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http://i.imgur.com/R9qfTpB.jpg *I apologize for the poor quality iPhone photos taken in my poorly-lit apartment -- I'll borrow a dSLR to get some decent ones before I do a full review. After 13 months my Hakase is finally here! Since I ordered it last December, I've been anxiously awaiting this little ebonite barrel with a cocobolo shell. My model is called CW15C, which stands for cocobolo wood, large size nib, flat-top and solid 14kt pyramid barrel stopper band (no plating here!) For those unfamiliar with Hakase, I'd highly recommend watching the Masters of Fountain Pen series video on Harumi Tanaka. The current craftsman of Hakase is Ryo Yamamoto but he builds pens using the same techniques as Harumi Tanaka, who retired 6 or 7 years ago. Since I ordered it last December, I've been anxiously awaiting this little ebonite barrel with a cocobolo shell. I was so excited to receive it when I checked the tracking to find it was out for delivery yesterday but I wasn't home to sign for it. Today, in between appointments, I rushed to the post office, where I almost had to leave before getting my package so I wouldn't be late to class. Not entirely relevant, but I think some FP-users might appreciate this: On Tuesdays, the novelist Salman Rushdie is my professor and I think he's an FP user! Today, he was holding on to what looked like a vintage vest pen. I didn't see him uncap it but I'm fairly certain it was a vintage FP. I'm going to have to ask him about it next week, if he brings the same pen. http://i.imgur.com/6fGCwto.jpg Arrived in the pretty wrapping paper. http://i.imgur.com/kcO9APs.jpg The nibs on the large size Hakase pens are #15 size Pilot nibs, with the Hakase double-nib logo embossed on it. Similar to the nib on the Custom 823, Custom 845 and several other pens. The smaller Hakase pens use either a #10 Pilot nib or a Sailor nib. http://i.imgur.com/U2we1XT.jpg Box is just like the pawlonia wood boxes used for Nakaya and Danitrio pens. The calligraphy on the box is supposedly done by Ryo's mother. http://i.imgur.com/iQPsQOL.jpg The pen came with a Con-70 converter and was wrapped in very delicate tissue paper. http://i.imgur.com/tj4Fzak.jpg Not sure how many leads the cap has but at least one of them causes the grain to line up when capped. I know Hakase does the same pattern matching on their clipped pens, so the finial of the wood or ebonite matches that of the main part of the cap. The wood has an oil/wax finish and feels wonderful to the touch. The cocobolo blank Ryo chose is incredibly beautiful with a gorgeous grain pattern. http://i.imgur.com/CneyRtV.jpg Nib is about equal to a #6 size nib. From top: Danitrio Mikado, Edison Pearl, Hakase CW15C, Hooligan kingwood/titanium pen. http://i.imgur.com/nXjS9Ei.jpg From top: Danitrio Mikado, Eboya Kyouka (medium-size), Hakase CW15C, Hooligan kingwood/titanium pen, Edison Pearl. Now to ink this up ....
Hakase Cocobolo Flat-top The Hakase Cocobolo resting in its paulownia box. The calligraphy on the box is done by the mother of the current owner of Hakase, Ryo Yamamoto. Yamamoto-san is the grandson of the original founder of Hakase. Introduction As a lover and user of Japanese pens, owning a Hakase pen has been my goal for the longest time ever. Ever since I read reviews of this brand four years ago, I fell in love with the mystique of a small family-owned shop on the west coast of Japan churning out hand-turned custom pens, one every day. They have no distributor and in order to purchase a pen, one has to either order in person or send in a form with a sample of your handwriting, your writing/grip preferences, and your choice of pen material and design. With the waitlist previously two years long and now shortened to approximately a year, Hakase pens are not something you can simply walk into a shop and buy! At this rarefied level, everything is custom and Hakase can accommodate most preferences. Pen materials include ebonite, celluloid, buffalo horn, different exotic woods including rosewood, cocobolo, African kingwood, sandalwood, ebony and more. They also offer real tortoiseshell as a pen material. Metal trim on these pens is usually solid 14K yellow/white gold or sterling silver, although gold-plated trim is also an option for the budget-conscious. Finally, urushi lacquering is available but will add to the time needed for pen construction. Hakase uses Sailor- and Pilot-made 14K gold nibs and converters for their pens. I scour the auction boards regularly to look for Hakase pens, but had so far been unable to obtain a suitable piece for my collection. So this year I finally bit the bullet and ordered myself a buffalo horn Hakase pen with the works. Imagine my surprise when this particular specimen came up for sale two months into my wait period! I couldn't resist but purchase it. See how the wood grain lines up nicely when the pen is capped. The metal trim on this pen is all solid 14K yellow gold. Pen construction Hakase pens are expertly hand-turned with a manually-operated lathe (see video posted by VirtuThe3rd) and handling a Hakase pen makes one deeply appreciative of the workmanship that goes into crafting each pen. On this pen, it is immediately apparent that the cap and barrel are crafted from a single cocobolo wood scantling (read: wood blank) and the cap and barrel have been threaded so that the wood grain will line up when one of the thread starts is used to cap the pen. I love this attention to detail that Hakase brings to their pens. The metal trim on this pen is all solid hand-wrought 14K yellow gold which goes well with the minimalistic design of the pen. The date code on this pen is 012014, meaning January 2014. Each pen comes with a date code, tastefully and subtly engraved on the barrel end. This particular pen was made in January of this year. The tapering of the barrel end allows one to post the cap securely, although for now I prefer to use the pen unposted. This pen has almost the same length as the Pelikan M800 capped and uncapped/unposted, which was a pleasant surprise to me. It has approximately the same mass as well, weighing 30 grams capped and 18 grams uncapped, comparable to the Pelikan M800 which is 29 grams capped and 21 grams uncapped. The Hakase is almost the exact same length of the Pelikan M800 capped and uncapped/unposted. It is just a bit shorter than the Montblanc 149 on the right. Comparison of the Hakase to the Pilot Custom 845 and the Namiki Yukari Royale. The Hakase is shorter than the other two pens but slightly larger in girth. I include the Pilot Custom 845 and the Namiki Yukari Royale in this review because of their extensive similarity to the Hakase pen. The Custom 845 and Hakase use essentially the same nib, while all three pens depicted above come with the CON-70 converter. Hakase usually includes the silver trim CON-70 converter with their pens; I have outfitted my Hakase with a spare black CON-70 converter instead. Not much to say about the CON-70 converter except that it has a high capacity of ~1 mL and it works well. Note that the section is made of SEM ebonite from Germany instead of Nikko ebonite and the wood grain ripple pattern blends well with the cocobolo barrel. Ebonite is the perfect choice for constructing a section which will be occasionally dipped into ink during refilling of the pen. The Hakase uses a Pilot CON-70 converter and a Pilot-made 14K gold nib with the Hakase logo. The section is made from wood grain ebonite (SEM ebonite) which can be safely immersed into ink during filling. Writing experience This nib is purportedly a fine size, but had been adjusted to give more of a medium-broad line. I was taken aback at first during my first filling with Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo, but have since grown to enjoy the luscious line of ink that this pen leaves on paper. My favourite nibs are the Namiki Yukari Royale medium nibs because of their springy feel, responsiveness to pressure, and extensive shading characteristics, but this pen writes extremely well too, putting ink down at the slightest pressure. Glassy smooth is an apt description for this nib. I have seen very little shading with Tsuki-Yo ink, allowing me to use this nib on paper that would normally give bleed through with other pens (such as the paper currently used in the TOPS and National Brand Computation Notebooks). Notice the similarity of the design between the Hakase 80th anniversary nib and the Pilot Custom 845 nib! The two-tone nib on this pen is part of the limited edition run of 100 nibs made to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Hakase. Notice how similar the design is to the Custom 845 nib? Honestly I feel that Hakase should have arranged for an original design instead, but since I bought this pen pre-owned, I can't complain too much. Conclusions Hakase pens keep their value and are very hard to find on the secondary market. I particularly enjoy the fact that I'm using a pen that very few people will recognise or even own. These pens are not the most expensive out there, but are valuable because of their relative scarcity and the knowledge and craftsmanship that goes into making each pen. Finally, this pen has sated my current desire for a Hakase pen, and I look forward to receiving my buffalo horn Hakase soon!