Showing posts with label Ohashido. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohashido. 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

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

07 February 2019

Ohashido (II)

As I had said before, Ôhashidô pens, as of now, implement Sailor nibs of sizes medium and big (in Sailor terms). These nibs are engraved in origin, at the Sailor's plant in Kure (Hiroshima), with the Ôhashidô imprint. In fact, Ôhashidô occasionally implements nibs that are not available on regular Sailor pens—big size nibs made of 14 K gold, and nibs labeled as S –soft– as opposed to the omnipresent H –hard– nibs.


An Ôhashidô nib labeled as S, soft, that in actual terms is very rigid.

There are, usually, two other elements carrying some form of identification on Ôhashidô pens—the clip and the cap band. If present, as there are Ôhashidô pens without those features, they carry the inscription “JSU”, for “Japan Sendai Uehara” on the clip, or "OHASHIDO SINCE 1912 JSU" on the cap band.

However, all those signs might not be there, or there might be some others—such is the lack of system in the production of Ôhashidô pens.

Two examples of these pens I am showing today—one with very typical features; the other, right the opposite.


Exhibit one. Note the engraved clip: "JSU".

The first one is a pen finished in unpolished urushi. The clip is also engraved with the usual imprint: "JSU". The nib is large and carries the usual inscription “SPECIALITY / ÔHASIDÔ / SINCE 1912 / J.S.U / 21 K”, although without any statement about the nib point. The differences between "Ôhashidô" and "Ôhasidô" are the result of the lack of consistency among Japanese on how to transliterate Japanese names.



“SPECIALITY / ÔHASIDÔ / SINCE 1912 / J.S.U / 21 K”

The second pen has none of those usual identifications—the nib has no engraving save a hidden JIS mark and and manufacturing date, and there is no clip. But the barrel is engraved: “OHASHIDO / SINCE1912 J.S.U”. These two details are very unusual. As the nib itself is—it is certainly a Sailor, but a very soft one. It is a medium size made of 14 K gold (according to Mr. Uehara), and the nib point is M.


Exhibit two.


Unusual engraved body: "OHASHIDO / SINCE1912 J.S.U”.


Unusual plain nib, save for the JIS mark and the manufacturing date.

Interesting pens, but the lack of systems in the production process is a problem if the potential customer were looking for a defined –and unnamed- model. But this might be part of the success recipe of Ôhashidô's.


Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Takeda Jimuki Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, February 5th 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Ohashido

17 January 2019

Ohashido (I)

Besides the big three Japanese pen companies –Pilot-Namiki, Platinum-Nakaya, and Sailor– there are a bunch of small operations, some of which I have described on these Chronicles: Masahiro, Eboya,... I haven't spoken much about Ôhashidô, and that despite being very active in the local (Japanese) market.

Ôhashidô –Ôhashidô Ltd.– was formally founded in 1965, but it has its origins in Tokyo in 1912, when Yoshiharu Uemura open his workshop in Asakusa while working for SSS, the big company of the time. He moved to Sendai, about 300 km north of Tokyo, after the Big Kanto Earthquake in 1923 to work with inventor Kazuyoshi Hiratsuka. The new shop was located close to the Big Bridge (Ô-hashi) over the river Hirose. Ôhashidô means “the hall of the big bridge”.

The business was completely destroyed during the War. The operation revived around 1950 in the hands of Yoshiharu's son Eiichi Uehara, but not through manufacturing pens but by fixing them. The production of pens was resumed some years later, and by 1965 Ôhashidô Ltd. started formally.

In 2010, Eiichi's son Yuuichi Uehara took control of the company. He has become very active in the Japanese scene by attending a big number of sale events hosted by stationers and department stores where he sells his pens directly.


Yuuichi Uehara at work in Maruzen stationery in Nihonbashi (Tokyo).


The traveling rokuro (traditional lathe).

Ôhashidô's operation is quite unique. It seems anchored in the pre-industrial era. There is barely any system in the production: there are no model names, the warranty card is just Uehara's business card, there are no instruction sheets, etc... Contacting him is not easy either—he has no public email address, and only very recently he open a website (https://ohasibo.theshop.jp/).

As for the pens, they are made mostly in ebonite –sometimes from Nikko Ebonite, some other from old stocks of unclear origin--, and implement Sailor nibs of sizes medium and big (following Sailor names) in both 14 K and 21 K grades. In fact, for some time, Ohashido offered big nibs made of 14 K gold, which was not an option on Sailor pens. In a more distant past, Ohashido used nibs by Ishiwaka Kinpen Seisakusho, Kabutogi Ginjiro, and even Ishi Shoten (Yotsubishi). Some sources also speak of nibs made by Eiichi Uehara himself.


A big Ôhashidô nib made of 14 K gold. Of course, made by Sailor.


Pens for sale...

All current Ôhashidô pens use Sailor cartridges and converters. The later, at least, if the barrel was big enough, of course.

And on another Chronicle I will describe some Ôhashidô pen in detail.


Elysee pen, unknown model – Aurora Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Ohashido, Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho, Yotsubishi, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro

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

22 June 2015

Datation of Japanese Pens. V. Sailor Nibs

Some time ago I published several texts with information on how to date Platinum and Pilot pens. Sailor also has its own dating systems for nibs and pen bodies, but they are less obvious than those of the rival brands.

Sailor pen nibs have consistently been engraved with a three digit code in the form

abb.

On it, bb –from 01 to 12— stands for the month, and a –from 0 to 9— is the last digit of the year of production.


This nib is dated on 710--October of some year ending in 7. And later than 1954, when the JIS stamp was engraved on pen nibs. It belongs to the following pen.


A bulb-filler previous to the time of cartridges and converters. Most likely, therefore, made in 1957.

Needless to say, this system is not so precise as those seen on Pilot (::1::, ::2::) and Platinum pens. Sailor, so to speak, demands some additional knowledge on the pen model in order to decide whether that 3 (for a) meant 2013 or 2003 or, even, 1993.


This Ohashido nib, by Sailor, was made on November of 2014. The nib was not yet attached to any pen. The picture was taken during the last Fountain Pens of the World Fair at Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi.

Ohashido nibs, currently made by Sailor, also display this dating code. However, not all Sailor nibs are dated—just most of them.


Pelikan 400 NN M&K – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, June 20th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor, Platinum, Ohashido, Pilot, plumín

26 February 2014

Undercover Sailor

Last week I described the case of the nibs made by the company Ishikawa-Kinpen Seisakushô for Ferme and how those nibs were labeled with the JIS registration number (3231) of the nib maker and the name of the pen company, Ferme. Not much information on the nib maker, but enough to track down the actual origin despite being sold by a different company. And in the way of writing that text, I found another interesting example of anonymous –or not so anonymous— nib.

Nibmeister Kato Kiyoshi is a sort of a mythical figure in the Japanese pen scene. His story of travels and business in the Middle East and in Europe made him a man of action whose novel has not yet been written. He finally settled in Osaka and in the 1990s he started marketing his pens also in Japan. These Kato pens –Kato Seisakushô pens— were made of celluloid and were not labeled with any brand name. The pen box had a very generic and uninformative “Celluloid Pen / Hand Crafted / Made in Japan” sign, and nothing else.


Kato Seisakushô's model 800F. A piston filler with a gold nib.

Neither very helpful were the nibs. Those made of steel, usually associated to cartridge-converter pens, were Schmidt. Those in 14 K gold, often in piston fillers, were more obscure. Their engraving was, again, very uninformative: “SUPERIOR / 14K / LIFETIME / GRATIFY / JAPAN”. However, it seems that those gold nibs are likely to be Sailor’s. Masamichi Sunami says so on his Fountain Pens of Japan, and it seems to be generally accepted among the Japanese stylophiles.


A Sailor's medium nib in 21 K gold, and the unbranded 14 K gold nib of the Kato Seisakushô's pen.

On my side, I can only add that the size and shape of this “Superior” nib is the same as that of Sailor’s nibs in medium size, made of both 14 K and 21 K gold. In fact, they are interchangeable, as can be seen on the pictures of this Chronicle. Of course, this proves nothing, and the title of this Chronicles should have an additional question mark: Undercover Sailor?


A Kato Seisakushô Profit (top) and a Sailor Realo in celluloid (bottom)? Their nibs are perfectly interchangeable.

In any event, in the case of these gold nibs –Sailor’s or not—, Kato Seisakusho’s pens belong to the group of companies that hide the origin of their nibs, like Hakase and Ohashido. Maybe we could find out where they came from, but it is not obvious.

My thanks to Mr. Murase.


Platinum pocket pen (1967), manifold nib – Platinum Violet

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, February 25th, 2014
etiquetas: Ferme, Ishikawa-Kinpen Seisakushô, Kato Seisakushô, Sailor, plumín, Hakase, Ohashido, Schmidt

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