Showing posts with label Yotsubishi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yotsubishi. Show all posts

13 November 2020

Pocket Yotsubishi

Yet another pocket pen?

Pocket pens were not necessarily inexpensive pens despite its reduce size. In fact, as we have seen, these pens sported some unusual and exotic nibs, like those made of high purity gold in the early 1970s.

Ishi Shoten (or Ishi & Company, or Ishii Seisakusho, or Ishi Shoten Yotsubishi) was founded in 1925 by Yoshinosuke Ishii. From very early on, this company aimed at the market of maki-e and urushi-e decorated pens. After the War, this company made some of the most delicate decorated pens made in Japan. Ishi Shoten pens are usually labeled with the brand Yotsubishi (Yotubishi in an alternative transliteration).

The Ishi Shoten pen I am showing today is a pocket pen decorated with the urushi-e technique of “kanshitsu-ishime”. This is no ordinary pocket pen. As is often the case on maki-e and urushi-e pens, the decoration becomes its primary argument.

As a pen, this is a typical pocket pen. However, the decoration –the think layer of urushi— keeps it from posting fully; that is, with the cap reaching the central ring (this problem is not shown on the pictures).

A Yotsubishi pocket pen.

The dimensions are as follows:
Length closed: 119 mm
Length open: 101 mm
Length posted: 148 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 12.3 g

The pen, in the basic disassembled state. An unusual feature of this pen is that the bottom end of the section, together with the nib and the feed, can be unscrewed from the rest. This can be useful for a thorough cleaning of the pen.

This pen uses Platinum cartridges.

The nib is made of 18 K gold and it is engraved with the four-diamond logo of Yotsubishi. This style of nib was present in other pens of the brand in the early 1960s. However, the first pocket pens, made by Sailor, were marketed in 1963.

The engraving on the nib simply says "18 K" together with the company logo on both sides.

Yotsubishi pens are hard to find and and very valued by the connoisseur. And expensive.


My thanks to Mr. Furuya.


Pilot Grandee, Sterling silver – Pilot Light Green cartridge

Bruno Taut
Nakano, November 12th 2020
etiquetas: Maki-e, Yotsubishi

30 September 2020

From Kamakura to Choshitsu

The fountain pen jargon is not always accurate. At times, words acquire a new meaning to fit an old concept—that was the case of kimono as a pen wrap that I explained on these pages months ago. On other occasions, a new concept requires a new description, but the chosen words are not always adequate.

The case of Kamakura bori is, however, different.

As a maki-e/urushi-e technique, the Kamakura bori is performed by carving the substrate –usually wood— which is then lacquered and polished. Kamakura bori, in actual terms, means “Kamakura carving”, and this technique dates back to the 13th century.


Two pens with carved urushi on a tray carved in the Kamakura style.


The pens are a Ban-ei (top), and possibly an Ishi Shoten (Yotsubishi), although not signed.
Both nibs are by Kabutogi Ginjiro.

On the contrary, on the so-called Kamakura bori pens, the procedure consists first in applying several layers of urushi in different colors that are afterwads carved to expose that stack of colors.

In actual terms, this technique is a form of choshitsu or “engraving of urushi”. However, what we tend to call choshitsu usually display figurative motifs instead of the regular patterns we see on those non-Kamakura-bori pens. These complex choshitsu pens are rare and expensive.


A very traditional choshitsu pen with floral motifs.
Photo by Mr. N. Syrigonakis.

I, for one, think we should rename those non-Kamakura-bori pens as choshitsu pens.


My thanks to Mr. N. Syrigonakis.


Omas 556 – Kobe Ginza Gold Sepia

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 30th, 2020
etiquetas: Ban-ei, maki-e, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro, Yotsubishi

17 January 2019

Ohashido (I)

Besides the big three Japanese pen companies –Pilot-Namiki, Platinum-Nakaya, and Sailor– there are a bunch of small operations, some of which I have described on these Chronicles: Masahiro, Eboya,... I haven't spoken much about Ôhashidô, and that despite being very active in the local (Japanese) market.

Ôhashidô –Ôhashidô Ltd.– was formally founded in 1965, but it has its origins in Tokyo in 1912, when Yoshiharu Uemura open his workshop in Asakusa while working for SSS, the big company of the time. He moved to Sendai, about 300 km north of Tokyo, after the Big Kanto Earthquake in 1923 to work with inventor Kazuyoshi Hiratsuka. The new shop was located close to the Big Bridge (Ô-hashi) over the river Hirose. Ôhashidô means “the hall of the big bridge”.

The business was completely destroyed during the War. The operation revived around 1950 in the hands of Yoshiharu's son Eiichi Uehara, but not through manufacturing pens but by fixing them. The production of pens was resumed some years later, and by 1965 Ôhashidô Ltd. started formally.

In 2010, Eiichi's son Yuuichi Uehara took control of the company. He has become very active in the Japanese scene by attending a big number of sale events hosted by stationers and department stores where he sells his pens directly.


Yuuichi Uehara at work in Maruzen stationery in Nihonbashi (Tokyo).


The traveling rokuro (traditional lathe).

Ôhashidô's operation is quite unique. It seems anchored in the pre-industrial era. There is barely any system in the production: there are no model names, the warranty card is just Uehara's business card, there are no instruction sheets, etc... Contacting him is not easy either—he has no public email address, and only very recently he open a website (https://ohasibo.theshop.jp/).

As for the pens, they are made mostly in ebonite –sometimes from Nikko Ebonite, some other from old stocks of unclear origin--, and implement Sailor nibs of sizes medium and big (following Sailor names) in both 14 K and 21 K grades. In fact, for some time, Ohashido offered big nibs made of 14 K gold, which was not an option on Sailor pens. In a more distant past, Ohashido used nibs by Ishiwaka Kinpen Seisakusho, Kabutogi Ginjiro, and even Ishi Shoten (Yotsubishi). Some sources also speak of nibs made by Eiichi Uehara himself.


A big Ôhashidô nib made of 14 K gold. Of course, made by Sailor.


Pens for sale...

All current Ôhashidô pens use Sailor cartridges and converters. The later, at least, if the barrel was big enough, of course.

And on another Chronicle I will describe some Ôhashidô pen in detail.


Elysee pen, unknown model – Aurora Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, Ohashido, Ishikawa Kinpen Seisakusho, Yotsubishi, nibmeister Kabutogi Ginjiro

23 July 2018

A Correction

Yes, a correction to a previous mistake.

On a recent Chronicle I mentioned that a pen decorated by Mr. Iwase had its body made by lathe master Yasuaki Momose. Well that is not correct.

As I have mentioned previously, Mr. Iwase perform his trade on two types of pens. On one hand he uses Western pens, mostly Pelikan and Montblanc, as canvases for his decorative overlays.


A Montblanc 149 and a Pelikan M1000 decorated by Mr. Iwase.

The other activity is more complex: Mr. Iwase gets old –and unfinished— pen bodies, finds the right nib and feed for them, and decorates it with raden (shells) and urushi. And most of those old pens had been made by Mr. Momose, the old master now retired.


The body of this pen is the work of Mr. Yasuaki Momose.

But not all of them. The case of the pen described on May 22nd 2018, the pen body belonged to an old batch of unfinished Yotsubishi pens, made by the company Ishi Shoten.


Let the mistake be corrected.


Kubo-Yotsubishi-Iwase – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 22nd 2018
etiquetas: Iwase, Yotsubishi, metabitácora, Momose Yasuaki, maki-e

22 May 2018

Kubo, Yotsubishi and Iwase

NOTE added on July 23rd, 2018. The body of this pen is not a creation of Mr. Momose, but an old and unused stock of pen bodies of Ishi Shoten's Yotsubishi.


The works of Mr. Iwase as a raden artist have already appeared on these Chronicles, and today I wanted to describe more in detail one of his creations.

Two are the basic types of canvases Mr. Iwase uses for his works—Pelikan and Montblanc pens on one side, and pens manufactured by old lathe masters and companies long gone lathe master Momose Yasuaki. Today’s pen belongs to the later type.

Three elements characterize this pen: the pen body, the nib, and the decoration. Each of them was created by a different craftsman.


"18 K pen raden / Kubo Kohei fountain pen".

On this case, the basic pen was made by the company Ishi Shoten for its brand Yotsubishi. Its material is ebonite, although the barrel and cap finials are made of wood. The pen was originally intended as a Japanese eyedropper –the tail can be unscrewed and detached from the barrel--, but the final result is a cartridge-converter pen (Sheaffer type). The cap lip is protected with a silver ring.


A raden pen...


... or a cartridge/converter pen.

The nib and the feed were provided by nibmeister Kubo. The nib is made of 18 carat gold and is associated to an ebonite feed. The size of the nib would be comparable to a Bock's #5, or to a Pilot’s 10 (::1::, ::2::) or a Sailor’s “big” size, although the feed's diameter is bigger: 6.5 mm.


The Kubo Kohei's nib: "ELEGANT / KB / 18K 750 / MADE IN / JAPAN".
The feed has three ink channels that provide a rich ink flow.


Writing sample with the Kubo-Yotsubishi-Iwase pen.


Nothing special on the tip. Just well cut.

Finally, the decoration is a rich example of the raden technique: carefully cut sea shells glued to the pen body; then, urushi is used to fill up the spaces between the shell stripes and smooth the whole pen. Ad additional later of transparent resin protects the decoration. The gripping section is decorated with red urushi.


There is a simple inscription the cap ring: "silver 925 / 11/20".

All in all, the pen is an original and attractive work; the final result of two Japanese craftsmen working on old forgotten batches. And in this regard, this is not a unique example, albeit other models are mostly one of a kind.

This pen is one of the 20 units Mr Iwase marketed in 2015 and 2016, some of which were sold through the Wagner group. And as it is often the case on artisanal products in Japan, there is no clear sign of the authorship, with the sole exception of the engraving on the nib. However, not many stylophiles (much less occasional buyers) would identify the letters KB as a signature of Mr. Kubo.

These are the dimensions of this pen:

Length closed: 142 mm
Length open: 126 mm
Length posted: 165 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight (dry) 21.9 g
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (Sheaffer converter)


Minka Saturn – Diamine China Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 21th, 2018
labels: Nibmesiter Kubo, Momose, Iwase, maki-e, Yotsubishi