31 March 2021

Tagayasan, Year 0

Dating Sailor pens in often tricky.

As I have shown previously, the date stamped on their nibs between the late 1960s and 2017 was a three-digit number, on which the first of them was the last digit of the manufacturing year. And the other two were the month. This system creates a basic uncertainty—to which decade does the first digit belong?

That question is not always easy to answer as some models span their lives over several decades.

Such is the case of the following pen—a “precious wood” made of tagayasan wood. Tagayasan (鉄刀木, literally iron sword wood) is the Japanese word for Senna siamea, one of the multiple variations of ironwood.

When was this pen made?

According to Masa Sunami [Lambrou and Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. 2012], the first wooden pen by Sailor was marketed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the begining of the Meiji period. That first wooden pen implemented a number of parts from previous models, and by 1972 the idea had adopted a new style and became as well a canvas for maki-e decorations. These pens, following the trend of the moment, had 23 K gold nibs.

This pen, from 1966, served as model for the 1968 wooden pen to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Meiji Period. The pen in the picture is made of plastic.

Sailor pen from 1972. The decoration is maki-e over ebony. The nib is made of 23 K Au.

Since then, this model has seen several variations in different materials and finishes—-mammoth ivory, wood, maki-e decorations--, and with different gold grades for the nib.

The same pen, this time made of mammoth ivory, a material not subject to restrictions. 1988.

In fact, these pens were included in the Sailor catalog up to 2009 as canvas for the most elaborated maki-e decorated pens made by Sailor at the time.

Page 2 of the Sailor catalog of maki-e decorated pens of 2008.

So, when was this “tagayasan” pen made?

This pen is a cartridge-converter, as was the case of all Sailor pens made between 1960 and 2006. The nib is made of 18 K gold. Its dating code is 003, meaning March of a year ending in 0.

Ebony (top) and ironwood (bottom).

The tagayasan pen, disassembled.

The nib and the feed. The engravings on the nib read "18 K / SAILOR", "4 003", and the JIS mark. 4 means this is a medium nib.

But, is it 1980, 1990 o 2000? Hard to say.

The closest relative to this tagayasan pen is a series of precious wood pens prepared by Sailor in 2003 thinking of the US market. However, those pens never entered production [Lambrou and Sunami. Fountain Pens of Japan. 2012]. But this pen is remarkably similar, including the grade of the gold nibs: 18 K.

This detail makes me think of 2000 as the year of production of this tagayasan pen. But this is just a speculation. More research is needed.

What we do know, though, is that this is a well-made pen, very reliable, and attractive. And collectable in its relative rarity.

My thanks to Mr. Kanesaki and Mr. Shimizu.

Ohashido - Lamy Petrol

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 30th, 2021
etiquetas: Sailor

17 March 2021

Curidas (IV). One Year Later

It was about this time last year when the Platinum Curidas became available in the market. It was released after a lot of hype and some delays that made it both desired and scarce during those early weeks of Spring 2020. Now, one year later, what can be said about it?

I have been using intermittently three units-one with each point. My use was not excessive in any moment—they were part of the pens I had inked, and they rarely left my desk.

These are my observations after a year of irregular use:

– The nibs perform correctly. They are smooth, and the ink flow is correct and constant.

Not much difference between the EF and the F nib points. Other than that, pleasant nibs. The problems are somewhere else.

– The retracting mechanism, on the contrary, is far from being acceptable. Out of the three units, only one works smoothly. The other two are very slow at closing the lid when retracting the nib. There are also some reports of nibs becoming dry,  possibly due to a deficient closing of the lid.

– Occasionally, the nibs have become stuck inside the barrel and could only be released by carefully pushing the nib unit from the front –i.e. from the nib point-- backwards. In one case, out of three, the nib unit became stuck every single time I tried to use it. So, it became useless and in need to repair.

So, the conclusions on the Platinum Curidas cannot be positive. The mechanism and the nib unit need further refinement in order to become reliable. In the meantime, the pen is simply not good enough.

Ohashido - Lamy Petrol

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 17th, 2021
etiquetas: Platinum, capless

09 March 2021

Against Marketing: New Parker 51

This is not new, and years ago I already argued in favor of the original model over the opportunistic re-issue:

Against marketing, history.

And that argument is again relevant on the occasion of the Parker 51. Well, the release of the newest version.

New or old?

Is it pertinent? Does it add anything to the market and to the old model?

The Parker 51 is, according to some sources, the best selling pen in history with well over 20 million pens sold. And this means that there are many Parker 51 available in the secondary market, and for not much money.

New and old.

The new Parker 51 with gold nib (JPY 33000, plus tax).

For the uninitiated, the classic Parker 51 is a well-built pen that was marketed in a number of finishes and sizes, with a variety of nibs –14 K gold and steel--, and with three different filling systems—vacumatic, aerometric and cartridge/converter. The very common aerometric, in particular, is a extraordinary pen in terms of durability and performance. And its price in pen shows, antique shops and flea markets can be as low as EUR 50 (about JPY 6500)--if not lower.

Two Parker 51 (top and middle), and a Parker 21 Super (bottom). The 21 is an alternative to the 51 for even less.

A collection of classic Parker 51. None of them cost more than EUR 200.

On the contrary, the newly-released Parker 51 comes only as a cartridge/converter, with two possible nibs –18 K gold and steel--, and with two nib points –F and M. And all that for JPY 12000 (steel nib) of JPY 33000 (gold nib).

And what can you buy in Japan for that money? A lot. For those prices, the big three Japanese companies offer about half dozen models with gold nibs nad many more options in nib points and filling systems.

So, we could conclude that neither as a classic pen or as novelty, the new Parker 51 makes much sense in the Japanese market. Parker, obviously, thinks differently.

WiPens Bokumondoh Kanshitsu – Lamy Petrol

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 9th, 2021
labels: Parker, mercado, Japón