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Help with Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum vintage pens


OldTravelingShoe
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Hello, everyone, 

 

(This is my first post on FPN. Apologies for possible style and content issues; I am learning.) 

 

TL;DR: I'd like to learn more about vintage Japanese pens. I'd be very happy to learn about catalogs and comprehensive sources. Could you please help? Thank you. 

 

What kind of help do I need? I'd like to ask for your help in understanding and cataloging the many vintage pens of Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum. I am particularly interested in the 1960s-1980s period and in pocket pens, but the complete view would also help. I saw many similar questions related to individual pens, but none about all at the same time. Many of the old FPN links to catalogs seem to be missing (no blame here, just what I noticed). 

 

How could you help? Any ideas, comments, links to catalogs and other relevant material are most welcome. 

 

Why am I asking for this? I do this for fun. I'd like to become able to catalog my own vintage Japanese-made pens (a few dozens by now), and also to be able to recognize on my own subtleties such as 'JIS10', workshop numbers, and the varieties of Pilot Shorts and Platinum botanicals. 

 

What do I know so far (and would be happy to share if asked)? To avoid wasting your time, I have tried so far all the things I could imagine on my own, including:

 

1. Read the "Reference and General Information" pinned post of FPN/Japan - Asia. 

 

2. Read the chapter on Japanese fountain pens in Andreas Lambrou's Fountain Pens Vintage and Modern (couldn't find yet his other books, esp. Fountain Pens of Japan.) Also read Richard Binder's book on Japanese Pocket Pens. 

 

3. Traversed the (modern) catalogs I could find for Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum. So, samples from 2010 through 2021. Also looked at the specials I could find, e.g., Pilot's and Platinum's 100th Anniversary websites. 

 

4. Traversed the Platinum Place files still available on archive.org (with enough attention to notice cat012.jpg is missing.) 

 

5. Read all I could find from good reviewers, such as Crónicas Estilográficas, Richard Binder, and Pocket Pen Chronicle. They do already an excellent job, I just would like to know more. 

 

6. Spent quite a bit of time reading commercials on regular (online) shops, eBay, and auction sites. 

 

7. Tried to translate, using typical automated online services, all the pages in Japanese on the topic I could find.

 

Many thanks indeed. 

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Sadly, I cannot help with the information you desire, but...

 

I would like to offer a warm welcome to FPN and...

 

Offer applause for one of the most thorough and well written introductory posts I have ever seen.

 

Good luck on your journey into vintage Japanese pens!

What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away. — Doobie Bros

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Thanks for the kind words and wishes, @ajoe. I'm new here, this welcome feels good indeed. All the best! 

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Just a thought, it might help you to write a short introduction in the Introductions forum here, and make reference to this post.

 

That would get more eyes on your question.

What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away. — Doobie Bros

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1 hour ago, ajoe said:

Just a thought, it might help you to write a short introduction in the Introductions forum here, and make reference to this post.

Very nice suggestion. (Let's see if the weekend is free enough to write a decent introduction.) 

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@OldTravelingShoe 

Forum member (and moderator) @stan has access to lots of old catalogues for the Japanese fountain pen brands, and used to have a website that hosted lots of information from them. (Not what that website/URL splashes on the screen when you visit it these days, though; I tried it yesterday.)

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Just a slight caveat, but you might try contacting the companies that are the distributors for your pens.  
The caveat being that I picked up an older model Pilot pen (Pilot marked on the nib and the fill system) at an antiques shop a couple of years ago, and Pilot-USA claimed it wasn't a Pilot pen.  Turned out that in fact it WAS a Pilot pen -- but made in South Korea specifically for the South Korean market.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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@A Smug Dilland @inkstainedruth, thank you, very good suggestions. I will try both.

 

I will have to figure out how to contact Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum. Maybe even mail using one of their pens? 

 

Side-note: Prior to joining FPN, I read many of your messages on pens and inks. Many thanks indeed. (Also, consequently, I am a bit star-struck.) 

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I've found a wealth of information here as well:

 

https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/

 

Not all of his posts are about Japanese pens, but many are and his sources, research and photos are invaluable!

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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2 hours ago, awa54 said:

I've found a wealth of information here as well:

 

https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/

 

Not all of his posts are about Japanese pens, but many are and his sources, research and photos are invaluable!

Crónicas Estilográficas is indeed excellent. I also found Pocket Pen Chronicle to be excellent, and with benefits from proximity for access to both pens and cultural background. 

 

I also liked Richard Binder's treatment of Japanese pocket pens. (Because in my profession constructive criticism is a form of praise,) I would have liked it to be more comprehensive in pen coverage, deeper technically, with more cultural references, and also link to catalog numbers more thoroughly. 

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15 hours ago, inkstainedruth said:

Just a slight caveat, but you might try contacting the companies that are the distributors for your pens.  
The caveat being that I picked up an older model Pilot pen (Pilot marked on the nib and the fill system) at an antiques shop a couple of years ago, and Pilot-USA claimed it wasn't a Pilot pen.  Turned out that in fact it WAS a Pilot pen -- but made in South Korea specifically for the South Korean market.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

This is a case when a Pilot is not really a Pilot, in a sense. Pilot in South Korea is a totally separate company from the Japanese Pilot. See https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2014/01/koreana.html

 

The Korean Pilot did export to SE Asian countries, as I understand, (it is not too difficult to find Korean Pilot fountain pens in Thailand, for instance) which makes me wonder if they actually produced pens specifically for the S. Korean market. 

Script nib for writing screenplays. • Fine nib for my best writing. • Extra fine for my *very* best writing. • Medium for requesting a séance. • Bold for adventure stories. • Manifold for many various types of writing. • Coarse for indignant letters. • Oblique for making a point in a roundabout way. • Italic when I'm inclined. • Stub for when I intend to leave a manuscript unfinis

 

My pens for sale: https://www.facebook.com/jaiyen.pens

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3 hours ago, PithyProlix said:

 

This is a case when a Pilot is not really a Pilot, in a sense. Pilot in South Korea is a totally separate company from the Japanese Pilot. See https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2014/01/koreana.html

So, if I infer correctly, to be comprehensive I should contact _all_ possible offices of Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum, rather than only those in Japan. (I have a vague impression that Sailor also had a production site in Taiwan, which produced different kinds of (short) pens.) 

 

Is there a list of all these production sites or offices, readily available? Or who could know about them, besides the persons already active in this thread? 

 

P.S.: Many thanks for your help. I value greatly both the knowledge and the time you all have already put into this. 

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@liubrian has also posted links to Historical ad copy from Pilot here, if you read Japanese those would undoubtedly be of use, though for my mono-lingual self they're less informative, but still very cool to see.

 

 

here's one of the links:

 

https://www.pilot.co.jp/100th/en/gallery/

 

 

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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21 hours ago, PithyProlix said:

This is a case when a Pilot is not really a Pilot, in a sense. Pilot in South Korea is a totally separate company from the Japanese Pilot. See https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2014/01/koreana.html

 

18 hours ago, OldTravelingShoe said:

So, if I infer correctly, to be comprehensive I should contact _all_ possible offices of Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum, rather than only those in Japan. (I have a vague impression that Sailor also had a production site in Taiwan, which produced different kinds of (short) pens.) 

 

Are you asking me? The S. Korean Pilot had/has some kind of licensing agreement with the Japanese Pilot. As I wrote, a different company, not a production site of the Japanese Pilot. S. Korean Pilot had (has? I don't know anything about their current models) many models that did not correspond to Japanese Pilot models. 

 

It's up to you if you want to include licensees. If you do include S. Korean Pilot and you cannot get information directly from the company then you might contact the lady who runs this online store selling vintage NOS S. Korean Pilot fountain pens: https://shopee.co.th/pastelcactuscafe . Her English is good. She has had other models there that are not currently listed (the Pig, for one, comes to mind). 

Edited by PithyProlix
URL did not work because it included the trailing period. Fixed.

Script nib for writing screenplays. • Fine nib for my best writing. • Extra fine for my *very* best writing. • Medium for requesting a séance. • Bold for adventure stories. • Manifold for many various types of writing. • Coarse for indignant letters. • Oblique for making a point in a roundabout way. • Italic when I'm inclined. • Stub for when I intend to leave a manuscript unfinis

 

My pens for sale: https://www.facebook.com/jaiyen.pens

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On 1/6/2022 at 6:15 AM, OldTravelingShoe said:

2. Read the chapter on Japanese fountain pens in Andreas Lambrou's Fountain Pens Vintage and Modern (couldn't find yet his other books, esp. Fountain Pens of Japan.)

 

Amazon or the author's website http://andreaslambrou.com/

 

I think you would duplicate a lot of Lambrou's effort if you proceed without his Fountain Pens of Japan book. 

Script nib for writing screenplays. • Fine nib for my best writing. • Extra fine for my *very* best writing. • Medium for requesting a séance. • Bold for adventure stories. • Manifold for many various types of writing. • Coarse for indignant letters. • Oblique for making a point in a roundabout way. • Italic when I'm inclined. • Stub for when I intend to leave a manuscript unfinis

 

My pens for sale: https://www.facebook.com/jaiyen.pens

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9 hours ago, awa54 said:

@liubrian has also posted links to Historical ad copy from Pilot here, if you read Japanese those would undoubtedly be of use, though for my mono-lingual self they're less informative, but still very cool to see.

 

 

here's one of the links:

 

https://www.pilot.co.jp/100th/en/gallery/

 

 

 

Glad to be helpful, even if only a little.

 

For OP, the most important thing is to see as many pens as possible.  There's a lot of baseless speculation on the English-speaking internet about Japanese pens, and the best way to get a feel for what is and isn't true is to get as much first-hand knowledge as possible.  Of course you can't just buy every pen you see, so the next best thing is to keep a very close eye on auction listings.  Yahoo Auctions Japan is what you need to be looking at, and you can stay on top of every new listing if you leave a search open for fountain pens, sorted by date order and in second-hand condition - there aren't that many in any one given day.  Obviously this is less useful if you don't know Japanese (my Japanese is pretty terrible), but it should be manageable to learn to read katakana script in a couple weeks of using the language learning app of your choice.  That will help you navigate the site a bit better - brand names are always written in katakana, for instance.

 

The next big resource is other collectors.  It's important to figure out who actually has the pens in question and knows what they're talking about, as opposed to people just posting hazy recollections and conjectures.  The sites you've mentioned are all run by people who have extensive collections and experience.  I'd add to your list @koofle(inquisitivequill on Instagram), as well as Eizo Fujii (www.euro-box.com, responds to emails also) as people who know what they're talking about.  There are regular posters in this sub-forum who are also very knowledgeable, and you should be able to tell with a bit of time who's actually looking at their pens while they post and who's guessing wildly.  I wouldn't hold myself out to be an expert and I hope I don't give the impression that I'm intentionally omitting mention of anyone, but there are of course many posters out there and you'll have to figure out for yourself which ones to listen to.

 

As for Lambrou's book, in a similar spirit of constructive criticism, I'd say that it is good but also extremely frustrating.  The writers had access to an amazing array of pens that nobody else could have gathered into one book, and the photos are worth the price alone.  The writing is unfortunately rather imprecise, and things like the same filling system are described with different words in different photo captions.  If your goal is to come up with a clear taxonomy of your vintage pens, you might find that FPOJ doesn't help all that much.

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15 hours ago, PithyProlix said:

[...] you might contact the lady who runs this online store selling vintage NOS S. Korean Pilot fountain pens: https://shopee.co.th/pastelcactuscafe . 

Super. I actually bought some PILOTs from her, should arrive soon, so I think the discussion could have a good start. 

 

Thanks again. 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, awa54 said:

@liubrian has also posted links to Historical ad copy from Pilot here, if you read Japanese those would undoubtedly be of use, though for my mono-lingual self they're less informative, but still very cool to see.

@awa54, thanks for the introduction and for pinging @liubrian. I also do not speak Japanese, but I may be able to follow the pictograms (kanji? katakana? hiragana?) across ads and match against things I know. Or just enjoy the art. 

 

@liubrian, thanks for your suggestions, I learned much already. For example, I had not imagined visiting Yahoo Japan Auctions, but once you recommended it (and I checked) it became clear they have way more visuals and information than the remaining old-time ads could have preserved. (I'll have to figure out first how to translate these pages; maybe by finding overseas auction apps like Buyee or From Japan?) 

 

I followed on some of the recent Japan-related you followed and I saw @troglokev,@KBeezie, and @christof have many excellent summaries and visuals. (I hope the FPN etiquette permits  referencing people without knowing them personally or consulting with them first.) 

 

Edited by OldTravelingShoe
Fixed typos.
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I happen to be a pocket fountain pen lover as well.

Have you read https://pocketpens.wordpress.com/ ?

It seems that he stops updating but there are a few rare model he introduced.

 

Also, I have some old catalogs that were gifted to me, not for sale but if you can let me know what you have maybe I can scan them and send you PDFs.

 

As for sailor having factory in Taiwan,

I am not sure if they make different model of pens, but on the pen body would have clearly marked "Made in Taiwan." I have one sailor pocket pen that is classic gold cap and black body with engraved mark on it. 

Please check out my shop on Etsy - Sleepy Turandot

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On 1/7/2022 at 12:23 AM, awa54 said:

I've found a wealth of information here as well:

 

https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/

 

Not all of his posts are about Japanese pens, but many are and his sources, research and photos are invaluable!

@awa54 Thank you for sharing this blog!!! As I am digging through the posts, I actually identify quite a few of pens in my possession!!!  Very satisfying and happy right now.

Please check out my shop on Etsy - Sleepy Turandot

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