31 October 2014

Swan's Big Red

Japanese Swan pens –those made by Nobuo Ito— are already known on these Chronicles. This company based its success in Japan on coping the Mabie Todd’s Swan catalog for the domestic market. Well, Nobuo Ito also had the support of Japanese courts of Justice. The domestic success was big, and the Japanese Swan became the biggest pen company in Japan around 1915.

But despite this success and the presumably large number of Swan pens produced, they are not common finds in the market. So, any find, especially if in good condition, is of interest.

This Swan pen is a copycat of the well known Parker Duofold Big Red from the 1920s. but this a Japanese pen, as the filling system shows—this is an eyedropper pen with a shut-off valve operated from the tail. The pen is labeled on the barrel as “SWAN PEN / MY PRESENT”, together with the company logo, all too similar to that of the Anglo-American company.

The pen is made of ebonite. The nib, of 14 K gold. The production date is about 1930. These are its dimensions:
  • Length closed: 132 mm
  • Length open: 126 mm
  • Length posted: 170 mm
  • Diameter: 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 28.4 g (dry)

The imprint on the nib reads "SWAN / IDEAL / PEN / 14 K".

"SWAN PEN / MY PRESENT". My present?

It is interesting to note that this pen has no indication about having been made in Japan, contrary to some other examples of this brand. Nonetheless, the filling system does show, as mentioned before, this as a Japanese fountain pen.

My thanks to Mr. Furuya.

Waterman Crusader – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 30th 2014
etiquetas: Swan Japan, Parker, Mabie Todd Swan

29 October 2014


Nowadays, Japanese pen companies are probably those offering the widest selection of nib points in their catalogs. Aside of the specialty nibs by Sailor –custom made and not always readily available—, the most brilliant case is Pilot. For size 10 nibs, Pilot offers up to 15 different points. And yet, there are no oblique nibs among them. In fact, oblique nibs are a rarity in Japanese pens, but that does not mean there had not been any.

Here I am showing an example—a Pilot Custom 67 implementing an oblique broad nib.

A full collection of Pilot Custom 67. All the colors, all the nibs.

The Custom 67 with OB nib.

As was explained before on these Chronicles, the 65th anniversary of Pilot was commemorated with the release of the first balance model in modern times. It followed the style of some pre-war Pilots, and was named the Custom 65. This was a limited edition, but was soon followed –in 1985— by the non-limited Custom 67.

On this case, the nib is marked with its size, 5. That was not the case of the music nib previously presented. This nib was manufactured on August of 1992 at the Hiratsuka plant.

The feed, as was the case on the music nib, does not implement the internal core that can be seen on current models.

Nib-wise, this model came with a wide variety of nibs—up to nine of them, as can be seen on the first picture of this Chronicle. Among them, the music nib preciously described, and an oblique broad. Put to work, this OB nib is more of a medium or fine medium than a broad.

Written sample of the OB nib (save the text in violet).

The remaining characteristics of this pen were already described: it is a cartridge-converter pen with a 14 K gold nib, screw in cap, made of plastic.

My thanks to Mr. Fukuyo.

Platinum pocket pen, music nib – Nakajima Sumire-iro

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 28th 2014
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín

23 October 2014

Madrid Pen Show 2014

November is the month of the Madrid Pen Show. This year, it reaches its 11th edition and has become one of the greatest pen events in Europe. Indeed a remarkable feat given the lack of manufacturing tradition (of pens, that is) in this city, and the mostly domestic-market-oriented pen industry in Spain in general.

The Madrid Pen Show will be celebrated during three days –from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th— in November at the hotel NH Eurobuilding. The admission fee is EUR 3 per day or EUR 5 for the whole show. Free invitations are available courtesy of the sponsor IguanaSell: visit their shop in Madrid or asked for those via the submission form.

So far there are 68 traders who have confirmed their assistance. They come mostly from Europe, but there are usually traders from the US as well. Some of them are well known in the pen scene in general, and active participants in the pen-show world tour (not that it officially exists as such, but sure there are pen shows every weekend somewhere in Europe or America).

If you happen to attend this pen show feel free to say hello.

Pilot Jumbo size 50 maki-e – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 22nd 2014
etiquetas: Madrid, España, evento

11 October 2014

A Word of Thanks

I owe an explanation and a word of thanks to the readers of these texts and, more in particular, to those who took the effort to comment on my text entitled “Question”.

These are the reasons that triggered that text: I was going to be away from home and I wanted some Chronicles ready to be published easily. Then, it also happened that that “Question” text was my 400th Chronicle and the self-reflection on this effort was –still is— unavoidable. Finally, I discovered myself browsing over some blogs, including my own, without really reading any text in depth.

Therefore, once again, are these texts appreciated?

Thanks to those commenting I see now I have some actual readers, and I feel relieved. But the question was relevant—there are a number of people in the cyberspace trying to provide some relevant information on –re our context— fountain pens. And yet, too often, it is hard to avoid the feeling that no real impact they make. The information is out there, but many ignore it and do not make any effort to look for it. The impression –might be wrong, of course— is that little improvement is achieved on the general pen literacy. And then, the same questions arise once and again in fora and similar spaces. Never before information was more widespread and easy to find, but few seem ready to make the effort of finding it.

And if so, why bother writing anything?

Your comments meant a lot. This blog receives very few comments and therefore they are most valued.


Platinum pocket pen, music nib – B-Stock-Nakajima Sumire (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 13rd 2014
etiquetas: metabitácora, fora

06 October 2014


It is well know that post-war years in Japan were very difficult. In the pen business that was reflected with a proliferation of pen operations--over 2500 family business, Masamichi Sunami says on Fountain Pens of Japan (2012), written in collaboration with A. Lambrou. This came to an end when in 1952 the Ministry of Industry implemented the JIS mark policy in pen nibs. It was not mandatory for companies to adopt it, but within the first year, 38 of them registered before the ministry, thus rendering as second class or of dubious quality those that did not register.

A collection of Pilot R pens from different times. On this picture, all of them are made of celluloid, but there are R models made of ebonite.

Pilot’s model of the time was the 53R. In actual terms, it was an evolution of the R model from 1938. But on the newer models, gold nibs were implemented soon after the end of the embargo in the use of this noble metal. Some luxury units had gold plated and even, according to Sunami, solid gold caps. There also exist some maki-e decorated units.

A Pilot 53R-T. A lever-filler with a 14 K gold nib.

Re filling systems, older R models were mostly eyedroppers (with shut-off valve) and lever fillers. However, in 1938, the nomikomi-shiki was also released on some R models, but this system does not seem to be very common. Later on, other systems as the pulsated piston (A-shiki) were added. The 53R were mostly, if not all, lever fillers (the 53R-T, where T stands for teko, lever), and eyedroppers. This model was, in fact, the last eyedropper made by Pilot until the recreation of the old jumbo pens carried out in 1985.

Another 53R-T. This time with a steel nib marked with the JIS logo.

The steel nib of the previous Pilot 53R-T.

The model that put the R to rest was the Super series from 1955 (a general overview of these years in the history of Pilot pens can be seen on the text entitled "Pilot. Super Ultra 500". Please, note it was written in Spanish). These implemented sac-based filling systems (aerometric, hose-system, bellow-type sac) and, already in the 1960s, ink cartridges. An approximated chronology of this evolution is exposed on the Chronicle "Pilot Filling Systems in the 1960s".

Pilot 53R models are not hard to find, probably indicating that a large number of them were made. However, their condition is very variable.

Pilot black pocket pen 1970, Elite – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 3rd, 2014
etiquetas: Pilot

01 October 2014

Matching (XVI). Kilot

Like any other successful company, Pilot is bound to be copied and competitors and wannabes. But, when did that started? Well, I cannot give a clear answer, but I will show a very obvious example of these practices in the Japanese market.

Nowadays, the market is quite unified and copies, imitations and counterfeits take their models out of the World market. This was often the case, as anyone knowing pens like the Inoxcrom 55 could easily check. However, not so long ago, there also existed copies based on the domestic market. Domestic competition, in fact, created its own rules and its own local idols. Pilot was a successful company very early on and consequently had to deal with a number of not-so-loyal competitors and counterfeits within Japan.

The following pens are a very interesting example. The brand name, Kilot, says it all. Under that name a number of models were produced, and as it could hardly be otherwise, they mimic Pilot models. Some of them even sport the well known “kikuza” clip, so common on Pilot pens.

Three Kilot pens from, most likely, the 1950s.

Among the three examples displayed on the pictures, two correspond to copies of the model 53, while the third one mimics some of the Super models (from 1955 on).

The nibs of two of the Kilot pens. On the nib closer to the camera the Kilot logo is visible, and shows a remarkable similarity with that of Pilot at the time. Note the L underlining the O.

Pilot nib with the logo of the company during the 1950s. Again, note the L underlining the O.

The filling systems of these Kilot pens are invariably aerometric, a system a lot easier to implement than those usually employed by Pilot at the time—lever filler (T-shiki), eye-dropper with safety valve (inkidome-shiki), and hose-system.

A Kilot copy of the Pilot 53 model.

This Kilot pen clearly resembles a Pilot Super model. This aerometric system could be seen on smaller Super pens (Super 80A, for instance) made by Pilot.

Not much is known about this brand. On another Chronicle I will describe more in detail one of these Kilots.

Super T Gester 40 – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 16th 2014
etiquetas: Kilot, Pilot, mercado