Showing posts with label Sheaffer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sheaffer. Show all posts

05 June 2016

Duet Nib

Vanco was a brand of pens that has already showed up on these Chronicles. The Vanco pen on display at that time was a celluloid pen from the 1930s that implemented a telescopic piston as filling system. That alone proved a technical ability matched by very few companies of the time. However, there is very little information in the Internet about these pens. And the book of reference on Japanese pens –Fountain Pens of Japan, by A. Lambrou and M. Sunami (2012)— mentions Vanco briefly on four occasions, but does not provide any detailed information nor includes any picture of them.


The Vanco pen I am presenting today is a postwar unit. It is, in fact, a much simpler model than the piston filler I mentioned before, but it is nonetheless interesting for several reasons.


The sticker on the cap reads "DUET". That on the barrel, "VANCO / ¥500". On the barrel, the inscription says 'THE / "VANCO" / HIGH CLASS PEN'. On the clip, "VANCO".


The instruction sheet starts by declaring that all Vanco pens are certified by the ministry of Industry and are stamped by the JIS mark. Then, it describes the different filling systems. On the bottom right corner we find the addresses of the company: Osaka, Tokyo, and Fukuoka.

The pen is in mint condition, in its original box, and the set includes the instruction sheet. As we can see, at the time –mid 1950s--, Vanco manufactured four different filling systems: the V-type (option A), a lever filler (B), a bulb filler (C), and a Japanese eyedropper (D). The V type seems to be a sort of twist filler, but the text only speaks about the pen being transparent and how the Vanco filling system is of great capacity and prevents ink leakage due to the body heat. Anyway, the pen in question today implements a bulb filler mechanism.




The cap carries a sticker with the word “DUET” on it. This refers to the very special nib this pen sports. In essence, the nib is just a gold plated unit made of steel, but a closer look shows a very careful point cut. The iridium was conformed to be used also upside down, with the feed facing up.


The Vanco "Duet" nib. Note the shape of the nib point.

Now, writing upside down with a fountain pen (“reverse writing” some call it) is often possible; after all, the ink is right there in between the tines. However, very rarely is the nib polished for that way of writing and this results in an unpleasant experience. So, the Vanco Duet nib is, if only by this, very interesting and unusual. Years later, in 1966, Sheaffer launched the model Stylist with a “two way” nib that was later copied by Parker and Platinum.



Writing sample of the "Duet" nib in both regular and reverse writing. The reverse writing is more pleasant--if only, it is juicier. The paper is from a Tsubame notebook with lines at 55°.

But Vanco, in its early experiment, went further away—the nib points cut on this nib are radically different: an extra fine for regular writing and a (juicy) medium or broad for reverse use. It is hard not to think of Sailor Concord nibs, either on the Cross (double nib) or on the inverted fude (::1::, ::2::) configurations. However, Vanco accomplished this dual writing with a more elegant strategy—Vanco simply cut the nib point like a careful and skilled sculptor would do. And there was no need to bend or to overlap nibs.


Feed and nib of the Vanco pen. The inscription reads "VANCO / DUET / (JIS mark) / SUPER / (2)".


The converse side of the nib carries an additional inscription: "(unknown logo) / BEST / 672". I do not know what it means.

The pen is on the small size:
Length closed: 131 mm
Length open: 116 mm
Length posted: 152 mm
Diameter: 12.7 mm
Weight: 14.8 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.6 ml

All this shows how Vanco, that somehow obscure pencil and pen maker from Osaka, deserves more attention than what it currently receives.


Platinum pocket pen 18 K, Yamada Seisakusho – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 5th 2016
etiquetas: Vanco, Sailor, Platinum, Parker, Sheaffer, plumín, soluciones técnicas


Post Scriptum: This text you just read is the 500th Chronicle in this blog. 500 texts over a little over than six years… Not all of them are worth to read, but I have tried to provide information and, now and then, some food for thought. Now I wanted to thank all who took some time to read these pages and those who took the effort of writing comments and providing some feedback. To all of you, thank you very much.

31 December 2013

Hawaiian Vacumatic

Many Chronicles ago I described an interesting fake—a so-called Hawaiian pen copying the well known Sheaffer Balance in green celluloid. That fake even carried the white dot of Sheaffer’s lifetime guarantee.


The Hawaiian Balance in green celluloid. An obvious copycat of the Sheaffer Balance.

Not much could I say about that pen or about the manufacturer. And not much can I say now save offering another element labeled as Hawaiian.

In this case, this isolated nib shows a typical Parker decoration—that of the popular Vacumatic model. But the imprint says exactly the same as we had already seen on the Hawaiian Balance: “Hawaiian / PRACTICAL / GOLDEN PEN / -<5>- / S.Y.S Co.”. And as in the previous case, this nib is not tipped.


Another Hawaiian nib, this time with a Parker-inspired decoration.


The untipped nib.

There are apparently no records on this pen company and we cannot even claim it was Japanese as some suspect it was.

My thanks to Mr. Suginaga.


Gama (Gem Pen & Co., Chennai), unknown model – Indian-made royal blue ink

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, December 31st, 2013
etiquetas: Parker, Hawaiian, Sheaffer

29 November 2013

F-4 Nibs

Some weeks ago I spoke about the newly arrived Pilot Kaküno, an entry-level pen –JPY 1000, plus taxes— aimed at the school student. That pen, I already said at the time, was not alone in the Japanese market, where the competition among the big three pen companies is intense.

Today I wanted to speak about a similar product made by Sailor—the High-Ace. This particular model is no longer on production, and has been replaced by the High-Ace Neo, which implements a plastic barrel in five different colors. The original High-Ace had cap and barrel made of steel, while the section is made of black plastic.



The all-steel Sailor High-Ace.

The nib, in the original High-Ace, is made of steel, gold plated, and is labeled as F-4. It is tipped, and cut as F. Its performance is correct and reliable, fairly rigid, with no special feature to remark. However, older units of the High-Ace pen carry an additional inscription on the nib: Made in Taiwan.


The Japanese and the Taiwanese nibs of the Sailor High-Ace.

This is not the first time we see a Taiwan-made nib (or pen) by Sailor (see ::1:: and ::2::). We know Sailor started a manufacturing plant in Taiwan in 1973, and it was devoted to cheaper products of the company.

The F-4 nib was also marketed as Sheaffer during the 1970s and 1980s. During those years, Sailor was the importer of Sheaffer in Japan, and was allowed to manufacture and sell as Sheaffer some lower end pens. Now, it is reasonable to wonder whether those “Sheaffer” F-4 nibs were made in Japan or in Taiwan.

The very cheap Sailor Ink-Pen (JPY 1000, plus tax) also implemented the F-4 nib, albeit without any tipping, and devoid of any plating.


The Sailor Ink Pen...


...and its untipped F-4 nib.

These are its dimensions of the original High-Ace:
  • Length closed: 135 mm
  • Length open: 123 mm
  • Length posted: 148 mm
  • Diameter: 11 mm
  • Weight (dry): 21.3 g
  • Ink deposit: 1.2 ml (cartridge), 0.7 ml (converter)

The price of the High-Ace was JPY 1000, plus tax.


Twsbi Diamond 530, Kubo's music nib – Gary’s Red Black iron-gall ink

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 28th, 2013
etiquetas: Sailor, Sheaffer, Taiwan

13 March 2012

At the Museum (IV)


(As seen at the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Modern Literature).

On this chronicle I am presenting the pens that belonged to another female writer –NAKAZATO Tsuneko (中里 恒子, 1909-1987). She was the first woman to be awarded with the Akutagawa price in 1938. However, the price had just been established in 1935.

Nakazato´s pens. At least, those shown at this exhibit.

The golden nib of the New Clip jumbo pen.

Her pens, as shown at the Museum of Modern Literature in Yokohama, were mostly Western, with the sole exception of a New Clip jumbo (manufactured by Fukunaka Seisakusho), with an ink deposit suitable for a very long novel. The rest were a Sheaffer snorkel, a Pelikan 120, and a couple of identical French-made Watermans.

The Pelikan 120. Nominally, a student pen.

The snorkel in the feed of the Sheaffer pen.

The two identical French Watermans.

A user or a collector? It does not really matter… User she was, and successful at that! Collector, maybe.

(Aurora 88 – Pelikan 4001 Blue black)

Bruno Taut
March 11th, 2012
[labels: New Clip, Waterman, Pelikan, Japón, evento, estilofilia, Sheaffer]

16 August 2011

Size 10

Most pen companies nowadays barely go beyond the F, M and B triad of nib points in their pen catalogs. The exceptions to this general rule are either variations on those —mostly in the shape of extra fine (EF or XF) or double and triple broad (BB) nibs—, or either non-symmetric points—stub/italic and oblique nibs.

These five exotic nibs by Pilot.

And this scarcity of nibs is a common complaint among pen aficionados. Japanese companies, though, seem to have a wider policy of nib points. Pilot, for instance, manufactures its size 10 nibs in fifteen different points. Ten of them are variations on the F-M-B theme, albeit with the very nice addition of soft, i. e. semi-flexible, variations for F, FM, and M nibs. The remaining five nibs do show some exciting character. In no particular order, they are as follows:

-- Waverly nib (WA). This is a very smooth fine nib. Its geometry allows for a wide variation of writing angles. No line variation can be achieved with this nib. Sheaffer had a similar waverly geometry on its iconic triumph nibs.

All in all, this is a very comfortable F nib.

Size 10 waverly nib.

-- Posting nib (PO). This is a very characteristic one: the nib point is hooked down. It makes this nib very rigid and draws a very thin line. As a result, this point is quite toothy—after all, the contact between nib and paper is very reduced.

In conclusion, a very rigid extra-fine nib.

The posting nib. Very rigid and extra fine.

-- Falcon nib (FA). This is the very flexible version of the size 10 nib. It has the sides cut to allow for the impressive flexibility, at least in contemporary pens. The problem, though, is that the feed does not seem to be up to the challenge of providing all the ink the nib demands. In dipping mode, however, the pen behaves nicely. Its bigger relative, the size 15 falcon nib, does not show these problems.

Therefore, this is a very flexible nib with serious performing problems.

The very problematic falcon nib in size 10.

-- Stub nib (SU). This type of point is relatively common in other manufacturers. It is non-circular: the vertical stroke is wider than the horizontal, thus allowing an obvious line variation. It is fairly smooth and nicely wet.

In summary, a nicely performing stub nib, like some others in the market.

The stub nib on top, and the music nib on bottom.

-- Music nib (MS). Only Japanese pen companies seem to implement their pens with this type of nib. It is a variation on the idea of a stub nib—an additional slit and a third tine make this nib richer in ink flow and thicker in stroke. This Custom 742 with music nib has been reviewed on these chronicles.

As a result, this is nicely looking and original stub nib with a generous ink flow.

Writing samples with the five nibs covered on this chronicle. The squares on the paper are 4x4 mm^2.

Pilot also offers a coarse nib (C) among its more exotic variations, but that is only an extra wide point (BBB) and, therefore, it is not unusual to Western users. All in all, these exotic nibs enlarge the writing experience, and that is what many of us look for in pens.

My thanks to Kinno-san.

(Pilot Custom 742 with several nibs – Diamine Teal)

Bruno Taut
August 15th, 2011
[labels: Pilot, Sheaffer, plumín]

29 May 2011

Matching (IX)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? Sometimes, the answers are clear…

The user in me has some fascination for cheap, or rather inexpensive, fountain pens. After all, if the main purpose of a pen is to use it and most of what we do with them is taking notes, there is no need to spend big bucks on them. And we also know that price and performance are barely correlated—we all know of terrible examples of expensive pens with very poor performance.


Therefore, I always have an eye on low cost pens. In the past I spoke about those found in Tokyo, either by the big three Japanese companies or marketed by some chain store.

Today’s pen, found in Madrid, is branded as Zande-Phondex. I bought it in one of those bazaars, usually run by Chinese people, where you can find almost anything. This pen is an obvious copy of the Sheaffer’s No Nonsense student pen, modeled after the 1920’s flat-top design.


The main differences between the Sheaffer’s original and the Zande-Phondex copy are the rugged gripping section and the slip cap of the later. Both are cartridge-converter pens—standard for the copy and Sheaffer’s proprietary for the original.


Neither of them is a expensive pen, but the Sheaffer’s price is about ten times that of the Zande-Phondex, whose price is only €0.90. Its construction quality, however, is also cheaper—the cap band easily slides off, and the plastic material shows some non-smooth points.


But performance-wise both pens are even. They are indeed functional no-nonsense tools. Rigid and reliable steel nibs. Nothing fancy, but always ready for the action.


So, the question is obvious and pertinent—why should we spend more than a couple of euros in any fountain pen?

(Pilot Vpen, M nib – Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
May 25th, 2011
[labels: Sheaffer, Zande-Phondex]

28 February 2011

Matching (VII)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? Sometimes, the answers are clear…

Most pen nibs do write when turned upside down. The ink flow is scarce, the line is thinner, and, more often than not, the feeling is far from being smooth. But the ink is there, ready to be used. So it was only natural that sooner or later someone would try to take benefit of it.

The black Platinum is one centimeter shorter than the Parker model when closed: 12.3 vs 13.3 cm.

The two nibs on display today were designed in the seventies to write on both sides.

Posted, the Platinum becomes 1.3 cm longer than the Parker: 15.3 and 14.0 cm, respectively.

The Parker 180, well known in the West, was in the market between 1977 and 1985 in a number of styles. These pens had two possible nib combinations—either extra fine and medium or fine and broad.

The feeds of both pens are on the right hand side of the nib on this picture.

The Platinum PKW-5000 pocket pen predates the Parker 180 in some years. The nib combination in this case is extra fine and fine, and comes in a formal black pocket pen style, as many other pens in Japan during the 1970s.

Close-up of the tips. The fine line of the Platinum, on the right, looks a lot thinner than that of Parker's.

However, the origin of this type of nib lies in the 1966 Sheaffer’s model called Stylist.

My thanks to Kinno-san.

(Élysée in black with steel nib – Parker washable Blue)

Bruno Taut
In exile, February 27th, 2011
[labels: plumín, Sheaffer, Parker, Platinum]

23 December 2010

Matching (V)

The controversy is always there: Is that pen original or a copy of another? Which company did father that idea? This time, though, the answers are clear…

Most Spanish fountain pens between 1940s and 1960s were made copying the very successful design of the Parker 51—Inoxcrom, Jabalina (now STYB), ICSA, Jaguar, Regia, Sepha (made by Myadle)… They all made their own version.


One exception to this rule was the company Apolón. I claim ignorance about whether this company actually copied any Parker pen, but Apolón did copy another successful American product—the Sheaffer with Triumph nib from 1940s.

The nib inscription reads "APOLON / IRIDIUM /PEN".

Apolón, however, did not dare to copy the complex snorkel filling system and put up with a bladder-type filling mechanism.

Quite surprisingly, the filling instructions are in English.

There is barely anything written on the history of Spanish fountain pens. However, it is safe to assume this Apolón dates back from the 1950s. These pens are valued more due to their rarity than to their quality.

My thanks to Mr. Alberto Linares.

(Platinum Celluloid – J. Herbin “Lie de thé”)

Bruno Taut
(In exile, December 22th, 2010)
[labels: Apolón, España, Sheaffer]