Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anchors Aweigh

Funny how when talk comes to the good, better and best of some things, a favorite is apt to slip through the cracks and never get more than a sideline mention. Fountain pens, ink and paper take up enough of my days to assure those around me that I might just have an addiction. Here in these pages I have written again and again about this or that fountain pen, sometimes about the same pen more than once. Looking over again what I have in the past relayed about specific fountain pens brought to light a gaping hole in the reviews of pens in my collection. For reasons I don’t quite understand, one of the most cherished Sailor fountain pens on my desk has by and large been practically ignored in Scriblets.

In the beginning it was Pelikan that attracted my enthusiasm, and even years later it remains clear that the Pelikan quality is hard to beat. But not long after the first couple of Pelikan pens I discovered Sailor and became thoroughly enchanted with one of the early Professional Gear models. And then for a long time every new purchase was another Sailor, each one bringing that same satisfaction over dependability and smoothness. In December of 2006, while browsing in ACT Pen Shop in the Kamata section of Tokyo I came across a Sailor model not seen before and after trying the pen out decided it was well worth saving for. The pen was a Sailor Profit 21 with a Naginata Togi nib designed by Nobuyoshi Nagahara, the nibmeister who has been at Sailor since the age of fourteen. But what first caught my eye was the striking red and black body with gold trim, though not truly a red, more of an orangish red similar to persimmon. I have looked and looked for more detailed information about this model, but have never found much.

It has the classic cigar shape with rounded ends, meaning that the top of the cap does not have the old Sailor anchor logo inset. That logo inset into the cap seems to be a vanishing design feature in the new models from Sailor. The Profit 21 measures 5.5 inches (14 cm) capped and 6 inches (15.2cm) posted, not terribly large, not terribly small; call it just right. The true shine of this fountain pen comes in its look and in its 21k gold nib shaped by Mr Nagahara. No other way to describe this pen when seen resting on a desktop or an open notebook—it is eyecatchingly beautiful in its elegant jet black, orangy-red and shiny gold trim. Hard to imagine who would not stop with an urge to pick it up and draw nearer to such perfect dimension and design. I have said so much, so often about Sailor’s master nib craftsman, Mr Nagahara that any more would be tedious, but this Profit 21 gives the impression of being a design that he took special, loving care with. I like a generous line with a hearty flow of ink, and the broad nib on the Profit 21 gives the feel of a nib that has been crafted to my personal idiosyncrasies.

About the nib…One evening a couple of years back I was cleaning the pen and as will happen horribly on occasion, the pen slipped out of my hands and dropped like a missile, nib first to the hardwood floor. Any sharper and it would have stuck up quivering in the floor. I stood frozen in shock for half a minute imagining the newly blunted nib. No question it was badly damaged by the fall, and in a condition that required professional help. About three weeks later Mr Nagahara was making an appearance at a pen clinic in Tokyo and I took the pen to him for repair. Apparently it was a simple fix for him, and within fifteen minutes I had the pen back in mint condition—and of course, no charge.

Recently I’ve been using an almost-recent ink from Sailor in the Profit 21, a deep mossy green called Tokiwa-matsu. There is nothing particular in this ink that increases the performance of the pen, and honestly ink from various makers seems to do well in this Sailor. One or another ink may look better on the page, but there have been no instances where a certain ink threw the nib off its game and destroyed the line and smooth flow of ink. In five years of regular, hard use this pen has never lost its quality of line.

As do most of the Sailor fountain pens, the Profit 21 uses a cartridge converter. I am still using the original converter after countless ink changes and washings, a longevity that not all my converters can claim. If I had to do it over again, without hesitation I would buy the same pen. Line up seven or eight different pens and chances are good I would finally opt for the Sailor.

1 comment:

  1. Great looking pen. When I get back to going to some estate sales, in addition to some unique furniture or some classic first edition book, I will always look to see if there are any pens to be had. That way I can do as maybe you and others do: a couple of pens at work, a few on the desk when writing, and a couple in my man-purse (read: jammed briefcase).


About Me

My photo
Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America