30 November 2019

Sapporo Green

One of the current strategies of the Sailor Pen Company is the production of "original" pens and inks. These pens and inks are unique and exclusive for that particular shop, who ordered them. The reasons for those shops to order these unique goods are easy to understand--they have something new and unique to offer to their customers and that differentiates them from the rest of retailers. This proliferation of unique pens and inks, allow me to add, was one of the key elements of the success of the Tokyo International Pen Show and of the Inkunuma Fair in the last months.

In comparison, the other two big pen companies in Japan are very shy--they barely offer any original pen for other companies. They ocasionally do --Platinum Izumo for Kingdom Note and Pilot Custom 845 for Asahiya Kami Bungu and Nagasawa are some examples--, but just not that often.

One of these rare examples is the following Pilot Custom 74 Sapporo Green in transluscent green.

Pilot made it in 2018 for the stationer Miyoshi-ya, in Sapporo, on the ocasion of the 60th anniversary of this company. 100 unnumbered units were released with three different nib points--F, M and B.

The pen carries a special engraving on the cap ring -"MIYOSHI 60th"- instead of the regular "PILOT CUSTOM 74". The nib -the usual size 5 in 14 K gold- is also personalized with the figure of a squirrel by a laser.

The price, as is often the case of these original pens, is more expensive that the regular model: JPY 20000 vs JPY 10000 (that became JPY 12000 earlier this year).

This transluscent green Custom 74 is an attractive pen although it does not offer anything new over the regular model. But collectors strive for the rarity and 100 units are a powerful argument.

Opus 88 Koloro – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 30th, 2019
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado, Miyoshi

25 November 2019

Industria Brasileira

Years ago, in 2013, I wrote a Chronicle on the Brazilian plant built by Pilot in 1954. I inserted some local ad and some reports published on the Pilot Times, the internal magazine of the company.

Pilot pens and inks made (or assembled) in Brazil.

Now, six years later, I want to complete the information with the description of a pen produced in that Brazilian plant of Pilot´s--the Pilot 77.

This pen is indeed a member of the Super family of pens made by Pilot in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In fact, its nib is remarkably similar --if not the same-- to the unit present in the model Super 150, a late arrival to the family. The difference is that the Brazilian nib is made of steel instead of gold, and is not dated.

Pilot 77´s steel nib. No gold, no date.

Pilot Super 150´s steel nib. 14 K gold, JIS mark, August of 1962.

The filling system is the well-known "hose-shiki" that we can find in Pilot pens between 1955 and 1964. The body, made of plastic, carries the inscription "PILOT 77 / IND. BRASILEIRA".

The engraving reads "PILOT 77 / IND. BRASILEIRA".

Two questions arise in here: When the pen was made, and whether it was manufactured in Brazil or just assembled with parts made in Japan.

To the first, my best guess given the simmilarities with the Super 150, is that this Brazilian (Super) 77 was made in the mid 1960s.

To the second, I am inclined to think that the parts were Japanese and were assembled in Brazil. The reason being that there are no differences between the components of this pen and those seen on the Japanese units.

These are the dimensions of this pen:
Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 118 mm
Length posted: 147.5 mm
Diameter: 11.2 mm
Weight: 13.9 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.6 ml

Pilot do Brasil remains in business as producer of stationery goods. However, and despite the new manufacturing plant open in 2013, Pilot do Brasil does not make fountain pens nowadays, and the only fountain pen-related item produced in that plant is fountain pen ink in blue in bottles of 500 ml (::1::, ::2::).

Pilot ink made in Brazil.
(Picture taken from http://www.pilotpen.com.br/).

My thanks to my friend Panchovel.

Romillo WiPens – Montblanc Irish Green

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 24th, 2019
etiquetas: Brasil, Pilot, tinta

21 November 2019

Madrid Pen Show 2019

The 16th edition of the Madrid Pen Show finished last Sunday and I want to offer some personal reflections on the event.

The bare numbers are not very different to those of the 2018 edition: about 1650 visitors, 65 traders (2 more than in 2018) on 73 tables. The estimates speak of a business volume in the area of EUR 500,000 with an average of EUR 7000 per trader.

The good news is the cntinuous success of this event. Being the biggest pen show in Europe is not an easy accomplishment before countries with a powerful pen industry and a very rich pen tradition.

The less positive news is the relative old age of most visitors. Fountain pens seem to attract people of certain age... in the Old World. But that is not the case in East Asia, where there is a big body of young aficionados. Then, the question is whether there was anything that could be done to expand the hobby among younger generations in Spain and in Europe in general.

But so far, the current formula works very well, and the Madrid Pen Show is the annual festival of the Spanish pen community. A party where everybody is welcome, as the increasing number of foreign visitors shows.

Romillo Eo – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 21th, 2019
etiquetas: Madrid, evento

13 November 2019

Kubota´s Yamada

NOTE (July 8th, 2023): There are some inaccuracies on this text: although the business Mannenhitsu-no Yamada strated in the early 1930s, the production of pens by Mr. Kubota started only in the 1980s or early 1990s. Some more informantion can be found on the following link: https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2023/07/mannenhitsu-no-yamada.html.

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 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 Fukutoshin Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 12th 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Pilot, Mannenhitsu-no Yamada

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 these leather coated pens: one in pink and in another in light brown. The first is a very regular model with a F nib.

Two of the leather-coated series of pens.

The pink Amazonas (possibly) 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 lather pen.

The unusual music nib of the light brown leather-coated 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?

NOTE on 01/Aug/2020: Commenter Jyrki Muona suggested that my text implied that these pens belonged to the Amazonas series sporting some exotic leather. That could be the case of the pink unit, but is less likely so for the light brown pen with the coin decoration. In any event, it is difficult on both cases to determin the actual origin of their coatings. I have corrected my text to eliminate that ambiguity. Thanks!

My thanks to Poplicola-san. And to M Gubbins and to J. Muona.

Opus 88 with Kanwrite nib – De Atramentis Beethoven

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