26 April 2014

Capless Speciation

Up to the Capless model of 1971, the decision of whether two Capless pens were different models or just variations on one single model was relatively easy: each Capless model had its own type of nib unit. And even though there existed variations, most types of nib units –check, for instance, all the variations in models from 1964, nib type II, and 1965, type III--, all of them were compatible and interchangeable (albeit with some occasional problems, as was pointed out on these Chronicles).

Capless nib units from several models--the key to separate models from variations?

This characteristic changed with the 1973 model (CN-400BS). From 1973 on, all nib units are compatible. One could, in fact, use 1973-nib units on current (model of 1998) Capless models including those called Fermo (2006) and Décimo (2005). And the other way around—current nib units could be implemented on old Capless from 1973.

Model of 1998 on top, and of 1973 on bottom. Their nibs are not identical, but can be use in any of the empty boxes.

This new feature has several effects. The most obvious is the convenience of use—the user has now a large number of pen bodies in which to install that nib unit of choice, that favorite writer.

But traders can also take benefit of this to create perfect-looking but anachronic combinations, like a 1981 model (FCN-500R) with a nib manufactured, say, in 2010. This, we know, might be all right for many users and totally unacceptable for many a collector.

From top to bottom, Fermo (2006), Décimo (2005) and Capless (1998).

Finally, this compatibility among these nib units (the type VIII) makes it more difficult to decide whether that new Capless is a new species or just a cosmetic variation of a known model. Case in point: are the current Capless , the Décimo, and the Fermo different models or mere variations on the modern concept of capless pens according to Pilot? This is a sterile discussion, of course; one with no end or conclusion. Both answers have their merits, but for the taxonomical purpose, some decision must be adopted.

Décimo (on the front) versus the faceted model from 1981 (on the back). Different models or just variations?

My decision is to consider the variations in shape and structure in Capless pens after 1973 as different models. And my final argument is purely utilitarian: the description of each model will be easier.

Back to the "Pilot Capless - 50 years" page.

Sailor Pro Gear Senior – Daiso Black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, April 16th 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless

23 April 2014

Nibs and Pens

“Chase the nib, not the pen”, the wise pen user says. And the reason is clear—the nib provides most of the writing character of the pen.

But in the pen world we often see how the same nib is implemented in many different models. But, are they so different? Aren’t they the same pen under different costumes?

Last week I spoke of the Pilot Elite family of pens –as shown at an exhibition—and published a picture of pocket Elite pens with inlaid nibs. Today I add another picture of similar nibs as implemented on other pens by the name of Custom.

Three Pilot Custom from 1970s.

The nibs of the Custom pens of the previous picture together with those of some Elite. Any differences?

Same nib, different body styles—different pens?

This is a general policy among pen makers, as we have already seen on these Chronicles (see, for instance, the case of Nakaya/Platinum). Then, is it worth to go for those pens with a higher, even much higher, price tags when the nibs are exactly the same?

The otaku and the user would respond in different ways.

Pilot Custom 74, music nib – Gary’s Red-black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 22nd, 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, estilofilia, mercado

16 April 2014

Pens at an Exhibition

I have already mentioned the news, already old by now, of the release of the Pilot Elite 95s, a pocket pen, to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the company. And I also published my reflections on these policies to increase sales: against the Elite 95s, the original Elite from the 1970s…

Of course, Pilot might not be happy with that idea, but this company seems indeed aware of the interest –and of the market—of second hand and vintage pens. Its museum, the Pen Station, is a clear example. And now, during these days, and up to May 31st (2014), there is an exhibition on the Pilot Elite model at the Pen Station.

Assorted Elite pens including the modern reissue from 2013.

Information adds value, and this exhibition might do that not only to those pens from the 1960s and 1970s, but also to the current reissue. And this might be the main argument behind this nice operation of public relations.

Exotic nibs in the Elite gamut of pens (ca. 1970). The exhibition includes some memorabilia.

Sometimes modern marketing has some interesting side effects.

Pilot Jumbo pen (size 50) – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 14th, 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Tokyo

03 April 2014

Pilot Capless - 1971 - C-400BS and C-400SS


Apparently, the 1968 model (C-250SS) was short lived, but that does not mean that there were no Capless pens in the market. In fact, the 1964 model saw a variation in 1969 in the form of a B nib in combination with the old pen style (code C-300GW-B).

In June of 1971 Pilot, created a new “push button” capless pen. This model follows the looks of other pens of the time and uses steel extensively.

The two Caples in the center of the image are, from left to right, the C-400BS and the C-400SS.


Codes. C-400BS and C-400SS. This model is made of stainless steel and plastic. There two codes correspond to models with black stripes (suffix BS), and with non-colored stripes (SS).
Original_price. C-400BS and C-400SS: JPY 4000
Production_years. 1971-1973(?)
Nib_unit. Type VI. Gold 14 K.
Filling_system Single spare cartridge. CON-20 and CON-50 can be used.
Opening_system. “Knock system” (push button). This is the first push-button model with just one position on it. Pressing the button to the one and only position both releases and hides the nib.

Pilot C-400BS. June of 1971.


C-400BS & C-400SS
Length closed 139.5 mm
Length open 147 mm
Diameter 12.0 mm
Weight 19.0 g

Nib unit:

Type VI. In 14 K gold. This nib uses single spare cartridges and converters CON-20 and CON-50.

The type VI nib unit. The metal sheath on the back hides the single spare ink cartridge. To use a converter, either CON-20 or CON-50, the sheath has to be removed.

The nose.

Additional information:

On these models, bodies are engraved with the production place and date on the black plastic area. Nibs's dating codes are not visible.

Back to the "Pilot Capless - 50 years" page.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless