17 August 2018

Signs of Change? (Ink Market)

On July 25th I wrote about a new line of inks by Sailor commissioned by Nakabayashi, a stationery company. As is often the case with Chronicles on new inks, I expected a big impact resulting in an increase in visits and a number of links point out at these pages.

But that was not the case at all. In fact, the news on these new inks on English-speaking fora barely raised any brow. This is a sharp contrast with the passionate reactions new inks, particularly by Sailor provoked not so long ago.

The "Blue Revolution" did not mobilize the masses.

Are ink aficionados saturated with all these new colors? Or is the market saturated of inks? The ironic detail is that at JPY 54/ml, these Sailor-Nakabayashi inks were not the most expensive Sailor inks in the market

Maybe the reasons are completely different. Maybe the colors of the “Blue Revolution” were not attractive. Maybe 50 ml inkwells were too big… All this is, so far, mere speculation, but I also think that the ink market has grown into a bubble of colors and prices.

And we might be seeing some signs of change.

Pelikan M800 "kodaishu" by Iwase – Sailor Red Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 17th 2018
etiquetas: Sailor, tinta, mercado, Nakabayashi

09 August 2018

Eclectic or Weak?

I have said this a number of times: fountain pens are obsolete objects, and there is nothing necessary in them. Then, on top of wanting fountain pens, we want them to be in certain way, even though some of those ways might be plain silly.

We want gold nibs. Sure steel nibs can be excellent and more often than not, a blind test would confuse most of us. But gold is gold; and, for some, the more the better.

We want feeders made of ebonite. Japanese makers have proved that plastic feeders work well when properly designed, but the more expensive ebonite is what rocks the boat of stylophiles.

We want self-filling mechanisms. Or, in other words, stylophiles want their fingers stained with ink. Cartridges and converters are too clean, too efficient, too functional. And if not a self-filling mechanism, an eyedropper pen would do it.

We want exotic and outdated materials for the pen body. Many despise current plastics and long for ancient and unstable celluloid like if current acrylic were not colorful enough. Ebonite is also a beloved material despite its propensity to discolor.

Those are, dare I say, the features many –or most— pen aficionados look for on modern pens. And they connect the collector of modern pens with those more fond of vintage fountain pens. In essence, this is the niche market for modern brands like Danitrio, Kanesaki-time Eboya, Gama, Masahiro, Romillo

An old pen by Eboya--ebonite body, ebonite feeder, button filler, gold nib. It belongs to the time when Kanesaki Noritoshi was in charge of the pen production.

And it goes without saying that most contemporary pens don’t fulfill those characteristics. The typical modern pen is made of plastic, implements plastic feeders and uses cartridges and converters. But that is not an obstacle for some of them to become iconic: Pilot Capless, Japanese pocket pens including the Pilot Myu, Lamy Safari

An iconic pen despite its steel nib, its plastic feeder, its filling system, and its material.

So, what do we want? Probably we want old fashioned pens, but we are also happy with almost any pen. Then, the competition in the market selects who wins. And given the available offer, we stylophiles are still too weak in front of the mass of occasional buyers. That or we are too eclectic and in one way or another any pen makes us happy.

Muji Aluminum – Diamine China Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 21st 2018
etiquetas: mercado, estilofilia

02 August 2018

At a Pen Show

Pen shows are always exciting events for the aficionado. They are also overwhelming and intimidating, but that is part of the appeal, for in a pen show, more is always more--and better.

Then, immersed in that abundance of pens –and with limited resources in the pocket—the aficionado faces a fundamental question:

‘How do I proceed?’

How do I proceed? (Madrid Pen Show 2012).

Some years ago I wrote a short list of tips on how to face a pen show. Then, members of the Spanish pen community through the forum “Foro de Estilográficas” (excuse the overwhelming adds, but it is hosted on a free server) added their insights and comments. This is what came out:


1. Keep focus on what you want. This might be a model, a brand, a category of some sort, etc. Your eyes and your brain will quickly filter the signal from the noise.
However, do not close your eyes totally to those pens not fitting your primary interest. A pen show is an exceptional opportunity to see and to touch extraordinary pens.

2. Do your homework—learn as much as possible about the pens you are specifically interested, check prices,… All that will help you to analyze the pens and to negotiate their prices.

Madrid Pen Show 2015.


3. Try to get a general view of the event before pulling the trigger. A pen show takes time and you cannot rush it. Gauge the right time to buy. On one hand, there are pens that will disappear quickly from the tables (and this is an additional reason why point 1 is important). On the other, at the last minute, vendors are keener on offering discounts.
You must understand and accept that you will not see all the pens on display. That is why point 1 is so important—at least you will see most of the pens you were interested on.

Tokyo Pen Trade 2017.


4. Ask, touch, try… and ask again. Ask for help if you needed it. Don’t be shy and learn from vendors and fellow visitors.

5. Inspect the pen carefully. Cracked nibs and barrels, fading colors, erosions… All that will serve you to negotiate the price and to avoid later disappointments. A magnifier comes in handy.

6. Negotiate and bargain... politely. Think of buying more than one pen for a lower price. Some vendors might accept a pen you want to sell as part of the payment.
If buying, get the data of the vendor for possible follow ups on the purchase. Not all vendors have the same policy.

Madrid Pen Show 2017.

May no one be afraid of a pen show. Everybody, even the more seasoned collector, is overwhelmed.


Montblanc 149 – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 2nd 2018
etiquetas: evento