Thursday, February 26, 2015

From Nebotek to Eboya

Up to about one year ago, Nebotek was –so to speak—the pen brand without name. On one hand, there was nothing on the pen that could identify its origin. nothing, well, save the nib, but this was signed as Bock. A Bock pen?

Then, on the other hand, there was a wealthy mixture of names associated to these pens. Nikko Ebonite is the name of the mother company; then there was the name Eboya for its online shop. Finally, Nobotek was the pen brand.

All this changed when around January 2014 the company decided, first, to forget about the name Nebotek; and, second, to sign the pens. These pens are now named Eboya, with the lemma “Made in Tokyo” under it, as can be seen on the photography accompanying this text.


The newly branded Eboya, previously called, but unsigned, Nebotek.

Eboya’s marketing problems do not finish here. Eboya pens lack visibility in the market, and they rely solely on their website, which is only written in Japanese. This also might be changing. To start, Eboya pens are now going to be distributed in the US –and beyond— through John Mottishaw’s website Nibs.com. In fact, the first fifteen Eboya pens have just been shipped to the US, according to Eboya nibmeister Kanesaki.

Nikko Ebonite is a small company, and Eboya pens are in essence the product of one man alone, Mr. Noritoshi Kanesaki. Their limited resources might be at the bottom of their precarious marketing, but they could do better as many other small operations in the world of fountain pens are showing.


Pilot Custom 912, music nib – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 25th, 2014
etiquetas: Eboya, Nebotek, mercado, Kanesaki Noritoshi

Friday, February 20, 2015

Changes and Updates in Tokyo

It is an impossible task to keep perfectly updated any list of places where to buy fountain pens in a city –or group of cities—the size of Tokyo metropolitan area. Now and then you notice some changes and you write about them… That I am doing now, together with some minor reflection.

-- Lemonsha’s branch in Shinjuku no longer carries fountain pens. That part of the business is now concentrated in the Ginza shop.

-- Map Camera-Kingdom Note, therefore, is the only available shop for second hand pens in Shinjuku. However, the selection of those –as of February 2015— is becoming alarmingly small, which combined with the usually high prices of this shop make this pen scenario not very appealing. Map Camera/Kingdom Note keeps having a very good inventory of inks (at MSRP prices).

And it is my impression that the second hand market is moving away from regular shops. The amount of pen on display on them seems to be shrinking. The trade might be moving to some other channels, probably eliminating the middle man.

-- Mori-ichi in Ginza-Kyobashi has been refurbished and no longer sells with discounted prices and its appeal is now very low. This shop stocks mostly Pilot pens.

-- Isetan department store in Shinjuku has enlarged its space for fountain pens. As in any other department store in town, all pens are marked at MSRP, and no bargains can be really found in them. This section has a small selection of maki-e decorated pens.

All in all, I want to see an increase on the importance of the fountain pen market—on this last reform of Isetan in Shinjuku, fountain pens have gained some importance.

Isetan Shinjuku
Shinjuku 3-14-1
Shinjuku
Tokyo 160-0022
Tel: 03 3352 1111
Hours: 10:30-20:00

-- Angers Bureau seemed to be a stationer and gift shop with a few fountain pens here and there, but nothing very interesting. However, now it is possible to see some vintage pens on display. Given their prices, they seem to be more of a decoration than an actual new product in their line of business. Some pen rookie might fall for them, though. Anyway, all this might be the result of a renewed interest in fountain pens.


Angers Bureau has three shops in Tokyo:

ANGERS Ravissant Shinjuku (Marui building)
Shinjuku 3-30-13, Marui Honkan  8F
Shinjyuku
Tokyo 160-022
Tel 03 3352 1678
Hours: 11:00-21:00

ANGERS Bureau ecute (Ueno JR Station)
Ueno 7-1-1, ecute 3F
Taito
Tokyo 110-0005
Tel: 03 5826 5681
Hours: 18:00-22:00

ANGERS Bureau Marunouchi (KITTE building)
Marunouchi, 2-7-2, KITTE 4F
Chiyoda
Tokyo 100-0005
Tel: 03 3217 2006
Hours: 11:00-21:00


Pilot Custom 912, music nib – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, February 13th, 2015
etiquetas: Tokyo, mercado

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RomilloPens

The history of fountain pens in Spain is the story of a frustration—a big number of operations that failed to create a sustainable activity. Inoxcrom and, to a much lesser degree, STYB were the only survivors of the more or less glorious days of Spanish pens in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, in recent years, several small pen brands have appeared in Spain to cater the stylophile craving for more artisanal writing tools. Estilográficas Clavijo and Gimena are two examples of them.


Romillo Essential.

The better known of all those new companies is, however, RomilloPens. The Romillo family founded the brand in 2007 and after a couple of years of experiments, the RomilloPens Essential was launched. Since then, about 10 models have been produced. All of them save the latest arrival called The Celluloid Collection, are made of German ebonite.


Two Romillos with Bock nibs in sizes 6 and 8.

Initially, all the nibs were made by Bock –sizes 6 and 8. After some years, in 2012, they started the production of a flexible nib, the K nib. Apparently very flexible, there are reports questioning the ability of the feed to provide the required inkflow. Starting in 2013, RomilloPens makes its own nibs (sizes 7 and 9), albeit feeds are still provided by Bock.

The philosophy of the company is to make pens resembling old models from the 1910s and 1920s using traditional materials and implementing arcane filling systems, although cartridge and converters are an available option for some models. RomilloPens claims all its pens were made by hand—obviously an exaggerated claim as lathe and files are in order to machine the ebonite. However, being made to order allows for a great deal of customization.

The final result is an attractive product with a steep price. In fact, for an average of EUR 1000, many an aficionado might, in fact, prefer a real vintage pen in pristine condition to a newly made pen without the glamour and tradition of a well known name.


The flagship of RomilloPens is the model Nervión. On the image, the version made of terracota ebonite with a size 8 nib by Bock.

This is a risky initiative, and a brave one too. Can the market support it? Time will tell. This luxury market is very competitive; most pen companies have luxury models, and there are some small operations specifically targeting this high-end sector. And at the end,... Montblanc wins.


NOTE ON THE NAMES: The name of the pen brand is, actually, RomilloPens, and is owned by the company Pixeline S. L. Romillo is the name of the founding family. RomilloPens, however, sounds strangely artificial in Spanish (probably in English too) and I tend to use the family name, Romillo, as the brand name.


Romillo Nervión Terracota – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Madrid, November 27th, 2014
etiquetas: España, mercado, RomilloPens, Bock
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