Penclassics the write pen
I’ve been the proud possessor of this pen for several years, before I became Sailor Distributor in New Zealand. The review was written not long after I bought it.
Sailor, founded in 1911 by Kyugoro Sakata, are famous for the unique high quality Sailor nibs and they also have a very good reputation for the overall build quality and craftsmanship involved in the manufacture of their Fountain Pens. These have improved enormously from their vintage offerings of which I have a couple from the 1970s. These are pretty undistinguished as they tended to try to copy western fountain pens of the time. Some of their cheaper pens are also fairly ordinary, but their upscale pens such as the 1911, Professional Gear, Realo and King of Pens have created their own niche and are up with the very best available.
It is fair to say that now; Japanese pens probably lead the world in their technical achievements
I like these pens because, along with the better quality Pilot and Platinum models, they represent good value for money compared with European Pens. Their range of models and nibs is significantly broader than those from western companies, but what sets Sailor apart from the other makers is the uniqueness of their nibs.
The art of writing has been and still is of great significance in Japan, their calligraphy was done with brushes and brush pens until relatively recently, hence the pens needed to be capable of faithfully producing the same characters. Japanese people also appear to have a greater bond with writing instruments.
The opportunity last year to own Sailor Professional Gear Gold Naginata Togi (what a mouthful) was just too tempting, so off went my money and the pen soon arrived. EMS Carrier is so quick and efficient! There are quite a wide range of styles and finishes under the umbrella name of Professional Gear, but mine is the basic black, very basic other than the nib! You will have realised I’m fairly conservative in my choice of pens, I don’t particularly like overly ostentatious ones, function and writing ability tend to dictate my selections. Come in Japanese Pens!
It arrived in the standard Blue Sailor box with cartridges and mid-size converter, similar in size to the Pilot Con 50 which I think is a bit small although I’m not sure if a larger one would fit the pen. Anyway, in went the converter and then a fill with Iroshizuku Kompeki ink, a beautiful slightly turquoise ink which is one of my favourites. Out came the Rhodia pad and away I went, happy as a sandboy!
It looks a bit like a mid-size 1911 with the ends chopped off, relatively short and with a chunky look, a gangster’s pen? Perhaps not, but it certainly appears purposeful and powerful although only weighing in at about 26g with ink. It is 129mm long when capped, that’s 6mm shorter than the 1911 mid-size but 135mm when capped, the same as the 1911. The resin is a very deep dark black, it almost seems to glow, the yellow gold trims stand out in sharp contrast and in fact are very similar to those on the 1911 mid-size, with the same imprint ‘SAILOR JAPAN FOUNDED 1911’.The flattened tassie displays the traditional Sailor logo in gold.
All in all, this Sailor Fountain Pen is a solid, a conservative looking quality Japanese pen.
Unscrewing the cap takes only one and a half turns, which is handy but it does need six and a half turns to remove the battle. As you would expect, the mid-size rotary type converter is simple and straightforward, it took me only a couple of attempts and the converter was full.
In the hand, the pen feels reassuringly good, aided by its ample girth and when posted has delightful balance. I would imagine that it could be used for quite lengthy periods without stress although I haven’t used mine for more than an hour at a stretch. So the pen feels good, how about the key feature, the nib?
The 21k yellow gold Togi nib is quite large, being 23mm long and 7mm wide, with the large tip being quite noticeable and distinctive. It’s in the latest style, imprinted ‘1911’ above the anchor logo, below which it says, ‘21K, 875, Sailor’. The size imprint on the side of the nib is ‘NB’ meaning Broad.
The nib feels buttery smooth (to use a well-worn expression), in fact I can’t recall a smoother nib, yet the feedback is good. The nib actually has quite good flex which surprised me, and you can get good line variation, but it’s not a nib to be used as a conventional flex nib. The line is slightly wet and as you would expect, it starts first time, every time with never a hint of a skip or a miss giving a superb writing experience. The nib has been ground to be narrower at the tip and curves progressively wider towards the base, the shape being quite unusual, especially under a magnifying glass. These nibs are individually tested and adjusted once set in the pen.Line variation is obtained by changing the angle of the pen to the vertical, the steeper the angle that the pen is held, the narrower the line, and when the pen is held with a low angle the widest line is obtained. It will write with the nib held upside down like a zoom, but this isn’t normal for this nib. I must admit that I simply use this as a normal pen without varying the angle as it seems a bit unnatural to me, but maybe I’ll try to use it in the way the Japanese use them at some point. Hmmmm! Lots of practice needed.
It gives a different slant to the experience of writing compared with say flex nibs, but the way it slides effortlessly over the paper in any direction, without any hesitation, leaving a gorgeous wet line really is a joy. This nib will give endless pleasure to those whose just love writing, although I should imagine that it would also be a superb drawing pen.
This nib is one of a series created by the Nib Master, Noboyoshi Nagahara, who is probably the most distinguished Nib Master ever, having been refining nibs for an incredible six decades. The name apparently means Japanese long sword and defines the superb craftsmanship inherent.in this range of nibs.
Conclusion: The Naginata Togi nib really is a pleasure to use, and when set in a Professional Gear body provides an exceptional package that would be hard to beat at any price
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