13 November 2019

Kubota´s Yamada

There is more to Japanese pens nowadays than just the big three companies. I have written about some of the smaller companies on these pages--Masahiro, Eboya, StyloArt Karuizawa, Hakase, Ohashido, Wajimaya Zen-ni... even about the elusive Iwase Seisakusho.

But I had never mentioned Yamada Fountain Pens.

This company was founded by Mr. Yamada in Matsumoto (Nagano Prefecture) in the early 1930s. As of today, Mr. Hiroyoshi Kubota manages the operation.

Yamada pens are made to order. Ebonite is the base material, and Mr. Kubota decorates them inserting a number of materials (mother of pearl, gold, silver) and by adding elements made of buffalo horn and ivory. Some of those can be seen on the pictures of this text.

Three Yamada pens with three different decorative techniques.

Nibs and feeds are either Pilot or Sailor. On the present examples they are Sailor, although attached to Pilot converters.

Yamada pen, Sailor nib, Pilot converter. Buffalo horn and silver rings.

The main problem of Yamada pens is, once again, their anonymity. Nothing in them allows for a clear identification of the maker, and only the nibs carry any inscription, albeit misleading as these are not Pilot or Sailor products. The identification of these pens must be made through its general aspect, which is never an easy way way to identify anything. The section of these pens, though, has a special and characteristic shape.

Yamada pens, Sailor nibs. And characteristic sections

But it is even worse than that--how do we contact Mr. Kubota? Yamada Fountain Pens does not have a website, and the most you can find is a postal address of the shop in Matsumoto, and a phone number.

Is this enough to keep the business running? Probably so--80 years of history speak high of the business model. Now, could Mr. Kubota enlarge the operation by becoming more accessible? Certainly so, but being a small business only that much demand he can meet.

And let´s not forget the appeal we collectors feel for the hard-to-find pen...

These are the contact details of Yamada Fountain Pens:
Mannenhitsu-no Yamada
2-5-11 Chuo
Nagano 390-0811
Phone: +81 (0)263 32 2931

My thanks to Poplicola-san.

Lucky 9159 – Kingdom Note Futukoshin Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 12th 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Pilot, Yamada Fountain Pens

03 November 2019


In 1973, Platinum released a series of pens called Amazonas. Their selling point was that they were coated with leather of the star-fingered toad.

In actual terms, we see forty-something years later, this was just one of the series of leather-coated pens Platinum marketed mostly between 1967 and 1979, and even beyond that as there is still a leather pen in the catalog of the brand. Most of those used sheep leather, some with some additional painted decoration, but there were also models with leather from more exotic animals: crocodile, lizard, snake...

Some of the Amazonas pens on a picture by Platinum. https://www.platinum-pen.co.jp/e_platinum_history_top.html.

The pens of the Amazonas series (PAM-8000 in the internal coding of Platinum) cost JPY 8000. They came in five colors: pink, red, green, light brown and dark brown. Pen-wise, they were cartridge-converters, with 18 K gold nibs with a  fingernail geometry. The dimensions are as follows:

Length closed: 134 mm
Length open: 120 mm
Length posted: 147 mm
Diameter: 13.0 mm
Weight: 20.7 g (dry, with converter)

On the picture we case see two examples of this series: in pink and in light brown. The first is a very regular model with a F nib.

Two of the Amazonas series of pens.

The pink Amazonas with an F nib.

The light brown unit, on the contrary, is special in several ways. First, because of the three-tined music nib, and this is remarkable in itself as most of these special editions limit their range of nibs to the usual triad of F, M, and B.

An unusual light brown Amazonas pen.

The unusual music nib of the light brown Amazonas pen.

And then, we find an unusual imprint on the cap.

The original imprint on the cap: "DNCONSTAN PLATINUM".

This engraving represents a Byzantine coin. It shows a profile bust and part of the usual inscription in those coins: “DNCONSTAN”. It should follow with TINUSPPAV showing that those coins could belong to the mid 7th century, the period when Constans II and Constatin IV reigned in Byzantium; or to the mid 4th century, the times of Constatius II (vid note infra). But on this pen, the second part reads “PLATINUM”. So, “DNCONSTAN PLATINUM”.

This pen was made in 1975, according to the date on the nib.

Was this a special pen? What is the meaning of this engraving? I have no answers to these questions, and the only thing I can do is to document this rarity.

NOTE on 06/Nov/2019: A couple of days after I published this text a very kind and informed reader sent a comment correcting my many mistakes. You can read it fully on the comments, and here I extract the important elements:

(...) The coin on the pen says D N CONSTAN in the first part of the inscription; I can't read the second half of the legend, but I can believe from the picture it's PLATINVUM. That word replaces the second half of the legend, which is missing.

The coin doesn't say ON but DN: D is Dominus, N is for Noster (Our Lord). We can't tell what the rest would have been, but the coin for Constans II in the wikipedia link is a good guess: it splits in the same place. That one reads, D(ominus) N(oster) Constan (break) tinus P(ater) P(atriae) AUG(ustus), with the final G apparently blurred into the edge.

The D N and the P P AUG are very well established elements of late Roman coins--Pater Patriae is Father of the Fatherland, Augustus is the late antique title for what we call the Roman Emperor. It is a common inscription to find. If one wanted to identify potential models, the Roman Imperial Coinage volumes would be of use--they list legends in an index, as I recall.

In my opinion, this iconography isn't that of the 7th c. but (of) the 4th--it looks like someone from Constantine I's family, my best guess being his son Constantius II's, from the 350s. See here (...) a gold solidus with a similar bust and inscription.

Now why that particular coin is there--that I'd like to know! Who embossed the leather? Did they, like Constantius, have Arian leanings?

My thanks to Poplicola-san. And to M Gubbins!

Opus 88 with Kanwrite nib – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 2nd 2019
etiquetas: Platinum, music nib