22 October 2013

Context and Research

On these Chronicles I have extensively spoken about the Capless family of pens by Pilot. So much, in fact, that I ended up creating its own label to access all those texts easily. Some might say that this follows from a deep appreciation of these pens, but the actual reason is a lot more mundane—it is easy to speak about them because it is easy to provide a context for them as a whole, and for each of the models. And that makes a huge difference with respect to many other pens.

This picture alone provides most of the context we need to analyze any Capless model.

That is, in fact, a major advantage of the big three pen companies on this blog. Their history is relatively well known and available. What can we say, in contrast, about pen brands as Opal, North Star, Ramie, Tokyo, Asahi Tsubasa…? And this problem feeds back—known brands become better known while minor companies fall into oblivion.

Is there a way to revert the situation? The point is not about forgetting all we know about Pilot, Platinum and Sailor, but about how to increase our knowledge on all those minor brands that played some role, even if small, in the history of these tools. And there is only one way—research.

Then we encounter a discouraging situation. First is how reduced this world of fountain pens is. And most of the money in it is associated to new pens, on which some obvious companies have a clear interest. Their investment, needless to say, favors their own products.

Then we have the community of stylophiles—that is, collectors who are seldom satisfied with one single pen and who buy a number of pens just for the sake of owning them (even if under the excuse of thinking of themselves as users). But this community, even if very active and noisy, is small and divided. And little research they do other than satisfying their own curiosity. Some even publish their findings.

A third actor in this scenario are vintage pen traders. They might be very interested in adding value, that of the actual knowledge, on those unknown pens they need to sell. And in fact some traders do that and even publish their knowledge. But not much investment is done on this activity.

Two books with the same title: Fountain Pens of the World. By Nakazono and by Lambrou.

And now and then, some visionary entrepreneur thinks that publishing a book on pens might be a good idea. And they even publish it… Whether they make any money is yet to be seen.

And that is all we have. Those initiatives, mostly personal, might be fragmentary, and might be of good or of bad quality; but that is all we have. And the conclusion is that it is up to us, stylophiles, to improve this situation.

Sailor pocket pen, 18 K gold nib – Daiso red cartridge

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, October 2013
etiquetas: metabitácora, mercado, estilofilia, Capless

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