Posts Tagged ‘Japanese flexible nib pen’


Review: Platinum #3776 Yamanaka Fountain Pen


Carol at Luxury Brands sent a Platinum #3776 Century Yamanaka for review several months ago and it has been a joy in every respect. But then I am a sucker for a clear demonstrator with silver furnishings and a nib that makes writing a pleasure.

The Yamanaka was designed to “reflect the image of a ripple of the brilliant” Lake Yamanaka near Mount Fuji. It’s a beautiful medium sized, light-weight pen, well balanced and comfortable in the hand. The textured effect reminds me of rain on a window pane and makes this pen very stable in the hand. No slipping whatsoever. Posting makes it slightly less well balanced in my smallish hand. For most users that won’t be an issue.

Loaded with Platinum Mixable Silky Purple, this is one of the smoothest nibs I have ever used. With practice, the soft medium nib will produce a very fine line to a bold 0.8 line. Typical of modern soft nibs, a little effort is necessary to achieve that range. However, it is good enough to create flourishes and a unique signature. When flex writing isn’t needed, the nib offers a hint of feedback and yet a nice grip of the paper. That makes it excellent as a daily writer.

The pen is a relatively wet writer so the line is just a little wider than a typical Japanese nib though not so wide as a Western nib. Throttle back just a tad and the line can be better controlled. Even an extra fine line is possible. Loaded with Platinum Carbon Black, it would make a useful pen for drawing expressive lines whether doodles or something more artistic.

Some users claim that matching ink and pen brand can produce ideal results. Filling the Yamanaka with Platinum ink might have made a believer out of me. All I can say is WOW! Match made in heaven and my little sample bottle of Silky Purple won’t last long. In addition, the ink is gorgeous in the transparent barrel though any colorful ink will look jewel-like.

Like other Century pens, this one can rest uncapped for several minutes without the nib running dry. Brand or color may contribute to how long ink will remain fluid. If you tend to pause while considering what to write next, this could make writing a much more enjoyable and relaxed experience. If you are a casual user, the Slip & Seal cap keeps ink from drying out even when stored for extended periods of time. No burps or hard starts either.

While I like the soft medium nib, it won’t suit everyone. My experience with a Platinum medium nib has been no less satisfying and I think it’s a size many writers could enjoy. It is a little less free-flowing so the line is a bit more narrow. Both pens make excellent daily writers.

Such perfect timing. The Yamanaka review is ready to post and the pen is in need of a refill. The breeze is gently tapping the shutters against my window and the lighting at my desk is as good as it gets. Time to close my laptop and put the pen to best use writing a long overdue letter. Life is good!


Flexing That Platinum Century Nib


When it comes to writing in my journal and especially when writing to a friend, bold or stub nibs are my preference. But sometimes I just gotta flex and the Platinum Century Fine Flex is coming along nicely in that role. With Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun on Apica 6A10, the hairlines are fine and the down-strokes are wide in contrast. It still takes a bit more force than I would like but there is decided improvement with each use. It may not be vintage flex, but it’s plenty of fun regardless.

Platinum Century Fine Flex Fountain Pen


Are Modern Japanese Flex Nibs Created Equal?


Japanese pens are known not only for extra-fine nibs but also for variety. There aren’t many flexible nibs manufactured in the west so if flex sounds interesting, here are a few options.

The pen most often mentioned at online communities is the Namiki Falcon made by Pilot. It comes in three nib sizes, soft fine (SF), soft medium (SM), and soft broad (SB) and is readily available in the U.S. The Pilot Custom 742 Falcon (FA) is more flexible but can have an erratic flow resulting in inconsistent flex writing. The Platinum #3776 Century comes in several nib sizes including a fine flexible (FF) model that is easily the most narrow nib of the lot.

Three Japanese Flex Nibs

Three Japanese Flex Nibs

The flex nib pens in my collection have had enough use to be all they can be except the Platinum Century. It will need more time in my hand to reach its full potential. With a light touch it shouldn’t change dramatically through it should get a little softer. With a heavier hand, the nib would flex a bit more. Since I have the other pens, I’m inclined to let the Century remain the pen with less flex and a finer line.

Japanese Flexible Nibs Writing Sample

Japanese Flexible Nibs Writing Sample

The inks are Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun, Diamine China Blue, Diamine Violet, and Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. None of the colors are particularly accurate but the relative line widths are portrayed well except the Century. That one can make even finer lines than depicted but that takes a bit of practice and control.

Each of the nibs has its positive attributes. Though the line widths appear quite similar, there are some differences. The degree of softness or flexibility dictates the amount of pressure needed to achieve the widest line. The Century requires the most effort and the 742FA the least. For those who prefer extra-fine to fine nibs, the Century is more than capable of filling that niche. The Namiki falls somewhere between the two. It will never be as soft as the 742FA and it is quite rigid when new. Give it time and it will soften producing nice variation.

Again, I will attach a caveat to the Pilot Custom 742FA. While the build quality is very good and the nib well-suited to flex writing, the flow cannot keep up. I doubt this is an issue with other 742 nib models but the Falcon nib needs a more consistent flow. Even after a professional adjustment, my 742 requires slow writing to avoid unfilled spaces. The problem might be the converter. It needs frequent priming as in twisting the knob to push the ink closer to the feed. The nib deposits so much ink when asked to fully flex, that priming must be done all too often. Pilot makes two other converter models, but in my tests these produced no improvement in performance.

Leigh Reyes thinks Pilot should offer the 742FA as an eyedropper so there would be no flow restriction. Another benefit is that it would maximize the amount of ink per fill. That might be the best solution though my Waterman 54 Pink Nib, one of the best flex nibs ever made, is a lever-filler without flow problems. Converters are convenient but not suited to all situations.

Using flex nibs requires some adjustment to achieve good results. Writing slowly and applying more or less pressure correctly is key. Upstroke = no pressure. Downstroke = more pressure. Practice up-down strokes with /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\. Many pens that aren’t flex will produce a bit of flair with that sort of exercise. Try it with your signature once you’ve gotten the way of it.

Should you become totally enamored with flex writing, vintage fountain pens will become a necessity. There just is no modern nib that compares unless you get it modified by a nibmeister. Oh, and there are many dip nibs that flex beautifully but that’s another subject entirely.

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