Showing posts with label Pelikan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pelikan. Show all posts

30 September 2019

Cheap Tools

When the service is free you are the product. Or a tool in the hands of others.

The Pelikan Hub, 2019 edition, is over and it is time to think what that event is and what it means.

I am not particularly interested on Pelikan and on the endless rehash of models this company practices nowadays. I also tend to look at these promotional events from a healthy distance. But on this occasion the local pen community made it more appealing. And last week I attended my first Pelikan Hub. That was in Tokyo.

So, what are these events?

In May each year since 2014, Pelikan open a call to pen aficionados for them to meet on a day in September. Then, Pelikan chooses a hub master –the organizer of each event in every city--, prints some promotional material like leaflets and banners, provides some inkwells and... Well, that is all.

The rest is up to the local hub master and to the attendees. In Tokyo, we paid to rent the space. And at the event, we received the promotional material, which includes an inkwell (Star Ruby this year), and spoke about pens –not only Pelikan--, and about inks. And at the same time we mention the meeting on social media and other means of online communication.

So, we become the tools of advertisement for Pelikan. And almost for free—what is the actual cost of the whole operation for Pelikan? How much is that cost per person attending the hubs? How mush does an inkwell cost to Pelikan?

Some Pelikan, and some non-Pelikan pens. But the main character is Bokumondoh...

We attendees became tools, very inexpensive tools. And we even pay to meet! In the old Spanish expression, “encima de burros, apaleados”.

The good part? Meeting other pen aficionados. But we do not need Pelikan to do so.

Pilot Vpen – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Kunitachi, September 27th 2019
etiquetas: redes sociales, Pelikan, Tokyo

04 September 2019

Pelikan in Japan (III)

Some weeks ago I spoke about how a fountain pen should perform correctly regardless of the script and that Japan was not such a special place (see ::1::).

Well... today I might be saying the opposite, but just regarding Japan as a special and sometimes strange market.

Story goes that after Pelikan had phased out the 400NN model in 1965, repeated requests from Japanese retailers made Pelikan to reconsider its decision. However, instead of putting its machinery to work, Pelikan outsourced the production of models 120 and 400NN to another company—Merz & Krell. And the 400NN M&K was made again between 1973 and 1978. The 120 M&K had a slightly shorter life: between 1973 and 1977.

Anyway, this story is well known (see some sources of information at the end fof this text), and nothing truly new can I offer save a group picture of the four variations of the model 400NN made by Merz & Krell: black, black striped, tortoise brown striped and green striped.

The number and color of the four variations is well known, but the complete picture of set is rare.

These pens and their origin on the demands of Japanese retailer pose some interesting questions:

– That important was the Japanese market for Pelikan at the time?

– Are Pelikan nibs so well suited to write in Japanese?

– And conversely, do we really need specialized nibs to write in Japanese? (::2::, ::3::, ::4::)

The black and the black striped versions of the 400NN M&K, side by side.

Notes: Some sites with more complete information on the Pelikan 400NN Merz & Krell:

-- The Pelikan's Perch:

-- Pelikan Collectibles:

-- Pens and Sensibility: several posts (::5::, ::6::, ::7::).

-- Tony Rex's thread on FP Geeks Forum offered additional information on how to disassemble the piston of this pen:

-- Ruettinger Web:

Ohashido BCHR, music nib – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 3rd 2019
etiquetas: Pelikan, Japón, mercado

15 July 2017

On the Pilot Custom 823

I ended up my previous Chronicle with a call to myself—I should say something about the Pilot Custom 823. This is a pen I have avoided on these texts as it is well known and many people have reviewed it in detail. One more review on my side would hardly offer anything new.

However, the release of the Pilot Custom Urushi has reframed the pen scene –if only, for Pilot— and the Custom 823 might have become even more interesting now. That is the contention of this piece.

The Pilot Custom 823 was launched in the year 2000, or year 82 of the Pilot era. A story published on a French forum affirmed that this model was the Pilot reaction to the Pelikan M800, a pen many aficionados consider as a compendium of virtues. I have not been able to confirm that story, but its narration is worth of Ben Trovato.

Pelikan M800 and Pilot Custom 823.

In any event, the M800 and the Custom 823 are very different. The sizes of their nibs are almost the same, but that might be the end of the similarities. The Custom 823, in fact, follows the tradition of the Onoto pens arriving in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. The plunger filler is, in that regard, a lot less alien to Japan than the very German piston of Pelikan. Of course, there are examples of pistons made in Japan, most notably by Vanco in the 1930s. The big three companies have all made some pistons, but all those examples are rather new: Platinum in 1989, Sailor in 2006, Pilot in 2010.

The Custom 823 first appeared in 2000 and included a fully transparent version. Its price was JPY 30000 (plus tax) and has not changed since then. The clear version soon disappeared from the catalog, leaving the amber and smoke models we now know. The clear version reappeared around 2011 at some shops —and can still be found at those—, but it has not yet reached the glory of the catalog.

The Custom 823 in its three versions: smoke, amber, and clear (back to front).

Nib-wise, the Custom 823 implements size 15 nibs (in Pilot's way of sizing), but out of the 14 available points of this size, only three, according to the catalog, are available on the Custom 823: F, M, and B. Some shops, at least in Tokyo, also offer other nib points, particularly the waverly (WA) and the falcon (FA). In fact, the 823 could take any size 15 nib, and that is what some retailers do by exchanging the nib with any of the options available in the Custom 743 model. Whether those swapping void the warranty offered by Pilot is not clear.

A Custom 823 clear with a "falcon" (FA) nib. This combination is not included in the Pilot catalog. It is offered by some shops. This picture was taken at Maruzen-Nihonbashi.

Another combination that does not appear on the books: clear Custom 823 with a "waverly" nib. Available at Asahiya-Kami Bungu.

The model 823 is now 17 years old and it remains as one of the most interesting models currently made by Pilot. Now, the Custom Urushi might, paradoxically, make it even more interesting. The Custom Urushi is certainly an impressive pen, but it is also expensive (JPY 88000), and the search for alternatives within the Pilot (and Namiki) catalog leads to the smaller Custom 845 (JPY 50000), also decorated with urushi, and to the Custom 823 and Custom 743 (JPY 30000). On these three cases, the potential buyer had to settle down with the smaller size 15 nib. My contention, then, is that faced with the obligatory reduction in nib size to lower the actual cost of the pen, the JPY 30000 of the nominal price of the Custom 823 are an even more impressive value given, most interestingly, its self-filling system.

The urushi relatives of the Custom 823: Custom Urushi (top) and Custom 845 (bottom).

The stark contrast between those JPY 88000 of the Custom Urushi and the JPY 30000 of the 823 makes the later a lot more appealing. A lot more, I think, than when the obvious competitor was the Custom 845 at a value of JPY 50000.

Lanbitou “Vista” – Noodler’s Zhivago

Bruno Taut
Nakano & Shinjuku, July 2017
etiquetas: Pilot, mercado, Pelikan, Platinum, Sailor, Vanco

21 November 2015

More by Mr. Iwase

Mr. Iwase is this raden master who customized his pens in unique ways. I already reported on his workd over relatively rare pens crafted by Mr. Momose and by nibmeister Kubo Kohei. But Mr. Iwase also decorates more common pens—Pelikan M1000 and M800, and Montblanc 149.

A collection of Pelikan M1000.

Pelikan M800 and M1000, and Montblanc 149. The reddish pen is just coated with urushi.

As before, Iwase uses sea shells, usually abalone, and tries to preserve on the pen the colorful patterns of the uncut shells.

The collection of these pens is simply spectacular, but they are for the personal use and enjoyment of the author. Mr. Iwase does not sell them.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Once again, these are unique pens even if, in essence, they are well known products.

My thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Iwase.

Sailor ProGear Senior – Nagasawa Bokkô

Bruno Taut
Over Siberia, November 9th, 2015
etiquetas: Iwase, Pelikan, Montblanc, maki-e

03 December 2014

War Time

War-time German pens are well-known. That might be due to the current importance of some German brands and to their ability to create iconic models. On the contrary, Japanese pens from the same period are mostly unknown. Maybe rightly so, but they are not without interest.

The war period in Japan is a lot longer than in Europe and in America, and in fact dating its starting point is difficult and controversial. Regarding pens, on the years 1932 and 1938 –well before the beginning of the war in Europe— some restrictions were imposed on the production of consumer goods.

On 1932, the first restrictions on the use of gold were enacted. Gold nibs became rarer in the domestic market and pen companies manufactured gold nibs with lower-grade gold.

A 12 K gold nib by Pilot.

1938 meant the total embargo in the use of the noble metal and no gold nibs were manufactured until well after the end of the war. This is the golden era of the so-called “shiro nibs” (white nibs) made of stainless steel.

The following unit is an interesting example of a war-time pen in Japan. It is a Pilot with a size 2 nib made, of course, of stainless steel. The filling system is a lever filler. The pen is made of hard rubber.

The brand name is written on three different places—the clip, the nib, and the barrel. The later is partially hidden by the original sticker, where the price –JPY 3.48— is marked. The brand logo, though, is visible and shows the N (after Namiki) encircled by the lifebuoy, but the company name, as engraved, is “Pilot Pen Mfg. Co.”, thus certifying this pen had been manufactured after 1938.

The construction quality is not great, as could be expected in a product made during those hard times.

JPY 3.48 for this pen. Out of context, that does not mean much--was it expensive around 1940?

A steel nib --a "shiro" nib-- in size 2. The breathing hole points out at a certain flexibility.

These are its dimensions:
  • Length closed: 123 mm
  • Length open: 114 mm
  • Length posted: 156 mm
  • Diameter: 12 mm
  • Weight (dry): 12.7 g

That was a war time pen, just like some Pelikan 100—but a lot less known.

A war time Pelikan 100. Note the absence of any ring on the cap, and the steel nib. Photo courtesy of Foro de Estilográficas member Antolín.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami and to Foro de Estilográficas member Antolín.

Romillo Nervión – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, December 2nd 2014
labels: Pilot, Pelikan, plumín

02 August 2014


The information I offer today is already known—Kabutogi Ginjirô was a remarkable Japanese nibmeister who worked for a number of pen brands, including some of his own. And he was also responsible for the creation of some fake Pelikan nibs.

Today’s example is very significant. It is a wonderful paradox, a blatant contradiction. How could a Pelikan nib be engraved with the Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) mark and the registration number of a Japanese company? 4622 was registered to Kabutogi Ginjirô in connection to its brand Seilon, as we already saw.

A Japan-made Pelikan?

How far are countries willing to go in order to protect the local economy? Nowadays, Japan complains about China’s industry of counterfeit products but, didn’t Japan engage in these same activities back in the 1950s and 1960s?

This JIS-marked Pelikan nib is a stubborn proof.

My thanks to Mr. Sunami.

Inoxcrom 77, steel nib – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 1st 2014
etiquetas: Pelikan, Japón, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjirô, Seilon

18 July 2014


I have insisted a number of times on these Chronicles on the need to generate reliable information about fountain pens. The history of these tools is only half written. Some brands, needless to say, are well known and documented. A few of them, Pelikan, for instance, produce their own books and documenting material. In other cases, pen enthusiasts have written a number of monographies on a particular model or brand. The case of Alfonso Mur and his “The Conklin Legacy” is a remarkable example.

Alfonso Mur's book. Available in fine book stores everywhere... Or maybe not--it is about pens.

But more is needed. The history of pens in a number of countries has not yet been written. Too often, and there are many examples, the approach to these pens is brand-by-brand. However, a historical perspective is more comprehensive and useful. And the reason is clear—a careful description of the technological developments, aesthetic trends, and sociological environment provides the frameset in which to fit, even if approximately, any rarity.

An unknown and yet interesting Surat pen. Made of celluloid, steel nib, bulb filler--and more.

That, of course, is not incompatible with the addition of an appendix on relevant brands and models, even though that implied some failure in the general text. We should never forget, and this is why the historical overview is fundamental, that the number of pen brands tends to infinite, and for every well-documented pen there are tens (if not hundreds) of them basically unknown.

My thanks to Mr. Paul Bloch.

Super T Gester 40 – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 16th 2014
etiquetas: Pelikan, Conklin, libro, Surat

07 July 2013

Pelikan 1600

What single writing tool could produce ALL the lines shown on the following picture?

All the strokes were done with the same writing tool. It was not modified at all during the writing process (barely 20 seconds). The height of the capital P on Pelikan is 16 mm. The width of the underlining stroke, under the word "all", is between 7 and 8 mm.

This is an old topic on these Chronicles—that of nibmeister Yamada’s creations. But the previous picture does show the amazing versatility of the oppose nib scheme devised by nibmeister Yamada, implemented in a Pelikan M800. It also explains and justifies these radical attempts to understand nibs.

The answer to the initial question can be seen on the following pictures. The name Pelikan 1600, as he likes to call it, derives from the use of two Pelikan 800 nibs.

There is, however, another answer to that question: a traditional brush.

More information can be found on the following Chronicles: Innovation (I); Innovation (II); and Innovation (III). Analysis.

My thanks and my admiration go to Mr. Yamada.

Pilot in stainless steel (1968) – Pilot Blue-Black

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 7th 2013
etiquetas: Pelikan, nibmeister Yamada, soluciones técnicas

25 April 2013

First Piston by Sailor

After speaking about an old self-filler by Sailor, it might be time to speak about the origins of the new, contemporary, self-filling fountain pens of this company. Between the old bulb-fillers from the 1950s and the first Sailor Realo (2006), about 50 years of boring and clean and efficient cartridges and converters have passed.

Then, to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the company in 2006, Sailor marketed a big piston filler based on the King of Pen line in the Profit (1911 in some markets) style of balance pens. And this was the first piston ever made by Sailor.

500 units were made for Japan, and 100 more for overseas markets. Most of them were black, but there seems to have been a small number units in maroon, and an even smaller number with maki-e decoration for Singapore (as reported by A. Lambrou and M. Sunami; Fountain Pens of Japan. Andreas Lambrou Publishers 2012. ISBN: 978-0-9571230-0-2). Speaking for myself, I have only seen black units.

The inkwell shown on the picture is not the original one. It had the Sailor logo on the lid.

The package includes a pen pouch made of deerskin leather coated with urushi, a traditional craft from Yamanashi prefecture. But should we remember that is only an accessory.

The second element of interest in this pen, after the filling system, is the nib. It is a Naginata Togi in M partially rhodiated. This is exceptional because Naginata nibs come usually in the big size (in Sailor terms, opposed to medium and super big sizes), and this meant that Sailor made a special casting of this nib for the commemorative pen.

The cap is subtlely engraved: "REALO 2006 / (serial number)/500". This pen is one of the 500 units made for Japan. Those for overseas markets were numbered over 100.

The final result is a pen with two elements many stylophiles love—an exciting nib and a non-trivial filling system—making this one of the most interesting commemorative pens ever made by Sailor. Should it have been more exotic with the looks, it would have been almost perfect. And that might be the case of those Sailor Realo with maki-e made for the Singaporean market. However, cheap might be not, and that in the case you found one.

The super big, in Sailor terms, nib made of 21 K gold. It is a Naginata Togi nib in M.

This first and original Realo is indeed big and could easily compete with classic oversized pens as the Montblanc 149 and the Pelikan M1000. These are their dimensions:

.Sailor Realo 95.

.Montblanc 149. .Pelikan M1000.
Length closed (mm) 153 148 146
Length open (mm) 130 132 135
Length posted (mm) 167 169 173
Barrel Diameter (mm) 16.0 15.0 14.5
Ink deposit (ml) 1.6 1.9 1.6
Weight, dry (g) 31.9 31.0 32.9

The original price of the Sailor Realo in Japan was JPY 80000, plus tax.

The wide cap ring carries the following inscription: "SAILOR JAPAN 95th ANNIVERSARY".

Detail of the decorative ring between the barrel and the culotte.

But this was a limited edition and only 600 units went into the market. Sailor, however, followed up in 2009 with a more affordable, and smaller, piston filler based on senior size of both the balance Profit/1911 and of the flat top Professional Gear models. The basic price of these smaller Realos is JPY 30000, plus tax, and that implies sticking to the usual triad of points—F, M and B. Upgrades to more complex nibs are available during Sailor sale events and at some Sailor Friendly Shops. They are not cheap.

The picture shows the original Realo from 2006, on top, and the regular model, not limited, from 2009, on bottom. The later is a much smaller pen, based on the senior size of the Profit/1911 or the Professional Gear series of pens.

Platinum 3776 (1978) – Platinum Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, April 17th, 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín, Singapur, Montblanc, Pelikan

17 March 2013

Pelikan in Japan (II)

On a recent text, I pointed out the popularity of Pelikan pens among Japanese stylophiles. Therefore, it was no surprise to see all those brand-new Pelikan M800 in tortoise shell finish at the last meeting of the Wagner group in Tokyo. However, the truly interesting detail was that some of them were also carrying the 1987 version. And this allowed for a direct comparison of these two pens.

The new Pelikan is on top (top right on the third picture) and the 1987 version on bottom. The stripes are straight and darker on the new model and wavy and brighter on the old. The golden circle on the knob belongs to the 1987 model.

They are far from identical. From the celluloid patterns to the decoration on cap jewel and piston knob, the differences are very clear.

My thanks to Kugel 149.

Montblanc 144 – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, March 17th, 2013
etiquetas: evento, Pelikan