28 September 2022


What kind of pens become anniversary pens? Among those made by the big three Japanese pen companies we can see three basic strategies.

– The most daring and expensive strategy is the creation of a new pen model for the occasion—a new pen with a new nib.

Such was the case of a number of commemorative pens by Pilot—the 65 in 1983, the Shijin pair in 1988... Platinum did the same with the piston filler of 1989 for its 70th anniversary. Sailor got close to it at the time of its 95th anniversary (2006) with the release of the first Realo pen.

Pilot 75th anniversary. After some minor variations it became the Custom 845.

Pilot, however, stands apart on this strategy as this company often transformed those limited editions in regular models, albeit with (minimal) variations. Thus, the 65 became the Custom 67; the Shijin became the Namikis Yukari Royale and Urushi 20, the 75th anniversary pen became the Custom 845...

– A second strategy is to revive some old successful or iconic model.

The original (bottom) and the reissue (top). The Myu-71 (1971) and the M90 (2008).

This was the case of two commemorative pens by Pilot—The M90 (2008) and the Elite 95s (2013). Both followed the patterns of the pocket pens popular in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s. The M90, modeled after the all steel Myu-701 (1971) was a limited edition of 9000 units. The Elite 95s, a renewed version of the second generation of the Pilot pocket pen, later became a regular model in the Pilot catalog, and the commemorative pen ended up diluted in the sea of regular pens.

Pilot's Elite 95s --the three pens on the left hand side-- together with their originals.

– Finally, companies use a third option—get a well known pen in the regular catalog and decorate it for the occasion. This decoration can be almost anything—from a very elaborate urushi-based pattern to a simple inscription on the body or nib.

Sailor's centennary pen. Variations on the well-known theme of the large Profit nib.

Examples of this are very numerous—Sailor's centenary pen, Platinum 25G in carbon fiber for the 90th anniversary (2009), Pilot's centenary flat top pen (2018), etc.

Many ways to celebrate an event or anniversary, some more expensive than others. But the bottom line is that these commemorative pens hold their value and are appreciated and sought after by the aficionado. At least, that is, if they were distinctive –even if marginally-- and were limited runs.

And all that because we, stylophiles, are very easy.

Sailor Candy Smurf – Unknown ink

Bruno Taut
September 27th, 2022
etiquetas: mercado, Japón, estilofilia

21 September 2022

100th Anniversary (III)

We have seen two affordable fountain pens (::1::, ::2::) Pilot made to commemorate its 100th anniversary. However, none of those was marketed. Instead, Pilot chose more elaborated and expensive pens to put them in the market.

The two clandestine centenary pens of Pilot's.

And what these affordable pens show is that not much is needed to create a commemorative edition: engrave a descriptive text on the body or on the nib of a regular model and claim it is a very limited release.

But there was a time, not that long ago, when Pilot –and other brands-- used anniversary pens to try new products and test the market. Such was the case of the 65th anniversary pen—the first modern balance model by Pilot--, or the Shijin pair for the 80th anniversary, later to become the Namiki Yukari Royale and Namiki Urushi 20; to name just a couple of them.

This strategy could understandably imply higher selling prices, but on this recent occasion –and big one it was--, Pilot followed a more traditional approach. Pilot chose a couple of well known canvases and decorated them lavishly and sold them at a premium—no innovation, no affordable prices. There was, though, an exception—the seven ring-top pens with maki-e decoration in a very limited edition of 25 set, but their prices were simply obscene (USD 48000).

USD 48000.

But Pilot did make affordable anniversary pens!

The side effect might be that these quasi secret pens might become all the more valuable in some years given their obscurity.

Pilot Custom 74-Yamada Seisakuzho – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
September 10th, 2022
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado

11 September 2022

Vpen of Wales

Good enough for a prince.

Pilot Vpen – Sailor Yama-dori (refilled)

Bruno Taut
September 11th, 2022
etiquetas: Pilot, Reino Unido

10 September 2022

100th Anniversary (II)

A second private pen released by Pilot on its 100th anniversary was the following Capless:

The 100th anniversary Pilot Capless.

It is a regular Capless in blue with golden trim. The nib is made of 18 K gold, dated on February of 2019. And the only unusual feature is the inscription on the barrel around the central ring:

“100 th / ANNIVERSARY / SINCE 1918 “

The box, also in blue, is very interesting--all the logos of the company are subtly printed on it.

Pilot made for its shareholders in 2019. On these pages I have already described another shareholder pen in the form of the Elite 95sof Pilot in 2015.

Again, an affordable anniversary pen that was never for sale.

Mannenhitsu-no Yamada Susutake – Ishimarubun Gunkanjima Sunset Grey

Bruno Taut
September 7th, 2022
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado, Capless

08 September 2022

100th Anniversary (I)

Pilot celebrated its 100th anniversary by the end of 2018. The commemorative pens released on the occasion were not particularly well received by the community. The cheapest of them all –the Meiji Maru pen—was JPY 150000 (plus taxes), which is not an inviting price to join the celebratory party.

Two of the anniversary pens that Pilot did release. The "Fuji" and the "Meiji-Maru". The later was the most affordable anniversary pen at JPY 150000. (Picture taken from pilot.co.jp).

Sure enough you could accept the consolation offered by the series of Iroshizuku inks (JPY 1600, 50 ml) associated to some of the commemorative pens. However, that is a very minor token –a consumable token— if compared to a more substantial pen. But it might only be that I am not into inks.

Seven Iroshizuku inks for the seven gods.

The question, anyway, is what was in the minds of the marketing experts at Pilot to choose this strategy to celebrate its 100th anniversary. And this question is even more compelling when we see that Pilot did produce some limited edition pens for internal consumption celebrating the anniversary.

One of them is a Custom 74 in translucent blue.

Not for sale.

This pen sports a dedicated cap ring with the inscription “PILOT 100th ANNIVERSARY SINCE 1918 JAPAN”. And the nibs is also signed accordingly: “PILOT / 100th / 14 K / <M>”, followed by the PP-F hallmark. Interestingly, this nib is not dated.

The undated centennial nib.

Not much information there exists about this pen save the note “not for sale”.

The Custom 74 is not just a black pen. On the contrary, it has been marketed in a number of colors and has become the canvas for some special editions. Consequently, it is not surprising to see it dressed as a commemorative pen.

But for some reason it was never for sale.

Pilot Capless, black trim – Lamy Dark Lilac

Bruno Taut
September 5th, 2022
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado

01 September 2022

The Green Grass

For some, the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) looks like paradise: “Japanese always keep the best products for themselves”, said a commenter on these same pages. But is that true?

Even if that was true, on-line trade does challenge that old structure of exclusive distributors associated to a well-defined location. Japanese pen companies might not like this idea, but there is not much they can do.

However, anchored as these companies are in this old model, they insist in marketing products just for certain markets. Then, in the same way as there are JDM pens and inks, there are Japanese products that are not distributed in Japan.

Such is the case of the following Capless “Black Stripes”:

Black Stripes.

But it can be found on-line. And whether this is better or worse, prettier of uglier than those regularly sold in Japan might be a matter of availability.

Assorted Capless, some made for non-Japanese markets.

After all, the grass is always greener on the other side of the border.

Nuart Antigua's Akatamenuri - Sailor Wagner ca 2010

Bruno Taut
September 1st, 2022
labels: Pilot, Capless, mercado