Friday, March 16, 2012

Fountain Pen Review: Platinum Kanazawa Leaf Maki-e with fine nib

I purchase a sample of Iroshizuku Murasaki Shikibu mainly to complement Platinum Kanazawa Leaf maki-e fountain pen with fine nib.  It supposed to be a birthday gift to myself, only four months earlier.  For those of you who know me well, I am a selective fountain pen user, in that I am particular to how the fountain pen looks.  Most of my fountain pens look rather boring and simple; they are mostly monotone in color, with minimal silver/ gold trim, so it surprised me equally that I would purchase this maki-e fountain pen because it looked unlike my other pens.

The pen box was wrapped in craft paper.  Very unassuming but rustic.  It brings you back in time with its simplicity.


After I unwrapped the craft paper, a white box with "PLATINUM" embossed in the center.  If you enlarge the picture, you will see the box is made of cardboard but with washi paper-like details.


Here is a closer look:



I found a wooden box inside of the washi paper box.  This is definitely a very Japanese feature of layers of packaging.  I did not feel the haste of ripping through all the boxes as I opened, but found it as a developing process for the appreciation of this pen.


The box was lined with red velvet and this is the pen I found:






This particular design I chose was called Swirling Petals of Cherry Blossom (桜吹雪, さくらふぶき, in hiragana; literally mean drift of cherry blossom).  Seeing this pen in person, immediately I thought of The Tale of Genji.  The falling cherry blossom petals is almost the epitome of pathos of transient beauty.  Very much like the "Peach Tree" segment in Akira Kurosawa's wonderful film, Dreams.  Maki-e literally means "sprinkle picture." It is Japanese lacquer work sprinkle with metallic powders, gold, silver, you name it.   Kanazawa is the area that is historically famous for these gilt leaf production.  Enough with all the technical and nerdy details.  

The work is exquisite on the pen.  Far more delicate and elegant than these photos can justify.  Can you imagine how these artisans transform leafs of gold and silver into these intricate details?


The main cherry blossom on the cap









the barrel





A golden band locates at the end of the cap.
One end inscribed "JAPAN." 
The other end "PLATINUM."

Besides the obvious historical attraction, I decide to purchase this pen because I have never tried a better Japanese fountain pen.  The only ones I have were Petit1 and Preppy.  In addition, I have heard ravings on Japanese fine nib, about how precise and elegant they are.  Given that I do like fine trip in rollerball and I do write relatively small, a Japanese fine would be a great addition to my existing collection.

The pen measures 13.5 cm uncapped.  When unposted, it is 12cm, and 15cm when posted.  Comparatively speaking, the pen is a bit lighter than other pens I have (e.g. Lamy al-Star and Waterman).  Since I have never used the clip before, so it is not a deal breaker when I found the maki-e's a bit on the stiff side.  Given all details are pieced together with pieces of gold flakes, I am handing it more gingerly than average pens.  I would imagine it is not a good to-go pen that you place in your bag, but rather enjoy it at your leisure at home.  



For users of European fountain pens, the Japanese fine nib can be a bit scratchy at the beginning.  Given that I practically etch words into paper, the fine nib could disturb the fiber of the paper, especially on regular or toothier paper.  If I apply less press, the nib can glide with ease.  For a nib that is that fine, it does not skip at all; the pen writes right out of the box.  In fact, the more I use it, the more it grows on me.


If you can recall from my previous posts on other fountain pens, what maki-e does not have is that little bulbous part on the tip of the nib.  I am unsure whether it is the 18K gold material or the type of nib that Platinum crafts, the nib has a bit of bounciness and flexibility when it writes.  It does not flex as much as a flex pen, but the nib is capable of producing various width of lines.  I am a proponent in pen contributes to the appearance of one's writing.  As you can see in the writint sample below, maki-e makes my usually messy cursive writing appears more delicate

Ink:  Pelikan Royal Blue
Paper:  Rhodia Premium
So how fine is Japanese fine compare to other pens with fine nibs?


Even compare to another Japanese pen (though ten times more economical), lines produced by  maki-e still appears a lot finer.  In comparison, KawecoSport looks more like medium than fine.  In my opinion, a Japanese fine might not be suitable for a beginner, especially if you are used to .5mm or .7mm rollerball; the fine nib will look like chicken scratch.  It might be better to work one's way up to  fine nib, especially for a Japanese one.

Maki-e does come with a converter; in fact, it has a character of "gilt" printed in the middle.  Here is the part that I found fascinating:  the converter can be disassembled, which  facilitate flushing and cleaning of the pen.  When I flushed the pen for the first time, I disassembled the converter, use a Q-tip to absorb the residual ink accumulated at the plunge area, and rinse the entire converter thoroughly.  To a person who is borderline obsessed with the cleanliness of the pen before filling another ink, this converter is a god-sent.

Just twist the golden part, then everything comes apart! 


When I bought this pen, it was priced at $172, and with a $25 gift certificate from a fellow pen addict, it makes this pen somewhat affordable to me.  The price, however, has increased since I bought it.  The retailed price for this pen is $240, you may find it at Goulet Pens, as well as iSellPens for $190.

This pen comes with a converter, as well as a spare disposable ink cartridge.

For those who are interested in fine and high resolution pictures, as well as a thorough and technical review, click here for Brian Goulet's review.

For those are you who are interested in gold leaf production, here are some links:

6 comments:

  1. I love the review and the pen,now I want one,too bad it comes only with decorations fit for a girl.I still love the review.

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  2. There are several designs, including one of Mt. Fuji. Have you seen that one yet? Not as feminine as mine. :)

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  3. Ahhhh! I love all the pictures!!! Fantastic review! I've only ever used the Platinum Preppy (which obviously does not compare) and I am a bit of a coward trying fountain pens that I do not know if I'll like or not. Though I'd get this one because it's so pretty!

    How is the nib coming along? Does it feel like you're breaking it in?

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  4. Thanks for the compliment *blush*. My very first fountain pen was a Platinum, and I heard from Gentian that Platinum own Nakaya, which produces superb fountain pens and nibs, so I was purchase somewhat with confidence.
    The nib is so much better now. It glides better, especially after I adjust slightly on the way I write. Now I do not have as many hole in my Miquelrius than before ;)

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  5. I just got a Platinum Century 3776 pen with a fine 14K nib, and I'm experiencing some very noticeable scratchiness in the nib, especially when dragging it horizontally across the paper (it picks up paper fibers when I do this). Just how scratchy was your nib when you started writing with it? I've been trying to figure out if the nib needs to be looked at by a nibmeister or if I need to just keep trying to adjust the tines myself.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anjali, as I recalled, there was a bit of scratchiness when the Platinum was fresh out of the box. Because I had the tendency to press down hard, I lightened up my touch while writing and the condition improved dramatically. The smoothness in writing experience will enhance if you pair it with a more lubricated ink (i.e. Sailor).
      You mentioned that you have been adjusting the tines. Were they misaligned out of the box? If I were in your position, I would adjust how much pressure I put to the nib while writing first before adjusting. The fine and extra fine nibs will feel different from a medium and you will feel a bit more resistance on paper, especially if it is your first Japanese fine. Please let me know if I can provide further assistance! Good luck!

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