barrel— 三周年記念大東産業, 3rd Anniversary of Daito Industries. And this company was founded in 1978 in Togane, Chiba, and is still active today. Therefore, this pen was in the market in the early 1980s.

The dating inscription.

I should admit that upon seeing this pen I thought it was older.

These are the dimensions on the pen:
  • Length closed: 126 mm
  • Length open: 110 mm
  • Length posted: 141 mm
  • Diameter: 13 mm
  • Weight (dry): 19.4 g
  • Ink capacity: 1.0 ml

Pilot Short – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Machida, March 19th, 2013
etiquetas: Empress

17 March 2013

Pelikan in Japan (II)

On a recent text, I pointed out the popularity of Pelikan pens among Japanese stylophiles. Therefore, it was no surprise to see all those brand-new Pelikan M800 in tortoise shell finish at the last meeting of the Wagner group in Tokyo. However, the truly interesting detail was that some of them were also carrying the 1987 version. And this allowed for a direct comparison of these two pens.

The new Pelikan is on top (top right on the third picture) and the 1987 version on bottom. The stripes are straight and darker on the new model and wavy and brighter on the old. The golden circle on the knob belongs to the 1987 model.

They are far from identical. From the celluloid patterns to the decoration on cap jewel and piston knob, the differences are very clear.

My thanks to Kugel 149.

Montblanc 144 – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, March 17th, 2013
etiquetas: evento, Pelikan

14 March 2013

Matching (XIII)

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…

This Platinum pen is, in essence, a copy of the well-known and highly valued Waterman’s Hundred Year pen from 1939. The Platinum is, as well, a lever filler. Its nib, however, is a “10-years” nib made of stainless steel.

This is not the first example of a copy cat made by Platinum seen on these Chronicles. Another “10-years” pen was a knock-off of the Parker 51, and by the 1940s, Platinum manufactured a copy of the Skyline model by Wahl-Eversharp. This trend, of this learning process, ended up in the late 1950s, although some might say that it was revived with the current model 3776, so close to the Montblanc balance pen.

The "10-Years" nib made of stainless steel.
The incription reads as follows:
"PLATINUM / 10 YEARS / S*N Platinum logo / IRIDIUM / JIS logo / -< 5 >- / P-A".

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Pilot Vpen – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Chuo (Tokyo), March 3rd, 2013
etiquetas: Parker, Platinum, Waterman, Wahl-Eversharp, Montblanc

11 March 2013

Pelikan in Japan (I)

The star of the season, fountain pen wise, is undoubtedly the newly released Pelikan M800 with tortoise shell finish.

As we know, there is a precedent to this pen—the elusive M800 tortoise-shell released in 1987 in a very limited number of pens. The official story, by Pelikan in the voice of the official archivist Jürgen Dittmer, speaks of this pen as commissioned by some Spanish retailers. Some rumours even mentioned some shop by the name of “galeria”, that could very well be the now defunct department store Galerías Preciados. However, nobody in Spain seems to know anything about this story, and nobody in Spanish speaking fora acknowledged owning one of these pens.

The 1987 Pelikan M800 in brown tortoise shell.

Other voices speak of this 1987 pen as made especially for the Japanese market. I have no solid argument to favor this idea over the previous one, but given the popularity of Pelikan in Japan, I tend to think of this idea as more plausible. Actually, several of this pens can be seen at stylophile meetings in Tokyo. And there is also a previous example of Pelikan pens made thinking of the Japanese market.

A Pelikan 400NN made by Merz & Krell in the 1970s.

The Pelikan model 400, now named as 400NN, was phased out in 1965, and Pelikan then sold the machinery to produce it. But the demand for that model in Japan made Pelikan to commission its production to the company Merz & Krell. This makes the 400NN M&K relatively common in Japan.

But all those arguments provided no evidence, and the mystery of the 1987 Pelikan M800 in brown tortoise shell remains.

Platinum 3776 (2002 model) – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Machida, March 7th, 2013
etiquetas: Japón, España, Pelikan, Merz and Krell

07 March 2013

Justus Again

NOTE (February 2014): This text has been corrected after fellow blogger KMPN published data on the actual patent of the device to limit the flexibility of the nib.

Well… More advertisment.

Pilot’s last fountain pen is already in the market. Its name is Justus 95 and, as the name pointed out, a re-issue of the model Justus, that pen with an adjustable nib marketed initially in the 1980s.

Or is it? The new pen certainly sports an adjustable nib to fine-tune its flexibility. However, the design of the pen is completely different to the original. This was an original idea of Shigeki Chiba, the man behind the Super line of Pilot pens in the late 1950s and, more important, the Super Ultra 500.

The adjustable nib. This is size-10 nib, in the Pilot way of numbering them.

Chiba Shigeki filed the patent number D260658 in November of 1979, and it was approved two years later, in September of 1981. The key element of the patent was the decorative arrangement of the pen body, although in the drawings accompanying the application we can clearly see the adjustable nib. This feature was also patented by Pilot (invention by Yanagita Shichiki) in 1979. And there is an obvious common goal with the design by Wahl-Eversharp of 1933.

Both Justus, side by side.

The nib in the original Justus, on the front on the picture, is a bit smaller than that of the modern release. The plates to limit the flexibility and the rings on the section to move them are apparently identical.

The modern version, the Justus 95, is, on the contrary, a flat top pen. It is made of black plastic with barleycorn decoration and golden trim. The nib is a size 10 (just like the Custom 742 and the Custom Heritage 912) of limited flexibility. In this regard, it is not different to the original nib—flexible but not excessively so; semi-flex some might say. It comes in three different points—F, FM, and M. The price in Japan is JPY 30000, plus tax. It does not seem to be a limited edition. The number refers to the fact that Pilot (as Namiki Manufacturing Company) was founded 95 years ago--in 1918.

Detail of the clip. The decorative pattern on the body is also visible.

My thanks to Mr. Niikura and Mr. Sunami.

Pilot Short – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, March 6th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado, Wahl-Eversharp

04 March 2013


This is the latest fountain pen marketed by Platinum in Japan. Its name is Platinum Cool, and it is a relatively inexpensive pen –JPY 3000, plus tax— to compete with the Pilot Prera (::1::, and ::2::) and Cocoon, and with the Sailor Lecoule.

The Platinum Cool, as shown on the online catalog of the company.

The Platinum Cool is nothing else than a demonstrator version of the model named Balance (バランス, baransu, in Japanese). Therefore, there are two points available, F and M, for its stainless-steel nib. The pen comes in three different colors. And, needless to say, this is a cartridge-converter pen.

The Platinum Balance, as shown on the online catalog of the company.

The Platinum Cool, as displayed at a shop in Tokyo.

The F nib in a Platinum Cool.

Does this sound like advertisement (see, for instance, these links: ::1::, ::2::, ::3::)? Sometimes I think we, those who write some blog and who participate in pen fora, are naïve and ignorant advertisement tools in the hands of those big companies. Do they count on us for their marketing campaigns without us knowing it?

Pilot Murex – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, March 4th, 2013
etiquetas: Platinum, mercado, metabitácora