28 August 2013


Long time ago I spoke about the gold fever in the pen industry. The basic idea of the text was that the use of gold in nibs was justified by its good resistance to corrosion by the ink, but higher gold purity is not better. Very high gold purity, in fact, results into plastic (as opposed to elastic) deformation of the nib.

However, a number of pen manufacturers over the years have made nibs with high gold content, probably pushing the idea of jewels with a nib over that of a useful pen…

Sailor was one of those companies. In fact, the big three Japanese manufacturers competed in that area of the market in the early 1970s. In that competition Sailor made nibs of 23 K gold that are, nowadays, relatively common in the second hand market. Higher gold purity were also used by Sailor, up to 23.99 K, but they are hard to find.

A green pocket pen by Sailor.

Originally, it cost JPY 6000. This one implements a fine (細) nib.

The more-common 23 K gold nibs are mostly found in pocket pens, like the one on show today, although they were also implemented in other models, including some with maki-e decoration.

These pens were upscale models with a number of luxurious features:
-- The nib is larger than usual. Other Sailor pocket pens implemented basically the same nib, but smaller in size and poorer in gold content.

On top, the pocket pen with the 23 K gold nib. Its diameter is 14 mm, and it weight, dry, 18 g. On bottom, a much more common unit with a 21 k gold nib. Its girth is 11 mm, and its weight, 11 g. Note the absence of decoration on the section in the later.

-- This bigger nib makes the whole pen thicker in diameter and more substantial on the hand.
-- Finally, the decorative damascene on the section was reserved for more luxurious models.

As is often the case with Sailor pocket pens, this model can only be inked with Sailor-proprietary cartridges. In this model, not even modified converters could be used.

This pen can only be inked with Sailor cartridges.

The original price, as can be seen on the sticker, was JPY 6000. That was around 1973. These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 118 mm
Length open: 103 mm
Length posted: 149 mm
Diameter: 14 mm
Weight: 18.0 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 1.2 ml (cartridge)

The battle over gold content of nibs ended up by mid 1970s, but during those years a number of makers marketed pens with 22 and 23 K gold nibs. I will cover some of those on future Chronicles.

Pelikan 400NN (Merz & Krell) – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Chuo (Tokyo), August 27th, 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, Japón, mercado

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Sailor pocket pens from this period do support a converter, however the shape and size are not the same as modern converters. Engeika used to sell a custom converter that would fit but do not appear to anymore.

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