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Sailor - a Brief History

A Sailor PenWay back in 1911, Kyugoro Sakata was shown a fountain pen from England by a visiting sailor. He was impressed, but wondered, why wasn’t Japan making pens this good? So he decided to do just that - make fountain pens to the very highest standards, right there in Japan.

Sailor have never just stuck with continuing with what they do well, though, they have a strong culture of innovation. They were the first to produce a ballpoint pen in Japan. They were the first to mass produce injection-moulded plastic pens in Japan too, and created the first Japanese ink cartridges. They were the first in the world to make fountain pens with 21-carat gold nibs, and have since sold a million of them.

Sailor were also the first to make a fude pen - a Japanese type of brush pen, especially good for writing Japanese characters with style. When fountain pen sales were falling in the 1970s, Sailor were there with fashionable brightly-coloured pens, and the world’s slimmest fountain pen, to match the style as the 70s rolled into the 80s.

Some Sailor pensAnd now, while many respected fountain pen companies are reducing their range of nibs to cover only what sells best, Sailor still provide a range of speciality nibs, catering to those who love fountain pens for the nib, where the ink meets the paper.

Some of these are real specialities, handmade by just one person at Sailor, available in limited quantities, on quite specific pens. But even on their more mid-range regular fountain pens, they offer unusual nibs like the Music nib and Zoom nib. The Zoom is especially interesting, writing different line widths depending on the angle you hold the pen - keep it upright for a medium to broad line, but lower it towards the paper, and it becomes very broad.

Those who love pens often try many types, eventually finding fountain pens are their favourites. And while tastes vary hugely, it does seem that those who love fountain pens often try many different ones, with many settling on Sailor pens as their favourites.

Michael Randall


Only have need of a few gel ink pens occasionally, as losing my sight but love the stories and comments.
Many years ago my maternal grandmother used to work for Platignum, I was told. Tried to trace her in the 1990 s but no documentation available all those years later. Would be early 20th century.

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