01 March 2016

Kato in Italy

The figure of Kiyoshi Kato is well known to the readers this blog. He holds a quasi-mythical image as itinerant pen maker in Egypt, Italy, Hong Kong and Japan.

In the 1990s he worked for the Italian company Visconti, founded in 1988 in Florence, making some of the early celluloid pens of the brand. Such is the case of the following example.

Visconti Ragtime II.

The monotone 18 K gold nib. It reads "VISCONTI / 18 K - 750 / FIRENZE / M". The inscription on the clip: "FIRENZE VISCONTI / ITALY RAGTIME".

It is a Visconti Ragtime (thanks, Peaceable Writer) from the second series (aka Ragtime II, with a monotone 18 K nib) in production between 1994 and 1999. It is made of cellulose nitrate sheet, rolled and welded.

Some argue that this approach –rolling and welding—is superior to turning a solid rod because the final cylinder is less likely to shrink and contract over the years. The obvious side effect is the existence of a welding like on body and cap. The flat ends of the Ragtime are, in actual terms, lids to the rolled cylinder and are welded to it, as can be seen on the following picture.

The welding line on the barrel made of cellulose nitrate.

The piston knob shows the black lid of the celluloid cylinder, welded to it.

These are the dimensions of this piston filler:
Length closed: 139 mm
Length open: 124 mm
Length posted: 165 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight: ca 19.7 g (inked)

Kato’s engagement with Visconti ended around 2000. Since the mid 1990s, he and his wife had started making pens in Japan for the Japanese market. This was his last endeavour—he passed away in 2010.

My thanks to Mr. Shimizu.

Gama Forever – Montblanc Racing Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano March 1st, 2016
etiquetas: Visconti, Kato Seisakusho


Pedro Haddock said...

I have got a Ragtime myself, dating ca. 1996 but, in this case fitted with a steel nib that was offered at that time. It was quite an affordable pen with an absolutely stunnig celluloid to fall in love with at the very first sight.
Thanks for sharing!

jde said...

Thank you for this reminder about Kato and Ragtime celluloid! Added link to this in my Ragtime post.

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Julie and Pedro, for passing by and commenting.

Captain Haddock, your Ragtime is most likely a product of Mr. Kato. Those are very valued in Japan.

JDE--my pleasure. Your blog contains reference information on the Ragtime and linking it was the right thing to do.


Zangotori said...

Thank you for this wonderful and informative article.
Just gor curious, though. What was the relationship of Kato and Visconti?
Was Kato an employee of Visconti? Of was he the master artisan who made pens for Vicsonti?

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Zangotori, for passing by and commenting.

I do not know the actual nature of the relationship between Visconti and Kato, but he made several models for Visconti. Giving his expertise with celluloid, I think it is safe to assume he worked directly on the pens, at least for a while. Visconti, at the time, was a small operation.



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