Saturday, January 29, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 319

Last month, a little package arrived, unexpectedly, in the mail. In it was a beautiful vintage Japanese long/short pocket pen. "What are long/short pocket pens?", you ask? Well, here's an excerpt from the blurb for "Japanese Pocket Pens" (written by nibmeister Richard Binder) that explains their background, and why they were referred to by that name:

"In the early 1960s, the space race and Hideo Shima’s radical new bullet train, perhaps leavened by the futuristic American automotive stylings of Harley Earl, spawned great changes in the Japanese aesthetic, and a new type of fountain pen burst onto the market. Called “pocket pens,” these pens appeared in myriad trim variations under dozens of manufacturers’ names. Their unifying characteristic was an extraordinarily long gripping section mated with a very stubby barrel, a design concept explored before and since by a number of Western manufacturers."

(please click on images to enlarge)

The first pocket fountain pen was the Sailor "Mini”, which came out in 1963. The Platinum and Pilot pen companies  followed suit in 1963 and 1964, respectively, with their own pocket pen models. My particular pocket pen (pictured) is a second generation Sailor "Mini" fountain pen. It measures about 11cm capped and 14cm when posted, and it weighs a mere 13 grams empty.

These 2nd generation "Mini" pens featured a new open, inlaid nib design (the 1st generation had a semi-hidden nib), sometimes referred to as a "fingernail" nib...

Models with all-metal caps, such as mine, were priced higher than ones with a metal cap and plastic crown...

The early Sailor 'Mini' pens had an unusual spring-less clip made of a strip of folded metal (see above). Apparently, this clip was a modification of a 1920s American patent held by the Chas. H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company (source: this excellent "Profile: Japanese Pocket Pens" article by Mr. Binder)

(Above: my pen's section with its manufacturing date code --the letters "EL"-- stamped on it)
The date code is directly below the Japanese characters (my apologies for the photo -- it's really tough to photograph :/

Over the years, Sailor used three different date code systems t
o indicate any given pen's manufacturing date. Some date marks were on the body of the pen, and some on the nib itself. From 1960 to 1970/1971, Sailor imprinted a two-letter code on their pen bodies. The year was represented by a single letter, with  "A" (upper/lowercase) standing for 1960, "B" for 1961, and so on until "K", which stood for 1970 (and possibly, "L" for 1971). The month was similarly represented by a single (upper/lowercase) letter, with the letters "A" through "L" representing the months January through to December. My particular pen (stamped "EL") was, therefore, made in December of 1964.

(info taken from "Japanese Date Coding Systems" article on Richard Binder's website)

The pen's beautiful gold nib features the Sailor logo + a symbol between the pen's two (vertical and horizontal) breather holes. The gold purity ("14K") is engraved below the horizontal breather hole. The pen isn't marked with the nib width, but it lays down what I'd call a "Western Fine" line. There is some flex to the nib, but I wouldn't call it a flexy nib per se. Due to the short length of the barrel, it only takes Sailor's proprietary cartridges (ie. not a Sailor converter).

(Above: the beautiful, 15-sided metal section ring and, above it, the Sailor logo, tastefully engraved at the end of the pen's cap)

A quick word about my pen's provenance:
 It was purchased (new) in Japan by a diplomat as a gift for his wife. Unfortunately, she didn't take a shine to it, but the pen remained with them during their stay in Japan, and when they moved to Germany in 1978, the pen came with them. That's where it resided until it was acquired by its second owner (my fellow pen club member Steve) in a trade in 1982. Steve said he used it for three years and then put it into storage in 1985. In late 2021, I became
this little globetrotter's happy new owner :)

It's in remarkable condition...and not just for its age; I've seen many similar pocket pens from the same era whose caps and barrels were badly scratched. It's an elegant, portable fountain pen with a great design and lovely gold nib, and I'm very proud to have it in my collection. My warmest thanks to Steve for this wonderful pen! 😀

(photos & review by Maja) 


Cableguy said...

I like a pen with history and this one certainly has a nice story thanks Maya for sharing.
And congrats on an awesome find.

Vancouver Pen Club said...

Thanks, Andy! (the pen was a gift though lol, but yes--an awesome one! :D