Showing posts with label tinta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tinta. Show all posts

24 June 2020

Reliable Information.

Some years ago I wrote about a nominally Spanish pen brand by the name of Presidente. Then, a fellow stylophile in Greece contacted me apropos of a similar pen sold in the Greek market under the name Joker.

A fruitful conversation ensued, and we reached to a couple of tentative conclusions:
– Joker was presumably a Greek company, or based in Greece, as opposed to being Italian, as its advertisement in Greece had suggested.
Hifra, another brand marketing similar pens, was likely to be South African.

From top to bottom, a Joker, a Hifra, and a Presidente. But all of them are, actually, Platinum.

Now, how sure can we be of those conclusions? We can safely say that Presidente was Spanish because there are records fo such a brand registered in Madrid, Spain, in 1959; but we do not know of similar registries in Greece or in South Africa.

However, we have other information—Joker as a brand seems unknown outside Greece and, interestingly enough, in Italy, while there was some Joker ink in Greece as well. Hifra, on its side, seemed like a domestic name in some South African texts. Therefore, in absence of contradicting information I feel that those conclusions were reasonable.

Joker ink, in Greece. Photo by Kostas K.

The problem here is to decide which sources are reliable. And that in a field where most of us are aficionados with no pay, with other obligations, and with not many resources to do any research.

So, who is reliable and who is not?

We are not living in an academic environment and we do not have peer-reviewed journals to publish our findings. Consequently we must rely on the good or bad name each of us created along the years through our contributions to the community. And the rest is up to the receiver.

Some weeks ago, my friend Inky.Rocks published a video on the ink Pilot Blue-black, about which I had spoken on these pages. Inky.Rocks pointed out that this ink is water resistant by reacting with the cellulose in the paper. This claim was challenged on Reddit, and that was good. The problem was that the challenger did not offer any alternative to the behavior of the Pilot ink, nor any reason why Noodler's should be the only maker with cellulose-reacting inks.

What vintage do you prefer for your Blue-black?

Pilot Blue-black ink is water resistant. That I can prove. The sample was one full minute under running water. Some dyes were removed from the iron-gall inks. The modern formulation, cellulose reacting, is remarkably resistant to water.

At the end of the day, the facts are that Pilot Blue-black is a water resistant ink without being iron-gall or pigmented. And that a former Pilot worker, well respected in the Japanese pen community, explained the change in the formulation of the Pilot Blue-black ink in the 1990s to whoever wanted to listen.

Are those arguments conclusive? Certainly not. But they are better than nothing.

And that is why critical sense is so important.

Pilot Capless LS – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 23rd, 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Presidente, Pilot, Joker, Hifra, Pilot, metabitácora, Platinum

17 June 2020

Strange Times

The following picture displays two different inks by two different makers—Pilot and Tono & Lims.

Are these two inks so different?

Both inks are remarkably similar in color but their prices are a factor of 2 apart. The Pilot Iroshizuku costs JPY 30/ml (50 ml inkwell) or JPY 47/ml (3-15 ml inkwells), whereas the Tono & Lims costs JPY 60/ml (30 ml inkswell).

Are they so different? Is there any reason for this disparity?

Needless to say, companies have all the right to market whatever the color they consider fit for whatever the price they decide; and that regardless of what the fellow competitors might make. That is certainly not the problem.

The problem, as I see it, it is on the side of the user and how we spend our resources, always limited. Inflation on inks (::1::, ::2::) –some of them redundant-- and on their price (::3::, ::4::) is hardly beneficial to the customer.

Ink and price inflation on one single picture.

The paradox nowadays is that the ferocious competition on the ink market is not translated into a competition on lowering the prices. Much the opposite, actually, as inkwells become smaller and smaller and prices are on the hike.

Strange times.

Ohashido – Sailor Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 16th, 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Tono & Lims, mercado, Pilot

30 April 2020

Against Inks

I had never done this before, but hanging out with some other pen aficionados –or should I say ink hoarders— made me create an inventory of my inks.

According to it I have 86 ink bottles of 71 different inks totaling 4.1 liters. Well, a bit less as some of them are open and I have inked some pens with their ink.

Some of my inks.

Anyway, what do 4 liters of ink mean? If I were to use 100 ml of ink per year –a generous amount—it would take me 40 years to use them up. 40 years!

So, why bother? Why spending so much money in a consumable product that is also perishable? Why bother with the inks of today when tomorrow there will be new and more attractive colors?

And more inks.

Behind this unreasonable accumulation of many of us (and I am just an apprentice on this field) lies the trend of smaller and smaller inkwells (::1::, ::2::). People, or ink aficionados at least, buy ink colors and ink labels –similar colors with different names and manufacturers— rather than milliliters of usable ink.

But, how much ink can we consume in the rest of our lives?

Ôhashidô, music nib – Sailor Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 30th, 2020
etiquetas: tinta, mercado

09 February 2020


On several recent Chronicles I have praised Pilot (::1::, ::2::) for its policy on ink prices. They have been remarkably constant for a long time despite the inflationary movements in the competitors. I also vindicated the basic line of Pilot inks –30 ml inkwells in red, blue, blue-black and black—as the radical option: reliable, inexpensive, well behaved ink. Their only problem was the lack of poetry—plain names, functional or even boring bottles and boxes...

The two packaging currently in the market.

And then, Pilot surprised us all with a new retro packaging inspired on the presentation of the 1950s. Not only that, but Pilot is not changing the price at all. The drawback is that, so far, this is a limited release with limited distribution.

On the left, the original inkwell and box of a Pilot ink around 1960. On the right, the new retro packaging. Note how Pilot revives the old logo.

So, is Pilot fighting back? Pilot might just need fancier (or plain ridiculous) names for these old inks to entice the inkunuma (ink swamp) community...

Sailor FL Black Luster – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Taito, February 7th 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, mercado

07 February 2020

Iroshizuku 2020

The only purpose of this text is to summarize the color gamut of Iroshizuku inks. Part of the information that I am including here had already been published in 2017, but there have been some changes since that time.

The chronology of these inks is as follows:

December 2007. First 5 inks: Asa-gao, Aji-sai, Tsuyu-kusa, Kon-peki, and Tsuki-yo. 50 ml inkwells for JPY 1500 (plus taxes).

July 2008. Another 5 inks: Ku-jaku, Sho-ro (Syo-ro), Shin-ryoku, Kiri-same, Fuyu-shogun (Fuyu-syogun). 50 ml bottles.

November 2008. 4 inks: Yu-yake, Momiji, Yama-budo, Tsutsuji. 50 ml inkwells.

January 2009: The Tokyo Limited Edition was first released. These are three inks for sale in a small number of shops in Tokyo: Shimbashi-iro, Edo-murasaki, Fukagawa-nezu. 50 ml inkwells, JPY 1500 (plus taxes).

These inks were reissued in November of 2016 and in January of 2020 with the same limited distribution as in 2009. These reissues were available in both 50 ml inkwells and in three 15 ml inkwell set.

The Tokyo Limited Edition set of the "mini" Iroshizuku inkwells (edition of 2020).

May 2009. Tsukushi, Fuyu-gaki, Yama-guri. 50 ml inkwells.

October 2009. A new presentation became available for a short time: 3 inkwell set, 20 ml each, for JPY 3000 (plus taxes). There were four different sets, and it was not possible to change their content.

The set of three 20 ml inkwells from 2009.

August 2011. 4 more inks: Ina-ho, Kosumosu, Murasaki-shikibu, Chiku-rin.

The regular line of the series became complete in November of 2012.
The last three inks were Take-sumi, Shin-kai and Ama-iro.

November 2012. The final 3 inks to complete the 24 color range: Take-sumi, Shin-kai, Ama-iro.

January 2015. New presentation called Iroshizuku Mini: three 15 ml inkwell box for JPY 2100. On this occasion it is possible –at some shops- to choose the contents of the package.

March 2019. On the occasion of the centenary of Pilot, the company released 7 new Iroshizuku inks: Ebisu, Daikoku-ten, Bishamon-ten, Benzai-ten, Fuku-roku-ju, Juro-jin, Hotei-son. The presentations are individual 50 ml inkwells for JPY 1600, and boxed set of seven (all seven inks) 15 ml inkwells for JPY 8000.

The inks for the centenary of Pilot. These are the most expensive Iroshizuku inks at JPY 1600 per 50 ml.

All in all, the whole Iroshizuku line is composed of 34 inks: 24 of the standard series, 3 of the Tokyo Limited Edition, and 7 of the Centennial edition, also limited.

A remarkable detail of these (and other!) Pilot inks is the stability in the price: JPY 15000/50 ml has been the price since they were first released in 2007. The only exception are the 7 Centennial whose price in JPY 1600/50 ml, which is not an outrageous increase. And even the recent releases of the Tokyo Limited Edition preserved the price of 2009, when first marketed.

As a consequence, the originally overpriced inks (in 2007!) are now very reasonably priced, if not plainly inexpensive, when compared to other inks available in Japan.

Jinhao 51A – Unknown purplish ink

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 5th 202017
labels: Pilot, tinta, mercado

28 January 2020

Radical Ink

The radical approach to the maddening ink environment of the times:

The well-known Pilot 30 ml inkwell has been in the market for over 50 years. The current presentation (in the center) is limited to four colors: black, blue-black, blue, and red. The price in Japan is JPY 400/30 ml (plus tax).

Pilot basic line of inks: black, blue-black, blue, and red. JPY 400 per 30 ml. In Japan, Pilot has not increased the prices of these inks since 1995.

In other markets the radical option would certainly be different.

Pilot Vpen – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 28th 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, mercado

31 December 2019

Tokyo Pen Trends 2019

(This review is part of a collective initiative to summarize and analyze the relevant events of 2019 in the pen scene. The other members are Fudefan and Inky.Rocks:
Fudefan's take on 2019:
Inky.Rocks' video: ).

A lot might have happened, pen wise- in this year of 2019, but not everything is equally interesting, and each of us has a different view on those. These are my selection and of the relevant events, and my reflections on them.

1. Pen Scene.
2019 was the year of the 100th anniversary of Platinum. This company managed the celebration a lot better than Pilot, whose centenary was celebrated in 2018, but Platinum quickly lost momentum after a promising start.

In Japan, the only new pen released in 2019 was the Pilot Custom NS (the Procyon, let us remember, was released in 2018). The NS is the first steel nib in the Custom family, and its price is about 20% lower than that the Custom 74 with a gold nib. Is this a correct strategy in the Japanese market?

Other than this Custom NS, there have not been any new pen—all there is are rehashed pens, minor cosmetic changes on well known models. The Prime, the Platinum pen to commemorate its 100th anniversary, is little else than a 3776 in silver costume. Sailor, on its side, is mastering the art of generating original models –this is the name they use— to be sold exclusively at a certain shop. It seems a very successful system to raise the attention of customers by creating a false sense of scarcity.

A sample of Platinum 3776 Centuries. All of them are essentially the same pen.

As this, The Prime, is also a 3776 in disguise. The Prime was the pen Platinum released to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Anyway, not much new.

(The Capless LS has just been released in Japan and barely speaks about what went on along 2019. However, this is something new in the pen scene in Japan.)

In contrast, Taiwanese and Chinese pens are becoming a lot more active and innovative. They are offering new recreations of old filling systems with new models almost every month in the case of pens from the PR of China. Their distribution is also becoming more open and all those pens are easier to purchase.

This Wing Sung, obviously inspired on the Twsbi Vac700, in an example of the activity of many Chinese brands.

2. Ink Scene.
More colors more expensive. And the inflation continues.

The only positive side effect is the surge of small ink companies—Krishna in India, Trouble Maker in Philippines, Three Oysters in South Korea, Kala in Taiwan... But only time will say whether there is enough room for so many people. Or enough customers for so many colors...

But the radical approach to this would be to return to those old colors in unassuming inkwells for about JPY 400 per 30 ml: good and inexpensive ink.

When initially marketed, Irishizuku's inks were very expensive. Now they are among the most inexpensive in the Japanese market. And even cheaper are the regular Pilot inks (the inkwell on the right): JPY 400 (plus tax) for 30 ml. This is the radical approach to the present inflation in inks and their prices.

3. Paper.
Paper, or good quality paper, is also becoming a luxury good. But the production costs might be at the heart of this phenomenon. The paper industry relies heavily on the economy of scale and a small community like that of fountain pen aficionados is unable to generate a big demand. The result--producing small batches to fulfill the demand of such small group is inherently expensive.

"Fountain Pen Friendly Paper Collection", by Yamamoto Paper. Some of those included on this pad are no longer available because some mills are no longer in business.

The alternative, for the time being, could be to go back to old Japanese scholar notebooks, some of which are made of good quality paper, albeit not labeled or advertised as “fountain pen friendly”. Kokuyo Campus, and regular Tsubame notebooks are two obvious options easily available.

This Tsubame paper is excellent and inexpensive. There are other rulings...

4. Events.
The Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) is here to stay after a very successful second edition. Its main feature –from my perspective— was the ability of gather people from far away locations. TIPS acted as the meeting point for aficionados from places as far away as Spain and Australia, and that despite being more of a stationery salon than of a pen show.

Tokyo International Pen Show. Not a pen show, but a meeting point.

In contrast, the active Tokyo pen community seems isolated and detached from the rest of the World.

5. Social Media.
I am new to this environment, and I am therefore very naïve –or simply skeptical- about it. However, it is hard to miss the huge activity on social media, and the personal connections created through them. The result is a much better connected pen community where parochial attitudes –like those of Japanese brands- are bound to fail.

Japanese companies have not understood anything related to social media, and behave following patterns anchored in the twentieth century, with segregated and separated markets. They do not seem to understand online shopping across borders.

On the contrary, Chinese and Taiwanese pen companies have embraced this new world and are taking benefit from their constant presence on them.

I am sure there is a lot more that could be said about this year 2019, but this is what called my attention.

WiPens Toledo – Montblanc Irish Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano, December 8th 2019
etiquetas: Japón, China, Taiwan, mercado, evento, redes sociales, Pilot, Platinum, Sailor, tinta

25 November 2019

Industria Brasileira

Years ago, in 2013, I wrote a Chronicle on the Brazilian plant built by Pilot in 1954. I inserted some local ad and some reports published on the Pilot Times, the internal magazine of the company.

Pilot pens and inks made (or assembled) in Brazil.

Now, six years later, I want to complete the information with the description of a pen produced in that Brazilian plant of Pilot´s--the Pilot 77.

This pen is indeed a member of the Super family of pens made by Pilot in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In fact, its nib is remarkably similar --if not the same-- to the unit present in the model Super 150, a late arrival to the family. The difference is that the Brazilian nib is made of steel instead of gold, and is not dated.

Pilot 77´s steel nib. No gold, no date.

Pilot Super 150´s steel nib. 14 K gold, JIS mark, August of 1962.

The filling system is the well-known "hose-shiki" that we can find in Pilot pens between 1955 and 1964. The body, made of plastic, carries the inscription "PILOT 77 / IND. BRASILEIRA".

The engraving reads "PILOT 77 / IND. BRASILEIRA".

Two questions arise in here: When the pen was made, and whether it was manufactured in Brazil or just assembled with parts made in Japan.

To the first, my best guess given the simmilarities with the Super 150, is that this Brazilian (Super) 77 was made in the mid 1960s.

To the second, I am inclined to think that the parts were Japanese and were assembled in Brazil. The reason being that there are no differences between the components of this pen and those seen on the Japanese units.

These are the dimensions of this pen:
Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 118 mm
Length posted: 147.5 mm
Diameter: 11.2 mm
Weight: 13.9 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.6 ml

Pilot do Brasil remains in business as producer of stationery goods. However, and despite the new manufacturing plant open in 2013, Pilot do Brasil does not make fountain pens nowadays, and the only fountain pen-related item produced in that plant is fountain pen ink in blue in bottles of 500 ml (::1::, ::2::).

Pilot ink made in Brazil.
(Picture taken from

My thanks to my friend Panchovel.

Romillo WiPens – Montblanc Irish Green

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 24th, 2019
etiquetas: Brasil, Pilot, tinta

27 October 2019

In Praise of Whisky

These two bottles cost the same—about JPY 2500.

The one on the left contains 500 ml of whisky. To produce it the company –Nikka on this particular case-- went through a long process that, besides fermentation and distillation, involves some years of maturation during which a significant portion of the product is lost to evaporation.

On this particular case, being a blended, the maturation can be reduced, but in any event –at least for a Scotch whisky-- it couldn't be shorter than three years.

On the other side, an ink is basically a mixture of water, dyes, some biocides and some surfactant agents. The whole process is easy and low-tech, and does not require any special equipment.

Yet, 500 ml of an average (or even above average) whisky cost as much as 50 ml of an average ink...

A lot could be said about how much whisky we drink and how much ink we use, but the question is still valid—is the cost of ink ten times higher than that of whisky?

The actual fact is that the price of ink skyrocketed in the past four of five years, and whisky –a time-intensive product-- provides a useful benchmark.

Are we acting in our best interest buying so much ink so expensively?

Parker 51 Demi aerometric – Kobe Nagasawa Bokko

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 27th 2019
etiquetas: mercado, tinta

24 May 2019

The Invisible Hand... (II)

… Or I told you so...

Years ago I published several texts on the actual costs of inks. At the time, 2010, inks were becoming significantly more expensive while producers were increasing the gamut of colors.

Smaller inkwells, higher prices. But what matters is variety and price per inkwell. Ink Studio inks by Sailor (2018).

“A market driven by collectors –I said in 2011-- is bound to becoming irrational”. And ten years later the scene is a lot more complicated—more ink brands and makers, more colors, higher prices, smaller inkwells...

So, ink prices have become more expensive, and a side effect is a growing market of open inkwells. What not so long ago was almost worthless is now an object of trade.

As seen at the recent Pen Trading in Tokyo (2019). A second life for the inks after trying them...

Again, the invisible hand of capitalism plays its game.

Iwase Seisakusho – Caran D'Ache Sunset

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 24th 2019
etiquetas: mercado, tinta

27 September 2018

Nakabayashi Again

The name Nakabayashi is not new on these Chronicles. It is a Japanese company making stationeries and office supplies, and some months ago entered the market of fountain pen inks through a collaboration with Sailor.

Now, Nakabayashi is back on the spotlight with another line of inks—Taccia inks. And these inks deserve some comments.

Taccia inks, by Nakabayashi.

First are the news of Nakabayashi becoming the primary owner of Taccia pens since last April. At that time, Itoya of America handed its share to Nakabayashi.

The second issue if about the actual maker of these new inks. As I said before, the first Nakabayashi inks –those themed after ukiyo-e colors—had been made by Sailor, and being a recent development (June-July of 2018), it was reasonable to assume that the connection between Nakabayashi and Sailor continued.

No news from Sailor on the label.

But that is not the case, and Taccia inks are made by Nakabayashi itself. Then, will there be new batches –new revolutions- in the ukiyo-e line of inks? Who will make them?

13 new colors: kuro, tsuchi, cha, daidai, aka, momo, ebi, murasaki, ao, aoguro, sora, midori, uguisu.

Aoguro. Blue-black.

The Taccia inks are a collection of 13 colors with Japanese names. The inkwells contain 40 ml of ink and cost JPY 1000 (plus taxes). That means JPY 25/ml of ink.

Not an inexpensive ink, but a lot more economical than most Sailor inks, including those made for Nakabayashi.

Is Taccia becoming finally Japanese?

Montblanc 149 – Pelikan Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 27th, 2018
etiquetas: Nakabayashi, Taccia, tinta, Itoya, Sailor, mercado