Showing posts with label Momose Yasuaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Momose Yasuaki. Show all posts

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

30 July 2019

On Iwase Seisakusho

I have mentioned Mr. Iwase several times (::1::, ::2::) on these Chronicles—he is a pen aficionado who decided to master the craft of raden decoration.

Mr. Iwase started his training about 15 years ago. At first, he customized pens, mostly Montblanc and Pelikan, that he sold locally in Tokyo. His trade soon included some pen bodies made by lathe master Momose Yasuaki equipped with nibs by nibmeister Kubo Kohei.

In 2018, Mr. Iwase decided to become more serious and systematic on his hobby. He created the brand Iwase Seisakusho and started signing his creations. And the selling channels were Instagram and some pen shows.

The pens under the brand could be categorized in three types: customizations, a regular model, and a small number of special pens.

The customizations were made on Montablanc and Pelikan pens. Mr. Iwase applied his craft on their surface and left the operative part of the pen untouched.


A Montblanc 149 customized by Mr. Iwase.


Three customizations over Pelikan M1000.

The regular model, model N, was made over unused bodies manufactured by Ishi Shoten (owner of the brand Yotsubishi). These bodies hand to be adjusted, completed with the filling system –Japanese eyedropper-- and nib and feed sourced by nibmiester Kubo. Needless to say, the pen was decorated by Mr. Iwase with urushi and raden.


The N model by Iwase Seisakusho.

Finally, the special models –called generically Kinsei pens-- were one-of-a-kind units. The pen bodies were the work of lathe master Momose; the nibs, were, once again, the product of nibmeister Kubo.


Two examples of Kinsei pens by Iwase Seisakusho.

The problem of this operation was the very limited production that, to make matter worse, relied solely on the hands of Mr. Iwase. And as of today, July 2019, the production is stopped and the communication channels are disabled.

Iwase Seisakusho, therefore, was alive for about a year with a total production of about 30 pens.

Too few pens, and too short life.

These pens were interesting for both the decoration and the features as pens, particularly in the case of the N model and the Kinsei pens. Japanese eyedroppers with interesting nibs and ebonite feeds... And a gorgeous and well made decoration.


Interesting nib, interesting feed.

Too good to be true? Too costly? Too expensive?

Or just too much for a very small operation?


My thanks to Mr. Iwase.


Ban-ei with Henckel nib – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 12th 2019
etiquetas: Japón, mercado, Iwase Seisakusho, Momose, nibmeister Kubo

23 July 2018

A Correction

Yes, a correction to a previous mistake.

On a recent Chronicle I mentioned that a pen decorated by Mr. Iwase had its body made by lathe master Yasuaki Momose. Well that is not correct.

As I have mentioned previously, Mr. Iwase perform his trade on two types of pens. On one hand he uses Western pens, mostly Pelikan and Montblanc, as canvases for his decorative overlays.


A Montblanc 149 and a Pelikan M1000 decorated by Mr. Iwase.

The other activity is more complex: Mr. Iwase gets old –and unfinished— pen bodies, finds the right nib and feed for them, and decorates it with raden (shells) and urushi. And most of those old pens had been made by Mr. Momose, the old master now retired.


The body of this pen is the work of Mr. Yasuaki Momose.

But not all of them. The case of the pen described on May 22nd 2018, the pen body belonged to an old batch of unfinished Yotsubishi pens, made by the company Ishi Shoten.


Let the mistake be corrected.


Kubo-Yotsubishi-Iwase – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 22nd 2018
etiquetas: Iwase, Yotsubishi, metabitácora, Momose Yasuaki, maki-e

22 May 2018

Kubo, Yotsubishi and Iwase

NOTE added on July 23rd, 2018. The body of this pen is not a creation of Mr. Momose, but an old and unused stock of pen bodies of Ishi Shoten's Yotsubishi.


The works of Mr. Iwase as a raden artist have already appeared on these Chronicles, and today I wanted to describe more in detail one of his creations.

Two are the basic types of canvases Mr. Iwase uses for his works—Pelikan and Montblanc pens on one side, and pens manufactured by old lathe masters and companies long gone lathe master Momose Yasuaki. Today’s pen belongs to the later type.

Three elements characterize this pen: the pen body, the nib, and the decoration. Each of them was created by a different craftsman.


"18 K pen raden / Kubo Kohei fountain pen".

On this case, the basic pen was made by the company Ishi Shoten for its brand Yotsubishi. Its material is ebonite, although the barrel and cap finials are made of wood. The pen was originally intended as a Japanese eyedropper –the tail can be unscrewed and detached from the barrel--, but the final result is a cartridge-converter pen (Sheaffer type). The cap lip is protected with a silver ring.


A raden pen...


... or a cartridge/converter pen.

The nib and the feed were provided by nibmeister Kubo. The nib is made of 18 carat gold and is associated to an ebonite feed. The size of the nib would be comparable to a Bock's #5, or to a Pilot’s 10 (::1::, ::2::) or a Sailor’s “big” size, although the feed's diameter is bigger: 6.5 mm.


The Kubo Kohei's nib: "ELEGANT / KB / 18K 750 / MADE IN / JAPAN".
The feed has three ink channels that provide a rich ink flow.


Writing sample with the Kubo-Yotsubishi-Iwase pen.


Nothing special on the tip. Just well cut.

Finally, the decoration is a rich example of the raden technique: carefully cut sea shells glued to the pen body; then, urushi is used to fill up the spaces between the shell stripes and smooth the whole pen. Ad additional later of transparent resin protects the decoration. The gripping section is decorated with red urushi.


There is a simple inscription the cap ring: "silver 925 / 11/20".

All in all, the pen is an original and attractive work; the final result of two Japanese craftsmen working on old forgotten batches. And in this regard, this is not a unique example, albeit other models are mostly one of a kind.

This pen is one of the 20 units Mr Iwase marketed in 2015 and 2016, some of which were sold through the Wagner group. And as it is often the case on artisanal products in Japan, there is no clear sign of the authorship, with the sole exception of the engraving on the nib. However, not many stylophiles (much less occasional buyers) would identify the letters KB as a signature of Mr. Kubo.

These are the dimensions of this pen:

Length closed: 142 mm
Length open: 126 mm
Length posted: 165 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight (dry) 21.9 g
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (Sheaffer converter)


Minka Saturn – Diamine China Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 21th, 2018
labels: Nibmesiter Kubo, Momose, Iwase, maki-e, Yotsubishi

16 September 2015

Mr. Iwase's Creations

Mr. Iwase is a pen aficionado who likes to decorate his pens with sea shells; that is, with raden. At the last meeting of the Wagner group in Tokyo he brought a couple of superb examples of his hobby.


The raden decorated pens based upon Momose's creations. The filling system follows the Japanese eyedropper scheme (shut-off valve manned from the tail).

The bases, in this case, are two ebonite pens made by Mr. Momose (lathe work) and Mr. Kubo (nib)—in fact a winning combination desired by many a stylophile in Japan. And then, the decoration. It is particular brilliant—note how the different stripes of raden preserve the colorful pattern of the shell.


The superb work of Mr Iwase is clearly visible on this pic. Note how the decoration preserves the color pattern of the original shell.


The nib by nibmeister Kubo Kohei. The engraving reads "Kubo / MIKADO / K18 750 / MADE IN JAPAN". The section is decorated with urushi resin, therefore the reddish color.

These are the dimensions of the flat end pen:

Length closed: 165 mm
Length open: 150 mm
Diameter: 27 mm
Weight: 67.5 g (dry)


These works by Mr. Iwase are unique pens—one of a kind. They do not appear in any catalog or book. These lines might, in fact, be one of the few records ever made public about them. And their relevance in the history of Japanese pens is merely anecdotal. But those pens are real, and their maki-e, outstanding.


The cap top is decorated with three circles meaning, according to the author, the three persons involved on the pen: Iwase, Kubo and Momose.

It is hard not to compare Mr. Iwase’s pen to that made by Zôhiko also with raden decoration. The later, let us remember, shared a similar base pen, and is valued in JPY 1200000. But this pen lacked a real nibmester’s nib, and some seriously doubt it performed as a pen. Iwase’s creation is more interesting—better decoration, better nib.

My thanks to Mr. and Ms. Iwase.


Pilot Custom 823 – Montblanc White Forest.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 11th, 2015
etiquetas: maki-e, Zôhiko, Momose Yasuaki, Iwase, nibmeister Kubo Kohei

14 August 2015

Zôhiko

There is a relatively new guy –albeit old as well— in town. Zôhiko is indeed a old company as it was founded in 1661 in Kyoto. Its original business was ivory –the in the name actually means elephant—, but with the second generation of owners the market expanded to include maki-e and related techniques and the ivory section ended up disappearing.

But only recently Zôhiko included fountain pens in its catalog of luxury goods. This happened in 2008 by means of an association with the French craftsman Michel Audiard.

More recently, around 2012, a new series of fountain pens were produced. These pens were the initiative of fountain pen entrepreneur Mr. Katayama and Zôhiko, and involved a group of unique Japanese craftsmen.


Raden, on the front, and maki-e.

Body and feed were made by Mr. Momose Yasuaki—an old, now retired, lathe master well known and respected in the Japanese scene. He was also in charge of the filling system, Japanese eyedropper (i. e. with shut-off valve), which is one of his fields of mastery.

Nibs, made of 18 K gold, carry the monogram KMK (with the first K inverted), meaning Katayama-Makino-Kubo. This is a brand name registered by Mr. Katayama. However, these Zôhiko nibs were manufactured by jeweler Mr. Tsukii Masao.


The 18 K gold nib made by Mr Tsukii Masao. Note the monogram KMK engraved on the nib.


The feed is also imprinted with the initials KMK, the registered brand by Mr Katayama.

The final assembly of the pen was made by nibmeister Kubo Kohei, well know to the readers of these Chronicles.

The maki-e decoration, finally, was commissioned to Mr Yamamoto Munori, a Zôhiko regular “in-house” craftsman.


The results of the good work of Mr. Yamamoto Munori.

The final result is an outstanding collection of maki-e decorated pens. But they do not come cheap or in large numbers. Of the raden-decorated unit, only three were made at a cost of JPY 1.200.000. Of the rest, between 4 and 6 units of each were produced. Their price is JPY 600.000, save for the unit with spiral motifs, whose price is JPY 800.000.


JPY 800.000.


Some of the pieces carry a signature, but it simply says Zôhiko.

Now, are they good pens? How do they write? The fact that a jeweler and not a nibmeister crafted the nibs is an unsettling and worrisome detail… But maybe the question is a different one: would anyone ink any of them?


Pilot Custom 823 – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 13-14th, 2015
etiquetas: Zôhiko, nibmeister Kubo Kohei, Momose Yasuaki, maki-e