29 September 2013

The Good Frankenpen

More often than not, frankenpens are plainly rejected by the pen collector. Once writing is no longer the primary purpose of the pen –and I do wonder what the main purpose of collecting was— the originality of each and every single element of the pen is a very important factor in the actual value of any tool. Some replacements, however, are tolerated when the pen value lies on its rarity, and that non-original, say, nib simply illustrated how the original condition was in the absence of better examples. Some such cases were described on these chronicles: the Double Flow pen and the Capless Kogyosho.

In some distant past, the need to write was more important and fountain pens were not cheap at all. So, a nib replacement was an obvious option to keep the tool working.

Is this argument valid nowadays? Can we exchange the nib –that is often the part we replace— while keeping the value of the pen?

The answer is yes, and in fact the new nib could increase the value of the pen. We know by now that some nibmeisters create wonderful nibs whose value is often higher than that of many a pen.

This is NOT the pen whose nib was replaced. This is only an example of a jumbo pen similar to the Crystal pen actually modified. The pen on the picture is labeled as "New Clip" and had been reviewed previously on these Chronicles.

Here we have an example. The original pen is a jumbo pen whose only identification is the brand “Crystal” engraved on the clip. It is a jumbo pen similar to many others produced in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, and even later. A similar pen –although labeled as New Clip— has been presented here: 8-bun (about 24 mm in diameter) eyedropper with a shut-off valve. On that case, the nib was made of gold-plated steel.

On today’s pen, the nib is totally new—a replacement. It was made and adjusted by nibmeister Kubo Kohei (久保幸平), an old and well respected master still active in Tokyo. His long life –he was born in 1929 and started as apprentice in 1948— has been devoted to pens and nibs in pen companies and brands such as Elliott and, especially, Nobel.

Nibmeister Kubo's nib.

The ebonite feed.

Nibmeister Kubo’s nib is made of 18 K gold and shows a remarkable flexibility. The feed is made of ebonite. The final result is that the nib alone is worth the whole pen, and a lot more expensive. The original jumbo pen had been purchased on an online auction.

These are its dimensions:
  • Length closed: 166 mm
  • Length open: 144 mm
  • Length posted: 206 mm
  • Diameter: 24 mm
  • Weight: about 75 g
  • Ink deposit: about 9 ml

When writing this sample I did not open the shut-off valve enough to provide all the ink needed by the nib when flexing. However, the picture shows the actual line variation this nib could provide.

The happy owner uses this pen as a daily writer. Jumbo pens are indeed comfortable in the hand.

My thanks to Mr. Tsukahara and to Mr. Shimizu.

Frankenpen Twsbi Diamond 530 with Kubo’s NK music nibGary’s red black iron-gall ink

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, September 28th, 2013
etiquetas: plumín, nibmeister Kubo Kohei, Crystal

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