In terms of Japanese pens, I’ve historically been biased towards Sailor and Pilot pens, with one real hold out that has always been a top pen for me: the Platinum 3776 Tortoise. This pen has been one of my personal favourites for years, with those warm brown and golden tones with the warm celluloid feel in the hand.
Leading up to getting this pen, I recall very distinctly seeing somewhere and instinctively knowing that I wanted it. It was one of the few (ha ha ha) times in my life I’ve seen a picture of a pen and knew it was calling out to me–and it has stood the test of time. I have always loved this pen. It was also one of the first gold nib pens I convinced Jon that I “needed” after we opened up the shop, and so it has a little sentimental value as well. Just an overall favourite. A beauty.
Five years later, it was still my only Platinum 3776 until Platinum released their Chenonceau White and their Laurel Green pens. My collection of 3776s doubled with the arrival of this new white pen. A satisfying new addition, and a good reason to ink up my Tortoiseshell as well. And yet, as a mother knows her children, I knew my collection was not complete.
Looking through a recent Platinum catalogue and discovering the 3776 Celluloid Calico, I had another moment and thus it was a necessary thing to round out my 3776s. I just knew! Jon was slightly more suspicious: You “need” another 3776? Yes. Didn’t you just get that white one? Yes.
Having been a pen clerk for years now, this much I can say with certainty: there are pens that are good for everyone and that will be excellent workhorses and excellent companions, but then there are connections between specific pens and specific people. And we as pen people know this to be true and many of us have experienced this perhaps all too often.*
In any case, after months (!) of patience and somewhat heated debate, Jon finally ordered me the Calico. I must admit that when I make these sort of statements about “knowing” pens that “need” to be in my pen roll that I haven’t actually seen in person, I have occasionally, shall we say…misjudged.
However, I am pleased to say in this case, the Calico was truly meant to be mine. It is a beauty.
All three of these are broad. What can I say.
While I don’t seem to have this feeling for any of my other pens, the need to have pens tied to other pens when inked up, I like to have all three of these inked up together, like a little family within my pen roll. Currently in
The Calico: Diamine Ochre
The Tortoise: Diamine Ancient Copper
Chenonceau White: J. Herbin Stormy Grey
Unlike the resin the standard 3776s are made out of, including the Chenonceau White, celluloid is a bit more of a finicky material. You should avoid soaking your pen in water (for example, soaking a nib section), avoid leaving it out in direct sunlight, and it’s also a flammable material.
Celluloid is increasingly rare as a modern material for fountain pens because it’s a difficult material to work with, a time-consuming process to mix and press the celluloid to create the patterns evenly. The celluloid pens come with a description of the manufacturing process:
“Small block of colour in different sizes are to be assembled one by one manually like wooden mosaic work by the craftsman without haste which gives deep patterns peculiar to the celluloid.” (This is the English section, translated from the Japanese on the other side.)
In any case, while the material and finish is beautiful, it’s beautiful because of its specific material, and so it’s something to be aware of if you’re getting one. I’m not someone who is too precious with my pens–they’re meant to be used!–but it would be a real shame to have anything go wrong with a pen you love.
That being said, the celluloid is indeed something that you can feel in your hand–it’s a warmer sensation, as compared with the standard resin, and you can feel the difference in the material.
Like most Japanese pen companies, Platinum nibs will run finer than European nibs. The writing sample above is the broad. They’re moderately wet, not as wet as say, Pelikan nibs, and quite consistent (as you might also expect from a Japanese nib manufacturer).
The Chenonceau White is a special edition pen that was released last year (2018), but it will likely still be around for a little bit. The Tortoise and the Calico are both part of regular production, and while we sometimes have stock of one or the other, we can special order it for you in the nib size you’re interested in–just send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other news, the other day I pulled in the laundry from the line outside literally seconds before it started to rain, feeling the drops on my shoulders just as I got the last of it into my basket. Spring is here, hanging laundry outside, sun and rain. What an excellent feeling to have caught my laundry just in time! Such luck like this comes only once a year and, alas, I’ve already used it up.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had laundry caught out in various states of rain, drizzle, and pouring several times, and today, here in Toronto, it is currently raining and I currently have laundry out on the line. You can’t win them all (or, apparently, more than one).
But then again, I’ve got a babbling baby, a big golden book of poetry, some hot tea and a few favourite pens inked up, so there’s that.
*Who is to say what “too often” really is?