Showing posts with label Platinum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Platinum. Show all posts

31 December 2020

Spurious Arguments

The last significant iteration of the Platinum 3776 came out in 2011 with the model 3776 Century. This version came with a shorter nib (save in the case of music nibs) and with the slip-and-seal mechanism to prevent the nib from drying up when not in use.

This model has since then been a useful canvas for the all-too-common creation of limited and special editions—the Fuji Lakes, the Nice pens, the Star Wars, the Fuji Seasonal Views...

Variations on a theme.

In 2012, Platinum marketed the pen called Jin-Shin, a limited edition of 300 units,150 for Japan, 150 for the rest of the World; both numbered over 150. As a pen, it is a variation of the 3776 Century, albeit without the slip-and-seal mechanism.

The Jin-Shin of 2012.

The main point of this pen is its maki-e decoration. Its technique is called “sumikoage taka maki-e” and it uses charcoal powder ("sumi") to form a raised surface. This technique has later been used by Platinum in a couple of pens of the Izumo series. The motif depicted on the Jin-Shin is a dragon—“Black Dragon in the Dark”.

Sexy underwear.

To justify this special edition, Platinum tries to make an argument invoking the Chinese astrology and the symbolism associated to the number 29... All in all, poorly explained mumbo jumbo, but repeated almost verbatim by retailers all around the World. However, it does not matter much—any argument is good to create yet another limited edition.

And this pen is beautiful.

Ohashido plain ebonite - Kobe Ginza, Sepia Gold (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
December 31st 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, maki-e

28 October 2020

Le charme discret

What's the difference between the following pens?

A Platinum Izumo (top) and a President.

In essence, they are the same pen—a Platinum President with the very characteristic 18 K gold nib. The difference, beyond the factor 3 in price, is the outer layer, the decoration—plastic versus ebonite and urushi.

It is the same case of these other pens—a Platinum 3776 and a Nakaya.

A Nakaya Portable (top) and a Platinum (pre-Century) 3776.

Again, these pens share the essential parts of a pen—nib, feed, filling system. Their prices, however, are a factor 5 apart due solely to the decoration. And to marketing, of course.

Is urushi and its labor that expensive? In any event, we live in a free market and the price is marked by the seller and decided by the buyer. At least on commodities like pens.

Still life with natsume (棗).

And urushi has a subtle but undeniable charm. Paraphrasing maestro Buñuel, le charme discret de l'urushi.

Parker 61 Flighter – Unknown blue-black.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 28th, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, mercado, maki-e

17 August 2020

Platinum 25G

We have seen how Pilot's strategy re anniversary pens has often been an experimental model that later became part of the general catalog. Some significant examples were the Pilot 65, the Pilot 75, and the Pilot Shijin (80th anniversary).

On its side, Platinum seems focused on releasing the model 3776 over and over again, including those made for celebratory occasions. That was the case in 2019 and the pen named “The Prime”. It is a Sterling silver pen under which find a 3776 Century.

Platinum's The Prime. Platinum's 10th anniversary pen.
In 2009, Platinum reached its 90th anniversary and released the pen “25G” to celebrate it.

The Platinum 25G.

The 25G was a limited edition of 1000 numbered units. The body is made of aluminum and carbon fiber (manufactured by Toray Industries) and aluminum. The result, according to Platinum, is a light pen at 25 grams. On the unit I am presenting today those theoretical 25 grams become 28.3 g including a dry converter. In the same conditions, the regular 3776 is 22.3 g; the modern 3776 Century, 24.6 g; and the Platinum President, 25.3 g.

The 25G and the 3776 of the time. Paradoxically, the regular 3776 is lighter than the carbon fiber model.

The most unusual feature of the 25G is, however, its shape. It does depart from most pen designs in the market making it quite unique.

The filling system of this pen is through cartridges and converters, as is customary in all modern Platinum pens. The nib is a pre-Century 3776 unit made of 18 K gold. It came with three different nib points—F, M, and B. The nib engraving is special for the occasion—two circles, one of which is a recreation of the old globe logo of the company; and on the other we can read “PLATINUM 90”.

The nib is the same as in the 3776 model of the time, but in 18 K Au.

The insides of the 25G.

The old logo is also imprinted on the cap finial together with the text “The 90th Anniversary”. The barrel end, also metallic, carries the inscription “JAPAN” and the pen number within the limited edition.

The pen ends.

These are the dimensions of the pen:

Length closed: 146 mm
Length open: 125 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Diameter: 16.2 mm
Weight: 28.3 g (with converter, dry)
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (cartridge) / 0.6 ml (converter)

The selling price was originally JPY 100,000, plus tax. It seems it was not particularly popular at the time, and remained in the shelves of stationers for quite some time. Lately,a number of unused units have shown up at some second hand shops in Tokyo (at least) for much less than that original price.

All in all, an interesting pen even though it might be little else than an overpriced 3776 in a fancy costume.

Omas 556 – Kobe Ginza Gold Sepia

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 16th 2020
etiquetas: Platinum

30 June 2020

French Platinum

Platinum pens in disguise are not uncommon (::1::, ::2::, ::3::), but they always come as a surprise. The latest example is the following pen labeled as Mallat.

A Platinum or a Mallat? Picture by Pomperopero.

Mallat was a French company that produced writing instruments since the 1890s, and fountain pens since the late 1910s. However, this company stopped manufacturing fountain pen in the 1960s, but stayed in the market of inexpensive writing tools, including some fountain pens presumably made by others. The brand disappeared in the 1990s.

The cap ring reads "MALLAT", and on its back side it says "JAPON". And the nib is engraved with the logo of the Japan Industrial Standards (JIS). Picture by Pomperopero.

Under this name Mallat we find the Windsor model that in actual terms is a platinum 3776 from the days when their feeds were made of ebonite. The nib, on this French pen, is made of steel. Its date shows that it was made in 1984.

Nib and feed scream Platinum out loud. The nib is dated on the back side--459 meaning April of Showa year 59, 1984. Picture by Pomperopero.

A similar model existed in Japan as Platinum. This pen was, in essence, a simplification of the original corrugated model marketed initially in 1978 and that still survives in the Platinum catalog. This Platinum from the mid 1980s still implements ebonite feeds. The example here shows sports a 14 K gold nib.

The equivalent Platinum 3776, albeit with a gold nib.

This French Platinum is obviously related to the better known Diplomat pen “Tiffany and Co.” This Diplomat was, once again, a 3776 with ebonite feed, 18 K gold nib, and a body made of briar wood marketed in the 1980s.

My thanks to Pomperopero (IG: inakidema), whose pictures are greatly appreciated.

Pilot Capless LS – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Sumida, June 27th, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, Mallat, Francia

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

31 May 2020

Platinum in China

In recent years Platinum has dedicated a lot of energy to the low end of the market of fountain pens. I have already expressed my skepticism about the long term success of this strategy, but in the meantime we see Platinum releasing a number of inexpensive models—Curidas (::1::, ::2::, ::3::), Prefounte, Procyon...

The Platinum "Little Shooting Star".

And last year --2019-- Platinum marketed a variation of the well-known model Preppy called “Little Shooting Star”, but only for the Chinese market. This detail makes this pen poorly known in Japan –or anywhere else--, leaving Fudefan and Inky Rocks as the primary sources of information.

Preppy and Little Shooting Star side by side. The nib units and the sections are the same for both models.

On my side I can only formulate a couple of questions I cannot answer:

-- Is it worth to release this variation of the long-produced Preppy instead of marketing the Preppy itself in the Chinese market?

-- Is this sector of the market that profitable? Or, in other words, can Platinum really compete with the myriad of inexpensive pens made in China that are launched into the market almost every week?

This seems a difficult challenge for Platinum.

Platinum Curidas – Private Reserve Dakota Red

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 31st, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, China, mercado

07 April 2020

Curidas. 3. Analysis

Then, how is this pen? And by “this” I mean the Platinum Curidas, about which I have spoken endlessly since January (::1::, ::2::, ::3::, ::4::, ::5::). And not only me—the hype Platinum created around this new pen inspired many an aficionado to publish his own impressions on it. So, is it possible to write anything new?

1. Appearance.

The Curidas is a capless pen with a very large push button made primarily of plastic, and it implements a removable clip. The nib is made of steel.

These are, once again, the actual dimensions of the pen:

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

Length closed (mm) 153
Length open (mm) 140
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5
Weight, dry (g) 25.5
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6
Nib points EF/F/M
Price (**) (JPY) 7000

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters.
**: MSRP price without taxes.

The removable clip addresses a regular complaint among users of other capless pens, and in particular of the Pilot Capless models. It is in the nature of these pens for the clip to be close to the nib. This location is inconvenient for some users and removing the clip might be the strategy they might choose with the result of Platinum gaining some additional buyers.

The pen, the clip, and the tool to remove and to reattach it.

Removing it is relatively easy following the instructions (and video) and using the tool, both included in the package. However, fellow pen connoisseur Inky Rocks have reported some problems doing that to the point of cracking the central guiding notch. So, careful operation is advised.

There is a second function, I found, for the clip—it informs you of the right orientation of the pen. Without it, the lower notch is more visible and gives the false impression of being the reference point to grab the pen correctly, but by doing so the nib will appear with the feed facing up.

Two notches on the body. The one on the top is the guide for the clip. The one on the bottom protects the position where the retracting mechanism is anchored when the nib is released.

The clip also serves as a guide to know where the nib is placed and in which orientation.

2. Construction.

The pen is externally made of plastic and is held together by a metal ring. The thread opening the pen is metal-to-plastic, which is often a vulnerable point that can affect the durability of the tool. This thread sometimes becomes loose during normal operation of the pen. I reckon, though, that this might be caused by my fear breaking the pen.

The releasing mechanism seems and sounds robust, but it is not particularly smooth or soft or silent. At times, the movement of the nib can be rough enough to splash ink drops inside and outside of the pen.

As is suggested by the length of the push knob, the movement of the nib is also long–about 30 mm. This detail allows for a larger portion of the nib exposed when writing, and a better view of what is being written. The drawback is the long button, which makes the pen to look disproportionate.

3. Nib and Writing.

Three are the nib points available to this pen: EF, F, and M. I tested extensively only two of them, F and M, and my words are mostly about them.

Two of the three nib options on the Curidas: F and M. There is also an EF nib.

Preppy and Curidas's nibs side by side. The Curidas's seems an evolution of the Preppy's.

The nibs are related to those present on a desk pen now discontinued, the DP-1000AN, albeit with minor variations on some parameters. This desk pen was well-known in the Japanese market after many years in the catalog of the brand. seem derived from those in the Preppy family of pens (Preppy, Prefounte, Plaisir, etc.). However, the Curidas units are narrower and sport a proper breathing hole, although this is a misnomer and its presence is merely cosmetic.

These steel nibs on this pen do their work perfectly. Reasonably smooth and with a perfectly controlled flow.

The F point is very thin –probably about 0.3 mm, as that is the figure Platinum usually associates to F—, and seems perfectly symmetric. Smooth, ma non tanto.

Writing test of a Curidas with an F nib.

On the contrary, the M point (about 0.5 mm) is a bit stubbish, which adds a bit of character to its performance. This point is a lot smoother than the F.

Writing test of a Curidas with an M nib.

The nibs are quite resistant to drying up. Platinum, on its marketing, explains that the pen is designed creating a small chamber for the nib that is sealed when retracted. Inky Rocks tested this feature with inconclusive results, particularly when compared to the performance of the Pilot Décimo.

The weight of the pen, around 25 g, might seem on the heavy side, but the pen is well balanced and is quite comfortable over extended periods of writing.

4. Maintenance.

The nib unit is easy to extract from the pen and, being a cartridge-converter, cleaning it is not difficulty. Further disassembly of the nib does not seem easy at all, but it is not necessary for regular use.

As for the pen body and mechanism, not much is needed save for the occasional cleaning of ink splats—an easy task when the nib is not in place.

5. Cost and value.

The price of this pen in Japan is JPY 7000 (plus tax), and can be found for less at discount shops. For that price you get a retractable pen with steel nib and a reliable mechanism.

It is also less refined that other similar pens, but they are also more expensive.

6. Conclusions.

In summary, these are the more relevant characteristics of the Platinum Curidas:
– It is a correct pen with very reliable nibs.
– Its mechanism is also reliable albeit a bit inconvenient given its dimensions—long knob, long displacement.
– Original looks that might drive some users away.
– Plastic body. Not the sturdiest in the market.
– Removable clip that might attract those dissatisfied with other capless pens.
– Contained price at JPY 7000 in Japan.

Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 5th, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, capless

30 March 2020

Curidas. 2. Contenders

As I said on my previous Chronicle, the obvious competition for the newly arrived Platinum Curidas is the basic Pilot Capless model with steel nib. The reasons are easy to see:

The two contenders: Platinum Curidas on top, Pilot Capless with steel nib on bottom.

– Affordable price in the order of JPY 10,000, albeit the Curidas is significantly cheaper.

– Steel nibs on both of them.

The construction structure of both pens is quite similar, but the materials involved on them are different. The Curidas is made mostly of plastic whereas the Capless is fundamentally a metallic pen. The Pilot Capless has a metal-to-metal thread—a lot sturdier solution that the metal-to-plastic of the Curidas. The plastic material of the later does not seem particularly resistant and it might compromise its durability.

Basic disassembly of the Curidas. The metal-to-plastic thread is clearly visible on the body.

Sturdier construction of the Pilot Capless. A metal-to-metal thread on the body. It also costs JPY 3000 more than the Curidas.

This detail connects the Curidas with the previous Capless model of 1984 (FCN-500R and FCN-800R). This Capless has been highly praised by many because of its unobtrusive clip and light weight. And like the Curidas, it is made of plastic and closes through a metal to plastic thread that makes it a bit fragile.

Platinum Curidas on top, 1984 Pilot Capless (FCN-500R) on bottom. Both implement metal-to-plastic threads on the body.

Mechanism-wise, that of the Pilot model is much smoother than the Platinum's. Both of them, in any case, feel and sound reliable, although that of the Platinum has not yet passed the test of time.

About the dimensions, all that is actually relevant is summarized on the following table. And whether is pen is for you is for each of us to decide... by trying it.

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

.Pilot FCN-1MR 1998.
Length closed (mm) 153 141
Length open (mm) 140 138
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5 13.3
Weight, dry (g) 25.5 30.9
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6 0.9/0.5
Nib points (**) EF/F/M F/M
Price (***)(JPY) 7000 10000

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters. In the case of Pilot, the converter is the CON-40.
**: Steel nibs. Pilot offers six nib points on gold nibs.
***: MSRP prices without taxes.

Capless or Curidas?

Cosmetic-wise, both pens offer five different body colors, Platinum's being transparent or semitransparent. On its side, Pilot's nibs are gold plated and are mismatched with the silver body trim of this inexpensive version. The Curidas does not show much trimming save for the removable clip and the central ring. And both match the silver color of the steel nib.

Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 23rd, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless

23 March 2020

Curidas. 1. Context

Finally the Platinum Curidas arrived in general retail shops in Japan; the wait is finally over and we can buy it at regular shops –instead of only at a couple of them--, and even at discount shops. Then, how is it?

The Platinum Curidas. At last!

A lot has been said already (::1::, ::2::, ::3::) after all the hype Platinum wisely generated to release its second capless pen after the Platinum Knock in 1965. The Knock was the first attempt of Platinum to compete with Pilot on its own grounds. But the Knock was short lived –a couple of years in the market-, and now it is more of a well sought-after anecdote than a real landmark in the history of pens.

Then, 55 years later Platinum tries again. This time, the strategy is totally different. In 1965, the Knock rivaled with the Pilot Capless in similar terms—both were in the same price range between JPY 2000 and JPY 3000, and both with gold nibs (model C-300SW and variations). Pilot, however, also marketed the cheaper C-100RW model for JPY 1000 with a steel nib in that same year of 1965.

Three capless in 1965. Only two Capless: C-100RW (top), and C-200SW (middle). And the Platinum Knock (bottom).

The situation now is different—Platinum's bet is on an inexpensive pen –JPY 7000—to challenge the Pilot's supremacy in the capless market.

The obvious competitor for the new Curidas is the cheapest version of the Pilot Capless—the regular model (FCN-1MR, 1998) with gold-plated steel nib sold at JPY 10000 (plus tax). But I can also think of a second competitor on the side of Pilot—the previous model of 1984 (FCN-500R and FCN-800R of 1984); also named as the faceted Capless.

Three current capless, only one Capless. The FCN-1MR (top) and two Curidas.

Although this model was discontinued in 1998 and there is an active second hand market on it, it is also possible to find old remains of unsold units at the original price. At least in Japan.

On the following table we can see the basic characteristics of these three points:

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

.Pilot FCN-1MR 1998. .Pilot FCN-800R 1984.
Length closed (mm) 153 141 137
Length open (mm) 140 138 135
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5 13.3 11.7
Weight, dry (g) 25.5 30.9 17.5
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6 0.9/0.5 0.9/0.5
Nib points (**) EF/F/M F/M F/M
Price (***)(JPY) 7000 10000 8000/market

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters. In the case of Pilot, the converter is the CON-40.
**: Steel nibs. Pilot offers six nib points on gold nibs.
***: MSRP prices without taxes. The FCN-800R commands high prices on the free market.

The old faceted Capless FCN-800R (also labeled as FCN-500R) of 1984, on top on the picture, is also a valid rival to the Platinum Curidas, particularly if found at reasonable prices.

The Curidas has just arrived and it is still difficult to gauge the impact it might have in the market beyond the initial waves wisely managed by Platinum. Its future might strongly depend on the interest of the company in making more variations, more luxurious based on this canvas.

This new pen poses some interesting questions—is the latest battle in the fountain pen market focused on the low to middle end segment of pens? Can Platinum compete with the Chinese production of fountain pens? And finally, is the Curidas going to change Pilot's policy regarding its Capless family of pens?

Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 22nd, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, mercado