Crónicas Estilográficas

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


To speak about fetishism in the world of fountain pens is essentially redundant. Collecting is a form of fetishism—to favor the tool for itself instead of for the work it does or for its actual performance. Now, fetishism can go a lot farther…

As of lately, and these Chronicles might share part of the responsibility for that, some “craftsman” pens, made with old technology and in low production batches have gained some name among stylophiles. Brands like Eboya (formerly Nebotek), Hakase, Ohashido, StyloArt Karuizawa, fit in this category nowadays. But some time ago there was another master who by now holds a quasi-mythical dimension—Sakai Eisuke (酒井栄助) the leading figure behind Ban-ei pens and creator of the prototype of modern Pilot-Namiki with size 50 nibs.

Three pens made by Sakai Eisuke.

Sakai Eisuke was a master of the rokuro, the traditional pedal-operated Japanese lathe, and here I am showing one of the rokuro he used. Now, it belongs to Nikko Ebonite, and is, in actual terms, one of the two traditional lathes in service to make Eboya pens.

Ex-Sakai Eisuke rokuro.

Does this detail add any value to the pens made with it? Most likely not, but that depends on your personal obsessions re fountain pens. I, for one, was very happy to see and even touch a tool used by a great master.

The current location of the old rokuro: the building of Nikko Ebonite.

My thanks to Mr. Noritoshi Kanesaki

Oaso “Safari” – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 1st, 2016
etiquetas: estilofilia, Eboya, Pilot, Ban-ei

Friday, July 15, 2016

Matching (XXI). Oaso 'Safari'

After having reported on the Lanbitou 757, that obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, it is only natural to speak about the Oaso ‘Safari’, another kid on the block of copies.

The Oaso 'Safari'. The official name might be conpletely different, though.

Oaso is a small brand and little information about it is available. Some say it is a second brand of the well-known Picasso, from Shanghai. Both brands appear as related on (retrieved July 15, 2016), the website of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group. Nothing can I say about the official model name, either.

Which one is the Chinese; which one the German? The names are written on the barrels and on the nibs.

This is indeed an obvious copy of the Lamy Safari, but less so than the already reviewed Lanbitou 757. The Oaso shows a very clear difference with respect to the original: the cap jewel. The Lamy cross is now the logo of Oaso, a sort of an ‘O’.

The cap jewels are different.

The material of this matte black copy is a bit darker and more polished than that of the charcoal (or umbra) variation of the Lamy Safari. The Chinese nib is made of steel and is chromium coated instead of the black look of some Lamy nibs. However, as was the case with the Lanbitou 757, Lamy’s and Oaso’s nibs are interchangeable.

The nibs are interchangeable. Their qualities are on par.

Their feeds are almost identical. The Chinese version has a worse finish, but the ink flow is correct.

Writing samples of the Oaso 'Safari' with tow nibs--an Oaso F, and a Lamy F. These two nibs behave in a similar fashion.

So are the converters. The Oaso version seems to be an almost exact clone of the Lamy Z28 unit save for the color of the materials. The Chinese copy even has the notches to hook it to the pen. Both are marked with their brand names.

The converters are also interchangeable. They are almost identical.

All in all, the Oaso ‘Safari’ is a knockoff of decent quality. And the question is why all these companies bothered copying inexpensive models. The reason seems to lay on the Chinese domestic market, where the Lamy Safari holds relatively high prices. And it seems that these Chinese companies –Lanbitou, Hero, Picasso, Oaso…– have had an effect: Lamy has lowered the prices of the Lamy Safari in the Chinese market to remain competitive.

My thanks to Mr. Mizukushi.

Bank-ei in black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 15th, 2016
etiquetas: China, mercado, Lanbitou, Oaso, Lamy

Monday, July 4, 2016

East Pen Made in Tokyo

The experimentation with fountain pen nibs is alive and well in Japan. The Nagahara family, or some advanced aficionados like Mr. Yamada and Mr. Mochizuki, an army of pen tuners who periodically meet in Tokyo and other cities in Japan… they all show that there is more to nibs than what most aficionados think. And this is not new in Japan. An obvious case in point is the Sailor development in the 1980s of an omnidirectional nib called Trident—the idea was a nib that could write smoothly in any position.

Well, that idea has an obvious precedent in Tokyo in the 1930s.

A smallish pen: 120 mm long. On the barrel: "EAST / FOUNTAIN PEN / MADE IN TOKYO".

Externally, the pen is a boring-looking copy of the Parker Duofold. The filling system is a Japanese eyedropper, like most pens of the time (around 1930) in Japan. The ebonite barrel is engraved with the brand name, “EAST”, and the text “FOUNTAIN PEN / MADE IN TOKYO”. On the clip we find a logo where we can read “Special”.

The clip displays an additional logo where we read "Special".

Then, everything changes when we reveal open the pen.

The secret, disclosed.

This unique nib is formed by three different gold plates at 120° of each other. These plates are somehow connected at the central axes of the pen, and their ends are iridium-tipped and polished. The space outside these plates is used for the feeds.

Engraved on the nib, we can see the purity of the gold --14 K-- and something like "NOxxx". Those x are not readable. But this nib is make of 14 K gold.

The result is a very rigid nib able to write in all positions.

These are the dimensions of the pen:

Length closed: 120 mm
Length open: 108 mm
Length posted: 151 mm
Diameter: 11 mm
Weight: 13.4 g (dry)

Quite an experiment, but the manufacturing process of this nib sure was not cheap. This pen, finally, is extremely rare, and very little seems to be known about it.

Eboya Hôga – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 3rd, 2016
etiquetas: East, plumín, soluciones técnicas

Friday, July 1, 2016

Urushi Fermo

Nagasawa is, in a sense, THE stationery shop in the city of Kobe in Japan. Sure enough there are some other stationers in the area, but this centenary old store, founded in 1882, does attract most of the attention in the area. The reasons for this success deserve a detailed analysis, but that is not today’s topic.

Today I wanted to present a quite unique pen made for Nagasawa by Pilot. The excuse seems a bit lame –134th anniversary of the company--, but probably any excuse is valid to make some noise. The name of this pen is the non-descriptive “Urushi Japan”.

The pen in question is rather unusual—it is a limited edition fountain pen based on the well-known Pilot Fermo. The variations over the regular model are small but relevant:

-- The metal parts are now golden in color as opposed to the silver trim of the usual Fermo.

-- The nib unit, made of 18 K gold, is also golden in color and is not rhodiated. This is the only Fermo model to use such nibs instead of the rhodiated units. The nib is engraved with the logo of Nagasawa--a key.

-- The knurled knob that operated the nib is now smooth and of the same color as the rest of the pen.

-- Finally, and most important, the pen is decorated, or colored, with urushi lacquer.

Nagasawa ordered a total of 150 numbered units in two different colors—60 units in jet black (shikkoku, 漆黒) and 90 in red (shu, 朱). The price is the same for both colors: JPY 60000, plus tax.

Both "Urushi Japan" pens as displayed on the magazine Shumi-no Bungubako (issue 38) together with the real thing in red.

Size-wise, this urushi Fermo is less than one gram heavier than the regular model. The rest of the dimensions are nominally identical:

Length closed: 141 mm
Length open: 148 mm
Diameter: 12.3 mm
Weight: 34.4 g

On top, the red "Urushi Japan" of Nagasawa; on bottom, a regular Fermo in black.

Eboya Hôga – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 1st, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, Capless, Kobe, mercado, maki-e

Friday, June 24, 2016

Early Pilot Nibs. VIII. Size 6

Pre-war size 5 nibs by Pilot are very rare, as I have already explained. However, it is with size 6 nibs when die-hard collectors start to raise their eye-brows. This is probably due to the combined effect of size –bigger is sometimes better— and a non-extreme rarity.

I have found several examples of size 6 nibs. Only one of those presented today is attached to a pen; the rest come from a collection of nib. These are the dimensions:

Manufacturing date .Jan 1937. .Oct 1931. .Undated. .Undated.
Length (mm) 29 30 30 30
Width (mm) 6.9 7.0 7.6 7.6
Feed diameter (mm) 5.5 -- -- --
Weight (g) 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6
Material 14 K Au 14 K Au 14 K Au 14 K Au
Notes Oblique Stub

Two of these nibs are not explicitly dated, but the type of the inscriptions on them allow us to think they were made in the 1930 or early 1940s.

From January of 1937.

From October of 1931.

Non dated. Note the inscription "OBL". In fact, an oblique right nib.

The same right-oblique nib of the previous picture. Detail of the nib point.

Non dated. A stub.

The point of the stub nib.

Previously on these Chronicles we have seen two other examples of this size of nibs: one belonged to a hoshiawase pen from 1924, and the other to a lever-filler in celluloid from 1942. I have not included those nibs in this list because I do not have their dimensions.

The obvious variations in the sizes of the four examples here shown are not unusual, as we had already seen on Pilot nibs of smaller sizes (see, for instance, those in size 1).

My thanks to Mr. Niikura and Mr A. Zúñiga.

Lamy Safari Aquamarine – Yard-O-Led Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 23th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, plumín

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colors of the Four Seasons—Again

“If it ain’t broke, do not fix it”, but this wise sentence does not seem to apply to the world of marketing. In fact, it might be right the opposite—making noise and calling for attention are often the names of the game in advertisement strategies.

Back in 2009-2010 (::1::, ::2::, ::3::), Sailor changed its line of inks. The old selection of colors, including some sorely missed ones, was discontinued in favor of four batches of limited editions—the seasonal inks. Much hype they generated, but being limited releases they were gone all too soon… to revive some years later. In 2014, as I reported on these Chronicles, Sailor reissued eight of the old sixteen seasonal inks.

The colors left behind in 2014 are now back.

And now, in June of 2016, it is the turn of the remaining eight inks:

若鶯 - Waka-uguisu.
桜森 - Sakura-mori.

藤娘 - Fuji-musume.
利休茶 - Rikyû-cha.

金木犀 - Kin-mokusei.
仲秋 - Chu-shu.

囲炉裏 - Irori.
雪明 - Yuki-akari.

The not-so-new inks.

Some of these new inks, on display in a shop in Tokyo.

It seems that these not-so-new inks will coexist with those released in 2014. Therefore, the catalog of Jentle inks (by Sailor) will be composed, for a while, of sixteen fancy colors plus the well-known triad of black, blue-black and blue. Prices remain unaltered—JPY 1000, plus taxes.

The seasonal inks released in March of 2014.

At the time of writing this text (June 16, 2016), few shops have stocked these inks, but it is likely these inks might soon become widely available in the next few weeks. These inks hace also been announced on the last issue of the magazine Shumi-no Bungubako (趣味の文具箱, Vol 38, June 2016, page 82).

And the question previously asked remains adequate—does Sailor have any consistent policy regarding inks? It might just be a matter of making noise now and then.

Pilot Murex – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 16th, 2016
etiquetas: Sailor, tinta, mercado

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hiroshi (II)

Some months ago I presented a couple of pens decorated with urushi lacquer. Those were Pilot Custom 67 decorated by maki-e artist Hiroshi (洋). At the time I did not know the actual origin of those customizations and I ventured the idea of proofs of concept. But now the facts are clearer and the whole story can be written correctly.

A couple of Pilot pens customized by Hiroshi (洋).

Asakura Yukihiro (朝倉行洋) is a maki-e craftsman from the province of Kanagawa. He worked for Pilot between 1960 and 2001, when he retired. His signature, as we have already seen, is 洋, which can be read either as Hiroshi or as Yô. Here I am showing a creation of his—a rendition of the classic motif of the goldfish. This pen was made in 1978.

A creation of Hiroshi (洋) in 1978.

Asakura’s signature appears together with the inscription “kokkôkai” (國光會), the guild of maki-e artisans working for Pilot.

Asakura's signature (Hiroshi or Yô, 洋) together with the "kokkôkai" (國光會) inscription. In red, the kaô (花押).

The nib of the pen: "18 K - 750 / PILOT / / H878 / JIS mark". The nib was made at the Hiratsuka factory in August of 1978.

The pen uses a cartridge-converter system and implements an 18 K gold nib. Its dimensions are as follows:

Length closed: 132 mm
Length open: 122 mm
Length posted: 147 mm
Diameter: 10 mm
Weight: 28.1 g
Ink deposit: 0.9 ml (cartridge) / 0.8 (converter CON-20) / 0.4 ml (converter CON-40) / 0.6 ml (converter CON-50)

But retired did not mean to stay idle, and Asakura takes commissions to decorate, at least, pens. These creations are, as before, signed as Hiroshi or Yô, 洋, but without the “kokkôkai” sign, as he is no longer part of the Pilot team of artisans.

Another pen customized by Hiroshi.

And this is the case of some pens shown on these Chronicles—commissions taken by Asakura Yukihiro performed on the well known Pilot Custom 67.

These two pens are already known to the readers of this blog.

My thanks to Mr. Fukuyo, Mr. Niikura, Mr. Sunami, and Mr. Shige.

Lamy Safari Aquamarine – Yard-O-Led Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 13th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, maki-e
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