Showing posts with label Senator - Merz and Krell - Diplomat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senator - Merz and Krell - Diplomat. Show all posts

26 July 2013

German Platinum

Despite the title, this is not another chapter of the mysterious story of all those Platinum pens sold in different countries under other brand names—in Greece as Joker, in Spain as Presidente, in South Africa as Hifra. Not now, not the case. This is the story of an unusual Platinum pen.

I have said several times on there Chronicles that Platinum introduced the ink cartridge in Japan in 1956 and fully endorsed the system up to nowadays. Its “Good bye, ink bottle” motto of the time did not become true as Platinum still makes inkwells, but very rare are the Platinum pens not using ink cartridges after those late 1950s. The better known case is the series of pens released on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the company in 1989. Those form a collection of balance-shaped piston fillers made in a number of materials—celluloid, ebonite, wood--, and they seem to be hidden in the hands of collectors or in totally forgotten drawers, as they are rarely seen in the wild.

A piston filler by Platinum. Or maybe not...

There is, though, another piston-filler with the Platinum brand. And let me say that I have chosen the words carefully—this pen carries the Platinum logo but was not made by Platinum. It is, in fact, an OEM pen made by Senator, in Germany, for the Japanese manufacturer. Senator company was born in 1920 as Merz & Krell, and also uses the brand Diplomat for some of its writing products.

The Platinum Regent, uncapped.

This pen model was known as Platinum Regent, following the name of the original German—Senator Regent. Nib and clip are engraved with the Platinum brand logo and name, respectively. The nib is made of stainless steel, gold plated, and is nicely soft, almost a semi-flex.

The nib, made of stainless steel, is engraved with the Platinum logo.

The piston is manned from the tail knob, usually hidden under the blind rear cap.

The knob to operate the piston.

These are its dimensions:
Length closed: 128 mm
Length open: 119 mm
Length posted: 156 mm
Diameter: 12 mm
Weight (full): 15.9 g

This “Platinum” piston filler was sold in Japan in the late 1980s.

My thanks to Mr. Shimizu.

Platinum 3776 Century, music nib – Platinum Pigment Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, July 26th 2013
etiquetas: Platinum, Senator – Merz & Krell – Diplomat

11 March 2013

Pelikan in Japan (I)

The star of the season, fountain pen wise, is undoubtedly the newly released Pelikan M800 with tortoise shell finish.

As we know, there is a precedent to this pen—the elusive M800 tortoise-shell released in 1987 in a very limited number of pens. The official story, by Pelikan in the voice of the official archivist Jürgen Dittmer, speaks of this pen as commissioned by some Spanish retailers. Some rumours even mentioned some shop by the name of “galeria”, that could very well be the now defunct department store Galerías Preciados. However, nobody in Spain seems to know anything about this story, and nobody in Spanish speaking fora acknowledged owning one of these pens.

The 1987 Pelikan M800 in brown tortoise shell.

Other voices speak of this 1987 pen as made especially for the Japanese market. I have no solid argument to favor this idea over the previous one, but given the popularity of Pelikan in Japan, I tend to think of this idea as more plausible. Actually, several of this pens can be seen at stylophile meetings in Tokyo. And there is also a previous example of Pelikan pens made thinking of the Japanese market.

A Pelikan 400NN made by Merz & Krell in the 1970s.

The Pelikan model 400, now named as 400NN, was phased out in 1965, and Pelikan then sold the machinery to produce it. But the demand for that model in Japan made Pelikan to commission its production to the company Merz & Krell. This makes the 400NN M&K relatively common in Japan.

But all those arguments provided no evidence, and the mystery of the 1987 Pelikan M800 in brown tortoise shell remains.

Platinum 3776 (2002 model) – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Machida, March 7th, 2013
etiquetas: Japón, España, Pelikan, Merz and Krell

27 May 2012

Innovation (I)

Sailor’s specialty nibs, I have said on these chronicles, are arguably the most interesting innovation in fountain pens in recent years. The idea of overlapping two and three nibs is both elegant and efficient.

And on these texts, I have also mentioned the amazing creations of nibmeister Yamada. Among them, his version of a two-fold nib, based on a Pelikan M800, caught the attention of many of us.

Then, what’s next? Are there more possibilities in our understanding of nibs and pens? Mr. Yamada is indeed creative and daring. And so his question was more concrete, more advanced: What if instead of overlapping the nibs we opposed them?

A Senator (top) and a Pelikan 800 with opposed nibs.

Senator (left) and Pelikan (right) nibs. Their geometry are different.

Here we have a couple of average looking pens: a Senator and a Pelikan (M800). Their nibs, though, have been heavily modified and now are unique and radical. Mr. Yamada did really oppose two nibs, and to do so he had to make special feeds to provide ink to both of them.

These nib sets have the wonderful property of allowing a big number of different strokes, which in turn depend on the geometry and configuration. Needless to say, now there are many more possibilities. Today, I will only speak about the asymmetric configuration.

On the Senator pen, the lower nib, on the right in the picture, is made of steel. Its bending is quite progressive.

The Senator pen in the hands of its creator, Mr. Yamada. Please, note the variety of lines.

On it, one of the nibs is mostly untouched and the other is bended about 45 degrees in a quite sharp angle. The result is a wet fine point —fed by two slits— when writing with the tip. At more shallow angles, though, the whole lower nib draws a very thick line.

The Pelikan set is formed by two 18 K Pelikan nibs. The lower nib is bended at a much sharper angle than that of the Senator pen.

The nib set, as in any Pelikan pen, can easily be detached from the section. On the paper, some writing samples of the Pelikan nib. Note the possibility of drawing both thin and very broad lines.

Indeed a versatile nib with lines ranging from very fine to inordinately broad.

On another chronicle I will describe other possibilities.

Hats off to Mr. Yamada!

Pilot Capless 1998 – Sailor Sei-boku

Bruno Taut
May 23-26, 2012
etiquetas: Yamada, plumín, evento, soluciones técnicas, Pelikan, Senator.

05 May 2012


We encountered the Platinum Honest 60 pen at the time of understanding the Japanese origins of two apparently European brands: the Italian Joker 60 and the Spanish Presidente. The Platinum Honest 60, let us remember now, was the first cartridge-converter (C-C) pen ever marketed in Japan. That was in 1956. In previous years, some sources said, there existed some self-filling Honest pen models.

The Platinum Honest. The sticker says, in katakana, "puratina (Platinum) / Y400 / onesutopen (Honest Pen)". The barrel is engraved with a similar script, but in alphabet: "PLATINUM / (Platinum logo) / HONEST PEN".

Such is the pen on display today—a Platinum Honest (no figure) with an aerometric filling system. This pen is remarkably similar to the first Presidente pen described on these Chronicles. Same grey color for the body, same gold plated steel nib, same barrel and section. The basic difference is on the cap jewel—on the Presidente, the jewel had the old Platinum logo engraved; on this Honest the logo is engraved on the clip, just by the black top jewel.

The Platinum logo, on this pen, is not engraved on the jewel but on the clip.

The nib is a "10 year" made of steel. These nibs will be the topic of another Chronicle.

Close up of the nib. The inscription reads "PLATINUM / 10 YEARS / (Platinum logo) / (JIS logo) - 5". The Presidente's nib inscription was the same save for the last number: a 11.

These are the dimensions of the Platinum Honest and of the first Presidente:

.................................Honest Pen............Presidente
Length closed:............. 132 mm..............134 mm.
Length open:.................118 mm..............123 mm.
Length posted:..............145 mm..............150 mm.
Diameter:.........................10 mm................10 mm.
Weight (dry):.....................14.0 g.................14.5 g.

The Honest pen, disassembled.

The instructions to fill the pen are in English: "PLATINUM HONEST PEN / TO FILL INK. PRESS SPRING BAR / FIVE TIMES. USE PLATINUM INK".

This Honest pen, with no numbers, is an earlier model than the cartridge-converter Honest 60, and it is obvious origin of the European pens Joker and Presidente (and eventually a German Senator following the same pattern, if my information is correct). The Presidente brand was registered in Madrid in 1959, years later than the launching of the Honest 60 in 1956. What we still do not know is whether these aerometric fillers were phased out in Japan because they were considered obsolete after the C-C version had been released. If so, those European Platinum were a good way to get rid of those old pens.

(Pilot Super, accordion fillerSailor Jentle 土用, Doyô)

Bruno Taut
May 1-5th, 2012
[labels: Platinum, Presidente, Joker, Senator]

16 July 2010


There is something reactionary in this hobby called stylophilia. Those infected by this strange virus pay attention to an object whose prime time is long gone. We insist in using some utensils that are not convenient given the technological advances in the last fifty years. So, once the convenience of use is no longer an argument, almost anything goes.

Fountain pens have evolved a lot along their 150 years of history. One of the systems that has seen more changes is that related to the way the pen is filled with ink. From the dip pens with no ink deposit to the present disposable pens, a number of technical solutions have been proposed and developed. All of them, in practical terms, fit into these three categories: eyedroppers, self-fillers, cartridges.

Eyedropper pens need an external device –an eyedropper or a syringe— to fill the pen barrel with ink. This is an old system, but these pens have the great advantages of a big ink reservoir and of no technical complication.

A Sheaffer pen with the complex snorkel self-filling system.

Self-fillers, on the contrary, need of some internal deposit and of some device to pump the ink from the inkwell through the nib and feed. These systems are really varied—from piston fillers to aerometric bladders to levers acting on rubber sacs… These pens are the most technically complex in the market. Their ink deposits can be both big and small—each pen is different on this.

Cartridges and converters of the three major Japanese pen companies.

Nowadays, however, most newly made pens use sealed cartridges together –if the pen allowed so— with ad-hoc converters to make the pen to work as a self-filler. These pens, usually, have small ink capacity, given by the cartridge or converter, but their cartridges are small and easy to carry.

Two German piston fillers: a Pelikan 400NN (Merz & Krell, 1970s), and a Soennecken 110 (1950s).

Some brands remain loyal to self-filling systems. That is the case of Pelikan, for instance. Others opt for the simplicity of cartridges and converters. That is the case of most Japanese manufacturers, although recently they have marketed a couple of self-filling models. Some of their top models, however, are eyedroppers.

One of the few Japanese modern examples of self-filling pen. A piston-filler Katoseisakusho made in celluloid.

So, the final decision pertains to the collector or to the user. The convenience of the cartridge or the romantic tradition of the self-filling or eyedropper systems?

This discussion is never ending and often leads nowhere. Weight and technical complexity or ease of use and reliability? A second pen as a back up or a spare cartridge in the pocket? Romantic authenticity —whatever that might mean— or ease of use?

At the end, companies are catering the cravings of the buyer, not to mention that there exist a vast number of old pens with any technical solution. There are pens in all price ranges with either of the systems: self-fillers, cartridge only pens, cartridge and converter pens, eyedroppers… The exception, however, might be that of currently-produced eyedroppers—new eyedroppers tend to be very expensive.

It is my impression, however, that most stylophiles prefer self-filling fountain pens. Some, very ardently, following the backwardness of the fountain pen use.

As for myself, I am very eclectic on this matter. I do dislike disposable pens, although I manage to refill them. And I rather stay away from cartridge-only pens, despite I am fond of refilling cartridges with the ink of my choice.

Now, you, fellow stylophile reader, what do you prefer?

(Sailor 21 Black pocket pen – Sailor Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, July 11-12 2010)
[labels: estilofilia, Pelikan, Soennecken, soluciones técnicas, Katoseisakusho, Sheaffer, conversor, Japón, Merz and Krell]

29 April 2010

Wagner 2010. After the show.

This past weekend the Wagner 2010 pen show was celebrated, and now is time for analysis and reflections.

As I mentioned on my previous entry, the whole show was basically unannounced. Little information in the Internet, no posters on pen shops,… nothing. Not even signs at the station or on the event building. Not even on the lounge we used! Actually, I had to go through all the floors of the building until I heard some noise. So, nobody stepped in by mere accident.

The show was, I think, on the small side. About 15 paying tables and, on the first day, about 200 visitors (according to the organizer Mutsumi Mori). The entrance fee on Saturday was 2000 yen –about USD 22.

Of all the tables, only about five were interesting. Mostly Japanese pens –Pilot and Sailor, some Platinum--, and one guy had a number of pens from already disappeared manufacturers such as SSS and (Japanese) Swan. Many of them were not exactly usable as daily writers—many eye-droppers whose inkflow was difficult to control, for instance.

Then, the non-Japanese stuff. First, Pelikan and Montblanc, new and old, and a big number of limited editions. Then, some Italians and some Americans—Sheaffer in particular. Very few Parkers, other than some modern Duofold. Only one Parker 51! Re limited editions, someone told me that a Montblanc Hemingway can cost up to half a million yen here (that is, USD 5500). There was one on sale for Y 225000 –about USD 2500.

The second day was more relaxed. The entrance fee was half price. I cannot say much about how many people attended, though. Some visitors were also trading their pens—“informal trading” one of them told me. Lots of informative conversations took place in there. That was the most social time of the pen show, but by no means unique to this one in particular.

The Show also had its own pens for sale: a Sailor Professional Gear with “Wagner 2010” engraved on the nib and on the cap ring. There were also some leftovers from a previous show—a Platinum with an impressive and smooth music nib from Wagner 2008. Last but not least, there was also a 18 K gold B nib Senator President.

Another interesting element of the show was the pen clinic. Five craftsmen, well four craftsmen and a craftswoman, were available to adjust and fix pens of all the visitors. The service was included in the entrance fee. They did work hard.

And on May 23rd, the monthly pen clinic of the Pen Collectors of Japan will take place at the same venue (EBIS303, I will sure attend it. Entrance fee of Y 2000.

Interesting show, especially if you were interested in Japanese stuff. People were friendly and my lack of ability in Japanese was not a big problem. As it is usual in pen shows, we were a bunch of people eager to share our passion for fine writing objects.

End of the party, with flowers to Mutsumi Mori.

(Waterman Laureat - Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, April 28, 2010)
[Labels: evento, Tokyo, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Senator]