Sunday, June 5, 2016

Duet Nib

Vanco was a brand of pens that has already showed up on these Chronicles. The Vanco pen on display at that time was a celluloid pen from the 1930s that implemented a telescopic piston as filling system. That alone proved a technical ability matched by very few companies of the time. However, there is very little information in the Internet about these pens. And the book of reference on Japanese pens –Fountain Pens of Japan, by A. Lambrou and M. Sunami (2012)— mentions Vanco briefly on four occasions, but does not provide any detailed information nor includes any picture of them.


The Vanco pen I am presenting today is a postwar unit. It is, in fact, a much simpler model than the piston filler I mentioned before, but it is nonetheless interesting for several reasons.


The sticker on the cap reads "DUET". That on the barrel, "VANCO / ¥500". On the barrel, the inscription says 'THE / "VANCO" / HIGH CLASS PEN'. On the clip, "VANCO".


The instruction sheet starts by declaring that all Vanco pens are certified by the ministry of Industry and are stamped by the JIS mark. Then, it describes the different filling systems. On the bottom right corner we find the addresses of the company: Osaka, Tokyo, and Fukuoka.

The pen is in mint condition, in its original box, and the set includes the instruction sheet. As we can see, at the time –mid 1950s--, Vanco manufactured four different filling systems: the V-type (option A), a lever filler (B), a bulb filler (C), and a Japanese eyedropper (D). The V type seems to be a sort of twist filler, but the text only speaks about the pen being transparent and how the Vanco filling system is of great capacity and prevents ink leakage due to the body heat. Anyway, the pen in question today implements a bulb filler mechanism.




The cap carries a sticker with the word “DUET” on it. This refers to the very special nib this pen sports. In essence, the nib is just a gold plated unit made of steel, but a closer look shows a very careful point cut. The iridium was conformed to be used also upside down, with the feed facing up.


The Vanco "Duet" nib. Note the shape of the nib point.

Now, writing upside down with a fountain pen (“reverse writing” some call it) is often possible; after all, the ink is right there in between the tines. However, very rarely is the nib polished for that way of writing and this results in an unpleasant experience. So, the Vanco Duet nib is, if only by this, very interesting and unusual. Years later, in 1966, Sheaffer launched the model Stylist with a “two way” nib that was later copied by Parker and Platinum.



Writing sample of the "Duet" nib in both regular and reverse writing. The reverse writing is more pleasant--if only, it is juicier. The paper is from a Tsubame notebook with lines at 55°.

But Vanco, in its early experiment, went further away—the nib points cut on this nib are radically different: an extra fine for regular writing and a (juicy) medium or broad for reverse use. It is hard not to think of Sailor Concord nibs, either on the Cross (double nib) or on the inverted fude (::1::, ::2::) configurations. However, Vanco accomplished this dual writing with a more elegant strategy—Vanco simply cut the nib point like a careful and skilled sculptor would do. And there was no need to bend or to overlap nibs.


Feed and nib of the Vanco pen. The inscription reads "VANCO / DUET / (JIS mark) / SUPER / (2)".


The converse side of the nib carries an additional inscription: "(unknown logo) / BEST / 672". I do not know what it means.

The pen is on the small size:
Length closed: 131 mm
Length open: 116 mm
Length posted: 152 mm
Diameter: 12.7 mm
Weight: 14.8 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 0.6 ml

All this shows how Vanco, that somehow obscure pencil and pen maker from Osaka, deserves more attention than what it currently receives.


Platinum pocket pen 18 K, Yamada Seisakusho – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 5th 2016
etiquetas: Vanco, Sailor, Platinum, Parker, Sheaffer, plumín, soluciones técnicas


Post Scriptum: This text you just read is the 500th Chronicle in this blog. 500 texts over a little over than six years… Not all of them are worth to read, but I have tried to provide information and, now and then, some food for thought. Now I wanted to thank all who took some time to read these pages and those who took the effort of writing comments and providing some feedback. To all of you, thank you very much.

6 comments:

Tony Rex said...

Very interesting pen. Anyway, congratulations on the 500th post! This site is a treasure trove of information and joy. Your efforts are much appreciated. Thanks mate.

Saltire Turquoise said...

Looking forward to the next 500. Thanks for sharing.

Allan Engelhardt said...

Thank you for all your hard work with the first (!) 500 posts. It is much appreciated

Pedro Haddock said...

Stunning pen with yet a simple and bright solution others rely on multiple layers or mechanical manipulations of the shape of the nib. Bright and simple.
Gongratulations for your fine work. 500 posts is a lot of work but, to us, readers, a permanent gift. A big toast for the 500 to come.
Cheers, amigo mío.

Kostas K. said...

Many Thanks for the interesting and very informative articles. Thanks for keeping this blog among the best about pens. Congratulations and may you get to 10.000 posts! keep it up and all our best

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks to you all; Kostas, Pedro, Allan, Saltire Turquoise. Tony; for your best wishes. Believe me when I say that comments are very important. I hope to be up to the challenge of the next 500 posts.

Cheers to you all. Thanks.

BT

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