27 February 2017

Changes in Tokyo. 2017 Edition

More movements in the retailer scene in Tokyo re fountain pens. These changes are now related to two well known shops—Itoya and Bung-Box.

Itoya’s headquarters in Ginza. Somehow, the dream of fountain pen loves is over at Ginza’s Itoya. Previous changes in the main building truly affected the whole concept of the shop, but the fountain pen section had been kept in a wonderful bubble. Most fountain pens were confined to the K.Itoya building in the back alley from the main building on Chuo Dori. And those two floors dedicated to pens and inks were indeed a small paradise for any stylophile. But this arrangement might not have been that profitable…

In the last reform during Fall of 2016, the fountain pen section of Itoya was moved to the main building in the third floor. As a result, pens have lost space and tranquility.

The essential problem of this new arrangement is that the whole main building became a long corridor after the two year refurbishment that ended in 2015. And a corridor is always a passing place.

The consequence of these changes in Itoya is that right now there are more appealing places to have a look at medium and high end pens.

Bung-Box. This is, by now, a well-known shop despite being located in the remote –for a Tokyoite— city of Hamamatsu, in the province of Shizuoka. The big success of the Bung-Box line of inks created some stress on the production of those inks that was solved with a dramatic increase of their price.

On December 17th of 2016, the Hamamatsu shop opened a branch in Tokyo. This is a very small place dedicated to pens and inks, with a special attention to the original products –by Sailor and by Pilot— Bung-Box sells so successfully.

The opening hours and days of this shop in Tokyo seem a bit erratic, and checking its website is strongly recommended before attempting a visit.

Bung-Box original inks, by Sailor. JPY 3240 per inkwell (50 ml).

Its address is
4-8-6 Jingumae
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Phone: 03-6434-5150

This information has been included on the page on fountain pen shops in Tokyo.

Oaso “Safari” – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, February 24th 2017
etiquetas: Tokyo, mercado, papelería, Itoya, BunguBox

20 February 2017

Pilot Cartridges and Converters 2017

The Chronicle on Pilot converters and cartridges is the single most popular text on this blog. However, there are some misconceptions and some news, and a revision of that old text, from 2011, is in order.

The current situation is as follows: Pilot markets three different converters and two different cartridges. Two of the converters reported in 2011, CON-20 and CON-50, are discontinued.

The three converters on production are named CON-40, CON-70, and CON-W. The number refer to their price in Japan: JPY 400 for the CON-40, and JPY 700 for the CON-70. The CON-W only works on the pens that implemented the "double-spare" cartridge in the 1960s. Nominally, it is only served as a spare part and some retailers demand the “broken” pen to be sent for fixing. However, Maruzen and Itoya at their main shops in Tokyo (at least) sell the CON-W without any problem. Its price is JPY 700.

The new guy in town, the CON-40. It holds about 0.5 ml of ink and costs JPY 400.

All the cartridges and converters covered on this Chronicle. From left to right, CON-70 in steel and in black, CON-50 new and old, CON-40, CON-20, two "single spare" cartridges, two Petit cartridges, CON-W. With the obvious exception of the CON-W, all of them share the same mouth dimensions and, provided they could fit inside the barrel, could be used in any "single spare" cartridge/converter Pilot pen.

As for cartridges, the two types are the regular one, formerly named as “single-spare”, and the cartridge specific for the Pilot Petit pens (::1::, ::2::, ::3::). Single spare cartridges do not fit inside the Petit pen, and the only problem of the Petit cartridges to fit in regular Pilot pens are two small plastic notches at the opening of the cartridges. They can easily be removed with a blade.

Petit cartridge on top. Single spare cartridge on bottom. Note the small notches on the former. They prevent the use of the small cartridges on many Pilot pens that, otherwise, could use them. Removing them is easy with a blade.

The following table summarizes the present situation and includes the data of the recently discontinued converters CON-20 and CON-50.

Prices quoted without taxes. In Japan, the sale tax is, at the moment, 8%.

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 – Gary’s Red Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 2017
etiquetas: Pilot, conversor

14 February 2017

Snakewood Platinum

This story has already been told on these Chronicles, but it might be worth to remember it in view of a slightly different pen variation.

Platinum had discarded the use of self filling mechanisms on its pens by the mid 1950s to the cry “good bye, ink bottle”. Since then, however, Platinum kept manufacturing ink bottles while making only cartridge filling pens. This policy continues to this day –even the sister company Nakaya does not produce any self-filling pen.

The snakewood version of the Platinum 70th Anniversary pen.

There were two exceptions—the Senator Regent branded as Platinum, and the 70th anniversary series of piston fillers released in 1989. These pens came in several colors and materials.

On the nib we can see the following inscription: " 14 K - 585 / PLATINUM / 70 / logo with letters SNT / < B > ".

The ebonite feed.

We have already seen one of those models—that made of jade green celluloid. Today’s pen is a wooden version of the same pen. On this occasion, the pen is made of snakewood, and the result is a bigger and heavier pen.

There is an inscription on the handle of the piston: "W-NO-0158". Is it the unit number? I do not have an answer.

The ball clip is clearly signed as 'PLATINUM". On the cap ring there is another one: "K18-750".

These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 148 mm
Length open: 132 mm
Length posted: 169 mm
Diameter: ca. 16 mm
Weight: 30.6 g (dry)

My thanks to Paco-san.

Paidi Century 5 – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 13th, 2017
etiquetas: Platinum

09 February 2017

Gary's Classic Inks

By now the news are well-known—-Platinum has released a new family of inks by the name of “Classic Inks”. In Japanese, “classic ink” means iron-gall (IG) ink, and this is what these new inks are—iron-gall inks.

The initial announcement was made through the website of the stationery shop Nagasawa, in the city of Kobe. This shop had the privilege of an early release of these inks on January 27th. The general release will be on February 10th (2017).

Picture taken on February 10th 2017 at a well-known stationery shop in Tokyo. These is the new series of inks by Platinum. Six inks with iron-gall formulation. But, are they really new?

But are these inks really new? They are, in fact, new to the general market, but these inks are not new to the pen community in Japan. The mastermind behind them is a fellow stylophile by the name, in fora and blogs, of PGary (Gary).

It all started some years ago, around 2010, when Gary decided to create his own IG inks frustrated as he was with the limited selection of colors available in the market for IGs. At that time, the only non-blue-black IG ink was Rohrer & Klingner’s Scabiosa.

Gary never made a secret out of his developments. He published his recipes on YouTube and on his blog and even on the Japanese pen magazine Shumi-no Bungubaku (16, p. 66; 23, p. 106). The Wagner group of pen aficionados took good note of those inks and asked him to make some inks for the annual pen fair celebrated in Spring in Tokyo. That was in 2012, when the chosen colors were red-black and blue-black.

Some inks made by Gary.

Since then, Gary has received the same request on following years, and Wagner group members have stocked –and enjoyed—a number of his IG inks.

And now it was Platinum contacting him for the creation of this new “Classic Inks” composed by six new colors: Cassis black, Forest-black, Citrus-black, Khaki-black, Sepia-black and Lavender-black. Note the absence of a blue-black ink—Platinum already had an IG ink of this classical color.

Writing samples of the previous inks. The ink flow determines how dark the ink looks after the oxidation took place. All the writing on this test, save that of the 2012 Red-black ink, were made with a glass pen.

This Yellow-black ink shows a brighter hue when laid with a fountain pen with a more controlled flow. This ink was one of the 2013 Wagner inks.

As a matter of fact, Platinum is the only Japanese maker still making IG inks, and there is some kind of logic in this new move to expand its selection of inks.

Platinum now has three different types of inks—dye inks (red, black and the Mix Free line), pigmented inks (Carbon-black, Sepia, Blue, Pink), and iron gall (blue black and the Classic Inks line).

The problem of these new IG inks comes with their price. It is JPY 2000 (plus tax) for 60 ml, which is significantly more expensive than that of the pigmented inks (JPY 1500, plus tax). The old and well known blue black IG ink is a lot cheaper—JPY 1200, plus tax.

Strange pricing policy, I would say. But all in all this is, most of all, another sign of the increasing influence of the stylophile community in the market of fountain pens.

My thanks to Gary. And my congratulations!

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 – Gary’s Red-black (Wagner ink 2012)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 8th 2017
etiquetas: tinta, Platinum, Gary, mercado

06 February 2017


There is no such a thing as a fake maki-e pen, I said in the past, provided the maki-e was actually there. On such pens, what matters most is the decoration, and the pen becomes secondary. Such might be the case of the pen on display today.

An anonymous and interesting pen.

Nothing do I know about the pen itself and I can only describe it. It resembles of a Parker 51 (and to some English Duofolds from the 1950s), with which it shares the clip. The filling system is aerometric. The material of the body is ebonite.

There are three inscriptions on the pen, but none of them says anything about its origin. On the cap lit it just says “R14K”. On the pressing plate inside the barrel, the inscriptions reads “SPECIAL / TUBE CASE”. Finally, on the nib, “14 KT GOLD / “WARRANTED” / 4 / TOKYO”.

There existed several operations in Japan in the 1940s and 1950s with the name Tokyo on it, but this nib inscription might only mean where this pen had been made.

The Parker clip and the "matsuba" decoration.

Overall, this is a well made pen, but this detail might be almost irrelevant when compared to the decoration. It is a very discreet and understated pattern of short red lines over a black background. Its name is "matsuba"--pine tree twigs. This decorative tecnique doe snot have any specific name, but it is included in the group of simple techniques “kawari-nuri”. In actual terms, this seems to be more of a drawing with urushiurushi-e— than a real full fledged sprinkled maki-e. The decoration on this pen is not signed.

The inscription on the nib says "14KT.GOLD / "WARRANTED"/ 4 / TOKYO".

Given the overall style of the pen, it is reasonable to date in the mid 1950s, when copies of the best seller Parker 51 were common in Japan.

These are the dimensions of this anonymous pen:

Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 118 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Diameter: 13.6 mm
Weight: 17.3 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.8 ml

Oaso “Safari” – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 2nd 2017
etiquetas: maki-e, urushi-e, Parker