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Platinum

The Platinum Pen Company’s original incarnation was estalished at  in 1919 by Nakata Shunichi, although the details are (for someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, at least) are a little obscure as the company’s own online history reports that his factory, the Nakaya works, wasn’t open until 1924; one should note that the modern pen company operation under the name Nakaya is not a direct extention of the current Platinum, although there is familial connection between them.

The name Platinum, or rather プラチナ (purachina, remembering that R and L are roughly interchangeable liquid consonants in Japanese pronunciation) didn’t appear until 1928, along with a trademark in the shape of a globe which an uncharitable person might compare to Waterman’s logo.  Their business included direct mail order, something the company’s history describes as pioneering in the Japanese context.

The official company history is a little muted on the subject of the years encompassed by World War II.  It appears that, like many American pen manufacturers, they lent their precision machining experience to the national war effort.  One also suspects that a company located in central Tokyo did not have a very good time from 1943 until war’s end, but they also don’t appear to have ever quite closed up shop.  Subsequent to the war, they were in production at a sufficient pace to begin exports again by 1947, and they were feeling sufficiently perky to experiment with new forms of feed as well as developing water-based ballpoints.  An odd effect of the post-war occupation was to see the company’s name changed from “Platinum Fountain Pen Company” to “Platinum Industry Company”; what propted the command doesn’t appear, and the name was switched back in 1962.

An odd claim the company makes is primacy in offering ink cartridges.  This is odd, because the claim is dated to their release of a cartridge pen in 1957, five years past the date when even a plastic cartridge could be said to be a new thing.  The cartridges are very nice, and Platinum has had the grace to stick with one format since the initial release.  They also claim to have been the first company in Japan to take up injection-molded plastics, in 1952.

Platinum seems to have been cruising along pretty well since the end of the war, whatever oddities of claim it might be making.  It is still a family company, having been passed to Nakata Toshihiro on the death of his father in 1968 (the same year the logo went from the globe to the current broad-strokes letter P), and to Nakata Toshiya in 2009 in similar circumstances.  It is, however, no longer a purely Japanese company, having expanded production into several other Asian countries over the years– the first in Sri Lanka in 1963, but currently operating in China, Taiwan and Vietnam where they apparently produce their higher volume, lower-end products, leaving the mid- and upper-level production for the home factory.

Models I’ve examined:

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  1. Precious Metal » Ravens March Fountain Pens

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