Eventually I purchased the pen from the USA: Classic Fountain Pens www.nibs.com offers a perfect alignment of Japanese craft excellence with astute American consumer service. There is a wait of weeks-months to select and fine-tune a purchase via the Nakaya site whereas Classic Fountain pens has a stock of pre-purchased pens from Nakaya, available in a good range, with an expert service to select and fine-tune the nib and able to ship to my impatient hand within days. Their website is also a pleasure to explore.
The epitome of Nakaya pens seems to be the Urushi and Maki-e pens which start at $495 and can be customised to some exquisitely beautiful and technically supreme works of art for prices rising to thousands of dollars. Some stunning and inspiring examples have been featured on FPN. One day I may be privileged to enter that level but it was too big a leap. 2 basic models cost $295: the celluloid and the briar range. I presume that their lower price relates to the fact that they are both available in the exact format from Nakaya's parent company (in more sense than one), Platinum Pen Company (the same pens?). I wonder whether Nakaya purchases the Platinum stock and adds its own logo on the cap ring - or vice versa? The famous high-quality Nakaya nibs are actually Nakata nibs, stamped as such, probably also sourced from Platinum. Shunichi Nakata was the founder of Platinum (originally called Nakaya Pen Company in 1919) and was father of the current president of that company (Toshihiro Nakata) and grandfather of Toshiya Nakata, the president of the Nakaya Pen Company (a boutique outcrop of Platinum Pens, staffed by craftsmen who retired from Platinum).
Classic Fountain Pens had a tortoiseshell Celluloid model in stock - very attractive. Jonella Hubbard provided prompt, friendly expert advice via email. My current FPs (Lamy 2K and Faber-castell) have Fine nibs, suited to my compact handwriting and the absorbant paper stock at work. After enquiring about my writing style and preferences, she surprised me by recommending a Medium nib. She detailed the differences between nib sizes from different companies - which are significant - a separate topic in itself. I am delighted that I took her advice, especially when I saw how she highlighted my nib requirements to the renowned nibmeister, John Mottishaw, who obviously fine-tuned it superbly.
The pen arrived in New Zealand (South Pacific) within 4 days (including the weekend), clearly tracked all the way.
The packaging is, as described in other posts, a little piece of marketing art. A light-weight stylish wooden box sliding out of a textured cardboard carton, revealing my pen in a cushioned "kimono" pouch and accompanied by a packet of Platinum cartridges. A converter, all the Nakaya paperwork and a Nakaya catalogue were also included. A strong sense of quality and care is conveyed before even viewing the pen
The pen itself is a gem. The tortoishell is flawlessly machined, and surprisingly translucent in places: I can roughly assess the ink level through the semi-transparent elements of the tortoiseshell pattern. It is very light: 25g fully loaded - but not as light as my Lamy 2K at 23g. Length capped 14 cm, uncapped 12 cm. The Nakaya website has a page with dimensions for each of its pens - the Tortoiseshell is the second lightest - the Urushi models are 2-7 g heavier.
Here is a comparison of 3 favorite pens: Lamy 200, Faber-Castell e-Motion and the Nakaya. The FC pen is a solid, wide and heavy pen and the Lamy 2000 is an excellent all-rounder: robust, stylish and streamlined.
At work I use my pens posted - more convenient and less likely to lose the cap. As with most artisan pens, Nakaya does not recommend posting and I am happy to go along with that to avoid scratches on this fine piece but it takes some getting used to writing with a feather-light pen this length. The grip diameter of 1.2 cm actually is slightly wider than the Lamy 2K (1.15 cm where I hold it) but feels slightly slimmer. There are no uncomfortable edges on the grip, the celluloid feels warm and non-slippery - very comfortable.
Another reviewer commented on the unsettling slight clatter that sometimes occurs as the metal ball in the cartridge rolls around as the pen is moved. Not an issue on standard plastic cartridges and balls. Eventually I switched to the converter after toying with the excellent blue-black cartridge ink.
The nib was the basic 14K monochrome gold, M size. Remember, "basic nib" equates to high-quality in most other pens. It is exceptionally smooth to write with, surpassing my previous benchmark, a Fine-nib Lamy 2K. I write very quickly with fairly compact letters - the Nakaya glides effortlessly but has enough feedback to give control and satisfaction. Perfectly balanced: thanks to the pen, the great nib and the expert fine-tuning by John Mottishaw. The line it draws is slightly finer than my other "Fine" nibs : comparison enclosed. For professional reasons I use Noodler's Hunter Green bullet-proof ink which has a tendency to feather on cheap paper and it creeps moderately over my Nakaya/Nakata nib - in this case, adding an attractive hint of aged bronze over the gold.
Overall, this is a superb pen, easily justifying the expense and totally living up to its promise. I am unreasonably pleased and delighted. Thank you to all FPN contributors who recommended this brand.
New challenges arise. Can I bear to keep taking this exquisite, almost delicate, pen into the bustle of a busy workplace? I now feel emboldened to save up for a classic Nakaya pen, having confirmed a nib that suits me very well - where will it end? I am even less likely to take a Urushi pen to work. Will I have to develop journal writing to justify having such quality pens? The line between art and utility is getting blurred at this level. For the first time, I "get" what the concept of jewellery really means to other people... indeed, I will need to marshall my "man jewellery" arguments if I want to convince my wife about further progress into this enchanting field.
Edited by darkgreen, 01 May 2009 - 01:58.