Showing posts with label Bock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bock. Show all posts

28 February 2019

The Kubo Singularity

The big three Japanese pen companies make their own nibs, and it seems very hard to get those nibs as spare parts or as third party nibs for other makers. However, there are cases of that:

Hakase uses Pilot and Sailor nibs with their own original imprint. Ohashido and Taccia do the same with Sailor nibs.

A Pilot nib labeled as Hakase.

The rest either use Pilot nibs without any modification –StyloArt Karuizawa— or use some of the traditional supplies of third party nibs: Bock for Eboya and Masahiro (although previously Masahiro implemented Pilot nibs); JoWo for Taccia (lower end pens) and Wajimaya Zen-ni.

A JoWo nib labeled as Taccia.

The newcomer Iwase Seisakusho aims at sourcing its nibs from old nibmeister Kubo Kohei for its original pens. However, this is still an uncertain operation whose continuity we can only speculate about. Not to mention that the old age of Kubo Kohei –pushing 90 years old-- might affect any plan for a long term supply of parts.

Nibmeister Kubo at work.

But the bottom line is that Kubo Kohei is the sole independent maker of nibs in Japan, and his production is small, slow and artisanal.

Is there room –and market— for another independent operation in Japan to supply nibs and feeds to small pen companies?

Iwase Seisakusho prototype with Henckel nib – Takeda Jimiku Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Chuo, February 12th 2019
Etiquetas: Pilot, plumín, mercado, Sailor, Eboya, Hakase, Ohashido, Iwase Seisakusho, Taccia, Bock, JoWo, Wajimaya, nibmeister Kubo Kohei

14 July 2018

Nib Sizes, Feed Diameters

Few elements in a pen are really standardized. Each maker created –still creates– many of the components and they only had to match the other parts of the pen without any regard to other manufacturers.

The closes one could get to normalization was in the area of nibs, where at some point there was a consensus about their sizes. In that environment, sizes 6 and 8 were quite big; sizes 10 and 12 were huge, rare, expensive and highly desirable.

And half the world away, Japanese pen makers had their own life to live. Sure Pilot numbered their nibs in a similar fashion --from 0 to 8--, but the consistency in the size was far from exemplary. Sailor, on its side, used some crazy numbers—sizes 30, 80, and 200 for some of the nibs that, in actuality, were rather small.

An old Sailor nib labeled as size 30.

Nowadays, Japanese makers are very consistent in the sizing of their nibs, but the naming is very arbitrary.

Pilot, on its more common line of nibs, calls them as 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50. These numbers, however, do not mean much.

Platinum has three basic nibs—the 3776 with two and three tines, and the President. There is no indication of size.

Sailor, finally, has three basic sizes called medium, big and superbig.

And in the West, German nibs –third party nibs—tend to follow a more systematic approach. Bock nibs, albeit having their own number, follow a relevant pattern—the diameter of the feed. And the same happens with JoWo nibs: the feed diameter sets the nib size.

So, the question is how all these nibs –Japanese and German—compare. The following tables show the diameters of the feed of some manufacturers:







5 6.0
10 6.2
15 6.4
20 6.5
30 7.6
50 9.0

Pilot and Namiki nibs. From left to right, sizes 5, 10, 15, 20, and 50. Sizes 20 and 50 are implemented currently only on Namiki pens. However, the examples here shown are still Pilot (::1::, ::2::). Missing on the table is size 3. And from the picture, sizes 3 and 30.







3776 old model

music 2-tined nib

3776 new model 6.5

Two 3776 nibs. These are the nibs implemented on Nakaya pens, the "alter ego" of Platinum. On the left, the feed and the nib of the old version of the regular nibs. This feed is still used on the music nibs of Platinum and Nakaya. On the right, the modern nib and feed of the 3776 series of pens and of Nakaya pens save for the cases of music nibs. Missing on the table and on the picture, the President nib.







Medium 5.8
Big 6.4

Sailor nibs and feeds of sizes medium (left) and big. Missing on the picture and on the table, the "super big" size of the "King of Pen" models.







060, 076, 180 5.0
220, 250 6.0
380 8.0







#5 5.0
#6 6.0
#8 8.0

From left to right: Bock model 250 (6.0 mm in diameter), Bock model 380 (8.0 mm), and JoWo nib of size #6. All the feeds on the picture are made of ebonite.

The following pictures show how some of those nibs compare across brands.

Japanese nibs with similar external sizes. From the top left, clockwise: Sailor nib size big, Platinum 3776 Century (current model), Platinum 3776 (previous model), Pilot size 10.

Assorted pens whose nibs are about the size of a size 6 nib. From bottom left, clockwise: Pelikan M800, Clavijo with a JoWo #6, Senator pen with a Bock 250 (6.0 in diameter), Eboya with a Bock 250, Romillo with a Bock 250, Pilot with a size 20 nib, Pilot with a size 15 nib, and a Montblanc 146.

Assorted pens with nibs of about a size 8. From the bottom, clockwise: Romillo with a Bock 380, Eboya with a Bock 380, Montblanc 149, Pelikan M1000, and Sailor King of Pen.

The conclusion is interesting: Japanese follow their own systems and the actual sizes are very different to those of the German manufacturers.

Montblanc 149 – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 13th 2018
etiquetas: plumín, Japón, Alemania, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, Bock, JoWo

13 July 2015

Early Pilot Nibs. I. Introduction

Few things are standard in the world of fountain pens. Each pen brand seems to create its small world with its own systems of names and measurements. A very clear example of this lack of standards is the way pen makers number their nibs. Many aficionados as well as traders simplify the wide gamut of Bock nibs as being of sizes 5, 6 or 8, which are, in actual terms, the diameters of their corresponding feeds. But those numbers have little to do with Pilot’s –to name just one company— nibs labeled as 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 50. Sailor and Platinum, on their side, do not even bother to number their nibs nowadays.

A Bock nib, with a 6 mm feed, on an Eboya pen (formerly Nebotek).

Sailor nibs in three different sizes.

Four modern Pilot nibs in size 15.

In the early days of Pilot, the numbering system was very different: from 0 to 8, with the possible exception of 7, plus 20 and 50. Now, do those numbers mean anything?

With this text I am starting a new series of Chronicles aiming at describing all these nibs, and to analyze whether those numbers really meant anything. This is, needless to say, a work in progress.

Four Pilot nibs from the 1920s. They are labeled as sizes 1 and 3.

One additional note: The title speaks of “early” nibs. By that I mean all those nibs that followed a more or les consistent system of numeration. This came to an end with the implementation of the Super model in 1955. Up to that year, the vast majority of Pilot pens sported open nibs (i. e, showing the feed as well) labeled with what seemed to be a normalized numbering. Therefore, “early” means, more or less, before 1955. And implicit on this classification is the hope that those standards were maintained over all those years.

This series is a joint effort of some pen enthusiasts who offered their assistance to compile all the information. Their names are N. Syrigonakis and A. Zúñiga.

Platinum pocket pen, black stripes – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Chuo, June 13th, 2015
etiquetas: plumín, Pilot, Bock, Sailor, Platinum, Eboya

06 April 2015


Kuretake pens use Bock nibs.

Kuretake is a very traditional company, founded in 1902, from Nara. Its original product was solid ink, sumi. However, along its history several technological developments (liquid sumi ink in 1955, relfillable brush pen in 1991, to name just a couple of them) pushed the company into the business of brush pens. Only in 2008, Kuretake started making fountain pens.

A Kuretake brush pen together with a written sample.

The current Kuretake fountain pens are cartridge-converters and implement size 6 nibs by Peter Bock in 14 K gold. Medium point seems to be only option. Their prices range between JPY 50000 and JPY 60000, before tax.

A Kuretake pen on display at Maruzen in Tokyo. The price is clearly marked: JPY 60000, plus tax.

Another Kuretake fountain pen. This model is cheaper: JPY 50000, plus tax.

The obvious German nib. Medium point is the only option.

The clip.

There seem to be no problem in writing Japanese with these German nibs (::1::, ::2::).

Platinum 3776 (1984), B nib – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Chuo, April 1st, 2015
etiquetas: Bock, Kuretake

10 February 2015


The history of fountain pens in Spain is the story of a frustration—a big number of operations that failed to create a sustainable activity. Inoxcrom and, to a much lesser degree, STYB were the only survivors of the more or less glorious days of Spanish pens in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, in recent years, several small pen brands have appeared in Spain to cater the stylophile craving for more artisanal writing tools. Estilográficas Clavijo and Gimena are two examples of them.

Romillo Essential.

The better known of all those new companies is, however, RomilloPens. The Romillo family founded the brand in 2007 and after a couple of years of experiments, the RomilloPens Essential was launched. Since then, about 10 models have been produced. All of them save the latest arrival called The Celluloid Collection, are made of German ebonite.

Two Romillos with Bock nibs in sizes 6 and 8.

Initially, all the nibs were made by Bock –sizes 6 and 8. After some years, in 2012, they started the production of a flexible nib, the K nib. Apparently very flexible, there are reports questioning the ability of the feed to provide the required inkflow. Starting in 2013, RomilloPens makes its own nibs (sizes 7 and 9), albeit feeds are still provided by Bock.

The philosophy of the company is to make pens resembling old models from the 1910s and 1920s using traditional materials and implementing arcane filling systems, although cartridge and converters are an available option for some models. RomilloPens claims all its pens were made by hand—obviously an exaggerated claim as lathe and files are in order to machine the ebonite. However, being made to order allows for a great deal of customization.

The final result is an attractive product with a steep price. In fact, for an average of EUR 1000, many an aficionado might, in fact, prefer a real vintage pen in pristine condition to a newly made pen without the glamour and tradition of a well known name.

The flagship of RomilloPens is the model Nervión. On the image, the version made of terracota ebonite with a size 8 nib by Bock.

This is a risky initiative, and a brave one too. Can the market support it? Time will tell. This luxury market is very competitive; most pen companies have luxury models, and there are some small operations specifically targeting this high-end sector. And at the end,... Montblanc wins.

NOTE ON THE NAMES: The name of the pen brand is, actually, RomilloPens, and is owned by the company Pixeline S. L. Romillo is the name of the founding family. RomilloPens, however, sounds strangely artificial in Spanish (probably in English too) and I tend to use the family name, Romillo, as the brand name.

Romillo Nervión Terracota – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 27th, 2014
etiquetas: España, mercado, RomilloPens, Bock

31 July 2014


Some months ago, over a year now, the Italian brand Delta launched a strange nib. Strange, but with a lot of hype on the benefits of its unusual structure.

The Delta Fusion is, in actual terms, a steel nib topped with a gold hat. This combination, Delta advertisement claimed, provided an improved flow because the interface steel-gold raised the temperature of the ink, this rendering it more fluid…

Delta's Fusion nib, made by Bock.

The reverse side of the very same nib--an untipped stub. These two pictures are courtesy of KMPN.


If so, any gold plated steel nib should provide the same effect. Let us remember that interfacial effects only involve some few layers of material –of gold and steel in this case— and no especially thick coatings were needed.

Two "fusion" nibs by Pilot.

But on top of this fallacy there another one—Delta’s nib is not even a novelty! A long time ago in a galaxy far away Wearever created another hybrid nib. On this case, however, the writing material –or that supporting the writing point—was gold, and steel was used to attach the nib to the feed and to the section.

A "hybrid" nib by Wearever. The steel plate holds the gold nib in place.

Both cases follow the same argument—how do we reduce the gold content of the nib while preserving the added value of the gold nib itself? A number of strategies have been attempted along the history of pens. Delta’s is simply the last one—and the most ridiculous of the lot.

My thanks to Wagner member Shokubutsuen and to KMPN, whose pictures of the Delta Fusion nib are greatly appreciated.

Pilot Custom 74, music nib – Gary’s Red-Black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, July 23rd 2014
etiquetas: plumín, Delta, Wearever, soluciones técnicas, Bock

28 January 2014

Hidden Origins

A simple and obvious observation for today. And an implicit classification as well.

The number of fountain pen companies that actually manufacture their own nibs and feeds is not that numerous. However, many of those using third-party nibs hide this fact. Some, very actively: they label the nibs as theirs and hardly disclose their origin.

A second group imprints those nibs with their own logo, but they reveal the name of the manufacturer promptly if requested. In Japan, Hakase –Sailor and Pilot nibs—, and Ohashido –Sailor nibs— belong to this group.

A Pilot nib, a Hakase pen. It is labeled as Hakase.

A Sailor nib of an Ohashido pen labeled as Ohashido.

A Bock nib in a Nebotek pen. The nib has no marking other than the Bock logo.

Finally, a small group keeps some signs on the nib that allow for a quick and easy identification. At least, for most aficionados. Stylo-Art Karuizawa –which implements Pilot and Platinum nibs— and Nebotek –Bock nibs— are clear examples of this policy.

P. S: Around January 2014, Nebotek pens changed its name to Eboya.

Ferme pocket pen, 18 K nib – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 28th, 2014
etiquetas: plumín, Hakase, Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Ohashido, Nebotek, mercado, Pilot, Bock, Sailor, Platinum.

11 August 2013


Some reflections on the pen industry for today.

I can find three categories among fountain pen manufacturing companies:

1. Companies that produce all the elements by themselves. Limited to Japan, Pilot-Namiki, Platinum-Nakaya, and Sailor belong to this group.

2. The second group is formed by companies that use nib and feed made by other companies and manufacture the rest—body and filling system. Nebotek, in Japan, is a clear example of this way of working—nibs and feeds are purchased from Bock, the pen body is turned out of the in-house ebonite, and the filling systems are devised and build by themselves.

A Bock nib made of titanium in a Nebotek pen. The section is made of the in-house ebonite (Nikko Ebonite).

3. Finally, pen companies in the third group buy nibs, feeds and filling systems —mostly cartridge/converters— made by some other companies. Their creations are then limited to turning and decorating the pen body and cap. Ohashido, Hakase, Stylo-Art Karuizawa certainly belong to this category. In fact, these companies buy complete pens from the big three Japanese companies and discard barrel and cap: Ohashido uses Sailor parts; Hakase uses Sailor and Pilot’s; Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Pilot and Platinum. Nebotek´s cartridge-converter pens could also be ascribed to this third group.

Hakase pen made of ebony wood. The nib is a size 15 made by Pilot. The ink converter is the CON-70 by Pilot.

A Pilot nib signed by Hakase.

Another Hakase pen. On this case, the nib is a medium size made by Sailor. It is signed by Hakase.

It is fair to question the actual authorship of the pens of the last group—is an Ohashido pen so much more than a Sailor equipped with the same medium size nib? Are Hakase so much better than their Pilot or Sailor equivalents?

The paradox is that, more often than not, those making less (Hakase, Stylo-Art, Ohashido) sell their pens for much more than those manufacturing everything. Two reasons are often cited to justify these higher prices: One is the quality of the final nib tuning as done by the in-house nibmeisters. The second reason values the final beauty of these pens over that of the original Pilot, Platinum or Sailor. These pen-body makers often use urushi-coated ebonite, exotic woods, buffalo horns…

An Ohashido nib made by Sailor. Despite being labeled as S (soft), it is a very rigid nib.

This Ohashido pen is decorated with green lacquer. Note the Sailor ink cartridge.

To the first reason it could be argued that the nib tuning can be made by many other people for much less money. In Japan, it would only take a visit to a Wagner meeting or to a pen clinic organized by those major companies in stationery shops and department stores.

To the second point the argument is easier, but also more personal: did you buy a pen or a jewel with a nib (::1::, ::2::)? Some still remember that the wise man follows the nib instead of the pen, but that might work only for those who write with their fountain pens. And this can be said for any pen brand in a moment in which jewels with nibs are a big part of the business.

Now, the possible conclusions derived from derived from this classification are up to the reader. On my side, I just want be aware of what I buy for our money.

Some more reflections were exposed on the Chronicle "Artisanal".

P. S: Around January 2014, Nebotek pens changed its name to Eboya.

Sailor Profit, Naginata Togi nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
June-August, 2013
labels: mercado, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Nebotek, Hakase, Ohashido, Bock

10 April 2013


Nebotek is one of the small operations—that is, other than the big three—producing pens in Japan. Its mother company is Nikko Ebonite, established in 1952 as manufacturer of ebonite (vulcanized hard rubber), a material with a number of applications. Nikko Ebonite is also the supplier of this material for all Japanese fountain pen manufacturers with the sole exception of Hakase. So, creating their own pen brand was only natural, and that happened in 2009.

Assorted Nobotek pens at a sale event in a department store in Tokyo.

Nebotek pens are created by Mr. Kanesaki Noritoshi (金崎徳稔), disciple of the well know (well, in Japan) nibmeister Kubo Kohei (久保幸平), now almost completely retired. Mr. Kanesaki lathes the in-house ebonite to make fountain pens and ball-pens. Fountain pens come in three different filling systems: (international) cartridge-converter, button filler, and eyedropper with shut-off valve. Nibs and feeds are provided by Peter Bock, in Germany, and are available in four points: F, FM, M, and B. They can also be made soft (springy).

Currently, the pens carry no inscription naming the maker or the model. They look anonymous save for the nib, imprinted with the Bock logo. So, the unknowing user might take this pen as a no-brand pen or as a German pen made by Bock itself.

The Nebotek Onoto-type.

The following pen is one of the Nebotek models. It is called Onoto-type, and it indeed resembles the old Onotos that arrived in Japan at the break of the twentieth century. This pen is an eyedropper with shut-off valve manned from the tail. It is medium sized out of the three possibilities (S, M, L). The nib is a size 220 (in the Bock catalog) made of 14 K gold. These are the pen dimensions:

Length closed: 141 mm
Length open: 134 mm
Length posted: 175 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight (dry): 23.4 g

The Bock nib, engraved with the Bock logo.

Nobotek pens are indeed good and interesting products, but its poor marketing makes them almost unknown. And anonymous.

P. S: Around January 2014, Nebotek pens changed its name to Eboya.

Pilot Super (cartridge-converter), soft nib – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
April 5th, 2013
etiquetas: Nebotek, Bock, Eboya, Kanesaki Noritoshi