29 July 2017

Ebonite Feeds in Japan

This text is long overdue. This is, in essence, a correction to a couple of old posts on the Pilot (and Namiki) pens with size 50 nibs (::1::, ::2::). I said (but I cannot recall when or on which text) that their feeds were made of ebonite, and that is not correct—they are made of plastic. Actually, all feeds made by Pilot are made of plastic.

Emperor size pen by Pilot, later on labeled as Namiki.

The feed of the previous pen. It is lacquered on one side, but the material is plastic.

And not only those by Pilot, but also those by Platinum and Sailor are made of plastic. Are there, in fact, any exception to this rule? There is, but it comes from small makers and in unusual forms:

-- Eboya (formerly Nebotek) pens implement ebonite feeds on its higher end pens, but Eboya feeds and nibs are made by Bock.

Ebonite feed on a pen made by Nikko Ebonite. But the feed is made by Bock in Germany out of, probably, German ebonite. The rest of the pen is made of Japanese ebonite.

-- Masahiro creates ebonite feeds for its pens, which use Pilot nibs.

And that seems to be it. Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Hakase, and Ohashido take their nibs from the big three Japanese companies, and they do not modify the feeds. Onishi Seisakusho employs Schmidt nibs and plastic feeds.

Some old nibmeisters –and I am mostly thinking of Kubo Kohei— keep on making their nibs on demand, and their feeds are often made of ebonite, but these craftsmen do not manufacture pens regularly or according to a established model.

A nib made by nibmeister Kubo Kohei. Its feed is made of ebonite.

Nibs and feeds of a Platinum 3776 and of a Nakaya. On both cases, the feeds are made of plastic.

So, the interesting conclusion id the almost complete absence of ebonite feeds among Japanese maker. This fact does not pose any functional problem to Japanese pens with one possible exception —the irregularly behaved Pilot’s size-10 falcon nib implemented on the models Custom 742 and Custom Heritage 912. And there are powerful arguments to support the use of some plastics, mostly ABS, on feeds.

Sailor's nib and feed. The nib is made of 21 K gold. The feed is made of ABS plastic.

But for some stylophiles, ebonite feeds are the one and only way to go. And they will never be satisfied with modern Japanese pens… save for a couple of exceptions.

Pilot Custom 823 – Sailor Blue Iron (original ink)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 27th 2017
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, Masahiro, Ohashido, Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Eboya, Kubo Kohei, Japón


Saltire Turquoise said...

Useful article that highlights the tiny details that can turn a good pen into a great pen.

Has anyone ever made an ebonite feed for a size 10 falcon nib as a replacement for the Pilot original?

Might a feed designed along more vintage lines (a la Swan, Onoto etc.) be more capable of responding to the changes of flow?

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Saltire, for passing by and commenting.

I cannot answer your first question--I know of no one making such feeds. If any, the best candidate is Narihiro Uchino of Masahiro Seisakusho (http://estilofilos.blogspot.jp/2017/07/from-shizuoka.html). And it might be the case he already made them...

Re old feeds supplying better ink flow, fellow blogger Leigh Reyes had reported installing the size 10 falcon nib in an old Waterman pen with satisfactory results. I cannot link to her post as that old blog is out of circulation currently. (And I am speaking from memory and the receptor pen might have been something else than the Waterman I remember).

Thanks for your comments, Saltire Turquoise.


FM said...

Platinum 70th Anniversary model use ebonite feed. And many earlier 3776 have ebonite feeds. But they all changed to plastic.

Bruno Taut said...

Right, FM. Some of those models with ebonite feeds have been covered on these pages. See, for instance, http://estilofilos.blogspot.com.es/2013/03/3776.html



Anonymous said...

The Eboya feed is really made by Bock? I've never seen another feed like that on a modern pen so I thought Eboya was making the ebonite feeds in-house.

Bruno Taut said...

Yes, Eboya feeds and nibs are all made by Bock.

Thanks for passing by and commenting.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Bruno for including a link to my website. In my experience ABS feeds can be as good as Ebonite feeds from a material point of view. The actual design is equally important. For a small quantity factory who would machine their feeds, Ebonite is better since it is much easier to machine.

The cost of production is significantly different. A machined feed would cost at least a dollar, while one could injection mould one for a couple of cents.

Unknown said...

I know this article is older, but there's a guy in Texas making ebonite feeds for Pilot pens (and maybe soon for other brands). flexiblenib.com

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Shawn Newton. I knew about those feeds, but I have never tried them.



Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome and appreciated.