22 August 2013

Custom Grandee, Music Nib (1978)

What are the key characteristics of Japanese fountain pens in the 1980s? On the previous decade, we had seen the glorification of the pocket pen invented in the 1960s and the birth of some model that became iconic after the years: Pilot’s Myu. With regard to filling systems, everything had turned to easy, clean and inexpensive cartridges and converters, save for the very few exceptions still using the old Japanese eyedropper system.

Platinum launched the initial 3776 model, designed by Haruo Umeda, in 1978. Sailor was already using 21 K gold on nail-shaped nibs that would last for many a decade longer. And Pilot was in the transition between the old nail-shaped nibs and new geometries, while keeping the inlaid nibs of some Elite and Custom pens. And then, the new Custom and the Custom Grandee models became the workhorses of the company in 1978. This later model was exported to some markets overseas.

A Pilot ad from 1978 showing the Custom Grandee together with the Murex.

Another advertisement of the Custom Grandee (1978). It shows the seven available nib points. Picture taken from Lambrou and Sunami's Fountain Pens of Japan (2012. ISBN: 978-0-9571230-0).

The Custom Grandee line of pens was composed by seven different nib points, including a three-tine music nib. And this is the example on display today. This pen was a cartridge-converter pen, equipped with a 14 K gold nib, a snap-on cap, and a flat-top shape. The original price was JPY 7000.

This three-tine nib is slightly –but clearly— flexible and has quite sharp edges, thus becoming almost a cursive pen. It provides a remarkable line variation.

Written sample done with the pen on review, and an iron-gall ink made by Gary.

The very flat point of this three-tine nib.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 137 mm
Length open: 122 mm
Length posted: 150 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 19 g (with inked CON-50 converter)
Ink deposit: 0.9 ml (cartridge), 0.8 ml (CON-20), 0.6-0.7 ml (CON-50)

The nib is simply decorated. Note the chipped ring on the section.

This model has a weak point. The ring on the section is metal plated, but the quality of the plating is very poor and easily chips off. It is in fact very difficult to find a unit with this ring in good condition. The music nib, though, is well-worth this cosmetic inconvenient. Later music nibs, like those in the current models Custom 74 and Custom 742, are a lot rounder on their edges and do not offer the line variation of this Custom Grandee.

The nib of this unit is dated as having been made at Hiratsuka factory (Kanagawa prefecture) on November 1982.

Platinum Century, music nib – Platinum Pigment Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, August 12th 2013
labels: Pilot, plumín, plumín musical


Bana Sıkça Yaz said...


I am in love with music nibs. I think I will get Platinum.

Unknown said...

I do not see a Pilot Deluxe in your collection. Weren't the Grandee and Deluxe contemporaries?

Bruno Taut said...

There are many pens I do not have. I am not sure which model is that Deluxe you mention. I look forward to knowing more.



Unknown said...

It is mentioned on the 1984 and 1977 Pilot Catalogues on kamisama. It came in a variety of finishes, including wood and urushi coated ones. I am not sure what nibs were available on it. The nib is, I believe, the same ones used on the Pilot Deluxe Urushi pens in production even today.
By the way, thank you for all the information on Japanese pens you have put up here!

Bruno Taut said...

The Grandee appears on some documents around 1980. Therefore they should be contemporaries.

Thanks for passing by and commenting. Hope you choose a better name next time!


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