Showing posts with label Vanco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vanco. Show all posts

07 January 2018

Sailor Double Sided Nib

Double side nibs are not new to this blog. Not so long ago we saw a Vanco pen with a beautiful “duet” nib. On more recent years, several of the Sailor’s “specialty nibs” sported that same feature; that is, the nib points are cut and polished to provide a good writing experience both on the regular and on the inverted (upside down) positions.

Older than the Vanco Duet is the Sailor on display today. Everything on it points out at the 1930s as the production date. The pen is a flat top Japanese eyedropper inspired by the fashion set by the Parker Duofold, as was often the case in Japan at the time. It is made of ebonite and is coated with urushi lacquer.


There is an inscription on the pen body: "Sailor / Fountain Pens / PAT. O. 116315", together with the logo of the company.

The nib –the real protagonist of this story— is made of 14 K gold and is labeled as size 30. This number does not say much –or anything at all— about its actual size. If fact, it is very modest in dimensions: its total length is 23 mm, perfectly comparable to sizes 2 or 1 nibs by Pilot at the time.


The size 30 nib by Sailor.


The beak-shaped point of the lower end of the nib.

Its point is carefully cut. On the lower side –regular writing— the point takes the form of a bird beak with a very thin ending, thus drawing a very fine line. The upper side, on the contrary, is cut as a broad nib. The writing sample shows the final effects of these two points.


Writing sample of the double sided nib by Sailor. The square on the paper is 5x5 mm2.

These are the dimensions of the pen:

Length closed: 135 mm
Length open: 120 mm
Length posted: 168 mm
Diameter: 14.0 mm
Weight (dry): 18.5 g
Ink deposit: 2.4 ml

And these are the dimensions of the nib:

Length: 23.2 mm
Shoulder width: 5.8 mm
Weight: about 0.25 g
Material: 14 K gold


The engraving on the nib reads "14 CRT GOLD / Sailor / REGISTERED / PATENT OFFICE / -30-".


The manufacturing date: 11.4. Probably November of 1934.

The nib is dated on the lower side: 11.4. According to the regular way of dating Sailor pens and nibs, this means that the nib was probably manufactured in November of 1934.

The experimentation with fountain pens in Japan has indeed a long history.


Athena (1950s), lever filler – Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 5th 2018
labels: Sailor, plumín, Vanco, soluciones técnicas

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

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 October 2013

Vanco

The Fuente meeting in October is a regular event in Tokyo during the last 20 years. It is more of a social than of a trading encounter, and the highlight of it is the final auction on Sunday afternoon.

The social part is easy to understand: we stylophiles love to be around pens and we enjoy showing our treasures to other like ourselves. At this past Fuente meeting I have seen several wonders. This is one of them:

Already in the 1920s, there existed about 500 pen operations in the city of Osaka. Most of them were small family business. Among them was the Etô family, responsible for the brand Vanco, active until the 1950s. Around 1935, Vanco marketed the following pen:


A brown celluloid...

It is a piston filler made of celluloid. The filling mechanism is a telescopic system, made of brass, to increase the capacity of the ink deposit—a well known technical solution in the hands of Montblanc. But this pen is a mostly unknown Vanco.


The Vanco uncapped. Note the piston half way through the ink window.

The nib is made of gold, although it is not imprinted as such. This claim is supported by electric resistivity measurements—gold is about 10 times better conductor than steel.


The gold nib. The inscription reads "WARRANTED / FINE / VANCO / REG. PAT. OFF. / <6> / POINTED / HARDEST Ir."


These are the dimensions of the pen:
  • Length closed: 128 mm
  • Length open: 120 mm
  • Length posted: 157 mm
  • Diameter: 12 mm
  • Weight (dry): 24.4 g


The whole piston can be released from the pen by unscrewing it out of the piston knob.

This pen stands firm on any comparison with many Western pens. The beautiful celluloid, together with this filling system make a wonderful combination. A rare treat in a Japanese pen from the 1930s.

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto. Please, have a look at his blog with several entries on Vanco pens, and very interesting photographs of the piston mechanism (::1::, ::2::, ::3::, ::4::, ::5::, ::6::, ::7::).


Sailor pocket pen, 18 K nib - Daiso red cartridge

Bruno Taut
Chuo (Tokyo), October 27th, 2013
etiquetas: evento, Vanco, soluciones técnicas, Montblanc