31 January 2019

Capless in 1966

The following advertisement (thanks, Kamisama) is from 1966:

It shows five different Capless models from three different generations: 1963, 1964, and 1965. The problem is that each of these generations of Capless used a different type of nib, and those types are not compatible. In other words, Pilot had to produce all three of them to satisfy the offer they had generated.

From left to right, models CS-100RW and C-100RW from 1965; C-200SW and C-300GW from 1964; and C-600MW from 1963.

These are the nib nits of the previous models--different year models use different nibs, and they are not exchangeable across model years.

The contrast with the current situation is startling: three different Capless models with just one type of nib unit that fits all of them!

From top to bottom, models Fermo, Décimo and (regular) Capless. All three of them use the same nib unit (although occasional incompatibilities have existed).

This example shows the crisis Pilot was experimenting during the 1960s. Another example of this inefficiency was the multiplicity of filling systems and cartridges Pilot manufactured at the time, as could be seen on a previous Chronicle.

The situation came to an end by 1969. A reorganization in the production and management, and the launching of some very successful model, resulted in a more powerful company.

Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Takeda Jimuki Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Chuo, January 22th, 2012
etiquetas: Capless, Pilot

28 January 2019

The IG Effect

Some of you might have seen that I have joined the ranks of Instagram (IG). That happened last October. Since then, I have published over 30 posts –30 pics-- with irregular reactions, and I have learned a couple of things.

IG creates a totally new context with new rules. Leigh Reyes made some very interesting remarks on her end-of-the-year recap, and I recommend reading them. I am more naïve, and more illiterate in all things Internet, but I cannot help offering my own observations.

With IG, the already volatile Internet is even more so. On one hand, the contents are not indexed and it is not possible to perform any real search within the IG world. Then comes the very short time during which contents are really active—that is, appearing on the feeds of other users.

My most successful post on IG.

The effect of this strategy, as Leigh Reyes pointed out, is that when we play the IG game we all become brands. The obvious consequence is the need to be present on the feeds and to be liked by others. To satisfy those we need to publish often even if we might publish essentially the same thing. And that because that is what the IG algorithm prioritizes.

Some more random posts of mine.

The lifetime of a post is about 48 hours. After that, it just rests confined to the list of your own posts. Therefore, it is not surprising that IG glorifies the image over the texts. Actually, it despises the texts—everything must be fast and easy to consume, and you consume all that on the go. So, the text editor is awful and the options for making later amendments, limited. But it does not matter—live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse...

Instagram works well for advertisement, but not for the calm consumption of information. In more than one sense, IG is incompatible with the slow life of a fountain pen. Incompatible with the way of the pen, the mannenhitsu-dô, 万年筆.

Pilot Petit-1, 1st generation – Pilot Brown

Bruno Taut
Chuo, Janaury 25th 2019
Etiquetas: redes sociales, metabitácora

24 January 2019

Even Rarer

Long time ago I wrote about one of those mysterious pens—a pen that is known to exist but that is so rare that has become almost mythical. That was the Platinum Knock, Platinum's take on the idea of a capless pen.

Platinum Knock-18. 18 K gold nib, JPY 3000, 1965.

That pen, marketed initially in 1965, was short lived due to the threats of Pilot to start legal actions. However, there were two versions of the pen: the initial one from 1965, and a second variation with a lighter cut-out clip in 1966.

The two versions of the Platinum Knock. From a panel at the temporary exhibition at Itoya Ginza (January-February 2019).

And now, thanks to a temporary exhibition on the history of Platinum hold at Itoya Ginza in Tokyo we can see that there existed an even rarer pen—the demonstrator version of the capless Platinum Knock.

The demonstrator version. Did it ever make its way to the street, even in the hands of a salesman?

So, let this be heard—there are transparent versions of the Platinum Knock, even if they were only prototypes.

Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, Janaury 20th 2019
Etiquetas: evento, Platinum, Pilot, capless

20 January 2019

Nagahara 2020

The bare news:

Nibmeister Yukio Nagahara will retire from his current position in Sailor in February of 2020. He plans to pursue an independent career under the name “The Nib Shaper”. Nagahara is already preparing the website of this new operation.

Who will succeed Nagahara in Sailor?

Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Sheaffer Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 20th 2019
Etiquetas: Sailor, nibmeister Yukio Nagahara

17 January 2019

Ohashido (I)

Besides the big three Japanese pen companies –Pilot-Namiki, Platinum-Nakaya, and Sailor– there are a bunch of small operations, some of which I have described on these Chronicles: Masahiro, Eboya,... I haven't spoken much about Ôhashidô, and that despite being very active in the local (Japanese) market.

Ôhashidô –Ôhashidô Ltd.– was formally founded in 1965, but it has its origins in Tokyo in 1912, when Yoshiharu Uemura open his workshop in Asakusa while working for SSS, the big company of the time. He moved to Sendai, about 300 km north of Tokyo, after the Big Kanto Earthquake in 1923 to work with inventor Kazuyoshi Hiratsuka. The new shop was located close to the Big Bridge (Ô-hashi) over the river Hirose. Ôhashidô means “the hall of the big bridge”.

The business was completely destroyed during the War. The operation revived around 1950 in the hands of Yoshiharu's son Eiichi Uehara, but not through manufacturing pens but by fixing them. The production of pens was resumed some years later, and by 1965 Ôhashidô Ltd. started formally.

In 2010, Eiichi's son Yuuichi Uehara took control of the company. He has become very active in the Japanese scene by attending a big number of sale events hosted by stationers and department stores where he sells his pens directly.

Yuuichi Uehara at work in Maruzen stationery in Nihonbashi (Tokyo).

The traveling rokuro (traditional lathe).

Ôhashidô's operation is quite unique. It seems anchored in the pre-industrial era. There is barely any system in the production: there are no model names, the warranty card is just Uehara's business card, there are no instruction sheets, etc... Contacting him is not easy either—he has no public email address, and only very recently he open a website (https://ohasibo.theshop.jp/).

As for the pens, they are made mostly in ebonite –sometimes from Nikko Ebonite, some other from old stocks of unclear origin--, and implement Sailor nibs of sizes medium and big (following Sailor names) in both 14 K and 21 K grades. In fact, for some time, Ohashido offered big nibs made of 14 K gold, which was not an option on Sailor pens. In a more distant past, Ohashido used nibs by Ishiwaka Kinpen Seisakusho, Kabutogi Ginjiro, and even Ishi Shoten (Yotsubishi). Some sources also speak of nibs made by Eiichi Uehara himself.

A big Ôhashidô nib made of 14 K gold. Of course, made by Sailor.

Pens for sale...

All current Ôhashidô pens use Sailor cartridges and converters. The later, at least, if the barrel was big enough, of course.

And on another Chronicle I will describe some Ôhashidô pen in detail.

Elysee pen, unknown model – Aurora Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Ohashido, Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho, Yotsubishi, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro

10 January 2019

Pen Obsessions

Once again, I encountered one of those pens that show the essential conflict between the collector and the historian, or between the the rarity and the icon. I am well aware that most collectors would not hesitate to choose the exception over the norm despite the fact that very little do these rarities offer to the understanding of the history of pens.

Today's pen is a prototype.

In 2001, on the occasion of its 90th anniversary, Sailor created the corresponding anniversary pen. This was called “Mannenhitsu Dôraku”, something like “pen obsession". That was a limited edition of 900 units, made of dark or clear briarwood. This was –dare I say-- one of the most interesting limited editions made by Sailor due to its two-fold nib—a cross nib in the Sailor way of naming its specialty nibs.

The final version of the 90th anniversary pen of Sailor's. 900 units in dark or clear briarwood.

The prototype also implements a double nib, but a more complex one: a King Cobra with an overfeed (called “emperor”) to ensure the ink supply.

The prototype.

This was, apparently, a proof of concept for the final anniversary pen. I can only guess that the actual cost of this combination, King Cobra nib plus overfeed, was finally too costly and was rejected.

A King Cobra nib with overfeed.

The very characteristic point of the King Cobra.

These are the dimensions of the prototype:

Length closed: 150 mm
Length open: 132 mm
Length posted: 175 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight: 41.0 g (inked)

In actual terms there is nothing unique to this pen... save the combination of elements. And stylophiles love it.

My thanks to Mr. Sekine.

Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 8th 2019
labels: Sailor, estilofilia, plumín

07 January 2019

Madrid 2018

The XV edition of the Madrid Pen Show is long over –it happened in November--, but it is still time to reflect on the outcome.

Number-wise, the results of this edition were not essentially different than those of the previous year—between 1500 and 1600 visitors along the three days of the event, 63 traders on 67 tables. Therefore, the results cannot be very different to those of 2017: about EUR 500,000 total business volume, with about EUR 6,000/vendor on average.

Some sources say, however, that on this occasion (2018), visitors were more willing to buy than in previous years. Another interesting detail was the presence of  pen aficionados from neighboring countries, thus making this event more international.

The novelties this year came in the form of auctions –on the day prior to the beginning of the show, and on the last day--, and a couple of seminars –on calligraphy and on urushi and maki-e techniques. Therefore, for the first time in the Madrid Pen Show, the event was supported on three legs—the commercial, the social, and the academic.

Finally, the new venue —Hotel Miguel Ángel— provided all of us with more room for enjoying it. The lack of room had been a historical inconvenient on the Madrid event. The only trouble was the irregular illumination in the lounge. This problem should not be difficult to solve, and many hope this was the case, as the Hotel Miguel Ángel will host the event for several years to come.

Ray Walter's in black ebonite, Franklin-Christoph music nib – Montblanc Irish Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 23th 2018
labels: evento, Madrid