31 January 2015

North Korea (II)

There is more to North Korean pens than copies of the Parker 51

By the 1960s, Japanese companies had long started to design and produce their own original models after the hard post-war years. One of those was the pocket pen. Sailor put that concept to work in 1963 and most Japanese companies soon followed the trend, Platinum among them as early as in 1964. And not only Japanese companies paid attention. Now we know that North Korean pen brand Mangyongdae, from Pyongyang, was also interested in the Japanese developments.

The Mangyongdae pocket pen.

The Korean version –this Mangyongdae, 만경대— follows closely the style of the Platinum pocket pen of the time, mid 1960s. It shows a long, quasi triangular damascene decoration, and a nib geometry very close to those of the Platinum. The filling system, however, is different—a self-filling integrated sac does the job instead of the usual cartridge of the Japanese original. The nib is made of 12 K gold, and carries the name of the brand written in Chosongul characters.

The Mangyongdae's nib is engraved with the gold purity, 12 K, and the brand name in Korean: 만경대. The cap carries an inscription in Cyrillic characters--an aftermarket addition.

This is a sac-based self-filling pen.

Incidentally, this pen is engraved with some inscription in Cyrillic characters. The pen was bought in Bulgaria, and that inscription only shows the economic connections among the countries in the area of influence of the Soviet Union.

That is not the only North Korean pen copying a Platinum pen. The following example clearly shows its Japanese influence—again, a damascene inlaid (zogan in Japanese) following the pattern of some Platinum from the 1960s. And, as in the previous case, a Platinum-type nib made of 12 K gold, engraved with the brand name, Chullima (천리마, also read as Chollima), as was the case of the copies of the Parker 51 made in North Korea.

The Platinum-inspired Chullima.

The Platinum original. Note the nib geometry and the size and shape of the inlaid decoration, laid in reverse. More pictures of this Platinum pen can be seen on the Chronicle Sixties Music.

A 12 K gold nib engraved with the brand name 천리마.

Its filling system departs from the Platinum original cartridge—it is a self-filling bulb filler.

Again, a sac-based self-filling pen.

Every industrial revolution, save the English original, is started by copying. North Korea was no exception, but the industrial power that this country was after the Second World War and during the Korean War (1950-1953) failed as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed. Fountain pens are not of any industrial value nowadays, of course, but they were so in the 1950s and even 1960s, and the fact that there existed a production of these consumer goods in North Korea is an obvious sign of its lost industrial capability.

A family picture of North Korean pens.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Montblanc 3-42G – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 30th, 2015
etiquetas: Corea del Norte, Platinum, Chullima, Mangyongdae

13 January 2015

15 ml Iroshizuku

Iroshizuku inks, by Pilot, have a new presentation. Up to now –up to November of 2014--, the basic presentation is the well-known 50 ml inkwell. In the past, Fall of 2010, there existed an alternative: three 20 ml inkwells for JPY 3000 (plus taxes). Those packs had their colors set and the buyer could not create his personal selection.

The old three-pack presentation--three 20 ml inkwells for JPY 3000, plus tax.

Now, Pilot has gone one step forward: 15 ml inkwells in all 24 colors of the Iroshizuku gamut. Pilor calls the “Iroshizuku Mini”. The price is JPY 700, plus taxes. However, Pilot’s website implies that these inkwells come is sets of three, albeit one could freely choose the colors. At some shops, Pilot adds, only made-up sets might be available. Nonetheless, I have managed to buy just one single of them without even asking for any special treat.

The Yama-guri inkwell hold 20 ml and belongs to the presentation released on September of 2010. The Shin-ryoku inkwell contains 15 ml. Its price is JPY 700, plus tax, although it might not be available individually.

The drawback of this new presentation is, needless to say, the price. The already expensive Iroshizuku ink becomes even more so—from JPY 30/ml to JPY 47/ml in the new presentation (taxes not included).

The question strikes back—quantity or variety?

Athena Basic Line – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 13th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, tinta, mercado

10 January 2015


Je suis Charlie.

I am Charlie. Soy Charlie. わたしはCharlieです。

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 9th 2015
etiquetas: metabitácora

05 January 2015

North Korea (I)

North Korea had already shown up on these Chronicles—at the Pilot’s Pen Station there was an inkwell by the name of GuangMyung made in Pyongyang. That, I said at that time, was only normal as pens and inks were basic writing tools for years. But that left an obvious question open: did North Korea ever made fountain pens?

The answer is yes—there existed a North Korean production of pens.

The first example are some clear copies of one of the most iconic pens of all times—the Parker 51. No surprise on this, as this model has been copied over and over, even today.

Two North Korean copies of the Parker 51.

The black model implements a gold nib. On the cap lip it says "CHULLIMA".

The inscription on the nib reads "천리마 (Chollima) / 12 K".

These North Korean pens are aerometric fillers. One of them implements a steel nib, while the other’s is made of 12 K gold. They seem to have been produced around 1960. They are branded as “Chullima”, albeit the sign on the gold nib –천리마— reads “Chollima”, referring to the mythological horse Chollima, that gave name to the Chollima Movement of economic development in North Korea in 1956.

The red unit is of worse quality.

The nib is not only made of steel, but also shows a poorer construction if compared to the gold unit we saw before. The aerometric system is engraved with a "Made in Korea" sign.

On another Chronicle I will describe other North Korean pens, this time a lot less obvious.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Fit de Bayard 840 – Waterman Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Atami, January 2nd, 2015
labels: Corea del Norte, Parker, Chullima