31 May 2015


Facts are stubborn, and sometimes there is no option but changing our models.

The assumed knowledge was simple—by May of 1939, the Japanese government banned gold from all domestic industries. And this prohibition was only lifted in 1949 for export goods and in 1954 for the domestic market.

But then reality –like the fossil record— hit hard.

A distant friend showed the following pen in a forum:

Everything on this pen screams 1938.

Especially, the gold nib.

It is a well known model—a Pilot RT from 1938 made in celluloid. The T stands for teko, lever (filler).

Inside, an impressive size-6 nib made of 14 K gold.

A size 6 nib in 14 K gold.

And underneath, the manufacturing date: 1.42—January of 1942.

The manufacturing date of the nib is engraved on the lower area of the nib: 1.42.

This simple piece of information pushes us into changing that assumed knowledge about golden nibs in Japan. Some sources close to Pilot company explain that this nib was made for export, and it is very rare. They also suggest it might be a replacement nib, as the R models usually implemented smaller units. However, this should be taken with a grain of salt—it is difficult to install a big nib on a small pen, and there were not that many models available at the time.

The conclusion, though, is a more basic and more general one: there were gold nibs in Japan in the 1940s. Probably very few, but some.

My thanks to Mr. Niikura, Mr. Sunami, and Mr. Zúñiga.

Pilot Custom 823, WA nib – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 30th, 2015
etiquetas: Japón, Pilot

27 May 2015

Sailor Profit Slim Mini

Sometimes it is hard to understand some marketing strategies. This is one of them.

In June-July 2014, Sailor marketed a new pen model and few people noticed it. This was done through a limited edition of just 120 units distributed only in the West area of Tokyo through some Sailor Friendly shops. And there is hardly any record of those pens in Sailor!

Assorted Sailor Profit Slim Mini.

The new model was called Profit Slim Mini. It was made in six colors, plus two possible finish—chrome (silver) and golden. Two types of nibs can be seen on the pics of this Chronicle—regular hard nibs in 14 K gold and Naginata Togi units in 21 K gold. However fude nibs might have also been available. All of them were of the “medium size” in the Sailor’s way of naming its nibs.

Two of the color possibilities of the Profit Slim Mini. All caps come with a strap hole and the corresponding strap.

Two Naginata Togi and a regular hard (H) nib. Fude nibs might have also been available.

The small size of the pen does not allow for the use of converters, as was the case of some Sailor models in the past—the Mini Slim (Sapporo Mini in some markets), with which the Profit Slim Mini shares the threads on the tail for a very secure posting.

The cap is screwed on the pen body.

The prices of these Profit Slim Mini were not cheap—JPY 18000 for those with regular nibs (14 K), and JPY 26000 for those with Naginata Togi units (21 K). I do not know the prices of the Profit Mini Slim with fude nibs. In contrast, other Sailor pens with 14 K god nibs cost JPY 12000, and those with Naginata nibs cost JPY 25000, but are made in the big size. (All prices quoted without taxes).

These are the dimensions of this Profit Slim Mini:

Length closed: 115 mm
Length open: 97 mm
Length posted: 140 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight (dry, no cartridge): 16 g

A colorful pen. Only 120 units were made.

Was this pen a market test, a special order from some Sailor Friendly shops, a random experiment? This text might attract some interest for these pens, although there seem to be no available units left. But this quasi-secret limited edition is a very strange marketing strategy.

Parker 51, aerometric – Sailor Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 26th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor, mercado

20 May 2015

The Two Super Ultra 500

The assumed knowledge –to which I mindlessly contributed (::1::, ::2::, ::3::)— was that there were two versions of the Pilot Super Ultra 500 (or Ultra Super 500): the original pen made in 1958-59 and the cartridge-converter replica (the Pilot Ultra) in 1995. And it went even further: the original pen was so expensive to produce that it had a short history. Well, we might need to add some pinches of salt to all that information.

In fact, there are TWO versions of the original pen, not counting the decorative variations such as the well-known model with gold filled cap. The first of them is THE original model made in 1958-59. After that, a second batch was in production between 1963 and 1964. And there are some subtle differences between them.

The same pen, but not so much the same...

The original pen is slightly longer –just 3 mm longer--, does not carry any inscription on the cap ring, and is not dated on the barrel. In fact, we already know that those codes were implemented in 1960.

The caps have the same dimensions, but differ on the cap ring, and on the depth of the engraving on the clip. That on the 1958 pen is deeper.

The second edition pen has an additional engraving on the cap lip: PILOTR14K.

The second edition, on the contrary, does carry those dating codes starting either with a D, 1963, or an E, 1964, and has some inscription on the wider cap ring: PILOTR14K. The engravings on the nib and on the clip of this second model seem to be shallower than on the 1958 pen.

The engraving on the nibs have different depths, which is hard to notice if both pens were not side by side. And on the example of the picture, the differences are very minor. Closer to the camera is the 1963 edition.

The differences in the length of the pens lie solely on the length of the barrels. The filling systems are the same hose-filling system so dear to Pilot in the 1950s and 1960s.

Both editions implement the same filling system—the quarter-switch or hose system.

.1958 edition.

.1963 edition.
Length closed (mm) 141 138
Length open (mm) 125 122
Length posted (mm) 151 144
Diameter (mm) 12 12
Weight, dry (g) 18.0 16.5
The table shows the dimensions of both pens.

All in all, these differences are minimal, but they are enough to show that the original model was a success and that it might have not been a big economic burden for Pilot. They also show the importance of small details when trying to date a pen. This stylographic archaeology is mostly irrelevant to the whole picture, but it is of great interest to the collector looking for that precise pen with no mixture of elements from here and there.

Yes, this is an otaku thing. But these differences might as well trigger some price differences between these two editions of essentially the same pen.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Sailor Young Profit, music nib – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 4th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot

14 May 2015

Information Providers

This story is already old and well known, and many a commentator and stylophile have voiced their opinions and views. But I am slow and had to take some time.

Some months ago the very active website FPGeeks went blank and, in fact, it has not showed any activity since then. The team formed by Eric Schneider and Dan Smith seems to be broken beyond repair. And later on we learned that Dan Smith had joined the company Kenro Industries, distributor of Aurora, Omas, Montegrappa, Tibaldi, in the US, as Director of Social Media.

The devil is often hidden in the details, but in essence this issue seems to be yet another example of conflict between money and freedom. Or, in other words, how much does information cost?

The Internet is full of free information. Not always reliable, but certainly free. Blogs and fora and a number of websites cost nothing to the reader (save, that is, for the internet service to be paid to the provider), and we all have become too comfortable with this fact. But all of those sites rely on the work and time and resources of a number of people.

How sustainable is this system? So far, it seems to be doing very well. And the main reason might be a simple one—there is enough number of information providers, of people, willing to share their resources. Consequently, the total load of work per capita is acceptable. And when someone could not cope with that load, another aficionado will promptly fill the void.

The information thus offered could be considered free of economic bias. There are no obvious economic incentives and authors would, in principle, feel free to express any opinion, positive and negative, on products and services.

The problem arises when the information providers look for some compensation for their dedication and resources. Some websites have advertisements, some blog authors ask for donations, some fora restrict what could be said on them to avoid annoying some actual or potential sponsors (::1::, ::2::)…

How does all this money affect the ecosystem of information in the Net? Economic incentives often, if not always, introduce bias in the expressed opinions. An obvious example, and not an extreme case, is that of Dan Smith—working for Kenro Industries, he will hardly say anything negative about the pens this company distributes. He is still an information provider, but a biased one.

It is not easy to draw a line between what is an acceptable incentive and what becomes a source of unacceptable bias. It is, in fact, a lot worse—those lines are personal. And, probably, differences in opinion about that line caused the break up of the Dan and Eric team and the present disappearance of the FPGeeks site.

Platinum 3776 (1984) – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 4th, 2015
etiquetas: metabitácora, fora

10 May 2015

Fountain Pens of the World Festival (III)

The third leg of these texts on the Festival “Fountain Pens of the World” organized by Mitsukoshi department store are the limited releases made for the occasion, and for the 100th anniversary of the company.

The brown version of the Custom 742.

Pilot offered two versions of the well-known Custom 742 model. The varuiations oer the regular model laid on the body colors, red and brown, and on the nib. The regular size-10 nibs were now made of 18 K gold —just like those of the Namiki Yukari or the new Chinkin Series--, and showed a special engraving referring to Mitsukoshi’s symbol, a lion. 50 units of each color were made.

The nib of the Custom 742 is made of 18 K gold.

Sailor, on its side, offered a red ink by the name of “101 st”, and three pens—a Professional Gear in green (60 units), a black Profit (1911 in some markets, 50 units), and a maki-e decorated Profit (10 units) equipped with a Naginata Togi nib. The engraving of the black Profit nib was also special for the event.

Sailor's products for the occasion.

Detail of the maki-e pen by Sailor. Its name is "Lion and Bridge"--Mitsukoshi at Nihonbashi.

Detail of nib of the limited edition Sailor Profit. Again, a lion.

Finally, Platinum also offered a 3776 Century with a special decoration involving, of course, a lion. 100 units were released. I did not have the chance to see this pen and the picture is taken from the leaflet of the whole event.

Platinum's 3776 Century made for the Mitsukoshi's event. Picture taken from Mitsukoshi's leaflet of the event.

These limited edition pens attract the eye of the collector willing to pay premium for an unusual unit. These pens create an incentive for him –very often well aware of the market news and releases—to attend an event that otherwise would be all too predictable. Again, the outreach plan works even for the aficionado.

No wonder the pen scene in Japan was so active nowadays.

Romillo Essential Black – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 24th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor, Platinum, Pilot, mercado, evento

08 May 2015

Short Lived

News in the Madrid pen scene. The brick and mortar shop Miestilografica.com has closed. The online business seems to continue. On the website, the owners still mention the address of the physical shop (checked on May 8th, 2015).

Indeed a short lived shop.

Romillo Essential Black – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 1st, 2015
etiquetas: Madrid, mercado