31 August 2015


Combo pens; that is, the combination of a fountain pen on one end, and a pencil (or any other writing tool) on the other; are very rare in Japan. They were never that common in the West, but most American companies made some combos at some point in their history.

Lambrou and Sunami only mention one such pen, albeit shown twice using the very same picture, in their book Fountain Pens of Japan. That is a Romeo (the pen brand of Itoya) from 1926. It was made of ebonite and implemented a lever filler system and a 14 K gold nib of size 3.

Today’s pen is probably even more extraordinary—a combo pen made by Pilot in 1932.

A Pilot combo from 1932. The engraving on the barrel reads "PILOT" / USA PAT (Namiki Logo) NO 1600293 / PILOT PEN MFG. CO. LTD.

This Pilot is made of ebonite coated with urushi. Pen-wise, it is a Japanese eyedropper whose shut-off valve is operated by moving the whole pencil unit, as can be seen on the picture. The nib is a size 2 made of 14 K gold, dated on the back as manufactured in May of 1932.

The picture shows a number of features of this combo pen. First, the eraser attached to the pencil unit; second, the shut-off valve in the pen portion; third, the flat feed of the fountain pen, typical in pre-war pens in Japan.

The engraving on the pen reads "PILOT" / U.S.A. PAT. (N logo) NO 1600293 / PILOT PEN MFG. CO. LTD. To the right of the engraving, the two threads of the pen --to releaase the mechanical pencil and access tyhe eraser, and to open the shut-off valve are clearly visible.

The pencil section of the combo. Arrow A points at the opening of the shut-off valve. Arrow B, at the separation between pencil and pen.

The barrel is imprinted with a reference to a US patent, 1600293, already mentioned on these Chronicles. This patent was filed in 1925 by Ryosuke Namiki and is about coatings and working on ebonite surfaces—nothing to do with the pen design or the idea of a combo pen.

The fountain pen part of the combo. The engraving on the nib: 14 KARAT GOLD / "PILOT" / REGISTERED / PATENT OFFICE / -<2>- / POINTED / HARDEST / IRIDIUM.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 148 mm
Length open: 135 mm
Length posted: 153 mm
Diameter: 14 mm
Weight (dry): 20.8 g

Indeed a rare pen. Therefore, of little relevance in the history of Japanese pens, but it shows that Japanese companies were paying attention to what was happening in the West.

My thanks to Mr. Takahashi and to Mr. Furuya.

Pilot Custom 823 – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 31st, 2015.
etiquetas: Pilot

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