30 May 2018


The title of this Chronicle could be a trite “yet another filling system”, for we have seen how fertile Japan has been on this field. But few truly innovative systems have survived that one model that oh-so-briefly put the system in the market. After all, cartridges and converters are truly handy and user friendly. Consequently, most of those systems are mere anecdotes. At times, though, anecdotes offer some interesting information.

The Carving pen. On the barrel there is an engraving: "CARVING / MADE IN TOKYO".
Dimensions of the pen: length closed: 138 mm; length open: 124 mm; length posted: 154 mm; diameter: 10 mm; weight: 12.6 g.

Nothing do I know about the brand “Carving”. However, the shape of this particular model, and the geometry of the nib point out at the 1960s as the production time.

A gold plated stainless steel nib. The engraving is simple: "CARVING / JIS ". The geometry is similar to some nibs made by Pilot and Sailor during the 1950s and 1960s.

Inside, something that looks like a cartridge. The inscription reads "カービンオーツマン61 / 吸入もできるスペアー" (Carving ôtsuman 61 / inhalation spare).

Its filling system also suggests an intermediate time between the 1950s and 1980s—it is an interesting middle point between two known systems. The first of them is the pulsated piston Pilot named as A-shiki (system A) in the late 1940s. The second, obviously by now, is the CON-70 converter, also by Pilot, currently on production.

On the first system –A-shiki–, the whole pumping action is driven from the tail, and a sliding sheath in the internal rod acts as stopper preventing the ink from going out on the downward movement of the system.

The system A on a Pilot from late 1940s.

The CON-70 acts in a similar fashion. Now the sealing valve is a rubber part that moves quite freely along the metallic rod in the central axis of the converter. And the basic difference with the system A is the spring that retracts the piston automatically. Well, and the fact that the CON-70, as a converter, can be detached from the pen.

A built-in CON-70 in a Pilot Custom (no additional number) from 1985. This filling system was also implemented on the Pilot Custom 65 (1983).

The “Carving” system implemented on the Carving pen works on the same principles: a pumping system and a closing valve. But now the pumping mechanism is a type of a sac, although on this case it is more of a plastic cartridge with some flexibility. The valve, on its side, moves freely inside the bladder, and seals it –partially— when pressing it. Carving called this “inhalation spare” and it makes some sense as the whole mechanism can be detached from the pen and could easily be replaced. I ignore, however, if the company marketed spare filling systems or had designed (and sold) more traditional –nominally disposable— cartridges.

The de-facto converter. The internal stopper is visible through the cracked plastic. The durability of this device is an obvious concern.

The fact that this “Carving” system was trivially detachable is, in itself, very interesting. First, because it shows that the time of the self-filling systems was ending and yielding its way to the disposable cartridge. Second, and more relevant here, because Pilot implemented the early versions of the later called CON-70 as built-in, non-removable filling systems on a couple of models in the early 1980s. In this regard, the Carving pen was well ahead of its time.

But it is also a small anecdote in the history of Japanese pens.

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto.

Minka Saturn – Diamine China Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 2018
labels: Pilot, Carving, soluciones técnicas, conversor

22 May 2018

Kubo, Yotsubishi and Iwase

NOTE added on July 23rd, 2018. The body of this pen is not a creation of Mr. Momose, but an old and unused stock of pen bodies of Ishi Shoten's Yotsubishi.

The works of Mr. Iwase as a raden artist have already appeared on these Chronicles, and today I wanted to describe more in detail one of his creations.

Two are the basic types of canvases Mr. Iwase uses for his works—Pelikan and Montblanc pens on one side, and pens manufactured by old lathe masters and companies long gone lathe master Momose Yasuaki. Today’s pen belongs to the later type.

Three elements characterize this pen: the pen body, the nib, and the decoration. Each of them was created by a different craftsman.

"18 K pen raden / Kubo Kohei fountain pen".

On this case, the basic pen was made by the company Ishi Shoten for its brand Yotsubishi. Its material is ebonite, although the barrel and cap finials are made of wood. The pen was originally intended as a Japanese eyedropper –the tail can be unscrewed and detached from the barrel--, but the final result is a cartridge-converter pen (Sheaffer type). The cap lip is protected with a silver ring.

A raden pen...

... or a cartridge/converter pen.

The nib and the feed were provided by nibmeister Kubo. The nib is made of 18 carat gold and is associated to an ebonite feed. The size of the nib would be comparable to a Bock's #5, or to a Pilot’s 10 (::1::, ::2::) or a Sailor’s “big” size, although the feed's diameter is bigger: 6.5 mm.

The Kubo Kohei's nib: "ELEGANT / KB / 18K 750 / MADE IN / JAPAN".
The feed has three ink channels that provide a rich ink flow.

Writing sample with the Kubo-Yotsubishi-Iwase pen.

Nothing special on the tip. Just well cut.

Finally, the decoration is a rich example of the raden technique: carefully cut sea shells glued to the pen body; then, urushi is used to fill up the spaces between the shell stripes and smooth the whole pen. Ad additional later of transparent resin protects the decoration. The gripping section is decorated with red urushi.

There is a simple inscription the cap ring: "silver 925 / 11/20".

All in all, the pen is an original and attractive work; the final result of two Japanese craftsmen working on old forgotten batches. And in this regard, this is not a unique example, albeit other models are mostly one of a kind.

This pen is one of the 20 units Mr Iwase marketed in 2015 and 2016, some of which were sold through the Wagner group. And as it is often the case on artisanal products in Japan, there is no clear sign of the authorship, with the sole exception of the engraving on the nib. However, not many stylophiles (much less occasional buyers) would identify the letters KB as a signature of Mr. Kubo.

These are the dimensions of this pen:

Length closed: 142 mm
Length open: 126 mm
Length posted: 165 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight (dry) 21.9 g
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (Sheaffer converter)

Minka Saturn – Diamine China Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 21th, 2018
labels: Nibmesiter Kubo, Momose, Iwase, maki-e, Yotsubishi

07 May 2018

Kubo Meets Sakai

The figure of Kubo Kohei (久保幸平) is already known to the readers. He is a very prestigious nibmeister with a long history of nibs made for his own brands –Elliott, Nobel–, and for others –Push, Danitrio, even Zôhiko. The purpose of this Chronicle is to show some more remarkable creations of this master.

An unusual music nib by Kubo Kohei.

Kubo Kohei has made music nibs in the past, as I have reported here. However, that example was a very traditional music nib: two slits, three tines. The following examples go one step forward: three slits, four tines. The result is a very broad and wet line showing a good –but not extreme— variation on the writing.

Writing sample of a 4-tine music nib by nibmeister Kubo.

These three music nibs are associated to three outstanding pens—three old pens made by Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助). They had not reached the market and had been retrofitted with Henckel nibs, which is not rare in what looks like production leftovers by the Ban-ei group.

All three nibs carry the same inscription: "ELEGANT / KB / 18 K - 750 / MADE IN / JAPAN".

However, the ways their tips are cut are different--the one on top is very sharp, and that on bottom is the roundest of them.

These pens are all Japanese eyedroppers of very generous dimensions. So big, in fact, that the Kubo’s nibs seem a tad too small. These are the dimensions of the pens:


- black ebonite.-
- black ebonite.-
Length closed (mm) 145 173 152
Length open (mm) 130 150 132
Length posted (mm) 180 208 186
Diameter (mm) 20 18 20
Weight, dry (g) 36.3 44.0 44.9

The three pens where Kubo met Sakai--years after the disappearance of the later.
Only the pen in the middle (black ebonite in the shape of bamboo) has an additional engraving--on the clip it says "NEW CLIP", showing some parts coming from Fukunaka Seisakusho. The plain black pen (on top) has no clip.

Remarkable pens with remarkable nibs, although they might not be the best match. But sure they are attractive and desirable.

My thanks to Ms. Lai.

Platinum pocket, steel and stripes – De Atramentis Jeans Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 6th 2018
etiquetas: nibmeister Kubo Kohei, Ban-ei, plumín, plumín musical

02 May 2018

Matching (XXII). A Platon

Historically, the Japanese pen industry has created a mixture of original models and of copies of successful designs from the West. Today’s pen in an example of the later—an obvious copy of the Waterman’s 100 year pen… by Platon.

The company Nakayama Taiyôdô, owner of the brand Platon, was active between 1919 and 1954, and created a number of pens made of celluloid and ebonite, some with maki-e decoration. Platon also implemented a wide variety of filling systems, although this was always a fertile field of experimentation among Japanese manufacturers.

Around 1950, Platon marketed the following pen:

A Platon pen from ca. 1950. JPY 350.

A Japanese eyedropper made of celluloid.

It’s original price was JPY 350. The pen is a Japanese eyedropper made of celluloid following the style of the iconic 100 year model made by Waterman.

The pen implements a steel nib, partially gold plated. The inscription reads "WARRANTED / PLATON / HARDEST / IRIDIUM / <3>".

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 130 mm
Length open: 120 mm
Length posted: 153 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 14.7 g

Even the clip follows the lines of the Waterman original. Both the clip and the cap itself, just above the band, are marked with the brand name: "PLATON".

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto.

Omas Ogiva Demonstrator – Tomikei Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 19th 2018
etiquetas: Platon, Waterman