30 July 2013

Sailor's Shut-Off

The topic of the shut-off valve in Japanese pens has already been covered on these Chronicles (::1::, ::2::). This mechanism has been used for about 100 years in Japanese pens (and in some pretenders) and is known as the “Japanese eyedropper”, even though there exists eyedropper pens in Japan without this system.

Needless to say, there are many examples of this system and some have been reviewed in here. However, few of them are as illustrative as today’s pen.

This is a demonstrator version of a Sailor eyedropper. It was probably made in the early 1950s. The engraving on the barrel, reading "Sailor / fountain pens", is the same as the one seen on a bulb-filler Sailor from 1952. The nib is made of steel and does not show any JIS mark.

The incription on the nib reads as follows: "Super Point / Sailor Logo / Non Corrosion / Pen / -4-".

An interesting feature is this pen is the metallic rod operating the shut-off valve from the tail. Usual concerns about the corrosive effects of ink on metallic part might induce to think that this pen was not for sale and was intended solely as a marketing tool for Sailor’s salesmen. The pen on display does not seem to have ever been inked.

The actual shut-off mechanism, controlled by the rod attached to the tail. In this case, the rod is made of stainless steel.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 131 mm
Length open: 118 mm
Length posted: 162 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight (dry): 17.4 g

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto.

Sailor Profit, Naginata Togi nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 30th 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, soluciones técnicas, Japón

26 July 2013

German Platinum

Despite the title, this is not another chapter of the mysterious story of all those Platinum pens sold in different countries under other brand names—in Greece as Joker, in Spain as Presidente, in South Africa as Hifra. Not now, not the case. This is the story of an unusual Platinum pen.

I have said several times on there Chronicles that Platinum introduced the ink cartridge in Japan in 1956 and fully endorsed the system up to nowadays. Its “Good bye, ink bottle” motto of the time did not become true as Platinum still makes inkwells, but very rare are the Platinum pens not using ink cartridges after those late 1950s. The better known case is the series of pens released on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the company in 1989. Those form a collection of balance-shaped piston fillers made in a number of materials—celluloid, ebonite, wood--, and they seem to be hidden in the hands of collectors or in totally forgotten drawers, as they are rarely seen in the wild.

A piston filler by Platinum. Or maybe not...

There is, though, another piston-filler with the Platinum brand. And let me say that I have chosen the words carefully—this pen carries the Platinum logo but was not made by Platinum. It is, in fact, an OEM pen made by Senator, in Germany, for the Japanese manufacturer. Senator company was born in 1920 as Merz & Krell, and also uses the brand Diplomat for some of its writing products.

The Platinum Regent, uncapped.

This pen model was known as Platinum Regent, following the name of the original German—Senator Regent. Nib and clip are engraved with the Platinum brand logo and name, respectively. The nib is made of stainless steel, gold plated, and is nicely soft, almost a semi-flex.

The nib, made of stainless steel, is engraved with the Platinum logo.

The piston is manned from the tail knob, usually hidden under the blind rear cap.

The knob to operate the piston.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 128 mm
Length open: 119 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight (full): 15.9 g

This “Platinum” piston filler was sold in Japan in the late 1980s.

My thanks to Mr. Shimizu.

Platinum 3776 Century, music nib – Platinum Pigment Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 26th 2013
etiquetas: Platinum, Senator – Merz & Krell – Diplomat

24 July 2013

The Capless (1924)

About forty years before the first Pilot Capless had been released (1963), a small company by the name of Capless Kogyosho released an original pen with the name of “The Capless”. The owner, Shôsuke Hatano, had filed the corresponding patent on the previous year, and started the advertisement campaign claiming it was “The World’s Novel Invention”. The actual marketing of The Capless started in 1924. This was the first time ever in which that name was used.

This pen came in a variety of finishes. The one on display today is silver overlaid over an ebonite core. This was a beautiful and luxurious looking pen. However, in a pen like this, the most interesting aspect of it is lies in the internal mechanics. To release the nib, the user must first open manually a small window to allow the nib in and out of the body. Only then, the nib could be slide off by means of a lateral lever attached to the nib unit.

The pen is clearly labeled with the brand "The Capless". On the picture, the window for the nib, now closed.

The Capless with the nib released. This is a replacement nib.

But the pen also shows some sort of cap, albeit very smoothly coupled to the body. Opening it we have access to nib and feed, and to a guiding bar. Seen like this the pen strongly resembles a regular capped pen and, in fact, preserves the basic structure of such—cap, section and barrel. Only that guiding bar revealed some unusual features.

The Capless, paradoxically, uncapped.

Regarding the filling system, there were few options and the time, by the mid 1920s, and using an eyedropper was the easiest option. So, to ink this pen, the now visible section had to be unscrewed from the barrel, as shown on the picture.

The pen with the section detached from the barrel, ready to be filled with ink.

The pen shown in this Chronicles has a replacement nib. These “The Capless” are very rare pens and we couldd not be very demanding on their condition. Mr. Masamichi Sunami and Mr. Andreas Lambrou reported on this pen in their book Fountain Pens of Japan (ISBN: 978-0-9571723-0-2). Interestingly enough, it is covered in the chapter on Pilot pens.

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto.

Pilot E-300 (1969) – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Yokohama and Machida, July 2013
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Pilot, Capless, Capless Kogyosho

19 July 2013


At the Pilot’s museum of pens Pen Station I found the following ink bottle:

GuangMyung Ink (공명잉크), from Pyongyang (평양).

Obviously Korean, but Hangul is an obscure alphabet to me despite being the most rational of them all. Some questions led to some interesting information: it was made in Pyongyang, North Korea (평양, on the bottom line of the label, on the left side). Its name, 공명잉크, transliterated, is something like GuangMyung Ink(u).

This should come as no surprise as fountain pens were the basic writing tool for many years. A supply of ink was needed in most countries either by importing or by producing it, and it is not hard to imagine Soviet and Chinese made fountain pens in North Korea during the Cold War years. But nothing can I say about the production date of this inkwell.

Platinum Belage – Platinum Pigment Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 7th 2013
etiquetas: Corea del Norte, tinta, GuangMyung

10 July 2013


The Pilot Elite 95s is already on the street in Japan, and in other markets, as fellow blog author KMPN has recently reported. This pen is a remake of a pocket pen, so popular in the 1960s and 1970s in Japan, and implements an inlaid nib made of 14 K gold, available in EF, F, and M points. Two finishes are available—all black with golden accents, and burgundy with silver-colored cap. The latter, thought for the female customer, seems to be a lot more popular than the former. It might be worth to note that the number 95 indicates this pen was released on 95th year in the history of the company. The same applied to the model Justus 95.

The new Elite 95s. Picture taken from the Pilot's press relase on the pen.

But originally the Pilot Elite was a whole family of pens in a number of different styles. So many of them, actually, that it is hard to ignore the impression of Elite being a catchy word that was attached to any pen with a serious and formal look in the sixties and seventies. Or even not that formal!

A small selection of old Pilot Elite.

It is not easy to determine the chronological order in which the following pens appeared in the market. The lot, as well, is far from being an exhaustive and complete catalog of all Elite pen Pilot released.

--The balance model. This is an easy to find pen. More often than not it is a cartridge-converter pen, but some models (1968) were equipped with an accordion sac (bellows) as the filling system Very often, but not always, their nibs were inlaid, and were imprinted with the word “CUSTOM”.

There existed balance-shaped Elite made of silver (1968) with inlaid nibs. These were the precursors of the Art Silvern series of pens still on production nowadays with some minor differences.

Three balance models, but only the two on bottom are labeled as Elite.

--The flat top Elite. Not a usual find. A cartridge-converter. Nail-type nib.

A flat top Elite. Nail-type nib in 18 K gold.

--Elite pocket pens come in many styles. All of them are cartridge-converter.

a. The all-black with golden accents and inlaid nib. Some people call this pen as “Socrates”. Nail-type nibs were also implemented and are easy to find. This pen style –black and gold— in pocket pens was popular among all pen makers in Japan, and some examples (::1::, ::2::) have been covered on these Chronicles.

A black pocket Elite with a 22 K gold nib.

b. The cross-hatched decorative pattern. Inlaid nib made gold, usually rhodiated, although some white gold units might also exist. This pen was also called “Isaac Newton”. Cheaper versions had black plastic barrel and nail-type gold nib. These are late models, made in the late 1980s.

The sought-after cross-hatched Elite, also known as "Isaac Newton". It has an 18 K inlaid nib, rhodiated.

c. Silver pens. As in the previous case, either cap and barrel or just the cap were made of silver. Inlaid and nail-type nibs were available.

An Elite with a silver cap. The nib is made of 18 K gold, nail style.

d. Colorful Elite. Already by the 1969, the first Pilot pocket pen was released in the last trimester of 1968, colorful pocket Elite were marketed as S-KaraKara. Their target were students, and there was nothing formal on them. There even existed a demonstrator version of those. Their nibs were made of gold-plated steel.

As I said in the beginning, this is far from being complete. The drawback is that nobody should be surprised if more styles and shapes and colors were found.

The newly released Pilot Elite 95s costs JPY 10000, plus taxes. Second hand pocket Elite in black can easily be found, in good condition, for less than JPY 5000.

Pilot Capless FC-15SR (1989 model), stub nib by Shimizu Seisakusho – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, July 6th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado

07 July 2013

Pelikan 1600

What single writing tool could produce ALL the lines shown on the following picture?

All the strokes were done with the same writing tool. It was not modified at all during the writing process (barely 20 seconds). The height of the capital P on Pelikan is 16 mm. The width of the underlining stroke, under the word "all", is between 7 and 8 mm.

This is an old topic on these Chronicles—that of nibmeister Yamada’s creations. But the previous picture does show the amazing versatility of the oppose nib scheme devised by nibmeister Yamada, implemented in a Pelikan M800. It also explains and justifies these radical attempts to understand nibs.

The answer to the initial question can be seen on the following pictures. The name Pelikan 1600, as he likes to call it, derives from the use of two Pelikan 800 nibs.

There is, however, another answer to that question: a traditional brush.

More information can be found on the following Chronicles: Innovation (I); Innovation (II); and Innovation (III). Analysis.

My thanks and my admiration go to Mr. Yamada.

Pilot in stainless steel (1968) – Pilot Blue-Black

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 7th 2013
etiquetas: Pelikan, nibmeister Yamada, soluciones técnicas

02 July 2013

Brazilian Pilot

In 1954 Pilot opened a manufacturing plant in Brazil, and some marketing efforts followed. Many an example of the ads of Pilot products on local media were reproduced on Pilot Times, the internal communication magazine of the company.

Ad published on Folha da Manha on March 8th, 1955. It was reported on Pilot Times on its March 1956 issue.

As reported on Pilot Times on May 1956.

Those ads show ink, and Super pens as the primary products for the local market. Some reports speak of some pens made in Brazil (the Super 77 model is mentioned as such by Lambrou and Sunami on their book Fountain Pens of Japan). This was not an exception as Pilot had open manufacturing plants in other countries (India, Burma, and Thailand) in 1953.

As reported on Pilot Times on November 1958.

All in all, these Brazilian ads show that there should exist vintage Pilot pens and memorabilia in flea markets, antique shops and in the hands of local traders in Brazil and neighboring countries. But not many of those seemed to be known.

Platinum pocket pen, Yamada Seisakusho soft nib – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Machida, July 3rd, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, Brasil, India, Birmania, Tailandia