Showing posts with label Eboya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eboya. Show all posts

20 September 2019

Japanese Eyedropper Today (II). Opus 88 Koloro

In 2016, Eboya stopped the production of Japanese eyedropper pens. These pens were always more expensive that the equivalent versions with cartridge/converter or with button filler systems—the Japanese eyedroppers were between JPY 59000 and JPY 83000, plus taxes. But despite these prices, these pens were the cheapest eyedropper in the market. The next step was –still is— the size 50 Namiki Urushi at JPY 148000.


An old Eboya with Japanese Eyedropper.

On this scenario, the Opus 88 Koloro made its appearance in 2017.


The Opus 88 Koloro in its package.

The company Opus 88 –Jin Gi industrial Company— has been in the market since 1977. But from 1988 on its main business  was the production of OEM pens for other companies, Danitrio and Taccia among them. In the local market of Taiwan, Opus 88 sold some over-run of those OEM pens under its own brand.

Then, the Koloro model showed up in the foreign market in 2017. Its combination of an affordable price –in the range of EUR 100-- and an unusual filling system called the attention of many in the West. As I explained in the previous text, it is not that the Japanese eyedropper system was new at all, but its availability was very limited and expensive.


Nowadays, the Koloro is a family of pens that come in two nib sizes—size 5 and size 6, both by JoWo. The nibs are made of steel –no gold option--, and the feeds are made of plastic. The nib size conditions the overall dimensions of the pen. But in all cases, the filling system is the Japanese eyedropper.


Opus 88 Koloro. Made in the Republic of China. German nib (JoWo). Plastic feed.

Opus 88 could make these pens even more attractive by using in-house nibs or, at lest, nibs locally made. The implementation of ebonite feeds –and there are makers producing them-- would also increase the appeal of the pen. However, these two drawbacks are common to many pen companies.


The Koloro with an ebonite feed by Flexible Nib Factory.

These are the dimensions of the Opus 88 Koloro demonstrator of size 6:

Length closed: 148 mm
Length open: 136 mm
Length posted: this pen does not post.
Diamter: 16.4 nn
Weight: 30 g (inked)
Ink deposit: about 3 ml

In conclusion, this pen is an attractive product –well made, affordable, original— that fills a gap in the pen scene. And that is more than most other companies offer nowadays.


Parker 51 (Inky.Rock's) – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 2019
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Eboya, Opus 88, mercado, JoWo, Taiwan

13 September 2019

Japanese Eyedropper Today (I)

The so-called Japanese eyedropper system –inki-dome shiki (インキ止め式) in Japanese— was in fact invented by Onoto in the beginning of the 20th century. Those Onoto reached Japan imported by Maruzen and the system –an eyedropper with a shut-off valve— clicked among the locals. The final result was that this system was copied and reproduced by most Japanese pen makers along its history up to today.


An Onoto with the shut-off valve system. Not yet a Japanese eyedropper, I guess.


A Japanese Swan (Nobuo Ito's Swan) with the Japanese eyedropper system.

The inki-dome, however, fell out of favor by the late 1950s when Platinum introduced the ink cartridge and most other makers followed the example. Only minor makers –I am thinking of Sakai Eisuke's operations— kept the system alive till the 1980s.


A Sakai Eisuke's pen made in collaboration with Kabutogi Ginjiro (::1::). Possibly from the 1960s.

In 1985, Pilot commissioned lathe master Sakai the creation of a prototype based on the style of the Pilot pens from the early 1930s, The result was what later became the Pilot (and Namiki) size 50 Urushi, and it implements the Japanese eyedropper system.


The Pilot Urushi in size 50--a modern Japanese eyedropper. This pen is incorrectly named by many as Namiki Emperor, but the Emperor model is decorated with maki-e techniques according to the Namiki catalog.

But who else followed? Not much.

Eboya used the system for some years (::2::, ::3::), but its production relied in the know-how of lathe master Kanesaki Noritoshi. Eboya's boss, Mr. Endo, has announced the new production of Eboya pens with this system, but there are no final dates for their release.


An old Eboya (2013) from the Kanesaki time. It implements the Japanese eyedropper system. At that time, the brand name was still Nebotek.

More recently, as of 2018, the sort-lived Iwase Seisakusho also marketed some pens with the Japanese eyedropper system. These were either old incomplete pen bodies by Ishi Shoten (owner of the brand Yotsubishi) or new pen bodies made by lathe master Momose. But Iwase Seisakusho had a very brief life and very few units of it made to the market.


An Iwase Seisakusho based on a body by Momose Yasuaki.

From California, Danitrio makes some models with Japanese eyedropper. These are usually expensive models with urushi or maki-e decoration.


Some Danitrio pens as exposed at Itoya Ginza (Tokyo) in 2010. Photo courtesy of Moskva.

Finally, a surprising actor is the Taiwanese brand Opus 88 (Jin Gi Industrial Co.). But these Japanese eyedroppers deserve a Chronicle on their own.


The Opus 88 Koloro. A surprising new actor in the Japanese eyedropper business.



Opus 88 Koloro – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 12th 2019
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Pilot, Eboya, Danitrio, Iwase Seisakusho, Opus 88, mercado, Onoto, Japón, mercado, Kanesaki, Sakai Eisuke, Momose Yasuaki

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

19 February 2019

The Namiki Effect

Stylophiles are a special bunch. Driven by our anachronistic passion we often crave for certain features: gold nibs, self-filling mechanisms (as opposed to cartridges and converters), ebonite feeds, some specific materials like celluloid or ebonite,… And we demand those features for pens over certain price. Or, in other words, we might despise pens over certain price if they didn't offer some of them.

But the market might be telling us that we are mistaken. Just a quick look at today's catalogs shows how many luxury brands offer nothing but cartridge-converter pens with plastic feeds. Materials and gold nibs are less of a problem, though.


An expensive Pilot. Cartridge-converter and plastic feed.

Luxury pens of Platinum-Nakaya and Sailor are cartridge-converters. Pilot-Namiki does offer Japanese eyedroppers, but only for the biggest nib size. All the others, with nibs sizes 5, 10, and 20, are cartridge-converters despite how expensive they are.


An expensive Hakase.

Then, small makers like Eboya, Hakase, Ohashido, Stylo-Art Karuizawa, all focussed on higher-end pens only offer cartridge-converter pens. The only exception to this trend might be Masahiro and the newly-arrived Iwase Seisakusho.

Now, are these two brands –Masahiro and Iwase Seisakusho— on the right path or the success of all the other brands shows the opposite? How important are those details like ebonite feed and self-filling mechanisms in the final price –and in the final value-- of the pen?


A Masahiro pen. Expensive, but it implements an ebonite feed, a self-filling mechanism, an ebonite body, and a gold nib.

The market might be telling us that we stylophiles are still a minority in the business. Or it might only be that I am very mistaken about what we demand, and cartridge and converters and plastic feeds are perfectly all right even on very expensive pens.

Or it might be that we are very easy targets. After all, every pen has its charm, and all those cravings are not so important.

And that is the Namiki effect--expensive pens can be, in essence, very simple. Namiki has proven it through years in the market.


Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Takeda Jimuki Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, February 9th 2019
etiquetas: estilofilia, mercado, makie, Eboya, Hakase, StyloArt Karuizawa, Masahiro, Sailor, Ohashido, Iwase Seisakusho, Pilot, Platinum

29 July 2017

Ebonite Feeds in Japan

This text is long overdue. This is, in essence, a correction to a couple of old posts on the Pilot (and Namiki) pens with size 50 nibs (::1::, ::2::). I said (but I cannot recall when or on which text) that their feeds were made of ebonite, and that is not correct—they are made of plastic. Actually, all feeds made by Pilot are made of plastic.


Emperor size pen by Pilot, later on labeled as Namiki.


The feed of the previous pen. It is lacquered on one side, but the material is plastic.

And not only those by Pilot, but also those by Platinum and Sailor are made of plastic. Are there, in fact, any exception to this rule? There is, but it comes from small makers and in unusual forms:

-- Eboya (formerly Nebotek) pens implement ebonite feeds on its higher end pens, but Eboya feeds and nibs are made by Bock.


Ebonite feed on a pen made by Nikko Ebonite. But the feed is made by Bock in Germany out of, probably, German ebonite. The rest of the pen is made of Japanese ebonite.

-- Masahiro creates ebonite feeds for its pens, which use Pilot nibs.

And that seems to be it. Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Hakase, and Ohashido take their nibs from the big three Japanese companies, and they do not modify the feeds. Onishi Seisakusho employs Schmidt nibs and plastic feeds.

Some old nibmeisters –and I am mostly thinking of Kubo Kohei— keep on making their nibs on demand, and their feeds are often made of ebonite, but these craftsmen do not manufacture pens regularly or according to a established model.


A nib made by nibmeister Kubo Kohei. Its feed is made of ebonite.


Nibs and feeds of a Platinum 3776 and of a Nakaya. On both cases, the feeds are made of plastic.

So, the interesting conclusion id the almost complete absence of ebonite feeds among Japanese maker. This fact does not pose any functional problem to Japanese pens with one possible exception —the irregularly behaved Pilot’s size-10 falcon nib implemented on the models Custom 742 and Custom Heritage 912. And there are powerful arguments to support the use of some plastics, mostly ABS, on feeds.


Sailor's nib and feed. The nib is made of 21 K gold. The feed is made of ABS plastic.

But for some stylophiles, ebonite feeds are the one and only way to go. And they will never be satisfied with modern Japanese pens… save for a couple of exceptions.


Pilot Custom 823 – Sailor Blue Iron (original ink)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 27th 2017
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, Masahiro, Ohashido, Stylo-Art Karuizawa, Eboya, Kubo Kohei, Japón

08 October 2016

Changes in Eboya

Noritoshi Kanesaki, the master behind Eboya Pens stopped working for the company (Nikko Ebonite) this past August. The company has hired new personnel to continue with the pen business. However, the production might slow down due to the need of training.


An Eboya Hôga with the box signed by Mr. Kanesaki, the former pen master of Eboya pens.


Mr. Kanesaki, at work in 2011, when Eboya pens were still named Nebotek.

On his side, Mr. Kanesaki is starting his own business of pen repairs, and taking orders for special editions in the city Kawaguchi, very close to Tokyo in the province of Saitama.


Platinum Wagner 10th Anniversary – unknown ink

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 11th , 2016
labels: Kanesaki Noritoshi, Eboya

02 August 2016

Fetishisms

To speak about fetishism in the world of fountain pens is essentially redundant. Collecting is a form of fetishism—to favor the tool for itself instead of for the work it does or for its actual performance. Now, fetishism can go a lot farther…

As of lately, and these Chronicles might share part of the responsibility for that, some “craftsman” pens, made with old technology and in low production batches have gained some name among stylophiles. Brands like Eboya (formerly Nebotek), Hakase, Ohashido, StyloArt Karuizawa, fit in this category nowadays. But some time ago there was another master who by now holds a quasi-mythical dimension—Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助) the leading figure behind Ban-ei pens and creator of the prototype of modern Pilot-Namiki with size 50 nibs.


Three pens made by Sakai Eisuke.

Sakai Eisuke was a master of the rokuro, the traditional pedal-operated Japanese lathe, and here I am showing one of the rokuro he used. Now, it belongs to Nikko Ebonite, and is, in actual terms, one of the two traditional lathes in service to make Eboya pens.


Ex-Sakai Eisuke rokuro.

Does this detail add any value to the pens made with it? Most likely not, but that depends on your personal obsessions re fountain pens. I, for one, was very happy to see and even touch a tool used by a great master.


The current location of the old rokuro: the building of Nikko Ebonite.

My thanks to Mr. Noritoshi Kanesaki


Oaso “Safari” – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 1st, 2016
etiquetas: estilofilia, Eboya, Pilot, Ban-ei

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

26 February 2015

From Nebotek to Eboya

Up to about one year ago, Nebotek was –so to speak—the pen brand without name. On one hand, there was nothing on the pen that could identify its origin. nothing, well, save the nib, but this was signed as Bock. A Bock pen?

Then, on the other hand, there was a wealthy mixture of names associated to these pens. Nikko Ebonite is the name of the mother company; then there was the name Eboya for its online shop. Finally, Nobotek was the pen brand.

All this changed when around January 2014 the company decided, first, to forget about the name Nebotek; and, second, to sign the pens. These pens are now named Eboya, with the lemma “Made in Tokyo” under it, as can be seen on the photography accompanying this text.


The newly branded Eboya, previously called, but unsigned, Nebotek.

Eboya’s marketing problems do not finish here. Eboya pens lack visibility in the market, and they rely solely on their website, which is only written in Japanese. This also might be changing. To start, Eboya pens are now going to be distributed in the US –and beyond— through John Mottishaw’s website Nibs.com. In fact, the first fifteen Eboya pens have just been shipped to the US, according to Eboya nibmeister Kanesaki.

Nikko Ebonite is a small company, and Eboya pens are in essence the product of one man alone, Mr. Noritoshi Kanesaki. Their limited resources might be at the bottom of their precarious marketing, but they could do better as many other small operations in the world of fountain pens are showing.


Pilot Custom 912, music nib – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 25th, 2014
etiquetas: Eboya, Nebotek, mercado, Kanesaki Noritoshi

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

Categories

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