Showing posts with label Hifra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hifra. Show all posts

24 June 2020

Reliable Information.

Some years ago I wrote about a nominally Spanish pen brand by the name of Presidente. Then, a fellow stylophile in Greece contacted me apropos of a similar pen sold in the Greek market under the name Joker.

A fruitful conversation ensued, and we reached to a couple of tentative conclusions:
– Joker was presumably a Greek company, or based in Greece, as opposed to being Italian, as its advertisement in Greece had suggested.
Hifra, another brand marketing similar pens, was likely to be South African.


From top to bottom, a Joker, a Hifra, and a Presidente. But all of them are, actually, Platinum.

Now, how sure can we be of those conclusions? We can safely say that Presidente was Spanish because there are records fo such a brand registered in Madrid, Spain, in 1959; but we do not know of similar registries in Greece or in South Africa.

However, we have other information—Joker as a brand seems unknown outside Greece and, interestingly enough, in Italy, while there was some Joker ink in Greece as well. Hifra, on its side, seemed like a domestic name in some South African texts. Therefore, in absence of contradicting information I feel that those conclusions were reasonable.


Joker ink, in Greece. Photo by Kostas K.

The problem here is to decide which sources are reliable. And that in a field where most of us are aficionados with no pay, with other obligations, and with not many resources to do any research.

So, who is reliable and who is not?

We are not living in an academic environment and we do not have peer-reviewed journals to publish our findings. Consequently we must rely on the good or bad name each of us created along the years through our contributions to the community. And the rest is up to the receiver.

Some weeks ago, my friend Inky.Rocks published a video on the ink Pilot Blue-black, about which I had spoken on these pages. Inky.Rocks pointed out that this ink is water resistant by reacting with the cellulose in the paper. This claim was challenged on Reddit, and that was good. The problem was that the challenger did not offer any alternative to the behavior of the Pilot ink, nor any reason why Noodler's should be the only maker with cellulose-reacting inks.


What vintage do you prefer for your Blue-black?


Pilot Blue-black ink is water resistant. That I can prove. The sample was one full minute under running water. Some dyes were removed from the iron-gall inks. The modern formulation, cellulose reacting, is remarkably resistant to water.

At the end of the day, the facts are that Pilot Blue-black is a water resistant ink without being iron-gall or pigmented. And that a former Pilot worker, well respected in the Japanese pen community, explained the change in the formulation of the Pilot Blue-black ink in the 1990s to whoever wanted to listen.

Are those arguments conclusive? Certainly not. But they are better than nothing.

And that is why critical sense is so important.


Pilot Capless LS – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 23rd, 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Presidente, Pilot, Joker, Hifra, Pilot, metabitácora, Platinum

27 March 2014

From the Box

Some time ago I spoke about the obscure brand Hifra. Thanks to fellow stylophile Kostas K we could guess it was a South African operation. However, many of the pens labeled as Hifra were, in actual terms, Platinums from 1950s and 1960s, much in the fashion of brands Presidente (Spain) and Joker (Greece), as was shown on these Chronicles.

Later on, another stylophile from Japan –Mr. Sugimoto, aka Papershowed a couple of brand new, new old stock, Hifra pens with their boxes. Those are the very same pens I am showing now.


Those boxes include some all-too brief manuals that say nothing relevant to the origin of the brand.


Hifra model 4421. Actually, a Platinum Honest.

The pens are well-known Platinums with 10-Years nibs made of steel. Both models –Hifra 4420 and Hifra 4421— implement aerometric filling systems.


Hifra model 4420. Note the unusual Hifra logo on the right hand side of the box.


However, the logo engraved on the barrel is the common globe with letters F and H.


It might be worth to remember that the usual logo of Hifra was remarkably similar to that of Platinum in the 1950s and up to 1968 (or so): a globe with the letters F and H in it instead of the S and N of Shun-ichi Nakata of the Platinum’s. But on the box of pen model 4420 there is a completely different design even though the pen barrel is engraved with the traditional globe.

In the search for information, reading the pen and its associated information is key, but too often there is not much to read… In this case, not even an address to locate the company.

My thanks to Kostas K and to Mr. Sugimoto.


Waterman CF – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 26th, 2014
etiquetas: Hifra, Platinum, Presidente, Joker

06 December 2012

Matching (XII)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? Sometimes, the answers are clear…

Platinum’s “10-years” nibs are not new on these chronicles. Those were, let us remember, steel nibs manufactured in the 1950s, at the time of the implementation of the Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) norm by the Ministry of Industry. This norm aimed at providing some reliability on the claims made by manufacturing companies about their own products. In the case of fountain pens, the problems were mostly related to the nib material.


The de-luxe "10-years" pen, as the engraving on the barrel says. The cap is gold filled and displays the sign "NK14 PLATINUM".

“10-years” pens; that is, equipped with these steel nibs; came in a number of sized and shapes. The most popular was the Honest model, already mentioned on these texts.


Parker 51 (top) and Platinum "10-Years" (bottom), side to side.


Both pens, disassembled. The section of the Platinum pen is faceted, and that is the major external difference between these pens.

Another example is this copy of the very popular Parker 51 model. This Platinum was a de luxe model given its gold filled cap, in contrast with the steel nib. The filling system is a very reliable aerometric, just like the most popular version of the American original.


Nib and feed of the Parker on top. The Platinum pen uses a different structure to hold them together. Platinum used a hollow cylinder made of plastic. The following photographs shows these parts disassembled.

The similarities with the Parker 51 are not just on the looks. Not only the nib is hooded, but also the structure of the platinum pen is very close to that of the aerometric 51—the whole pen is held together by a central ring to which both the feed and the filling system are attached. The nib, however, does not have the cylindrical shape of the American model and is kept in place with respect to the feed by means of a plastic cylinder.


The Platinum "10-Years" almost fully disassembled. The nib-feed system can be seen at the bottom of the picture.

These are the dimensions of this Platinum 10-Years and of the Parker 51 (aerometric):
Length closed: .......140 mm. ................. 139.5 mm
Length open: .........127.5 mm. ............... 128.0 mm.
Diameter: ..............12.5 mm. ................. 12.5 mm.
Dry weight: .............17.4 g. ...................... 21.5 g.

This pen, with eventual very minor differences, was marketed outside Japan under the name of some local brands. Such was the case of Italy or Greece, using the brand name of Joker, and of South Africa, branded as Hifra. But this should be the topic of a different text.

Pilot Bamboo – unknown blue ink

Bruno Taut
Madrid, December 5th, 2012
etiquetas: Parker, Platinum, Hifra, Joker, Japón

16 October 2012

South African

This text is the final result of a collaboration of stylophiles in several countries: Eduardo Alcalde, Elena Kouvaris, Kostas Kouvaris, and myself, Bruno Taut.

To any reader of these Chronicles the story is already well known, almost trite. Sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s some Platinum pens, barely disguising their Japanese origin, were sold in Europe under the name of some local company—Presidente in Spain and Joker in Italy (most likely) were reported on these texts. Were those the only cases? Not at all.

The Hifra 4421, open. The text on the barrel reads "'HIFRA' / TRADE (FH logo) MARK / REG 85809 / 4421".

Hifra is a rather obscure pen brand. Not much is known and the few questions on its origin published in Internet fora produced assorted answers including Spain and Israel. However, South Africa seems to be the source of most Hifra pens for sale online. Some quotes in South African texts (Teachers and memories; The training of a good stenographer, on p. 18 of the document) also point out at pens of this brand as common domestic objects for some time. Therefore, in absence of definitive proofs of its origin, I will settle on the idea that Hifra was a South African pen brand.

Hifra 4421 (top) and Platinum Honest (bottom), disassembled. The engraving on the Hifra's nib reads "HIGHGRADE / SUPERIOR / IDEAL / PEN".

Detail of section and nib of the Hifra 4421. The Platinum logo can be seen on the cap jewel.

But, were Hifra pens made in South Africa? Some of the models, as seen online, have a very different origin—they are Platinum pens and were made in Japan.

Such is the case of Hifra’s model 4421. It is in fact a Platinum Honest with aerometric filling system and steel nib, albeit with some minor variations with the original Japanese pen. The cap on the South African pen keeps the Platinum globle logo (SN stands for Shun-ichi Nakata, founder of Platinum in 1919). The barrel is engraved with the name Hifra and with a variation of the globe logo: instead of S and N, the letters encircled are now F and H. The nib and the feed are identical to those of some Platinum and Presidente models.

From top left to bottom right, Presidente, Hifra 4421 and Platinum Honest. All are aerometric fillers. The size and position of the Platinum logos are different in all these three pens, but their internal structures are the same.

These are the Hifra 4421 dimensions:
Diameter: 10.5 mm.
Length closed: 135 mm.
Length open: 122 mm.
Length posted: 150 mm.
Weight (dry): 15.1 g.

Nothing is really known about these Platinum in disguise. Platinum exported pens to some South American markets in the late 1940s, but those were, in essence, copies of the Wahl-Eversharp model Skyline. President, was, on the other hand, the name Platinum used for its export models thus avoiding confusion with English brand Platignum. But that is basically all we know.

The search for more missing Platinum continues.

Pilot E, manifold nib, quarter-switch filler – Pilot Blue-black

EA, EK, KK, BT
October 2012
labels: Sudáfrica, Hifra, Presidente, Joker, Platinum