30 June 2015

Datation of Japanese Pens. VI. Sailor's Bodies

On the previous Chronicle we have seen how the manufacturing date is codified on Sailor nibs. But that is not the only dating system used by Sailor—pen bodies were also dated for some time.

Between 1958 and some time around 1970, Sailor pens had their sections engraved with a two letter code, either or in lower or in upper case:


(Occasionally, there is a period between the two letters).

On it, Y stands for the year of productions following a simple rule: A (or a) is 1958, B (b) is 1959, C (c) is 1960, and so on. Z is the month of production, with A being January; B is February and so on.

This pen is encoded as C.E--May of 1960. It corresponds to the pen shown on the following picture.

This is the Jubilee pen made by Sailor on the occasion of its 50th anniversary (1961). This particular unit, as we saw on the previous picture, was manufactured on May of 1960.

This system, as said before, lasted until ca. 1970, when the system changed to a three digit code identical to that used on the nibs: abb, where bb is the month and a is the last digit of the year of production.

This 3-digit system did not last long. On my records I can only see it between 1971 and 1974. As a result, modern Sailor pens carry no dating code on their bodies

This pen is dated as 109, which might mean September of 1971.

This is the nib of the previous pen, which is one of the rare examples of dual datation. On this case, the nib carries the manufacturing date of 108--August of 1971. 1971 seems a very reasonable date of production given the fact that the nib is made of 23 K gold, and the gold fever of the Japanese pen makers took place in the early 1970s.

The previous pen, posted. A 23 K gold nib in a pocket pen.

Another interesting detail is that it is very rare to see a (Sailor) pen dated on BOTH nib and body, although there are some few examples of dual datation.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Sailor pocket pen, quasi-inlaid nib (dated as 301 on the section) – Montblanc Racing Green

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, June 20th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor

22 June 2015

Datation of Japanese Pens. V. Sailor Nibs

Some time ago I published several texts with information on how to date Platinum and Pilot pens. Sailor also has its own dating systems for nibs and pen bodies, but they are less obvious than those of the rival brands.

Sailor pen nibs have consistently been engraved with a three digit code in the form


On it, bb –from 01 to 12— stands for the month, and a –from 0 to 9— is the last digit of the year of production.

This nib is dated on 710--October of some year ending in 7. And later than 1954, when the JIS stamp was engraved on pen nibs. It belongs to the following pen.

A bulb-filler previous to the time of cartridges and converters. Most likely, therefore, made in 1957.

Needless to say, this system is not so precise as those seen on Pilot (::1::, ::2::) and Platinum pens. Sailor, so to speak, demands some additional knowledge on the pen model in order to decide whether that 3 (for a) meant 2013 or 2003 or, even, 1993.

This Ohashido nib, by Sailor, was made on November of 2014. The nib was not yet attached to any pen. The picture was taken during the last Fountain Pens of the World Fair at Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi.

Ohashido nibs, currently made by Sailor, also display this dating code. However, not all Sailor nibs are dated—just most of them.

Pelikan 400 NN M&K – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, June 20th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor, Platinum, Ohashido, Pilot, plumín

16 June 2015

Pilot Capless - 1984 - FCN-500R. I. Introduction

In the evolution of the Capless model by Pilot, things become a bit more complicated in 1984. Up to now, each model used its own nib unit and the nib units were not usable in other models. Some nib units, though, showed a number of variations, but their use, should I insist, was limited to a particular Capless model. An obvious example of this is that of the RW models from 1965, whose nib units had up to four different variations.

That changed in 1984. The model encoded as FCN-500R implemented the same unit as its predecessor CN-400BS. Later on, around 1990, the nib unit was redesigned, but keeping the basic geometry that allowed its use in all models made after December of 1973 (from CN-400BS on).

These units can be used in all Capless models made after December of 1973.

In actual terms, it is questionable whether this 1984 FCN-500R constitutes a new model or it is just a cosmetic variation of the previous one. The similarities are very obvious, starting, for instance, by the nose-clip piece made of aluminum.

Different models or just variations? On top, the CN-400BS from 1973; on bottom, the FCN-500R from 1984.

But for the sake of these texts, these variations or models will be considered as separate models. Otherwise, all Capless after 1973 should be considered as variations of the CN-400BS with the only possible exception of the Fermo model (FDF-2MR) of 2006. And if so, the description of all of them would be unnecessarily complicated.

All these models use the same nib unit. From top-left to bottom-right, CN-400BS (1973), FCN-500R (1984), FC-15SR (1998), FCT-15SR (Décimo, 2005), and FDF-2MR (Fermo, 2006).

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

Platinum pocket pen, striated body – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Chuo, June 13th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless

10 June 2015

Pilot Capless - 1973 - CN-400BS

After a long hiatus I am resuming this series of texts reviewing the different Capless models released by Pilot along the past fifty-something years.


In December of 1973, Pilot released one of the lesser known variations of the Capless line of pens. This involved a totally new nib unit, not compatible with the previous models. However, this new nib unit will be usable with so far all the later models, albeit it was bound to go through some modifications that did not alter the basic geometry.

On this model, nose and clip are made out of one single piece of aluminum.


Codes. CN-400BS & CN-500BS. Both codes belong to the same pen. The difference in the number obeys to the change in price made in 1981. This model is made of aluminum and black plastic, all in matte finish.
Original_price. JPY 4000 (1973-1981); JPY 5000 (1981-1984).
Production_years. 1973-1984
Nib_unit. Type VII. Gold 14 K and steel.
Filling_system Single spare cartridge. CON-20 and CON-50 can be used.
Opening_system. “Knock system” (push button).

The CN-400BS on display at the Pilot's Pen Station.


Model CN-400BS (and CN-500BS).
Length closed 136 mm
Length open 133 mm
Diameter 12.0 mm
Weight 18.3 g

Nib unit:

Type VII, variation a. In 14 K gold and in steel. This nib unit uses single spare cartridges and converters CON-20 and CON-50. This nib unit will be implemented on the following model launched in 1984. Therefore, this nib unit is be compatible (but not identical) with subsequent models.

Nibs made of 14 K gold and of steel. This nib unit survived the pen model and was used on the following model. This explains how the steel nib on the picture displays a manufacturing date of 1989.

Additional information:

Nibs are engraved with the production place and date, but not so the bodies.

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

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless

08 June 2015

Urushi R

Collectors crave for the rarity, but history is written based on common and well-known pens. So, after describing the anomaly of a gold nib made in Japan in 1942 it might be worth to do the same with a more normal Pilot pen from about the same time. This will also provide some basis for future reference.

The Pilot R was the workhorse pen of the company by the late 1930s and 1940s, and some examples have already shown up on these Chronicles. The following model is made of ebonite and is coated with black urushi. It is an eyedropper pen with shut-off valve, which was of the the usual filling (although not self-filling) mechanisms of the Pilot’s R series of pens. The nib is made of 14 K gold, and is a size 1. The date indicates it was made in November of 1937, which is about 18 months before the nominal prohibition on the use of gold in Japan.

This is a small pen, which might be associated to the war restrictions of the time. However, its construction quality is remarkably good. These are its actual dimensions:

Length closed: 120 mm
Length open: 110 mm
Length posted: 148 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight (dry): 12.8 g
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml

The manufacturing date can be seen on the upper side of the nib (positioned like it is on the picture): 11.37.

The barrel carries the usual pre-war imprint: “PILOT” / THE NAMIKI (logo with an N) MFG. CO. LTD / MADE IN JAPAN. On the nib, on its side, we can read WARRANTED / "PILOT" / 14 K / MADE IN JAPAN / -<1>- / HARDEST / IRIDIUM.

All in all, not a rarity, but a very appealing common fountain pen.

Platinum pocket pen, striated steel – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 8th, 2015
etiquetas: Pilot, urushi

04 June 2015


Some time ago, I spoke about a rather mysterious ink made by Pilot in the 1920s. That ink, by the name of Bokujû (墨汁), was described as real sumi (墨) ink adapted to be safely used in a fountain pen. Sumi, let us remember, is the ink used in traditional East Asian calligraphy, and it is made of vegetable soot and animal glue. As a result, it is hardly compatible with fountain pens—its particles in suspension would quickly clog the ink channels of the feed.

Many years after that ink was made, other companies have tried to create similar inks in one way or another. Platinum’s Carbon Ink and Sailor Kiwa-Guro (極黒) might be the closest relatives—nano particles in aqueous suspension. Pilot does not make any pigmented ink, but named one of the Iroshizuku inks as Take-sumi (竹炭), bamboo charcoal, giving a indirect reference to the traditional ink.

And there is another sumi-inspired ink in Japan. Kobe-based stationery shop Nagasawa has an extensive catalog of inks made by Sailor. They are, in essence, Jentle inks in exclusive colors. But there is one unusual ink in this catalog also made by Sailor. Contrary to the case of Jentle inks, the smell of this one is completely different—it is scented, and its fragrance is that of traditional sumi ink.

The name of the ink is not really clear. The label says “Fountain pen black ink. Sumi scent”. The last two ideograms, 墨香, could be read as bokkô or sumi kaori.

The label reads "Fountain pen ink, sumi scent."

As for the color of the ink, it is a fairly deep black, neutral color. Its chromatography does not show any non-black/grey dye.

To my knowledge, this is the only scented ink made by Sailor. And of all fragrances, that of shodo (書道) ink was chosen. Not flowers, not perfume—sumi ink.

Pilot Custom 823, WA nib – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 3rd, 2015
etiquetas: Japón, Sailor, Platinum, Pilot, tinta