Showing posts sorted by relevance for query onoto. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query onoto. Sort by date Show all posts

22 March 2017

Onoto Type by Sakai Eisuke

Ban-ei pens have shown up several times on these Chronicles and the basic data are is well known. But the devil is in the details: Sakai Eisuke and his team did not leave much information behind and any pen can be a source for more knowledge.


The following pen seems to have been made in the 1960s. It is an “Onoto-type” pen, so popular in Japan even nowadays. On the information sheet accompanying we can read that this is a pen inspired on the Onoto model of 1918, with a plunger filling system. Needless to say, the Japanese pen does not use any self-filling operation but the very dear Japanese eyedropper system (::1::, ::2::) derived from the old Onoto plunger.


On this picture, both threads of the ink deposit and of thr shut-off valve are half unscrewed.


This pen is designed to be posted, although the final length is quite long--180 mm.


Classical design of the section of an "Onoto-type" Japanese pen.

The information sheet also states that the pen is the work of just two people—Kabutogi Ginjiro, nib, and Sakai Eisuke, body. And the two other regular actors of the Ban-ei group, Tsuchida and Takahashi, are absent, which points out at the idea of this being a precursor of what later would become the Ban-ei/Tsuchida brand of pens. But, to what are we calling Ban-ei or Tsuchida pens?


The information sheet signed by Kabutogi Ginjiro (兜木銀次郎) and Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助).

The nib, made of 14 K gold, is engraved with the name of one of the Kabutogi’s registered brands—Steady: “K14 / Steady / Special / Perfect / -<3>- / Pen”.


The Steady nib made by Kabutogi Ginjiro (JIS no. 3233, although there is no JIS mark on this nib).

These are the dimensions of this Onoto-style pen:

Length closed: 147 mm
Length open: 142 mm
Length posted: 180 mm
Diameter: 11.0 mm
Weight: 11.8 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 2.8 ml

This particular pen was commissioned by Seibu Department Stores in Tokyo.


The weak point in the Japanese eyedropper pens--the point where the rod operating the shut-off valve enters the ink deposit.

The weak point of this pen is the back seal between the valve rod and the ink deposit. This is the main source of problems in Japanese eyedropper pens.


Sailor Profit, Naginata Togi – Tomikei Blue.

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 21st, 2017
etiquetas: Ban-ei, Kabutogi Ginjiro, Steady, Onoto

13 September 2019

Japanese Eyedropper Today (I)

The so-called Japanese eyedropper system –inki-dome shiki (インキ止め式) in Japanese— was in fact invented by Onoto in the beginning of the 20th century. Those Onoto reached Japan imported by Maruzen and the system –an eyedropper with a shut-off valve— clicked among the locals. The final result was that this system was copied and reproduced by most Japanese pen makers along its history up to today.


An Onoto with the shut-off valve system. Not yet a Japanese eyedropper, I guess.


A Japanese Swan (Nobuo Ito's Swan) with the Japanese eyedropper system.

The inki-dome, however, fell out of favor by the late 1950s when Platinum introduced the ink cartridge and most other makers followed the example. Only minor makers –I am thinking of Sakai Eisuke's operations— kept the system alive till the 1980s.


A Sakai Eisuke's pen made in collaboration with Kabutogi Ginjiro (::1::). Possibly from the 1960s.

In 1985, Pilot commissioned lathe master Sakai the creation of a prototype based on the style of the Pilot pens from the early 1930s, The result was what later became the Pilot (and Namiki) size 50 Urushi, and it implements the Japanese eyedropper system.


The Pilot Urushi in size 50--a modern Japanese eyedropper. This pen is incorrectly named by many as Namiki Emperor, but the Emperor model is decorated with maki-e techniques according to the Namiki catalog.

But who else followed? Not much.

Eboya used the system for some years (::2::, ::3::), but its production relied in the know-how of lathe master Kanesaki Noritoshi. Eboya's boss, Mr. Endo, has announced the new production of Eboya pens with this system, but there are no final dates for their release.


An old Eboya (2013) from the Kanesaki time. It implements the Japanese eyedropper system. At that time, the brand name was still Nebotek.

More recently, as of 2018, the sort-lived Iwase Seisakusho also marketed some pens with the Japanese eyedropper system. These were either old incomplete pen bodies by Ishi Shoten (owner of the brand Yotsubishi) or new pen bodies made by lathe master Momose. But Iwase Seisakusho had a very brief life and very few units of it made to the market.


An Iwase Seisakusho based on a body by Momose Yasuaki.

From California, Danitrio makes some models with Japanese eyedropper. These are usually expensive models with urushi or maki-e decoration.


Some Danitrio pens as exposed at Itoya Ginza (Tokyo) in 2010. Photo courtesy of Moskva.

Finally, a surprising actor is the Taiwanese brand Opus 88 (Jin Gi Industrial Co.). But these Japanese eyedroppers deserve a Chronicle on their own.


The Opus 88 Koloro. A surprising new actor in the Japanese eyedropper business.



Opus 88 Koloro – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Nakano, September 12th 2019
etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Pilot, Eboya, Danitrio, Iwase Seisakusho, Opus 88, mercado, Onoto, Japón, mercado, Kanesaki, Sakai Eisuke, Momose Yasuaki

26 April 2016

Sailor's Plunger

Plungers are old and new, particularly in Japan. Some of the first fountain pens arriving in this country were Onoto plunger fillers, and the well known Japanese eyedropper system (::1::, ::2::) of storing ink in the pen is a simplification of the original Onoto system.

However common the Japanese eyedropper is, Japanese companies continued making plungers for some of their models. Pilot’s examples, the P type, are well documented, but these are by no means the only ones.


This is a Sailor, not an Omas.


The clip is clearly signed as Sailor.

Sailor also made some, and such is the case of the pen on display today. It is a small celluloid pen made around 1935. The nib, not that big, is labeled as being a size 20.


The size-20 nib. The engraving reads "14 CR GOLD / Sailor / REGISTERED / PATENT OFFICE / -20-".

These are the dimensions of this pen:
Length closed: 124 mm
Length open: 112 mm
Length posted: 151 mm
Diameter: 11 mm
Weight: 15.2 g (dry)


The plunger, half retracted.

The basic problem of this filling system is its vulnerability. It is very fragile and prone to break down due to failures in the plunger seal.


The plunger, disassembled.

My thanks to Mr. Sugimoto and to Mr. Mochizuki.


Pelikan M800 – Tomiya Tomikei Blue (by Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 25th, 2016
etiquetas: Japón, soluciones técnicas, Sailor, Pilot, Onoto

17 June 2013

Sistemas de sellado (I)

Lo que uno da por descontado a veces resulta que es extraño y desconocido. Cierto es, por otro lado, que la documentación en castellano sobre estilográficas japonesas es escasa. En esta Crónica voy a tratar de explicar el desarrollo de los sistemas de sellado que se dan a lo largo de la historia en las plumas japonesas. Primero hablaré del sistema de válvula accionada desde el culotte. En la segunda parte hablaré del sistema de estrellas. Ambas cuestiones han sido tratadas ya en estas páginas, pero tal vez no esté de más recuperar esa información ahora en castellano.

Las Onoto con sistema de llenado plunger filler estaban entre las primeras plumas que llegaron a Japón a finales del s. XIX y principios del XX y tuvieron mucho éxito en este país. De hecho, algunas de las primeras plumas con marca japonesa fueron hechas por Onoto (De la Rue) para la tienda Maruzen, bajo la marca Orion. Algunas de ellas, en 1910, ya incorporaban un sistema de cuentagotas “sin plunger”; es decir, una pluma por goteo en la que quedaba el vestigio evolutivo del eje del plunger que tan solo actuaba como válvula de sellado del depósito de tinta.


Anuncio de una Onoto de principios del s. XX en la que utiliza el argumento de que con la válvula del propio plunger cierra el depósito y evita fugas indeseadas de tinta. También añade que con esa válvula se puede controlar el flujo de tinta. También es ese el caso de las plumas de cuentagotas japonesas.

Y en la mentalidad simplificadora de los japoneses, algunos fabricantes ya realmente japoneses –Oliver y la Swan japonesa de Nobuo Itô— tomaron buena nota de esta evolución y lo utilizaron en sus propias plumas.

La idea, dicen algunos, estaba asociada al temor a ensuciar los valiosos kimono con manchas de tinta. No me cabe la menor duda que los japoneses quisieran evitar manchas, pero lo mismo se puede decir de los estadounidenses o británicos y de sus trajes... Sí es cierto que el clima angustiosamente húmedo de Japón hace de las cuestiones de limpieza una obsesión nacional y tal vez esa sea la razón última de ese temor reverencial. Por otro lado, en el Japón de principios del s. XX, bien pasada ya la restauración Meiji (1867), el uso de los trajes occidentales ya era común.

En cualquier caso, estas empresas empiezan a hacer plumas de cuentagotas con un añadido: una válvula que cierra el paso de tinta a la boquilla que se acciona desde el culotte de la pluma. Esa válvula está cerrada cuando la pluma no está en uso y se abre, con apenas una vuelta del culotte, cuando se necesita usar la pluma. También se puede usar para regular el flujo de tinta en el plumín.


En esta Platinum con decoración maki-e de los años 30 el culotte está levemente desenroscado; es decir, en posición de escritura.

El sistema tuvo éxito y al cabo se le denomina, en inglés, Japanese eyedropper. El término japonés es inkidome-shiki, e implica necesariamente la existencia de un sistema de sellado de la tinta. Este sistema es el habitual entre las plumas japonesas de cuentagotas y es muy raro ver plumas de cuentagotas sin ese sistema de sellado. La excepción, menor, son las hoshiawase, que serán objeto de otra Crónica posterior.

Prácticamente, todas las marcas japonesas han usado este sistema en algún momento de su historia. Incluso hoy en día está en uso: Pilot lo usa en las Namiki con plumín de tamaño 50; para Nebotek es uno de sus tres sistemas de llenado. Danitrio, desde California, se empeña en utilizarlo en su afán de ser tan japonesa como la que más. Y en el pasado, la mencionada Swan (la japonesa), más SSS, Platinum, Sailor, Diamond, Ban-ei, Asahi Tsubasa... y todas las plumas jumbo, sobredimensionadas, de muchos fabricantes.


Una New Clip, tal vez fabricada por Fukunaka-Seisakusho. Se trata de una pluma jumbo con llenado por cuentagotas con válvula de sellado. La capacidad del depósito de tinta es de unos 8 mililitros. Suficientes como para crear una gran mancha.

Es un sistema interesante y divertido, pero tiene un par de inconvenientes. El primero es que interrumpido el paso de tinta entre el plumín y el depósito, el primero se seca muy rápidamente cuando no está en uso. Arrancar es a menudo un poco engorroso.


Una Swan japonesa (de Nobuo Itô) de alrededor de 1915. Junto a la parte trasera de la boquilla se puede ver la pieza cónica de cierre asociada al eje que, por dentro del cuerpo, se conecta con el culotte, tal y como se ve en la foto siguiente.


El culotte de la pluma anterior completamente desenroscado.

El segundo problema es el sellado del sistema en la parte cercana al culotte. La válvula se acciona desde el culotte a través de una varilla axial que entra en el depósito a través de un sello tradicionalmente de corcho. Este sello es muy vulnerable y es necesario reemplazarlo en prácticamente cualquier pluma de este tipo que uno pueda encontrar hoy en día en tiendas o mercadillos. De no hacerlo, la tinta se va a acumular en la cámara del culotte y va a salir en cuanto se desenrosque para escribir. En algunos modelos nuevos (los de Nebotek, por ejemplo) ese sello es ahora de un elastómero sintético.

En conclusión, las plumas de cuentagotas con válvula de sellado accionada desde el culotte son un producto netamente japonés que ha permanecido en el mercado durante los últimos cien años, que es prácticamente toda la historia de las plumas en Japón. Son fáciles de encontrar en plumas tanto viejas –aunque en ellas se impone una restauración a fondo— como en modelos nuevos. En este último caso, las plumas de cuentagotas corresponden, paradójicamente, a modelos caros.

Y en una segunda parte hablaré de otro sistema de sellado: el sistema de estrellas.


Mi agradecimiento a mis amigos del Foro de Estilográficas.


P. S: A principios de 2014, Nebotek cambió su nombre por el de Eboya.


Platinun Belage – Platinum Pigmented Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, 14-17 de junio de 2013
Etiquetas: soluciones técnicas, Japón, Pilot, Orion, Maruzen, Sailor, Platinum, SSS, Swan (Japón), Danitrio, Nebotek, Asahi Tsubasa

03 April 2012

At the Museum (V)



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


The pens I am showing today belonged to HOTTA Yoshie (堀田善衛, 1918-1998). His name might click on some science-fiction aficionados’ minds by nothing that he, together with FUKUNAGA Takehiko (福永武彦, 1918-1979) and NAKAMURA Shinichiro (中村真一郎, 1918-1997), authored the seminal novel of the character Mothra (Mosura, モスラ) in 1961: The Luminous Fairies and Mothra (発光妖精とモスラ, Hakko Yosei to Mosura, originally published as a serial novel in Asahi Weekly in 1961, republished in 1994).

An Onoto with a size 5 nib.


Hotta was also an Akutagawa Prize winner in 1951 for his novel Loneliness in the Square (広場の孤独, Hiroba-no kodoku). In 1977, he received the Osaragi Jirô Award for his comprehensive biography of Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (ゴヤ, Goya, 1974-1977).


A Pelikan 500.

The Kugel extra fine nib.

The B nib of Pelikan 400.

His better known work, however, is Judgment (審判, Shinpan, 1963), a novel on the atomic bomb of Hiroshima.

A Pilot Custom in Sterling silver, and a Pilot Elite.

Regarding his pens, we see both European and Japanese units. An Onoto with a size 5 nib; three Pelikan, a Faber Castell, and two Pilot. On the Pelikan, an extra fine Kugel (KEF) and a B points.

(Sailor Profit Realo – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
April 3rd, 2012
[labels: Faber-Castell, Pilot, Pelikan, Japón, evento, estilofilia, Onoto]

12 March 2019

150 Years of Maruzen

Maruzen, the historical stationer of Tokyo, opens the Spring pen season in this city with the Maruzen World Fountain Pen in early March. This year this event celebrates its 10th edition, at the time of the 150th anniversary of Maruzen company. For the occasion, a limited edition pen hit the market together with some other commemorative stationeries.

Maruzen is largely responsible for the introduction of the fountain pen in Japan. Maruzen did so by importing this novelty writing tool from Britain and the US in the beginning of the twentieth century. Maruzen soon started selling some of those same pens –mostly Onoto and Waterman-- under its own brands like Zenith, Albion and Orion.

It took a bit longer for Maruzen to manufacture its own pens. The domestic production relied on the works of Sakasai Eisaburô, who by 1925 was working exclusively for Maruzen.

The Athena Renaissance 85 corresponds to this period. It was initially marketed in 1934. This is a lever filler made of ebonite with a 14 K gold nib.


Athena Renaissance 85, from 1934. A Sakasai Eisaburô manufacture.

Sakasai passed away in 1937 and Maruzen took over his factory to continue with the production of its own pens.

The factory, located in Shinagawa (Tokyo) was destroyed during the war, and a new plant in Katsushika (Tokyo) was built. Here, new pens showed up in the market in the early 1950s. Such is the case of the second pen—an urushi coated ebonite pen with a lever filler and a 14 K gold nib. It carries the JIS engraving issued by the Ministry of Industry in 1952-53 on fountain pens.


Another lever filler--a post war pen from around 1955.

A third example is the pen in the “Ultra” fashion initiated by the Pilot Super Ultra of 1959 (::1::, ::2::, ::3::). On this case, the pen was released in 1964. It is an aerometric filler, with a 14 K gold nib and a generous decoration on the section, where the brand “ATHENA” is imprinted.


An Athena pen from 1964. Its original price was JPY 2500.

The in-house production of pens ended in the 1970s, and for some time the brand Athena was limited to the Maruzen inks.


Athena ink by mid 1960s. Athena Ace.

Maruzen's fountain pens resurfaced in 1994 through a collaboration with Pilot. Since then, Athena pens are Pilot pens in disguise, often implementing size #10 nibs. The Athena Basic Line (ca 2003) follows that idea.


The Athena Basic Line, from around 2004. It has an obvious similarity with the Pilot Custom Heritage 912, from 2009, with which the Basic Line shares the nib.

The 150th anniversary Athena pen has a shape that is very dear to Maruzen. This is the “Onoto type” (albeit in the quite personal Maruzen style)—a very cylindrical pen with a thinner barrel end where to post the cap. This pen also implements a size #10 Pilot nib, and the well-known converter CON-70. This edition is limited to 500 units, and its price is JPY 45000, plus taxes.


The "Athena the Pen" made for the 150th anniversary of Maruzen. Its retro packaging is particularly attractive. Photo courtesy of FudeFan. On his blog you can find a more detailed description of this pen.

So, after 150 years, Maruzen seems alive and well, and its main shop in Nihonbashi is one of the basic references for stylophiles in Tokyo. Should Maruzen make its own pens, the situation would be even better, but that might be asking too much.


My thanks to FudeFan.


Iwase Seisakusho, prototype with Henckel nib – Takeda Jimuki Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Chiyoda, March 11th, 2019
etiquetas: Maruzen, Pilot, Japón, Tokyo, papelería

10 April 2013

Nebotek

Nebotek is one of the small operations—that is, other than the big three—producing pens in Japan. Its mother company is Nikko Ebonite, established in 1952 as manufacturer of ebonite (vulcanized hard rubber), a material with a number of applications. Nikko Ebonite is also the supplier of this material for all Japanese fountain pen manufacturers with the sole exception of Hakase. So, creating their own pen brand was only natural, and that happened in 2009.


Assorted Nobotek pens at a sale event in a department store in Tokyo.

Nebotek pens are created by Mr. Kanesaki Noritoshi (金崎徳稔), disciple of the well know (well, in Japan) nibmeister Kubo Kohei (久保幸平), now almost completely retired. Mr. Kanesaki lathes the in-house ebonite to make fountain pens and ball-pens. Fountain pens come in three different filling systems: (international) cartridge-converter, button filler, and eyedropper with shut-off valve. Nibs and feeds are provided by Peter Bock, in Germany, and are available in four points: F, FM, M, and B. They can also be made soft (springy).

Currently, the pens carry no inscription naming the maker or the model. They look anonymous save for the nib, imprinted with the Bock logo. So, the unknowing user might take this pen as a no-brand pen or as a German pen made by Bock itself.


The Nebotek Onoto-type.

The following pen is one of the Nebotek models. It is called Onoto-type, and it indeed resembles the old Onotos that arrived in Japan at the break of the twentieth century. This pen is an eyedropper with shut-off valve manned from the tail. It is medium sized out of the three possibilities (S, M, L). The nib is a size 220 (in the Bock catalog) made of 14 K gold. These are the pen dimensions:

Length closed: 141 mm
Length open: 134 mm
Length posted: 175 mm
Diameter: 15 mm
Weight (dry): 23.4 g



The Bock nib, engraved with the Bock logo.

Nobotek pens are indeed good and interesting products, but its poor marketing makes them almost unknown. And anonymous.


P. S: Around January 2014, Nebotek pens changed its name to Eboya.


Pilot Super (cartridge-converter), soft nib – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
April 5th, 2013
etiquetas: Nebotek, Bock, Eboya, Kanesaki Noritoshi

15 July 2020

Chinese Fillings

A common complaint among stylophiles in the last years was the lack of interesting filling systems among Western (and Japanese) companies. The situation changed a bit in the last years mostly through a handful of new and small producers (Conid, Masahiro, Edison, to name just a few).

Now, paradoxically, it is the Chinese --the People's Republic of China's-- industry the one rocking the boat offering more pens with self-filling systems. It looks like the Chinese industry –or at least part of it-- had really paid attention to the requests and complaints of the Western pen community.

The results vary. Some of those filling systems are copies of other previously developed and some are entirely original. Some work, some don't.

Here I am showing a very limited selection of these (relatively) new pens, but they show five different filling systems.


Five Chinese pens with five different filling systems.



Wing Sung 3013.

The Wing Sung 3013 is clearly inspired in the Twsbi Vac 700. The filling system is a plunger—that system invented by Onoto in the beginning of the 20th century, although nowadays might be better known in the hands of Twsbi (the above-mentioned Vac 700), and Pilot (Custom 823). Its capacity is 2.0 ml when optimized.


The Wing Sung nib can be replaced with a Pilot nib. The writing experience improves.

The nib of the Wing Sung copies the geometry of some inexpensive Pilot pens (Prera, Kakuno, Cocoon, ...), and in fact it can be replaced by a Japanese unit. The detail makes the Wing Sung more attractive.



PenBBS 492. Too often you need some additional tools to make the piston move along the barrel. Not a reliable system.

The PenBBS 492 (2020 edition) uses a magnet (a Neodymium magnet) to move the piston up and down along the barrel. This system is clearly not mature for its commercial use. The magnet will lose strength with time (and heat) to the point of not being able to to drag the piston to fill the pen. Sure enough, the pen can always be filled as eyedropper, but then the whole magnet system becomes irrelevant. The ink capacity of this pen is 2.6 ml.



PenBBS 355. This second version does work, not like the first release, whose rod would have problems disengaging the piston.

The PenBBS 355 is the Chinese version of the Conid Bulkfiller system at a fraction of the price. In essence, this is a piston filler in which the manning bar goes through the seal when not in use. The result is a very large ink capacity –2.7 ml on this case-- due to the very limited volume used by the filling system.



PenBBS 500.

PenBBS 500 or Twsbi meets Conid (thanks, Fudefan!). This pen's filling system seems to be original, although it truly resembles the system used by the maker Astra in the 1940s. It is a piston filler operated by a collapsible bar with the help of an integrated spring. The result, 2.0 ml of ink capacity.


The filling system works, but there are some rough edges. The rod end could offer more grip to be able to release it with just a finger. Now it is too smooth and you might need some rubber band or similar to ink the pen.



PenBBS offers very few variations on its nib points.

The nibs on all these three PenBBS pens are the same save cosmetic changes—made of steel, very rigid, limited inkflow...


Moonman T2. This pen is remarkably similar to the Stipula Tocco Ferro, but with a different filling system. The Moonman uses the so-called “Elastic piston”--a syringe operated with the help of a spring. This system is bulkier of than those previously described, although it reaches the very respectable volume of 1.5 ml.


Moonman T2. More than 50g...

The main inconvenient of this pen is, however, its weight of over 50 g. Its nib and feed, though, are compatible with those by Bock, and that makes this pen more interesting.


From my point of view, the first weak point of these pens is the nibs. On most cases, they are just correct and boring, and the brands do not offer any variation save that of a bent/fude nib (“calligraphic nib” is the name used by Chinese brands). The result is that most pens –particularly if of a single brand-- write almost the same, without any special flavor.

Japanese companies were blamed for making very good nibs in many different points that were implemented in boring pens with very unimaginative filling systems, mostly cartridge/converters. Now, the Chinese industry is doing the opposite—exciting filling systems and terribly boring nibs.

However, some of these filling systems are clearly immature for the market. Either they are insufficiently tested or in need of further developments; and some of the pens are almost prototypes with problems to be solved. But they show an interesting path to explore in the difficult task to keep fountain pens alive in this world of computers, tactile screens and SARS-CoV-2.


My thanks to Inky.Rocks and to Fudefan.


Sailor Mini, 18 K (M) – Noodler's Beaver

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 13th, 2020
etiquetas: China, mercado, PenBBS, Moonman, Wing Sung