19 November 2020

TIPS 2020

The third edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show –TIPS 2020— was celebrated on the weekend of November 6th to 8th. This alone, in these times of virus and infections, is just remarkable. Now, how was it?


Basic prophylaxis set the limits and conditions of such a potential massive event –remember that in 2019 there were about 2000 visitors. This year's event was organized in two-hour slots –seven of them— with 100 people in each of them. And that set a limit of 700 attendees. In contrast, the number of tables was barely smaller: 60 vs. 70 in 2019.

So, there were the boundary conditions on which those 700 visitors went in search of pens... or other objects. What we found was not any different to what we had seen in 2019—a stationery salon.



By that I mean a space where shops and makers show and present their new products as opposed to a place where collectors search for that rarity, and where there is some actual trading. So, the bulk of the pen show was dedicated to new products—pens, inks, paper, accessories; and only a handful of tables displayed vintage and second hand pens. Of them, only one –shared by two well-known traders— had those pens as its basic argument.

New stuff.

Vintage stuff.

One interesting element on this event is that it acts as an exhibit of a number of small pen makers whose products are not distributed through the usual distribution channels and are not present at the traditional stationers in town. Such is the case of Ohashido, StyloArt Karuizawa, Eboya, Takayuki, Matsuda Maki-e, Laurett's, Chriselle, Tetzbo, Hirai Woodturner...

Some of those small makers with very limited distribution.

I have said in the past that the East-Asia concept of a pen show is different from those in the West, but it is a successful idea. And giving the harsh times we are facing, it is excellent news TIPS 2020 came to exist.


Super Gold Line JIS 3232 — Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
November 19th 2020
etiquetas: Tokyo, evento

18 November 2020

JIS 3232

After showing a luxurious pocket pen, a Yotsubishi with urushi-e decoration, it might be worth to describe a plain and functional workhorse with the same structure.

This particular pen carries a non descriptive name on the cap —”SUPER GOLD LINE”— which might be the brand name or not. The nib, however, is more informative as it is imprinted with the JIS number 3232. It corresponds to the operation of Haruo Kawakami, which, according to Masa Sunami, made parts to order. Therefore this might very well be a nib unit made for a pen produced and manufactured by some unknown company.

A Super Gold Line, according to the inscription on the cap.

Two details strike out as different on this pen if compared to most pocket pens. The first one is that the barrel and the section do not separate on the central ring —now almost just decorative—, but well down in the section. This geometry, though, is not unique—some pocket pens by Morison share this feature.

Two unusual pocket pens--Morison on top, Super Gold Line on bottom.

The other unusual element is a space in the barrel for a seal stone. Again, this is not unique to this pen. In fact, we had seen this in a Swan pen from the 1910s and in a wartime Asahi Tsubasa.

Under the blind cap of the barrel there should be a stone on which to engrave a seal.

Pen-wise we have a stainless steel nib associated to a cartridge filler. Trial and error attaching cartridges led to the old double-spare cartridge by Pilot. However, it is very possible this pen had some dedicated cartridge that could fit inside the barrel.

These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 119 mm
Length open:97 mm
Length posted: 145 mm
Diameter: 12.0 mm
Weight: 11.6 g

The steel nib with the JIS number 3232 registered by Kawakami Haruo. Under the name it reads "S63".

So all in all here we have a workhorse pen with some unusual features in pocket pens. And this pen also informs us of the ways of Haruo Kawakami in the 1960s or early 1970s.


Opus 88 Koloro — Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 16th 2020
etiquetas: Kawakami Haruo, Morison

13 November 2020

Pocket Yotsubishi

Yet another pocket pen?

Pocket pens were not necessarily inexpensive pens despite its reduce size. In fact, as we have seen, these pens sported some unusual and exotic nibs, like those made of high purity gold in the early 1970s.

Ishi Shoten (or Ishi & Company, or Ishii Seisakusho, or Ishi Shoten Yotsubishi) was founded in 1925 by Yoshinosuke Ishii. From very early on, this company aimed at the market of maki-e and urushi-e decorated pens. After the War, this company made some of the most delicate decorated pens made in Japan. Ishi Shoten pens are usually labeled with the brand Yotsubishi (Yotubishi in an alternative transliteration).

The Ishi Shoten pen I am showing today is a pocket pen decorated with the urushi-e technique of “kanshitsu-ishime”. This is no ordinary pocket pen. As is often the case on maki-e and urushi-e pens, the decoration becomes its primary argument.

As a pen, this is a typical pocket pen. However, the decoration –the think layer of urushi— keeps it from posting fully; that is, with the cap reaching the central ring (this problem is not shown on the pictures).

A Yotsubishi pocket pen.

The dimensions are as follows:
Length closed: 119 mm
Length open: 101 mm
Length posted: 148 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 12.3 g

The pen, in the basic disassembled state. An unusual feature of this pen is that the bottom end of the section, together with the nib and the feed, can be unscrewed from the rest. This can be useful for a thorough cleaning of the pen.

This pen uses Platinum cartridges.

The nib is made of 18 K gold and it is engraved with the four-diamond logo of Yotsubishi. This style of nib was present in other pens of the brand in the early 1960s. However, the first pocket pens, made by Sailor, were marketed in 1963.

The engraving on the nib simply says "18 K" together with the company logo on both sides.

Yotsubishi pens are hard to find and and very valued by the connoisseur. And expensive.


My thanks to Mr. Furuya.


Pilot Grandee, Sterling silver – Pilot Light Green cartridge

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 12th 2020
etiquetas: Maki-e, Yotsubishi