15 July 2016

Matching (XXI). Oaso 'Safari'

After having reported on the Lanbitou 757, that obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, it is only natural to speak about the Oaso ‘Safari’, another kid on the block of copies.

The Oaso 'Safari'. The official name might be completely different, though.

Oaso is a small brand and little information about it is available. Some say it is a second brand of the well-known Picasso, from Shanghai. Both brands appear as related on alibaba.com (retrieved July 15, 2016), the website of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group. Nothing can I say about the official model name, either.

Which one is the Chinese; which one the German? The names are written on the barrels and on the nibs.

This is indeed an obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, but less so than the already reviewed Lanbitou 757. The Oaso shows a very clear difference with respect to the original: the cap jewel. The Lamy cross is now the logo of Oaso, a sort of an ‘O’.

The cap jewels are different.

The material of this matte black copy is a bit darker and more polished than that of the charcoal (or umbra) variation of the Lamy Safari. The Chinese nib is made of steel and is chromium coated instead of the black look of some Lamy nibs. However, as was the case with the Lanbitou 757, Lamy’s and Oaso’s nibs are interchangeable.

The nibs are interchangeable. Their qualities are on par.

Their feeds are almost identical. The Chinese version has a worse finish, but the ink flow is correct.

Writing samples of the Oaso 'Safari' with tow nibs--an Oaso F, and a Lamy F. These two nibs behave in a similar fashion.

So are the converters. The Oaso version seems to be an almost exact clone of the Lamy Z28 unit save for the color of the materials. The Chinese copy even has the notches to hook it to the pen. Both are marked with their brand names.

The converters are also interchangeable. They are almost identical.

All in all, the Oaso ‘Safari’ is a knockoff of decent quality. And the question is why all these companies bothered copying inexpensive models. The reason seems to lay on the Chinese domestic market, where the Lamy Safari holds relatively high prices. And it seems that these Chinese companies –Lanbitou, Hero, Picasso, Oaso…– have had an effect: Lamy has lowered the prices of the Lamy Safari in the Chinese market to remain competitive.

My thanks to Mr. Mizukushi.

Bank-ei in black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 15th, 2016
etiquetas: China, mercado, Lanbitou, Oaso, Lamy

04 July 2016

East Pen Made in Tokyo

The experimentation with fountain pen nibs is alive and well in Japan. The Nagahara family, or some advanced aficionados like Mr. Yamada and Mr. Mochizuki, an army of pen tuners who periodically meet in Tokyo and other cities in Japan… they all show that there is more to nibs than what most aficionados think. And this is not new in Japan. An obvious case in point is the Sailor development in the 1980s of an omnidirectional nib called Trident—the idea was a nib that could write smoothly in any position.

Well, that idea has an obvious precedent in Tokyo in the 1930s.

A smallish pen: 120 mm long. On the barrel: "EAST / FOUNTAIN PEN / MADE IN TOKYO".

Externally, the pen is a boring-looking copy of the Parker Duofold. The filling system is a Japanese eyedropper, like most pens of the time (around 1930) in Japan. The ebonite barrel is engraved with the brand name, “EAST”, and the text “FOUNTAIN PEN / MADE IN TOKYO”. On the clip we find a logo where we can read “Special”.

The clip displays an additional logo where we read "Special".

Then, everything changes when we open the pen.

The secret, disclosed.

This unique nib is formed by three different gold plates at 120° of each other. These plates are somehow connected at the central axes of the pen, and their ends are iridium-tipped and polished. The space outside these plates is used for the feeds.

Engraved on the nib, we can see the purity of the gold --14 K-- and something like "NOxxx". Those x are not readable. But this nib is make of 14 K gold.

The result is a very rigid nib able to write in all positions.

These are the dimensions of the pen:

Length closed: 120 mm
Length open: 108 mm
Length posted: 151 mm
Diameter: 11 mm
Weight: 13.4 g (dry)

Quite an experiment, but the manufacturing process of this nib sure was not cheap. This pen, finally, is extremely rare, and very little seems to be known about it.

Eboya Hôga – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 3rd, 2016
etiquetas: East, plumín, soluciones técnicas

01 July 2016

Urushi Fermo

Nagasawa is, in a sense, THE stationery shop in the city of Kobe in Japan. Sure enough there are some other stationers in the area, but this centenary old store, founded in 1882, does attract most of the attention in the area. The reasons for this success deserve a detailed analysis, but that is not today’s topic.

Today I wanted to present a quite unique pen made for Nagasawa by Pilot. The excuse seems a bit lame –134th anniversary of the company--, but probably any excuse is valid to make some noise. The name of this pen is the non-descriptive “Urushi Japan”.

The pen in question is rather unusual—it is a limited edition fountain pen based on the well-known Pilot Fermo. The variations over the regular model are small but relevant:

-- The metal parts are now golden in color as opposed to the silver trim of the usual Fermo.

-- The nib unit, made of 18 K gold, is also golden in color and is not rhodiated. This is the only Fermo model to use such nibs instead of the rhodiated units. The nib is engraved with the logo of Nagasawa--a key.

-- The knurled knob that operated the nib is now smooth and of the same color as the rest of the pen.

-- Finally, and most important, the pen is decorated, or colored, with urushi lacquer.

Nagasawa ordered a total of 150 numbered units in two different colors—60 units in jet black (shikkoku, 漆黒) and 90 in red (shu, 朱). The price is the same for both colors: JPY 60000, plus tax.

Both "Urushi Japan" pens as displayed on the magazine Shumi-no Bungubako (issue 38) together with the real thing in red.

Size-wise, this urushi Fermo is less than one gram heavier than the regular model. The rest of the dimensions are nominally identical:

Length closed: 141 mm
Length open: 148 mm
Diameter: 12.3 mm
Weight: 34.4 g

On top, the red "Urushi Japan" of Nagasawa; on bottom, a regular Fermo in black.

Eboya Hôga – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 1st, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless, Kobe, mercado, urushi, Nagasawa