31 May 2017

Pilot 40th Anniversary

This text is the result of several emails exchanged between fellow blogger KMPN and myself. KMPN was very generous providing the pictures and allowing me to use them for this Chronicle. In actual terms, this text is a collaborative work.

Nowadays, anniversary pens are ubiquitous—they make a perfect excuse to create some limited editions and to trigger some artificial demand for some brand. But when did these anniversary pens make to the market? In Japan, the case of the Sailor Jubilee pen at the time of the 50th anniversary of the brand (1962) is well known, and this pen truly deserves its own text. Today, though, we will speak of a previous example, albeit somehow mysterious.

A not-so-normal Pilot Super 200.

In 1958, the brand Pilot became 40 years old. At the time, the workhorse of the brand was the Super model, which came in a number of versions and sizes, from the Super 50 to the Super 500. And a Super 200 was released for the occasion. But there was nothing special on this particular model save an engraving on the barrel: “40th anniversary of Pilot Corporation”.

The one and only reference to the special occasion. The engraving reads something along the lines of "40th anniversary of Pilot Corporation". Only for shareholders.

However, what makes this pen most interesting is the fact that it was never intended for sale. This anniversary pen was made for the shareholders of the company and for some selected salesmen. And the paradox is that this feature might make this pen all the more valuable, albeit Pilot might not directly benefit from it.

Nothing special on the nib. It simply reads "PILOT / MADE IN / JAPAN / 14K".

The filling system is the traditional on most Super pens--the hose system, also known and the quarter-switch system.

In fact, a number of commemorative goods were made by Pilot in those years. They were not for sale and, needless to say, there are some memorabilia collectors looking and fighting for them.

My thanks to Mr. NK and to Mr. Shimizu.

Clavijo Velasco Ro-iro – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 31st 2017
Etiquetas: Pilot

20 May 2017

The Itoya Pen

Itoya is one of the reference stationers in Tokyo, and it has already shown up on these Chronicles. Most of the times, these appearances were due to changes on its shops, particularly at the headquarters in Ginza, the quintessential shopping district in the big city. But on occasion, Itoya also showed up because of its pens. For Itoya has marketed a number of pens under a number of brand names along it more than 100 years of history.

Romeo and Mighty were two popular brands for those pens, and Romeo, in fact, is still used nowadays. Some other pens were simply labeled as Itoya, or “The Itoya Pen”, as we are about to see. Finally, Itoya currently markets high end pens under the brand Taccia, and some inexpensive, Taiwan made, pens as Natsuki.

A selection of Taccia pens, by Itoya. These pens implement Sailor nibs.

The pen on display today is an Itoya pen made of celluloid. Instead of being cylindrical, its body and cap are octagonal. The filling mechanism is a sac operated by a lever. A similar pen, albeit made of black hard rubber (ebonite) and signed as Romeo, can be seen on the book Fountain Pens of Japan, by Lambrou and Sunami (ISBN: 978-0-9571230-0-2) on page 120.

The barrel is obviously engraved: "THE ITOYA PEN". No other brand name appears on the pen. Cap ring and clip are labeled with the gold content: "R14K", rolled gold, 14 K.

There is a patent number engraved on the lever: "PAT. 93914".

These are the dimensions of the celluloid version:

Length closed: 118 mm
Length open: 107 mm
Length posted: 154
Diameter (cap crown): 16 mm
Weight: 15.7 g (dry)

On the nib we can read "ITOYA / (logo) / -<3>- / 14 KT / GOLD".

The lever is also engraved with the Itoya logo.

Finally, the barrel end carries an mysterious number: "8550".

This pen sports a beautiful nib of size 3 made of 14 K gold. The pen was manufactured, probably, during the first half of the 1930s.

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto.

Sailor Pro Gear – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 19th 2017
etiquetas: Itoya

10 May 2017

On the Capless Clip

Pilot’s Capless, in all three or even more variations, are indeed successful models, well known by aficionados. Its design is often praised and deemed as functional, but its clip also remains as a point of contention for many. Is the clip really intrusive or the problem is in the user? Interestingly enough, though, there are very few examples of clipless versions along the more than 50 years of history of this model: the “seirei-nuri” version of the 1963 model (C-600MW), the never-marketed transparent version of the RW model (1965), and the Hermes Nautilus based on the current Fermo.

Three clipless Capless pens by Pilot, although the last one is marketed as a Hermes.

The first model of Capless, the C-600MW from 1963, sports a very short clip located on the lower side of the nose. It is just 16 mm long to allow for the middle finger to grab the pen on the classic tripod fashion. On the top side, two arrows show the position of the nib point.

The very short clip of the first model. Note how it is located on the lower side of the nib. The pen on the picture is the gold plated version of it, with catalog reference C-1000GW.

The arrows on the top side of the section-barrel pointing at the nib.

Today I am showing two prototypes of this first model. On one of them, beautifully made in stainless steel, there is a clip on the upper part of the barrel-section.

A prototype of the C-600MW made in stainless steel. Note the clip on the top side.

On the second prototype, made of aluminum, there is no clip. The overall look points out at the “seirei-nuri” limited version of the first Capless.

This prototype is made of aluminum. It has no clip.

There are some other small variations among all these pens, particularly on their noses and how they are cut with respect to the axis of the pen. The basic dimensions are approximately the same for all of them, save for the weight, where the manufacturing material really shows its presence.

The marketed model C-600MW, on top, and the two prototypes. Note the subtle differences on the curve on the nose.

The conclusion might be that it is not an easy task to design a clip for an “upside-down” pen like a capless, any capless. But few of us stylophiles and users would object to any of those prototypes.

My thanks to Mr. Shiomi and to Mr. NK.

Nakaya Cigar – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 10th 2017
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless