Showing posts with label nibmeister Nagahara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nibmeister Nagahara. Show all posts

25 August 2020

The Father, the Son, and the Anonymous Ghost

The father was, obviously, Nobuyoshi Nagahara. He created the Naginata Togi nib—a variable nib with longer tines. And he also set the basis for a number of successful experiments.

Nobuyoshi Nagahara, the father. (Chuo, Tokyo; October 2011).

An old Naginata Togi by Nobuyoshi Nagahara.

Nobuyoshi Nagahara retired in 2012, but his legacy was preserved in the hands of the son, Yukio Nagahara, and well inside the walls of Sailor. Therefore, the production of Naginata Togi nibs remained basically untouched.

The son, Yukio Nagahara. (Chuo, Tokyo; March 2013).

Naginata Togi nibs by Yukio Nagahara.

Nevertheless, the distribution of said nibs was interrupted in Winter of 2016. The reason, as explained by Sailor, was to meet the increasing demand and to train new hands to manufacture them. And, in fact, Yukio Nagahara formed a couple (at least) of apprentices during that time.

The general distribution resumed in October of 2018 together with the unpleasant detail of a dramatic price hike. But despite that this new generation of Naginata Togi nibs seems to be a market success.

Then, Yukio Nagahara left Sailor in February of 2020, and the current Naginata nibs simply cannot be made by him but by some anonymous nibmeisters in Kure.

The last generation of Naginata Togi nibs by anonymous ghosts.

Consequently, we have three generations of Naginata nibs. Those made by Nobuyoshi Nagahara, the father, enjoy a recent boom in demand and in price, much to the joy of those willing to part with them.

I wonder, then, whether the son, Yukio Nagahara, might reach a similar status at any moment as he no longer makes those special nibs.

And all we really have in the market are those made by some anonymous ghosts working for Sailor.

Sailor Mini, 18 K – Noodler's Beaver

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 24th 2020
Etiquetas: Sailor, plumín, nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara, nibmeister Yukio Nagahara

16 January 2020

2-Fold Nibs. Writing Samples

Some readers of my previous text demanded writing samples those unusual nibs. The problem –or the first of them-- is that I do not own all of those nibs.

As is often the case on these texts, I borrowed some of those nibs and pens from fellow stylophiles in Tokyo, I took pics and handed them back to their owners. This is, in fact, my primary occupation at any meeting with pen people.

The second point is my skepticism about what a writing sample can offer. Writing, or writing with a fountain pen is a lot more than the final line on the paper: is the nib smooth? How is the flow? Is the feed up to the challenge? Does the nib write on contact? How flexible is it? … None of those questions can be answered with a still picture of a writing sample.

Anyway, here I am publishing writing samples of some 2-fold nibs:

– Sailor Cross-music.

– Daiso's 100-yen pen with a 2-fold nib by Mr. Mochizuki.

– Ralph Reyes' 2-fold “concord” nib on a Kasama Una. Concord nibs, in Sailor terms, are nibs whose reverse writing is bold and juicy, and whose regular writing is lot more restrained.

So here they are. Interesting nibs? Certainly. Fun? Of course. Usable on a daily basis? Not all of them.

My thanks to Inky.Rocks.

Penbbs 352 with Kanwrite nib – Noodler's Beaver

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 15th 2020
etiquetas: Plumín, Sailor, Mochizuki, nibmeister Ralph Reyes, nibmeister Nagahara

10 January 2020

2-Fold Nibs

I cannot say for sure that it was Nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara's idea on the first place, but certainly it was him who popularized the idea of two- and three-folded nibs with the support of Sailor.

Some early examples by him date back to the 1990s, as were reported on these pages.

An early Cross nib by Nobuyoshi Nagahara.

Those initial nibs later evolved into what we know today—open nibs with or without overfeed that made their way to the catalog of the brand and to commercial success.

Three generations of Cross nibs.

Then some nibmeisters copied this idea. Wagner-resident Yamada used Pelikan M800 as the base for his version.

Yamada's approach to a 2-fold nib-two overlapping Pelikan M800 nibs.

Wagner member Mr. Mochizuki, on his side, used a much more affordable canvas—a Chinese pen available at the 100-yen chain shop Daiso.

Mochizuki's approach based on a Daiso pen. A steel 2-fold nib.

Only recently, in the last couple of years, non-Japanese nibmeisters have attempted these two-fold nibs. The most brilliant of them, dare I say, is nib wizard Ralph Reyes of Regalia Writing Labs with his continuous development of old and new ideas. The nib here shows is a nice example of this—it is a cross-concord nib, in Sailor terms, with an overfeed; but the overfeed is made out of a third nib and is nicely integrated on the unit.

A 2-foold nib by Ralph Reyes based on JoWo #6 nibs.

My thanks to Inky.Rocks.

NOTE (16/January/2020): Writng samples of some of those nibs can be seen on the following Chronicle:

Opus 88 Koloro #6 – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 10th, 2020
etiquetas: Sailor, nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara, Nibmeister Yamada, nibmeister Ralph Reyes, plumín, Mr. Mochizuki

23 March 2019

The Case of Naginata. III. The Brand

After the two year hiatus in the production of Naginata Togi nibs we have them back in the market at a significant overprice. With this price hike, Sailor tries to cash the very good name of this nib.

But what is, in actual terms, a Naginata Togi nib? Is it worth the price Sailor is asking for them?

First and foremost, a Naginata Togi nib is a variable nib―a nib whose line width changes with the angle between pen and paper. Then, a Naginata Togi is a longer than usual nib, and this allows for some experiments to create new points―bending the nib, duplicating and triplicating the nibs, etc.

Three Naginata Togi nibs in three different sizes.

The question now is whether these features were so unique in the market as to justify Sailor in its bold move.

Variable nibs are not new at all―they have existed for more than a century. Nowadays, though, they are not that common, but they are not exclusive to Sailor. The paradox is that Sailor offers a much cheaper alternative―the zoom point available on various models including the very affordable Young Profit (JPY 5000, plus tax), also known as Somiko.

Sailor's Zoom nib in medium size. Photo courtesy of Zeynep Firtina (Write to me Often).

Then, what about the experiments nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara performed on these nibs? Brilliant as they are, facts show that they do not need a Naginata Togi as a base. And nowadays there are a number of nibmeisters out there, in Japan and overseas, recreating those two- and three-fold nibs.

Nibmeister Nagahara Nobuyoshi in October of 2011.

Three Sailor Cross nibs (2-fold nibs). Note how the nib on the lower right side is made over an old nail type nib.

Two cross nibs: the one on top was made by nibmeister Yamada over a Pelikan M800; the other is a Sailor nib made for the 90th anniversary of the company in 2001.

What is left, then?

What might be left are some of the cuts Sailor offers or used to offer on these specialty nibs―the King Cobra, the King Eagle... But mostly, what is left seem the name Naginata Togi as a brand in itself. And time will tell is Sailor's strategy to cash it is correct or not.

The new and expensive Naginata Togi nib.

My thanks to Zeynep Firtina.

Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Hôgadô Doroai (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Chiyoda, March 20th, 2019
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín, mercado, nibmeister Nagahara Nobuyoshi

31 July 2015

Early Cross Nib

Nagahara’s double and triple (and even quadruple) nibs are, arguably, the most interesting development in fountain pens in recent years. But, how recent is that development?

Sailor started marketing cross nibs (2-fold nibs) by the late 1990s. Most of them, as is the case now, were made over open nibs—those present on the current line of Profit/1911 and ProGear line of Sailor pens. But there were also some cross nibs made over the old style finger-shape nib present in the Sailor catalog since the early 1970s.

The only engraving on the pen, other than on the nib, is on the cap lip and simply reads "Sailor".

Such is the case of the following pen. It is a luxury desk pen of the Precious Wood (Mei Boku, 銘木) series. The oversized cap, with no clip, posts securely on the barrel and provides with the usual extra length of desk pens. The four-tined nib ensures a rich flow and a thick line for the typical purpose of these pens—to sign. It is made of 21 K gold. The filling system is by proprietary cartridges and converters.

These are the pen dimensions:

Length closed: 163 mm
Length open: 124 mm
Length posted: 182 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight: 33.0 g

Three different Cross nibs. The one on top is a Cross Concord (with Emperor, the overfeed) with the current nib engraving. The nib on the bottom left is a regular Cross nib with the previous engraving. The nib of the Precious Wood desk pen is on the bottom right. Its engraving only says "21 K / Sailor".

The point of the desk pen is significantly smaller than that of the current Cross nib (bottom left on the previous picture, albeit with the old engraving).

This pen was made in early 2000s.

My thanks to Mr. Demboku and to Wagner member Yoppee!

Pilot Custom 823 – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 29th, 2015
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín, nibmeister Nagahara

12 March 2015

Nagahara Nobuyoshi (1932-2015)

Nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara (長原宣義) passed away yesterday in Kure. He was 82.

Nibmeister Nagahara in 2011 in Tokyo.

He will be missed. His legacy, though, is safe in the hands of his son Yukio, who spent the whole day tuning pens at the Mitsukoshi Festival of Fountain Pens.

Nibmeister Yukio Nagahara at work yesterday at the Fountain Pen Festival in Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi.

Sit tibi terra levis.

Written, of course, with a Naginata Togi nib.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 12th 2015
etiquetas: nibmeister Nagahara

03 January 2013


Sailor’s Naginata Togi nibs are characterized by being longer than regular nibs—or so they say at Sailor. They are the starting point for the specialty nibs by nibmeister Nagahara. According to Sailor’s way of sizing their nibs, the usual Naginata comes in size big (大型) —neither the super-big (超大型) of the King of Pen nor the medium (中型) of the Profit Standard series of pens.

Naginata Togi nib (medium fine) in the regular big size (大型).

However, Naginata Togi nibs exceptionally come in those other two sizes, as can be seen on the picture.

Naginata Togi nibs in three sizes. From top to bottom, in a King of Pen (super big, 超大型) in medium; in a big size (大型) as a cross-music nib; and in medium size (中型) as a fude nib.

Super T Gester 40 – Sailor Yama-dori 山鳥

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, January 3rd 2013
labels: Sailor, plumín

14 November 2012


Long time ago, at the beginning of this blog, I wrote a text vindicating the role of the nib –and of the feed—over the rest of the pen. A fountain pen, I wrote in Spanish, was a system to control the flow of a fluid on its way between a deposit and the paper. And therefore, materials, colors, filling systems, shapes are secondary as long as they created no problem in the act of writing.

However, current commercial trends seem to be focused on these secondary elements, and pen companies indeed charge a lot for those. Precious resins, colorful celluloid, exotic lacquers, intricate ornaments, rare wood, new materials, … revival of pneumatic filling systems, pistons, plungers, eyedroppers… The business of new fountain pens is no longer based on the utility or on the need to write. Fountain pens are a commodity, a symbol of status, a sign of snobbism. And craving over need determines what we, users and collectors, end up buying.

But some people do not want to forget that fountain pens are writing tools. And that is why people like Yamada or Nagahara and those many masters in adjusting a nib are so necessary.

Pilot Elite pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, November 9th, 2012
labels: plumín, Mercado, estilofilia, Yamada, Sailor

30 August 2012

On Sailor Nibs

Today’s chronicle is, basically, a description of the golden nibs Sailor offers on its catalog nowadays. The reason is twofold: first, there seems to be some confusion about what the company offers and on what sizes those nibs and nib points are presented. Second, this text might serve me well for future references. Actually, it shall serve me well…

Nowadays, Sailor golden nibs come in two purities –58.5% and 87.5% of gold, or 14 K and 21 K—and in three sizes named as medium (中型), big (大型) and super big (超大型) by Sailor; or junior, senior and king of pen in the translation for some markets. These nibs are implemented in the Profit (1911 in some markets) and Professional Gear series of pens. The Chalana line of thin pens is the only exception to this rule—these nibs are made of 18 K gold (75.0 %) and come only in extra-fine. The selection of nib points available in each size is summarized on the following table:

Big (top) and medium (bottom) nibs by Sailor. Both of them made of 21 K gold.

Some of those nibs can be rhodiated (rhodium-plated), bicolor, or black in appearance.

The Nagahara specialty nibs are based on the Naginata Togi nib in big size, but they can also be produced in the super-big size. The first Realo pen, on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the company, was equipped with a super-big Naginata Togi nib in M.

Sailor Realos in two different sizes: on top, the regular Realo, whose nib is of size big (大型). On bottom, the limited edition Realo, marketed in 2006. This is based on the King of Pen model and its nib size is super-big (超大型). It is a Naginata Togi nib in M.

From left to right: Naginata Togi big size, FM point; big size F point; medium size FM nib in 21 K; medium size with M point made of 14 K gold, old imprint.

A selection of Sailor nibs in sizes medium (中型) and big (大型).

According to the Japanese catalog, not all the points (in medium, big and super-big sizes) are available in both Profit and Professional Gear models. In general, there are more points available for the former than for the later. Again, according to the Japanese catalog of Sailor.

My thanks to Mr. Noguchi.

Platinum pocket pen in steel with black stripes – Platinum black

Bruno Taut
August 29-30, 2012
etiquetas: Sailor, plumín

30 May 2012


Blogs and fora and other Internet media are now re-broadcasting the news originally released by the BBC on the increasing popularity of fountain pens. Sure enough, we stylophiles should be happy about it: more sales would certainly turn into more attention on the side of the companies and more models in the market. All in all, more excitement for us.

Another of Yamada's creations.

However, what is the business model for most of those companies? BBC quoted the views of Gordon Scott, vice-president for office products at Parker pens in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He claims that buyers of new fountain pens, for whom they are more an accessory than a tool, look for a traditional element on them: "People want the memory of a fountain pen in a contemporary pen." This might explain, incidentally, why Parker launched the moral fraud of a felt-tip pen by the name of Ingenuity with all the fanfare.

But in this context of the pen as a retro-looking accessory –I spoke in terms of status symbol for the paradigmatic case of Montblanc— the nib is an even more secondary accessory. And few demands would be placed on them other than being made of gold, I am afraid.

Yamada and Nagahara, face to face.

So, innovations like those by the Nagahara family or nibmeister Yamada, give us some more solid hopes for an interesting future in the world of fountain pens. Otherwise, most of the well-established companies would engage in an endless and empty exercise of style, in a mannerist activity, in an inane recreation of archaic tools.

Charles R. Mackintosh said it with elegant words: “There is hope in honest error. None in the icy perfections of the mere stylist”.

Sailor black pocket pen with inlaid nib – Wagner red-black

Bruno Taut
May 29th, 2012
etiquetas: estética, mercado, soluciones técnicas, Yamada, Sailor

13 February 2012

Profit Realo

Pen review: Sailor Profit Realo with a Cross-music nib.

To a certain extent, this review has already been written and published on these chronicles. The two most distinctive elements of this pen were analyzed, or deconstructed, and put in the context of the current catalog of Sailor pens: Are this nib and this filling system worth the price we would have to pay for them?

I should start this review by saying that this pen is a frankenpen. This combination of nib, a specialty nib by Nagahara, and filling system is not included in the catalog of the brand—specialty nibs are associated to cartridge-converter pens. But this frankenpen allows us to cover several elements that are to be found on a number of Sailor pens.

This Sailor is the regular Realo model and NOT the limited edition from 2006 based on the King of Pen model. Regular Realo pens implement the senior nib size in 21 K gold. Smaller nibs are the junior size –in 14 and 21 K gold--, and bigger, the King of Pen nibs in 21 K gold.

1. Appearance and design. (7.0/10)
This model, the Profit, it a cigar type pen à la Montblanc. Being a Realo implies its filling system was a piston, and its barrel has an ink window. Its very obvious design, the window is framed by two golden rings, is not the most charming one—it makes me miss the more subtle appearance of original Realo made for the 95th anniversary (2006). The ink deposit is on the small size.

The decorative elements on this pen are golden, and this seems to be the only option for Realo models.

2. Construction and quality. (9.0/10)
Very good quality. The plastic material –that precious resin of some other manufacturers—is resistant to scratches. Posted, the cap fits well on the barrel and does not leave any mark. The piston action is very smooth and requires little effort. So far, this has not compromised its seal.

3. Weight and dimensions. (9.0/10)
As I mentioned on the introduction, the regular size Realo is based on the senior size in Sailor’s line of pens. This means that all senior size nibs fit in this pen’s section.

This is a well balanced pen, especially if unposted. These are the dimensions:

Diameter: 16 mm.
Length closed: 142 mm.
Length open: 122 mm.
Length posted: 157 mm.
Weight: 22.0 g.
Ink deposit: 1.0 ml.
Balance open: center of masses at 67 mm to the tip (55%-45%).
Balance posted: center of masses at 89 mm to the tip (57%-43%).

The feed is made of plastic.

4. Nib and writing performance. (9.5/10)
Sailor’s specialty nibs are indeed unique. This Cross-music is the result of overlapping two nibs. The four tines and two slits ensure a juicy and constant flow of ink. There exists a further sophistication for this (and the rest of specialty nibs)—the implementation of an overfeed, by the name of “emperor”, to make sure that the high demand of ink of this nib is met. The emperor has a hefty price—JPY 10,000 to add to the already high price of these nibs.

The 21 K gold nib. The tip is certainly big, but it is also very carefully cut.

The nib point is cut to provide a very broad horizontal line and a fine vertical one. But that is not all—increasing the angle between pen and paper the line becomes thin in all directions.

This nib performs its duty wonderfully (and therefore, there is barely any need of any overfeed), but at a high cost in material, labor and money. Much simpler fude nibs do a very similar job at a lower cost.

5. Filling system and maintenance. (7.0/10)
Sailor Realos are piston fillers, and that attracts the attention of a number of pen aficionados. However, this pen’s ink capacity –1.0 ml— is smaller than that of a Sailor converter (1.2 ml). In a sense, this pen embodies the contradictions of those who demand sophisticated filling systems regardless the ink capacity. Needless to say, Sailor Realos are not the only example of this.

Maintenance wise, any piston filler is a bit more complex than most other systems. Disassembling the piston requires some tools and not all stylophiles have them at hand or are inclined to tinker with their beloved pens.

Nib and feed, though can easily be removed from the section. Cleaning them is so an easy process.

On this picture, the piston can be seen through the window.

6. Cost and value. (6.0/10)
This is an expensive pen. Cross-music nibs are associated to pens whose price is around JPY 50000, and Realos have a tag of JPY 30000. Exchanging the nibs and selling that complete pen we did not want (a cartridge-converter pen with a regular fine or medium nib) helps to lower the price, but by not much. However, this two-fold nib is unique and provides a wonderful writing experience.

7. Conclusion. (47.5/60=79/100)
Expensive pen with a unique nib and a small self-filling ink deposit. Other Sailor pens provide similar features at lower prices by simplifying the nib or the filling system.

No company nowadays compete with Sailor in the market of innovative and complex nibs. Montblanc pens, the obvious model for the Profit, are not cheap either, but Montblanc’s nibs are nowhere near the beautiful sophistication of this Cross-music.

(Sailor Profit Realo – Athena Sepia)

Bruno Taut
February 9th, 2012
[labels: Sailor, soluciones técnicas, plumín, Montblanc]